Category: Psych Rock

Toronto-based psych rock duo Lammping — vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson — released their critically applauded full-length debut Bad Boys of Comedy last summer. The album, which featured the noise rock meets shoegazer-like “Greater Good,” helped the band establishing a fresh and eclectic approach to psychedelia while eschewing easy categorization, with the material drawing from Tropicalia, Turkish psych, New York boom-bap hip hop beats and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Shortly after the release of Bad Boys of Comedy, the Canadian psych rock duo started working on a new batch of songs, songs that found the duo further pushing the boundaries of psych music in new directions. While their newest material is still rooted in Anderson’s thunderous drumming and Galkin’s melodic riff, the duo have added samples, drum machines and some expanded instrumentation, adding to their overall sonic palate. The end result, New Jaws EP is equally indebted to Stereolab, De La Soul, Kraftwerk, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Sleep. As the duo explain in press notes, the EP serves as a bridge to their sophomore, full-length album an effort that reportedly will find the Canadian duo eschewing cliched stoner and psych rock tropes while attempting to find a new path in heavy music.

“Jaws of Life,” New Jaws EP‘s latest single is a trippy song centered around a morphing and mind-bending song structure: the song’s heavy metal-like first half is centered round Anderson’s thunderous drumming, Galkin’s fuzzy, Black Sabbath-like riffs and distorted vocals. But roughly half way through the song, it quickly turns into a jazzy and lysergic jam featuring twinkling keys, and an extended, wah wah pedaled guitar solo. Sonically, the track is a heady synthesis of 70s AM rock, psych rock and grunge with enormous hooks.


Live Footage: The Black Angels Performs “Manipulation” at LEVITATION Festival with Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dihr

Levitation Festival (formerly known as Austin Psych Fest) can trace its beginnings to a simple idea devised by the members of The Black Angels in the back of a tour van in 2007 — let’s invite all of our favorite bands and all of our friends for our version of a music festival.

The inaugural Austin Psych Fest was in March 2008 and by popular demand, the festival expanded to a three day event the following year. The festival quickly became an international destination for psych rock fans with lineups featuring up-and-comers, cult favorites, legendary and influential acts and a headlining set from The Black Angels. Renamed Levitation in honor of Austin psych rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, the festival has sparked an new, international psych rock movement while inspiring the creation of several similar events across the globe, including Levitation Festival events in Chicago, Vancouver, France and a SXSW showcase, as well as other special events in Europe and Latin America.

Late last year, Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society announced the launch of a new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Comprised of material played and recorded throughout the festival’s decade-plus history, the live album series specifically captures and documents key artists in the contemporary psych rock scene. Of course, many of these moments were also important moments of Austin’s live music scene.

The live series’ first album Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION featured two different Kikagaku Moyo sets — their 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the Japanese psych rock act’s first Stateside shows and their return to Levitation back in 2019, during a sold-out Stateside tour. Live at LEVITATION’s second album The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION features the festival’s founders The Black Angels. Comprised of material recorded at Austin Psych Fest 2010, 2011 and 2012, the album captures a rare glimpse of the festival’s early days — and for Black Angels fans, like myself, it also features six songs from their first two albums, Passover and Directions to See a Ghost.

The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a March 26, 2021 digital and vinyl release through The Reverberation Society, and as The Black Angels’ Christian Bland explains in press notes, “Since the beginning The Black Angels were meant to be heard live. This record captures the rumble of the drums and amps, and the very essence of the way it should sound. Now future generations and new listeners can now hear how these songs were meant to be heard.”

The album’s first single is hypnotic and menacing live version of Passover single “Manipulation” that features a mesmerizing guest spot from Elephant Stone’s bassist, sitarist and frontman Rishi Dihr. The accompanying live footage was filmed at Austin’s Seaholm Power Plant.

LIve Footage: Brazil’s WRY at Febre Festival 2020

With the release of their first five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar), Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have been at the forefront of Brazil’s contemporary rock scene while developing a sound indebted to Brit Pop, shoegaze and post-punk.

The members of WRY have also spent several years living and working in London, and as a result of a growing internationally recognized profile, they went on several tours across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds of the European festival circuit with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound. Additionally, along with their recorded output and profile, the members of the Brazilian psych rock act own a popular club, which has frequently hosted their internationally acclaimed countrymen, JOVM mainstays Boogarins.

The Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock act released their sixth album Noites Infinitas earlier this year, and the album’s material touches upon themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope, while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band released a handful of singles off the album, including two singles I’ve personally written about:

“Travel:” Brit Pop-like single centered around a motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic hook.
“I feel invisible:” a shimmering New Wave meets shoegaze-like track featuring shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals that captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed and hemmed in by a society that won’t allow him to live his life in a truthful fashion.

Recently, the members of WRY played a career-spanning live-streamed set for Febre Festival that featured my two favorite songs off their recently released album, as well as some other material. Check it out.

New Video: Alex Maas Releases a Meditative and Melancholic Visual for “The City”

Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Alex Maas is known for being the frontman and founding member of acclaimed Austin-based psych rock act The Black Angels and psych rock supergroup MIEN. Maas’ life changed in 2018 with the birth of his first child, a healthy and happy baby boy, he and his partner named Luca, which means “bringer of light.”

With Luca’s brith, Maas experienced a flurry of emotions he hadn’t felt before.There was profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree, a gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into, exactly? And how could Maas protect him from its dangers? “The world is definitely messed up,” Maas says in press notes. “But there’s a lot of good in it too, and that’s why the whole world isn’t on fire—parts of it are. I do believe that there’s more good than evil.”

Named for his first-born child, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced full-length debut Luca saw its official release today through Innovative Leisure. Interestingly, the new album was actually a long time coming, with some of it material dating back almost a decade — and put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. Featuring songs that are a much gentler, meditative take on the psych rock sound he’s best known for, the album is a decided sonic departure, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Driven by the quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, Luca finds Maas contemplating his son’s future, the terrifying and uncertain world he was born in and how to navigate the perils and frustrations of our society. And as a result. Luca is arguably the most personal and direct material Maas has written in his nearly two decade recording career.

“The City,” Luca‘s latest single is a woozy and intimate campfire song that reckons with the larger, historical cycle of human violence. The hauntingly sparse arrangement — guitar and Maas’ imitable vocals — manages to evoke the horror, terror and senselessness of our behavior to one another. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.

To celebrate the release of the album, the Laura Lynn Petrick-directed video for “The City” was shot on grainy and old-timey Super 8 film — and the visual is a meditative and melancholic look at America, capturing the mundanity of the country with a sort of bleary-eyed exhaustion.

New Audio: Perth Australia’s Mt. Mountain Releases a Hypnotic New Single

With the release of their first three albums, 2016’s Cosmos Terros, 2017’s Dust, 2018’s Golden Rise, the Perth, Australia-based psych rock quintet Mt. Mountain — Stephen Bailey (vocals, organ, flute), Thomas Cahill (drums), Glenn Palmer (guitar, synth), Brendan Shanley (bass) and Derrick Treatch (guitar) — developed and honed a sprawling, motorik-driven, minimal-as -maximal approach inspired by the likes of NEU! and CAN. And through a wildly all-consuming live show, the Aussie psych rockers have added their names to a an impressive list of contemporaries including Moon Duo, Kikagaku Moyo and Minami Deutsch while sharing stages with JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, ORB, Sleep, MONO, Thee Oh Sees, Acid Mothers Temple and the aforementioned Moon Duo.

The Aussie quintet recently signed to London-based Fuzz Club Records, who will be releasing the band’s fourth album Centre. Slated for a February 26, 2021 release, Centre continues the band’s long-held reputation for crafting material from long, improvised jams with much of the album recorded live to tape, capturing the band at their most freewheeling. Thematically, the album reportedly is centered around a dissection of faith — both spiritual and secular — and Stephen Bailey’s personal, often complicated relationship to it. “The album for me, lyrically, is mostly about my experience of religion. It explores these concepts and the rules that were told to me from childhood to adulthood and my thoughts on my own connection to them,” Bailey explains. “Similar themes arise between the tracks whether it be lyrically or structural, both a play on repetition and simplicity. ”

“Aplomb,” Centre’s hypnotic and brooding first single features an expansive, booze and hallucinogen-fueled song structure driven by rolling rhythms, a motorik groove, droning keys, a looping and shimmering guitar line paired with Bailey’s yearning vocals — and the end result is a deeply textured, painterly take on psych rock.

“‘Aplomb’ is essentially the voice that I hear in my head, reminding me to not rush and slow down, and to have the confidence to bring this into practice in everyday life,” Mt. Mountain’s Stephen Bailey explains in press notes. “We wanted there to be this clear contrast here between the tempo of the song and the lyrical content, an approach which appears throughout the album.”

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Shimmering and Anthemic “I feel invisible”

Through the release of five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie 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.

