Tag Archives: psychedelic

Your 420 Post: Argent, “Liar”

It’s not like I’m obligated to post one, but if you were expecting a 420 friendly tune, then the following should serve nicely.

After the lackluster sales of Odessey and Oracle, one of our favorite misspelled albums, The Zombies tragically dissolved. Distinctive vocalist Colin Blunstone left to work in the insurance industry for a little while before ultimately returning to music, but keyboardist/song-writer/sometime-vocalist Rod Argent quickly formed his own band, Argent, which would go on to release several albums throughout the early seventies.

Several tracks off the 1970 self-titled debut would sound right at home on an Odessey and Oracle follow-up, for example, “Schoolgirl,” “Dance in the Smoke,” and “The Feelings Inside.” All are very highly recommended.

"Come right in! Your keys go in that bowl there. We were just listening to Argent on our Koss headphones. It's 1970."

But then there’s a track like “Liar,” which would turn into a much bigger hit for Three Dog Night when they covered it that same year.  It is not like the Zombies, but I like it. To begin with, the driving blues riff sounds more like something Alvin Lee was doing around that time with Ten Years After, but there’s also an edge that, to me, makes it way more of a freak-out than anything the Zombies did together.


Argent, “Liar”

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Tripping Through Vanguard’s Vaults

Tomorrow, April 16, is the fifth annual Record Store Day, so be sure to run out and support your local record store whether it’s a.k.a. Music in old city, Repo on South St, tequila sunset or milkcrate records up on Girard, or whatever.

To celebrate the occasion, Vanguard Records has dug deep in its vaults and come out with Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970), a two-disc compilation of mostly single album artists from that golden, paisley age.

Tracks range from the Hammond-soaked agnosticism of Listening’s “Stoned Is” (It’s a mean life / I mean, you don’t even know why you scream / but someday I’ll find out what I’ve got to say) to the more experimental, thirteen minute raga-rock vision-quest (complete with electric banjo) of Serpent Power’s “Endless Tunnel,” a personal favorite that exchanges the blue bus of The Doors’ “The End” for a mysterious passenger train headed for death or conformity or something.

Here is “Stoned Is” for your enjoyment.  If the bass sounds a bit familiar (solo starts at 3:20), it’s because Walter Powers would later be known to hold the groove for the (moderately more successful) Velvet Underground.

Listening, “Stoned Is”

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(Sorta) Sunday Church Music: Bardo Pond

Jesus is coming, and unlike some people, Bardo Pond is willing to wait.

That’s pretty much the gist of “Don’t Know About You,” the single off their recent self-titled release.  For an s/t, it’s been a long time coming.  Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond has been playing and recording muddy, scary acid rock for over 2 decades now.  I saw them play a free show at Kung Fu Necktie a few years ago, and even without drugs they were a trip.  This latest album is a heavy dose: a distillation of the genre that peaks somewhere during the outer-space blues of “Undone,” a 21 minute track that recalls the pioneering heavy psych of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” which also makes for pretty great (sorta) church music.


Bardo Pond, “Dont Know About You” [Amazon]

Funkadelic, “Maggot Brain” [Amazon]

Tangential Update: just saw this video via Gawker’s scifi blog io9.  A housewife in 1956 is “treated” with LSD.  Most unintentionally funny line: “Everything is in color.”

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Upcoming Shows: Tame Impala at the First Unitarian Church

As the Noise Narc most likely to use the “psychedelic” tag (especially since Dave misspells it “psychadelic”), I’ve been remiss in waiting this long to post a track from what is very possibly the best psychedelic album of 2010, Tame Impala’s debut Innerspeaker.

The Western Australian four-piece has made quite a splash this year, and if Pitchfork hadn’t been so glowing about them, I probably would have posted a review of my own a long time ago.  I stupidly resisted listening to the album because Pitchfork is not the boss of me.  Yet as St. Augustine wrote, “what a fool I was then.”  Seriously, folks, it’s good.  Also, while I’m going to post the single, “Solitude is Bliss,” bear in mind that Innerspeaker is a whole album and that’s how you’re supposed to listen to it.

They’re going to be playing the First Unitarian Church  in Philadelphia this Sunday at 7:30.  Tickets are $12.

On a side note, the latest R5 Productions email notification calls Tame Impala “a more poppy, fun version of Dungen” and Passion of the Weiss made a similar comparison to the Swedish prog outfit back in July:

I love the Tame Impala record, but let’s be honest with ourselves: they’re essentially a poor man’s Dungen fronted by a guy with an uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon on “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Having listened to the latest from Dungen, this year’s Skit I Allt, I can definitely see the resemblance, but if only one of these albums is going to be on my top ten, it’ll be the one from down under.

