Category: Psych Rock

Throwback: Happy 79th Birthday, Janis Joplin!

JOVM celebrates the 79th anniversary of Janis Joplin’s birth.

Toronto-based psych rock duo Lammping — founding members vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson joined by guitarist Matt Aldred and bassist Scott Hannigan — can trace their origins to a gig where Anderson’s and Galkin’s previously bands shared the bill. The pair connected over their shared tastes, which included a love of an eclectic array of genres and styles, including mid-90s boom-bap, Tropicalia and library music.

Deriving their name from Public Enemy‘s “Cold Lampin’ with Flavor,” the Canadian quartet started as an attempt to bring a multitude of musical influences and ideas together under a psych rock umbrella and expand the sonic possibilities of heavy music.

Since their formation, the Toronto-based psych rock outfit has been busy: 2020 saw the release of their critically applauded full-length debut Bad Boys of Comedy, an effort that featured “Greater Good,” a noise rock meets shoegaze track that seemed inspired by Tropicalia, Turkish psych pop, old-school New York boom bap hip-hop and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Shortly after Bad Boys of Comedy‘s release, the members of Lammping started working on new material that found them pushing the boundaries of psych music in bold, new directions: Flashjacks. While being inspired by StereolabDe La SoulKraftwerkBlack SabbathBlue Cheer and Sleep, the Toronto-based psych outfit’s sophomore effort managed to still be rooted in Anderson’s thunderous drumming and Galkin’s melodic riffs. But the material also saw the duo adding sampling, drum machines and a wider variety of instrumentation to their sonic palette.

The band’s forthcoming EP Stars We Lost is slated for a March 4, 2022 release through We Are Busy Bodies. The EP’s material is a collection of 70s space rock-inspired rippers centered around the sort of songwriting that draws from the bandmembers’ rich and diverse history in Toronto’s music scene: Anderson’s contributions to the band’s ouevre is informed by the various rock acts he has played in, including Biblical, Badge Epoque Ensemble, Stonegrass, Marker Starling and Comet Control. Galkin’s background is rather unique. “In my late teens, early 20’s, I had a career as a sample-based beat maker, under the name DJ Alibi,” Galkin explains. “I was signed to Tres Records and put out One Day, and worked with J-Live, People Under The Stairs, Insight and other hip-hop acts.”

Stars We Lost‘s first single “Everlasting Moor” is mesmerizing song featuring a relentless motorik groove bolstered by a forceful backbeat, fuzzy power chords, some easy-going yet muscular Steely Dan meets Black Sabbath-like riffage, and glistening rhythm guitar. Galkin’s surrealistic, stream of consciousness delivered lyrics based on his own experiences as an immigrant to Canada, and a real life observation of something that actually happened ethereally float over the mix. The end result is a song that’s rooted in a fantastical realism while meshing Abbey Road era Beatles, krautrock, 70s yacht rock and space rock into a seamless and trippy freakout.

Discussing the meaning behind the song, Galkin says, “‘Everlasting Moor’ begins with ‘See a man, he’s popping and locking in a parkette gazebo.’ I saw a dude one afternoon doing just that, at a small parkette close to my house, where I bring my daughter to play. He brought a boombox and was just breakdancing by himself in this little gazebo, with no one around. For whatever reason that sparked a stream of consciousness song that was about finding our place in the world, and if unable to, creating a world in your mind you feel at home in. I’ve always wanted to write a song about my own immigrant experience, and after the first line, the words just spilled out.”  

New Video: Oliver Future Returns After 14 Year Hiatus to Release a Brooding Fever Dream

Split between Austin and Los Angeles, psych rock outfit Oliver Future — currently founding members Noah Lit (guitar, vocals), Josh Lit (vocals, keys), Sam Raver (guitar), Jesse Ingalls — was founded in Austin, back in 2002 featuring a lineup of Noah Lit, Josh Lit, Raver, Ingalls and Jordan Richardson (drums). While in Austin, the band wrote and recorded several albums before their management company relocated the band to Los Angeles in 2005.

The management company (and their stipends) disappeared quickly, and the band was stuck in Los Angeles, too broke to get back home. Luckily, they met producer and engineer Adam Lasus, who has worked with a who’s who list of contemporary indie rock acts, including recording a hit record with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, had just relocated to Los Angeles.

