Category: Psych Rock

New Video: The Dream Syndicate Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for Sprawling and Mind-Bending “The Regulator”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate. The act, which is currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn (guitars, vocals), a critically applauded singer/songwriter and solo artist and Dennis Duck (drums), along with the band’s most recent members Mark Walton (bass) and Jason Victor (guitar) can trace its origins back to the early ’80s. At the time Wynn along with fellow Dream Syndicate founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair founded and played in one of  Davis, CA’s first New Wave bands — The Suspects, Wynn also recorded a single with another band 15 Minutes, which featured members of Alternate Learning. 

After returning to his hometown,. Wynn spent a brief stint researching in another local upstart band, Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members Kelly and Kristi Callan. And while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had answered an ad seeking a bassist. The duo of Wynn and Precoda started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar.  Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith, along with Duck, who was then a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joined the band, completing The Dream Syndicate’s first lineup. (Interestingly, as the story goes, Duck suggested the band’s name as a reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s New York-based experimental ensemble, best known as the Theatre of Eternal Music, which featured John Cale.)

With the release of their Paul B. Cutler-produced debut EP, The Dream Syndicate received attention locally for a sound influenced by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. In 1982, The Dream Syndicate signed to Slash Records subsidiary Ruby Records, who released the band’s 1982 full-length debut, the attention-grabbing and influential Days of Wine and Roses. Building upon a growing profile. Rough Trade Records released Days of Wine and Roses’ lead single “Tell Me When It’s Over” as the A-side of a UK EP, which included a live cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” that was released in early 1983. Shortly, after that Smith left the band and joined the David Roback (best known for his work in Mazzy Star) in Opal. Smith was released by David Provost.

Their Sandy Pearlman-produced sophomore effort Medicine Show was recorded and released through A&M Records in 1984 — and as a result of being on a major label, the band opened for R.E.M. and U2. Attempting to build on a growing profile, the members of the band released a five song EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album . . . Live!, which was noteworthy as it was the last recorded effort to feature Precoda, who left soon after to pursue a career in screenwriting — and it was the first to feature Mark Walton on bass. The EP’s commercial failure led to the band’s first breakup — although a temporary one. The band was then dropped by A&M Records after the label rejected the band’s demo for “Slide Away.”

During the band’s first break up, Wynn along with Green on Red’s Dan Stuart wrote and recorded 10 songs with Duck and a number of other musicians, which was released by A&M Records in 1985 as Danny and Dusty’s The Lost Weekend. After the release of Lost Weekend, Wynn, Duck and Walton teamed up with Paul B. Cutler to form a then-newly reunited iteration of The Dream Syndicate that recorded two full-length studio albums — 1986’s Cutler-produced Out of the Grey and 1988’s Elliot Mazer-produced Ghost Stories. The band recorded a live album Live at Raji‘s which was recorded in 1988 before the release of Ghost Stories but released afterward.

The band broke up for the second time in 1989 — and a batch of previously unreleased material was released that included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a compilation of studio sessions and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio session, recorded just before the release of the band’s applauded debut album were released. After the breakup,  Walton went on to play bass in the Continental Drifters while Wynn went on to become an acclaimed singer/songwriter, who restlessly explored a variety of different styles and sounds while leading a number of disparate projects including Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, The Baseball Project and others.

Wynn led a reunited Dream Syndicate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their full-length debut that featured Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn’s longtime Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 guitarist at an appearance at 2012’s Festival BAM in Barcelona Spain. The reunited band went on to play a handful of other live sets, including two 2013 Paisley Underground reunion shows that included The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade. September 2014 saw the band playing a handful of shows in which they played their first two albums in their complete entirety — and those shows marked the band’s first shows in the Southeast in almost 30 years.  Between their first reunion show and 2017, the band played more than 50 shows together.

2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here was the band’s first reunion-era effort and the band’s fifth full-length album overall. Recorded at Montrose Studios, the album featured a lineup of Wynn. Walton, Duck, Victor and Chris Cacavas (keys) with Kendra Smith contributing lyrics and vocals to the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream.” The band closed out that year with three songs, which landed on the 3 x 4 compilation, a collection of tracks that featured new material from their Paisley Underground counterparts — the aforementioned The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands also covering songs by the other bands. 

Last year saw the release of the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times, the band’s second reunion-era effort and sixth overall. Interestingly, the album’s material is a noticeable sonic departure for the band.  “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” the band’s Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J-Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.” Additionally, Wynn changed his process for writing lyrics. Instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all of the album’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds being played. 

