Category: Psych Rock

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve written a bit about the Brooklyn-based psych rock/indie rock trio  Sunflower Bean. Comprised of founding duo Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums) with Julia Cumming (bass, lead vocals), the band can trace their origins back to when Kivlen and Faber were members of local indie rock act Turnip King together — and at the time, Kivlen and Faber had been spending a great deal of their time away from the band jamming together, before deciding that they should start their own project. Cumming, who was then a member of Supercute! with Rachel Trachtenburg, was recruited by Kivlen, who had known her through mutual friends.

The band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a run of attention grabbing, critically applauded sets during 2014’s CMJ Festival, which they promptly followed with a series of shows across town; but with the release of that year’s Rock & Roll Heathen EP and 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, which featured singles “Tame Impala” and “2013.” the band quickly rose to national and international prominence. Adding to a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based psych rock trio toured across the US and the UK both as a headliner and as an opener for  Wolf AliceBest Coast and The Vaccines. Sunflower Bean completed a breakthrough run with the release of their  Matthew Molnar-produced debut effort Human Ceremony, which was released to critical praise back in 2016.

After spending the better part of 2016 with a roughly 200 date world tour, the members of the band initially planned to take a well-earned, extended break; however by mid-December. the trio were in Faber’s Long Island basement with song ideas that eventually became their highly-anticipated Jacob Portrait and Matt Molnar-produced  sophomore effort, Twentytwo in Blue, which is slated for a March 23, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, which is both 22 months after the release of their full-length debut — and coincidentally, when each member turns 22.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout 2017, you may have come across the trio’s single “I Was A Fool,” a single that you may recall found the trio closely hewing to the late 60s psych rock and 70s classic rock that has long inspired their sound and aesthetic, but while gently pushing their sound in the direction of Fleetwood Mac. and others.  As the band’s Nick Kivlen explained in press notes at the time, “‘I Was A Fool’ is one of those songs that seemingly crept up from nowhere and into our practice space. it was a special moment between the three of us, Julia and I both improvised the lyrics. It feels far longer but it’s been nearly two years since ‘we’ve put new music into the world. I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school.”

Interestingly, “Crisis Fest,” Twentytwo in Blue‘s first official single from the album finds the band tackling much more sobering topics with song directly discussing the uncertainty and politically volatile period in which it was written. “While writing this album, we often reflected back on the people we met while on tour. We felt a strong kinship with the audiences that came to see us all over the country, and we wanted to write a song for them — something to capture the anxieties of an uncertain future. ‘Crisis Fest’ is less about politics and more about the power of us, the young people in this country.” And as a result, the song which sonically finds the band touching upon glam rock — in particular, to my ears, a bit of Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night” mixed with Ace Frehley’sBack in the New York Groove” as it’s an rousingly anthemic stomper of song, that’s indirectly a call to action that suggests that now it’s the time for young people to start getting the world right — or we won’t have a chance.

The members of the band will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that includes a February 13, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour dates

1/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
1/31 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
2/01 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East ^
2/03 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk ^
2/05 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger ^
2/06 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
2/07 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Inside Downstairs) ^
2/09 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic New Orleans ^
2/10 – Athens, GA  @ 40 Watt ^
2/11 – Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre ^

2/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
2/14 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^

2/22 – London, UK @ The Jazz Cafe @
3/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
3/02 – San Francisco, CA @  Rickshaw Stop

3/24 – Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms

3/26 – Norwich, UK @ Open Norwich

3/27 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds

3/28 – Newcastle upon Tyne, UK @ Riverside

3/29 – Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe

3/30 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla

3/31 – Liverpool, UK @ The Magnet

4/01 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo

4/03 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla

4/05 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2

4/06 – London, UK @ Koko

4/09 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere

4/10 – Antwerp, Belgium @ TRIX VZW

4/11 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso

4/12 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow

4/13 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Loppen

4/14 – Berlin, Germany @ Rosis

4/15 – Vienna, Austria @ Chelsea Club

4/17 – Lausanne, Switzerland @ Le Romandie

4/18 – Zurich, Switzerland @ Bogen F

4/19 – Cologne, Germany @ Blue Shell

5/20 – Gulf Shores, AL @ The Hangout Music Festival
^ – w/ Sleigh Bells

@ – supporting Jessie Ware

New Video: Two from Boston-based Cinematic Psych Blues Act Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas

Matthew Stubbs is a Boston, MA-based guitarist and songwriter/composer, who has been Charlie Musselwhite’s touring guitarist since 2007, and as a solo artist has released two solo instrumental record, drawing from the Memphis, TN soul/blues tradition, 2008’s Soulbender released through Vizztone Records and 2010’s Medford and Main released through Chicago, IL-based Blue Bella Records. In 2016, Stubbs, along with Just Lopes (organ), Chris Rivelli (drums) and Marc Hickox (bass) as an instrumental, psych rock-based project inspired by the desire of bringing back popular instrumental work along the lines Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Booker T and others, mixed with elements of garage rock, the blues, movie soundtracks and Afrobeat, — all while focusing on the vibe and energy of the live performance. 

The band’s self-tiled full-length debut is slated for a January 26, 2018 release and from “Death Grip” and ” Unwinder,” two singles off the soon-to-be released album, the material on the band’s self-titled debut manage to have a decidedly retro vibe, sounding as though they could have been part of the soundtracks to late 60s and early 70s B movies but with a tight groove; in fact, as Stubbs says of “Death Grip,” “The song was inspired by the wild scenes in those cult, car racing movies of the ’70s. I wrote it with that cinematic, yet frenetic approach in my mind.” “Unwinder,” on the other hand finds Stubbs and company, drawing from 60s psych rock and surfer rock and blues, complete with that soaring organ sequence — and they do so in a way that nods at The Castaways’ “Liar Liar” but with a subtle nod at shoegaze and dub. 

New Audio: Aussie Sibling Quartet Stonefield End 2017 with a Prog Rock-like New Single

Over the past few months, I’ve written about the Darraweit Guim, Australia-based sibling psych rock quartet Stonefield, comprised of Amy (drums, lead vocals), Hannah (guitar), Sarah (keys) and Holly Findlay (bass). And as you may recall, the siblings began playing together when they were all at a rather young age — with the youngest being seven and the oldest being 15. The band’s eldest member Amy recorded their first song “Foreign Lover” for a school project, and then reportedly she entered the song into Triple J’s national, unsigned band competition for youngsters Unearthed High as an afterthought; however, much to her and her sisters’ surprise, Stonefield wound up winning the contest. Within an incredibly short period of time, the Findlay sisters had two singles receiving regular airplay on Australian radio and an invitation to play at the Glastonbury Festival.

Since then, the members of the sibling quartet have released two EPs, their self-titled full-length debut and their sophomore effort As Above So Below, which was released earlier this year through Rebel Union Recordings/Mushroom Records. And adding to a growing profile, the Aussie, sibling quartet have opened for a variety of internationally renowned touring acts including Fleetwood Mac, Meat Puppets and a Stateside tour with countrymen and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard earlier this year. Interestingly, the Findlay sisters end 2017 by signing to Flightless Records, the label home of the aforementioned King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and The Babe Rainbow, and to celebrate that announcement, the band’s first release on their new label is “Delusion,” the follow-up to their sophomore effort. 
“Delusion” finds the Findlay sisters moving away from the heavy psych rock and psych pop of their earlier releases towards a dirge-like, 70s prog rock and metal sound as the song finds features some down-tuned power chords, dramatic, twisting and turning synths, tubular bells, some sinister mellotron and an enormous, arena rock-friendly hook within a sprawling and hypnotic song structure that features changes in key and mood. As the band explains in press notes, the song is inspired by the “overwhelming feeling of knowing you are a speck in the universe, getting lost in your mind.” 

New Video: The Psychedelic and Lynchian-like Visuals for Norma’s “S.A.D.”

Largely inspired by NEU! and Faust, as well as Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, the Stockholm, Sweden-based trio Norma, comprised Erik Vallin, Love Martinsen, and Petter Bendelin formed in a living room in 2007, watching David Lynch movies while experimenting with pedal steel guitars, vintage organs and synthesizers. As the story goes, after a while, the trio started rehearsing in a bomb shelter and eventually developed a bigger, heavier sound, which wound up on their debut effort Book of Norma. Several years later, the band followed that up with their 2013 sophomore effort, The Invisible Mother. Over the past few years, they’ve developed a reputation for being deliberate — and over a decade since their formation, the band will be releasing their third, full-length album sometime in 2018. 

