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 rockfrom over the last half century, starting with early influences and reaching to its modern incarnations.
It may seem a bit odd that we would explore Pink Floyd’s 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the first record without founding member Roger Waters, the same month as his 78th birthday. But here we are. He’s out and Richard Wright is back in. As many viewed The Final Cut as a Waters solo album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason could just as easily be seen as a David Gilmour solo album. It’s the first of three albums under his direction (which also end up being the last 3 Pink Floyd albums). Unfortunately, two things are very clear: Waters’ absence is very much felt in the writing of this album, and his departure took a toll on the mindset of the band as a whole. Legal battles over the use of the band’s name, various solo records/tours with each member airing out their various grievances, you can pick up on all of that in this album. The former is evident between the instrumental opener “Signs Of Life” and “Learning To Fly” (probably one of the band’s biggest radio “hits”). You can’t tell if one is supposed to lead into the next or if it’s just Gilmour noodling around before they finally get on with it. And the rest of the album doesn’t fare much better. It clumsily teeters between prog and arena rock and it’s clear that their time is winding down.
After an EP, L.A.’s Communicant’s debut full length Sun Goes Out channel the perfect summer and flower child vibe of neo-psychedelic pop, particularly with “She Moves The Sky” starting things off. Moments like “Fang” and “Come Down” still bring more of a rock vibe but this will definitely satisfy the hippie in you. All of this may sound disparaging (and admittedly I’m not always into that particular flavor of psych rock: i.e. The Grateful Dead), but this really is a great record. From the amazing vocal harmonies to the cover art that seems straight out of a Monty Python sketch/Salvador Dali painting.
The Ocean Greys’ 3rd EP Next Station is a nice little slice of dreamy shoegaze pop. This time around, songwriter Pete Pagonis has teamed up with new vocalist Kora Goodman after parting ways with previous vocalist Carlee Jackson. The end result is 5 great songs that have that perfect blend of beauty without being sappy and darkness without being depressing. Pagonis knows how to strike a good balance between piling layers of sound (in opening track “Remember”) and creating a more sparse and minimalist vibe (as on “In The Round”). The comparisons to bands like Low or Mazzy Star are easy to make, but this really does have its own voice, no small feat with a short amount of music.
Allen fucking Epley, man. What more needs to be said? After an amazing comeback album last year with Shiner (not to mention all the amazing shit that he’s released with that band and The Life and Times), he’s formed a socially distanced collaboration with drummer Ian Prince (Porcupine) under the name Birdhands. Their debut Machiniste is an experiment in every sense of the word. Recorded remotely (as most records are done nowadays) Epley plays bass guitar (sometimes plural) through a loop pedal that’s made the music of The Life And Times in particular so captivating, while Prince lays down complex and captivating beats. The guitars swirl from ear to ear and from start to finish, it’s a hypnotic trip that you’ll want to experience over and over again.
With so much chaos here in the US, it’s easy to forget the amount of devastation going on in other parts of the globe. Greece has endured massive wildfires over the summer (much similar to what we’ve seen on the west coast here), and Made of Stone records have shown that they are anything but. Their new compilation, A Mammoth Compilation To Support Out People, Our Forests, Our Animals, collects several great bands from around the globe contributing songs in order to raise money for the Hellenic Red Cross, which offers relief to those affected. Lots of bands from Greece, but also Argentina, Sweden, and Germany. The first track “Planet Terror” by Black Sky Giant is worth the price of admission alone (which is “pay what you want” on Bandcamp). This is a fun compilation of great stoner/psych rock that you can listen to while also feeling like you’re contributing to something important.