31 Jan 2015

Björk / Vulnicura (album review)

Björk has always been up there with the very best of the best when it comes to creating unique music, and her new album Vulnicura is absolutely no exception. 



Incandescently hypnotic and innovative, Björk’s latest album was released two months earlier than anticipated, after leaking online the day after it’s announcement. As expected, it’s nothing short of genius. The Icelandic singers voice sounds delicate and fragmented, but when paired with the mesmerising melodies, she gains an incredibly assertive power which combines perfectly to create nine spell-binding tracks. Björk’s creative complexities reach a pinnacle in Black Lake which is ten minutes of a whimsical journey with more ups and down in the music than a roller-coaster. Other stand outs include The hauntingly dark harmonies that open Lion Song and the captivatingly bizarre History of Touches. The album concludes with the intense-and-almost-electro Quicksand which finishes the album up perfectly, containing some stunning violins which have a continuous presence throughout the entire LP.  Despite all the annoyances Björk has has to put up with with the release of this album, it is certainly an LP to be proud of and it may even be the best work she has ever done. For someone so whimsical to create such an eerily empowering album is the greatest achievement and this album is definitely one of the most amazing albums I have heard in a very long time. 

Rating: 9/10



(written by Poppy Marriott)

30 Jan 2015

Yak / Hungry Heart (single review)



Yak arrive in 2015 as one of our #1 tips to make it big, and to maybe release one of 2015's best albums. Already famed for explosive, electrifying live shows, the London trio's debut single comes out next month. Despite this, it's already available to stream via Fat Possum Recs' soundcloud, Fat Possom being the label lucky enough to sign them, as well as Fat White Family and The Districts.

As you'd expect from a band whose very name is an expression of absolute disgust, Yak are angry, and they're fast. Their sound is the perfect marriage of the visceral psychedelia of Telegram or Pond's Hobo Rocket and the hectic psychosis rock of the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - whose lead singer Guy McKnight is almost aurally identical to Yak's Oli Burslem. It's very hypnotic and repetitive, but there's also an out and out punk hatred being channelled through Burslem's screams of "Again! and Again! and Again!"

Throughout the three minute sonic onslaught, the band sound like they could blow up any moment. A thumping bassline is at war with the chaotic drummer, and they both fight dogmattically against the intense nosie and vocals that the frontman is churning out. It's a recipe that could see the band crumble into tuneless dissonance at any second, but the band keep it together til the very end. Like all great 3-pieces, every member gives it everything, and because they

Hungry Heart's a song in which not a second is wasted; from the explosive intro and it's half-crooning first verse, to the end; a climax of screams and feedback; this song remains on edge right until its end. Although they've not released any other material yet, Hungry Heart cements Yak's position as what is probably the single most exciting upcoming band in Britain.

Details
Out: 24th February via Fat Possum
For fans of: The Wytches, Nirvana, Telegram, Bo Ningen
Listen to it HERE

18/20

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

28 Jan 2015

JANUARY : A Month In Singles

Pete Doherty / Flags Of The Old Regime
A truly breathtaking tribute to Amy Winehouse, Doherty wrote this song to raise funds for Winehouse's charity and it contains pretty much everything you want a ballad to sound like. His lyrics are stunning as always and layered over a gentle beat and simplistic guitar tune, it makes for one of the most gorgeous and heart-wrenching songs released in a while. 
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSo6mE3WDjs




The Cribs / An Ivory Hand
Long gone are the days of The Cribs' 2004 debut album. This band have grown and grown and grown and finally returned with the announcement of their next album For All My Sisters. This song hears the band reviving true guitar music but collided with an old school synth pad to create the next chapter in The Cribs' diverse sound. Their new album is one I look forward to with great anticipation, and I cannot wait until it's release.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcgY2c2hdh4

The Vaccines / Handsome
Another band who are back with a brand new single, a tour and eventually an album (we hope.) This song is full of upbeat, oh-so-happy vibes and a sound which makes you desire summer. With a wacky video with a kung-fu theme, this song as a package is fantastic, The Vaccines have always produced catchy and exciting songs, and Handsome is no exception. Easily on course to be a sound of the summer and another album I know will be up there with the best of 2015.  
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV6eODKYHXI




