Category: Psych Rock

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Grungy Jam off Their Soon-to-Be Released “Brown Acid: The Eleventh Trip”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ ongoing collaborative proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 1960s and 1970s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators.

Frequently, those bands haven’t written, played or recorded together in more than 30 years — but they encourage the bands to take part in the compilation process. “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten,” Lance Barresi explained in press notes for the previous editions of the compilation. “However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Of course, having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation process can give the artists and their songs a real second chance at the attention they missed all of those years ago. And for critics and fans, the songs on the Brown Acid compilation series can often fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around both regional and national underground scenes at the time. The eleventh edition of the Brown Acid compilation series, Brown Acid: The Eleventh Trip is slated for release on October 31, 2020;

Much like its predecessors, the eleventh edition of Brown Acid finds Barresi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of material reduced to obscurity to find new jams we should all know and love. Brown Acid: The Eleventh Trip’s latest single, “Something Else” by Tacoma, WA-based act Adam Wind was originally released in 1969 — and the track, which sounds a bit like Jimi Hendrix Experience with is centered around Leroy Bell’s groovy crooning. propulsive cowbell-driven drumming and fuzzy power chords and a scorching acid-tinged solo. In some very small way, the track seems to presage both Mudhoney and Pearl Jam.

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic Album Single “Travel”

With the release of five full-length albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s Indie Rock Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar). Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have developed a sound that’s heavily influenced by Brit Pop. shoegaze and post-punk, paired with lyrics written and sung in English and Portuguese.

The members of the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet also happen to be integral members of Brazil’s indie rock scene: at home, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins — and as a band, they spent several years in London, successful touring across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with stops at the likes of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

Slated for an October 30, 2020 release through OAR, the aforementioned label home of Boogarins, WRY’s 10-song, sixth album Noites Infinitas explores themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our increasingly divisive world.

WRY has released three singles off their soon-to-be released sixth album, including the album’s first single, “Travel.” Centered around enormous, feedback and pedal effected guitar riffs, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line and rousingly anthemic hooks “Travel” is a breakneck and energetic burst that’s one part shoegaze, one part Brit pop. Fittingly, the energetic song is paired with an upbeat and positive message about accepting yourself completely, having the strength to face the obstacles thrown in your path — and having the bravery to go on your own, unusual path.

Directed by Ricardo Camargo, the recently released video for “Travel” features WRY’s frontman in front of a series of psychedelic and kaleidoscopic backdrops, and a weird yet trippy ring light/shower head-like contraption and a plastic covering. Adding to the trippy nature of the video, is that it features series of rapid-fire cuts and edits.

New Audio: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Contemplative and Dreamy Single off His Forthcoming Solo Debut

Best known as the frontman and founding member of the acclaimed Austin, TX-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays The Black Angels — and a member of acclaimed psych rock supergroup MIEN, Alex Maas will be stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of his full-length debut Luca.

Named for Maas’ firstborn child, Luca, which means “bringer of light,” the Mass and Brett Orrison co-produced album, which is slated for a December 4, 2020 release through Innovative Leisure was a long time coming — with some of its material dating back almost a decade and put together piece-by-piece over the course of a couple of years. Centered around a much gentler, contemplative take on psychedelia, Luca is a decided sonic departure from Maas’ best known work, showcasing what Maas says “a whole different part of gym brain.”

“I wanted to go someplace musically that I’ve never gone before,” Maas continues. Thematically, the album is driven by the nature and quiet of Maas’ home state and by his meditations about his son, his future, the often frightening world he was born in and how to navigate through the perils and frustrations of modern society. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Been Struggling” is a dreamy and shuffling waltz, centered around strummed guitar, shimmering pedal steel and Maas’ imitable falsetto that sonically nods at the melancholy psychedelia of Scott Walker and the classic Nashville sound. Instead of the menace, madness and darkness of his best known work, “Been Struggling” is a pensive meditation on memory, fate and loss from the perspective of a narrator, who has lived a messy and drama fueled life.

New Video: Montreal’s ALIAS Releases a Trippy Visual for Anthemic “King”

ALIAS is an emerging Montreal-based signer/songwriter and musician. Developing a bit of a reputation locally as an introvert, who has recovered through some troubles, the Montreal-based artist’s material generally tells tales of lonely, endearingly sweet yet kind of schizophrenic cowboy types having a pleasant LSD trip. Sonically, his work features elements of psych pop and psych rock; in fact, his latest single “King” begins with a folksy strummed guitar intro before quickly morphing into a fuzzy power chord driven anthem with an infectious hook.

The emerging Montreal-based artist explains that the song, which makes a reference to a Tekken 3 character by the name of King, describes “the feeling of being a fighter instead of fearing. It’s the sentiment of becoming a beast instead of being a prey.”

