Tag: psych pop

James Clifford is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and creative mastermind of the recording project Primaveras, which was once known as Modern Howls. As the story goes, Clifford grew up in a rather musical family; in fact, Clifford began playing guitar in his early teens and throughout his high school years, he played in a number of garage bands. Foregoing a formal musical education, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is largely self-taught with his passion for playing and writing stemming from a lifelong passion for everything music, as he’s been known to scour music stores for vintage guitars and synths or to stay up into the wee hours listening to records. Unsurprisingly, Clifford has cited the likes of David Bowie, Prince, The Clash, Funkadelic, Chic, Todd Rundgren, Roxy Music, Steely Dan, and The Beach Boys as some of his greatest music inspirations.  Thematically, Clifford and Primaveras draws influence from the stretch of the famed Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Santa Monica — warm breezes through cracked car windows, the soft sound of waves crashing and receding into the Pacific, and the silhouette of the Los Angeles skyline. For many it’s timeless and almost dreamlike; but those who haven’t stuck around long enough fail to notice the effects of salt air on the surroundings — in the form of rust and erosion. In some way, it evokes faded dreams and hopes of a paradise that never really was there in the first place, and in another sense, the faded surroundings evoke a lonely introspection. Clifford’s Primaveras debut Echoes in the Well of Being was written in a way to embody that dualism — with the album’s material generally being sunny psych pop yet possess an underlying longing and introspection.
Interestingly with Clifford’s previously released material and Echoes in the Well of Being‘s latest single, the shimmering and strutting “Better Off,” his sound has been compared favorably to the likes of Tame Impala and Phoenix — and while that is definitely fair, I also hear a subtle nod at Avalon-era Roxy Music as the song evokes bright neon lights, evening faces, Jack and Cokes, the buzz of a coke high and a desperate escape from one’s loneliness and regret. But interestingly enough, Clifford pays loving  homage to The Isley Brothers’Footsteps in the Dark, Parts 1 and 2” with the song’s intro drum break, which not only ties the song to classic R&B, but gives it a subtle sensuality.
As Clifford says of the song, “While most people will immediately interpret as a breakup song, I see the core sentiment as trying to grow up and move on from any sort of worn-out relationship.”
 
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Patrick Phillips is a Portland, OR-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, and creative mastermind behind the dream pop/indie pop/psych pop recording project Water Slice. And in some way, the project can trace its origins back to when Philips realized that his life in Portland was beginning to closely resemble an unending Portlandia sketch — he worked at a hip gastropub, played packed local gigs and DJ’ed obscure African music. When he realized what his life had become, Phillips decided that it was time for a change, and he eventually related to Los Angeles. In 2014, he moved into an idyllic artist house located in the hills of the Echo Park section — and as the story goes, Phillips would spend a great deal of time on the house’s rooftop, overlooking the city’s landscape in the shade of a  giant rubber tree, contemplating life and writing songs, partially influenced by his surroundings.

During his first month in town, Phillips met James Supercave‘s Joaquin Pastor and spent the next 2 years as that band’s bassist. After leaving James Supercave, the Portland-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had time to process his past life in Portland and to dive back into his record collection of power-pop, post-punk and world psychedelia — and this period was for him, the definitive spark that led him to write his own material under the moniker Water Slice. Of course, the material he had begun to write drew deeply from his own personal experience — particularly, a lengthy romantic relationship that dissolved and friendships that fell by the wayside (as many do), and the lingering ache and confusion of a past that’s continually just out of reach and the acceptance of a present that barely makes sense.

