Category: Psych Rock

 

Over the past three years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the Tucson, AZ-based quintet The Myrrors, and as you may recall the band, which is currently comprised of Nik Rayne, Grant Beyschau, Casey Hadland, Kellen Fortier, and Miguel Urbina have developed and maintained a reputation for crafting ominous and expansive psych rock centered around trance-like grooves. Interestingly, the JOVM mainstays forthcoming album Borderlands which is slated for an August 17, 2018 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records nominally references the collective, self-made boundaries we draw, while offering a soundtrack for setting forth strategies that either ignore or erases them.

As the band explains, the album’s latest single “The Blood That Runs the Border,” “is actually an old live standard that for whatever reason never translated into a recording until now, a time which the issues of manufactured frontiers and the human cost of xenophobic immigration controls are perhaps more immediate than ever before. Destroy all borders, tear down all walls and the governments that build them! In a sense the track actually sowed the seeds for the entire record, from its subject matter to our conscious effort to more accurately capture the sound of The Myrrors in its current live incarnation.”  Thematically it may overtly political song they’ve ever written, the expansive song is centered by a propulsive, trance-inducing groove over which shimmering, mind-bending guitar work and reverb-drenched covers ethereally float over; but as a result, it has a deeper and heavier emotional heft — crestfallen and exhausted, resolute and determined. And while still evoking a dusty, desert vista, the song evokes our murky and uncertain world in a frightening fashion.

 

 

 

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New Video: The Debaucherous and Absurd Visuals for Tempesst’s “A Little Bit of Trouble”

Initially based around Queensland, Australia-born, founding members and twin siblings Toma Banjamin (vocals, guitar) and Andy Banjamin (drums), the up-and-coming psych rock/psych pop quintet Tempesst completed their lineup when the Benjamin Brothers relocated to London, where they eventually recruited Eric Weber (guitar), Kane Reynolds (keys) and Blake Misipeka (bass) to fill out the band’s lineup.  The Australian/British quintet’s 2017 debut EP, Adult Wonderland was released to critical praise in the UK — and as result of the growing buzz surrounding them, they wound up opening of the likes of The Veils, Temper Trap, GUM, and Albert Hammond, Jr., and they played showcases at The Great Escape, the NME Awards and Live at Leeds, as well as sets at Bushstock, Southsea Fest, and Hackney Wonderland.

Slated for release later this month, the band’s Doomsday EP is slated for a July 27, 2018 release and the effort, which was tracked over the course of a breakneck 4 days earlier this year reportedly finds the band expanding upon both their songwriting and sound,  adding instruments and layers to the proverbial sonic palette.  While maintaining elements of the 60s and 70s sound that won them attention across the UK, the Australian/British outfit manages to subtly modernize it, with subtle nods to contemporary psych rock and psych pop, as well as folk and indie rock. Interestingly, the EP thematically finds the up-and-coming band dealing with an increasing awareness of their own mortality. As the band’s Toma Banjamin says in press notes, “I have been caught in a ‘meaning of life’ spiral, which I guess is pretty normal in your 20s. It’s the first time that I’ve felt so aware of my mortality and it probably doesn’t help that the Facebook and Netflix algorithms keep feeding me documentaries on the topic.” In some way, that sense of mortality shouldn’t be surprising in a world that seems to be inching towards annihilation.

The EP’s latest single “A Little Bit of Trouble” is a decidedly 70s AM rock-inspired song centered around a jangling and shimmering guitar line, a stunningly gorgeous string line that emphasizes a soaring hook, and an easy going yet shuffling groove, but underneath the breezy vibes is a song that’s deeply rooted in a sense of regret and shame. There’s the sense that the song’s narrator repeatedly finds himself in similar, ridiculous situations — and that he has the awareness that he’s only doing it to himself. And as a result, he’s resolved to clean up his life, stop the foolishness and grow up.  Interestingly, the song as the band’s Toma Banjamin explains was inspired by a real life incident, “The week we started writing the instrumentals for the track we had a bit of an incident at a pub in East London. Some guys were giving Andy a hard time about his jacket or hat or something and everyone was pretty drunk. The song was written to capture the memory for eternity.”

