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.
The fourth album from Zamrock masterminds W.I.T.C.H., Lukumbo Vibes (Now-Again), sees the band further embracing a futuristic afro-rock sound that is probably them at their very best. Seriously… I couldn’t stop listening to this one. “Thou Shalt Not Cry” is definitely one of the best opening tracks of their albums so far. “Bleeding Thunder” has wonderfully paisley 60s pop sound that would make The Byrds take note. And it resurfaces in “Blood Donor” blending a Doors like aura. Probably the highlight, “Nasauka”, was a song I recognized from their set I caught over the summer. It’s got such a cool funky rhythm that made my ears perk up a bit and it just keeps with the twists and turns all over. The band heads in odd directions down the road but this is certainly one of the most interesting stops along the way.
Frankie and The Witch Fingers’s incredible new record Data Doom (Reverberation Appreciation Society) makes me feel like they’re on a similar journey sonically as Osees. Both Intercepted Message and Data Doom are albums with all the twists and turns you can handle. “Empire” as the lead off track shows the band not quite as chaotic as usual, even holding back a little. Little did I know that it was just a wind up to where it all just explodes in “Electricide” with all the psychedelic punk energy they’re able to conjure. “Syster System” has a nice nod to King Gizz right in the middle. A fucking wild ride of a record.
Our last excursion took us on a trip with Yawning Balch’s Volume 1, an experimental desert rock meditation inspired by Joshua Tree. Volume 2 (Heavy Psych Sounds) is now out and is the perfect companion piece. The 18 minute opener “A Moment Expanded (A Form Constant)” picks right back up where Volume 1 left off. The same chill, meditative vibe; just expanding on it. I would many times find myself just lost in this album that forming words to describe it was a real challenge. I suppose you could argue that as a positive, but be forewarned that both of these albums will pull you in and not let go. Even after the closer “Psychic Aloha” it sticks to your brain long after the fade out.
Animal Collective is admittedly a band that I couldn’t really connect with. Their brand of psychedelic/electronic pop isn’t bad, Merriweather Post Pavilion just felt “weird for the sake of being weird,” and I never really explored them further. But… this latest offering, Isn’t It Now? (Domino Recording Co Ltd) is making me rethink that decision. The lightbulb moment came immediately with “Soul Capturer” starting it all off. Opting for a slightly more simplistic approach to songwriting, there are still the layers of sounds and vocals that can at first be disorienting but it won’t take long for it to take hold. “Magicians From Baltimore” transports me to our Pink Floyd dive where they got real weird with it but still made solid records.
Inspired by the loss of frontman Bobby Hecksher’s brother, the latest offering by The Warlocks is a heart breaker of a record. Despite it’s heavy and sad vibe, In Between Sad (Cleopatra Records) is still a triumphant return – after the band’s brief hiatus over the past couple of years. As Hecksher himself explains, “It’s a heavy album. It’s a sad album. Listen on that rainy day, on the subway or bus with your headphones in and sadness in your throat.” To that, I’ll add that songs like “The Last Road” will certainly provide that feeling if you don’t already have it.