Circa Waves / Be My Baby
A brilliant cover of a classic song by The Ronnettes, Circa Waves' b-side to their new single Fossils revives this vintage track and turns it into the epitome of indie pop music. It's fun, fresh and represents everything Circa Waves do. They're only a young band and you can tell by the way they play and the sound they have and this b-side breaks no rules. It's clean cut, sharp and simply great. 
Listen here: http://www.hungertv.com/feature/premiere-circa-waves-baby/

Charli XCX / Doing It
This song is, in short, a cheesy as hell pop track. It happens to be by one of my favourite commercial artists around today, who is definitely making the charts a better place. Charli XCX collaberates with Rita Ora on this track which is full of girl power, flirty fun and catchy electro-pop rhythms. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but the pop market will certainly benefit from having a fresh faced innovative artist around. Plus the video is bizarre and hilarious all at once.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km3agvlyRmM




The Wombats / Greek Tragedy
"She hits like ecstasy/Comes up and bangs the sense out of me" is sung over a more pop than indie melody, accompanying a pretty messed up video. The first single released from The Wombats' newly announced next album Glitterbug, is however, everything you'd expect from The Wombats. Packed full of catchy rhythms, lust filled lyrics and nostalgia, this song is a promising reminder that this band will not just be remembered for that one flawless album.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MHmx9nvHqU 

Peace / I'm A  Girl
The newest single released from Peace's second LP, Happy People, and namely the song which has restored a lot of people's faith back in the band. It's full of indie attitude, it's dance-y and I just know it's going to sound incredible live. You can hear the hip-hop influences, as Harry K raps his way through verses summing up how he feels about gender and gender roles, but all encased in a couple of intense guitar riffs, a killer solo in the middle, a hip-hop rhythm and an assertive bass riff from Sam K to tie it all together. The interactive lyric video only makes it even better. 




Gengahr / She's A Witch
Calming, harmonic and whimsical, Gengahr's newest track shows off just how far they've come. This is a perfect dream-pop song which paves the way for them to breakthrough. After their recent shows with Alt-J at the O2, they are working their way up through the legions of mediocre indie bands to slowly but surely come out on top. She's A Witch is a vibe filled guitar fest and I can't wait to see where Gengahr go next. 
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/gengahr/shes-a-witch

Drenge / We Can Do What We Want
Despite sounding slightly less gritty and slightly more commerical, Drenge have released a phenomenal first single to come out of their second LP, Undertow. With the addition of their new bassist, their sound has gained so much depth and it gives Eoin the freedom to experiment with more melodic riffs, giving them a newly diverse sound and already putting them leagues above some of their old stuff. Yet another incredible album that 2015 promises.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7UVYakWP38

Milk Teeth / Melon Blade
Rowdy four piece Milk Teeth have done it again. Their latest single Melon Blade is chaotic, messy, yet you can still sing-a-long and dance to it. I'm a huge fan of female singers and with Becky leading on this song, it gains a whole other dimension and is simply brilliant. This band have so much potential to be absolutely massive and with the release of their Sad Sack EP, success is just around the corner. 
Listen here: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=717232918391161&set=vb.269488776498913&type=3&theater


26 Jan 2015

Stop everything else, End Of The Road's line up has just won 2015

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This morning, End Of The Road announced the first wave of acts for it's 2015 festival; and crikey, it's one hell of a line up.

The three headliners are absolutely out of this world, for a start; I can't imagine Glastonbury legitimately picking out 3 acts that great. Surfjan plays only his second ever festival performance, and his first in the UK, whilst The War On Drugs pretty much owned last year, didn't they? And god, Tame Impala, one of the best bands in the world are playing a headline show, which pretty special in itself. Last year the Flaming Lips played that slot, and although it was incredible, Tame Impala could definitely step up to the Saturday headline in a fashion that is far beyond the capabilities of any of the other bands in the entire world.

Complimenting Tame Impala perfectly is the psyched-out sounds of fellow Aussies Pond, whose most recent album was absolutely mind-blowing, and is in fact out today. Also providing the psychedelia is the fuzzy fuzz sound of Fuzz, Ty Segall's stoner thrash band, as well as the psych-inspired garage rock of The Black Tambourines and Ultimate Painting.

The rest of the line-up is solid too, with the inclusion of Django Django and Future Islands' danceable indie rock, and the art-punk of Ought. Fat White Family, Hinds, The Unthanks, Alvvays, The Drink and Happyness complete and make sure this is almost certainly the best line up we'll see all year.

