Posts Tagged ‘Psych-pop’

Paperhead

Paperhead-Under-Review

A distinctly polished upgrade of Paperhead’s nostalgia-centric rock trip, their latest Chew is an ambitious reach that pays off for the most part. The Paperhead is one of those band’s that has been clanging around in RSTB’s reach for a few years now. They came up as underage wunderkinds with a taste that spoke to hours dosed in YouTube fodder that knocked through Nuggets-era material like Kaleidoscope, Gandalf, Tomorrow, July and Rainbow Ffolly. They emulated the off-kilter, day-glo pastiche so well that it was charming, but not didn’t necessarily speak to carving out their own space. They’d excelled at winking at collectors who couldn’t help but feel that “the kids were all right.” But on Chew they begin to move away from that and into their own space, finally coming to terms with the influences that have bubbled up in their formative years, blending that ’60s sweet tooth with a more complex pop that speaks to their familiarity with the Elephant 6 catalog as that stable developed out of their own adolescence.

Tracks like “Emotion (Pheromones)” speak to the kind of lush pop made by Beachwood Sparks and middle marks of Beulah. “Little Lou” is a hazy dose of Olivia Tremor Control’s outer reaches. Elsewhere they fully embrace a ’70s eclecticism that found a home for country’s mellow glow within psych-pop’s walls. They dabble in dual languages on standout “Dama De Lavanda” and they seem to fully swell into a sense of who they want to be. Yes, they are still quite smitten with the seeds of the past, but now they appear to have let more of themselves into the mix. As an added plus those skin deep and sleeve worn influences have all seeped deep into the system and germinated in delightful ways. This is a band still having fun with the kind of music they enjoy, indulging but also adding to the conversation. It’s psych-pop with a human heart.




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The Apples in Stereo – Science Faire

Apples-Re-released

This one is too good not to mention. Basically the impetus, the spark of life of the Elephant 6 rests in this release. E6-001 is The Apples’ (as they were known then) first EP, Tidal Wave (though really its just an eponymous EP). This is the seed that built an empire without walls. E6, for those that couldn’t get enough resurgent psychedelia in the ’90s, brought back a homegrown and humming version of the chiming, fuzzed, chatchy-as-hell and slightly freaked out version of the ’60s that we never got to experience. Robert Schneider’s adhoc collective, that would become a label/not label began here and would eventually sprout the Olivia Tremor Controls, Neutral Milk Hotels and Circulatory Systems that would burn just as bright as that first EP, if not brighter. But his is where it started. I grabbed this, now sorely out of print CD in the late ’90s and it was one of the introductions to the family of Elephants, that begat a longtime obsession.

Science Faire culled together the eponymous Apples EP, The Hypnotic Suggestion EP on Bus Stop Records, a split with OTC on Small-Fi, a split with Sportsguitar, and a split with The Heartworms. All of these are restored into a 7″ box that replicates the original art and tactile feel of the originals on their intended short form format. There are a ton of other inserts reproduced from the original runs here, as would befit any product produced by Chunklet. The label has been instrumental in getting some of the early and seminal E6 material back into print and its clear that the original members trust Owings with their legacy. This box is full of Apples gems that speak to the long run that Schneider and co. had, perfecting the jangly, fuzzed nugget for all it was worth. There are a lot of reissues in any given year, but few have this kind of attention to detail and connection to the source material. This one’s on the essential list, for sure.




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Paperhead – “Dama De Lavanda”

Paperhead-BitsandPieces

Nashville’s Paperhead are one of those band’s I’ve been waiting on to take the bump up to a full-on widescreen approach. They’ve been seeding some great psych-pop over the years, embracing the lo-fi trappings of the times on their 2010 debut for Infinity Cat and the eponymous follow-up LP on Trouble in Mind a year later. They’d hinted at a bigger scope on Africa Avenue, but its this wide-open slice of psych-pomp, which embraces huge atmospheres, lounge jazz, blue-eyed soul and a ’70s hangover of indulgent (yet glorious) major label epics, that feels like they’ve finally found themselves. The bi-lingual romp from their upcoming album, Chew, drops in flutes and sumptuous horns to the mix of fuzzed out guitars before breaking down to a psych-soul outro. Can’t wait to see how this fits into the scope of the whole album. It feels like a great first step towards the band embracing their full psych-pop potential.