Slated for an April 10, 2020 release through Anti- Records, The Dream Syndicate’s third reunion-era album and seventh overall The Universe Inside will reportedly be one of the most mind-bending efforts they’ve released to date — and for the first time in their lengthy history, every song on the album is a group songwriting effort. Musically, the material draws from each individual member’s eclectic interests and passions — Dennis Duck’s love and knowledge of European avant garde music, Jason Victor’s love of 70s prog rock, Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-friend music collectives, Chris Cacavas’ interest in sound manipulation and Wynn’s love of 70s jazz fusion. Recorded in one session, the band recorded 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. “All we added was air,” Wynn explained. So, aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion here and there, every instrument is recorded live as it happened. 

Interestingly, the album’s first single is the sprawling and epic “The Regulator.” Clocking in at just under 21 minutes, the track sonically is a a sort of seamless synthesis of Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis, motorik groove-driven prog rock and 60s psych rock as the track features droning eclectic sitar played by The Long Ryders’ Stephen McCarthy, a sinuous bass line, soulful sax flourishes by Butcher Brown’s Marcus Tenney, Wynn’s vocals fed through vocoder and ghostly effects buried within the trippy and funky mix. 

“’The Regulator’ is a microcosm of the entire record,” Wynn explains in press notes. “It was just a formless, trippy mass as we all started playing together. There was an early 70’s drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King, the same model used on There’s A Riot Goin’ On—with Dennis locking in and setting the pace. Stephen grabbed an electric sitar because it was the first thing he saw. Jason and I were kicking pedals on like lab monkeys in a laboratory and Mark was a lightning rod, uniting all of those elements into one tough groove. I collected a list of random, unconnected lyric ideas that I kept on my phone. I tried them all out in random order in my home studio just to see how they would feel and that one-take test run is the vocal you hear! There’s just so much lightning-in-a-jar, first take excitement on this record.”

Directed by David Daglish, the recently released video for “The Regulator” is a psychedelic journey through New York that’s equal parts panoramic, somnambulistic, political and hallucinogenic. Throughout, the video accurately captures the city’s frenetic and maddening energy, its lunatics and crackpots, its bold dreamers and hustlers, its sublime beauty and its gritty soul — it’s essentially a microcosm of our world. 

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New Video: Rising Oslo-based Psych Act Mayflower Madame Releases a Menacing Visual for “Vultures”

Rising Oslo Norway-based psych rock/post-punk act Mayflower Madame — Trond Fagernes (vocals, guitar, bass), Havard Haga (guitar) and Ola J. Kyrkjeeide (drums) — formed back in 2011. The band’s hazy, smoke-laden sound was conceived in and inspired by their gritty surroundings: they first rehearsed in a desolate, industrial building, where they shared space with a local carwash company. Shortly after their formation, they recorded a four-track demo, which lead to them being named “Unsigned Band of the Week” on one of Norway’s biggest radio stations. 

The band then spent several years touring and playing shows across Scandinavia, carefully honing their sound along the way. The band’s full-length debut, 2016’s Observed in a Dream featured eight tracks of psych rock/shoegaze paired with dark romanticism in a way that was icy, brooding and hauntingly majestic. The Norwegian psych act toured across North America and Europe, followed by 2018’s Premonition EP — four songs of apocalyptic love songs. 

Building upon a growing profile, Mayflower Madame supported Premonition EP with more touring and appearances across the European festival circuit with stops in France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe. So far, the band has shared stages with the likes of Killing Joke, Moon Duo, Night Beats, Psychic Ills, Froth, The Underground Youth, Crocodiles, Cosmonauts and La Femme. Most of this occurred between recording sessions for their forthcoming sophomore album. 

Slated for a March 27, 2020 release through a collaboration between French label Only Lovers Records, Portland’s Little Cloud Records and Parisian label Icy Cold Records, Prepared for a Nightmare reportedly finds the members of Mayflower Madame further developing their unique blend of psych-noir and post punk with elements of shoegaze and noise rock.  “Vultures,” the album’s menacing and propulsive first single manages to recall The Black Angels, My Gold Mask, and Chain of Flowers, as its centered around forceful drumming, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and rousing hooks and an enormous sound. 

Directed by Astrid Serck, the black and white video is a hypnotic visual featuring a combination of collage-based laminations and imagery, live footage of the band performing and a dance sequenced performed by Norwegian drag artist Remi Johansen Hovda. The video manages to capture the tense and uneasy vibes of the song — and at points it feels as though someone or something is lurking just over your shoulder. 

