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.
2001 finds us exploring Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Bravery, Repetition and Noise (Bomp!). Absent from this release are both Joel Gion and bassist Matt Hollywood. Tensions within the band had become quite apparent and Hollywood quit after an onstage argument with Newcombe (documented in the film Dig!). Anyone familiar enough with the band knows this is a common occurrence and both members eventually rejoin later on down the road. Musically and lyrically this is a fairly somber record. Feelings of sadness permeate most of the songs. Songs like “Stolen” and “Open Heart Surgery” bring back feelings that you always think you left far behind. And they hurt for a bit, and then fade. Admittedly this was a tough record to listen to for that reason. And yet, it stands as one of their best and a great way for the band to enter the 21st Century.
Ty Segall always rewards our patience when he releases a new album. Hello, Hi (Drag City) is by far one of his most interesting releases. A mostly acoustic record with a nice surprise in the middle. The heavy fuzz goes into overdrive on the title track and then it’s as if it never happened. We’re right back where we began. Admittedly it feels disjointed the first time you hear it. I think I’m used to Segall records being a bit more consistent, even if the styles do change from record to record. However, the more you hear it the more it fits. “Saturday” which is broken up into 2 parts, the first part being what we’re already familiar with, the second inching closer to the louder end of the spectrum, but just slightly. And “Distraction” brings it all together to a satisfying close, again dancing closer to a heavier vibe, but still pulls back just enough.
Last year Triptides teased us with a 4 song EP called So Many Days (Curation), with the plan to soon release an LP of the same name. The EP was magnificent and the subsequent LP is an even greater triumph. Contrasted with last year’s more upbeat rocker Alter Echoes, So Many Days finds the band taking in more of the influences of their western location. The title track and “Blow Away” have that soothing cosmic twang that you can’t help getting swept up in. It’s a true “California” sounding record that doesn’t completely erase their midwestern roots, but it’s a record that feels like home in as much as the band themselves seem to feel out on the West Coast.
In a slightly similar vein, Bloomington, Indiana-based songwriter Damion Schiralli makes a strong first impression with Special Interest (Earth Libraries), his debut LP simply released as Damion. Inspired by late night drives hearing AM radio one-hit wonders, Special Interest is a curated journey through those drives. Rather than retreading all the soft rock tropes, Schiralli puts a modern spin on it while still keeping that spirit going. “Come Alive” has that hazy fuzzy synth paired with another dose of the aforementioned cosmic twang. “Roadhouse” is a pleasant slice of dreamy pop that will have you slowly nodding along. The album closes with the hazy Floyd-esque title track, with beautiful harmonies that bring it all to a wonderful end.
In addition to playing bass for The Walkmen, Peter Matthew Bauer has put out some stellar records on his own. Flowers (Fortune Tellers), his first solo record in five years, is an exploration of one’s past and the people you interact with along the way. We’re taken on a journey between LA and Philly, the two locations in which this record was made and you can feel the miles, in the best possible way. “Miracles”, one of the standout singles, brings all the themes together with an amazing brass ensemble to add just the right layers to it. While most of the record leans into the folk camp, there are so many cool elements that make it relevant to our interests. And hey, Bauer even plays some guitar solos, apparently a new concept for him. And…they’re really good too. “Mountains on Mountains” is probably one of my favorite tracks, a simple acoustic number with hand percussion that adds just the right mystical touch.
This past weekend featured the triumphant return of the Back Alley Ballyhoo, a 2 day psychedelic music festival in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis at local record shop Square Cat Vinyl. After a 2 year absence, it was nice to have it back. An eclectic mix of national and local acts, the festival organizers really upped the ante this time around. Their recently expanded store space provided for a social distance-friendly atmosphere and the outdoor stage was a sight to behold. The 2 headlining acts were Night Beats and Dead Meadow, with other great bands like LA Witch, Sugar Candy Mountain, Holy Wave and Death Valley Girls. The organizers made Indiana proud that weekend and only wet our appetites for next year.