“S.A.D,” the yet-untitled album’s first single features a prerequisite, chugging motorik groove paired with shimmering, pedal effected guitars and a soaring hook to create a song that reminds me quite a bit of Join the Dots-era TOY — but interestingly enough, the song is both about seasonal affective disorder and a character that the band has dubbed Neil, a figure that appears during the darkest season, and attempts to thwart you as you go about your daily life. As the band explains, “. . . We probably all have our personal devils, wherever we want them or not, it’s just about learning how to live with them. It may be quite difficult to get a daily life working as it is and it will not be easier to discuss economics, logistics or food when Neil creeps along your spine and says he’s going to shoot you in your leg.”

Edited by Frederick Stewart Holm and featuring photography by the band and Najda von Bahr with scenography, costumes and makeup by Emila Esping, the recently recently video for “S.A.D.” follows Neil, a vagabond-like character as he travels the countryside in a custom built jalopy to the kindergarten where he entertains kids as a clown/entertainer. Eventually, he disappears into a dream where he floats among planets, fishes and laser lights in a Lynchian and psychedelic nightmare. 

Live Footage: The Telescopes Perform “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger” and “Something In My Brain” at Tapetown Studios

Currently comprised of founding member Stephen Lawrie and featuring members of One Unique Signal as the live performing band, the Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, UK-based psych rock/noise rock band The Telescopes originally formed back in 1987 and while inspired by the likes of Suicide, The Velvet Underground and 13th Floor Elevators — and over the course of a number of singles and nine full-length albums, including 1989’s Taste, 1992’s self-tiled album, 2002’s Third Wave, 2005’s #4, 2006’s Hungry Audio Tapes, 2008’s Infinite Suns, 2013’s HARM, 2015’s Hidden Fields and this year’s As Light Returns, the British band has developed a reputation for being arguably one of the more influential noise rock/psych rock bands of their era, seemingly influencing the work of the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers with whom they released a split 7 inch released through Fuzz Club Records, Chain of Flowers, Bambara and others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you’d recall that the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  along with Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a live session. Over the past year, Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, and the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his primary project The Fresh & Onlys. Stephen Lawrie and the members of the touring band were invited to Tapetown to record a session that featured the slow-burning, murky, feedback driven dirge “You Can’t Reach What You Hunger” a song that builds upon a tightly restrained tension until its scorching conclusion; and the forceful and stormy “Something In My Brain.” 

The Limiñanas are a Perpignan, France-based duo, who have developed a reputation as one of France’s most renowned psych rock acts — and for a sound that comfortably straddles the boundaries of psych rock, shoegaze and and yé-yé, as their songs typically feature arrangements rooted around fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And while clearly being indebted to 60s guitar pop and psych rock, the duo manage to capture something quintessentially French.

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s Istanbul Is Sleepy EP was initially recorded at the duo’s home studio and finished at Anton Newcombe‘s Berlin-based studio, and unsurprisingly, the EP’s title track and first single “Istanbul Is Sleepy” found the French duo collaborating with the The Brian Jonestown Massacre founder and frontman, who contributed both his imitable vocals and guitar to a scuzzy, garage rock-like track with the sort of underlying menace reminiscent of The Black Angels — although interestingly enough, Newcombe was reportedly inspired by Rain-era The Cult.

As the members of The Limiñanas recall in press notes, the collaboration can trace its origins to last year, when Mojo Magazine asked them to contribute a track to a Kinks tribute compilation. “We chose ‘Two Sisters,’” Lionel explains in press notes. “Marie and I were thinking for the vocal part, it would be great to approach Anton Newcombe, having opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Le Trianon in Paris. The work began like that. We had an album to record and we decided to finish it with him. During the Christmas week we took our demos, flew to Berlin and recorded at Anton’s studio. Six days later we had a finished album.”

The French psych rock duo’s latest single “Shadow People” is a jangling, slow-burning and almost meditative track with a hazy and dreamy hook that features a guest spot from French actress Emmanuelle Seigner. As Lionel explains in press notes, “The shadow people are an American myth, they are described as furtive apparitions, comparable to ghosts observable from the corner of the eye. These ‘spirits’ accompany throughout your all life, a sort of paranormal glue stuck to you . . . Emmanuelle came to visit us in the South of France, and we asked her to sing ‘Shadow People’ with Renaud Picard, the singer from Hair and the Iotas. We recorded it in just a few minutes over an afternoon…”.

