Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Wand

Wand has been a fixture here for some time, and while quite a few other sources have noted that the band’s sound has dramatically changed on this record, they seem to be forgetting that Wand’s sound is constantly changing. While the most apparent reason for the shift would be the shuffling of members and a slide to a more democratic writing policy, Hanson alone wasn’t one to sit idle in his riffage cranking out the same tune time and again. With that in mind, Plum is a move towards a broader audience, but one that’s bridging their psychedelic past with an ever more malleable future.

1000 Days and Golem sat at opposite ends of the see-saw, with the overt heaviness of Golem pulling equal weight with the surprising shift to psych-folk that found its way wriggling into the DNA of the follow-up. Now the band shows an open love of the ’90s vision of psych as a component of large-scale alt-rock. When grunge was king, the weirdos often snuck in under the wire. As long as a chunky enough riff went crackling through the airwaves, the rest of an album could indulge with impunity. It’s in that tradition that Plum finds itself looking to Trojan Horse their own twisted wires among the references to Radiohead, STP, The Beta Band and Afghan Whigs.

They work this though in the fizzing guitar work on “White Cat” and the country pine of “The Trap”, but even the more apparent pop ballyhoos have their Easter eggs of the Wand of old – fuzz breakdowns, the singed-edge dream vocals of Hanson, a debt to ’70s prog rock time changes and a preponderance of found sound interjections that break up the band’s gravy-coated offerings to a more hesitant listener. In that way the album is much more subversive in bringing a new generation into the fold. It’s their most polished, but also often their most potent work. In opening the band up to communal collaboration they’ve cut ties with their L.A. fuzz-pummeling past while doing that which all reviews are claiming to look for in a band: they’ve grown.




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Timmy’s Organism

The garage demons are runnin’ amok this fall as renown gutter necromancer with a telecaster Timmy Vulgar lays down a new slab of dust choked bile on hometown label Lo & Behold. Vulgar has never steered me wrong and, as he digs deeper into his Organism moniker, this band only becomes further entrenched as the brutal defensive pincer of his personal universe (see also: Human Eye, Clone Defects). Eating Colors culls together a few singles that seeped out of the swamp following the band’s brush with infamy as part of Third Man’s expanded roster, but it all careens together seamlessly into a prime slice of Detroit fuzz as the Organism’s fourth album proper.

Vulgar channels the specter of Don Van Vliet as he gargles acidic syllables over the Motor City’s true export – raw, unrefined, diesel-burning rock ‘n roll. He hoists his guitar like a sonic halberd, cutting down swaths of listeners swarming to the mecca of diseased fuzz that spews from the band’s aural wellspring. The Organism is best looked at indirectly, so as not to turn to stone on sight of the beast, but its best listened to at top volume, careening out of car windows and down cracked city blocks like an air raid siren of doom for all to hear. If ever there was a band that embodied, embraced and emboldened the idea that rock might open a mental portal to another plane, Timmy’s Organism is that band. The very blood of the band runs green with a radioactive pulse that’s melting minds with guitar vomit and on this latest slab, they’re bound to induce a nervous breakdown or two. This might be just what you need to sandblast the barnacles of 2017 from your system.





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Frankie & The Witch Fingers

Rolling like heat lightning across the plains, the caravan of Frankie & the Witch Fingers approaches. The mood is calm but practically fizzing with the electricity of anticipation and the promise of a connection to the cosmic crack in the sky that’s always layin’ just out of reach. The band, Shaman and Sidemen alike, is in touch with the soul-soaked vein of psychedelic rock that took lesser men in her arms and bent them past breaking. They don’t look shaken though – far from it, in fact. They’re steel eyed and poised for when the amps tap into the fragrant heat of divine rock n’ roll. Moreover, they’re ready to act as conduits for those willing to submit to the vibrations and open their brain to the next plateau.

The Witch Fingers’ latest is about connection, vibration, ephemeral truths. They’ve tapped into something primal and concrete that’s found its way foaming into the edges of psychedelic communities from Kesey’s barrel of Owsley augmented truth to the very last convulsion of the ayahuasca shakes. Brain Telephone is the key to the fifth dimension, an acid bath for the soul delivered in pulsating waves via fuzz guitar. It’s the band’s own I Ching for those who’d rather find their way through the keyhole via organ-laced sweat revival than in the spines of traditional text. Think of Frankie as your psilocybin Sherpas, your six-string snake healers, your sonic Ouija to the other side. They’ve peered around the corner and just want you to take their hand. You could do worse than to leap without looking. Rock n’ Roll is a cheap thrill born over a hundred times, but at least in this iteration its working to break free.