New Video: Introducing the Motorik Groove Driven Psych Rock of Paris’ MAGON

MAGON is an Israeli-born, Paris-based psych rock singer/songwriter and producer. His latest album Out in the Dark was released last October through December Square/Differ-Ant Records. And with the release of the album’s first single “The Streets,” the Israeli-born, Paris-based artist quickly established a unique sound, which he has described as urban rock on psychedelics. 

Out in the Dark’s latest single is the decidedly cocaine fueled, glam rock-like “My Reflection.” Centered around a chugging motorik groove, angular and slashing guitars and MAGON’s ironically detached vocals, “My Reflection” may remind some listeners of The Strokes — but with an unvarnished sense post-modern self-awareness. “‘My Reflection’ is one of the most introspective songs on the album,” MAGON wrote to me in an email. “It resumes my life up and evokes my life philosophy. it’s also one o the rare songs for which I wrote the lyrics fully before composing it.” 

Shot on a grainy VHS-like film, the video which is set in a rainy European town, follows a beautiful woman as she vamps, runs, smokes and generally pisses away her time. It’s purposefully DIY — but while possessing a mischievous sense of humor: it evokes what bored, self-aware and yet cool young people do all over the world. “I shot the video one day in December in Bucharest with my girlfriend Alexa and her sister Yvonne, who are natives of the city,” MAGON explains in an email. “We used an old DV camera that my bassist Gauthier gave me, which has a great vintage look, and in post production, we really had fun grading (mainly to b&w) editing and superimposing the footage. Yvonne, who is 17 was really happy with the final result, although she was quite worried it would turn out to be shit. I would like to keep on making videos with Alexa because she’s super talented and intuitive with visual arts.” 

New Video: Brighton Psych Act Wax Machine Releases a Gorgeous and Mind-Bending Animated Visual for “Shade”

Led by its Brazilian-born founder Lau Ro (vocals, guitar), who spent time living in Italy and England, along with Isobel Jones (vocals, flute) and Toma Sapir (drums), the Brighton, UK-based psych rock act Wax Machine draws heavily from its founder’s international’s upbringing. With a handful of EPs under their collective belts, the band has developed a reputation for drawing from a number of disparate genres and styles.  The Brighton-based act’s forthcoming Go Kurosawa-produced album Earthsong of Silence will further cement the Brighton-based act’s growing reputation for a genre-defying, anachronistic sound, as the album reportedly finds the band incorporating elements of spiritual jazz, krautrock. tropicalia and library music filtered through a psychedelic lens.

Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, Earthsong of Silence continues where “Mind Palace,” off their last EP, Mind Palace left them — exploring English psych folk but while also touching upon the sunny tranquility of West Coast psych. As the band’s Lau Ro says in press notes, the album thematically “is an exploration into paradoxes, meditation and magic, predicated on the underlying idea of becoming one with nature and in harmony with the environment.”

“Shade” Earthsong of Silence’s latest single is a lysergic and seamless synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk, Haight-Ashbury-era grooves and vibes, Brazilian tropicalia-like breeziness and free-flowing jazz-tinged improvisation that manages to sound decidedly anachronistic — as though it could have been released sometime between 1967-1969 or so. The song — to me, at least — manages to evoke an easygoing summer afternoon, observing nature under the influence of hallucinogens.

The recently released animated video for “Shade” is fittingly mind-altering: in the background the viewer will see leaves fluttering in the wind, the rippling of water. But superimposed over that are gorgeous line animations of the band performing the song, with equally hallucinogenic imagery.

New Video: Kill Your Boyfriend’s Horror Movie-Inspired Visuals for “Elizabeth”

Since their formation back in 2011, the Venice, Italy-based industrial psych act Kill Your Boyfriend, comprised of Matteo Scarpa (vocals, guitar) and Antonio Angeli (drums), have developed a cold and sinister sound that manages to be simultaneously atmospheric and pummeling. Or as the Italian duo described in an interview, their sound is “a killer that came in the night, violent and cold.”

Over the past few years, the Venice-based industrial psych act has released a handful of singles and an album, which allowed them to tour across the European Union with the likes of Zola Jesus, The KVB, Civil Civic and Zu among others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Kill Your Boyfriend have shared a stage with JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and they played Manchester‘s The Psych Rising Festival alongside Gnod and The Telescopes.

