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.
So other than Their Satanic Majesties Second Request, 2017’s Don’t Get Lost (A Records) was the first Brian Jonestown Massacre record I really immersed myself in prior to this deep dive, and when psychedelic music was still a new world I was exploring. These two records couldn’t be farther apart. Whereas Satanic still embraced that 60s-70s vibe, Don’t Get Lost is definitely the band at their most futuristic. Probably the closest they’ve gotten to electronica, while still maintaining all of Anton’s signature song elements. “Open Minds Now Close” starts the record off on an 8 minute drone with a steady hypnotic beat and a constant single chord/note throughout. In fact, with a few exceptions, (notably “Melody’s Actual Echo Chamber” highlights a more desert infused guitar melody) that could essentially describe the entire record. Almost as if the title Don’t Get Lost is tongue in cheek because you can get lost in this pretty quickly and there’s no telling when you’ll snap out of it.
Desert Records continues their tradition of highlighting important artists from the California desert rock scene with the third installment in the Legends Of The Desert series. This go round brings together two classic acts from the Palm Desert scene, Fatso Jetson and Dali’s Lama both from the same region and have origins in the mid-90s. Fatso Jetson’s half of this split is a nice mixture of desert rock with a blues and even punk variety. Their final song for this split (“One Of Seven”) even has a sweet 90s indie vibe that would make fans of Polvo or Shiner take notice. Dali’s Lama balance that out with thick and sludgy riffs on “Coyotes in The Graveyard”, even with vocalist Zach Huskey’s Les Claypool-esque (only at times) vocals. And I cannot stress enough that I don’t mean that as a negative. That voice is iconic and unmistakable and really can add some flavor to a band’s sound. And the way Dali’s Lama uses it with their ear-crushing, downtuned psychedelic sludge works perfectly. After this series highlighting newcomers into the scene, Legends Of The Desert, Vol. 3 is a nice primer on the originators/pioneers of a sound that just continues to grow.
The gods of modern space rock Secret Machines made a triumphant return with Awake In The Brain Chamber in 2020. Now they’ve reached back into their archive and revived an album that was started and shelved called The Moth, The Lizard, And The Secret Machines (TSM Recordings). It’s an album that goes equally forward and backward. In the band’s official timeline, yes it comes before Brain Chamber. But sonically it could just as easily fit afterwards without interrupting the flow of their entire catalog. From opener “There Is No Starting Over” to closer “The Finalizer”, both of which will quickly become fan favorites, it’s clear that this was a chapter in the band’s story that needed to be told, and (hopefully) there’s more to tell down the road.
Riding Easy Records has done the world a great service by unearthing so many otherwise forgotten gems with the Brown Acid compilation series. Highlighting short lived or completely off the radar (as opposed to under it) 60s/70s stoner/psych classics, all 15 installments (or “trips” as the label prefers to call them) of this series are heavy on the groove and so many songs making you wonder why these weren’t bigger hits. Regardless, one such revived artist is Detroit’s Master Danse and their 1974 album Feelin’ Dead. After hearing the title track on the 13th Brown Acid comp, hearing a full length from this incredibly short lived (only one year) trio. “Detroit City” starts things off strong and represents the city well as the mecca of loud heavy rock that it was at the time. Tracks like “Givin In’ allow each member of the band to truly showcase their talent without it being basically a circle-jerk jam off – a fine line to walk but they do it well.
As a producer and frequent collaborator with other projects (two of which involve the mastermind behind Zoon, Daniel Monkman), Andrew McLeod showcases the talents he brings with The best that I can be. his debut for Paper Bag records under the moniker Sunnsetter. After a self-released album back in 2020, Sunnsetter ups the ante with a deeply personal and reflective record that combines the best pieces of other acts like Sigur Ros, Broken Social Scene, and a slightly more subdued My Bloody Valentine. Exploring grief, loss and identity The best that I can be. presents McLeod as simply that. The crux of that self-discovery and reflection is found in the dreamy and earnest “Float in Circles”. “Surely Everything’s Alright” highlights a surreal hypnotic Velvet Undergound-esque layer over the dreamy shoegaze/pop of the rest of the record. It’s a record that hits all the right feelings and will certainly stay with you for some time.