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El Goodo

There are some names that swim into view and expect never to really resurface. I’d been a fan of El Goodo’s 2005 eponymous LP, which vaulted itself out of a post-Elephant 6 comedown of psych reverence around that time and waxed the sounds with a shine of power pop that was fitting for a band named for a Big Star tune. The Welsh band played to the Nuggets set with bigger aspirations than some of their US counterparts, but despite a verdant valley for garage-pop at the time, they never took root here and thus faded from view. A 2010 follow-up didn’t even wash on these shores and a discernible silence for the better part of the next decade makes their new album on Cian Ciaran’s (Super Furry Animals) label a swift surprise.

The album is still locked into a fixation on ’60s psychedelia, though cut now with a bit of temperament and an apparent implementation of the ramblin’ twang that sunk in towards the early ’70s. They’re no longer so overt as to saddle song with the title, “Stuck in the ’60s,” but they’re still clearly pining for simpler pop times. They’ve slunk into territory once occupied by Beachwood Sparks – finding equal obsessions with The Beach Boys and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Though, they certainly hew closer to the former, finding more use for multi-track pop than for country proper. They thread that high plains tone nicely throughout the entirety of By The Order Of The Moose, though and it suits them. As with all revival acts, they’re jumping into shoes that have been worn by another owner, but they make them look awfully good in a modern setting.




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Ariel Pink

It’s been kinda a while since an Ariel Pink album graced RSTB, and it’s definitely been a bit since one found its way onto my shelf. Following the cemented syrup-psych-in-boat-shoes classic that was Before Today Pink never quite hit the bar I was hoping for. Mature Themes was to many a defiant slap in the face to those who thought he’d go full-scale pop. For every “Only In My Dreams” he penned a “Schnitzel Boogie,” and hey, the man’s never promised anything other than personal indulgence, so why would we expect any less? It was, for all intents and purposes, an Ariel Pink album through and through, but the promise that it left hanging still stung.

2014’s Pom Pom didn’t deliver the stone cold shiver-shod studio deep dive either. Rather it explored more lo-fi freakouts with a Beefheart crust and left plenty of elbow room to wander stylistically. So here we arrive at Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, a cheeky reference to this very quandary of promises supposedly left unfulfilled. For those unfamiliar, Jameson himself was poised for accessible fame in the ’60s but found it always just out of reach – getting mixed in a twist of bad management, questionable decisions and drugs. So, in case there was ever a line of thinking that Pink wasn’t self-aware, quash that notion right here and now.

With that in mind, one would expect this to be Pink’s own further ‘fuck you’ to anyone looking for transcendence. Not so, it would seem. There’s still a trademark style dial-shift to the album that’s pure Pink, but in every aspect this comes off as an record planned and planed to its core to be a pop artifact. The psychedelic swaddling feels like it only accentuates the smoother moments. There are very few instances when he seems to need an external editor to whittle the album to its core (see again: Pom Pom). Instead this winds up being one of Pink’s most enigmatic albums yet. The pop is as chewy as ever – exemplified by the trio of “Feels Like Heaven,” “Another Weekend,” and the title track. The concept ties it down and the Robert Beatty artwork can’t be beat. This might be as close to closure as I could ever hope for. It might also be the album he’s always hinted was lurking in the heart of the beast. Or maybe that’s still yet to come. Either way, this is a definite step in the right direction.




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Beaches

Aussie psych unit Beaches has built a carefully paced career, releasing just three albums since 2007. Doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but in an album a year environment (or five a year like some of their countrymen), the editing process doesn’t always come so naturally these days. Second of Spring plays to their strengths – atmosphere and hypnotic chug lead the way. They drop a dose of shoegaze, Krautrock, and psych in the blender then whip to a froth. The resulting double album is a hazy mountain of sound that proves to push the band to new heights.

Perhaps most refreshing is that, for a band that’s somewhat rooted in pop, this isn’t just an overstuffed collection of tracks that found their way floating to the top of the pile. They construct an arc of tonality that pushes past hooks and into using the album as environment, a larger canvass to work out their sonic swirl. They swerve through eddies of echo, with vocals so lost in the surrounding swamp they barely register. The next minute they kick up the rhythms to a motorik grind that practically pushes the angles into neon relief. Then they smack down the obfuscation altogether for a crush of pop, that’s certainly not pristine, but shining of its own accord.