But most importantly, the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet are integral members of Brazil’s growing indie rock scene: along with their five albums, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins. The Brazilian act spent also several years living and working in London, going on several tours across both the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

WRY’s sixth album Noites Infinitas was released earlier this year through OAR, and the 10 song album finds the band’s work touching upon anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band has released a handful of singles off the album, including the rousingly anthemic Brit Pop meets shoegaze-like ;”Travel.” Since then, the album and three of its singles have begun to receive attention here in the States, with the album landing on a couple of indie radio charts.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the band and their recently released effort, the album’s latest single “I feel invisible” finds the band meshing shoegaze and New Wave, with the track being centered around shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals, a propulsive bass line, a rousingly anthemic hook and Bross’ plaintive vocals. While sonically recalling Slowdive, A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve and Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell,” the song captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed by a society that won’t let them live their life in a truthful fashion.

Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video follows its protagonist, who boldly defies society norms while pursing a passion for tango — but because of the pressures put upon him by those who misunderstand our sensitive and talented protagonist, he snaps and starts carrying a gun.

New Video: Aussie JOVM Mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Head to the Dance Floor

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed, genre-defying Aussie psych rock and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard — Stu Mackenzie (vocals/guitar), Ambrose Kenny-Smith (harmonica/vocals/keyboards), Cook Craig (guitar/vocals), Joey Walker (guitar/vocals), Lucas Skinner (bass) and Michael Cavanagh (drums).– have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for being a restlessly experimental and prolific act that has released boundary using material that has drawn from psych rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, thrash punk, prog rock and Turkish pop.

The JOVM mainstays’ 16th album K.G. is a collection of songs that was written and recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the new and very different recording approach, K.G.’s songs were pieced together and given space to breathe, which allowed the music to be entire free. “It’s almost like an album that normal people make,” the band’s Stu Mackenzie laughs “Almost…”

K.G.’s material can trace some of its origins to their critically acclaimed 2017 effort Flying Microtonal Banana, which marked the first of five albums released that year. That album was written and recorded using a Turkish-inspired microtonal musical scale that required quarter tone tunings — and custom-made instruments for the occasion. While featuring live favorites like “Rattlesnake,” “Sleep Drifter,” “Nuclear Fusion” and “Billabong Valley,” Flying Microtonal Banana revealed a band that paints from a palette that extends past the prototypical sounds and tones of Western music.

“FMB was one of the purest and most enjoyable recording experiences we’ve had, and the ideas just kept coming” Mackenzie explains. “But we didn’t think we would play it live as the music dictated a new medium that requires different instruments, new flight cases and so. It was a liberating studio-based experiment which surprisingly translated seamlessly and spawned some of favourite songs to play live.” Interestingly. K.G. finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays returning to the microtonal tunings heard on Flying Microtonal Banana but while cherry picking the best aspects of their previous work and contorting them into new shapes with non-Western musical scales.

Interestingly, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s 16th album is simultaneously a stand-alone work and part of a bigger musical picture. The albums often feature motifs and ideas that may have appeared several albums previously, suddenly rearing their heads in a completely new way. And odds are we’ll likely see even more news on what’s to come. But in meantime, K.G.’s latest single, the hypnotic, house music freak out, “Intrasport” finds the Aussie JOVM mainstays heading to the dance floor — yes, seriously! — with a track centered around thumping beats, shimmering Casio-like synth arpeggios, an infectious hook and a club banging breakdown. Because of the micro tuning, “Intrasport” manages to sound as though it were inspired by the likes of JOVM mainstay Omar Souleyman — but with a mischievous and trippy air.

Directed, edited and shot by John Angus Stewart, the recently released video features the members of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard at a party at an impossibly small apartment. But we see the members of the band moving in a Matrix-like slow motion — while others kind of move normally. It’s trippy as fuck. “The clip was shot in my tiny studio apartment,” John Angus Stewart says. “For the main reason that it’s the smallest place I know that someone lives in. The aim was to find the 50/50 split: feeling lonely at a party but surrounded by people. Feeling like you are the only one there and that nobody really understands you (but you still have to bring it). I used 35mm anamorphic to give the small space as much panoramic effect as I could muster. Sometimes the smallest of spaces feel huge when you are partying, why do you think everyone always gathers in the kitchen or bathroom?”