Now, as you may call, Philips’ Water Slice self-titled, debut EP is slated for an August 10, 2018 release and with the release of “This Way,” the first single off the effort quickly received attention for a sound that pairs buoyant and breezy grooves with dark lyrical content. As Philips told Ones to Watch, “Many of my favorite tunes, whether post-punk, power-pop, or reggae, are stories of suffering, while staying undeniably groovy. I love this contrast of heavy lyrics with otherwise sunny music, and I kept this tradition in mind when writing ‘This Way.’ At the time I was stuck deep in a rut, ‘This Way’ is about accepting my flaws and pushing into the future with the people I love.” The EP’s Gus Seyffert-produced second single “Please Remember” managed to further cement Philips’ growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant pop with a wistful and nostalgic air; but underneath that an acceptance and celebration of how life seems to constantly shift around you, forcing you to shift lanes, change direction  or stop whatever it was you were doing In the first place. After all, no one really has an answer to anything and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to — and yet, we usually find a way.

The EP’s latest single “Write Back” is a decidedly 60s psych pop stomper, centered around shimmering and swirling guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and an incredibly infectious hook — and while breezy and wistful, the track reveals a songwriter and artist with a careful attention to craft. As Philips explains in press notes, “The song’s about facing the fact that you’re not always where you thought you would be in life.” He adds, “But instead of freaking out about it, it’s important to remember what and who grounds you, to keep moving forward or dig deep and turn everything around.” Certainly, when things aren’t right (and that seems more often the case than not), having someone say this so clearly is not just affirming but absolutely necessary.

Patrick Phillips is a Portland, OR-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, and creative mastermind behind the dream pop/indie pop/psych pop recording project Water Slice. In some way, the project can trace its origins back to when Philips realized that his life in Portland was beginning to closely resemble an unending Portlandia sketch as he worked at a hip gastropub, played packed local gigs and DJ’ed obscure African music. With that realization, Phillips decide it was time to leave Portland, eventually relocating to Los Angeles. In 2014, he moved into an idyllic artist house located in the hills of the Echo Park section — and as the story goes, Phillips would spend a great deal of time on the house’s rooftop, overlooking the city’s landscape in the shade of a  giant rubber tree, contemplating life and writing songs, partially influenced by his surroundings.

During his first month in town, Phillips met James Supercave‘s Joaquin Pastor and spent the next 2 years as that band’s bassist. After leaving James Supercave, the Portland-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had time to process his past life in Portland and to dive back into his record collection of power-pop, post-punk and world psychedelia — and this period was for him, the definitive spark that led him to write his own material under the moniker Water Slice. Of course, the material he had begun to write drew deeply from his own personal experience — particularly, a lengthy romantic relationship that dissolved and friendships that fell by the wayside (as many do), and the lingering ache and confusion of a past that’s continually just out of reach and the acceptance of a present that barely makes sense.

With the release of “This Way,” the first single off his forthcoming self-titled debut EP, slated for an August 10, 2018 release, Philips quickly received attention for a sound that pairs buoyant and breezy grooves with dark lyrical content. As Philips told Ones to Watch, “Many of my favorite tunes, whether post-punk, power-pop, or reggae, are stories of suffering, while staying undeniably groovy. I love this contrast of heavy lyrics with otherwise sunny music, and I kept this tradition in mind when writing ‘This Way.’ At the time I was stuck deep in a rut, ‘This Way’ is about accepting my flaws and pushing into the future with the people I love.” Interestingly, the EP’s second and latest single “Please Remember” is the only track produced by Gus Seyffert, best known for his work with Roger Waters, Beck, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog and James Supercave, and while the single will further cement Philips’ growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant pop with a wistful and nostalgic air; but there’s also an underlying acceptance and celebration of how life seems to constantly shift around you, forcing you to shift lanes, change direction  or stop whatever it was you were doing In the first place. After all, no one really has an answer to anything and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to — and yet, we usually find a way.

 

 

 

 

 

Arieh Berl is an Oakland, CA-born and raised singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind psych pop act Pink Skies. Interestingly, Berl has a lengthy history playing in a number of Bay Area-based punk and indie rock bands and while writing for one of those bands, it became clear to him that the material he had been writing were meant for a completely different project, as he began writing songs that drew from psych rock, pop, R&B, 70s AM rock and chillwave — or as Berl describes his sound in press notes, “Escapism Pop.” Although he initially didn’t intend on releasing his personal, home recordings made in Oakland, Boston and Los Angeles, Berl decided to release the material after attending a creative retreat in the Berkley Hills.