Featuring ALIAS and his backing band — JB Beltra, Simon Bilodeau and Vincent Beneze — the video switches between footage of the Montreal-based artist and his band performing the song, leopards on the hunt and a swaggering leopard mask wearing character.

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based psych rock singer/songwriter and producer MAGON quickly established a unique sound, which he has described as urban rock on psychedelics. Over the course of this past year, I wrote about two of the album’s released singles — the incredibly self-aware and introspective,  The Strokes-like “My Reflection” and the David Bowie and T. Rex-like “Same House.

The Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and producer’s latest single “Change” is the first bit of new material since the release of Out in the Dark, and the track is a shimmering and lo-fi bit of psych pop with a subtle nod at glam rock — with the song being centered around shimmering strummed guitar, narcotic drumming, MAGON’s droll, ironically detached vocals and trippy reverb and other fluttering percussion. But at its core, the song is a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, inspired by a year, which saw a number of sea changes in his personal life.

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls. The act, which currently features founding duo Larry Schemel (guitar) and Bonnie Bloomgarden (vocals, guitar) and a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Alana Amram (bass), Laura Harris (drums), Shannon Lay, members of The Make UpThe Shivas and Moaning, as well as The Flytraps’ Laura Kelsey can trace their origins back to over a decade ago, when they were formed by Schemel, Bloomgarden, Rachel Orosco (bass) and Hole‘s Patty Schemel (drums). Interestingly, despite the fact that the band has had a series of lineup changes thrhgout their history, the band’s aesthetic and sound has been generally indebted to The Manson Family, B movie theatrics and the occult.

2020 has been a very busy year for the JOVM mainstays: Earlier this year, the band released the two song, seven-inch EP Breakthrough, an effort that saw the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays covering two songs that have a profound connection to the band — both in their spirit and aural alignment. One of the songs included on the EP was  Atomic Rooster‘s “Breakthrough,” a song the band originally discovered through an even more obscure cover by Nigerian psych act The Funkees.  The Death Valley Girls’ cover leans more towards The Funkees’ version — thanks to grimy power chords, fire-and-brimstone organ lines and an in-your-face, combative chorus — but all three versions are centered around the age-old desire to be free from prisons — both literal and figurative.

Continuing upon the momentum of Breakthrough EP, the members of the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays will be releasing their newest album Under the Spell of Joy through their longtime label home Suicide Squeeze Records on October 2, 2020. The album’s title is derived from the text on at-shirt that the San Diego-based heavy psych rock act Joy gave to Death Valley Girls’ Bonnie Bloomgarden. Bloomgarden regularly wore the shirt constantly over the next five years, treating it like a talisman. “I read it as being about manifesting your biggest dreams and responding thoughtfully and mindfully to everything that comes in your path with joy and compassion first,” Bloomgarden explains in press notes. “There is a lot to be really angry about in the world but joy is just as powerful if used correctly!”

With Under the Spell of Joy, the members of the Death Valley Girls sough to make a spiritual record — what Bloomgarden describes as a “space gospel” — with the intention of bringing people together and creating the kind of participatory musical experience people have in places of worship. And as a result, the album’s material is generally centered around chants, choirs and rousing choruses, written with the purpose of encouraging people to sing along. Where the band had once sought to connect people through more esoteric means, Spell of Joy finds them tapping into an age-old tradition of uniting people by inviting them to be an active participant.

Although Bloomgarden and Schemel knew their intention for the album’s material before they had written a single note, the nature and direction of the music was initially inspired by the Ethiopian funk records they had been listening to while touring — but once they began playing and recording the material they had written, the music, which they claim came from tapping into their subconscious seemed to come from the future.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the slow-burning and expansive, Wish You Were-era Pink Floyd-like “The Universe,” which featured elements of shoegaze and classic psych rock — and the straightforward and soaring “Hold My Hand,” a track that evoked the swoon of new love, and the urge to improve oneself through deep personal reflection. Interestingly, Under the Spell of Joy‘s third and latest single, album title track “Under the Spell of Joy” is a hallucinogenic fever dream featuring chanted lyrics, fiery blasts of saxophone, enormous hooks and even bigger power chords. Seemingly one-part Fun House-era The Stooges, one-part acid-tinged psych rock, one-part Giant Steps-era Coltrane, the track is a rock”n’ roll take on the good news gospel stomp — while centered around an ebullient and mischievous joy.

New Video: Los Angeles’ Grand Master Releases a Power Chord Driven Anthem

Although he’s probably best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising psych rock act Grand Master, the Lincoln, NE-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Derek M. Walker is someone, who in his own words “knows nothing about music.” Walker initially relocated to Los Angeles for some adventure and to pursue music and film production despite not having a formal education in either one.

