Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Wet Hair

If it feels like a stretch since Wet Hair turned up here, or anywhere in fact, that’s because the band hasn’t released a record since 2012’s Spill Into Atmosphere. At the time they’d shucked a great deal of their noise cloud and begun polishing their lo-fi pop into something a bit more grand. Before they’d shared groove space with Merchandise, they were everywhere in the small cadre of noise-rock safe harbors – from Shawn Reed’s own Night People to Not Not Fun, De Stijl, and Bathetic. Now they land their post-breakup LP on Wharf Cat and pull back the curtain on what could have been if the band hadn’t faded into the horizon.

The Floating World is definitely the band’s most accessible take to date, besting even their previous two nudges towards a sparkling Krautrock-laden pop. Still couched in a cloud of haze, though not so thick that the edges become indiscernible, the record is glowing with the same electricity that’s always pushed Wet Hair. The percussion tumbles like violent waters below bright, beckoning synths but while that Krautrock tag is certainly still applicable, this is a pop record first and foremost. The best contemporary comparison would be the later work of Cloudland Canyon, who found themselves traversing similar territory and pulling it off with a deft hand. Ultimately the record is a great nugget of noise-pop that’s shelved on the ‘coulda-been, shoulda-been’ pile of bands that get overlooked too often amid changing tastes. Still, there’s no reason not to dip into this gem for a spin or six.




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Stefano Marcucci – Tempo Di Demoni, Papi, Angioli, Incensi E Cilici

Now I’m not sure how your brain works, but for me, there are definitely some trigger words that pop up in descriptions that beg a further look. Staple a phrase like, “bizarre hidden synth-ridden psychedelic concept pop” to “short-run demonic religious performance” and file it under the genre Italian Library Music and I’m all but sold. Now, is this just the beady-eyed crew at Finders Keepers baiting me? Not so! Their reissue of Stefano Marcucci’s lost piece of esoteric psychdedelia warrants a pretty hefty exploration. The record was commissioned for a short-run theatrical project, but after hearing the score composed by beat group member Marcucci, the staff at Flower records saw potential beyond its religious audience.

This being the time period of quasi-religious rock opera of all shades, I honestly don’t blame them. The late ’60s and early ’70s had a predilection for bending the bible to their own Earth-child whims and, why not take a performance of that ilk and funnel it into one more piece of Godspell-gumball machine fodder? Well, the Italian is probably a stopping point for most, but Marcucci has a way around gospel-swung psych-folk. It’s those synths that take it to the next level though. The composer gives the straight pipe organ its place, but peppers in an early version of the Minimoog to the proceedings, giving it a swell of ’70s grandeur that befits his hybrid vision. The band backing up the record is tight and the choral pieces waver between stately and hippie ho-down, making this a perfect combination of time period and talent. It’s got something for the heads, something for the saints (if your Italian is on point) and something for the Library aficionados to ponder over.


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Pearl Earl

Denton is awash in garage upstarts of the denim-donned variety. Testosterone prone outfits that aim to tear a hole in the American dream with a curlicue of amp cable and a four-pack of chords in fuzztone from. Pearl Earl aim to kick a ragged rip in that paradigm, trailing sequins and snake venom behind them as they lay their own barrage of garage, punk and glitter-stomped prog down upon the city of their making. Their debut LP arrives with concrete ton of confidence and a pretty clear cut idea of who they want to be.

Clearly caught in the crackle of ’70s airwaves, the band is mashing their memories with a deft hand and a feminine snarl. With a slightly less buoyant approach, Pearl Earl are finding their way along the same inflamed tributary that carries kindred spirits Savoy Motel. They embody the ten-foot tall ideals of glam, as evidenced in the gloss that shines on the album’s surface, and they pin it well to their flip of the radio dial. At heart the band’s eponymous LP is as punk as any of their myriad homegrown stagemates, but where others go to the well for the simple quench of sweat, Pearl Earl go for the rainbow ripple off the water in the sun. Having fun with the form, they explode punk into shards of psychedelic debris, each looking to streak the sky with its own glittered flare.

