Feature: A Conversation with Richard Gibson of Optical Sounds

Since 2008, Richard Gibson and his brother Robert have quietly been operating the underground Toronto-based psych label Optical Sounds. A genuine individual who’s passion for music seeps from his pores, Richard has forged a scene–largely centered around the Kensington Market bar The Embassy–that recalls the prime of the psychedelic heyday.

Home to many of the city’s finest psych and shoegaze bands, Optical Sounds brings together the kind of artists who self release their material, but wave a collective flag and gig constantly around town with one another. A musical collective in its truest sense.

Earlier this week, Optical Sounds released Psych Pop Vol. 2, a compilation featuring songs from artists on the label along with some that are part of its extended family. You can hear the compilation for free via Bandcamp or streaming below. You can also see many of these bands performing live this Saturday night at the compilation release party taking place at The Great Hall.

Richard was kind enough to take a bit of time to chat with us about the label, himself and the new compilation. Read on for the full conversation after the jump.

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NEW MUSIC: Klaus Johann Grobe

Just last week, the fine folks at Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records released unto the world a new 7″ by Swiss duo Klaus Johann Grobe. Harkening back to the days of the primordial krautrock era and the early days of post-punk, the duo fahr’ns through synth-heavy motorik grooves and German half-spoken word ala Neu! and Kraftwerk while plunging into dark drones and Suicide-like waters.

While we patiently await the duo’s debut full-length, Trouble in Mind has tide us over with this two song banger that will surely delight fans of neu-psych like Tame Impala. Their full length, Im Sinne der Zeit comes out April 28th.

Pick up the 7″ from Trouble in Mind.

Klaus Johann Grobe – “Traumhaft”

Robbie Basho – “Song of the Snowy Ranges” (1967)

We’re up here in the north country. Three deer just ran across the frozen lake. Robbie Basho is playing on the stereo. Coffee and tea are brewing. Heading out to this place shortly.

For fans of American fingerpicking masters like Fahey and Kottke, you can delve further into Basho’s eastern-tinged melodies and old-time-y vocals with this excellent essay ‘Guitarist of the Other Shore: Robbie Basho in the 1960s’. It’s a very worthwhile read.

Another deer just ran across the lake. Let’s hope the wolves are still sleeping.

Robbie Basho – “Song Of The Snowy Range”

Feature: A Conversation with Shane Butler of Quilt


Polar vortexes, mysteriously occupied hotel rooms, blood stains, burning pieces of metal appearing out of thin air…these are just some of the freakishly weird events that have taken place on Quilt’s current winter tour. As the band made their way through the snowy mountain passes of the West, we were given the chance to chat about their new album Held In Splendor with guitarist/vocalist Shane Butler, a man with an ever-interesting outlook on life. Read on below.

We’ve got a couple pairs of tickets to giveaway to Quilt’s show on Monday night in Toronto. Follow us on twitter (@doggonepresents) and look out for a chance to win before week’s end. Also be sure to pick up Quilt’s new album at your local record shop or via Mexican Summer.

What are the biggest differences between this album and the debut both in terms of songwriting and how the album came about?

Well, we were younger then, we are older now. We used different types of metal and wooden objects on this album than on the first; but also we used some of the same. With this album we were writing about now; with that album we were writing about ‘now’, then. I guess albums are just products of specific moments and the ways we as artists relate to the situations presented to us. We grow as songwriters constantly and we constantly have a new set of materials to work with; I guess those things mark the ‘difference’ or progression between the two.

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The Stratfords – “Never Leave Me” (1964)

This hauntingly beautiful track was the first to be recorded by Baltimore band The Stratfords back in ’64. Eerie, reverb-laden vocal harmonies, lo fi tremolo-heavy guitar, and minimal hand percussion give the tune a slight western feel that may very well possess some sort of voodoo curse. Featured on the b-side is an excellent noir instrumental titled “Enaj.” The Stratfords managed to achieve minor hit status in their hometown, playing at teen centres (seemingly the thing to do back then), school dances and local clubs. Magical stuff happening here, folks.

The Stratfords – “Never Leave Me”

NEW MUSIC: New Electric Ride

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few month’s back, we shared with you the sounds of UK psych band New Electric Ride, who will release their debut full-length next week on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Sunderland, England, where the band members hail from, is a river town situated at the mouth of the River Wear. It was here that these lads came to form their shared love of tampuras, leslie speakers and psychedelic sounds, likely inspired by the sound of the river. The artist L. S. Lowry, was similarly drawn to Sunderland’s river setting.