The recently released video follows a male exotic dancer as he confidently struts to the strip club, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever but as the video progresses, it’s clear that the dancer’s confidence is a superficial facade, as he performs in front of a drunk and generally listless crowd, who are daring him to impress them — with something other than what he’s actually doing. Yes, it’s tongue in cheek but it manages to point out a larger absurdity that any performer should immediately recognize.

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Danish Act Collider Performs “Glockster” at Tapetown Studio

With the release of “Bruno” last year, the Danish psych rock act Collider, comprised of Mikkel Fink, Marie Nyhus, Johan S. Polder, and Troels Damgaard-C quickly emerged into the national scene. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of the Danish psych rock act have been playing showcases across the European Union and the States without much of an internet presence — until recently. But despite that, from what I’ve been told the band has received some attention from the likes of Rolling Stone and other internationally recognized outlets.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 15-18 months or so, you would have come across a couple of live sessions shot in the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studio, and as you may recall the studio along with Sound of Aarhus started a live video series in which they invite national, regional and even internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio. The newest installment features the aforementioned Collider, who played their latest single, the trippy and chaotic track that nods at krautrock, psych rock and space rock simultaneously while being centered around anthemic, grunge rock-like hooks.

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about The Babe Rainbow, and as you may recall, the act which is currently comprised of the Bryon Bay, Australia-born and -based founding members Angus Dowling and Jack Laughlan Crowther and newest members Lucas Mariani and Jessi Dunbar can trace its origins to when its founding duo met while in school, bonding over a mutual love of The Incredible String Band and Swing Mademoiselles among others. The band’s early singles caught the attention of Flightless Records, who went on to release their breakout single “Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest.” Eventually, the band then caught the attention of internationally renowned producer Danger Mouse, who signed the band to his 30th Century Records.

Their self-titled debut was produced by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Stu Mackenzie, and album singles “Johny Stays Cool,” and “Monkey Disco,” revealed a band that specialized in an especially quirky, off-kilter approach centered around decidedly lo-fi vibes. Now, as you’ll hear on “Supermoon,” the first single off the Australian band’s forthcoming sophomore album Double Rainbow, the band will cement their growing reputation for crafting an anachronistic, lo-fi sound, but unlike their previous album, the single finds the band going further back in time — to the 60s; in fact, the lysergic single sounds indebted to Yellow Submarine and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, thanks in part to a steady yet ethereal groove.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The 120 Minutes MTV-Like Sounds and Visuals of Mute Swan’s “Enough Fun”

Since their formation back in 2014, the Tuscon, AZ-based quartet Mute Swan, comprised of Mike Barnett, Prabjit Virdee, Thomas Sloane and Roger Reed, have developed a reputation for crafting swirling, densely layered psych rock that’s been described by some as a less jittery Of Montreal and compared to Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips, and although that may be arguable, their latest single “Enough Fun” is a hazy, power chord driven song that should remind you (if you’re old enough) of 120 Minutes-era MTV — in particular, Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins, Melvins and others, with an uncanny pairing of melody with enormous, crowd-pleasing hooks. However, as the band’s frontman Mike Barnett explains, “America is having a meltdown. This song is about that. With fuzz.” And as a result, the song find the band carefully walking a tightrope between ethereal and summery guitar pop and furious, sociopolitically charged rock, expressing frustration at the unchecked greed and power of the wealthy elite.