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The Murlocs – “Snake In The Grass”

While the gunshot psych train rolling towards damnation that is King Gizz cannot be stopped this year, with five albums promised and two delivered, why shouldn’t that schedule leave room for a side project or two? The band’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith has embarked on another record from The Murlocs, his own garage bound warriors on the edge of time. The clip for “Snake In The Grass” goes full claymation, with a few other swipes at the stop-motions playbook and that’s somehow always a welcomed wayback around here. The song’s hitting the sweat-rock button squarely, with Kenny-Smith’s harmonica blowing hard as ever. If you’re already in for a penny on the Gizz, why not stock up the full pound with The Murlocs on the side? This one’s got bite.



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Premiere: New Rose – “Going North”

New Rose captured the spirit of comedown country on their recent album, Morning Haze, for Brooklyn label Broken Circles. Steeped in the kind of spectral light that peeks over the mountains, threading through the marine layer gauze of daybreak, no song sums up their album’s title better than “Going North.” Paired with an equally ephemeral video courtesy of Rat Columns’ David West, the band penetrates a musical purgatory that hangs thick with fog. It’s inviting, enveloping and comforting like the smell of old bar wood and whiskey. You can practically inhale the dankness of the room in this clip and the band wears the ghost town vibes well. If you haven’t already locked onto Morning Haze yet, then its about time to check it out. The band will also be taking the Haze on the road for some tour dates. Check those after the jump.

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The Focus Group

Julian House again picks up his mantle as The Focus Group, spreading Radiophonic frequencies out into the ionosphere with precision, ingenuity and a glint of madness in his eye. The crux of The Focus Group has always acted like a high pressure drill, tunneling through human consciousness and presenting the core sample of childhood fears and delights alongside the useless ephemera and practical static that gum up the works in the average human brain. There’s bits of pop magic stuck in the mix here, but its littered with the lint of noise and jumbled into an organization that would befit a Burroughs cut-up.

Still, despite the chaos, he manages to evoke the low wattage flicker of a bare bulb projecting animation through cellophane on the walls while you sleep. Stop-Motion Happening moves like dreams, drenched in half-remembered facts and saturated with colors almost too rich for human consumption. This is the magic and the terror that House evokes. He’s a mad scientist of memory, plowing past the surface scratches that the likes of The Books, Boards of Canada and his own collaborative muses, Broadcast, have made their bread and butter. His approach, fittingly, is more on the level of visual art than that of musician. The album feels like it might easily soundtrack a gallery and have a dozen or so accompanying pieces that fit all these sparking wires together.

That dreamlike quality also puts him in league with film Auteurs like Michel Gondry, another artist trying desperately to capture the moment between sleep and awake. House’s work evokes the disorientation of signals that get trapped inside our many heads. He’s filtering and processing the data but it’s hard to figure out what’s noise and what’s important. That conundrum, in fact, seems to be the root of modern anxiety. House has put his finger squarely on the flashpoint of modern madness – what goes, what stays, where to look next, who to believe in all this? He’s not offering a rubic, but he’s at least showing us that someone else is having as much trouble quashing the noise as we are.




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Psychic Temple

Chris Schlarb doesn’t work in half measures. Despite bubbling under the surface, rolling out releases on Asthmatic Kitty and Joyful Noise, he’s pulled down some banner contributors on his last couple of records, including Mike Watt and Terry Reid. While last year saw him go full ambient to reinterpret Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, he’s cut the rudder back into the laconic psych-pop that permeated his previous full length, Psychic Temple III. With Reid in tow on PT IV, along with a stuffed studio of contributors, Schlarb constructs an album full of California comedown psych for unseasonably cool nights.