Much has been written about the connection between our natural surroundings and the music we create (see The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wildest Places), but one aspect of the natural world that has influenced perhaps more music than any other is the river. See, rivers have not only inspired the sound of music, but have also influenced its history. “When the Levee Breaks,” the song originally written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie and later recorded by Led Zeppelin, chronicles the 1927 Mississippi flood that accelerated the great northward migration of African Americans to cities like Chicago, where the Delta Blues got plugged in and eventually became rock ‘n’ roll. The Tennessee River is said to have been a large part of why the legendary Muscle Shoals recording studio turned out the magic that it did. As Townes Van Zandt sings in the “Texas River Song,” “there’s many a river that waters a land.”

New Electric Ride’s Balloon Age, no doubt, taps into the energy of the river. Through twelve tracks, the album flows seamlessly through a library of genres, ala the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, with moments of Byrd-sian greatness and elements of Nektar-ian prog. Touching on both classic and contemporary psychedelic sounds, the name New Electric Ride seems perfectly fitting for the journey in which they provide.

Pre-order Balloon Age via Beyond Beyond is Beyond.

Dog Gone Presents: February 2014 Mix


There’s no doubt about it, folks. A cold, snowy winter is upon us. If you’re like me and you read the Old Farmer’s Almanac, you would have seen this coming. They predicted the whole thing. As you are surely aware, heavy snowfalls call for plentiful jams and loads of hot soup. Perhaps a tea and a Victoria sandwich too.

Enjoy this month’s mix.

Download: Dog Gone Presents: February 2014 Mix

Tracklisting after the jump…

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Habibi, which translates to “my love” in Arabic, is a band of all-female garage rockers out of Brooklyn that formed in the spring months of 2011. With a shared love for Middle Eastern Culture, punk, motown and garage rock, members Erin Campbell, Rahill Jamalifard, Lenny Lynch and Karen Vasquez cross the sounds of bands like The Shangri-Las and The Ramones and The Marvelettes with Eastern-tinged melodies and mystical lyrics that sound like they were recorded in ’60s Detroit. There’s even some songs which feature Jamalifard singing in her native language, Farsi. It’s deep and it’s out now on Burger Records.

Roky Erickson & The Black Angels Ticket Contest

A few months back, Light In The Attic reissued a series of Roky Erickson solo LPs that, for quite some time, rarely left the vicinity of our listening station. While Roky is well-known for his role as a core member of the 13th Floor Elevators and a pioneer of Texas psychedelic rock, the man’s solo cannon is a bit more mysterious.

See, Roky was arrested for the possession of a lone joint in ’69, to which he pleaded insanity in order to avoid a prison term. A three-and-a-half year stint in the state’s Hospital for the Criminally Insane followed, where he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, subjected to extensive electroshock therapy, Thorazine, and various other FDA-approved psychoactive “treatments.”

In 1973, Roky was released from captivity, although he came out a very different person. Instead of the psychedelic fueled music of The Elevators, Roky turned to horror films for inspiration, as he returned with a new band, The Aliens, penning songs like “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer),” “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer,” and “I Walked with a Zombie.” To add to his troubles, managers continually took advantage of his instability and drew him into a series of unfair publishing contracts that resulted in a number of unauthorized releases from which he earned not a cent. Eventually, in 1982, Roky signed a legal affidavit declaring that a Martian had taken residence in his body, and gradually disappeared from music all together. However, in recent years Roky has re-emerged on the scene, backed by bands including The Black Angels and the Night Beats while appearing at festivals across the country including FYF and Austin Psych Fest.

On February 11, you can witness the legend live in concert when Roky Erickson and The Black Angels make their way through Toronto. We happen have a couple pairs of tickets to give away, which you can enter to win by simply commenting below with the title of your favorite Roky Erickson solo tune. We’ll pick a winner by Friday afternoon.

Roky Erickson – “I Think Of Demons”

The Rolling Stones (sans Keith) – Jamming With Edward (1972)

A few nights ago while Woodsman were in town, we threw on an interesting looking record that I had recently dug out of my father’s stash of old LPs. What’s interesting about this record is the personnell, which features three fifths of the Stones–Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman—along with sessionmen extraordinaire Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins. So what’s the story behind this un-official Rolling Stones record that happens to be missing, uh, Keith? It’s said that, while tracking the 1969 sessions for Let It Bleed at London’s Olympic Studio, producer Jimmy Miller set ol’ Keef off when he suggested that they bring in Ry Cooder to beef up the guitar lines. You know how he gets! Well, after Keith stormed out of the studio, the band proceeded to jam for the next few days and the result became Jamming With Edward.

Deadheads will, no doubt, recognize Hopkins’ name from his tenure in the Jerry Garcia Band as well as his signature instrumental “Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder,” a song he had originally recorded during his tenure with Quicksilver Messenger Service and which JGB was known to slip into during the ’75 era. The song also inspired the name for this record. We’re slipping off track ourselves here, so go and enjoy these jams and have a great week.

The Rolling Stones (sans Keith) – “The Boudoir Stomp”

The Rolling Stones (sans Keith) – “Blow With Ry”