Last year was a big year for Berl as he released his first Pink Skies single “Start.End,” played guitar on BOSCO‘s b and released a re-interpreation of 6LACK‘s “Gettin’ Old.” Adding to a growing profile. Berl signed to Huh What & Where Recordings, the label home of KAYTRANADA, Fwdslxsh, Pomo and others. Building upon his big 2017, Berl’s latest Pink Skies single is the decidedly Tame Impala-like “Just To Get By,” a song that Berl recall was written “when I had been in Silver Lake for a little bit, and was feeling pretty lost. I was kind of in a zone where every time I tried to take a step forward, I fell two steps back. I was feeling like an outsider, being in a new place with no real direction to go.  I just eventually holed away in my room for a couple months, and really isolated myself unintentionally. This song really consumed me in an obsessive and passionate way. Sometimes the pain comes from life, and music is the place to exercise that out of your body. That’s what I did with this song.”

 

Currently comprised of frontman and primary songwriter TOBACCO (born Thomas Fec), keyboardist The Seven Fields of Aphelion (born Maureen “Maux” Boyle), guitarist Ryan Graveface and bassist Pony Driver, the Pittsburgh, PA-based experimental electronic act Black Moth Super Rainbow can trace their origins back to two previous projects that featured BMSR’s TOBACCO — Allegheny White Fish, which was active from 1996-2000 and satanstompingcaterpillars, which was active from 2000-2002 and released three albums, including their last album under that name, The Most Wonderfulest Thing before the addition of three new members Father Hummingbird, The Seven Fields of Aphelion and Iffernaut. And with the addition of new members, the band renamed themselves Black Moth Super Rainbow in 2003.

 

Over the past decade both Black Moth Super Rainbow and TOBACCO have recorded material that explored the periphery of evil and extreme color, rapidly alternating between absurdly bright beauty and murderously sinister with the end result being a woozy, psychedelic uneasiness.  TOBACCO (a.k.a Thomas Fec) throughout his career has been a rather mysterious figure; in fact, if you Google images of him, most of them have his face obscured by a mask, a ball cap or a hood.  Interestingly though, he’s known for patient and thoughtful interviews where he breaks down his creative process and the ideas espoused throughout his work while never revealing much about his personal life or about him. And in that sense, he’s been periodically visible but opaque, emotional but unwilling to exploit self-mythology; however, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Panic Blooms, the first album from the band in six years, finds TOBACCO reportedly writing what may arguably be the most raw and direct lyrics of his entire career, inspired in some way by the current sociopolitical climate. As a result, the material is an account of depression and human frailty paired with their unique sound featuring gorgeous yet warped melodies. . .

The album’s first single “Mr. No One” features shimmering and twinkling synths, boom-bap drums and heavily vocodered vocals and while the song initially seems as though it has a dreamy and ethereal air, the song possesses an underlying murky and sinister vibe, which the band has long been known for, giving the song a desperate yet hopeful ache, a pleasant reverie within a feverish, waking nightmare.

Black Moth Super Rainbow will be on tour to support their new effort, and it’ll include a June 2, 2018 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

THU 5/31 WASHINGTON, DC Black Cat
FRI 6/1 PHILADELPHIA, PA Union Transfer
SAT 6/2 NEW YORK, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
SUN 6/3 BOSTON, MA Brighton Music Hall
THU 6/14 CINCINNATI, OH Urban Artifact
FRI 6/15 DETROIT, MI El Club
SAT 6/16 CHICAGO, IL Metro
SUN 6/17 COLUMBUS, OH Skully’s Music Diner
FRI 8/10 PITTSBURGH, PA Mr. Smalls
SAT 8/11 LOUISVILLE, KY Headliners
SUN 8/12 ASHEVILLE, NC Orange Peel
TUE 8/14 AUSTIN, TX Mohawk
WED 8/15 HOUSTON, TX White Oak Music Hall
FRI 8/17 ATLANTA, GA Masquerade (Hell)
SAT 8/18 NASHVILLE, TN Mercy Lounge

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain Return with a Slow-burning and Contemplative Ode to Escaping an Anxious and Uncertain World

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. Now, up until recently some time had passed since I had personally written about the act, and in that time, there has been a series of lineup changes with the band adding its newest members Olmsted and Moller, allowing Halsey to return to drums.
 