Schlarb has spent a lifetime picking through styles and lurking in studios and the attention to detail shows through the seams of PT IV, but only after pulling at the threads a bit. On first listen the album has an effortlessly casual quality that’s easy to sink into. After peeling through the layers the breeziness subsides to reveal a meticulously crafted album helmed by a songwriter with a producer’s heart. Stitched together with a run of interludes that make the album flow with ’70s grandiosity, Schlarb has found a way to tap into the bereaved soul at the core of adulthood’s mantle with a heavy sigh and a silken delivery.

This is far from an album of hits or singles, it’s an album that can hardly be parsed at all and that stands as its greatest achievement. Schlarb rifles the pockets of jazz, psych, country and blues to fit the pieces into a bittersweet sigh that’s stretched into forty minutes of sanctuary from the greater world. It’s’ hard to deny the draw of respite and harder still to resist returning for another dose.




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The Radiation Flowers

Straddling the nebulous line between shoegaze and psych-pop, Saskatoon’s Radiation Flowers bathe in the warm amplifier glow of Spacemen 3 if they’d been playing split singles with Galaxie 500. Summer Loop, the band’s latest offering feels like it might stop vibrating about three minutes after the needle comes to a rest. The album is draped in a shimmer of lush production that sets Shelby Gaudet’s vocals in a languid landscape well suited to her dream-smeared delivery. They kick the switch nicely between gauzy float and a snakebite flash of fuzz that rears its head on heavier tracks, though, this is an album primarily about setting a narcotic mood. Far from an ardent dynamic shifter, Summer Loop is more concerned with laying the listener into froth than taking a good layer of skin off in the process.

The grooves stretch out, feeling around sonic fjords for hand holds in the rippling darkness, proving the band is more than just effects draped over drones. They make a case that they can hang with the Space-rock contingent on “Summer of Burnout,” a swirling instrumental that takes time to build out aural plateaus that run on par with some of this year’s other great psych records, including labelmates Mt. Mountain. Cardinal Fuzz has made its case as a well of psych inspiration and Radiation Flowers fit the bill nicely, up an comers with the right records on their shelves and some room to grow into themselves.


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Beaches – “Void”

Aussie psych stormers Beaches are back after what feels like an almost unbearable hiatus (last album was 2013). Though to be fair, the ladies that make up the group have rather a lot going on, with members sharing duties in Love of Diagrams, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and Panel of Judges among others. The group pushes the pedal down even harder on their motorik psych sound, fizzing like the ragged spirits of Spacemen 3, Neu!, Loop and Popul Vuh had all infected them simultaneously and were fighting for space. “Void” is shrouded in cavernous echo (just like I like it) and pulsating with a rhythm that all but glows. They drop in a touch of space-laced synth to keep it interesting and with that, anticipations are high for this double LP monster to drop later in the fall. Chapter Music is pushing the gems out this year, and this chalks another one up on the board.




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Here Lies Man

The marquee hook on Here Lies Man is “Black Sabbath playing Afrobeat,” which sounds good in a pull quote, but is a fairly reductive take on what Here Lies Man are actually accomplishing. The band, which contains members of Afro-cuban luminaries Antibalas, lays down a base of African rhythms that pulse heavy as anything on the Nigeria Special comps. Its clear that they know how to hook into the funk laden rhythms that tumble under the plethora of ’70s cuts from the continent. They proceed to meld that percussive heartbeat to a syrup n’ smoke cocktail of fuzzed out guitars and transistor radio vocals beamed in from the AFVN across an expanse of time itself.

The fuzz recalls other African heavies like Amanaz or Witch (’75), with a particular slide into West Coat blues rumble a la Blue Cheer on more than one occasion. The overall vibe actually sways towards heavy ecstasy, rather than, say, the doom clouds of Sabbath’s occult vortex. The band winds up reaching some of the same vistas that Goat inhabits on a regular basis, but without the dollop of folk on top. Still, the band has an aesthetic and sticks to it, even if it gets a little samey over time, resulting in a whollop of psych that tends to move the feet more than most in the genre.






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