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 was the radio hour, The Noise Kaleidoscope which aired on 99.1FM WQRT in Indianapolis (now on hiatus – 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 edge closer and closer to the end of our run of the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s catalog, their 2016 album Third World Pyramid (A Records) is a unique piece of this decade’s puzzle. After two film soundtracks (one real film, one imaginary), Anton reminds us all what makes this band the wonder that it is. “Good Mourning” starts everything with a dark and ominous vibe followed immediately by “Government Beard” (incidentally one of my favorite song titles) which is indicative of where the band’s sound will travel over the next handful of albums.
Kyuss alumni Brandt Bjork and Nick Oliveri have been creating some of the best desert/stoner rock with a cool punk rock vibe in the trio known simply as Stöner. And after recording their fantastic album Totally…, they just kept rolling and recorded Boogie to Baja (Heavy Psych Sounds), this fun little EP that’s a nice little add on. The instant standout is their cover of the Pink Fairies/Motorhead burner “City Kids”. It captures the spirit of Lemmy with their own brand of fuzz that you just can’t go wrong with. And with as much output as these guys have with their various projects, the quality that they continue to release speaks volumes.
After seeing their killer set at last year’s Back Alley Ballyhoo, I was super fucking pumped to hear a new Death Valley Girls album. And Islands In The Sky (Suicide Squeeze) does not disappoint at all. The cover art alone draws you in and paired with the eerie start of “California Mountain Shake” and from there it just all takes off. Highlights like the title track and “What Are The Odds?” have their usual mix of psych/garage rock but also push further in both directions. The songs rock harder but are also trippier and it’s an amazing mix that results in one of the best albums in the genre this year. “Watch The Sky” stands out by really highlighting the soaring, haunting vocal harmonies that make Death Valley Girls one of the best in the biz.
After a couple of stellar EPs, Betty Bennedeadly unleashes her debut full length album, At The Institute of Mentalphysics (Desert Records), named for…an actual institute for Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree, California. Bennedeadly, collaborating with fellow local musician Braden Guess, participated in a month long residency there and the end result is a wonderful collection of 7 instrumental songs straight from the desert with a dose of peyote alongside it. Bennedeadly has found that sweet spot between folk and psychedelic, in a way that would make Ennico Morricone proud.