Slated for a May 4, 2018 release, Sugar Candy Mountain’s newest album Do Right is deeply inspired by our current, anxious and uncertain sociopolitical moment and is written as part travelogue and part response, while attempting to offer a much needed balm; in fact, the band has noted that nature is often where the band goes to re-calibrate their moral compass when it’s been frequently upended by the infuriating and demoralizing daily news cycle.
 
Sonically speaking the material on Do Right finds the band retaining the 60s and 70s rock inspired sound that first captured the attention of the blogosphere, centered around Reiter’s ethereal vocals; however, the new album finds them adding synths, which while subtly modernizing their sound, also manages to add an increasingly ethereal quality, similar to the likes of Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere — but dustier, and as though the gears have slowed to a grinding halt. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Split in Two” is a mesmerizing, hazy and slow-burning track that has the band inviting the listener to join them, and head to a quiet, beautiful place to escape the world as we know it. Perhaps on the other side, there’s something much better than this.
 
The recently released video by TG Eaton features the members of Sugar Candy Mountain playing the song in front of appropriately psychedelic projections, further emphasizing the trippy yet contemplative nature of the song.

New Video: The Lush Swooning and Psychedelic Visuals and Sounds of Jonathan Wilson’s “Loving You”

Jonathan Wilson is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has collaborated with the likes of Father John Misty, Lucius, Karen Elson and Conor Oberst, contributed guitar and vocals as a member of the backing and touring bands for Roger Waters‘ Grammy nominated Is This The Life We Really Want?, and throughout that same period, the highly sought after Wilson has released two albums which have garnered comparisons to the Laurel Canyon troubadours of the 1960s and 1970s — in particular Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, Tom Petty and others; however, Wilson’s third and forthcoming album, Rare Birds, which is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through Bella Union Records is reportedly one of the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s most ambitious, “maximalist” works to date featuring contributions from collaborators Father John Misty and Lucius, as well as Lana Del Rey and New Age musician Laraaji.

While much of the album’s material thematically and lyrically find Wilson meditating on a failed relationship and its aftermath, he has insisted in press notes that it’s not meant to specifically be a concept album. “It’s meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming, healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music, to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It’s all in there.” Late last year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Over The Midnight,” which brought to mind Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Tears for Fears  while nodding at the lush psych pop of Tame Impala; but the song is underpinned by a swooning Romanticism, as it’s about a sacred and profoundly safe space where lovers could exist and freely be in love, escaping a world on the verge of collapse.

Rare Birds’ latest single “Loving You” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its a lush yet deeply meditative track with the bittersweet tinge of regret of someone, who’s looking back at a major relationship in his life, and of all the things he felt and believed that he should have or could have done. And as a result, it evokes the lingering ghosts of a man, who’s lived a messy and complicated life. Wilson says in press notes about the song, “One day, one of my musical heros Laraaji came into my studio to just experiment and record some music. I had the ditty ‘Loving You’ lying around, (it was a song I wrote from a feeling or inflection of a word I heard John Lennon emote in one of his songs) and I then put down a simple little drum machine beat along with the piano and vocal that you hear now. Laraaji then beautifully chanted over the song, one take … then he played his cosmic zither, undulated gracefully with his ipad, and truly shaped the scope of the track. I then added a specific drum/cymbal treatment used throughout Rare Birds, my funky Crumar bass, Lana Del Rey, a few other things and boom that was the genesis of the new album Rare Birds, that song set the tone.”