The duality of shrouded vs. palpable, gauzy vs. catchy is what drives the album into psych-pop’s pantheon, marking this as the band’s best. Its no slight listen and that makes it worth going back to for repeated examinations of the elaborate folds the band pulls off here. Beaches have spent time honing their craft and it shows on Second Of Spring. If you’re looking for a breezy run, maybe hit up another Beach themed outfit, this one’s gonna make you take the climb to find the perfect wave.




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Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares

Numero never really duffs an opportunity and so it comes to pass that the archival label’s dive into the thicker, fuzzier and less comforting half of acid rock scores some solid one-offs from the gilded age of Hippiedom. Scooping up bands that seem to have gotten into more than a few bad batches and spent the evening flipping between Growers of Mushroom and Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come until inspiration struck. Run the whole thing through a tetanus shot level of fuzz and grime and you’ve pretty much got me on the line.

The most impressive aspect has to be that with a mounting glut of psych comps out there this could easily rehash a host of fun freakers with extra mileage in their “nugget” credentials. Instead, as comes expected from Numero’s obsessive-compulsive tape bin dumpster diving and ability to stick to themes, they nail the bummer psych vibe and stuff the package with a smattering of new names. Not missing a beat, the collection is wrapped in a black light poster of a cover that’s ripping on the bummer psych vibes in glowing technicolor. There are no sunshine hits here, but for those looking to run the dial on exhaust fume downer psychedelics – welcome home.



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ORB – “A Man In The Sand”

ORB are returning to the fold again, picking up their Sabbath-drenched saddlebags from the the stables of Flightless and Castleface. Though the album proper is drenched in a thick fuzz, shining up some old favorites into truly towering fare, they seem to be leading with an approach that highlights their willingness to bend from the expected lean on doom fuzz. The first track is rightly compared to their labelmates King Gizzard, and while it’s worthwhile knotty psych, it hews too close to their contemporaries’ sound. This one riles up the powerfuzz Syd Barett approach, which actually comes off like an S.F. Sorrow-era Pretty Things b-side. It sits alongside the album’s bong rattlers as a nice bit of respite and gives them some range. For those hoping that ORB still had some power in their pedals, fear not (more on that later). For now, find some joy in Alex McLaren’s kaleidoscopic cut-n-paste video which does the track well.



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Gunn-Truscinski Duo

Back before Steve Gunn was commanding Matador wheatpaste, he and John Truscinski had been laying down cinder-psych issues for Three Lobed with no particular agenda except finding the a common buzz and following it through the veil. They’re back in form here, with Steve shying away from his accessible canon of late and going in for scorched threads of nylon string rip and Truscinski anchoring him back down to the cruel, dusted Earth. Couldn’t be happier that the duo is divining the truth yet again, though I’d also be amenable to news of a new Golden Gunn album as well. Guess I shouldn’t go asking for favors. Still, mark you calendars for this nugget.




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Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band

The Solar Motel Band’s been creeping ’round infinity for sometime, but Forsyth and his clutch of cosmic travelers push to the edges on Dreaming In The Non-Dream – a thinly-veiled balm for troubled times. The record stretches out like endless lands populated by Crazy Horse courtesans weaving bajas from the thread left behind in the wake of parades pitched for Robert Wyatt, Television and The dirt-country versions of The Stones. A lesser soul might say The Eagles had a hand in the formula, but maybe knock that notion out of your mouth. This is a higher plain of existence than mere AM Gold can contain.

Forsyth burns ozone, biting his guitars into the bone and then turning up the heat until they smolder to a fine ash. He’s pushing for ecstasy often here, and coming damn close to some sort of musical version of it – dazed and zoned to an infinite chord that’s just out of reach. The record is largely instrumental, but when Forsyth’s dusted croon peeks through the ragged curtains of guitar, his weathered delivery frames the chugging, cinder-swept runs with ragged perfection.

The main events here are the twin-armed attacks of opener “History & Science Fiction” and the title track. Both stretch out into widescreen vistas of six string rumble doused in a chemical clear cut. However, not a note is wasted on Dreaming In The Non-Dream, the coda-cap of “Two-Minutes Love” cools like a Thorazine splashdown from the heightened senses pricked to life over the first three tracks and “Have We Mistaken The Bottle For The Whiskey Inside?” shows crinkled troubadours how to wail again. Without question, Forsyth has always been a force in American guitar, but here he’s letting the ire under his skin seep out into a tangible form that lets this album perch atop his catalog.




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