Frontier Psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘Indie Rock

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If you weren’t aware that there is a massive psychedelic revival underway, don’t worry: you’re not alone.  As lovers of the spaced-out and groovy, we at FP decided to put together a top 10 psychedelic list last year, only to watch it become one of our most-viewed pieces of all-time.  As a result, we were particularly attentive to anything that might have the smallest chance of blowing your mind this year.  And now, at the conclusion of a particularly kaleidoscopic twelve months, we bring you are ten most consciousness-expanding records of 2012.  Enjoy the ride.

10. Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim

Given that the band shares members with the better-known Tame Impala, it should come as no surprise that Pond’s debut Beard, Wives, Denim sounds like a distant cousin of that bands excellent 2010 debut Innerspeaker.  But, where Innerspeaker came off as a practiced and polished labor of love, BWD has a looser, riskier, unrehearsed feel.  Throughout the record Pond sounds as if it is trying on for size the many branches of psychedelic music, from the crunchy garage-rock of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” to the hallucinogenic “Sorry I Was Under the Sky.”  Although the music press has filed them away in the dreaded “side project” folder, Pond can stand proudly by this diverse, spirited debut.



9. Moon Duo – Circles

Another entry in the side project file, Moon Duo shares mind-bending guitarist Ripley Johnson with Wooden Shjips, whose 2011 LP West landed third on last year’s version of this list.  Unlike Pond however, whose sound is clearly tied to that of its big-brother-band, Moon Duo bears little resemblance to Wooden Shjips, and the only thing Circles shares with West is its tremendous far-out-ness.  While West was full of meandering guitar-driven explorations, Circles is fundamentally groovy, filled with a kind of meditative minimalism that is central to the psychedelic state-of-mind.  It’s the kind of record that would make Ralph Waldo Emerson proud.

8. Gonjasufi – MU.ZZ.LE

While MU.ZZ.LE features significantly fewer long-haired guitar heroes than, well, every other record on this list, it’s inclusion on a list of mind-bending psych records is indisputably warranted.  Indeed, Gonjasufi and production partner Psychopop make psychedelia for the prescription-drug generation, a kind of hyper-relaxed, haze-soaked music with a slightly paranoid undertone.  Briefer and perhaps less ambitious than 2010’s excellent A Sufi and a KillerMU.ZZ.LE. is nonetheless equally arresting, equally mystical, and equally worthy of your attention.

7. Woods – Bend Beyond

For each of the last four years, Woods have put out a new record, and every one of them has been great.  If anything, the band is a victim of its own consistency: its albums are so uniformly excellent that they surprise no one, finding themselves ranked seventh on lists like this (as they were last year as well) when they probably deserve much better.  Bend Beyond is perhaps somewhat brighter than the band’s previous record, and the guitar freak-outs are a bit more restrained, but all the analysis is a bit beside the point.  If the record says “Woods” on the cover, you should be listening.

6. Foxygen – Take the Kids Off Broadway

Foxygen is the clear winner of “portmanteau band name of the year,” and so it’s appropriate that their first commercially available album is full of sonic portmanteaux, throwing everything from The Kinks to Elephant 6 into a musical blender and serve up some delicious results.  I could go into details, or I could just tell you that this album has a 10-minute song called “Teenage Alien Blues.”  Checkmate.

Foxygen – “Waitin 4 U”

5. Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair

And here’s the crazy part: this is only Segall’s third best record THIS YEAR.

Ty Segall & White Fence – “I Am Not a Game”

4. Royal Baths – Better Luck Next Life

Allow me to quote FP contributer Tim Myers’ review of Better Luck Next Life: “It’s an album drenched in violent lust and strung out on speed. The scene is always a seedy one, evoking images of back alley drug deals and ravaged motel rooms. The subject matter is undeniably dark, as singer Jigmae Baer details vampiric sex scenes and murder fantasies with an icy detachment that makes the album feel that much steamier.”  Um….awesome.

Royal Baths – “Faster, Harder”

3. Six Organs of Admittance – Ascent

If I ever make a list of “The 10 Best Albums full of face-melting guitar solos of 2012,” this will be #1.

2. Goat – World Music

I desperately wanted to put this album at #1, and I struggled long and hard before deciding to move it down a notch.  Goat, whose members wear masks while performing, whose album features songs entitled “Goatman” and “Goatlord,” whose membership may include the entire population of Korpilombolo, Sweden, are the quintessential psychedelic band.  Filled with chemically drenched drumming, orgiastic organ, and cosmic tales spun on an electric guitar, World Music is as mind-altering as rock music comes.  Goat emerged like a lightning bolt in the night sky this year, and in any ordinary year, their debut would have stood head and shoulders above their psychedelic brethren.

1. Tame Impala – Lonerism

But, 2012 was no ordinary year: it was the year that Tame Impala dropped Lonerism.  A lot has been made of this album’s relationship to Revolver, and perhaps the greatest compliment one can pay it is: the comparison isn’t ridiculous.  Indeed, Tame Impala have managed to do what I dare say no other band has achieved to date.  They have created a psychedelic album for the 21st century, an album that manages to stay true to all of the principles of 1960s pop without sounding dated or derivative in any way.  From “Apocalypse Dreams” to “Music to Walk Home By” to “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” every song is a 4-minute gem more valuable than the last.  In fact, why don’t you stop wasting your time reading this review and just listen to the record.  You can thank me later.

