Posts Tagged ‘Psych-pop’

Honey Radar

Wafting like wasp spray on the summer’s breeze, Honey Radar’s Ruby Puff of Dust comes oozing into the pop pool with ill intent. Jason Henn’s Philly outpost has long sum in the wake of Athens’ psych-pop resurgence and they’re presenting one of their most refined visions with this round of twelve crusted twisters. Like a lower-fi Olivia Tremor shorn and shucked of Green Typewriters and write-in dreamscapes, the band reassembles the psych-pop pit of the universe with frayed wires and wood glue. The album’s got a bedrock beat that’s built on The Byrds, The Troggs, and Them, but its all been corroded like wet Kodachrome in the basement. Jangles ring out ,straining to swing wild before a wave of fuzz comes crashing onto their shores obliterating the crystal clear shake n’ shimmy they pine for. The twin-tone twang rattles out of the transistor tubes like a half-formed memory, memorexed and microwaved like shrinky-dink ditties that are always floating just out of reach in the recesses of memory.

That’s not to say the album doesn’t make a hell of an impact, though. The caustic crunch of guitars leaves a fair amount of scars on the ol’ cerebral cortex, jamming in hooks that are barbed and bouncy among the fuzz-bomb flotsam. Henn’s got Pollard’s proficiency with boiling a song down to the elemental necessities and he’s shot this record through to the bone with enough catchy crusters that we’re gonna all need a quarantine before the record is over. It’s been three years since Honey Radar hit the long play market and its damn good to have this melter on the deck, spinning round and round until the night consumes us all.



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Honey Radar – “Kite Balloons”

Honey Radar is back at it again and things are sounding shaggier and shakier than ever. The first cut off the Philly band’s upcoming Ruby Puff of Dust is a fuzz-soaked swinger, hiding a jangled gem underneath a mountain of corrugated guitar shavings and echoplexed sweat. Though clearly pulling from the Nuggets bench, the band also gives this one a nice late-nineties psych-pop punch, feeling like this might have been a more forceful vision of an Olivia Tremor Control b-side. The record is out June 28th from the Radar’s usual home at What’s Your Rupture. Check out those fuzz licks below.



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Olden Yolk

On their sophomore album Olden Yolk solidify their folk-pop sound, edging in a touch more of the soft-focus psychedelia that graced their first while embracing the rhythmic pulse pounding under their gauzy glow. The band shares a great deal in common with Shane Butler’s former haunt in Quilt, but they’re drawing deeper into the damp depths of ‘60s psych than Quilt’s sunny veneer ever let on. With this new album they’re picking up similarities to Sunforest, Euhoria, and Sapphire Thinkers giving their sound a lushness that’s even more present than the last outing. Like bygone autumnal strummers Ultimate Painting, they’re burrowing into melancholy with a wholeheartedness that reverberates throughout Living Theater. This doesn’t land them in the bell jar, but perhaps perches them just adjacent, making charcoal sketches of said jar to send to pen pals who sigh like they sigh.

In fact, autumnal is the wrong word, if anything Olden Yolk are vernal and all the better for the May release of their latest record. They oscillate between streaks of rain and scattered beams of sun in mercurial moments between the album’s ten tracks. The best songs here (and its hard to choose) embrace both halves of their split souls. “Grand Palais” is a particular stunner, edging into the light on tip-toes but heading into its skid spinning ‘round and ‘round until the air becomes dizzy. “Cotton and Cane” is the band at their most pop, pinning poetry on loss to a careening crackle and a perfect vocal dance between the leads.

The songs take on their heaviest cloak when Caity Shaffer steps up to the microphone, though. Soft flutes and a gentle nudge of bass huddle behind her while she croons contemplatively on “Distant Episode,” the song palpably drizzling with tenderness. She’s equally heartbreaking on “Castor and Pollux,” a haunting tale of indecision and loss. The air of duality remains a glorious constant on Living Theater the singers’ intertwined voices and the bittersweet vibes following the tides between joy and sadness like the soft quiver of a diaphragm before weeping. The debut was an excellent introduction, but with album number two, Olden Yolk plead to be on your list of 2019 essentials.



