Posts Tagged ‘Psychedelic’

28th January 2023

James Wells

Honeybadger’s bio describes the Brighton trio as ‘spiky’ purveyors of ‘gutter psychedelia/grunge’, and ‘Cold Wind’ certainly delivers on that. Fast and gritty, lo-fi and fuzzed out, the guitars are all the grunge – but then the break brings a full-on tremelo-happy wig-out that’s out of this world!

But if the song is carried by an energy that invites comparisons with early Arctic Monkeys, the bassline runs away in a completely different direction, with one of those wild grooves that runs here, there, and everywhere: Luca – age just twenty-one – is possessed of magic fingers. Or perhaps he’s just possessed. Either way, these guys pack in so much dynamic and raw talent into three-and-a-half minutes that it’s dizzying, and it’s a proper rush.

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Honeybadger Artwork

Christopher Nosnibor

This was supposed to be the perfect bookend to the year: after Percy supported Soma Crew at The Crescent in May, the roles were to be swapped tonight following the release of Percy’s new album, Monorail, in June. But sadly, it wasn’t to be, on account of Percy’s drummer Jason royally fucking his back.

Gigs at this time of year are always a risk, and not only on account of the potentials for injury (as the icy pavements on the way only highlight): the fact that it’s hard sub-zero means a lot of people can’t face wrapping up again after work to turn out on an evening, and then there all of the obligatory work / mates drinks and all that cal. Throw in Steve Mason playing across town and this one was always going to be a gamble, but despite the headliners’ late withdrawal, it’s a respectable crowd who witness The Rosettas emerging sounding stronger than the last time I saw them at the end of September. The sound is solid, buzzy, grungy.

The singer’s confidence leans into arrogance throughout, and not just in ignoring advice sagely dispensed in my coverage of said show in September, while actually mentioning the recommendation not to drop a cover as their second song, they slam in with a faithful rendition of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ as the second song of the set. But it makes sense, and it is well played, as is the majority of the rest of the set. I suspect the singer’s suffering from a cold or something that gives his voice quite a ragged edge, but actually, it sounds decent.

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The Rosettas

Unfortunately, technical issues and a lack of organisation means the set ends abruptly and somewhat chaotically, but they played with enthusiasm and were a lot less reliant on covers, and ultimately made the best of a less than ideal situation.

They seem to clear out and take half the audience with them, but, undeterred, Soma Crew take the stage and drench it with sonorous droning feedback. Then they build into a single chord dragging for all eternity as the muffled drums plod away in the back and they hit peak hypnotic. And then the tremolo enters the mix and the volume steps up with the arrival of the snare drum and…. and… and… the set drifts, and my mind drifts, and it’s a most pleasant experience. Time hangs in suspension. ‘Mighty Forces’ is indeed mighty, and the mid-pace one chord chugs are supremely soporific. Everything is measured, mellow, hazy. Everything comes together to conjure a thick sonic mist, and it’s absolutely magnificent. It’s also seriously loud, as I come to realise about two-thirds of the way into the set. When did that happen? Did it get louder? Perhaps. Probably. I can’t help but feel that Soma Crew are seriously underrated, and tonight they really hit all the sweet spots at once.

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Soma Crew

Leeds trio Nervous Twitch are worthy headliners, and launch into their set without a word, no fuss, not a single note of level checking. Pow! It’s proper, unfussy, old-school punk, three and four chord thrashes played with big energy, and they’re as tight as any band you’ll hear. Sure, with a female singer (who also plays bass), they invite obvious comparisons to X-Ray Spex and Penetration, and as much as they’re punk, they’re catchy and poppy at the same time, and ultimately, they’re good fun.

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Nervous Twitch

There are, of course, many bands playing in the next fortnight, in every city across the nation. Some will draw crowds, others less so. While I enter temporary hibernation, it feels like an appropriate time to reflect, and to celebrate the venues we’re fortunate to still have, and the fact that while times remain tough, 2022 has at last seen live music return to the social calendar. And for all the other shit we’re surrounded by – I can’t even begin the list – this is something we can be immensely grateful for.

Christopher Nosnibor

All of the good gigs are happening in November this year it seems, when traditionally things tend to be a bit quieter. Much of this is down to the knock-on effect of two years of rescheduling, not least of all with venues being booked solid with rescheduled dates till now. As scheduling goes, the fact that Please Please You has brought Part Chimp to York is a huge deal, and the turnout on a soaking wet night in the middle of a month of rain says it’s widely appreciated.