Tame Impala, “Solitude is Bliss” [Buy Innerspeaker]

Dungen, “Barnen Undrar” [Buy Skit I Allt]

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Turkey Daze

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  The leaves have been stretching themselves out to catch as many timid autumn rays as possible before turning brittle and brown.  Pilsners and IPAs are giving way to porters and stouts.  Perhaps the hopes of Philadelphia sports fans, ultimately dashed by our beloved Phillies, are beginning to get up again, so that the Eagles may ultimately dash them.

And Americans from coast to coast are preparing to commemorate something by surrounding themselves with family to watch football, talk politics, and (most importantly) gorge themselves stupid with the year’s bountiful harvest.  We’ll feast upon all of the side dishes that made this country great and help ourselves to serving after serving of my least favorite poultry.

Except that this post isn’t about that kind of turkey, it’s about the country that Allen Iverson, strangely, now calls home.  Haha.  Bait and switch.

This past summer, Bouzouki Joe records released Turkish Freakout, an excellent and well-researched compilation of 1970s psych-folk singles, such as Ersen’s 1973 hit, “Gunese Don Cicegim.”

Check it out:

Turkey is often referred to as the meeting point between East and West, a statement verified by this selection of choice Turkish grooves. The western rock, psych, funk and jazz influences that began to be incorporated into traditional Turkish sounds during the late 60s and 70s can be heard here, as the Anadolu pop sound of Turkeyma balanced these new elements with the complex sounds and rhythms developed over many years. All tracks are referenced from their original 7 inch releases, painstakingly tracked down from various sources in and around Istanbul. The marriage of these styles is original, captivating and bound to freak you out.

Ersen, “Gunese Don Cicegim” [Buy Turkish Freakout]

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Singles Mixer II: I like dreams, except when they're scary.

If, as mine is, thy life a slumber be,
Seem, when thou read’st these lines, to dream of me…
–John Donne

I haven’t had much time for posting lately, so I thought I’d throw a bunch of tracks at you at once.  Today’s theme is: Dreams.

Totem Pole, from West Palm Beach, FL, released an EP titled Caves and Tunnels, Mountains and Stairs (streamable and downloadable here) way back in July, but for some stupid reason I’m only finding out about it now.

Totem Pole, “Voyeuristic Tradition”

Nothing too scary about that.  In fact, it’s sort of soothing in a psychedelic, early Pink Floyd-meets-the Beach Boys kind of way.  But that’s about to change.

This next track is off the Resident’s 2008 release, Bunny Boy.  Like every Residents’ release, it was a weird concept album.  Bunny Boy is about a Non compos mentis friend of the Residents, who enlists the band’s help to track down his apocalypse-obsessed brother, Harvey, who may or may not actually exist, but whom Bunny Boy claims has disappeared on the island of Patmos, where St John of Patmos authored the Book of Revelations.  I saw this album performed at the Trocadero in 2009.  It was…a trip.

The Residents, “Fever Dreams” [Buy Bunny Boy]

Sleep tight; don't let the bedbugs (thanks a lot NYC) bite. (Image from an episode of The Outer Limits, "The Zanti Misfit".)

Pretty weird.  Fortunately, the next track isn’t scary, exactly.  If I were Jennifer Lopez in The Cell, there would definitely be worse dreams to walk into than Gary Wilson’s.  It would be a pretty awkward scene, though.  Wilson released You Think You Really Know Me in 1977, but never made much of a splash until Odelay-era Beck cited him as an influence.  Since then he’s developed a significant cult following, and in a surprise twist is now poised to release a brand new album, Electric Endicott, in November.

Gary Wilson, “When You Walk into My Dreams” [Buy You Think You Really Know Me]

He’ll be performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this Wednesday, Oct. 27, backed by the Roots.  I’m pretty excited for it.

Lastly, because it’s the weekend, here’s a Billy Ocean classic.  Decide for yourself whether it’s scary or not.

Billy Ocean, “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” [Buy Billy Ocean – Greatest Hits]

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…but a lot of nostalgia has hurt plenty of people.

After 12 years of solo projects, stints with other bands, and oblivion, the four original members of Soundgarden have finally reunited this summer to perform in Lollapalooza and record a brand new song, “Black Rain,” to top off the 2-disc retrospective compilation, Telephantasm, released last week.

