One of the bands we’re most excited to check out at this year’s Austin Psych Fest is the ever mysterious Swedish group Goat, who perform as the final group in the Elevation Amphiteatre on Sunday night. The band exploded onto the scene last year with the release of their debut album, World Music, on Rocket Recordings and are known to adorn animal masks on stage. Does anyone remember “mystique?”
Listen to title track “Dreambuilding” off a new 7″ out June 4 via Sub Pop.
Goat – “Dreambuilding”
The sound of the sitar is one of the defining sonic traits of the original psychedelic era. While some harder edged psych proponents like the 13th Floor Elevators, The Seeds, and others coming from the garage school of the early ’60s can’t be said to share this trait, it’s hard to argue with the fact that many elements of Indian and other Eastern cultures were benevolently co-opted by Western psychedelic culture, beginning in the Beat era.
The story of the sitar in Western pop/rock is one where the ending, or perhaps “climax”, is well known: George Harrison’s interest in Indian music and culture brought his teacher, Ravi Shankar, to the attention of the world, and these sounds and cultural elements became huge in 1960′s popular culture and beyond, especially in 1967 when a major sitar fad went down. The Coral “electric sitar” was even created around this time to help players add this flavour without learning a new instrument (yes, the one from that tune!). The most interesting, and possibly lesser known part of the story, is the beginning. The sitar had appeared on Western jazz recordings as early as the late ’50s, and an important working relationship between violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar began as early as 1952, but the audience for these was decidedly ‘niche’.
The first Western pop tune to be heard featuring this instrument was The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”. Some pundits, however, will point you to The Kinks’ “See My Friends” as the first Western pop tune to have an Indian vibe, and they are absolutely correct. According to Jonathan Bellman’s book The Exotic In Western Music, Eastern experimentation was “in the air” in the London rock scene in 1965, including the Yardbirds doing a quickly abandoned sitar overdub on “Heartful Of Soul”, which, had it worked out and been released, would have beaten “Norwegian Wood” as the first. The Kinks’ Ray Davies had actually been to Bombay, on a stopover on the way to Australia on an early 1965 tour, and was melodically inspired by an approaching troupe of fishermen, who were singing what, judging from the end result, seems like something from the Khammaj family of ragas. Without a single “exotic” instrument on the recording, “See My Friends” is based around a drone, while not confined by it entirely, and succeeds in creating a vibe that may indeed have influenced Harrison’s (and pop/rock’s) first genuine attempt at full blown Indian fusion, “Love You To”.
Interestingly and ironically, a movie script written by Marc Behm (Charade, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) would be the catalyst for the sitar explosion of 1967, via, of course, Harrison. This xenophobic script cast an unfavourable light on Indian culture, albeit in a playful way that was a subtle satire of James Bond films, and within the tradition of British comedy. The script was for the 1965 film, Help, and the storyline found Ringo being chased by a crazed, sacrifice-performing Indian cult. To be fair, this Kali-worshipping “cult” did have some basis in reality, but having a sitar flourish sounding nearly every time these villains appear on screen is akin to a Bollywood soundtrack triggering a Mozart riff for a “Western” villain. The set of Help is where Harrison first encountered and tried out a sitar, played by some musicians in one of the film’s scenes. Forces beyond the Beatles (in the form of film composer Ken Thorne) provided several instances of Indian Classical instruments playing early Fab Four tunes on this film’s soundtrack, plus a sitar cameo in the James Bond quote at the top of the album’s title track. Although outside of the Beatles’ artistic control, this film is what began a long-standing association of The Beatles with Indian culture and sounds. Both Help (the film) and the Kinks’ “See My Friends” were released a day apart in July, 1965.
On a break from their 1965 North American tour in late August of that year, The Beatles had some down time in LA and rented a house in Benedict Canyon, where they held what quickly turned into an LSD party (it was still legal at the time) that was attended by Peter Fonda, who brought along the Byrds, including David Crosby. This evening is the one where Fonda’s conversation with Lennon became fodder for “She Said She Said”, but more significant was the after-party hang that went down with the two bands. Crosby had been introduced to the music of Ravi Shankar some time prior to this by producer Jim Dickson, who had Crosby sit in on the recording sessions for Shankar’s 1964 album “Portrait Of Genius”. This had made an Indian music ‘convert’ out of Crosby, who insisted that Harrison (who still hadn’t done much genuine exploring of Indian Classical music) check out Shankar’s work. The seed that had been planted in Harrison on the set of Help now found a focus – to seek out the great sitar player’s music. Within a month of this encounter, the Beatle purchased a sitar at Indiacraft on Oxford Street, London. Within another month, in October of 1965, he recorded with this new instrument on “Norwegian Wood”.