Part Chimp are one of those bands who’ve been going forever – well, twenty-two years is close enough – and have enjoyed something of a cult following. But with the release of their latest album and the shows to promote it, they seem to have enjoyed something of a surge, receiving at least some of the recognition they’ve deserved – and richly so, because they’re simply a great band.

And tonight they’re headlining a great lineup. The fact the support acts are brain-foamingly good is something I’ll get to the detail of shortly, but again, credit has to go to Joe Coates for his curation skills.

If it’s quiet in the bar before doors, it’s the only thing that is quiet about the night, and it’s remarkably busy for the arrival of the first band. While they’re local, that’s no guarantee of attendance. But they’re bloody good. Junk-It are a shouty riffy drum and guitar duo. They’re kinda straight rock but a bit Pulled Apart By Horses too, with some crazed vocals and incendiary riffs, and with some melodies spun in. Songs are tight, their chat less so. The singer looks a bit like a young Bill Bailey but sounds more often than not more Robert Plant. They’ve got good energy, and good tunes, and they work hard. It’s early days for them, so they’re a bit rough around the edges, but promising; they’re grungy, left-leaning –they’re definitely left – and deliver some exhilarating guitar-driven noise.

Junk-It

Junk-It

Uncle Bari, another duo consisting of Pak 40 / Redfyrn drummer Leo Hancill and Cat Redfern of Redfyrn, only Cat’s drumming and Leo’s on guitar, and they kick out some mega-heavy, mega-loud dark psych drums and dense guitar with vocals submerged beneath the tidal wave of riff and reverb. The sound is immersive, with slow, spacious minimalism dominating, but when they go big, they go big. With slow picked guitar and steady, rolling drums, the last track is very Earth. And at appropriate volume, it’s a remarkable experience.

Uncle Bari

Uncle Bari

The experience is a fundamental aspect of a Part Chimp show. Listening to the albums, it’s obvious that they’re a loud band, but live, they’re LOUD. I mean ear-bleeding, skull-crackingly loud. It’s not just nasty overloading volume for the sake of it, though – the riffs come through with remarkable clarity, you can make out the component parts just fine, even if the vocals are a bit buried (but no more than on the studio recordings). It’s one of the most amazingly joyful experiences, being bathed in sound in such a way, as is witnessing a bunch of older guys play in such a way that really is a masterclass for so many of the next generation to observe. They’re not overtly cool, and there’s no theatre or pretence, and the most chat we get is a ‘cheers’ here and there. It’s simply all about churning out the big, dense, grungy riffs, and sometimes they plug away at two chords for a full half minute.

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Part Chimp

The set is dominated by cuts from Drool, but there are some oldies in the mix, and they encore with ‘Trad’ from 2009’s Thriller and ‘Hello Bastards’ from second album I Am Come. Not that it really matters too much about the specifics of the songs: they’re all beefy blasting riff blowouts, and there is absolutely no letup from beginning to end. There aren’t adequate superlatives or adjectives to express the elation this elicits: sometimes, you really do have to be there.

Christopher Nosnibor

The Crescent seems to have really come into its own of late, with midweek gigs attracting some seriously strong turnouts. Of course, having decent bands on is a key factor, but having a local venue that has decent sound, a welcoming atmosphere, and affordable drinks are also significant factors. With times being tight and banking on travel a gamble, I’m by no means alone in the fact I’m increasingly likely to pick a gig nearby – although that’s only possible because there are gigs, and good ones, nearby.

Sitting in the bar beforehand with a decent local hand-pulled pint for £4 provided a welcome moment of reflection, and increasingly, The Crescent feels like York’s Brudenell: there’s a relaxed buzz and sense of community here.

It’s busy early doors, and local support Pennine Suite, who I realise had been sipping pints and meeting friends at the next table from me in the bar not twenty minutes previous, serve up solid and more than passable 90s style indie with energy and synths and a dash of shoegaze and a hint of Cud. Having announced his sister on keyboards and brother on guitar, I almost expected the singer to announce his dad on drums. It wasn’t to be, but the five-piece displayed a good chemistry and some more than respectable songwriting skills.

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Pennine Suite

It would seem that ‘fehlt’ is the German word for ‘missing’, suggesting that the enigmatic Leeds quartet, whose Figure Two EP was mastered by Slowdive drummer Simon Scott, aren’t making some limp reference to the 90s indie band who prefaced Denim. This is a good thing. Said EP included an intense and near note-perfect and magnificently produced cover of Joy Division’s ‘No Love Lost’, and while it’s not a feature of tonight’s set, it gives a fair indication of where they’re coming from.

