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.
Last week, I went to my first concert since Lockdown 2020. And it was none other than The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It felt incredibly surreal for so many reasons. Obviously seeing a band that has had such a big impact on the work I do here was satisfying. Like, “Yeah, this is why I am in this world.” Plus, being able to experience live music after such a long time just added to the overall experience. The odd highlight for me honestly was seeing Joel Gion just swing that tambourine almost non stop during so many of their classic songs, including the buildup to “Anemone”, the song that probably 85% of the people in that room came to hear.
It just so happens to also come from the album we’re discussing in this month’s column, Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request (Bomp!) is the second of 3 albums released by the band in 1996. After Take It From The Man! showed the band embracing their trademark 60s psychedelic rock sound, Satanic Majesties’… goes even further down that rabbit hole from the very start of the album’s opener “All Around You,” inviting the listeners to join in on the experience. Notedly, The Rolling Stones’ 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request was a big influence on this record. Beyond the similarity in the album’s title, the band’s use of sitars and other non-traditional rock instruments follows a similar trajectory. It’s clear they were trying to do something different and find their voice, in an almost revolutionary manner. And of course that classic trippy anthem “Anemone,” with Mara Keagle’s haunting, breathy vocals. It’s impossible to not get sucked in. And hard as it may seem to believe, the band has even more tricks up their sleeves with their third release of 1996, Thank God For Mental Illness.
Like many other people, I discovered Blac Rabbit on YouTube. Videos of them covering Beatles songs in the New York subways were a unique intro to the music made by twin brothers Amiri and Rahiem Taylor. Their self-titled EP just left everyone wanting more. And finally, five years later, more is what we have. Interstella, the band’s debut full-length begins with 2018’s teaser single “SeizeThe Day”, a poppy fun rocker that starts with just the right energy. Keeping with a similar vibe as their EP, Interstella has the band showing their Beatles and Tame Impala influences front and center, but without attempting to be a carbon copy. And a band could certainly do a lot worse in terms of emulating particular artists in their sound. After hearing the brief closer “Hey Hey,” the only thought that came to mind was that Interstella was well worth the wait.
The Mary Veils are going to make a big fucking dent with their latest full length album. After the more straight-forward punk EP Somewhere Over The Rowhome, Esoteric Hex (PNKSLM) is stuffed to the gills with Oh Sees tinged psych/garage/punk. I mean, “Circled Omens” begins with what has almost become the “Dwyer WOO!” (mark my words, this will become a phrase at some point) But it’s just so good that I can’t fault them for throwing it in there, intentionally or not. The album’s title track should make this band huge. It’s heavy in all the right places and has an amazing groove that will be on constant repeat. The appropriately titled “Fuzzy 95” has a more laid back beat which makes an absolutely perfect transition to slow burning closer “The Turnspit”. It’s all tied together into a truly strong full length that will be on many “end of year” lists, possibly my own.
Molly Madden, the artist behind Uma Bloo seems to write love songs for those convinced they’ll never find it but also at peace with that reality. Her latest album, Don’t Drive Into The Smoke (Earth Libraries), contains anthems with heartache but with almost a shrug instead of a sigh. Or in the case of the opening track “Never Know Me”, almost a sneer. And accompanied by somber, dreamy, shoegazy pop, it’s sad but in a way you can still bop your head to. Madden uses beautifully formed jazzy chords paired with esoteric poetic lyrics which are thrown together to form a tragic pop masterpiece.
Following up last year’s EP From The Mesa, Betty Bennedeadly is back with another handful of spaghetti western soaked psychedelic folk with The Adventures Of Mabel & Carter (Desert Records). The title was inspired by recently adopted chicks named after music pioneer Maybelle Carter. These are 4 simply beautiful and hypnotic songs that would make Ennio Morricone himself grin. “Release The Reins” closes it all up with an “upbeat” feel that flies in contrast to the more dark sparse other 3 compositions, but Bennedeadly is able to make it all make sense. With two decent EPs made, it would be amazing to see a modern western movie with her providing the soundtrack. We can hope at least…