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.
On the heels of their stellar debut, The Brian Jonestown Massacre released Spacegirl And Other Favorites (Committee To Keep Music Evil), not a proper followup per se, as it was recorded before Methodrone (BOMP!). Referred to by Newcombe as “studio trash”, Spacegirl… contains earlier versions of “Crushed” and “That Girl Suicide” before the band added the layers of shoegaze and noise from Methodrone. Now, plenty of that is still present on these older recordings, it’s just more subtle. Perhaps it made more sense to release these recordings “out of order” to make the transition to what would become the band’s signature sound seem more natural. “Hide And Seek” is probably one of their best from any early album. It’s almost the perfect bridge between their two sounds. The perfect combination of noise and chill. From Spacegirl… we move on to 1995 where we’ll find the band at their most prolific and influential.
Still carrying the desert rock torch like nobody else can, Big Scenic Nowhere are back with another fuzzy slab in the form of The Long Morrow (Heavy Psych Sounds). “Defector (of Future Days)” is as strong an opener as you’ll find from these fuzzed out warlords. Alumni from Fu Manchu and Yawning Man, they prove time and again they have the chops. Each song flows with all the gusto you could expect. The nearly 20 minute epic closing title track creates an amazing soundscape and takes a… well… scenic route to close out the album and put you in a nice state of mind.
A Place To Bury Strangers’ last EP Hologram sported a new lineup and a new sense of direction for the band. See Through You (Dedstrange) picks up on that vibe and pushes it even further. Frontman Oliver Ackerman has always been able to channel emotion effectively in the sounds he creates, but the collaboration with Sandra (drums) and John (Bass) Feowitz for the last two releases now has created something you can truly feel while you’re listening to it. The fuzzy guitars and pulsating drums cut through your ears perfectly. And even though the noise factor is pulled back slightly, it’s more in a way that makes it less jarring. It’s not a mellow record by any stretch but the emphasis on melody and natural feeling has pushed its way to the front. Songs like “Let’s See Each Other” and “I Disappear (When You’re Near)” channel New Order and The Cure in ways that I’ve never heard before. It’s a true testament to how Ackerman has really breathed new life into his band.
Okay, so I’ll admit I rolled my eyes a bit when I saw the name of the band Magic City Hippies. I don’t know why, could be my bitter “Gen X heart”, but the use of that word in psychedelic music is just a bit too on the nose. But when I hear a line like “I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m somebody’s shot of whisky” in the opening track, I dive in. And thankfully, the band’s third release Water Your Garden just gets better the further you dive. The level of soul/funk/disco vibes the permeate this record give Tame Impala a run for their money. Songs like “Diamond”, “Queen”, and “Champagne On The Rider” could easily be all over pop radio, and would gain serious ground.
Curtis Godino has made a name for himself equally in the visual and music part of the psychedelic realm. From his own band Worthless to creating stunning visual displays under Drippy Eye Productions, he’s known for crafting a specific vision and assembling the best collaborators to see it to fruition. Case in point, the self-titled debut album with The Midnight Whishers (Shimmy Disc/Joyful Noise). A throwback to 60s girl group pop bands with a surreal trippy psych vibe mixed in, this album has all the nostalgia and unease that can go along with it. In “No Place Like Home”, one of the album’s first singles, lead vocalist Jin Lee will give instant shivers with “When you close your eyes, I’ll be watching you from the other side.” It’s equal parts eerie and tragic and you’ll come back for more every time.
Earthless made a fairly polarizing record back in 2018. Black Haven saw the band stepping outside of their comfort zone….to mixed reactions. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell provided vocals (for the first time in the band’s existence) to the albums much shorter, less epic songs. Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons (Nuclear Blast), their latest full length, is a return to form in the best possible way. Taking inspiration from an ancient Japanese ghost story, the music of Night Parade has the same dark feel as the source material. The 2 (yes, 2) songs that make up this ONE HOUR long behemoth are Earthless at their best. The vocals from Black Haven appear to have been a one-off, as Mitchell’s thick riffs and solos tell the magical tale on their own. And the cover art (designed by bass player Mike Eginton) is equally unsettling and beautiful. The stuff that dreams (or maybe nightmares) are made of.