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Old 10-04-2013, 11:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Temples, Hookworms and the new generation of psychedelic adventurers

Temples, Hookworms and the new generation of psychedelic adventurers
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Psychedelia is everywhere right now. There are original psychedelic bands making comebacks, and legions of young psychedelic bands, from Toy and Temples to Tame Impala. There is psychedelic celluloid, with an imminent biopic of guitar visionary Jimi Hendrix, starring André Benjamin of OutKast as the psychedelic dandy. There are psychedelic festivals, both in the UK and abroad, designed to showcase psychedelic talent, new and old, from across the globe. But it's not a surface culture of trippy hippies with flowers in their hair spreading the message of peace and love like we saw in 1967; it's about pockets of activity in every country, micro-scenes with a shared consciousness making contact via the web.
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Makes me happy.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriphiel View Post
Hmm, what's this in my pocket?

*epic guitar solo blasts into my face*

DAMN IT MONDO
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm going to bump this thread up because I just listened to the new Temples album Sun Structures. It's pretty good - not as catchy as Tame Impala but definitely lots of potential.
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Old 02-10-2014, 03:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've decided I'm going to use this thread as a place to review new (and recent) neo-psychedelia albums on an ad-hoc basis. I'm on my 2nd listen of Structures right now and will give a complete review of it later.

EDIT: I might also add occasional links to news stories about the current state of psychedelia.
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Alright here's my review of Sun Structures.

In my reviews I'm going to be a bit different from most music reviewers: I will focus almost exclusively on the music itself, almost totally ignoring the lyrics -- unless, for some reason, they jump out at me on a particular song. Lyrics are rarely important to me (half the time I can't even make out the words anyway, especially for a genre like psychedelia), so I'm not going to spend time trying to figure out what the song is saying.

I will also not write a review unless I've listened to an album at least 3 times.

Every album will start out with an overall impression. Then, each song will get a quick review/impression, and a rating on a 1-to-10 scale in red. At the end of the review, the album itself will get a 1-to-10 rating, plus an observation about what the album does to the World Psychedelic Music-O-Meter.

---------------------------------------------------

Grooveshark link to the album is here.



So here we have yet another retro-60's sounding psychedelic band advertised by some writers as sounding like the Beatles. Except that they don't sound like the Beatles at all - though the Zombies might be a better fit. Or sometimes the Byrds. Or, especially, the Yardbirds on For Your Love (without the harpsichord). But probably all of the above mixed together into one sound. Somewhat dreamy melodies meander over a fairly narrow vocal range which are backed by, typically, medium-tempo pop/rock arrangements. There is a certain sameness about many (most?) of the songs, but with enough variation so as to leave the listener feeling that only maybe 3 or 4 of the 12 songs sound a lot like other songs on the album. Of the 12 tracks, I find there are no I would call "great" or "outstanding," but there are 2 very good ones nestled next to each other in the middle of the album, one at the end of the album is different enough from the others to merit special mention, and all the other songs are "OK," or "good." There weren't any songs I found I wanted to skip.

The songwriting features some recurring melodic patterns the listener will pick up on quickly. The melodies are decent, but not what I would call "extremely catchy." Most, but not all, songs seem to have long-ish instrumental endings. The album is definitely a lo-fi recording (it was recorded in one of the band member's houses), but I find that to be a strength, not a weakness, as it adds to the retro appeal. There are no epic-length, 10-minute songs - this is definitely psych-pop, not High Art, though they arguably are more "rock" than, say, Tame Impala. But not by much.

Shelter Song: Probably the most retro-sounding song on the album. Sounds like early Byrds, Zombies, etc. circa 1965, down to the tone of the guitar riff. Almost like a pre-psychedelic piece. Main hook is a shout-and-echo routine with a dreamier-sounding refrain. Good opening song, upbeat tempo, really sets the tone for the album. 6

Sun Structures: This is a faster-paced, somewhat tense/nervous song, with a quick fuzz guitar riff interrupting quick-but-dreamy melody lines. Imagine For Your Love quick-processed by a computer with heavy reverb, fuzz guitar and a dreamier melody. The 2nd half of the song is largely instrumental. 5

The Golden Throne: This is a poppier tune with a somewhat slower pace and a somewhat more restrained arrangement. A fairly light melody line is occasionally interrupted with rather harsh, "monster-esque" guitar riff. Last lines of each verse just before refrain are very effective as a short harmonic section kicks in. Here is where I sense better songwriting to come. Song ends with a long, quiet organ line. 6.5