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Allah-Las

Allah-Lahs-Under-Review

Allah-Las enter a new phase that’s leaving a bit of the bright jangled swagger behind in favor of a more reticent and melancholy mood. Calico Review sees the band temper their sun-soaked views, a hallmark of their catalog, and dive down a shadier path of ’60s-indebted trappings. They’ve always had just a twinge of sadness under their skin, but its usually balanced by a bouncier beat, a tangle of jangles and a sunny chorus. On their third album the band tends to embrace those sighs that were always eking out of their previous albums. Maybe you truly know that that clouds have gathered when a track called “High & Dry” is followed immediately by another called “Mausoleum.”

Despite its grey-skied mentality the record comes off as one of the band’s most enjoyable. The more introspective tone has been augmented with a wider musical palette, stepping away from the simple guitar combo to rope in mellotron, violin and harpsichord; reaching for that ’60s bittersweetness that befitted The Pretty Things on their slide into depression via rock opera on S.F. Sorrow or later period Zombies. Truthfully, the band had to take a turn, three albums of sun and strum can only feel like you’ve trucked into a rut. So its good to see them bumming in the sun and finding a use for rainy beach days. The year could use a good bit of sad swagger and I’m glad that The Allah-Lahs are here to provide. The album also comes with a move to Mexican Summer, expanding the label’s catalog of stalwart indie names.

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Ultimate Painting – “Song For Brian Jones”

Ultimate Painting have steadily smoothed their sound, found their footing and arrived at the autumnal opus that is Dusk. Standout elegy for troubled Rolling Stones member Brian Jones is pretty indicative of where the band have taken their sound for this album ironing out their VU love and wandering closer to the sunset psych of aughts mainstays like Dios (Dios Malos if you want to get litigious) or the less cavernous moments of Beachwood Sparks. The song is a fitting tear shed for Jones and as strong and argument as you could ever make for getting James Hoare and Jack Cooper together. The clip is appropriately swimming in double imagery and softly psychedelic shots of Hoare’s studio and a verdant landscape. Its not the most groundbreaking visual but its a nice accompaniment to the band’s pop flutter. Between this and the Pete Astor album, it seems that James Hoare is making himself responsible for some of my favorite moments of gentle pop hum this year. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.



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Morgan Delt

MorganDelt-Under-Review

Stepping up to the big leagues, Morgan Delt makes the leap from Trouble in Mind to Sub Pop for his sophomore LP. The album’s still drenched in a psychedelic shimmer, though it become a more cohesive shine on Phase Zero than his more stitched together eponymous album. Delt seemed like an unlikely bump up from the psych underground. I liked his first tape and the album that grew out of it, but he’d felt like he was still finding his footing in those early recordings. He finds it well on Phase Zero, though, and to my delight he’s crafted something that runs better as an album than as individual tracks. As the label began to roll this one out in pieces, none of these hit hard. They weren’t particularly earworms or singles as such, but its when the whole picture comes into view that Delt’s prowess begins to take shape. The songs bleed into one another, creating a blurry and billowed tapestry of sound that’s immediately earnest in its psychedelic pursuit and engulfing in its longview approach.

Delt buries his vocals under a sea of echo and a dizzying world of kaleidoscope touches, painting with bright wide strokes and sketching in intricate details with a finer point. The album takes its cues from a host of 60’s nuggets that lean towards the pastoral and delicate; echoing bits of JK & Co., Millennium, Sagittarius and The Free Design while weaving some more intense moments through tracks like “Mssr. Monster” and “Sun Powers” that keep it headed into a proggier territory than might befit those touchstones. Its truly one of those albums that kicks an artist’s game up a notch, digesting the past and wearing a workbook of psych exploration on his sleeve, but still finding time to build something wholly his own in the process. Delt’s proven himself more than an imitator here and for any collector of psych gems, this stands as an excellent addition to any collection.

