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
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.