Directed by frequent collaborator Aurelian Richter, the recently released video features the members of The Limiñanas, along with Emmanuelle Seigner, Renaud Picard, and Foulke de Boixo, who made a prominent appearance in the “Istanbul Is Sleepy” video. Shot in and around The Limiñanas’ Cabestany, France, Christmas-light strewn studio, the video manages to consist of a dichotomy between brilliant, summery light and murky shadow — with footage of Emmanuelle Seigner alternating between Super 8 color film-like sequences in a field and sultry, film noir-like sequences of Seigner strutting and grooving to the song, while Picard in night googles in set in the dark with the band. Naturally, the song continues the band’s reputation for pairing their material with bold and hazily lysergic visuals; but interestingly enough, the video comes on the heels of the duo announcing that their forthcoming full-length effort, Twisting the Shadow People is slated for a January 19, 2018 release through Because Music — and of course, the album will include “Shadow People,” from which the album derives its title.

 

 

 

Comprised of Xanthous Papanikolaou (vocals, guitar), Bill Tzelepis (guitar), John Vulgaris (drums), Panos Papanikolaou (keys) and Aris Rammos (bass), the Athens, Greece-based garage rock/psych rock act Bazooka initially formed in Volos, Greece back in 2008. As the story goes, within their first year together, they relocated to Athens to pick up live gigs, and while the country and its capital city were in the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns in recent memory, the members of Bazooka, along with acts like Acid Baby Jesus, Gay Anniversary and A Victim of Society became pioneers of a burgeoning, attention grabbing DIY scene that played in squats across the city. But interestingly enough, Bazooka had set themselves apart for being one of the more primal and savage of the entire Athens scene.

Their 2013 full-length debut was released through Slovenly Records, and the Greek garage psych rockers followed that up with two 7 inch EPs — Shame my Brain and I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School, and their 2016 sophomore, full-length effort Useless Generation. And adding to a growing international profile, the band has toured throughout the European Union and the US.

Their latest effort, the 12 inch EP Zougla (Jungle) was recently released through Inner Ear Records, and the effort finds the band expanding upon their sound while retaining the power and impetuosity of their sound — and emphasizing Greek verse. The EP’s first single and title track features blistering guitar, propulsive polyrhythm, complete with congas and cowbell, wild animal noises and howled vocals to create a primal and furious song that nods at Thee Oh Sees, Fela Kuti and Here Lies Man, complete with a driving and forceful groove; but they manage to pair that with a fuzzy, lysergic vibe that makes their sound and approach incredibly nuanced and wildly anachronistic as though it could have been released in 1963 or — well, last week.

New Video: The Psychedelic Visuals and Jangling Sounds of Up-and-Coming London-based Act Tempesst

Comprised of siblings Toma Banjanin (vocals, guitar) and Andy Banjanin (drums), along with Eric Weber (guitar) and Kane Reynolds (keys), the Australian-born, London-based members of Tempesst have had what may be a breakthrough year: they’ve made appearances at some of the UK’s most renowned showcases, including The Great Escape, NME Awards, Live at Leeds; several festivals, including Bushstock, Southsea Fest and Hackney Wonderland; as well as opening sets for Mystery Jets, The Veils, Albert Hammond, Jr., GUM and The Temper Trap. And with a growing profile, the band released their debut EP Adult Wonderland to critical applause from Noisey, DIY, NME, Drowned in Sound, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine and airplay from Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 show and Maz Tappuni’s Radio X show, Communion Presents. 

And from Adult Wonderland’s latest single “Feel Better,” the up-and-coming London-based band specialize in a jangling, 70s AM radio-inspired psych folk with enormous, and anthemic hooks and some impressive guitar work that’s reminiscent of Tame Impala and Drakkar Nowhere, complete with a deceptively easy-going breeziness that belies the material’s craft. Interestingly enough, the song bristles with an underlying bitter frustration.  As the band’s Toma Benjamin explains in press notes, “I wrote ‘Feel Better’ about the mindless rhythm of working all week and then partying all weekend. A lot of my friends and I have done it for years. Each month just blurs into a series of highs and lows. I guess I wrote this song about realising the monotony of it all. It’s actually a bit sad when you think about it.” 

Directed by the band’s Andy Banjanin, the recently released video for “Feel Better” follows the band members through a kaleidoscopic and almost Biblical journey of self-discovery in which they eat some forbidden fruit, descend and ascend from a metaphorical hell and metaphorical heaven. And fitting with the overall aesthetic, the video is hot in a fashion that nods at movies from the early 70s. 