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Clinic

Has it really been seven years since Clinic was last seen creeping around the turntable? It appears so. After the band’s last outing, which saw them collaborating with Oneohtrix’ Daniel Lopatin, they return to a more familiar form, riding the raw snap of their familiar spooked psych-blues once more. The title of Wheeltappers and Shunters is likely lost on most US audiences, as it references a mid-70s British Variety series that hasn’t aged particularly well. The jocular program represents a time that, while often reminisced as the golden age of culture, actually rounds out to a cringing normalization of racial stereotype caught on tape and misogyny run rampant. The show is essentially the UK version of Hee-Haw (minus the country music) as far as I can tell, and as much as that’s likely a fond familial memory for some here, it’s as much a cultural black mark for everyone else.

The band works the album into a kind of inverse Village Green Preservation Society, holding up the sunny charms of the past to the magnifying lens of 2019 and looking for the dirt in the cracks. As much as both the UK and US have found sweeping waves of nostalgic nationalism in the wake of MAGA/Brexit culture, this is a necessary knock to the heads of the rally crowds looking to hearken back to some sort of perceived greatest generations. They pin their body politic to some progressive visions of the Clinic sound as well – stretching out to the ethereal embers on “Flying Fish,” and mining menacing prog on the fizzing closer “New Equations (at the Copacabana)”. The band’s bubbling through lava and lye on “Ferryboat of the Mind,” while they return to the classic pendulum swing swagger of their old days on “Congratulations.”

The record is indeed a dark depiction of nostalgia – panicked, preserved, and packaged for a future generation to find and ponder. They don’t look back on the transgressions of their predecessors lightly, just as our own heirs should not. While (somewhat ironically) fans nostalgic for classic Clinic will find something to love here, the band’s fusing much of the drive from their more experimental later years with the propulsive pop that locked ‘em on your college dial. It’s a new chapter in the history of the psych swamp and a rather welcomed return.



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Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

On their third album Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation embrace wider scope of psychedelia, pushing their lush sound into swirls of hypnotic repetition, languid guitar bliss, silken slow jams, lock-top blues grooves, and a psych-pop shimmer. Having relocated from Stockholm to London, Öhrn and her writing partner in the band Fredrik have teamed up with a cadre of locals to fill out the sound and the new direction is even more polished than their previous incarnation. There’s still a haze hanging over them, but now they’ve added a certain color-saturated oblivion that occasionally feels more comfortable on a towering club sound system than it would from the stage. While this tangent starts out with a pocket full of of Moon Duo, Spacemen 3 galactic dust, they push much further into festival fodder than occasionally benefits their sound. This shift is most readily apparent on “I Can Feel It” and “Desire,” which might have worked better as a 12” pairing, chafing slightly, but still manage to hang on without completely pushing the record off the rails.

Thankfully they pull back the throttle and suck a little serotonin out of the room for cuts that are more about floating in the ether than about transcendence through dance. The sustained tones and spiritual lilt to “Only Lovers” is right out of the Spiritualized playbook and Öhrn pulls off the J Spaceman gravitas with grace. They follow that with another groover that’s a touch more lysergic than your average big budget blues workout, finding room to choogle through the cosmos on “Baby Come On.” Öhrn’s ability to hang her voice on the air like cloud cover is one of her greatest assets and she drapes the dew over much of the second half of the album. She slides out of the euphoric mania of the beginning of the LP for an extended comedown that’s gorgeous, lush, and radiating a shimmer that’s become their signature sound.

All in, the record’s a nice progression from their early echoplex embryo, and it doesn’t let itself stagnate on a sound too long. While a bit of the pop impulses are interesting, too much looses her sense of bliss. When the band’s carving out decadent dreams made of sound, they’re unmatched as far as most of their psych-pop contemporaries are concerned. This feels like a watershed moment for the band before they carve over into the territory earmarked for the Tame Impala, Hookworms, or Temples. Feel free to get to know ‘em now.



