Tag: psych rock

New Audio: Sweden’s SVVAMP Returns with a Classic Rock Inspired, Power Chord-based, Arena Rocker

Comprised of three long-time friends, Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren, who all share vocal duties, the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP can trace their origins to a mutual love of rock, folk and blues, and unsurprisingly, the band has received quite a bit of praise for a classic rock-inspired heavy psych rock/rock ‘n’ roll sound that draws Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — but with an unpretentious, genuine and downright uicontrvibed sound and vibe. 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.”

Now, as you may recall, 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 but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single will further the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for crafting 60s and early 70s inspired hard psych and rock — and while the song may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” the song has the band managing to balance the cool, self-assured of old pros, who know what they’re doing and how to go about it, and an immediacy of three musicians in a room, quickly honing in on the same frequency. 

If you follow me through my various social media accounts, you’d know that I’m now in Chicago on a business trip — and for some live music and hanging out with a few people I know in the area. So far, the trip has gone off on a fantastic start; but as you can imagine, I’ll be posting but somewhat sporadically as I’m running around town on various adventures, and will have work functions and so on. But let’s get to some business first . .

I’ve written quite a bit about the Chicago, IL-based psych rock band Secret Colours on this site, and as you may recall that throughout the band’s history they’ve gone through several lineup changes that have left founding member Tommy Evans as the sole original member. And with the band’s newest lineup which features Evans (guitar, vocals), Max Brink (bass) and Matt Yeates (drums), the band sound has been pushed in a slightly different direction as their latest album Dream Dream draws more from Brit Pop, guitar pop and garage rock — while at points, retaining elements of the 60s psych rock sound that first captured the attention of this site and elsewhere. Last year, I wrote about the XTC “Mayor of Simpleton”-like “Changes in Nature” and the 70s AM rock-like “Save Me;” however, the album’s latest single, album title track “Dream Dream” is more of a return to form, with the song being heavily indebted to both 60s psych pop and Brit Pop.

Directed and produced by Katey Meyer and featuring animation by  Becca Christman, the recently released video features the members of the band, playing on a brightly colored set, wearing retro glasses and sunglasses and of course, some prerequisite psychedelic imagery. It’s trippy yet mischievously so.

 

New Video: Acclaimed Instrumental Canadian Act Shooting Guns Release Gorgeous Visuals for Atmospheric Album Single “Vampires of Industry”

With the release of their six full-length albums, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada-based instrumental psych rock/heavy psych/heavy metal act Shooting Guns have developed a reputation as a critically applauded, multi-award nominated act, known for work that’s largely inspired by Black Sabbath, Spacemen 3, Pink Floyd and others — and for touring over 60,000 miles across their native Canada without international touring.

While their previously released material was the sort of heavy and saturated sounds that was well-suited for horror-comedy files, Flavour Country, the Saskatoon-based instrumental act’s sixth and latest album  which was produced and recorded but the members of the band at their own Pre-Rock Studios features arguably some of the band’s fastest, heaviest and most visceral material they’ve written, recorded and released, as well as some of their most atmospheric; in fact, the album’s latest single “Vampires of Industry” consists of a slow-burning and moody drone paired with twangy and shimmering guitar chords that immediately bring to mind Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan,” Directions to See a Ghost-era The Black Angels, and the Silber Records catalog — but with a cinematic, sweep.

Directed by Parker Thiessen, the recently released video for “Vampires of Industry” features a flowing and shimmering, metallic piece of cloth, overtaking  the surrounding forest in a way that evokes the creeping of industrialization over nature in a way that’s gorgeous, surreal and unsettling.

New Audio: The 60s-Inspired Heavy Psych Sounds of Sweden’s SVVAMP

Comprised of three long-time friends, Adam Johansson,  Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren, who all share vocal duties, the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio Svvamp can trace their origins to a mutual love of rock, folk and blues; in fact, the band has received praise for a classic rock-like heavy psych sound that draws influence from Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — but with an unpretentious, genuine and downright uicontrvibed sound and vibe. 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.

The Jönköping, Sweden-based trio’s highly anticipated sophomore effort SVVAMP 2 is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a comparably expansive 6-track tape deck, allowing the band to expand upon their sound while improving the overall fidelity of their sound. Interestingly enough, there can be a comparison to when many psych rock bands began recording with increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), moving from 4 to 8 and eventually 16 tracks; 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.”

“Queen,” Svvamp 2’s swaggering and self-assured first single finds the band crafting a sound that deceptively sounds as though it were released in 1968 or so, thanks to its enormous power chord-based riff, and arena friendly hooks — nodding at Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure while capturing a “you-are-there” immediacy.
 

 

Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips 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 — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often 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 this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums an 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. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain 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 unexpected, 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 to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, 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 on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an 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 added 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 side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup 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 viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; 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” is an expansive, laid-back, shimmering delay pedal effected, guitar pop with a steady groove that sounds as though it owes a big sonic debt to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out paired with a slowly building narrative centered around the gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the pressing tug of anxiety and uncertainty — with peaceful resistance to that anxiety and uncertainty winning the day and guiding the overall tone.   At one point, the song’s narrator seems to say “come on, man slow it down, daydream in the sun for a bit,” and you know what, goddamn it, the guy is right. Even in the face of a world constantly on the brink of annihilation, of a government on the verge of collapse and a social order being shredded apart, sometimes you need to push the reset button or you’ll go crazy.