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

Cosmic Vibrations: A Vapour Trail space-themed playlist

Space is really weird, and since I got given a Brian Cox book for Christmas, and the new Pond record came out, I've thought about it increasingly. It's also the subject matter of a great number of songs, because, ladies and gentlemen, whether we like it or not, we are most certainly floating in space. Although some artists say that songs about space are cliché (I think Frank Black said his most unoriginal writing was the stuff about aliens, but the cosmic songs on Trompe Le Monde are amongst the best that the Pixies ever released) so many great songs have been written about the bits of the universe, so I compiled a playlist of songs about space, sounds that sound like space, and songs that both are about space AND sound like space.

Below is a little bit about each song, why I picked it, and any arguments as to why it was included, just in case your blood was boiling a little at Wonder 2 being chosen, despite not really referencing any celestial bodies of any sort...

The playlist can be streamed in full HERE, on the YouTube.


1. Cosmic Vibrations - Foxygen
Foxygen are one of today's bands that sing about space the most - is that because they're the most pretentious? Probably. Their last album had four songs on it called Star Power, but also yielded this, Cosmic Vibrations, a song that probably made it onto this playlist on merit for having such a great name for a playlist.

2. Everything Beautiful Is Far Away - Grandaddy
American band Grandaddy's glitzy synth-led exploits around the turn of the century are about as spacey as it gets. A lot of Grandaddy's music was very anti-technology, and in a kind of Orwellian sense it focused on the dystopian wasteland that the world would become because of it; I think Everything Beautiful is Far Away is about someone that has cast themselves adrift from society for that reason. It's really haunting, but the kind of instrumental sections are really beautiful, in a kind of twinkling sparkly way; if I had my way this entire playlist would just be twinkly synth parts from Grandaddy songs.

3. Mysterons - Portishead
Right, OK, who watched Captain Scarlet when they were younger? Because I did and it was great. Everyone was like a Thunderbirds puppet, and it was about a guy that dressed in a smart red jacket, and couldn't die no matter what he did to himself (is Captain Scarlet Pete Doherty?) and so he used his powers to save the day heroically with Spectrum; a kind of cheap Tracey family kinda thang had a base in the sky where everyone's name was also a colour. And on this programme, there was invisible martians, that taunted Captain Scarlet and possessed his friend - "THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS" they boomed. They were seriously freaky fuckers those Mysterons, mean beans indeed. If ever there was conclusive proof humans shouldn't go to Mars it's the Mysterons, gosh.

4. Motorway To Roswell - Pixies
Pixies fourth album is pretty much a cannabis fuelled half hour of a fat bald guy singing about aliens, and for that reason alone I think it's miles better than Doolittle. Obviously this track refers to the town where aliens did, 100 thousand per cent legit land on the earth, and what have you. It's a really freaky song, I think; it's like the only Pixies song with piano bits, it discusses how disappointed optimistic aliens would be to land on Earth, and most oddly it mentions some kind of motorway, in New Mexico? It's all very bizarre, and some might say it's why they should have let Kim Deal write more songs.

5. Souvlaki Space Station - Slowdive
Slowdive are just my absolute favourites, and this floaty song sounds sorta like I imagine floating in space in a kind of astronauty way to feel. That's why I picked it. Nothing to do with the word 'space' in the title.

6. Interstellar Overdrive - Pink Floyd
This is a really cliché choice, but god is it essential. 10 minutes of spacey, voxless music was so revolutionary in 1967. It was well before Pink Floyd did that prog rock stuff, when they were led by Syd Barrett, and all the instrumentalists were proper mentalists who gave it large on cosmic basslines and zingy keys before The Doors made zingy keys a fashionable thing.

7. S*T*A*R*C*A*R - Julian Cope
Julian Cope's Autogeddon is a fairly diverse album; the first half is really folky, with a sharp wit and razortongue; the next bit vanquishes fascists by rocking hard (with a space-folk symphony intermission called Paranormal In The West Country) and the end; well, that's an 11 minute long space-rock track called S*T*A*R*C*A*R that is basically the only song I'd ever describe as a "gnostically cosmic introspective voyage through the galaxy", tbh.

8. Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix) - Tame Impala
"Calum!" you say "what has this song got to do with space? I know the remix is better than the original, but it's got about as much literal subject matter about space as it does about elephants! What are you doing?" "Well", I would reply "it sounds a bit spacey."

