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.
First, the good news: war criminal Henry Kissinger is finally dead. Good riddance to that motherfucker.
Then, the not so good news: Anyone who has seen the documentary Dig! knows that Anton Newcombe is a volatile person. Struggles with substance abuse and mental illness can take a toll, particularly when one has struggled at achieving the success they feel they’ve earned. A recent performance in Australia by the Brian Jonestown Massacre ended six songs in with a brutal altercation between guitarist Ryan Van Kriedt and Newcombe, resulting in the cancellation of the remainder of the band’s Australian tour. There are, of course, differing accounts as to how it all went off the rails. However, we can only hope that the issues are resolved soon.
1977 brings us W.I.T.C.H.‘s self-titled fifth album (some versions have the title Including Janet, in reference to the opening track “Janet,” released as the single). This one stacks up perfectly next to previous albums and once again pushes things in a more futuristic direction. Yet this is still a pop record, which just speaks further to vocalist Jagari’s surreal vision and his ability to assemble the right musicians to bring that vision to life. We’re quickly approaching the end of our journey with the Zamrock masters and we haven’t touched on much of the history surrounding the band’s (along with Zambia’s music scene as a whole) sudden albeit temporary collapse. We’ll explore that next, paired with the sudden shift in the band’s sound prior to their four decade long hiatus.
For those keeping score, The Silver Cord marks yet another drastic genre shift for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. From thrash metal to electro-pop, they certainly like to keep fans guessing what’s next. And… yeah, this is still really, really fucking good. As King Gizz has done on previous records, the songs on The Silver Cord flow seamlessly from one to the next – which sometimes makes highlighting specific songs a bit of a challenge – but I guarantee you’ll be singing the chorus for “Set” for days on end. And they even venture into… rapping, I guess you’d call it? Most of their records have to be heard to be believed and this one is no exception. Where it gets even more fun is after the album finishes there are extended remixes of each song (because, of course there are), giving you just about two hours worth of trippy electronica goodness to try and digest.
I’m always fucking ecstatic when there’s new Kurt Vile music and from the first notes of “Another Good Year For The Roses”, the smile was plastered on my face. Back To Moon Beach (Verve Records), is a nice little batch of soothing tunes. “Touched Somethin (Caught A Virus)” is a slow burn that while not making a direct reference to COVID, certainly can stave off the pandemic blues that many are still feeling. Despite being promoted as an EP, Back To Moon Beach clocks in at just under an hour yet it flies right by, song after song.
Concept records are tricky in that sometimes the idea can be more intriguing than the actual music. Fortunately, Nick Kinsey strikes just the right balance with this latest release. Based on the idea of a fictional musician, Kinsey adopts the moniker Connie Cunningham, who along with the assembled backing band, The Creeps offer us the transcendent Going, Going, Going Gone: The Rare Recordings Of Connie Cunningham and The Creeps, Vol 1 (Earth Libraries). The story is that of a failed session musician compiling a handful of false starts in an effort to preserve a memory that isn’t real. But the record is so good it doesn’t have to be fantasy. With a warm but also lo-fi/AM radio pop-like production, classic 60s girl group harmonies, Going, Going, Going Gone paints quite a lovely picture. Much like the Brown Acid series we’ve been following, this record feels like a long forgotten gem we’re fortunate to now have uncovered. And of course, rumors of a second volume have already circulated.
On that note, we’re now up to 17(!) installments in Riding Easy’s Brown Acid compilation series, and boy oh boy this is another fine burner of a collection. Acts from San Antonio TX (Grapple), Milwaukee (Crossfire), Baltimore (Pegasus, a repeat contributor to the series), and even my hometown Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Truth & Janey – a band I’ve always meant to ask if anyone in my family knew about, but hesitant because it may take the allure away). Battle Creek, Michigan-based 7-piece outfit Stone Hedge probably takes the cake on this comp with “Smokey Bear”, a fine tribute to the mascot of forest fire safety. I honestly expected to laugh at this one more than anything else, but the groove is just too damn sweet to not give it the credit it’s due. I’ve said it so many times, but I’m blown away each and every time the folks at Riding Easy unearth all these great psych/stoner rock gems, and I know there’s just more to come.