Well I think I can safely declare Spain and The Chemistry Set as winners of the inagural Eurovision Psych Contest. They finished well clear of Beaulieu Porch – flying the Union Jack – in second and The Sudden Death of Stars from France who finished third just ahead of Switzerland’s Balduin.
Thanks to everyone who voted. All the bands are great – unlike the real thing…
As you are very probably aware Eurovision hits our screens yet again this weekend and after of hours of listening to fluffy, camp pop drivel the continent’s nations then try outdo each other in some fantastic politically motivated polling.
In my book Sweden should pretty much always win. Not only because they have the best tunes, but every one loves those Swedes don’t they?
Anyway much more fun is this year’s inaugural Eurovision Psych Contest where space rockers, shoegazers and lysergic pop gymnasts from across the continent battle each other for this year’s award.
So without further ado here are the entrants for this year. I realty don’t give a fig if you vote for your own country, or even the one next to you. It is all down to you.
**Update** This is just a bit of fun and all the bands featured are excellent, so support them all. I will announce a winner on Saturday at about 10PM GMT. So you can vote until then.
Belgium - Bed Rugs – This is their new single Yawn from the excellent newly released album Rapids.
France – The Sudden Death Of Stars - Supernovae . Heavy on the sitar and smelly cheese from the Rennes based psychsters whose debut album soon on Ample Play is a wonderful stew of all things 60s.
Germany – Rockandys - Jungle In The Sky – Scary sounding gothic Psych from the Anton Newcombe approved band. I know they don’t all come from Germany, but do you really think this woman came from Luxembourg?
The Netherlands – Jacco Gardner – Chameleon – The Dutch Boy Wonder with one of many gems from his Cabinet Of Curiosities album
Spain – The Chemistry Set - Come Kiss Me Vibrate And Smile – Fine new-ish single from the Barcelona-based Anglo-Catalan band
Sweden – The Greek Theatre – Lost Out At Sea -Overprotection Doesn’t Work From the ace new album Lost Out At Sea
Switzerland – Balduin - My Love Soon – Gorgeous Symphonic pop from the Swiss fella.
UK – Beaulieu Porch – Anno Domini. The stand out track from Salisbury’s very own Mark Wirtz.
It has been three long years since The Len Price 3 issued their fabulous Pictures album, so it really exciting to hear the first track from the band’s upcoming, as yet untitled, new album.
Maggie, is as you might have guessed, a non-tribute to the recently departed ex-PM and if you are in any doubts where the boys stand on Thatcher the pay off line is ‘see you again on judgement day.’
I wonder if they recorded this very recently or if it has been in the can for a while. Anyhow great tune and much better than other Thatcher protest songs we could mention.
Another big fave here this week is the track Merry Go Maggie (which may or may not be the most bizarre Thatcher song yet – I haven’t decided) from LA’s Smoking Trees. The band has recently signed to the brilliant Ample Play Records, who have got The Sufis, excellent Belgian band The Bed Rugs and French psychsters The Sudden Death Of Stars, and their album Acetates is due in May.
This track sounds like a refugee from one of those Piccadilly Sunshine compilations given a contemporary spin. The album is very trippy in places yet has a strong pop edge to it. If you like The Sufis and Paperhead, then you’ll enjoy this too.
Also out this week is the second album from Salisbury’s psych band Beaulieu Porch - We Are Beautiful. I’ll review it properly later this week, but after a couple of plays I can safely say that if you loved the debut album you’ll find plenty to cherish here too.
Also on constant rotation here is the upcoming album from “>London’s Shadow Kabinet - Nostalgia For The future. It is very different from the band’s last album – the Sgt Pepper in miniature that was Smiling World’s Apart, but every bit as good.
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.
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.
Here at Brandish Towers we are huge psych fans. From the bonkers nursery rhymes on acid tunes of early Floyd through to the dream pop melange that is The Horrors we can’t get enough of it.
Here then are our favourite Psychedelic albums of 2012. It does of course beg the question what exactly is Psychedelia?
Literally it is mind expanding music which over time has come to be associated with bands in thrall to its golden age of the late 60s.
These days it has become more of a catch all term though for bands who take mind expanding music from the past (Kraut Rock, Shoegazing, Dream pop and even a bit of prog) and give it a contemporary spin.
This year has all been about the huge success of Tame Impala. They are, however, the tip of a very large iceberg. Labels like Trouble In Mind in the US and Ample Play in the UK as well mags like Shindig and blogs like The Active Listener show just how exciting and diverse the psych scene currently is.
Here then are our favourite 15. What have we missed? Tell us in the comments. Spotify playlist below too.
The second album from Brooklyn's biggest Floyd fans, Paint Me A Dream is a wonderfully trippy listen that incorporates elements of psych, early prog and kraut rock. The stand out track, Rippled also has a whiff of The Church's epic Priest=Aura opus, while Translucent Lucy is prime Brit 60s psych pop. Only available via bandcamp (and on vinyl too) at the moment.
It is almost the end of the year so time to start compiling those best of 2012 lists, and to kick things off we thought we ‘d take a look at the best debut albums.
