Posts Tagged ‘Psych-pop’

Jason Henn – “A Straighter Line (Ballad of JPHS)”

Following up on Honey Radar’s great LP from last year and a retrospective of their Chunklet singles earlier in this year, the band’s Jason Henn knocks out a solo LP for Cara Records. The bandleader has issued a few CD-rs for Chunklet collatortor Third Uncle Records and a self-released lathe, but for all purposes this marks his first LP under his own name. The songs retain a lot of the immediacy of recent Radar material — pitting a psych-pop penchant against his ability to knock out GBV-style fuzz nuggets that get lodged in the head like static-sore jingles. There’s plenty to love in on the album but the immediacy of “A Straighter Line (Ballad of JPHS)” exemplifies what makes Henn’s songwriting stick. There’s a breezy pop to the track but its hidden under the transistor vocals and the noise-pop barrage of guitars. Yet, its never abrasive, just a solid swinger with a bit of grit to it. The full LP doesn’t disappoint, with 10 more kickers in a similar mold. Jazz Pigs In High School is out today.

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Circulatory System – S/T

Among the crown jewels of the Elephant 6 universe (of which there are quite a few), The Circulatory System’s eponymous debut is one of the most intriguing, and with this reissue it also proves well worth re-exploring. Along Olivia Tremor Control’s Dusk At Cubist Castle and Black Foliage, this LP completes a trifecta of layered, hallucinatory, free-associative psych-pop by Will Cullen Hart that captures precisely what’s so fascinating about the label and its orbiters in the first place. While ‘60s jangles have also been a hallmark of the label, its often the bands that seek to create large scale collage-pop curios that capture the imagination best. The album dovetails off of Black Foliage’s fascination with dreams, creating a disorienting world that shifts beneath the listener’s feet without warning, but never ceases to delight with its haunted music box house of mirrors approach. Meanwhile, the album acts as a landing pad for the entire Elephant 6 stable, containing performances by just about every member of the collective save for Bill Doss, with 21 contributors making their way onto the rolls.

One of the true tragedies of the album, though, was that its release in 2001 caught a moment in time that saw vinyl hit a valley and the album was issued only on CD, followed later by digital release. To remedy this, the band launched a Kickstarter last year and raised the means to finally get this gem onto double LP and we’re all luckier for that. It’s an album I’ve revisited from time to time, but it’s been a few years and sitting down again, it bears few scars of the time in which it was created — feeling forever like a dreamscape deluge of pop pinwheels and dark, forbidden corners of the mind suspended aloft from the hallmarks aughts pop. The album isn’t one that can be broken out into piecemeal parcels for casual digestion. It is, for all intents, the album format made manifest, and once the needle hits that first groove it’s almost impossible to escape from four sides of interlaced intrigue. It occurs to me that we may be in a period when the Elephant 6 has escaped a generation of listeners, so this release could well act as an inviting entry to a world built as dense as any fantastical realm newcomers may have encountered in pop culture. The record remains a fascinating piece to pick apart, wander around, and built imaginary maps within its walls. This year bears the fruit of that Kickstater campaign so I’d recommend nabbing one while they exist, who knows if it will slip away from grasp again.




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Triptides – “Hole In Your Mind”

Got another ripper of a single from Triptides this week. Tapping into their fuzz-soaked psych with a nods to garage days gone past, the song was written together in quarantine and the video was shot at a shuttered Zebulon in L.A. Stomping riffs give way to jangles and reverb-laced lyrics. A lounged bridge cools the waters, but only temporarily, and then the band jumps back in with all the force of rave up rippers who’ve long found their place among the new generation of psych-pop acolytes. The band has been especially potent of late in the single format, and this track seems to be yet another stand-alone nugget of heady bliss. While it’s not heralding a new album, it’s more than enough fun to pop on repeat for a few runs around their kaleidoscopic roller-coaster.

