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.
Kicking off our 50th edition of this lovely little column is the latest stop on our trip through the W.I.T.C.H. catalog, Lazy Bones!!. And it is certainly another feather in their caps. Beginning with the space rock opener “Black Tears”, the album is a hit from the jump. “Havoc”, containing a reference to the band’s name could easily be a theme as it encapsulates all of their inspirations at once. Weaving in and out of UK rock and Afro/Psych/Funk, this is W.I.T.C.H. at their most versatile and they are truly finding their voice.
The latest Osees record proves, yet again, that Dwyer is some kind of evil genius. Intercepted Message (In The Red) carries his particular brand of spazzy psych-punk to new heights. With a twinge of “synth pop” thrown in for good measure, this is already one of my favorite records of theirs (likely, until the next one drops). The band recently appeared on The Best Show with Tom Scharpling to perform Intercepted Message live in its entirety and it’s just incredible. The live energy of Dwyer and Co. is always captured so well on their recordings but seeing it with your own eyes is truly an underrated experience.
Baltimore duo Darsombra bring their perfect blend of prog/space rock on their latest double album Dumesday Book. The 13 minute epic “Call The Doctor”, with hints of early Floyd and lots of bleep-bloops from Ann Everton, simply soars and transports you to another galaxy. Everton’s colors provide all the perfect companion sounds to guitarist Brian Daniloski, whose playing can sometimes be described as focused noodling. “Plague Times”, while a bit more noisy and free form jazz-influenced, follows up perfectly and moves effortlessly into “Everything Is Canceled” which could almost be an outtake interlude from “The Wall”. DumesdayBook a wonderful journey that you won’t want to end. And thankfully there’s plenty to enjoy from start to finish.
Between Fu Manchu and Big Scenic Nowhere, Bob Balch certainly keeps himself busy. But apparently not busy enough. An excursion to Joshua Tree last November with his Big Scenic Nowhere cohorts resulted in two records of big, sweeping, instrumental stoner/desert rock perfection under the moniker Yawning Balch. Volume 1 (Heavy Psych Sounds) from these recordings is 3 heaping slaps of riffs, layered and stacked for miles. And yet it maintains a chill vibe to balance the heavy fuzz.
We got another two-fer from the fine folks at RidingEasy Records. The first is an unearthed gem from Gary Del Vecchio, originally recorded in 1974 when Gary was merely 16 years old! Buzzin is another peek at what might have been (or at least should have been) a much bigger hit when it was first released. The opening title track gives off a great party vibe that starts it all perfectly. “What You See Is What You Get” has a great opening riff that would even make Jimmy Page take notice. There are times where the band kind of splits off and does their own thing, but then they bring it all back together.
On the modern end of the time spectrum, RidingEasy brings us the latest from prog-psych lords Mondo Drag. Through The Hourglass explores personal loss and uncertainty in a beautiful and cathartic way. And once again, we’re catching some pretty wonderful Pink Floyd vibes, and Mondo Drag lets that flag fly high and proud. Starting with the 2-part epic “Burning Daylight” pushes that vibe to the forefront. Yes, it’s a dark record, but it doesn’t wallow in that feeling. There’s a push forward both musically and psychologically as the album progresses and even if the end result isn’t exuberant joy necessarily, there’s at least a vibe of contentment once the closer “Run” completes.