Back in 2009, writer David Keenan coined the term “hypnagogic pop” to describe a new generation of experimental lo-fi musicians channeling the sounds of ’80s pop radio, New Wave, New Age and synth-driven VHS soundtracks into a form of neo-psychedelic music. Zones, the solo project of artist/musician Derek McKeon, is one of Toronto’s finest studies into that unique school of music. Crafting hazey, sun soaked psych melodies that coast through warbling dub and kraut grooves, McKeon’s music in Zones calls to mind a melding of early Ducktails and the twisted dub of Sun Araw. Much like his own art, McKeon’s music is a collage of psychedelic tropicalia.
For the past few years, Kyle Connolly has existed as a regular familiar amongst the Toronto psych scene, roving around in bands like Milk Lines, Beliefs, and Breeze. But on August 26, the soft-spoken multi-instrumentalist steps out on his own with the debut self-titled album by his own band, Wish. Featuring the talents of Peter Gosling (Decades, Lobby) on drums, Emily Bitze (Milk Lines) on bass, and long time friend/musical collaborator Josh Korody (Beliefs, Breeze) on guitar, Wish play a sort of psychedelic dream pop that often tends to wander into jammy krautrock territory. Check out their video for the song “Retro Grade” below. Wish plays tonight at the Garrison in Toronto.
From the far east of Japan hails Kikagaku Moyo, a bohemian tribe of psychedelic rangers led by cheiftains Go Kurosawa and Tomo Katsurada. During the summer months of 2012, while sequestered among the foothills outside of Tokyo, the band was born out of a series of late-night jam sessions from which it seems they were able to tap into a uniquely cosmic domain of the Mind at Large. Inspired by the music of their forefathers in Acid Mothers Temple, Kikagaku’s trip expands its journey through ambling West Coast psych jams ala The Electronic Hole and Eastern-guided melodies like those of The Incredible String Band. We’re still coming down from their spellbinding performance at this year’s Austin Psych Fest.
A few years back, when I got the idea to first start hosting shows, I reached out to a few of my favourite local bands along with a little-known California psych act by the name of Jeffertitti’s Nile who happened to be making their way through town. Having only heard their seven song EP, Hypnotic River of Sound, I had no idea what their live performance would be like or even how they might look. But when they walked through the front gates of the Church of the Electric Dirt dressed halfway between pranksters and members of Hendrix’s band, it was plain to the eye that these individuals were not of this earthly realm.
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.
A 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.
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.
Early last year, California native Morgan Delt self-released a very limited 6-song cassette titled Psychic Death Hole, which offered up the first taste of his unique home-recorded psych experiments. Today, Trouble in Mind releases his his debut self-titled album, building those initial experiments into a psychedelic masterpiece that traverses nearly every corner of the genre’s 40 year history. Essential references like The Byrds, Love and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band arise frequently throughout, but Delt goes beyond, employing distant eastern melodies, tribal hand percussion and Faust inspired kraut journeys, all of which mesh together in an interweaving web of distorted, fuck-up sound. It’s as though Delt has studied the inners of psychedelia since its very beginnings, learned the formulas and techniques to recreate its best moments, and then ran them all through a half broken cassette player. The album as a whole is warped—at times it can even sound like you’re hearing a band like White Fence coming through the particle board walls of the bathroom at a DIY venue, while others recall the likes of R. Stevie Moore’s lo fi recordings. Throughout the entire album, Delt’s music ebbs and it flows in an acid-drenched river of psychedelia–unstuck in time, unfettered by rule, organically and vibrantly alive.
Just the other day, I was discussing with a friend the excellent production work heard on Kevin Morby’s debut solo album, Harlem River. About an hour later, completely by coincidence, the man responsible for that production work, Rob Barbato (Darker My Love), dropped a new track he’s been working on in me mailbox. This one comes from Columbus, OH-based singer-songwriter Andrew Graham and his Swarming Branch project. The song, “Rock and Roll #61,” is featured on a new 10″ single and seems to channel Gene Ween’s vocal stylings with a touch of Schmilsson on the side.
Purchase the 10″ single/digital release featuring “Rock and Roll #61” b/w “Candlestick Boogie” via White Iris Records.
Before moving back to Toronto earlier this year, I remember scoping out the local music scene and coming across Optical Sounds—a independent Toronto label fixated on the burgeoning Great Northern psych community. It was here that I first discovered the Sun Stone Revolvers (formerly The Revolvers), a band that took little time to make their way to the top of my “list of bands to see” once I got back to my hometown. Not long after my return, I was lucky enough to catch a show put together by the good folks at Exhale Presents and to say it was a nice welcoming would be an understatement. A true rock band at the core, Sun Stone Revolvers venture through a range of sounds from spaced-out, dark-psych territory to blissed-out tribal chants to motorik, kraut-inspired grooves. And they look fucking cool doing it too. You can stream their most recent album, Spaceship X, below or purchase it on vinyl/CD via Optical Sounds.