Officially released today through Depths Records, the duo’s latest single “Elizabeth” is a chilly track that finds them further honing their sound as it features elements of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails-like industrial rock, A Place to Bury Strangers and Sisters of Mercy-like noisey shoegaze centered around a motorik groove, Angeli’s mathematically precise four-on-the-floor drumming and Scarpa’s desperate and anguish-filled howls. 

Hot on the heels of the single’s release, the recently released classic Italian horror movie-inspired, Blau!-directed video follows a woman whose obsession with her lover gradually leads her to a world of madness and feverish hallucinations, which feature the members of Kill Your Boyfriend menacing her. The woman’s obsession and hallucinations eventually creates an ironic and horrifyingly tragic ending — of which she can never escape. 

 

Brian Collins is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising, indie recording project Hurt Valley. With Hurt Valley, Collins crafts shambling and rollicking songs that sound heavily indebted to AM Radio rock, as they frequently feature elements of folk and psych rock — and while sounding as though it were released in 1967, “Apartment Houses,” off Collins soon-to-be-released Hurt Valley debut, Glacial Pace, the shimmering track is centered around a sense of being lost and lonely in an unfamiliar and new place. And yet, the song’s narrator finds a way to push onward.

I’m writing this post in a Starbucks, looking at the snow out  of the window and I’m reminded of my recent trip to Montreal. And as soon as I landed atMontreal-Trudeau International Airport, I was aware of the fact that I was yet again in a strange, unfamiliar place where no one really knew me — and where I didn’t speak or comprehend the language. But I’ve always managed to push onward and thrive. So as you can imagine, the song hits a real personal spot at the moment.

 

 

 

 

Since their formation back in 2011, the Venice, Italy-based industrial psych act Kill Your Boyfriend, comprised of Matteo Scarpa (vocals, guitar) and Antonio Angeli (drums), have developed a cold and sinister sound that manages to be simultaneously atmospheric and pummeling. Or as the Italian duo described in an interview, their sound is “a killer that came in the night, violent and cold.”

Over the past few years, the Venice-based industrial psych act has released a handful of singles and an album, which allowed them to tour across the European Union with the likes of Zola Jesus, The KVB, Civil Civic and Zu among others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Kill Your Boyfriend have shared a stage with JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and they played Manchester‘s The Psych Rising Festival alongside Gnod and The Telescopes.

Officially released today through Depths Records, the duo’s latest single “Elizabeth” is a chilly track that finds them further honing their sound as it features elements of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails-like industrial rock,A Place to Bury Strangers and Sisters of Mercy-like noisey shoegaze centered around a motorik groove, Angeli’s mathematically precise four-on-the-floor drumming and Scarpa’s desperate and anguish-filled howls. The B side is a remix by Preoccupations’ Daniel Christiansen, retains Scarpa’s vocals and Angeli’s four-on-the-floor drumming but while adding a muscular. industrial clang and clatter to the proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: All Them Witches Releases a Hallucinogenic and Menacing Visual for “1X1”

I’m currently writing this at the bar/restaurant at the gorgeous Hotel Monville in downtown Montreal, Quebec, drinking coffee and having an amazing breakfast. (So far, the food I’ve had has been amazing — but more on that later because I haven’t had poutine yet.)  Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past week or so, you’d recall that I’m in town for the M for Montreal Festival. I’ll be posting as much as I can — and if I’m bleary eyed and exhausted, so be it. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. 

So let’s get to the business at hand, right? 

After the release of last year’s critically applauded album ATW, the Nashville-based psych rock act All Them Witches went through a massive lineup change, which has resulted in the band’s most pared down lineup in their entire history — Charles Michael Parks, Jr (bass, vocals), Ben McLeod (guitar, vocals) and Robby Staebler (drums, vocals). And although it’s stereotypically expected for a bands with pared down lineups to release more restrained and even quieter work, All Them Witches’ latest standalone single, the self-produced “1X1” finds the band employing a muscular, prog rock-like leaning sound, complete with scorching guitars, thunderous drumming, distorted vocals and enormous arena rock friendly hooks.  Interestingly, the track may arguably be one of the heaviest of the band’s growing catalog.

Directed, filmed and edited by the band’s Robby Staebler, the recently released video for “1X1” features starring roles by the entire band and a cameo from Sons of Anarchy’s Drea de Matteo in a hallucinogenic and menacing occult world reminiscent of Soundgarden.