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.
We continue our dive into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s catalog with 2003’s And This Is Our Music (Tee Pee Records). One of their more bizarre albums (which is saying something) it begins (depending on which version you can find) with a voice message from someone clearly not happy with Newcombe. Whatever the reason, it seems to add to the mythology of him being… let’s say difficult. Whether or not it’s true depends on your perspective. Not all versions of this record contain the voice message (or the one that closes the record which is much less hostile), but what all versions contain is very much a mindfuck of a record. Described by some as a carnival house of sorts, each song does bring its own surprises to it. “When Jokers Attack” and “Prozac vs. Heroin” are classic Brian Jonestown rock, while “You Look Great When I’m Fucked Up” and the later reprise of “Prozac vs. Heroin” carry a more spaced out vibe that seem to go on forever, and you don’t want it to stop. And This Is Our Music is an odd one for sure, but it stands strong as a follow up to Bravery, Repetition, & Noise.
The wait between Osees records gets more and more painful. While I truly loved all the spazzy, free-jazz shit Dwyer and co. released throughout the pandemic, hearing the opening riff on “Funeral Solution” immediately feels like A Foul Form (Castle Face Records) is worth the wait we’ve all had to endure. Taking more cues from Black Flag and Bad Brains than anything else, this is still a record you can vibe to. The vibe is just a little more chaotic. “Funeral Solution” moves to “Frock Brock” in equally scum/punk brilliance. “Too Late For Suicide” takes a slower (ish?) approach but still all the noise your ears have been pummeled with so far. Only for the title track to kick it right back up to high gear. And throughout the whole 22 minute album there’s no breathing room between songs so make sure to grab onto something before you hit play.
The newest White Hills record is a throwback to one of their first. In 2007, they recorded Heads on Fire. Plagued by technology setbacks, what the band had initially written and recorded was scrapped and they started over. Fast forward 15 years and primary members Dave and Ego were able to revisit the original ideas for the record (because during a pandemic you basically have nothing but time). The material discovered was much heavier and more aggressive than what was originally released as Heads on Fire, so it seemed fitting to put this reimagining of it out under the title The Revenge of Heads on Fire. And revenge is certainly an appropriate word. Celebrating the band getting the rights to the original record and starting their own label to release future albums (Heads On Fire Industries), this is White Hills… with a vengeance!
I’ve said in previous editions of this column that you don’t have to take psychedelic substances to enjoy psychedelic music, but many will say it certainly does help. In particular, my exploration of the song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane has always made me curious about the experience. I recently watched the Netflix documentary series How To Change Your Mind (Netflix). Based on Michael Pollan’s book of the same name, this series explores the science of psychedelic substances and its therapeutic uses. The four main substances explored are LSD, psilocybin mushrooms (or “magic mushrooms”), MDMA (“molly”) and mescaline. The series takes a very detailed look at the history and the culture of psychedelics (from their origins in therapeutic medicine to their ultimate criminalization) and also gives testimonials from patients who have used various substances to treat various types of trauma, mental health issues, and pain. While not making the case for casual recreational use, Pollan makes a convincing case (in both the book and the series) that there can be some medicinal benefits to these substances. Regardless of your stance on the use of psychedelics, this is a worthwhile watch as it comes from a clinical/medical/scientific standpoint. And who knows? At some point we could actually come to our senses and see the benefits of what psychedelics have to offer.