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.
A Momentary Lapse of Reason was a low point for Pink Floyd. Waters’ absence is felt as strongly as it possibly could be, and it felt as if the spirit of the band had been essentially wiped out. Gilmour’s last effort to preserve the legacy of the band comes with 1994’s The Division Bell. It goes without saying that I was nervous digging into this one. Would it be as bad or worse than Lapse? Thankfully it is not. There are all the elements of “classic” Pink Floyd throughout. It’s almost as if they tried to forge their own sound and then realized that perhaps it’s better to stick with what you’re good at. And, I have to admit, the great Douglas Adams having a slight hand in the album’s title does give this another tally in the win column. Opening track “Cluster One” sets an ominous tone with subtle piano and Gilmour’s trademark guitar licks that are like candy. “What Do You Want From Me” could easily be an outtake from The Wall or even Animals if either album had taken a more Chicago blues vibe. “Poles Apart” is a peaceful, folk-y tune that once again allows Syd Barrett’s spirit to find his way in:
“Did you know
it was all going to go so wrong for you?
And did you see
it was all going to be so right for me?
Why did we tell you then
you were always the golden boy then
and that you’d never lose that light in your eyes?”
Clocking in at just over an hour, The Division Bell feels like a long record but not in a bad way. Knowing that the end is ever closer, it’s better to say all that needs to be said. Did they know? Who can say? But as we approach the final installment in Pink Floyd’s catalog, released several years after The Division Bell, we’ll see where that legacy ends up.
Hailing from Sweden, Solarius (with the help from the fine folks at Heavy Psych Sounds) has unearthed a precious gem from 15 years ago. Universal Trial was recorded in 2006 and after some hibernation (and after the band’s eventual break up), we now get to enjoy this wonderful heap of psych blues. You’re almost assaulted with the Zeppelin influence, but I can’t be too mad about that because Zeppelin fucking rules. But there are some wonderful psych moments, enhanced by some 70s organ that balance out the loud guitars. And it’s featured heavily on “Into The Sun” with a much more laid back vibe. These 4 songs may never have seen the light of day, but we should definitely thank our lucky stars that labels like Heavy Psych Sounds (and Riding Easy) are unearthing these would be classics for us to dive into.
Last year I remember being pretty impressed by The Electric Mud (both the name and the music). And their latest EP Black Wool (Small Stone Records), is a great continuation of their bluesy southern groove. Featuring 2 new original songs and 2 covers, one each by Corrosion of Conformity and The Allman Brothers. And if we’re being honest that’s probably the best Venn diagram to place The Electric Mud. The original songs “Ordinary Men” and “Black Wool” show the band maturing since their last full length but sticking with what makes them great. Having heard very little Corrosion of Conformity (and not much motivation to change that), all I can say is their rendition of “Albatross” is pretty stellar. No idea though how it stacks against the original. The EP closes out with “Whipping Post”, originally by The Allman Brothers Band. Now this song I am familiar with and oh boy do these guys do it justice. It’s soaked in the same sadness and whiskey mix as the original and you can feel the emotions come through even if it’s not “their” song. Hopefully “Ordinary Men” and “Black Wool” are a sign of what’s to come from The Electric Mud.
Indianapolis pop shoegazers Fern Murphy made a nice splash back in 2019 with their EP Gringo Love. After spending the better part of the past year writing, recording and performing when able (most notably on a newly designed public transportation route), the end result Violet Hours, serves as a fantastic debut full length. Clocking in at just over an hour, Violet Hours is 15 tracks of hypnotic guitar melodies, driving but laid-back beats, and high whispery vocals reminiscent of the heavy hitters in the genre. The brief opener“Orbital” sets the stage and by the end of the follow up “Disturbing The Peace,” all bets are off. Early released singles “Go For It” and “2009” certainly give a good indication of how solid this album is, but songs like “Let’s Dream It’s Over” and “Who Owns The Night” add just the right amount of mid-90s nostalgia that instantly bring to mind Loveless or Souvlaki, but in a way that is entirely their own voice.
Nolan Potter has already shown what a home recorded album can (and should) sound like. Not missing the shimmer of a “professional” studio, the ironically titled Music Is Dead (Castle Face Records) makes sure every layer of sound (be it guitar, keys or even flute) shines as it’s meant to. The second track “Stubborn Bubble” , while highlighted by the sounds of a bong throughout, also is inspired by Potter’s love of sci-fi. It’s one of the more aggressive songs on the album but with the more ethereal vibe of the rest it still fits and fits perfectly. What is really striking is the record’s cover art, which illustrates the atmosphere in which the album may or may have not been crafted. Regardless, it’s a great companion to what you’re hearing, which is audio art on equal footing with the visual.