Soundgarden’s catalog (particularly the last three albums: Badmotorfinger (1991), Superunknown (1994), and Down on the Upside (1996)) is quite likely the most foundational musical text of my life.  If you disagree with any of my musical opinions, it’s probably because your tastes were not also formed by listening to Soundgarden.

In highschool, if I was learning to play a snippet of a song on guitar, it was a snippet of a Soundgarden song.

The first website I ever put together was an aol-hosted Soundgarden fansite.

Chris Cornell has the same first name and the same birthday as me.

And it’s not just music.  When I first bought Down on the Upside, it was the summer before sophomore year of high school, and Homer’s The Odyssey was the assigned summer reading (we had been given a terrible, terrible, prose translation).  The album and the epic will forever be associated in my memory.  Any track off the album makes me think of Odysseus trying to return home, and any reference to Calypso, Scylla, Charybdis, Sirens, etc. has Chris Cornell’s vocal backing.

To fully excavate the influence Soundgarden has had on me would require a post longer than the one I’m willing to write or you to read.  But please allow Telephantasm‘s release to suffice as an excuse for me to share with you a representative sample of the soundtrack of my early teenage years.

Soundgarden, “Rusty Cage” [Buy Badmotorfinger]

Soundgarden, “Head Down” [Buy Superunknown]

Soundgarden, “Boot Camp” [Buy Down on the Upside]

Soundgarden, “Black Rain” [Buy Telephantasm]

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New Music Tuesdays: the Black Angels, "Telephone"

Back at the end of June, when the Black Angels leaked “Bad Vibrations,” the first single off their upcoming third full-length album, I marked Sept 14 on my calendar.  Phosphene Dream is out today and right now they’re streaming the whole thing free from their website.

If you are a fan of the psychedelic sounds of the late 60s/early 70s, and I believe it has been conclusively demonstrated (with graphs!) that we are, then do yourself a favor and check out their performance on David Letterman of a song thematically similar to but in most other ways quite different from “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

Here’s the album version:
The Black Angels, “Telephone” [Buy]

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"When I close my eyes, I see cartoons playing in the darkness of my mind, so I usually write about those."*

The Smiles and Frowns have been enjoying favorable and apt comparisons to such psych-folk architects as Syd Barrett and White Album era Beatles in the year or so since the release of their debut self-titled album.  The Phoenix, AZ duo themselves describe their sound as:

…a bit of a mix.  There are haunted train ride songs, and children’s theme music songs, psychedelic science fiction songs etc. I guess it’s mostly just a collection of experiments in sound, patterns, and melodies. (The Urbanian, 3/9/2009)

Whatever it is, I’m liking it and so is UK label, akoustik anarkhy, who are giving The Smiles and Frowns an official re-release this month.  The 25 minute long mini-album ranges in tone from a playful and aloof track about a bird named Sam to a creepy, instrumental waltz titled “March of the Phantom Faces.”   It’s tough to pick a favorite, in part because the 8 tracks, as distinct from each other as they are, hang together so well.  But here’s one of the more playful tracks, about a boy named Cornelius who sits up in a tree all day, talking to animals through the use of a magical flute.

The Smiles and Frowns, “Cornelius”

You can preview more tracks from their myspace page or purchase and download the mp3 version of the album from Amazon.

PS I doubt I’m the only person for whom “Cornelius” recalls this:

Is it just me or is children’s television programming so much less frightening nowadays?

*Adam Mattson, one half of The Smiles and Frowns, quoted in a recent Guardian review

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The Dread Empire of Rock

“My name is Ozzy Osbourne, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

I’ve got two interesting tracks to share with you today.  I don’t exactly know what either of them is about, but they are both to some extent artifacts of American cultural hegemony conditioned by Cold War schisms.  So think about that as you give a listen, if you want.  You can also think about what may be the defining and dooming paradox of rock genres: the complementary forces of rebellion and conformity.

The first comes to us thanks to Sublime Frequencies, who have done it again with their newest compilation.  Praise be to the archivists; the 17 tracks of Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974 could not have been easy to come by.

Phương Dung, “Đố Ai (Riddles)”

Buy Saigon Rock & Soul here.

The second track is by Shin Jung-Hyun, “the godfather of Korean rock,” and his band, The Men.  I found this on last year’s excellent international psych compilation, Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974, compiled and produced by Now-Again Records.  Unfortunately for America, the “Twilight” that all the kids are talking about is not this song but instead some kind of Mormon romance.

Shin Jung-Hyun & the Men, “Twilight”

Buy Forge Your Own Chains here.

On a somewhat related note, check out this awesome photo-essay in Foreign Policy on Kabul in the 1950s and 60s.

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