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Fehlt

They play moody I Like Trains style chiming indie post-rock / post-punk crossover, and do so in near darkness since the projector isn’t working, and it only serves to add to the ambience. The vocals are often mumbled, and are low in the mix throughout. Gliding violin adds brooding tension and melancholy. Onstage it’s pretty static, but there’s plenty of movement in the music, especially the drumming, but also some nice strolling bass grooves and some tidy runs that are pure Joy Division, and the set builds to a blistering instrumental climax. Again. And again.

It’s clear that a large number of those packing the front half of this 300 capacity venue have been playing BDRMM’s debut album a lot. And I mean a lot. And when a full setlist is available on Setlist FM within hours, you know that this is a band with a serious following. They know every word, and sing them back. Like, how? They’re barely audible half the time. But then, it’s hard to fully detail the rise of BDRMM. From being a one-man home project to a fully-functional live act with remixes by A Place to Bury Strangers and support slots with Ride, it’s a story that reads like a dream. Back in January, they were playing 100-capacity venues. Now…

Hearing them live is also very like a dream. Some of it’s the volume. Some of it’s the hypnotic, motoric groves, the guitars swathed in echo. Some of it’s the heads-down, chat-free approach to performing: this is all about playing the songs and the atmosphere they cultivate. Ultimately, it’s a conglomeration of all of these things that make BDRMM such an experience, rather than just another live band.

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BDRMM

They walk on, unassuming. A string scrape vibrates. The start of the set trickles slowly: mellowness delivered at bladder-shaking volume. And it builds… and it builds. There are immense surges of sound that explode seemingly from nowhere. The vocals are buried in reverb and delay and it’s a wall of noise and it’s so powerful. As is the case with the bands they’ve modelled themselves on – early Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive – the songs would be fairly middling psych-tinged indie were it not for the effects: whack on a dozen layers off chorus, reverb, and distortion, and it’s a whole other story. But then, The Jesus and Mary Chain would have been a Beach Boys rip-off were it not for all the distortion pedals

When the drums and the pedals kick in, they really kick in. The volume and density seem to increase as the set progresses, and while half of the songs played toward the end of the set could have bought it to a roaring finale, the set culminates in a blistering sheet of noise.

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BDRMM

They look reluctant in performing an encore, but oblige appropriately with a strong, high-intensity rendition of ‘A Reason to Celebrate’.

It isn’t until afterwards that you realise just how loud and intense the performance was. But, make no mistake, this was both loud and intense.

Partisan Records – 16th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s simply impossible to keep up with everything all the time. It feels like a recurrent theme, and even something of a mantra: so many bands, so little time.

Over the course of eighteen years, The Black Angels have cemented their position as, as their bio puts it, ‘standard-bearers for modern psych-rock’. And that’s not hyperbole: it’s a fair assessment.

2010’s Phosphene Dream was a major let-down, particularly in the wake of two such stunning predecessors, with Passover and Directions to See a Ghost. Consequently, feeling disillusioned, both Indigo Meadow and Death Song bypassed me, but Wilderness of Mirrors landed in my inbox with the promise of a return to early form after a five-year gap – or, as they put it, ‘marks a triumphant return with their foot on the pedal. Political tumult, the pandemic and the ongoing devastation of the environment have provided ample fodder for their signature sound and fierce lyrical commentary’.

For Wilderness of Mirrors, the band worked with Brett Orrison (co-producer) and Dinosaur Jr engineer John Agnello ‘to achieve something fresh and new while retaining their heavily influential classic sound’.

Wilderness of Mirrors is epic and feels like it needs to be a double album simply because it has such weight and important in a way that’s hard to really define. It’s not sprawling and awkwardly indulgent: yes, it does contain fifteen songs, but less than half extend beyond four minutes. But it’s an album of density.

Opener ‘Without a Trace’ starts out tentative-sounding distant before the bass crashes in like a landslide and in an instant, the listener is sucked into a dense sonic whirl. It’s the gritty bass that also dominates the pulverising ‘History of the Future’ that lands somewhere between Ther Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride, with some blistering guitar that’s a wall of fuzzing, fizzing treble against a busy beat and a bass that buzzes so hard it practically cuts the top off your head. And just like that, you’re back to remembering why this band mattered in the first place. Everything is a murky swamp of reverb, a deep 60s vibe radiating through the 80s and 90s filter.