The Exotic In Western Music – Jonathan Bellman
The Dawn of Indian Music in the West – Peter Lavezzoli
One of the more inspiring figures you’ll come across these days is Guy Blakeslee, guitarist and vocalist for West Coast psych juggernauts The Entrance Band. While known for his onstage energy, offstage Guy is a deeply spiritual individual who radiates with genuine kindness. Having recently released a collection of solo recordings paired with a series of custom handmade collages, Guy spoke at length with us about his music outside of Entrance Band, collage art, meditation and his newly discovered love for the sober side of life. He also tells us that The Entrance Band will release their new album, Face the Sun, later this year.
Listen to/purchase Guy’s Third Eye Memories: Volume 1 here.
Tell us about this new collage/music package you’ve just put out. What is contained within it and what was the creation process like?
I have been exploring my archives of unreleased and home recorded music for the past year, in addition to recording new music.. Having recently learned how to use the computer to do editing and mixing, I started digitizing all of my old four track cassette recordings from the past 10+ years. I have also been making a lot of collage art in the past year, in a more focused way than in the past. SO I decided to create a special mail-order package where each person receives a small handmade collage that is the one-of-a-kind original version, and a handmade CD of the music along with a high-quality instant download.
There is one album that features 13 songs from the “Entrance” project dating from 2002-2006, before the official formation of The Entrance Band, and there is another that is a 5 song compilation of home recordings I have done in the past few years, 4 of the 5 were done on the cassette four track and edited in the computer, and one was recorded on my Iphone! With both albums, the emphasis is much more on the spirit and the energy of a moment in time captured and frozen for transmission, than on the fidelity or perfection-ism that usually crops up in a more “official” recording.
Some of the collages are already made and then chosen for a particular person, and some of them are made specifically to fill the order. With each collage I try to read a little bit of the person’s energy at a distance and give them something that they will connect with and cherish. The impetus for this project was partially to earn some money, and to do so in a way that is an extension of what I am already doing. That is, rather than get a minimum wage job, I found that I could apply some discipline to the things I was already making and increase the time I spend making art and experimenting with my home recordings… It’s a very interesting life that I have been living all these years as a self-employed musician and I am just now learning to have a little more focus when it comes to treating this work like my full-time job and being creative with my time and energy.. It’s certainly a gift to be able to pursue my creative dreams as a way of surviving in the world, however uncertain things may seem at times,, it has always paid to remain in trust and faith that everything is as it is meant to be and keep working harder at what I love to do , going deeper into the possibilities even when I feel discouraged.
Henry Tree were a band from the land of Cleveland, Ohio who released a single album, titled Electric Holy Man, in 1969. Consisting of Leroy Markish on guitar and lead vocals, Carmen Castaldi on drums, Charles McLauughlin on bass, the group also featured an un-credited, jazz wizard guitarist named Bill DeArango. Combining Traffic style bluesy numbers and fuzzed out jams with DeArango’s jazz guided odysseys, this is a highly impressive psych LP with terrific guitar work.
Hell Shovel, the project led by Jeff Clarke of Montreal’s Demon’s Claws, swung through town on Friday night and proved how they’re one of the best garage psych acts on the scene right now. They sound a bit like Ty Segall, but on significantly more acid. As their description reads, Hell Shovel “is the sound of Johnny Cash drowning in a pool of cough syrup.” Since its inception, the group has released a few albums in limited runs through labels such as the German based Sound Of Cobra Records and toured through the US and Europe with acts like Acid Baby Jesus. And just last year, the group released their debut LP, Hated By The Sun, which you can stream below or purchase via Bandcamp. Watch out for Hell Shovel!
Poster art by Curtis Godino.
Our next show will be an evening of Chilean psych rock, when Föllakzoid and The Holydrug Couple grace us with their presence at Mercury Lounge on March 21. Drippy Eye will be providing visuals. Come out and catch two of the best bands from the ever growing Chilean psychedelic underground scene with a side of liquid light. RSVP.
Tickets are $10 adv or $12 at the door. We’ll be giving away tickets to the show so stay tuned for details.
Purchase tickets HERE.
Two forest travelers from the land of Chile joined together a number of years back and began exploring lengthy spiritual jam sessions, eventually forming the basis of The Holydrug Couple. Their loose, bluesy psych sound nods to classic references like Crazy Horse while also channeling Indian raga and the “hidden arts.” Part of the rapidly growing Chilean underground psych scene that includes bands like Follakzoid, The Holydrug Couple released their new album, Noctuary, last month on Sacred Bones and will be making their way to the US for a tour this year. We just might have a part in it. Listen to “Ancient Land” below.
