It might only be March, but already it has been a vintage year for lovers of wonky sixties influenced pop aka psych.
Last year’s great hope, Jacco Gardner, has already treated us to a very fine album that delivers on the promise of his exceptional early singles. While Robyn Hitchcock, the spiritual godfather of British psych has turned out an album that rivals the best music he has ever made.
And then there’s an American band Foxygen, who might just be the best 60s influenced band that country has produced since The Strokes and The White Stripes.
Here then are 10, ok 8, great albums from this year plus a couple from the tail end of last year. Spotify new Psych playlist – which features many of the bands – below the pics.
If you want more then here are the top 15 Psych albums from last year
Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.
And so to the album that already is a shoe in for album of the year - and it only March remember. Put simply Foxygen are, IMO, the best American band, since oooh The Strokes. Their debut EP, Take the Kids Off Broadway, was fun but their new album which came out a few weeks ago, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, I do not think will be bettered this year. It really is that exceptional. Admittedly ace producer Richard Swift has shorn the band of some of their quirkiness, but by making them focus on the songs themselves, and the superbly clever arrangements, he has done them a huge favour. That isn’t to say you haven’t heard some of the music before. But this is no Oasis style slavish homage to long gone musical era. For me the band’s spiritual forbears are the incredible US psych band The United States of America, a band whose only album drew heavily on all manner of American music – from classical through to gospel and folk – to create what was for the time an astonishingly ambitious record. And so it is with Foxygen. There’s a whiff of Elvis here, a Dylan touch there. I can also make out snatches of cult acts like The Music Machine (in On Blue Mountain) and The Zombies too. But even if moments of the songs sound familiar the tracks themselves are utterly unique and never ever short of incendiary. Best tracks? Well all of them. But you have to love the opener In The Darkness for its Magical Mystery Tour era Beatles sunny optimism and Shuggie for its really clever structure and killer chorus. And then there’s No Destruction already infamous for its line – ‘You don’t have be an asshole you are not in Brooklyn any more,’ pay off line. In San Francisco (see above) they have a gorgeous tune that sounds like Syd Barrett fronting Belle & Sebastian. Also in an era of faceless musicians, frontman Sam France has the swagger, the self-belief and the hair to rival Jacco Gardner as the poster boy for a new generation of psych acts Just pray that the don’t do a Strokes and piss any momentum they had away by hanging out with models and starring in lame fashion shoots.