Walker spent a several year stint as the lead guitarist of Mere Mortals and then spent several years attempting to write and produce films and work on other creative pursuits; however, his obsession with music drove him back into his home studio, where he worked on writing and recording the demos that would eventually become Grand Master’s soon-to-be released album I Am Living. Initially Walker didn’t have intention of professionally recording or releasing the material but after he had written almost a dozen demos, he wondered to himself, what the purpose was if he didn’t do anything with them.

The Lincoln-born, Los Angeles-based mutli-instraumetnalist began the formal recording process by recording guitar, bass and vocals with his former Mere Mortals bandmate and current member of United Ghosts’ Axel Steurwald at Stuerwald’s Bedrock Studio. Walker didn’t make any changes to the material; he just duplicated what was already there with some vintage equipment. He then took the completed files over to Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Rains, who recorded drums with Bad Radio’s and United Ghosts’ Joey Ponchetti at Rains’ Station House studio — with Rains also mixing the album.

The album was then sent to JJ Golden, who mastered the material at Golden Mastering. Of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker had to complete his portion of the mixing and mastering process remotely, listening to mixes of headphones and then in hi car, comparing sounds and changes and sending notes. He’d wait a few days for changes to be made and they would all repeat the process again. But throughout it all. Walker says that he enjoyed the freedom of an untraditional songwriting process — one in which, he wasn’t concerned with song structure or arrangements. If he felt like singing a verse, he did so; if he felt like adding a chorus, he did so and if he didn’t, he it wasn’t added.

Slated for a September 25, 2020 release I Am Living reportedly finds the Lincoln-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist making the sort of music you’d cruise down the highway and bob your head while playing. I Am Living’s latest single, album title track “I Am Living” is an arena friendly psych rock song centered around a persistent, motorik groove, enormous fuzz and distortion pedal power chords, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while sonically, the song brings Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age to mind, the song manages to feel remarkably upbeat.

The recently released video features incredibly pixellated footage of cars driving down late night streets and of Walker bobbing his head and singing along. It’s eerie yet appropriately trippy.

New Audio: Temples Release a Dance Floor Friendly and Kaleidoscopic Sean Ono Lennon-Produced Single

Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK-based indie rock/psych rock act Temples — currently founding members James Bagshaw (vocals, guitar) and Tom Walmsley (bass) with Adam Smith — can trace their origins back to 2012 when its founding members started the band as home-baed studio project, featuring two musicians, who had known each other through their hometown’s scene. 

Bagshaw and Walmsley uploaded four self-produced tracks, which caught the attention of Heavenly Recordings founder and label head Jeff Barrett, who signed the band and agreed to release their debut single “Shelter Song” later that year. Shortly after signing to Heavenly Recordings, Bagshaw and Walmsley recruited Samuel Toms (drums) and Adam Smith to flesh out the band’s live sound — and to complete the band’s first lineup. Since then the band has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2014’s Sun Structures, which landed at #7 on the UK Charts and 2017’s Volcano.  Building upon a growing profile, the British psych rock act has made appearances across the UK, European Union and North American festival circuits. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Suede, Mystery Jets, Kasabian and The Vaccines among others — but over the past few years, they’ve transitioned into a headlining act that has also made Stateside national television appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

2018 saw a number of major changes for the band: Samuel Toms left the band to focus on his solo recording project Secret Fix, and later joined the equally acclaimed Fat White Family. Temples also left their longtime label home Heavenly Recordings and signed with ATO Records, who released last year’s Hot Motion, which they supported with a busy touring schedule that included a stop at the Desert Daze Festival. The members of Temples caught their labelmates The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s set and shortly after they found themselves chatting about music with them band’s frontman Sean Ono Lennon. 

Several months later, ATO Records asked the band about releasing a previously unreleased Hot Motion sessions track as a single, and they immediately thought of Lennon and asked him to produce the track. “We couldn’t think of any greater mind than his to create with on this track,” the band’s Tom Walmsley says.  “When I first heard the demo for ‘Paraphernalia’ I knew they had a great tune,” says Lennon, who enlisted Dave Fridmann to mix the track.  “Paraphernalia” is a slick and kaleidoscopic synthesis of psych pop and disco pop featuring a sinuous and propulsive, dance floor friendly groove, shimmering guitars, twinkling keys, soaring strings and an anthemic hook paired with Bagshaw’s plaintive vocals. Sonically, the track reminds me of Fantasm-era Starlight Girls  but as the band explains the song is about the disconnect between reality and the online world. “In an age of constant distraction, we all strive to find focus and a sense of calm. ’Paraphernalia’ questions the depth of ‘real’ connections in a digital world,” the band says.