Purchase Noctuary via Sacred Bones.
Three years after Matt Lajoie began Herbcraft as a bedroom recording project, the Portland, Maine-based band has evolved into a more collaborative project and will release its third long player, The Astral Body Electric, on March 5 via Woodsist. The album was recorded direct to tape by Doug Tuttle (Mmoss) in an 18th-century New England barn and “aurally massaged” into the 4th dimension by Matt “MV” Valentine with his signature “Spectrasound” mastering technique. Hear the first track, “No Land,” a psychy stew of Lajoe’s shimmering guitar, Dawn Aquarius’ wah’ed organ riffs and jungle flutes, below.
Here’s the invisible-man themed video for “Ich Werde Sehen”, the new single from Moon Duo, which is a German version of “I Can See” from their latest album Circles. Directed by Jovan Arsenic.
After a lengthy period of gestation, Montreal-based cosmic voyagers The Besnard Lakes return with a new album, titled Until in Excess, Imperceptiple UFO , on April 2 via Jagjaguwar. The album comes as the follow-up to one of our favorite albums from a few years back, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night which was preceded by the similarly great …Dark Horses. Listen below as new song “People of the Sticks” transports us right back into the trademark narcotic embrace of The Besnard Lakes.
[Art by Sean Metcalf]
Greetings friends and fellow travelers. As the year comes to a close, we find ourselves looking back on all the great music that came out of 2012. This year offered much hope for the future, including the emergence of folk singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt; Swedish music collective GOAT; Southern England’s Beaulieu Porch; and new Brooklyn based label Beyond Beyond is Beyond, who brought us the debut album from Prince Rupert’s Drops. This was another exceptional year for new releases and we’re psyched to present to you our picks for the best albums of 2012. Tell us about your favorite albums of 2012 in the comments section below.
In the mid-to-late 1960s, guitarist Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) and Jac Holzman (founder of Elektra Records) assembled the groundbreaking compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era—a double album containing a collection of pioneering psychdelic sounds and liner notes that included one of the first uses of the term “punk rock.” In honor of its 40th anniversary, Kaye has teamed up with journalist David Fricke to compile Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations, which features the latest generation of Aussie bands paying tribute with covers of the original Nuggets tracks. In addition, the original collection is being re-released along with a couple of local compilations, featuring Australian artists from the same era and with a similar attitude as what was on the original Nuggets.
The collection of covers features contributions from the likes of Pond, Straight Arrows, Gooch Palms, King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard, Frowning Clouds, Laurels and Eagle & The Worm. Check out one of our favorites, Baptism of Uzi’s “Baby Please Don’t Go” along with Pond’s cover of “Hey Joe.”
As Scandinavia continues to emerge as one of today’s most fertile psychedelic breeding grounds, here we have the first single off Helsinki-based outfit Kiki Pau‘s forthcoming album on Beyond Beyond is Beyond records. Pines, the group’s third album, was mixed by Dungen’s Gustav Ejstes and comes out Feburary 5. Hear the 9+ minute “Tomte Mars” below.
Since 2001, Los Angeles-based musicians Sir Psych and L.A AL have been making and recording 60s-inspired psych and garage rock. Originally part the five member group The Clerk Two Project, the duo’s collaborations continued over the past 11 years, eventually forming what is now The Smoking Trees. Reminiscent of 60s acts like the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and some of their contemporaries, The Smoking Trees take us on a day-glo trip back to that era with their new album, Acetates, now available via Colour Tree Records. Watch the video for album track “In Another Land” and then head over to Bandcamp to stream or purchase the album in full.
Check back in the coming days to read an extended conversation with The Smoking Trees.
The debut full length from The UFO Club, a collaboration between The Black Angels’ Christian Bland and Nights Beats’ Lee Blackwell, is one of our favorite releases to come out of 2012. Re-imagining 50s pop through the prism of 60s psych, the pair pay homage to the legendary UFO Club of Pink Floyd-era 1960s London. Watch the video for the song “Wolfman” off their new LP below.
You can stream / listen to and buy the album in the format of your choice on the Austin Psych Fest website.
Late 1960s South Africa might be the last place you’d expect a progressive psych-folk band to have emerged from. But amid racist and nationalist tensions, a small, yet fertile scene did exist, which included a little-known band by the name of Abstract Truth.
Guitarist Kenneth E. Henson formed Abstract Truth in Durban, South Africa around 1969, going on to release two studio albums with the group during 1970. However, the band was short-lived and disbanded after numerous line-up changes in 1971.