Keep in the Light: This could almost pass for a somewhat subdued/darker Monkees song. I'm almost imagining Davey Jones singing a bouncier tune in higher registers to the same arrangement, with the other Monkees kicking in during the refrain. Or maybe a subdued version of Love is Only Sleeping. 6

Mesmerise: The most interesting song yet. Almost more 80’s than 60’s. The slightest hint of Squeeze shows up here. Imagine "Pulling Mussels From the Shell" with a dreamier melody. And I've probably already over-used the word "dreamy" but it's the only good word for the sounds I'm hearing. 7

Move with the Season: Here we have the best song. Almost a Led Zeppelin, Kashmir-esque deliberate pace with heavy beats but an airy and dreamy melody (there's that word again!). Almost could be a big hit, but not quite. Melody and feeling very good, almost Tame Impala quality here. I'm getting the impression I could get more into this song with more listens. 8

Colours To Life: This sounds more like filler, similar to the other songs without standing out. Decent but not great melody. 6

A Question Isn’t Answered: Hard-driving, standard rock ¾ beat. Another decent but not great melody. I could swear I've heard at least 7 songs similar to this before. Maybe as many as 39. Still, it's listento-able. 7

The Guesser: Another faint hint of Squeeze here. Sort-of. I think if I listened to this album some more I'd find more (deliberate or not) Squeeze hints. But, this being (British) pop, the band is obviously borrowing from a tradition, of which Squeeze happens to be a prominent member. 6.5

Test of Time: Better melody than some other songs on the album, but still not a standout. Not filler, but not a main song either. Formula starts to get a bit tired here, even though the song is decent. Nice refrain. 7

Sand Dance: Big break in feeling here, acoustic opening, but quickly breaks into the same feeling/sound as the other songs. Seems like a missed opportunity ... 7

Fragment’s Light: ... Was the opening of the previous song a teaser for this one? Nice acoustic tune, nice melody to close out the album. Biggest problem with the song is it's too short! 8

----------------------------------

Final thoughts: This is good for a first album, though reading the band's bio on Wikipedia the two main band members had been members of previous bands, so they're not really newbies. This definitely isn't hard-core psychedelia, and I definitely wouldn't call them prog either, but I think they definitely fit into the "psychedelia light" category. I'll rate the album a 7.5.

"Move With the Seasons" is good-enough to merit its own Youtube link.

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Old 02-12-2014, 11:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I enjoyed reading that review! I too have been listening to this album repeatedly over the last 24 hours. I'm on my 3rd listen right now I think. I pretty much agree with the overall rating you have given. It's decent for a debut album but could be better.
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks Musikwala.

For my next review I'll be doing The Terror by the Flaming Lips. In contrast to Sun Structures retro sound, this is spacey psychedelia.

Not sure when I'll get to it. Soon.
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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At long last, my next review. Grooveshark link to the album is here (with some bonus or repeated tracks, I only reviewd the official tracklist as shown on Wikipedia).



This one didn't turn out to be as "psychedelic" as I thought upon my first glance through it. Instead it was more dark and spacey. But I suppose it was still a bit psychedelic - most likely like some bad acid trip - so I suppose it's a close-enough fit for this thread.

Anyway, if you like dark, moody, plodding, spacey stuff, this is your album. Nearly every song, sans the last one, is dark, moody, plodding and spacey. Frankly, I have nothing against dark, moody, plodding and spacey music. But when an entire album is filled with song after song in that category, I get tired of it. Quickly. After about 4-5 songs I found myself eager for the album to end. They're obviously going for a theme or 'concept album' here, but for me the incessant darkness was a bit overbearing.

Look...The Sun Is Rising: Here we have an airy, yet industrial opening song. Scratchy guitar riffs and occasional metallic ambient sounds back a somewhat spacy sounding melody at a moderate pace. Yet darkness prevails, obviously an introduction to an album entitled “Terror.” Not so much psychedelic as just a dark, moody song with some added effects. Good for an opening song given the mood it’s trying to establish, I’ll give it a 6.5.

Be Free, A Way: This is a slower-paced song. Nervous soft background beat against a very slow and deliberate melody sung in constant 1-beat, 3-beat pairs. Long, slow instrumental fade-out at the end. Even airier than the first song. Shades of Pink Floyd here a bit. Nice song, but nothing to write home about. 7.