Directed By Matthew Daniel Siskin, the recently released video for “Loving You” will also continue Wilson’s run of pairing trippy and beautiful visuals to lush instrumentation. In this case the video features the renowned New Age multi-instrumentalist Laraaji floating over some gorgeous natural scenery — at points holding an old TV monitor that features a meditative Wilson singing the song. Later on, Wilson’s face and on that old TV monitor is seen in a number of New York locales, including an airport, a train station, a Manhattan intersection and so on. And interestingly, the visuals manage to further emphasize the swooning nature of the song.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Trent Prall, a Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter and his solo recording project Kainalu, which derives its name for the Hawaiian word for ocean wave.  The music that Prall has created over the past decade or so, draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop, funk and childhood trips to Oahu, Hawaii visiting his mother’s family — and the breezy and retro-futuristic mix is what the Southern California -born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has dubbed Hawaii-fi, as a homage to his Hawaiian roots and their influence on him.  Now, as you may recall, “Love Nebula” reminded me quite a bit of Tame Impala, Toro y Moi,  Shawn Lee’s Synthesizers in Space, AM and Shawn Lee’s La Musique Numerique and Lee’s split album with Tim “Love” Lee New York Trouble/Electric Progression as “Love Nebula” was centered around shimmering analog synths, a sinuous bass line and copious amounts of cowbell; but underneath the breezy and summery groove is a bittersweet yearning both for a sense of belonging – and for someone.

“Finding Peace of Mind” Prall’s latest single was inspired by Trent’s father, who routinely gives him advice on life and other matters — and the song was written in some way from his father’s prospective. ““He would always try and get me to read Alan Watts’ literature as a way of accepting the stress and anxiety of the world. Although, it’s kind of ironic though because a book inspired the lyrics which are about not being able to learn yourself inside of books,” Prall explains in press notes. “The overall message is sometimes you can’t learn yourself by looking outward, instead you must accept that you can discover more by diving deep internally.” While focusing on a deep and thoughtful self-assessment and introspection, the single will further cement Prall’s reputation for crafting dreamy and retro-futuristic synth pop — but in this case with a decided psych pop leaning.

 

New Video: POND Releases a Lysergic Ode to the Holiday Season

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’ve come across a handful of posts featuring POND, the recording project created by Perth, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jay Watson — and that the project features Watson collaborating with a rotating cast of local musicians, including Kevin Parker, the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer behind the acclaimed psych pop project, Tame Impala. And with through the release of his first three albums — 2009’s Psychedelic Mango, 2010’s Frond and his 2012 breakthrough effort Beard, Wives, Denim — the Perth-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer found his sound moving from straightforward psych rock to a decidedly pop-leaning sound. Coincidentally, Watson’s breakthrough album was released around the time that Parker released his own breakthrough effort, Innerspeaker and with growing buzz around Australia’s psych pop and dance pop scenes, Watson and his touring band had found themselves on a busy international touring schedule that included an appearance at that year’s SXSW and a one-off show with CAN‘s Damo Suzuki, a major influence on Watson and his sound.

The Weather, which was released earlier this year continues Watson’s ongoing collaboration with Parker, and as you would have heard on album single “Colder Than Ice,” Watson’s sultry falsetto was paired with a production consisting onsisting of icy and shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a motorik groove in what may arguably be one of the more dance floor friendly tracks they’ve released in some time. Interestingly enough, the album’s material finds Watson managing to balance being deeply engaged with our tumultuous world while offering a much-welcomed respite and escape from it — and the album’s latest single “All I Want For Christmas (Is a Tascam 388) is a mischievous and hazily lysergic ode to the season that features Watson’s dreamy falsetto paired with tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, layers upon layers of synths that’s then given an easy-going dub-like sheen. 

The recently released and appropriately kaleidoscopic video was directed by the band’s Jamie Terry and features band member “Shiny Joe Ryan” hanging out in Fremantle, Australia in a Santa suit and sunscreen, drinking beer, driving around and breakdancing until he arrives at the studio to see his new Tascam 388, which he can’t wait to play with.