 

The band will be embarking on a tour to support their newest effort and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar [tickets]

April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown [tickets]

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

 

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: JOVM Mainstays The Limiñanas Return with Cinematic and Moody Black and White Visuals for “Dimanche” feat. Bertrand Belin

Over the past couple of years I’ve written a bit about the Perpignan, France-based psych rock duo The Limiñanas, and as you may recall the French duo have become one France’s most renowned indie acts, thanks in part for a sound that draws from psych rock, shoegaze, and yé-yé, centered around arrangements featuring fuzzy, distorted power chords, reverb heavy hooks and effortlessly cool vocals. And much like fellow countrymen La Femme, their sound is heavily indebted to 60s American guitar rock and psych rock while managing to capture something  quintessentially French.

Released last year, the duo’s Istanbul Is Sleepy EP was initially recorded at their home studio and finished at Anton Newcombe‘s Berlin-based studio, and the EP’s title track and lead singer “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 track that reportedly was influenced by Rain-era The Cult. And as the members of The Limiñanas recalled in press notes, the collaboration can trace its origins to 2016 or so, 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

“Shadow People,” the first official single off the duo’s Twisting the Shadow People, which was released earlier this year, found the duo collaborating with French actress Emmanuelle Seigner and Renaud Picard, the frontman of Hair and the Iotas on a slow-burning and meditative track that featured a hazy, dream-like hook. “Dimanche,” Shadow People’s latest single is a chilly and menacing track that has the band collaborating with Bertrand Belin who delivers lyrics in a cool and detached French over pulsating synths, a motorik-like groove and twangy guitar chords — and interestingly enough, the latest single reveals a band that’s subtly expanding upon their sound, while continuing their focus on the dichotomy between dark and light in the moody fashion that captured the attention of critics and fans internationally. 

Directed by Aurelien Richter,  the recently released video for “Dimanche” was shot gorgeously and artful black and white that nods to film noir and Quentin Tarantino films and the visuals emphasize the song’s overall moody vibe.  Throughout you’ll see the members of The Limiñanas with Emmanuelle Seigner, Foulke de Boixo, who has made frequent appearances in their videos and the Betrand Belin. 

New Video: Psych Rock Supergroup MIEN Release Sinuous, Hand-Painted, Animated Visuals for Album Single “Earth Moon”

Comprised of The Black Angels‘ Alex Mass (vocals, samples, loops), The Horrors‘ Tom Furse (keys, programming), Elephant Stone‘s Rishi Dhir (bass, sitar, keys) and The Earlies‘ John-Mark Lapham (keys, samples, programming), the indie All-Star supergroup and side project MIEN can trace its origins to roughly 2004, when Rishi Dhir, who was playing sitar and bass with a previous band on a SXSW bill with The Brian Jonestown Massacre had a chance encounter with The Black Angels’ Alex Mass. Dihr also had a chance encounter with The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. Interestingly, Mass, Dihr and Lapham bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of The Association‘s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin;” in fact, upon learning that Lapham had a deep desire to cover it, they all began the slow process of putting together the version they’d always dreamt of. Unfortunately, while that never came to fruition, it created the collaborative and creative sparks that would become MIEN.

In 2012, Dihr was playing bass with The Black Angels, and at the time they were sharing bills with The Horrors, whose Skying was on heavy rotation for him. Dihr made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and they made a pact to work together on something in the future. As a quartet, the members of MIEN made another pass at covering The Association but coincidentally around the same time, there was a Lapham demo, based around a Beastie Boys sample that eventually became the murky and hallucinatory “Black Habit,” the first single off the band’s self-titled debut.

The album’s second and latest single “Earth Moon” continues on a similar ambient and kaleidoscopic vibe; however, the song finds the act pairing propulsive yet atmospheric electronics with shimmering sitar — and while being as menacing as its predecessor, sonically it’s a perfect amalgamation of Directions to See a Ghost-era The Black Angels and Elephant Stone. 

The recently released video for “Earth Moon” features the sinuous and undulating, hand-painted animation of Rochester, NY-based visual artist and musician Mike Turzanski. As MIEN’S John Mark Lapham says in press notes “I’ve admired Mike Turzanski’s artwork since around 2011 when he did some work for a project I was working on at the time called The Revival Hour. Mike is a Rochester, NY based artist and musician that creates these surreal and oftentimes nightmarish worlds through his art. (I’ve been looking for ways to work with him again ever since he had me and a friend of mine dunked in a cold lake in Rochester spitting pink goo out of our mouths for a photography project… don’t ask…) When it came time to find an artist to create a video for Earth Moon, he was the first person I thought of. I knew he had done a lot painting and sketches, but wasn’t sure he ever tackled a completely animated video production. When I asked him if he’d be interested, he jumped on it and within a few weeks we got a fully formed hand painted video! Mike’s an amazing artist and we’re honored to have his hands all over MIEN. I’m looking forward to our next collaboration (though hopefully not in a freezing lake this time…)”

“The vision for “Earth Moon”’s video was first presented to me with the visual inspiration of early 70s animations. These vintage videos have the distinct look and feel of something completely hand made,” Mark Turzanski explains of the video concept in press notes. “Looping psychedelic visuals in a very raw form felt like the best approach. Each frame was hand drawn and scanned in to produce the analog and physical look. Taking this older cel animation frame by frame technique was very consuming but well worth the result.  “Earth Moon” is a song that makes you feel like your body is a rippling wave in space. I wanted to create a video that would only add to this feeling.”