Lasus worked with the band on 2007’s Pax Futura, an effort that was released to widespread critical praise and received airplay on KCRW and NPR Music. The band, who were by then a fixture at Spaceland and The Echo, supported the album with several national tours, as well as stops at Austin City Limits Festival, SXSW, Sunset Junction Music Festival — and a live set on Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Just as the members of Oliver Future started working on Pax Futura‘s follow-up, a famous touring artist hired the band’s rhythm section. Ingalls and Richardson wound up touring the world and winning a Grammy while the remaining members of the band went on to write and record 2008’s In Event of Moon Disaster. Shortly, after In Event of Moon Disaster‘s release, the band broke up. Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Sam Raver returned to Austin.

Shortly after returning home, Noah Lit and Josh Lit became co-owners of popular East Austin craft beer and kolaches bakery, Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches. The successful brothers and business partners were still eager to create new music, and in 2019, they asked Jesse if he wanted to return to Austin to play what was intended to be a one-off, goodbye show at The Continental Club. The show was sold out, and although it was meant to close the book on the band, the fun of playing together was undeniable.

As the drudgery of lockdowns continues into last summer, Josh Lit, Noah Lit and Raver started regularly getting together to jam in their studio. The music instantly sounded like Oliver Future. They contacted Richardson, who remembered two of the songs they were working on before their initial breakup “Phases of the Moon” and “I Can’t Take It.” The rest of the material, which would eventually comprise their forthcoming album A Year at Home was written remotely between Austin and Los Angeles over the past year with the band sending tracks and ideas back and forth through text and email. Studio pro Jimmy Paxson played drums on the album.

The band describes the A Year at Home sessions as “the most effortless recordings they ever got to do.” The final touch was that the band recruited Adam Lasus to mix the record. Although the album is the first album from the psych rock outfit in over 14 years, the album’s material sees the band seemingly continuing where they left off.

“Phases of the Moon,” A Year at Home‘s first single is a slow-burning and brooding song, centered around glistening synth arpeggios, the Lits’ ethereal harmonies, shimmering guitars and a steady yet hypnotic groove. Sonically, “Phases of the Moon” will most likely draw comparisons to Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd and Young Narrator in the Breakers era Pavo Pavo — it’s anachronistic take on retro futurism, which seems to reveal the rot, anxiety, and unease just underneath,

The recently released video for “Phases of the Moon” is an eerie yet gorgeous fever dream inspired by modern life in quarantine doldrums: evil phantasms are everywhere, so the video’s protagonist is left at home trying to hold on to the old normal, and to entertain herself — but she eventually she goes mad.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays TEKE: TEKE Release a Frenzied and Mischievous Visual for “Kala Kala”

Initially started as a loving homage and tribute band to legendary Japanese guitarist Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi, the Montreal-based collective TEKE: TEKE – Yuki Isami (flute, shinobue and keys), Hidetaka Yoneyama (guitar), Sergio Nakauchi Pelletier (guitar), Mishka Stein (bass), Etienne Lebel (trombone), Ian Lettree (drums, percussion) and Maya Kuroki (vocals, keys and percussion) —  features a collection of accomplished Montreal-based musicians, who have played with the likes of Pawa Up FirstPatrick WilsonBoogatGypsy Kumbia Orchestra and others. The Montreal-based act quickly came into their own when they started to blend Japanese Eleki surf rock with elements of modern Western music including shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Adding to a bold, genre-defying sound, the band’s arrangement meshes rock instrumentation with traditional Japanese instrumentation.

With the release of their debut EP 2018’s Jikaku, the members of the Montreal-based septet came into their own highly unique and difficult to pigeonhole sound that features elements of Japanese Eleki surf rock, shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Last year was a momentous year for TEKE: TEKE. They signed to Kill Rock Stars Records, who released the rising Canadian act’s full-length debut Shirushi earlier this year.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I wrote about five of its singles:  

  • Kala Kala:” Deriving its title from a phrase that roughly translates to English as clattering, “Kala Kala” is centered around a mind-melting arrangement and song structure, Kuroki’s howling and crooning. And to my ears, the track accurately captures the band’s frenetic live energy. 
  • Chidori,” a cinematic yet mosh pit friendly freak out that’s one part psych rock, one part Dick Dale-like surf rock, one part Ennio Morricone soundtrack delivered with a frenetic aplomb. 
  • Meikyu:” Deriving its title from the Japanese word for labyrinth, the track is a no bullshit, no filler all killer ripper with menacing guitar work, dramatic bursts of trombone, fluttering flute, thumping tribal drumming and some wild soloing within an expansive, mind-melting song structure.  
  • Yoru Ni,” a fever dream featuring dreamy blasts of flute and trombone, menacing and slashing guitars and intricate Japanese shamisen. Deriving its name from the Japanese phrase for “at night,” the song despite it’s mischievous tone, is a somewhat romantic and spiritual tale about its central character letting go of a long-held delusional quest. 
  • Barbara,” a mischievous and cinematic track with a stomping, punk rock energy that sounds like the perfect soundtrack for a misfit circus — or the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, as each instrumental part seemingly introducing a new and strange character. Much like the previously released singles, “Barbara” captures the frenetic energy of their live sets. The lyrics as the band explained are a twisted take on zashiki-warashi, spirit beings, who like to perform pranks and bring good fortune to those who see them.