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Olden Yolk – “Grand Palais”

The second album from Olden Yolk continues to sparkle with a new single, “Grand Palais,” today. Not as driven and direct as lead single, “Cotton & Cain,” this shows a bit more of the band’s West Coast psych lineage. The band lays back into the froth of fuzz riffs and bouncing acoustics before that the sunset slide into twang following the chorus. The song’s bolstered by cap gun blast percussion and the soft sighs of Caity Shaffer wafting on the breeze before its submerged in a haze of sound and soul as it draws to a dizzying close. The band continues to push their folk-pop just up to the edge of psychedelic pool without letting the waters stain them too deeply. Each new offering from them is a giddy delight, placing the record far up the list of essentials for 2019.

The band’s taking the record on the road with Ryan Jewell and Frank Maston on board in the band, which is another great reason to get excited!



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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando – Ithaca, Agincourt, & Other Psych-Folk Fairy Tales

Every Record Store Day there are a flood of releases that no one in their right mind needs to own. There are a dozen or so scattered titles that are necessary portions of back catalog that just get a bit overshadowed and would have ideally made great reissues given some space to be discussed on their own. Then there are the real gems. More often than not these real gems get pushed aside as well. They’re often reissues or records that appeal to a select group of collectors and aren’t flashy enough to get pre-release press. Sometimes, though, the best part of this is you can pick them up in regular distro dives once the dust settles. A few of these found some critical reception – Brett Smiley’s Sunset Tower reissue on What’s Your Rupture, the essential Alice Clark eponymous LP on We Want Sounds. This year, however one of the gems that slipped by softly came from Munster Records. The label issued an almost complete overview of the collaborative works of Peter Howell & John Fernando to little or no fanfare.

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Mystic Braves – “The Great Unknown”

Mystic Braves continue to sate with the singles slung from their new LP. Sweetening the pot, they give their latest track, “The Great Unknown,” a superb stop-motion video via animators Andrew Pitrone & Ignacio Gonzalez. The clip pairs well with the kaleidoscope cool of their jangle-pop throwback. Everything about the record wafts in on a California vibe of permanent summer with responsibilities left hangin’. Should be a good companion to the warmer months ahead. Check the video above.

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Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation – “Feel The Sun”

A new single seeps out today from Swedish psych slinkers Joesfin Öhrn + The Liberation. The second single off of her upcoming Sacred Dreams is a hazy bubbler, teeming with rhythmic burble, swirls of echo, and despite the title’s focus on the sun, a darkness that creeps up the spine. Öhrn has long been propping up the more shadowy and less showy end of the psych-pop spectrum, opting for humid atmospheres and an oil painted presence rather than the dayglo colors and high-octane moves of so many riding the psychedelic throttle through pop’s waters. The new record lands April 22nd on her usual stomping grounds at Rocket. Slip into this seether below.



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Lucille Furs

Chicago’s beat/psych revivalists Lucille Furs send their ’60-dripped pop on export for their latest album, getting a release from French Magazine and boutique label Requiem Pour Un Twister. The pairing seems like a perfect fit. While Chicago’s got a thriving garage scene, there’s something about their lush, starry-eyed pop that seems like it must come from somewhere other than the heartland. The exact mix here shifts like a kaleidoscope and remains a bit hard to pin, but it seems like they might have tripped through London on their way to meet up label heads in Paris. Other than the strong twinge of British Invasion kicking through, the band rifles through a half-stack of your favorite psych-pop touchpoints – swooning over Blossom Toes, Billy Nicholls, and The Pretty Things with some more high-minded harmonies that dip into Nuggets fodder like The World of Oz, Mortimer, and anything connected to Curt Boettcher.

Yet the strongest wafts seem to come from their penchant for dragging all these bits through the silken brambles of Jacques Dutronc and Serge Gainsbourg. These overtones make the Francophile connection all the more understandable. They share both artists’ love for the deeper blades of grass, wrapping their pop in swirls of sound that envelop in verdant tones. That doesn’t leave them swimming in symphonics though, like Dutronc, they know when to swing and when to swoon and they tend towards the former over the bulk of Another Land. The band’s definitely grinding up the past to mix their paint, but rather than recontextualizing it like Temples or Morgan Delt, they’re often painting masters in shifted hues. That’s not to say that their referential tendencies haven’t produced an album that’s a fun ride all the way through. There’s a lot of tip-of-the-tongue, back-of-the-mind moments but the band’s accomplished enough to make their pastiche play perfectly.




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