I’ve long noted how the Jesus and Mary Chain essentially played surf pop with feedback and distortion, and ‘Empires Falling’ follows this approach magnificently, and with its relentless rhythm section and squalling guitars, it bears strong and obvious parallels with A Place to Bury Strangers.

It’s best played at high volume, of course: this is guitar music to melt the brain, and if songs like ‘El Jardn’ and the acoustic ‘Here & Now’ are more accessible, melodic and overtly indie, they offer some much-needed respite, while still boasting some howling guitars. There’s a vaguely gothic hue to the sneaking guitars and dubby grooves of ‘Make it Known’ and the slower ‘The River’, and it works well in contributing to the album’s rich and varied atmosphere and contrast with the jittery tension of the title track.

Ultimately, the best thing about Wilderness of Mirrors is that is sounds like The Black Angels – quintessentially, unmistakeably, with its motorik grooves, simple, repetitive riffs and song strictures that define the chorus not by a significant shift in key or chords, but by the explosion of sound, the simple structures executed with rare panache. They’re definitely on form here.

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James Wells

Fucking hell, we really are running out of names, aren’t we? To the point where even otherwise memorable bands are forgettable because of their ultra-generic name. And some acts sink without a trace because they’re simply impossible to even find through an Internet search. Actor is an obvious example for me, but then we’ve recently had Loungewear grace these virtual pages, and now bloody Tracksuit. How would The The or The Police have faired in the Internet age, I wonder? I mean, stepping aside from the fact their music is tedious and people would probably skip their songs faster than ever now. But it seems like bands aren’t even trying now: Sports Team? Two very different acts operating as Working Men’s Club? Are they trying to bury themselves before their careers have even begun, or do they simply have no imagination and no concept of how The Internet works? Or have we simply reached the apogee of postmodernism, the point at which truly everything has been done, there is no ‘new’, only regurgitations and rehashing, and culture has reached its inevitable dead-end?

It’s a shame Tracksuit have doubly done themselves a disservice with a moniker that’s not only super-generic but also a bit shite, especially as it really doesn’t reflect what they’re about at all. It’s a shame because ‘Ghost of Rome’ is decent. It’s not some lame rappy shite or laid-back bedroomy r ‘n’ b: it’s fundamentally a stripped-back psychedelic rock tune with a keen sense off dynamic and a palpable energy, meaning there’s a lot to like as they dig in with a lively and buoyant bass groove that’s got action and detail. It’s got a heavy 70s vibe about it and it kicks ass – but probably doesn’t need anymore cowbell, because everything is just right.

Click the image to listen:

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Dark heavy psych/doom group Lucid Grave has unleashed the “Old Spirit” music video, made by Dóri Halldórsson and Amanda Jensen. “Old Spirit” serves as the second song from the Copenhagen quintet’s debut album, Cosmic Mountain, which came out on 15 July via Electric Valley Records digitally and on four versions of vinyl (Test Press, Solid Yellow, Transparent Red Splatter Black Vinyl, Ultra LTD “Cosmic Edition”).

Lucid Grave Informs: “‘Old Spirit’ is a heavy psych rock song with influence from the early ’80s punk. The song is about a fast spacy universe in-between two worlds. The song is inspired by the lead singer’s days in the high desert in California. The desert heat is hard on everything and everyone. And the wind still tells stories of the Native Americans, the legends of desert rock, and the military base in the unforgiven sun.”

Watch the video here:

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Lucid Grave is a dark heavy psychedelic band with stoner-doomy tendencies from Copenhagen, Denmark. Sonically, Lucid Grave is a boiling pot of heavy fuzz rock like Black Sabbath/Coven/Hawkwind and ‘80s punk like Black Flag/The Nuns/The Gun Club, all wrapped up in a nice blanket of modern heavy stoner rock and doom. Honoring the howling occult cinema of the ‘80s, Lucid Grave finds inspiration in everything that’s heavy, filthy, and free!