Live Footage: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Perform “Evil Death Roll” — from “Live in San Francisco ’16”

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed, genre-defying Aussie psych rock and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have maintained a long-held reputation for being a restlessly prolific act has released boundary pushing material that frequently draws from psych rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, thrash punk, Turkish pop, prog rock, and more.

2016’s Nonagon Infinity began an enviable and insanely prolific run of material that found the Aussie act doubling their overall output in only a handful of years. Released to major critical praise internationally from the likes of NPR, who hailed it as “masterfully bizarro” and Pitchfork who wrote that the album yielded “some of the most outrageous, exhilarating rock ‘n’ roll in recent memory.” The album was also a commercial success in their native Australia, wining an ARIA Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album. Interestingly, as a result of the album’s critical and commercial success, Nonagon Infinity has proven to be a major career turning point for the band with the band’s live show quickly moving from more intimate settings — 500 or so capacity joints to 2,500-5,000 capacity clubs and amphitheaters.

Written and recorded over a two year period, Nonagon Infinity is a drastic departure from its immediate predecessor, 2015’s Paper Maché Dream Machine with the band taking a bold creative leap in its structure and arrangements. “I wanted to have an album where all these riffs and grooves just kept coming in and out the whole time, so a song wasn’t just a song, it was part of a loop, part of this whole experience where it feels like it doesn’t end and doesn’t need to end,” King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie explained in 2016. The album is the world’s first infinity looping album, which each track flowing seamlessly into the next with the album’s closing track linking back to the album’s opener. The band tears through the album’s set of material with a furious intensity — and without ever breaking. For the band and the listener, its meant to induce a joyful and feverish delirium.

The Aussie psych rock JOVM mainstays just released a live double LP album Live in San Francisco ’16. Recorded during a tour stop at San Francisco’s The Independent, the live album captures the band’s infamously explosive live shows — and the sweaty and intense intimacy of the 500 capacity room. With nearly half of that tour’s setlist made up of Nonagon Infinity tracks, the live album unfolds with furious yet controlled sense of chaos while capturing the band at arguably their tightest ever. “2016 was peak tightness for Gizz,” Stu Mackenzie recalls in press notes. “Around this time we were really into tightly composed sets, and the show was like one long song—everything linked, everything planned. We threw that idea out the window later on, but this live record is a great document of that moment in our collective psyche.”

Along with the live album, the Aussie JOVM released a live concert film — from that same live recording. As a taste of both the album and the live concert film, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard released footage of an explosive performance of Nonagon Infinity album track “Evil Death Roll” that will further cement the band’s reputation for being one of the world’s best live acts.

You can purchase the Concert Film here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/liveinsanfrancisco16

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut Slices, the Stockholm-based psych act Phogg quickly established a buzz-worthy sound that critics across Scandinavia and elsewhere compared to Ariel Pink and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Building upon a growing profile, last year’s sophomore album Mofeto: Mashine Adamkosh, an album about “robots that take over the world,” featured two attention grabbing singles:

  • Three Shirts:” a motorik-groove driven single that to my ears brings TOY‘s Join the Dots and Primal Scream‘s Evil Heat to mind.
  • Pearls:” an expansive and lysergic track that’s one part explosive psych rock freak out ripper and one part melodic and jangling guitar pop held together by a sinuous and propulsive groove.

Much like everyone else, 2020 has been a difficult year for the members of Phogg. Riding high from the critical reception of their sophomore album, the band began the ambitious challenge of working on two different albums simultaneously with the goal of working on each album in parallel — and then releasing them at the same time. But as the old saying goes: “The best laid plans of mice and men go awry.” Recording two different albums at the same time, wound up being a terrible decision with the band experiencing burn out and fatigue. And for a period of time, the band sort of floated around with no direction and no goal, waiting until their creative instincts returned.

During that the period, the band had deep-seated philosophical questions that tied into their own creative process. What does it really mean to be a rock band these days? Does anything even matter? The legendary days of rock have faded into the ruthless fart of the pandemic era. It’s not fun to make songs about the end times when you are in the middle of it.”

Phogg’s forthcoming third album The Sharkness is informed by and influenced by the harrowing events and emotions of the pandemic, an existential crisis and a recent heartbreak. The Sharkness‘ latest single “Corme (Rental Palace)” is a brooding yet meditative instrumental jam centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric and twinkling keys, a propulsive rhythm section before turning into a gallop towards the song’s last half. Some dexterous guitar work darts in and out of the song’s propulsive rhythm, giving the song a subtle surf rock air. Interestingly, the track may be among the most brooding yet heartfelt tracks of their growing catalog.