Andrew Bird_Break It Yourself_Hands of Glory_Frontier Psychiatrist

Andrew Bird

In addition to being one of the most talented pop musicians of his or any generation, Andrew Bird is a damn hard worker. As a solo artist, he has completed at least 10 releases since 2003’s Weather Systems, including instrumental albums, live compilations and EPs on top of five full-lengths. His loop-based compositions are a sight and sound to behold, and Birdman has built an impressive reputation as one of the most imaginative and original performers of the genre formerly known as indie rock. Not content to rest on his laurels, Birdman is wrapping up a most successful, prolific and affecting 2012 with his second full-length in seven months, Hands of Glory.

Billed as a companion piece to March’s superb Break It Yourself, Hands of Glory is Bird at his most reserved yet exploratory. Allowing himself the freedom of live recording and stripped down arrangements, Bird’s mastery and passion to rise to the top. From Hands of Glory’s opening track “Three White Horses”, it’s clear Bird has taken the saying “less is more” to heart. Maybe it was that tasty tomato bread we served him last summer at Celebrate Brooklyn.

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Chicago_Wicker Park_Fall_Peter Lillis

Wicker Park in Autumn

Something clicked in October, and I found myself at eight shows in just 15 days, likely due to a mix of early onset Seasonal Affective Disorder and rise in tours before the end of the year. It’s a lot of music to consume, and while I’m still digesting it all, I’m already planning for more. Below are the eight shows I saw in the last two weeks. Below that are the nine shows I plan to see before the end of the month. Care to join?

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Ty Segall_2012 LPs_Twins_Slaughterhouse_Hair

Ty Segall’s 2012, from left to right: Hair, Slaughterhouse, Twins

Ty Segall knows how to save the best for last. Twins—out this week on Chicago’s Drag City Records—is the third Segall-related release of the year, and his solo follow-up to last year’s breakout Goodbye Bread. The most enigmatic and schizophrenic rocker this side of Jack White, Segall has delivered a piece that flawlessly combines his stoner heavy blues jams with his British Invasion psych-pop gems with his punk ragers. A contender for Artist of the Year, Segall takes a serious step towards stardom on Twins.

Far more concise yet diverse than his previous two records of 2012, Twins is a pop behemoth, with moments as terrifying as they are sweet. While “polished” isn’t quite the right word, the production value is purposefully raised here, adding a commanding bottom with both clean and highly distorted guitars. The result is Segall’s most accessible album to date without sacrificing any of his edge.

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Minus-The-Bear-Infinity-Overhead

Known for bridging the gap between dance-pop and guitar virtuosity, Minus the Bear are one of the best sounding bands of their generation. They aren’t regarded as noteworthy songwriters, but as immensely talented musicians, which is a blessing and a curse (see: SRV). As veterans of the indie-prog scene, Minus the Bear won’t surprise anyone these days, which is a pretty big bummer, since so much of their sound is (was?) defined by experimentation and exploration.

I’ll start with this: the left side of Infinity Overhead sounds great. The right side is a little muddled, but that’s more for personal reasons. Honestly, I don’t remember my last ear infection, but I do remember they’re not pleasant. It’s funny, a kid with such bad ears growing up makes a point to listen to as much music as possible as an adult. I thought I grew out of these episodes, but I thought wrong. So, most of Infinity Overhead was listened to with only one headphone in place, when not on stereo. This is not the way to enjoy Minus the Bear, but I volunteered this review, and I made do.

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Jason Noble_K Composite_Rachel's

Known for his eclectic work in seminal Louisville projects such as Rodan, Rachel’s, The Young Scamels, Shipping News and Per Mission, musician Jason Noble passed on 8/4/12, succumbing to a years-long fight with synovial sarcoma, a rare from of cancer that begins in the joints. Since his passing, several moving tributes have been posted across the web from friends and colleagues.

 “I always looked forward to seeing him and hearing from him on the phone. This was not unique to myself… Jason was loved by the whole Touch and Go / Quarterstick staff. We will all remember him fondly and miss him greatly. As someone involved in the music business, time and again I personally witnessed the positive impact Jason’s music, and the manner in which he lived his life, had on countless other musicians and music lovers. Jason was a source of inspiration for many… myself included. I am proud to have been Jason’s friend and cohort. I will miss him terribly.”

Corey Rusk, Owner of Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records

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Enjoy Side B of our “monthly” mixtape below.  If you missed Side A, you can check it out here.

1. Spider Bags – “Friday Night”

2. Flying Lotus feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy – “Between Friends”

3. Cat Power – “Cherokee” (Nicolas Jaar Remix)

4. Redd Kross – “Researching The Blues”

5. Seapony – “Prove to Me”

6. Petite Noir – “Till We Ghosts”

7. Sun Araw – “Like Wine”

8. The People’s Temple – “Looter’s Game”

9. Evian Christ – “FYTS”

10. Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”

11. Captain Murphy – “Shake Weight”

12. PAWS – “Miss American Bookworm”

13. Levek – “French Lessons”

 


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