9. Oshin - DIIV
The front cover to DIIV's album is basically like a big alien seabird monster killer thing, going in for the kill, and Zachary Cole Smith wears a hat with an alien on sometimes, so I guess anything they write could probably be shoehorned onto this playlist. But on top of that, most of the lines to this song are "fuck the world, alien love", and I think that's what some ready-to-invade aliens are probably thinking.

10. You Look Great When I'm Fucked Up - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Right, bear with me here but imagine a film where a ravishingly good-looking male lead (I'd suggest casting Christian Bale) plays a kind of green humanoid alien man, dressed as a cowboy on a space-horse chases bad guys (maybe Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel) on slightly slower space-horses around a barren wasteland of a planet that isn't dissimilar to some areas of downtown Southampton at night time. This is the song that would soundtrack that.

11. Do You Realise? - The Flaming Lips
I was compiling the playlist, thinking "gosh, I've got to avoid the cliché of using Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We're Floating In Space." The Flaming Lips' potentially best-known song spreads awareness of the exact same message (we, as in us, as in you and me are literally floating in literally space) and is probably just as much of a cliché as the Spiritualized song. But because they'd be on the playlist for the same reason, I had to pick one of them, and well, because Wayne Coyne's onstage persona is basically as some kind of balding biped glitter space-baby, he deserves the place on the playlist.

12. Hobo Rocket - Pond
All of Pond's songs are about space, like, all of them. Every single one. But this one also has rocket in the title, and I think it's talking about space rockets, not rocket lettuce, so I chose it over Frond and Sitting Up On Our Crane, my two other fave Pond #anthems.

13. Wax and Wane - The Cocteau Twins
It's really unusual for bands to genuinely sound like they're from another planet, but Scottish dream-pop band The Cocteau Twins do genuinely sound unlike every other band in the world, ever. Apart from the ones ripping off The Cocteau Twins. Because they're so alien though, I had to put a Cocteaus track on here, and this is one of my favourites off of Garlands, their 1983 offering. I don't know if it's about the moon, but the moon waxes and wanes, and the moon is in space, and this is a space playlist, so if you need any justification for this track being on the playlist, I hope that will do.

14. War - The Wands
Gosh, listen. There is just no way that that organ is from this planet.

15. Jealous Sun - The Horrors
I think the latest Horrors album is the most spacey, in that it's kind of like Grandaddy with a singer that sounds like a ghost. I think the reason I put this particular song on was not because it references the sun, which I'd argue is in space, (but not at night time, when the sky ends and space begins) but because it just sounds a bit blackholey and quasarry and just pretty damn celestial, doyouknowwhatImean?

16. Wonder 2 - MBV
My Bloody Valentine are so sonically innovative, so it would be difficult for their dreamy sounds to not be on this playlist. Instead of going for To Here Knows When, which I was going to upload with the reasoning "this is literally as dreamy as Brian Cox's voice", I've gone for Wonder 2, because it sounds a bit like a Spaceship taking off, and I think maybe it could be an alternate soundtrack to the scene in Star Wars where they successfully attempt to destroy the Death Star and Luke Skywalker's X-Wing is zipping around the trenches and divots on the planet-sized war station.

17. Space Oddity - David Bowie
OK I've made a fair attempt to avoid cliché on this playlist, but god, it wouldn't be the same without David Bowie's Space Oddity. Definitely the single most iconic song about space ever, Space Oddity may well also be one of the greatest pop songs ever written as well. Bowie was always rich in cosmic inspiration, and because it came out in 1969, people always assume that it's inspired by the moonwalk and all the supplementing moon talk; but they assume wrong. Space Oddity takes all it's influence not from the moonwalk, but from the (equally fictional) (ooh, controversy) Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, making it just one of many David Bowie songs that takes it's influence from film or literature. Spiralling stylophone noise, Bowie's beautifully rasping voice, and lyrics about floating in a most peculiar way make this not only the perfect song to end the playlist, but the perfect song full stop.



(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)

25 Jan 2015

CLAWS / No Sleep (EP review)

The debut EP from Norwich band Claws shows promising things from the next generation of angsty garage pop music. Their musical talents extend far beyond their young years, with lead singer Josie [Steward’s] voice sounding fresh out of the 90’s riot grrrl movement, with the EP echoing the disorderly time of the riot grrrls. The chaos doesn’t distract from the melodies however, with the guitars riffs standing out boldly from the rowdy drumming, and Steward’s vocals tying it all act together to form four equally outstanding pop-punk tracks.



