If you like a Beatley melody, some twangy guitar, a smidgen of sitar and the odd bonkers middle eight 2013 has been a vintage year so far. The rush of new psych bands that emerged in 2012 has blossomed into a worldwide movement. And it isn’t all about 60 re-treads. Some of the new bands are clearly inspired by this mob and at the same time borrow as much from 80s bands like these and these as they are from the 60s originals.
Here then are my ten favourite psych albums of the year so far. The superb Bed Rugs and Morgan Delt don’t make the cut as their offerings are more EPs than albums. I also have thing for the new albums from Suede, Bill Ryder Jones, Still Corners and Jagwar Ma, but none are really psych enough to make the cut. And as for the new Darren Hayman album - well that is something else…
There’s loads to come too with The Soundcarriers, Len Price 3, Morgan Delt, Balduin and others all promising new albums by the end of the year. You lucky people!
2 Foxygen - We Are The Twenty First Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s debut EP, Take the Kids Off Broadway, was fun but their proper debut album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is really quite astonishing. 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 - one very clever Twitter mate described this as the best episodes of Stars In Their Eyes ever! Yet this is no Oasis style slavish homage to long gone musical era. For me the band’s spiritual forebears 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.