Words by Andrew Ryan Fetter
Andrew Fetter has been writing about music for over the last decade and playing in bands for even longer. His latest endeavor is the radio hour, The Noise Kaleidoscope which airs Tuesdays from 4:30-5:30pm ET on 99.1FM WQRT in Indianapolis (Past episodes are archived online). On it he covers his personal collection and influences of psych rock from over the last half century, starting with early influences and reaching to it’s modern incarnations.
Continuing our exploration into Pink Floyd: 1968 brings us A Saucerful Of Secrets. Guitarist David Gilmour joined during production Syd Barrett’s mental health struggles continue to grow. As a result his presence on this album is limited, as he departed the band prior to the album’s completion. Nevertheless, “Let There Be More Light”, the album’s opener, is the perfect followup to “Bike” the closer for Piper At The Gates of Dawn. A majority of the album is still made by the band he was known for leading. David Gilmour’s influence on this record is limited. His guitar sound hasn’t taken center stage at this point, like they will on all their classic rock radio hits. But where they are in each part of the record, the shift starts happening. Set Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, being the only song that both Barrett and Gilmour appear with the rest of the band. And ironically it’s at the middle of the record. The intro to “Corporal Clegg” is roughly where it would seem Gilmour’s influence takes shape, where songs have memorable riffs. It lasts about a minute but it’s a clear indication of where things will go.
John Dwyer’s motto seems to be: if it’s a new album it’s probably going to need a new name. Thee Oh Sees/OCS/Oh Sees have made albums as diverse as the monikers they choose to identify themselves. It’s a free flowing concept that as the band evolves, it can feel like a “new band.” But as the names still center on a basic idea, the records are easily identified by Dwyer’s screamy noise guitar riffs and the fast beats the hurl you into the world these sounds create. For this iteration of the band they’re going by Osees. And the new album, Protrean Threat (Castle Face), is unmistakably them. After a few records flirting with a more metal sound, we start to hear what we all love about Dwyer. While still leaning on the loud, fast, garage side of the psychedelic spectrum, i.e. the spastic opener “Scramble Suit II”, there are still moments that are more “chill” (as much as Dwyer can do chill) moments. “Upbeat Ritual” and “Wing Run” show a much more trippy side to the record without taking away too much from heavier jams like “Mizmuth” or “Toadstool” which is probably the (dare I say it?) funky songs I’ve heard Dwyer write. With two more releases ahead this year, we’ll see what direction (or name) they decide to take things next.
All Them Witches return with a fresh slab of bluesy stoner rock goodness. As you’d expect from a 2020 release, Nothing Is The Ideal (New West) is a much darker record than its 2018 predecessor ATW, which showed the band going in a much more straight hard rock direction. It’s not a downer record, don’t get me wrong. There’s just a different intensity to it that is a shift from their last few records. It’s hinted at from a single they released last year (“1X1”) and comes full circle with this record. The metal infused riffs of “Enemy of My Enemy” actually keep the energy pretty high, after the somewhat laid back, but still heavy as fuck, opener “Saturine & Iron Jaw”. There’s a nice throwback with “The Children Of Coyote Woman” in both sound and narrative to 2013’s Lightning At The Door. Plenty of tracks have a slow build with lots of ambient noise that borderlines on filler. But once each song kicks in, that anticipation pays off.
Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters (The Reverberation Appreciation Society) – probably my favorite album title from this year – the latest burner from Frankie And The Witch Fingers is a high energy nonstop garage/psych rock assault. The album follows a formula slightly similar to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Nonagon Infinity. Starting off with “Activate”, which revolves around this groovy, cool percussion loop that the band adds on top of as it progresses, each song flows directly into the next. There’s really no chance to breathe But honestly, you won’t give two shits about breathing when you’re blasting this. Once we hit the halfway point with “Can You Hear Me Now?” the pattern it seems to start all over again. Each song just moves into the next. So, are we just hearing two long songs split up into five distinctive parts each? Or a ten song album where they only take a break at the halfway point? Who knows, and who cares? What sets this apart from the Gizzard album is that there’s…closure I guess. The ending song (named for the album, but abbreviated as “MEPEM”) rises and falls and then ends in just utter chaos. Almost as if the band’s legs give out after a marathon. But in the most perfect way possible.
Dave Hill is what we’d call a triple threat: he’s funny as hell, a snazzy dresser and he can shred like nobody’s fucking business. His primary band Valley Lodge melted all our faces in 2018 with Fog Machine. And earlier this year his “sort of (but not really) joke” Norweigian black metal band Witch Taint released an incredibly brutal album back in April. And now we have the second album from Painted Doll, How To Draw Fire (Tee Pee Records). Collaborating with Chris Reifert (from Death and Autopsy), How To Draw Fire is a great offering of heavy pysch rock that showcases the best of what both of these rockers bring to the table. The heavy riffs are there, primarily in the opening one-two punch of “Sun In The Sea” and “On The Ropes”, but so is Hill’s amazing gift for melody and crafting a solid pop song, evidenced by “You Were Everywhere”. And “Dollhouse Rock” is a fast, high energy hard rock anthem that will make you boogie. Would it be cliche to say there’s something here for everyone? Sure. Is it still true? Hell yeah!