Category: psychedelic rock

Death By Chocolate “Death By Chocolate″ 2001. Siesta Records (Spanish import) on chocolate colored vinyl (of course). Mary Quant-esque 60′s swinging London psychedelic art rock: a mix of spoken word/poetry “vocals” – think Nico but with less singing and icy Germanic vibes and more poppy English schoolgirl poetry recitation (Angela Faye Tillet, Death By Chocolate’s vocalist, was a teen she recorded this album and possibly lifted the lyrics from her grammar school inspiration notebook) – plink-plunk organ and a breezy air of mod paisley – see “The Land of Chocolate” in particular (“Kit Kats…mmmmm, crunch. Instant satisfaction.”). It’s really weird and really cool. Death By Chocolate (the band) was formed by British indie pop A&R man Mike Always, who got Tillet (at the time 19 years old and working as hotel chambermaid), Matty Green from Boyracer, producer/composer Jermey Butler and John Austin together to record Death By Chocolate. The instrumentation would be right at home on any early Pink Panther soundtrack (like “Daddy’s Out of Focus”). My top tracks include “Magpie,” “My Friend Jack” (a cover originally by Smoke), “Ice Cold Lemonade” (great 60′s organ on this one), “Rainbow With ‘a’ Underneath & an Elephant” (a song as loopy as the title would indicate) and “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” a Cat Stevens cover (which completely endeared me to the record) that is really the only song that Tillet actually sings on, sounding a bit like Meg White.

Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin “Reverse Shark Attack” In the Red Records (reissued in 2012, originally pressed by Kill Shaman Records, 2009). Heavily fuzzed, psychedelic noisy garage punk and it’s so so good. Side A is jam-packed with seven fairly short, punchy and loud tracks; my favorites are “Wear Black,” “Drop Dead Baby,” “Doctor Doctor” and “Bikini Babes” (that last one so excellently 60′s psych-garage inspired) – all are totally danceable. Also great is Segall and Cronin’s cover of Pink Floyd’s 1967 “Take Up Thy Stethescope and Walk” – it’s completely insane. Side B has just one very long song, the title track “Reverse Shark Attack” which is just as nuts: distorted vocals, 60′s pop melodies, loping to crashing rhythms, abrupt tempo changes and general psychedelic freak-outs. Segall and Cronin grew up together in Laguna Beach, California (Cronin was born in ‘85 and Segall in ‘87) and while Segall is now probably the better known of the pair, Cronin’s resume is pretty impressive: he’s been in Segall’s backing band (working on SlaughterhouseEmotional Mugger, Ty Segall and Freedom’s Goblin), Thee Oh Sees (on Drop), Okie Dokie and others besides issuing four of his own solo albums. 

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin | Warner Records | 2019 | “Mustard” Yellow

The Demon’s Claws “The Defrosting of…” 2010. In The Red Records. Dark and psychedelic garage punk with some chunks of country-blues via Montreal, The Defrosting of… was The Demon’s Claws’ fifth full-length release, their second on In The Red, and I’m pretty sure the first I bought after hearing the record’s opening track “Fed From Her Hand” which is creepy, sparse and really great. I also like the spaghetti-western tinged “Mona’s Lunch,” the hard and fast rocking “Laser Beams,” the crisp and punchy “At the Disco,” and the Rolling Stones-ish (Sticky Fingers-era) “Anny Lou” (though they take that country-blues trashed twang too far on the tracks “Fucked on Ketamine” and “Weird Ways” which I really don’t like). Though overall I like the sparse, lo-fi trashy sound of The Demon’s Claws, I have to admit that it does get kinda stale with an entire listen-through, like every song feels that it is a rehash of the one that went before it or they’re all in the same key – that’s not actually the case but somewhere in there a palette-cleanser of a track is needed. 

Has a Shadow “Sorrow Tomorrow” 2017. Fuzz Club Records, limited edition on red vinyl. Psychedelically dark wave, Has a Shadow is two-piece from Mexico; if they recorded this in the late 70′s or 80′s, they would have felt right at home with the post-punk goth rockers of that era (Joy Division, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy). This is my first listen of Sorrow Tomorrow as Joe just picked this record this past weekend and so far I’m fairly intrigued. It’s the band’s second LP and has some similarity to dark stoner-rock bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (especially the late-night driving tune “Cul de Sac”) as the music is very dense and trance-like but the prominent 60′s psychedelic organ gives it a bit more for the ear to grab onto and not totally fall asleep, even though I can’t understand anything (more because of the growling voice than any language issues). I especially like the opener “Sorrow” and the rockers “The Flesh,” “Attack of the Junkie” and “Not Even Human.” Some tracks go a little too shoe-gazey for more taste, like “Vampire Kiss” and “Horror Will Grow” (those titles alone reinforcing any doubt as to their goth influence). The recording quality with all the fuzzed out guitar, psych synths and beats is also surprisingly good considered that Sorrow Tomorrow was at least partially recorded at vocalist/guitarist/organist Daniel Graciano’s home. There was some question about keeping this record or letting it go – my vote: it stays. 