The Montreal-based JOVM mainstays just announced a 2022 North American tour that includes a handful of club dates and some Winter festival appearances. Sadly, there aren’t any New York dates on this run. But if you happen to be in or near any of these cities, go and catch them. As always, tour dates are below. But in the meantime, the band released a trippy visual for album single “Kala Kala.”

Directed by the band’s Maya Kuroki and Serge Nakauchi Pelletier, the video is a deft and playful mix of illustrations and old-timey collages by the band’s Maya Kuroki, close-up footage of the band by Lily Pelletier, live footage of the band and more, edited by Serge Nakauchi Pelletier. It’s a frenzied and arresting visual delight, chock full of Easter eggs and sight gags.

New Video: Dream Phases Releases an Expansive and Trippy Meditation on Creativity and Writer’s Block

After spending stints in notable Los Angeles-based acts like Blank Tapes, The Relationship, Levitation Room and Nacosta, Brandon Graham decided that it was time to step out into the spotlight in his own terms. Initially starting the Los Angeles-based psych rock outfit Dream Phases as a solo, home recording project, the project became a full-fledged band when Garham’s brother Shane and their friend Keveen Badouin assisted him in fleshing out the material he had written.

Creatively, the sibling bond between Brandon and Shane is at the heart of the band. “There is a special synergy between us that wouldn’t be there if we weren’t brothers,” Shane Graham says. “We share many of the same influences, but we also have some different ones as well that help make the band unique. We don’t always see eye-to-eye creatively, but then we work it out and end up with something we are both excited about.”

The then-newly launched band released their debut EP 2017’s Maybe Tomorrow, which was quickly followed by their full-length debut So Long, Yesterday. Both releases saw the band establish a sound that drew from The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — as well as acts like Rain Parade, Elliot Smith and Autolux among others. The band supported both of those efforts with touring that found the Los Angeles-based psych outfit replicating the dreamy vibes of their studio work with raw energy, light shows and other visual effects at SXSW and two European tours. “Our albums are very thought-out, but our live show is more primal and exciting in a different way,” Dream Phases’ Brandon Graham says in press notes. ““We never wanted to be a band that sounds exactly like it does on record.”

Dream Phases’ sophomore album New Distractions is slated for a November 10, 2021 release through Nomad Eel Records and Lunar Ruin and the album sees the band translating the experiences of its members into something compelling — and universal while pushing their sound into new directions. The album. which was written through email and Zoom meetings is also the first album, where it’s a fully collaborative affair with all of the band’s members having songwriting credits. In the past I would make a fully fleshed out demo recording and then show the guys that,” Brandon Graham recalls.  “With this one I mostly just wrote the skeleton of the song, like the lyrics, vocal, guitar and sometimes keys and then sent that. We talked about structure, rhythm, and other elements that brought the songs to life.”

“I think there’s a lot more self-reflection in these songs,” Brandon Graham says. “They were written during the COVID lockdown, and there was so much happening in the world that you really had to look at yourself in the mirror and ask where you stood on a range of issues. Several of the songs deal with growing older and taking care of yourself both mentally and physically, as well as learning to not take things for granted.” Matters of the heart also were a new emphasis for the material. “In my previous bands, I rarely if ever wrote about relationships, but it seems like every other song on this album is about them. I guess I’m trying to be more direct now,” Brandon Graham adds.

New Distractions‘ latest single is the dreamy “In A Box.” Seemingly indebted to Summer of Love era psych rock and 70s AM rock, the song is centered around shimmering, delay and reverb-drenched guitars, Brandon Graham’s plaintive falsetto and expansive song structure that starts out a bit brooding and gets increasingly hopeful as the song moves towards its conclusion. And while decidedly trippy, the song is informed by personal, lived-in experience as the band explains.

“‘In a Box’ was the first song written for New Distractions, in fact we played this song on our 2019 European tour. The song is about overcoming writers block, and searching for the inspiration to do just that. The chorus progressively get more hopeful as the joy of writing something new is felt. The accompanying music video was made by Matthew Lingo and Styles Wolff Baker and visualizes the journey through the sub conscious mind, searching for inspiration.”