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Order of the Toad

Always happy to see some familiar names pop up together in collaboration and this eccentric pop nugget from Order of the Toad brings together The Wharves’ Gemma Fleet and Robert Sotelo, who released a gem of an album for Upset The Rhythm last year. Their combined talents pick at a few fun pockets of sound — mixing psych-pop and the occasional dip into propulsive disco swing with a grandiose, Baroque approach that positions them as the Left Banke or Ultimate Spinach of indie pop. Every band today dreams of the Ultimate Spinach name drop, no? Strums and jangles trade their place with ceremonial stabs of organ. The vocals swap swiftly between Fleet and Sotelo with the former reaching for the higher registers that stretch for a heighten pop excess that’s picking up the English folk fascination of the ‘70s and threading it through the glam-wrapped excess of the following decade’s decadence.

Plenty are treading in the waters of psych-pop, but these days there’s something of a slickness that infects quite a few or a retread element that feels like paying homage to an almost exacting degree. Like their fellow UK psych exports Wax Machine, this one feels like its made by voracious devourers of the past who weave the ends of their obsessions together into new strains of psych sickness that continue the traditions of generations past rather than just look to scan and print a reasonable facsimile. Though they don’t let the occasional foray into the lysergic pool drown them in the genre. The tone shifts and the trappings skitter between aesthetic poles, but that only makes the album all the more dizzying and delightful. This one gets under the skin nicely.



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Death Valley Girls – “Hold My Hand”

There’s a raucous spirit that inhabits the first single from the upcoming Death Valley Girls’ LP. Nailed to whatever ghosts used to inhabit the garage barrage of a few years back, DVG take the best elements of that California crunch and make the jump to an untethered fuzz pop that’s pulling at a hip-swung rhythmic pulse. They’re able to funnel the cracked window crush that flew through blurred psych-pop divining rods like Crocodiles and soul-soaked party poppers like Shannon and the Clams alike. With a swaying organ and ten-foot tall riffs the song isn’t short on impact, but its the shout-along vocals that make it feel like an anthem in a time when its hard to get the motivation to move, let alone dance. And as far as pandemic prepped videos go, this one’s got my vote for style. Its been a struggle to avoid the band members in isolation feeling, but the barrage of paintings that populate the screen reach out like handmade cards catapulted into consciousness from afar. The band’s new record, Under The Spell of Joy lands October 2nd on Suicide Squeeze.



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PAINT – “Land Man”

Another sun-bleached single stumbles out from Paint and it warbles around the speakers like an LP that’s been slightly cooked by the sun. The hooks and charms aren’t deadened by the slight slip of the needles, though. The ode to life on dry land updates a version that Pedrum Siadatian, penned for the 10 year anniversary LP that MexSum put out a little while back and this version is fuller with a bit more curdle in its milk. Hooked on a spiraling guitar riff that curlicues through the speakers with an irradiated swagger, the song is pretty much all I’m looking for in a PAINT tune. The LP is headed to the turntable on July 10th and it should be crawling up that wantlist after this single takes a few spins through the speakers.

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ROY

Well, when you dive into it, theres a whole lotta backstory behind Peace, Love, and Outer Space. It centers around benevolent beings descending from space to offer a gift of peace that goes terribly awry for the recipient. Governmental intervention ensues, the message of peace is lost in a skirmish with the authorities and ROY as it were is left a changed person — open to the universe, but betrayed by his own fellow man. That story is spread over the nine tracks here, but it’s linked within a gauzy haze of psych-pop that makes it a skosh less cut and dry and a whole lot less ‘cult-culture pamphlet piece” than that might sound. Canadian label Idée Fixe has a longstanding tenure with psychedelics, but they rarely reach this far into the pop waters. The record is tin-hat certified but also lovingly crafted, draped in a lush pop pedigree that falls in easily with current contemporaries like HOLY, Jacco Gardner, or Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel. Though, historically, the band most earnestly threads their psychedelic needle with the same golden yarns that tied together the lush epics of Todd Rundgren before them.