Death Valley Girls “Darkness Rains” 2018. Limited edition yellow with red splatter, Suicide Squeeze Records. We picked up what I believe is DVG’s third LP this past weekend at Romanus Records Fest in Indianapolis where they headlined the jam-packed (15 bands!) evening lineup. Hard driving, punkish garage rock with nods to the darkness of goth and touches of neo-psychedelia via organ and lead guitarist Larry Schemel (who on stage was kinda relegated to the background, allowing the Girls to shine up front, mostly with huge smiles on their faces during the entire set). 

We were able to grab the set-list, excellently illustrated: 

DVG played several tracks from Darkness Rains, many of them my favorite on the album. They led off with “Abre Camino,” an intensely dark and throbbing scorcher that is the first track on Side B. From Darkness Rains also is the high octane rocker “Street Justice,”  the hypnotic “More Dead,” “Disaster (Is What We’re After)” which features Iggy Pop eating a hamburger while jamming out to the song’s beat in its video (spoiler: he clearly loves ketchup), and my top track, “Wear Black” upon which lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Bonnie Bloomgarden pulls out some amazing psychedelic organ. 

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band “Trout Mask Replica” released 50 years ago today, June 16th, 1969. Limited edition reissue on “fruitcake fish-scale colored vinyl,” Third Man Records/Bizarre Records. Produced by Frank Zappa, Trout Mask Replica was Captain Beefheart’s (Don Van Vliet) third studio album and it’s a crazy psychedelic, experimental – really an undefinable collection of sounds influenced by garage rock, free jazz, blues and a dash (more than a dash) of insanity. Captain Beefheart is well out of my musical purview so to sum up this LP that is hailed by many as a masterpiece and one of the best records of all-time, I’ll quote today’s article in Rolling Stone by David Fricke. “[Trout Mask Replica] still sounds like a tomorrow that has not arrived, a music created at a crossroads of sound and language so far distant it continues to defy definitive summation and universal translation. Guitars jut out at improbably severe angles in ice-pick treble, like broken bones slicing through skin. The drumming comes in a rush of agendas, U-turn spasms of loose-limbed time and tempo under melodies which, in turn, feel like they are yet only partially born, still evolving in sense and structure. The singing is another primal logic altogether, an extreme in octaves and sustain that goes from hellhound bass to wracked falsetto, the pictorial cut-up frenzy of the lyrics run through archaic Delta-blues vernacular…On Trout Mask Replica, breaking through the limits of coherence and cohesion already reset in the wide-open liberty of rock in the late Sixties, Van Vliet and his greatest Magic Band — guitarists Bill Harkleroad and Jeff Cotton, bassist Mark Boston, clarinetist Victor Hayden and drummer John French — established new margins of personal, idiosyncratic expression, much as the Velvet Underground did for drone, minimalism and literary transgression….Everyone with a copy of Trout Mask Replica has a story of walking into it for the first time, typically in disbelief. ‘I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever heard,’ the cartoonist Matt Groening admitted in the 1997 BBC documentary, The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart. ‘It was just a sloppy cacophony,’ he went on, until the ‘sixth or seventh’ listen when ‘it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard.’ In his original rave review of Trout Mask Replica in Rolling Stone, published in July, 1969, Lester Bangs initially admitted that “the rhythms and melodic textures jump all over the place … Given a superficial listening, they seem boring and repetitious.’ But as he reaffirmed a decade later, in a 1980 article in The Village Voice, Trout Mask Replica was ‘not even ‘ahead’ of its time in 1969. Then and now,” Bangs insisted, ‘it stands outside time, trends, fads, hypes … constituting a genre unto itself.’ That album ‘reinvented from the ground up rhythm, melody, harmonics, perhaps what our common narrow parameters have defined as music itself.’”

Bevis and Twink “Magic Eye” 1990. Woronzow Records. A prog-psych-garage collaboration by Twink (drummer for Pretty Things, Pink Fairies, Stars – with Syd Barrett – in the 60′ and 70′s and solo work since) and the Bevis Frond aka Nick Saloman (prolific songwriter and guitarist, head of Woronzow Records, active from the 80′s til present day). Magic Eye is a combo of trippy, spacey soundspaces (ie the brief instrumental “Eclipse” or the much longer jam “Gryke”) and hard rock, like my favorite track “Flying Igloos” as well as “Black Queen” (60′s garage meets Black Sabbath) and “Fractured Sky” where Twink lays down thundering beats over which Saloman wails and growls out weird-ass lyrics (“we’re sucking on our mutant fruit”) and throws in nuggets of heavy-metal though virtuosic tinged guitar solos. 

Hawkwind – Space Ritual. United Artists, 1973.

A live double album recorded in Liverpool and Brixton. It has a large foldout sleeve and the records came in these printed inner sleeves.

Lenny of Motorhead fame was with the band at this time.

Japanese psychedelic rock, gotta luv it! 😃