Posts Tagged ‘Country Psych’

Psychic Ills – “Never Learn Not To Love”

Over the tenure of this blog Psychic Ills seem like such a load-bearing staple that its hard to believe that songwriter Tres Warren has passed. The band evolved through myriad incarnations — mutating lineups and sounds through the psychedelic swamp. Their early record were nerve-bitten and bracing when others were looking to hang onto more of a pop life raft. Then Warren and his compatriots worked their way to a sort of psychedelic ebullience on their final album, Inner Journey Out, a poison-tipped country-psych ramble that stood as one of their best. While its bittersweet to know that there was yet another album in the making that may never reach our ears, this double sided ode to the relationship between Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson is a lovely curio of remembrance. The band tackles both The Beach Boys’ “Never Learn Not To Love,” the song that was based on Manson’s “Cease To Exist” and part of his rift with Wilson over changes made to the final version. The version here is lush and hazy, wrapped in the same sort of beautiful grace that marked their last album.

On the flip they tackle Manson’s original and give it a much starker treatment, letting the two versions stand in contrast to one another — the former a comforting shoulder and the other a cold rebuke. Both versions are quite worth your time, and wind up an essential pickup for any longtime fans of the band’s catalog. Warren will certainly be missed and reworks like this only prove why that’s true.




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Hurt Valley

The debut from Brian Collins arrives faded by the sun, a worn-in world of late afternoon shuffle that’s just a bit hazy from the full-bore UV-bake of 3pm rays. The album feels West Coast in a very real and tangible way. There’s no rush, no urgent angle to the songs. From needle in to needle out the record breezes through the air just below the threshold of sweat. The guitars twang just right — a touch of bend on the strings, a whisper of slide. The record feels like it was made for the moment and just happened to get caught up on the tape like a private press session from from the late ‘70s – a touch out of time and even more so once its locked in the time-capsule for a few more decades. When it emerges, though, the air is still rarefied and warm. The streaks from the blinds have imprinted themselves on each note and the private becomes parcel to the masses once more. Out of time becomes timeless and we’re all the better for it.

Like so many before him, Collins trades in melancholy and he wields it well. Between the soft rambles and mournful slides, Hurt Valley lives up to its name, weaving tales of humility, loss, and regret. The album closes with Collins’ musing on building worlds out of lies and holding tight to their boundaries. It’s a beautiful send off for the album, itself an ode to those same “immaterial worlds.” Late year releases have a way of getting lost, but Hurt Valley seems like it might search out that status even if we weren’t careening into December. My advice is to hold onto this one and not let it slip away into the sun. Squint hard and you’ll find the thread. Pull it and you’ll be led into the Valley for a good bask in the sun.




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New Rose – “Plenty of Flowers”

For an East Coast band, bound to the NYC streets, there’s a remarkable amount California salt in New Rose’s veins. Their last album tucked into alt-country with the vigor of exiles trying on a new skin, but as is evident from the first taste of the upcoming Crying Eyes, they’re now quite comfortable in that Western skin and looking to make their mark on the legacy of country-psych and Cosmic Americana. Add another name to the list of 2018 bands joyously recapturing the tipping point of psychedelia’s innocence lost. “Plenty of Flowers,” which boasts the inclusion of session legend Al Perkins on pedal steel, evokes the kind of sighed Sunday resolve that looks back on the regrets, indulgences and mistakes of the past week with a narcotic detachment that’s warmed by the late afternoon sun and buffeted by the last few beers in the fridge.

Wagner and co. have gone to lengths to outfit the record with the right totems of a bygone era and they’re capturing the Canyon’s light just right. Aside from Perkins (who played on Gram Parsons and Rolling Stones’ records) the band’s pulled in players who worked with Linda Rondstat and Kacey Musgraves alongside vocals from Anna Fox of Quilt. “Plenty of Flowers” tips its hat to their raglan and linen vibes and sets a nice tone for an album of imaginary melancholic L.A. misadventures dreamed by those born just out of time’s reach.



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Mapache – “Chico River”

Picking up the West Coast psych rock tradition and peppering a liberal dose of country swoons n’ American croons, Mapache are heirs apparent to the Rademaker brothers’ crown of Alt-country warblin’. The first cut from their upcoming eponymous LP on Spiritual Pajamas is sweltering in the afternoon heat of slide guitar and rambling plucks, but its the honeyed twining of their voices that seals the deal. The duo work their way around harmonies with the grace of artists twice their age. It seems that they’ve caught on to the old soul early and are making it work well to their advantage. Keep this one in your sights when the album hits next month.




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John Andrews & The Yawns

The parameters of Woodsist seem to be about escaping the city, heading to the country and letting the sun-soaked vibes permeate the music. Woods bolted for upstate New York, Herbcraft hold it down in Maine, MV & EE have always held court in Vermont. Their roster is a veritable embodiment of shacking the shackles of civil life and embracing rural enclaves. I get this, it’s a freeing principle and altogether not a bad tie to bind a a roster together. John Andrews has emanated nothing if not pastoral energy in his work with Quilt and in his sideman gigging with Widowspeak and Kevin Morby. He began his solo journey two years back on Bit By The Fang but he crystallizes the laid back strums and porch rockin’ vibes on Bad Posture.

Relocating up to New Hampshire, Andrews distills warm breeze vocals and ripple rock guitars into the kind of songs that seem to hang in the air like slight humidity; affecting and strangely comfortable. He lets tape hiss seep into the mix, humming like a fourth harmonic in the mix and adding to the general Laissez-faire policy of songwriting. Bad Posture is streaked in sunset hues and an atmosphere of country ease, which from all indications is just what Andrews is shooting for. He succeeds handily in summing up the warm wistfulness of just beginning to settle into a new life before the itch of isolation starts to set in. There’s literally a song titled “Relax” in the mix, so you know that things are serious here. Lay back and vacate worries, at least for the next half hour or so, the rest can wait until tomorrow.




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The Tyde – “It’s Not Gossip If It’s True”

So I mentioned the other day that, yes indeed, The Tyde have resurfaced after years off the grid. On his fourth album, Darren 4, Darren Rademaker is sounding like he’s recaptured the spirit that inhabited the sunny strains of Once and Twice, summoning up the ghosts of The Byrds, The softer side of Creation (The Sneetches, Suede, Felt) and the summer sun that beamed from within The Beach Boys. He’s also adding his dose of wearied and weathered vibes, as if the sun only leads to sunstroke and a hangover that puts the good times in bas relief. Lyrics about trysts with twenty-two year-olds aside, the album has a wonderful feel to it and “Gossip” is a highlight for me. Its practically swooning with the addition of some honeyed background vocals and a touch of slide guitar. Rademaker captures the song’s hassled sighs amiably in the Alex Knost directed clip. Its nice to have The Tyde back and summing up middle age in weathered psych-country comfort.

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