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 its modern incarnations.
The Wall was a crowning achievement for Pink Floyd and sealed their fate as icons in 70s classic rock. It’s followup The Final Cut was quickly dismissed as it contained mostly unused music from The Wall and was initially planned as a soundtrack to the accompanying film. But if you give some separation, The Final Cut stands on its own and does so pretty well, and marks a pretty definite direction shift. Whatever psychedelic elements remained seem to have given way to the progressive rock vibe they also helped pioneer. Roger Waters puts so much of himself into this album it seems fitting that it would be his final Pink Floyd album. Drawing from his personal history and with the Falklands War on the horizon, Waters reshaped the album to be an anti-war anthem. It’s the most blatantly political we’ve seen Waters, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last time he would use his art (and his status as an artist) to make an important statement. But it wouldn’t be a Pink Floyd album without the usual personal turmoil in the band that seemed to have reached a boiling point, particularly between Waters and David Gilmour. Gilmour was dissatisfied with much of the music itself, Waters was frustrated that Gilmour had not contributed anything and drummer Nick Mason is barely (if at all) present on the record. It’s hard to know where to necessarily “rank” this album among their other eleven albums. However, it cannot be denied that The Final Cut signaled a real turning point for the band, especially after Waters’ departure.
Often times, art can teach us history in the most profound ways. And in a time where we are being called to carefully examine our history, music can be an effective teacher if not at least a form that draws our attention. Released on Juneteenth, vocalist/clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid’s latest, Hush Harbor Mixtape Volume 1: Doxology (International Anthem), truly needs to be heard to be believed. The title itself a reference to hidden places in the south where slaves would gather to worship, this mixtape does feel like a private experience that we are privileged to listen in on. A spiritual and (yes) psychedelic journey throughout black history told through soul, jazz, and even electronica music all composed and performed by Bat Dawid herself, it’s a fitting Juneteenth tribute.
It’s hard to believe that we haven’t had a new Ty Segall album in two years. 2019’s Taste was such a game changer (a garage rock album with essentially no electric guitars, just a mishmash of other obscure stringed instruments fashioned as guitars) and it left us all wanting more. Who can say how much the pandemic has affected even the most prolific artists, but the wait is over and the results are well worth the wait. Harmonizer (Drag City) is Ty Segall at his funkiest. Thick, bottom heavy synths lay the foundation for these ten jams. And studio collaborator Cooper Crain takes the guitar sound to new heights (and lows only if you’re talking frequencies; dare I say this album will make your speakers thump.). His usual cohorts The Freedom Band) make their appearances here and there and even Denee Seagall (Ty’s wife) takes the lead on a track. And yet after the album’s closer “Changing Contours” leaves us in a dilemma. We already want to hear what he’s going to do next but it’s anyone’s guess as to what it will sound like (is it time to do a full on disco album, Ty?) and most guesses would be wrong.
A Place To Bury Strangers, whom many have called “the loudest band in New York”, are making even more noise with a new lineup, new label (started by the band) and a new 22 minutes of their trademark shoegaze/noise/post-punk. Bringing John and Sandra Fedowitz (from Ceremony East Coast) into the mix, frontman Oliver Ackermann seems to address this shift – in his own way – in Hologram’s (DedStrange) opening track “End Of The Night”. The rest of the EP wastes no time establishing this new incarnation of the band as a solid shift without discounting the band’s past. “In My Hive” brings all the wonderful vibes of New Order run through a giant distortion pedal. I’m sure that’s been said about the band previously, but the bassline makes it even more true in this case. As is usually the case, it’s disappointing to hear only an EP’s worth of new material but after hearing the dreamy closer “I Need You”, it rounds the whole batch of songs out and it doesn’t feel like anything is necessarily missing. And with the excitement of a new lineup, I’m sure we can bet more will surface from the band soon.
After hearing Monster Magnet’s cover of The Scientists’ “Solid Gold Hell” this year, the one thing that could top it is a brand new record from Australia’s finest. And as one would expect, Negativity (In the Red) delivers in the best way possible. Once the opening riff of “Outsider” begins it’s almost like 35 years actually hadn’t passed by. Assembling the 1986 lineup of the band, frontman Kim Salmon hasn’t lost his touch. His half howl/half singing voice blends with the swirling guitars and are propelled into the beyond by thundering bass and drums. Eerie jams like “Naysayer” and “Seventeen” are what earned the band the label “swamp rock” with it’s thick riffs, sludgy beat and growling vocals. Even during moments where the band doesn’t seem quite as in-sync with each other (which you could argue is all part of the chaos people love about them), Negativity is as great of a return as you could hope for.