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.
As we leave 1996 behind, we find ourselves with Give It Back! (Bomp), The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s sole release in 1997. It feels important to mention that after covering a year with three albums, because we won’t see another year where the band is as prolific in terms of album releases in a year. That is, until 2022 where we’ll be treated to 2 new studio albums from the band. More on that in the months to come. Give It Back! seems to bring together all the best from what the band brought last year. Songs like “Satellite”, “Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth” (a playful nod to fellow travelers The Dandy Warhols), “Servo” and “#1 Hit Jam” are songs that ride in that classic 60s garage/psychedelic rock sweet spot. While “Malela”, “Salaam”, and “The Devil May Care (Mom and Dad Don’t)” carry the more surreal junkie folk featured on many favorites from Thank God For Mental Illness.
After releasing their debut LP as a solo endeavor, Golden Apples (led by Russell Edling) took a different approach with their self-titled followup. Fueled by a desire to step away from the microscope, Edling assembled a group of Philadelphia-based musicians he trusted with his musical vision and together they created something quite magical. And while Shadowland (Lame-O) was a great introduction, this definitely ups the ante. Full of wonderful, dreamy, shoegaze-y goodness, and just shy of 30 minutes, Golden Apples pairs pop with melancholy perfectly. Speaking to issues like mental health (something that seems to be a near constant struggle for more and more people) but in an honest and even somewhat humorous way (which not making light of it), this is a record that will resonate with people on multiple levels.
When he’s not shredding with his fellow psych/stoner rockers Black Mountain, guitarist/vocalist Stephen McBean channels other inspirations into his project Pink Mountaintops. And while it’s not a “just throw in whatever doesn’t fit with the other band” kind of project, Pink Mountaintops’ latest album Peacock Pools (ATO Records) certainly highlights what tickles McBean’s fancy that might not be as expected. Starting with a cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” that honors the passion and anger of the original with just the right bluesy twist that only McBean can pull off. While “Lights Of The City” are reminiscent of the best of Black Mountain’s last record Destroyer, songs like “Blazing Eye”, “Shake The Dust”, and “Muscles” (inspired by a book McBean read about bodybuilding), have this dark and surreal art-pop vibe that is just so fucking cool. Throw in the 2-minute thrasher “All This Death Is Killing Me” and you have the ever evolving work of art that is Pink Mountaintops.
Austin’s Greenbeard have made a mark in the psych/stoner rock/metal world and their latest LP Variant (Sailor Records), is just another big ol’ fucking dent. Mixing elements of blues, soul, in addition to their usual desert-laden groovy riffs, Variant employed a “let’s see when we try this” mentality and it paid off big time. For as short as the album is (just over half and hour), it packs so much sound and ideas in that it’s hard to believe it’s over as soon as it is. Luckily you can simply start over and enjoy the ride once again, which you’ll definitely want to do.
Goddamn, I think it’s safe to say that Geezer has a record groovier than Groovy (their 2020 release for Heavy Psych Sounds). Stoned Blues Machine is the absolute perfect followup and besides just being a damn fine record, it also captures the vibe many have been feeling over the last couple of years. Fear, anger, frustration, whatever it is you’re feeling, this is a great listen to not only process all that but just have a good time.