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.
Never, EVER, ask if things can get any more bizarre this year. Granted it seems as if we’re turning at least one corner towards something better. But we still have a long way to go.
Pink Floyd’s third album, More, is the band’s first made entirely without Syd Barrett. The album is the soundtrack to the 1969 film of the same name, the directorial debut of Barbet Schroeder, who would eventually direct thrillers such as Single White Female, Kiss Of Death, and Murder By Numbers. I won’t go into much detail on the film itself, suffice to say the soundtrack provided by Pink Floyd fits like a glove. The story of a hitchhiker struggling with addiction, with a soundtrack from a band who recently lost a member to mental health and addiction struggles. The irony couldn’t have been lost on them. The brilliance of More is the ability to serve a dual purpose. It works as a great soundtrack, but also as a great Pink Floyd album. The majority of the album consists of full songs, which was the intention of Schroeder’s desire to use Pink Floyd for the film, but were still written to accompany the film (at some points written with a stopwatch to time the music out accurately). They later would contribute the soundtrack to another Schroeder project, but this was their first foray into a genre of music that they did consider if their recording and touring career didn’t pan out. Thankfully it did.
I don’t think there is a better band name than The Electric Mud. Their sound is as sludgy and boggy as the south Florida lands the band originates from, so it’s almost too perfect. Their latest release Burn The Ships (Small Stone) is a hearty slab of stoner blues that will please fans of heavy classic rock fans and modern psych rock alike. While not coming across as a “jam band” (thank Christ), there is a “jam” aspect to this. And not in an amateur group of 40 year old dads (a demographic I’m well aware I fall into) playing in a finished basement/man cave either. The riffs are simple and heavy. It’s straight up, face paced rock and roll. But, it’s great. Opener “The First Murder On Mars” is all the proof you need that they’re making this all too familiar sound their own.
From the fine folks at Joyful Noise (a wonderful local (to me) label) comes the latest EP from Montreal’s electronic/noise makers Suuns. Fiction, a quick 20 minute slice, shows the band Amber Webber (from Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) making an appearance on “Death” puts things right in that sweet spot. The closing track “Trouble Every Day” is troubling but in the best possible way. Eerie and distorted spoken prose with jazzy drum beats calls underneath, this song draws inspiration from Zappa, who admittedly, I normally loathe. But it works. It just works. It’s meant to match the crazy times we’re living in. The abrupt ending brings the whole EP to a satisfying (but again unsettling) finish.
If there’s one person who is NOT letting this fucked up year slow down his productivity, it’s John Dwyer. Here we have yet another release from his psych punk juggernaut Osees (as they’re currently being called, always subject to change). And once again Dwyer proves why he’s the master of the genre. Metamorphosed (Rock is Hell) consists of three quick noisy jams “Saignant”, “Electric War”, and “Weird and Wasted Connection”, followed by two long drawn out psych trips “The Virologist” and “I Got A Lot”. The first third of the album brings to mind classic Thee Oh Sees albums, filtering out the almost “metal” tinged sound of Protean Threat, released months prior. “The Virologist” in all its 13 minute glory, stands out as probably the best song Dwyer has released this year, highlighting their trademark two drummer attack and pairs it with subtle synth and long, drawn out, delayed guitars, similar to interludes associated with our aforementioned pathmakers Pink Floyd.
As we do start to draw closer to the end of the rollercoaster that is 2020, Pine Barons have encapsulated the myriad of emotions we all seem to be feeling. Dread but also wanting to hold on to whatever hope we can. Their sophomore release Mirage On The Meadow (Grind Select), written entirely by frontman Keith Abrams is as equally bright and poppy as it is dark, to an almost MGMT-esque degree. The video for single “Sputter” combines the nostalgia of home movies with laid back, dreamy, indie pop in the vein of Real Estate. Overall, Mirage On The Meadow is a solid followup to their debut and may very well bring us all back from the brink.
We’re almost there. Here’s to better times ahead!