They emerged from the underground communal house and punk venue Ungdomshuset in the dying days of 2017. A few months later, in 2018, they released a self-titled demo and spent the next few years playing shows around Denmark with bands such as High Priestess, Cities of Mars, The Gates of Slumber, and Heathe, while making more materials as well. In 2020 Copenhagen label Virkelighedsfjern released Lucid Grave’s EP called Goddess of Misery, a venture seriously disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak — which meant no shows for a while. That time was instead spent on writing materials for their first full-length album. In 2021 they released a single called “Surfer Bat,” an upbeat ‘70s heavy Rock song with a twist of gothic punk vibes and a dash of Latin music. It caught the attention of the Italian heavy psych label Electric Valley Records.

Cosmic Mountain, the debut LP of Lucid Grave, is a journey through your favorite drugs of life, the highs, and the lows, being chased through the desert and fighting a haze of demons. The album was recorded live and over-dubbed in just three days at the beginning of 2022. As it was with the previous single, “Surfer Bat,” Patrick Fragtrup was again behind the mixing board for the session, and it is clear that there has developed an understanding between him and the band as this record sounds both huge and fierce without losing any clarity or energy from the group. The project was finished by Shane Trimble of High Reeper at his California studio.

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27th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The multi-talented, multi-discipline and perhaps, sometimes, not-so-disciplined Benjamin Heal returns in his Cowman guise, under which he’s been operating since 2005 with a new EP, his first in a decade, after previous creative detours with Coaxial and various other projects.

Over the course of a sporadic and low-key career, li-fi, slackerist Cowman has – impressively, whether by fluke or by design – appeared on bills with a slew of cred cult acts, including Ack Ack Ack, Gum Takes Tooth, Cove, Pifco, and John Parish. These notable highlights are well-deserved, but it’s a pleasure to witness cowman making a comeback, instead of simply revelling over former achievements.

Crunch is a magnificently loose knockabout and if Pavement comparisons may seem lazy shortcuts, they’re also entirely justified. But then… then… there’s a whole lot more. The first track, ‘Concrete Eyes # Turpentine’ , with its inexplicable punctuation, starts out a fairly straightforward, if angular indie kicker in the vein of Slanted era Pavement, with wonky, off-kilter guitars that sound vaguely out of key, but then spins off into an epic swirling expanse of psychedelic post-rock. The whole thing is almost ten minutes long, drifting into a long, sluggish drone in the final minutes.

There’s an easygoing picked guitar line that contrasts with jittery drums on ‘Concrete pink Dots’ before the distortion kicks in, and it does so hard, creating a dense whorl of noise that almost buries the drums, until they surrender to the barrage of din, and we find ourselves drifting in a cloud of hazy shoegaze guitar. It’s mellow, but it’s loud, and that’s where the hypnotic ‘Bloody Diffuser’ picks up as it embarks on another ten-minute sonic journey, a slow-smouldering soundscape heavy on delay and reverb. Switching through a succession of segments, where the transitions are jolting, flicking changes rather than seamless transitions, it’s by turns doom drone and psychedelic drone, but ultimately, it’s all the drone – and that’s a good thing.

Ordinarily, two versions of one song on the same release feels a bit lazy, but then again, I spent the 90s buying singles on three formats in order to obtain all the versions and B—sides, and I have a hunch that Benjamin is also well-versed in the maxi-single and the like, and it so happens that the cropped version of ‘Tobacco Eyes’ that rounds it off actually feels like a single that had it been released circa 92 would have been lauded in the press as being in the vein of Pavement and Truman’s Water. And in fairness, that’s just as true in 2022.

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Venus Principle are premiering the melancholic and powerful new track ‘Drag Nets’ as the final single taken from the dark psychedelic rocker’s debut full-length Stand in Your Light, which has been scheduled for release on May 27.

‘Drag Nets’ makes subtle use of a wide range of instrumentation from sax to mellotron vibes and Mini Moog, and the stunning vocal chemistry between Daisy Chapman and Daniel Änghede comes into play again as well.

The band comment: “After the initial recording sessions for Stand in Your Light were postponed, we had a chance to write a few more songs”, guitarist Jonas Stålhammar tells. “The last one written was ‘Drag Nets’. It turned out to be by far the heaviest track on the album. ‘Drag Nets’ represents the waste and rejects of man. You can trawl the sea for food and treasure, but humankind will always carelessly discard all unwanted matter only for it to be rediscovered as flotsam and jetsam. The idea of adding saxophone was a last minute thought in the studio when I reached the conclusion that we had too many guitar solos on the album already. Our amazing guest on the saxophone, August Eriksson, copied my guitar solo note for note and then added some improvised sprinkles.”

Listen to ‘Drag Nets’ here:

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