Live Footage: The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe Leads Pure Ensemble 6 at Space Fest 2016

Created by Nasiono Association, Space Fest is annual Gdansk, Poland-based festival of shoegaze, space-rock and alternative rock that features the prerequisite live music, but much like CMJ, Mondo.NYC, Northside Festival and others also features meet-and-greets with legendary and renowned artists, workshops for Polish and other internationally-based musicians, a battle of the bands-like competition for young, up-and-coming bands and more. As an annual celebration of all things psych rock and space rock-inspired, Space Fest in his almost seven year history has gradually become a scrappy yet internationally recognized festival with an increasingly diverse lineup of bands from across the European Union, Poland, the US, Canada and elsewhere. 

One of the festival’s standout highlights over the course of its history is the Pure Phase Ensemble, a collaborative collective that features one permanent member, Karol Schwarz (KSAS), who also manages Nasiono Records, and every year Schwartz is joined by a rotating cast of local musicians and at least one internationally recognized musician, who acts as a guest musical director, mentor and collaborator through a series of workshops and joint songwriting that culminates with the group performing their new material during the final night of the festival. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may recall that during the course of the Festival’s history, they’ve invited the likes of  Spiritualized’s Ray Dickaty, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Placebo’s Steve Hewitt, Marion’s Jamie Harding, Six by Seven’s Chris Olley, The Bad Seeds and The True Spirit’s Hugo Race and RIDE’s Mark Gardener. Last year, The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s legendary frontman and founding member Anton Newcombe led Pure Phase Ensemble 6 with Serena Maneesh’s Emil Nikolaisen, and the collective managed to impress festivalgoers with a live set that included “God Drugs” a menacing, droning, and murky dirge, consisting of layers fuzzy and distorted power chords, thundering drumming and an almost mosh pit-friendly hook over which Newcombe laconically delivers his lyrics. While forceful, the song manages a lysergic haze. 

Also, every year the organizers create a documentary of the festival and the documentary features brief interviews and live footage with festival organizers, Anton Newcombe, who says that his appearance at last year’s Space Fest was a way to convince and entice establish artists that it’s a serious and growing festival; the UK’s MDME SPKR, Italy’s Be Forest, Germany’s Camera, the Icelandic-German act The Third Sound, Poland’s Wild Books, Lonker See, The Fruitcakes, Rosa Vertov and The Czech Republic’s DIV I DED. Additionally, the video features impromptu interviews with thrilled festivalgoers and more. The documentary offers a glimpse of a rarely seen Gdansk, a city with a burgeoning music, arts and nightlife scene, full of hungry, young creatives  — a marked departure from the city’s long-held reputation as a grim Soviet satellite city. 

Interestingly, the videos serve as a teaser for this year’s Space Fest, which take place the weekend of December 1 – December 2 and will feature Maciej Cieslak of renowned Polish shoegazers Scianka, leading Pure Phase Ensemble 7, Italy’s New Candys, Portugal’s 10,000 Russos, Mugstar, Switzerland’s Blind Butcher, Germany’s Odd Couple, Mexico’s Tajak, the UK’s Dead Rabbits and up-and-coming local acts 30 kilo slonca, and Wilcze Jagondy. 

Over the past month, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the  Stockholm, Sweden-based psych rock band Marble Mammoth. Featuring members, who have played in The Unisex, and have collaborated with  The MC5s Mike Davis and The Hellacopters‘ and Imperial State Electric’s Nicke Anderson, the band quickly developed a reputation across their native Sweden for a sound that meshes the bluesy power chords of Led Zeppelin with the dreamy, psychedelia of the likes of Tame Impala — although “Wrecked Ship” reminded me of JOVM mainstays Goat and Black Sabbath, thanks to some blistering guitar pyrotechnics paired with soaring organ chords and rousingly anthemic hooks.

The act followed “Wrecked Ship,” with the gritty and anthemic prog rock-like single “Glitter Amongst Gravel,” which featured some incredible guitar pyrotechnics and an expansive and ambitious song structure, complete with twisting and turning organ chords. However, their latest single “Girl of a 1000 Thrills” while drawing from similar sources as their preceding singles is a bit of a sonic left turn for the Swedish psych rockers as it sounds as though it were influenced by Deep Purple and Steppenwolf but with a subtly modern twist reminiscent of the RidingEasy Records roster.