The recently released is shot in a grainy VHS style, reminiscent of home videos from the 80s and follows a group of one-percenters cruising around aimlessly in a Mercedes, burning money with a religious cult-like figure. It’s trippy and pretty fucking surreal but all too fitting.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Here Lies Man Returns with an Anthemic and Scuzzy Take on Afrobeat-Tinged Psych Rock

I’ve written quite a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man over the past year or so, and as you ay recall, the act, which was founded by Marcos Garcia and Geoff Mann, both of whom had stints in renowned Afrobeat collective Antibalas have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that seamlessly bridges classic, Fela Kuti-era, funky Afrobeat grooves with classic, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin-era, power chord-fueled rock.

You Will Know Nothing, Here Lies Man’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is salted for a June 15, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album reportedly finds the band refining and expanding upon their sound. As the band’s co-founder Marcos Garcia explains in press notes, “We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs. Tony Iommi’s innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are talking the same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi, it was the blues, for us to comes directly from Africa.” Additionally, the band members specifically focused on writing catchier, much more anthemic material and thematically conceptualized lyrics focusing on states of being and consciousness centered around somewhat slicker production that its predecessor. As Garcia continues in press notes, “We wanted to go deeper with the sonic experience. Even though it sounds more hi-fi than the first record, it was important that it didn’t sound too polished.”

The members of the band note that the album’s material is also centered around musical theory with interludes between songs being 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the tempo of the proceeding song. “The reason it breaks down to 2 over 3 or 3 over 4 is that everything in the music rhythmically corresponds to a set of mathematical algorithms known as the clave. The clave is an ancient organizing rhythmic principle developed in Africa,” Here Lies Man’s Geoff Mann explains in press notes. “We dove deep into the texture of the music, beyond the groove and the riff. Although something might sound like one instrument, there are subtle layers shifting through. It’s definitely a headphone album.”

Much like its predecessor, Garcia and Mann recorded You Will Know Nothing in their Los Angeles studio on a Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Congas were later recorded by percussionists Richard Panta and Reinaldo DeJesus. Then Garcia traveled to New York to record the interludes with former Antibalas keyboardist Victor Axelrod. The members of the band had to balance a busy touring schedule with mixing, which took most of the creative process of the album with the band having to find the proper sonic space of each particular layer of musical detail. Interestingly, the band split mixing duties with their debut’s engineer Jeremey Page mixing drum parts. 

“Taking the Blame,” You Will Know Nothing’s third and latest single continues in a similar vein as the preceding two singles “Fighting” and “That Much Closer” as its centered around some blistering and guitar pyrotechnics, propulsive drumming and percussion — and while it effortlessly meshes psych rock, stoner rock, Afrobeat and 70s era classic rock, the song is a dense and incredibly textured piece that requires multiple, careful listens making it ambitious yet anthemic and accessible headphone friendly rock. 

New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got. 

New Video: The Cinematic and Psychedelic Visuals for Golden Dawn Arkestra’s Anthemic “Wings of Ra”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Austin, TX psychedelic collective The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and as you may recall, collective’s founder, the Washington, DC-born, Austin,TX-based musician Zapot Mgwana, was told by his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy that his father was Herman Poole Blount, more famously known to musicians, fans and critics as Sun Ra.  When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. As an adult, Mgwana returned to the States and founded The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and much like Sun Ra’s work, Mgwana’s collective focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. Album single “Lovely Day,” found the band sonically drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone to create a wildly expansive, globalist and forward-thinking take on the large band format that managed to be both mischievously retro-futuristic and kaleidoscopic. “Wings of Ra,’ Children of the Sun’s latest single finds the band drawing from anthemic, power chord-based psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings to mind JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Jethro Tull and others but with a cosmic glow. 

Directed by Ben Blanchard and Vanessa Pla, the recently released video for “Wings of Ra” is an incredibly cinematic and wildly psychedelic (and symbolic)_ romp that references  the work of Dario Argento, biblical scenery and biblical-inspired paintings (Last Supper anyone?) with its cast dressed in costumes that nod at the traditions of India, Africa and China to further emphasize the band’s globalist leanings. But perhaps more important, the video is pretty fucking trippy. 