Stylistically they skip between languid waters that threaten to melt into the soil, shimmering love-addled syrup-psych, and heavier riffs that thicken the pudding enough to give this one more than just a focus on the peace and love of the title. There’s a lot of reverberating gauze, and perhaps that’s to be expected, but the band can get into a high octane bit of garage pop when they want to. Sure, its all a bit much, but that’s sorta the point. If you’re not in it for the high-concept hipswing then you might as well just exit now. With members in tow from fellow Toronto psych bands Kaleidoscope Horse, Vypers, Possum and Hot Garbage, the ranks are deep enough to make this concept land on equal footing with the musicianship. Strap in for the full ride, though, and ROY’s LP is a candy-colored careen through the fourth wall of the studio.




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Doug Tuttle – “Anywhere You Run”

Another gauzy glimpse of psych-pop sunshine rolls in from Doug Tuttle today. The a-side to his latest single from Six Tonnes de Chair, “Anywhere You Run” lopes in on a gentle jangle and a sun-faded feeling that’s hard to shake. The song is a bleary-eyed cruiser passing by in slow motion, but even so it seems to end too soon forcing the needle back to the beginning for replays again and again. Both sides of the single pair well with Tuttle’s last LP, the blissfully beautiful Dream Road. The songs here are cut from the same cloth as the album’s dream-doused psych-pop, wafting in on autumnal breezes that ripple just slightly in the sun. The single’s limited, so don’t let the lounged feeling lull you into complacency — 2 variants : 200 on black vinyl and 100 on blue vinyl. Artwork created by New Zealand artist Callum Rooney. I recommend nabbing one while you can. The single lands April 3rd.


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Hollow Ship – “We Came Too Late”

Gotthenburg’s Hollow Ship have been spiking the punch of psych-pop for a little while yet, and the sound of it comes through in their latest single “We Came Too Late.” With a mix more suited to the crisp snap of pop and R&B than the murky waters of psych, the band adds a rhythmic kick to their swirling guitars and low-end growl. The band crosses the threshold bit more than the rest of the album here, pining for Tame Impala territory before the band was full enmeshed as festival headliners and seated into the high end of the radio dials pop charts. The ambition to dance sweats its way through the cut’s funk simmered core, and they actually land a lot closer to recent Aussie exports Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (man, that name) mixing the liquid lightshow swirl with the neon glow of glam. This one’s coming a little early in the year (April 3rd from PNKSLM) but maybe the summer sweat will help bring on a premature thaw.


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Joe Ghatt

This one’s been lingering on the fringes of haze for a while now, surfacing as a limited cassette on Third Eye Stimuli back in the first half of 2019 and now resurfacing from Six Tonnes de Chair on LP. Ghatt’s a vibe channeler in the modern tradition, soaking his sound in the sepia tones and dust scratch aesthetics of the ‘60s, but keeping a modern touch of breezy songwriting in tow. As such Banana Sludge employs fuzz guitars with wild abandon and seats them into velour lounge settings full of hazed memories. He’s adept a letting his hooks grow around the brain and there’s often the feeling of sinking into the rug around you as the sounds grow muffled, the incessant creep of shag carpeting pairing with mushroom tea to pleasing and perplexing effect. That’s what makes Ghatt’s vision of nostalgia-vision work. Its not a clear representation of the past, more often it’s the feelings coming back in blurry shapes and hung on repeated phrases.

Midway swinger “Mammon” might exhibit this the best with an instrumental incessantness that’s flanked by voices calling from beyond the periphery. By the time the song is over it’s hard to remember where it started, and by then Ghatt’s back into the hammock and strumming a white linen lounger that drips with brass and a humid dose of echo. Over the run of Banana Sludge, Ghatt transmits through the temporal plane – his voice breathing down the grating of a ribbon in the room, but the backing band emanating from the ether, following his every move from beyond time. Sure, it’s all facsimile, but, hey they give awards to the designers that can copy period pieces with gleeful frequency every year. Why not applaud the effort? Ghatt’s found the threads that hang tightest and pulled them around us all on this one.



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