There has been an explosion of great new guitar bands this year. From Alabama Shakes in the States through to Sweden’s bizarrely monikered Goat, the new breed are playing intelligent, tough but catchy pop songs, often rooted in the past but given a very contemporary spin by mixing and matching musical genres and trends.
Here then is our top ten. In no particular order. They are all available on Spotify. And you can hear a selection of the tracks on our playlist under the image.
Everyone's new favourite purveyors of Americana, The Alabama Shakes southern fried soul is one of the most exciting sounds of 2012 and in I Found You they might just have released its most perfect single
In case you hadn’t noticed there is a bit of a psychedelic revival going on at the moment. and it isn’t just garage bands cranking up the feedback or janglemeisters going a little woozy. This is proper psychedelia in all its technicolour glory.
As the pop historians among you know, the first psych era started in 1966 with tracks like The Byrds’ Eight Miles High and The Fabs’ Tomorrow Never Knows which took basic beat pop and freaked it out by all manner of weird effects and musical influences. By 1970 psych was all but over as the wigged out pop got replaced by light and fluffy bubblegum pop for the kids and pretentious prog nonsense for their older siblings. Of course there were still bands like this lot that fell between the cracks, but psychedelia became about as fashionable as music hall.
Punk’s year zero approach meant that psych, like every other 60s and 70s musical form, was the uncool preserve of a previous generation – which given that The Sex Pistols loved Psych bands like The Creation and The Small Faces – was a little uncharitable.
The first psych revival really took place in the UK in the early 80s throwing up this mob – who even scored a genius novelty single – and the decade’s best kept secret Miles Over Matter, who recorded some amazing swirly pop songs but never managed to release a single or an album.
A few years later musicians from big alternative acts like The Smiths. The Bangles and REM began to plunder the late 60s for musical ideas, while at the same time a hardcore garage psych scene that strove to be authentic to the original 60s sound began to emerge. Then you had The Stone Roses who’d clearly read ever word in the psych textbook and whose debut album might just be the first psych record to really rival the music from the first psych era.
The new psych bands
And so to today. Bands like The Sufis and Paperhead from Nashville, Alfa 9 and Beaulieu Porch from England and individuals like Holland’s Jacco Gardner have set the controls for the heart of the sun delivering prime Barrett-esque psych. And then there’s the elder statesmen. Have you heard the new Brian Jonestown Massacre album - it doesn’t get a lot more psych than that?
Then there’s the band that are the torchbearers of the new era – Australia’s Tame Impala. Trippy as anything, but very BBC 6 Music friendly, the band have released a pair of brilliant albums and even sold out Brixton’s Academy this week.
Quite why this is happening is a mystery. Maybe it is just bands have become bored of recycling all those early 80s bands, and the Brooklyn mob, who have appropriated C86 sounds – arguably the most British music trend since Skiffle – have found it just a little too one dimensional.
Another point is that the sound and the equipment of the 60s can now be replicated with Garageband, so all those weird phasing motifs and kitchen sink style production is available to anyone who can work their way round a Mac.
Then there’s the influence of Shindig magazine, whose ever increasing circulation means that a whole generation of pop fans are discovering classic, and often ultra obscure, 60s bands as well as getting to read about the new bands.
Anyhow, enough of the theory. Here’s a quick trawl through some incredible new music.
The Sufis – come from Nashville and have just released one hell of a Pink Floyd-esque album. It is utterly addictive. The single Where Did She Go, is prime trippy 60s Brit psych with a hint of the Three O’ Clock. Marvellous, and it is on Spotify too. Paperhead share the same manor and many of the same influences as The Sufis and their debut was one of the highlights of last year.
Jacco Gardner – Jacco is a Dutch bloke who is obsessed with making beautiful multi-layered psych using unusual instruments. His first single – Clear The Air – was stunning. This current one Where Will You Go, is almost as good.
Alfa 9 – Signed to Blow Up Records this Stoke-based band have just issued their second album, Gone To Ground, which boasts some gorgeous floaty psych as well as jangly stuff like this. It is on Spotify too.
Beaulieu Porch - Multi-instrumentalist Simon Berry has just delivered two truly great albums in less than six months. It is like Nick Nicely’s Hilly Fields or even Tears For Fears’ Sowing The Seeds turned up the max. Also on Spotify.
The See See - It would be very rude not to mention this London band who have just issued a superb Byrdsie album which contains this corking single.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Who, IMO have produced the album of the year so far. If you like breathy 60s pop as practised by Ivy and The Postmarks, but with a load of weird effects and time changes this is for you. Working in similar territory are The Hall of Mirrors and The Still Corners, two wonderful English bands.
We shouldn’t forget the Welsh psych bands, the best of which, Colorama, recently issued this cracking album.
Finally, honorable mentions go to The Sunchymes (think Beach Boys meets Syd Barrett), The Soundcarriers (whose two superb album mix easy listening, kraut rock and 90s indie), Toy (BBC 6 Music faves) and The Chemistry Set (who are keeping the early 90s psych flame alive).
And here’s quite a few of those bands in one Spotify playlist