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Hartle Road – “Garbage Wizard”

HartleRoad-BitsandPieces

Columbus, Mississippi’s Hartle Road unleashes a smooth and woozy brand of psych pop on their debut LP, Maxx. “Garbage Wizard” chugs its way into this world, bashing sweatstained riffs through the quaking vision of heat ripples before slipping into a creamy chorus that lives up to the band’s self-imposed aesthetic of a Phil Spector sound with jail cell acoustics. Then they tear the whole thing down with a tin foil transmission bridge that feels like it might teeter off the brink and blow it all apart. Its the kind of track that seems like it has everything working against it, so it can’t possibly fail, right? But all the pieces work together just right. Toby Hartleroad and crew seem to be digesting their influences well, churning out a psych pop platter that’s got plenty to love for everyone.



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Beautify Junkyards – Other Voices 08

BeaufifyJunkyards-singlesclub

Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards follow up last year’s psych-pop odyssey The Beast Shouted Love with a single for Ghost Box’s increasingly intriguing “Other Voices” series. The eighth installment sees the Portuguese band trading in their familiar brand of pastoral psych – burbling beats, whispery vocals, music box ambience – and its a perfect fit for Ghost Box’s layered roster. The single is strong on both sides, the A-side is a gorgeous sunset melt of plucks and swirling synths made for sliding off the remains of the day. The flip is by turns more nocturnal, a secret world of forest folk adorned with ornaments of subtle psychedelic nuance and a loping beat. Its easy to see how Ghost Box could pull this one close, and I’d be unsurprised to see a full length from the band arrive on the label sometime in the future. Its the kind of release that feels like it might already be in their ranks. Solid as ever, the label is still leading the pack in consistency of psychedelic oddities these days.




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Totally You – “One Step At A Time”

TotallyYouBitsandPieces

Izak Arida’s (of The Memories) new EP Smog City is full of scuzzy odes to L.A.’s grime and lo-fi rumples on hangovers, but underneath a bit of that scruffy exterior lies a solid strain of psych-pop that holds a lot of DNA in common with The Dandy Warhols, Primal Scream and Love and Rockets. Nowhere is this strain more evident than on standout track “One Step At A Time.” It breaks open with that kind of heard-it-before laid back riff that you can’t quite place, but can’t quite ignore either. Rather than feel like simply another plow through the ruts of drug laden pop froth, Arida gives the song a spark of life that catches hard, careening the riff like a teenage joyride through the speakers. Its bigger than most of the other tracks on Smog City, stacking vocals and harmonies into a creamy goodness that brings the West Coast sun and slacker pop saunter with just a dash of Brit-pop pomp. This track alone feels like the match that might touch off Totally You, given the right fuel.



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Allah-Las – “Famous Phone Figure”

Well gotta be summer now because there’s a new Allah-Las on the rise and that means good things for record players everywhere. Temperate days and clear skies just are just begging for a soundtrack from the L.A. stalwarts. The new track marks a bit of a departure from their usual jangle and jump sound that’s been rooted in the garage aesthetics and ushers in a move towards a more lush, and dreamy sound that plays off of swooning 60’s touchstones like Pet Sounds, JK & Co. or Tomorrow. Fittingly they’ve brought in a whole host of new instrumentation for the album – viola, harpsichord, Mellotron and theremin – proving this to be Allah-Las embracing their 60’s experimentation in full. They’ve been studying their 60’s trajectories well, so expect some paisley Nehru jackets on this tour, because things have gone full psych (not that I’m complaining). They’ve also made a move to Mex Summer for the record which pushes them away from their cozy home at Innovative Leisure. Definitely interested to hear more on this one and the moody black and white visuals give the track a nice stately background to luxuriate in. Summer just got a bit breezier.

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