Abstract Truth’s first album, titled Totum, is a collection of covers that includes takes on everything from jazz standards like “Summertime” and “Comin’ Home Baby,” Donovan and Dylan tunes and more. The vastly improved second album, titled Silver Trees, consists entirely of originals, blending elements of prog, folk and psych that, at times, recalls Caravan, Fairport Convention and early King Crimson. Silver Trees, in particular, is worth seeking out. The album covers a lot of ground, and sees Saxophonist/flutist Sean Bergin and Henson dueling throughout over jazzy time signatures and complex compositions.
For years after their release, these two Abstract Truth records existed as extreme rarities, known and heard only by die-hard collectors and few others. But in 2009, both albums were reissued with extensive liner notes, bringing these two lost classics to the ears of many more.
Below you can hear the folky opener “Pollution” and the epic eight-minute title track from the group’s second LP, Silver Trees.
Madison, WI-based garage-psych artist Dead Luke has released his third proper full-length on Oakland record label Moon Glyph. The cassette, titled God Takes LSD, melds Spaceman 3-esque stoner rock, jangly garage pop and murky blues riffs into a tapestry of delightful lo-fi, jammy psychedelia. Check out the slow burner “Oh My Lord Can’t Help” along with the sun-soaked pop of “I Love” below. Also be be sure to give a listen to “The Best Drug I’ve Ever Done” from Dead Luke’s 2010 release American Haircut.
Order God Takes LSD from Moon Glyph.
Brooklyn psychedelic garage rock ensemble Prince Rupert’s Drops have treated us to the second track from their highly-impressive debut LP, Run Slow. “Lungs,” which premiered on Friday via the good folks at East Village Radio, opens the album with a sprawling seven-and-a-half minute jammer that sets the tone for what follows. Beginning with a Quicksilver meets Fairport guitar intro, the song cruises through the valleys of West Coast psych with guitarist/vocalist Leslie Stein’s haunting vocals sailing on the distant shores. At the midway point, the song takes a turn toward an open-ended, dual guitar jam that demonstrates the group’s knack for extended improvisational journeys.
Hear the song over at East Village Radio.
Following the release of their highly impressive new album, Bend Beyond, Woods have dropped the B-side to the sun-soaked album single “Cali in a Cup.” While much of the new album offers a more accessible, brighter side of Woods, “Give Your Light Off” turns toward the dark with a spiritual hymn that recalls early Wailers, while coasting atop a haunting undercurrent of tape effects, heavy-handed acoustic guitar strums and Peter Tosh-style wah licks. Another impressive nugget from the prolific Brooklyn outfit.
Purchase Bend Beyond via Woodsist.
Tame Impala let their psychedelic side shine in their new video for the Lonerism track “Elephant.” Day-glo kaleidoscope visuals swirl throughout the analog synthesized video directed by artist Yoshi Sodeoka, with live footage from The Silentlights.
The amazingly prolific San Francisco garage rock wizard Ty Segall has released a video for the song “The Hill,” featured on his forthcoming album Twins (his third this year). Directed by Segall himself and featuring Thee Oh Sees’ Brigid Dawson, the video travels through a bad VHS acid trip laced with oversized stuffed bears and just plain weird shit. Twins comes out out on October 9th via Drag City.
Preorder the album here.
As summer turns to fall, Woods have graced us with the first video from their most-excellent forthcoming album Bend Beyond. Directed by Adarsha Benjamin, the video for “Cali In a Cup” was filmed on Super 8 at and around this year’s Woodsist Festival in Big Sur, CA. Check it out below and catch Woods on tour this fall.
Order Bend Beyond via Woodsist.
San Francisco psych-rockers Moon Duo are releasing their new album, Circles next month. While you likely heard the album’s bong-ripper “Sleepwalker” featured on our August Mix, the song now has a video starring Montreal garage rock guru King Khan. Watch Khan lead an aerobics class while the members of Moon Duo watch over from the back of the room in the video below.
The UFO Club is a group led by The Black Angels’ Christian Bland and Night Beats’ Lee Blackwell that takes a note from each of the aforementioned groups and twists it through a hazy lens of 50s pop and 60s psychedelia. Earlier this year, they released their debut 10″ on Austin Psych Fest’s in house label in June and it sold out before it could even hit shelves. They’ve now followed up that 10″ with a proper self-titled full length that pays homage to the British psych scene of the 1960s, much of which passed through the legendary London haunt from which the group takes its name. Reverb swamped feedback and hazy Barrett-style rants soaked in mushroom tea mesh with tinny garage anthems on this 11 track masterpiece. Stream album track “July” below, realize how good it is, then buy the album here.