Try to Explain: This song is similar to the one above except that there’s a bit of crescendo during the refrains. Otherwise you’ve got another nervous background beat set against a plodding and deliberate melody, plus some “spooky” background ambient noises added in. 6.

You Lust: When the opening of this song started the first thing I thought of was, “Kraftwerk.” Once the singing began it wasn’t so Kraftwerk-y, but was instead another slow, dark, moody, “spooky” tune. That said, several times the words “Lust to succeed” are spoken/whispered in a German accent, so maybe the Kraftwerk influence is there after all. Also it has a very minimalist, techno-synth vibe to it, not unlike the German band. I found the “Lust to succeed” a bit annoying. The last 2/3 of this 13+ minute song is mostly a couple of repeated dark synth segment with that “Lust to succeed” repeated once in a while. A couple brief singing segments kick in during the long coda, the last one of which vaguely reminds me of “O Fortuna” in Carmina Burana. 5.

The Terror: At last we have a faster-paced song. But not by much. Another dark, spacey song with a deliberately-paced melody and a long, drawn-out ending. 4.

You Are Alone: More of the same. Instead of repeating “Lust to succeed” as in two songs above, this time they’re repeating “You are alone” (or is it, “You’re not alone?” I can’t tell). At this point I’m only finishing the review because I’ve committed myself to doing so. 5.

Butterfly, How Long It Takes to Die: This is definitely a faster-paced one. And so far, it’s the “happiest” tune yet. But that’s not saying much. More industrial-sounding guitar punctuations with a somewhat faster, but still deliberate, melody and background synths. 6.5.

Turning Violent: Another slow, minimalist, dark, spacey and plodding song. Kinda what you might expect of a song entitled “Turning Violent.” Nothing new here. 4.

Always There...In Our Hearts: At last we have a genuinely fast and somewhat “upbeat” song. I suppose the lone song on this album like that had to be the last one, no? Can’t make out all the lyrics but it sounds like they’re actually pretty dark, maybe. Lots of solo synthesizer space. I’ll give this a 6.5 not because it’s a particularly interesting tune, but only because it’s a relief from the darkness of all the other songs.

-------------------------

Final thoughts: In the future I'm going to scrutinize albums a bit more before I commit to reviewing them. It's not a bad album with badly-written songs, per se, it's just over-repetitive and gives me the feeling of having over-dosed on some depressant. If that's your thing you'll like this album, but personally I'll give it a 5.5 overall rating.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Anyway, my tentative schedule for my next 3 reviews is as follows:

Cyclops Reap by White Fence
MGMT by MGMT
Hobo Rocket by Pond

Seems like a pretty good mix. First one is about as retro as you can get, second one is more modern but I already know I dislike it but will review it anyway () and last one is retro but not overly so.
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Last edited by DriveYourCarDownToTheSea; 03-30-2014 at 07:29 PM. Reason: Reap not Recap
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Old 03-11-2014, 01:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Another article on the current crop of psychedelia.

Weird Scene
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Sam Willis tries to make sense of the weird and wonderful world of Psychedelia - are we in the midst of yet another revival? If so why?



[...]

Anyway, preamble over – let’s get down to business. This feature (as you may have noticed) is about the phenomenon of psychedelia and its recent resurgence into popular music. Although psych has been floating around for decades since its inception in the 60s, the last five years or so has seen a massive increase in the kaleidoscopic genre. More notably bands like Tame Impala have made a real impact on the landscape of popular music, but there have also been many bands on the peripheries of the public eye who are making this psychedelic dream a reality.

Unfortunately for you (and me) known associate of Tame Impala and member of fellow Aussie outfit POND, Nick Albrook was out on official tie-dying business when I tried to wrangle him for an interview, but never fear darlings, for you (and just for you) I managed to get my hands on the mysterious Goat from Sweden and their buddies Hills, as well as Dead Meadow’s Steve Kille and exciting Carlisle buzz band, The Lucid Dream. One of the first things that I really wanted to know about this recent resurgence of psych is about its influences. A bit of a boring and perhaps predictable question I know, but necessary in finding out what motivates this revival has – do the warped experiments of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Byrds, The Yardbirds and the Krautrock movement still rattle in the skulls of contemporary psych bands, or is there something else?

[...]
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