New Audio: SVVAMP Returns with a Bluesy Single that Brings Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk Railroad to Mind

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the  Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP, and the band which is comprised of longtime friends Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren can trace their origins to a mutually shared love of rock, folk and the blues — and the band since its formation has received praise for a classic rock-inspired, heavy psych sound that has drawn comparisons to Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse but with an unpretentious, uncontrived vibe. Or in other words, while clearly drawing from the sounds of the late 60s and early 70s, the Swedish rockers aren’t in it for irony-fueled shits and giggles, there’s real soul and heart in what they do and how they do it. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.

SVVAMP 2, the Swedish trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive, technological jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a 6-track tape deck, which allows the band to expand upon their overall sound while improving its fidelity. Interestingly, SVVAMP’s move from 4-track to 6-track recording follows the development of early psych rock bands moving towards increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), going from 4, then 6, then 8 and eventually 16 tracks and onward; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”

Earlier this year,  I wrote about “Queen,”SVVAMP 2‘s swaggering and self-assured first single, a track that finds the band crafting a sound that sounded as though it could have been released in 1968, thanks in part to its enormous, power chord-based riff, and arena rock friendly hooks that immediately bring Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse to mind but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” with an effortless balance of the cool, self-assuredness of old pros and the immediacy of three musicians with an incredible simpatico, who are honored into the exact same frequency. SVVAMP 2’s latest single “Alligator” is a  full-throttle, swampy and bluesy affair that nods at Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk Railroad.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain Offer Empathy as a Weapon of The Resistance

Currently comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, drums), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), Sean Olmsted (guitar, synth) and Jeff Moller (bass), the Oakland, CA-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain can trace its origins to when Halsey, who had had stints drumming in several different Bay Area-based bands including The Blank Tapes, fpodbpod and Ash Reiter‘s backing band began the project as a bedroom recording project in which he initially wrote songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey began the project, he recruited Ash Reiter, and the duo began writings songs together — with the duo writing decidedly psychedelic material, inspired by Reiter’s obsessive collecting of various effects pedals. Since the release of their earlier material, there has been a series of lineup changes with the band adding Olmsted and Moller, as its newest members, allowing Halsey to return to drum duties.
 
Sugar Candy Mountain’s latest album Do Right was released earlier this month and the album is deeply influenced by our outrageous and infuriating sociopolitical moment. Written as part travelogue and part response to the moment, the album’s material is also an attempt to offer a much needed balm that says “come on outside and daydream a bit; look at the sky; look at the flowers; enjoy a moment of necessary peace — because it’s so rare.” With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the band has noted that nature is where they often go to re-calibrate their moral compass, when it’s been frequently upended by the demoralizing and maddening daily news cycle. Sonically speaking, Do Right finds the band retaining elements of the 60s and 70s rock and psych rock inspired sound, centered around Reiter’s ethereal vocals; however, the album finds the band adding synths, which will subtly modernizing their sound also gives it a slightly retro-futuristic sound similar to
Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere.
 
Now, as you may recall album single “Split in Two” was a hazy and mesmerizing track in which the band invites the listener to join them as they had to a quiet, beautiful place to escape this mad, mad, mad, mad world. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Mar-a-Lago” as the band’s Reiter explains in press notes was written from the perspective of a Trump supporter, of someone who feels voiceless and vaguely unsatisfied with life and who desperately wants to matter, to belong to something bigger than themselves, to be lead by someone who can get them what they think they need in their lives — and as a result, it’s arguably one of the more empathetic portrayals of desperately lost, desperately stupid people I’ve heard in some time, as it suggests that desperation the Trump supporter has felt is a familiar one. 
 
Directed by Arsenii Vaselenko, the recently released video for “Mar-a-Lago” features the band’s Reiter and Halsey dressed as astronauts (sort of), and playing in front of psychedelic-tinged visuals.