Opening song To Be A Goth is dance-y and messy, with the hint of summer intertwined with the madness. It’s 1:38 of the band having a bloody good time while still showing off just how good they are.  Tango Hotel comes next, opening with a distorted, FX laded riff on both the bass and the guitar, before rushing into one of Claws’ most catchy choruses. “Whatcha say/Whatcha say/Whatcha say-ay-ay” is shouted over a manic thrashing of the drums, as the noisy teenage angst side of Claws comes out to play in full force. 

I’ll Never Learn is the closest this band come to having a ballad on their resume. It could soundtrack a victorious scene in a a 90’s teen movie, with the dirty riffs entangled in meaningful lyrics, with Josie’s distortion-laced voice sounding stronger than ever. This leads perfectly into the final track off the EP. If I was asked to put forward one Claws track to show off just how amazing they are, it would be No Sleep. It’s youthful, full of energy and chaotic and a truly terrific track to end this exceptional EP on.

I can’t wait to see what this band do next, even more so because they are a local band. I will continue to support them every step of the way and I urge you all to jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible because it’s only a matter of time before this band blow up.

24 Jan 2015

A Brief Guide to Modern Psychedelia

With modern independent and underground music, it's really very difficult to get away from the phrase 'psychedelia'. It's one of those phrases banded about by the music pressed, and a label slapped all too haphazardly on bands that are most probably not psychedelic. There's a lot of confusion about what psychedelic music actually is, who makes it, and whatever else regarding the genre, so I thought I'd write this post almost as a little guide to it, as well as using it to plug and introduce a load of pysch bands that I absolutely love.

Firstly, what is psychedelia? 

Well, it's a genre of music, and a fairly vague one at that. It kind of started with a lot of great psych-garage bands and some of the more interesting prog groups in the sixties and early seventies; think Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, The Seeds, or The 13th Floor Elevators. These bands were renowned for taking a lot of drugs, as in A LOT, and making music that reflected that; musically, it was a lot more interesting than anything else coming out at the time, with lots of it notable for weird sounds, strange vocals, and weird but brilliant instrumentation. This track, Arnold Layne by The Pink Floyd (as they were known then) perfectly sums up what I think early psychedelia was about. The Beatles also turned a hand to it, with Revolver and Sgt Pepper's being great examples of just what the psychedelic sound is. 

The psychedelic sound evolved slightly over time, before seeing a big-scale revival in the eighties; The Teardrop Explodes, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Fuzztones brought psychedelia back into the interests of the independent music press. As well as that, the other worldly fuzz of Loop and Spacemen 3, as well as the ethereal textures of the Cocteau Twins and the later shoegaze bands added an extra dimension to bands influenced by and channeling psychedelia. As a genre historically, it's always been a bit about making music which is warped, almost other-worldly, and almost certainly strange. To say something's psychedelic generally means that it carries a lot of influence from other bands who've carried the tag in the past, and for that reason, modern psych might seem like just a product of it's influences - but alas no, it's much more interesting than that.

Today, in the world, there are lots of amazing bands making music that both looks forward, and takes a great amount of influence from the past; the rest of this post is a basic introduction to a load of these bands...

Modern Pysch Bands In The UK
Perhaps the UK's defining psych band are the Southend goths The Horrors, notable for their amazing fusion of electronic and psychedelia; if you're reading this I'm going to make the assumption you know enough about them for me to swiftly move on, but if you haven't I'll say just this; The Horrors' constant evolution, their total appreciation of all things psych, garage, Detroit house, shoegaze, and synthpop and active involvement with other Shoreditch-dwelling psych-mongers sets them out as potentially the band that defines the UK's neo-psychedelic scene.

However, it's not just The Horrors that London plays home to; TOY (whose music I can only think to describe it as acid-Krautrock fusion) are also prominent on the scene; often seen in a similar all-black to The Horrors, they're similarly iconic of the scene. Notably, they're signed to London label Heavenly Recordings, who have been really great for British psych; they've recently put out records by Temples, The Wytches and The Voyeurs, three of the greatest bands around at the moment. London is almost a hot-spot for psych bands that sport all black and make great music - Telegram and Blossoms are two examples of this that you just can't ignore - Telegram have been on the brink of greatness for a while now, and Blossoms are literally about to explode, mark my words and catch them on their next tour. The capital is also home to murky prog upstarts Lola Colt, psych-pop come doom band Purson and Wyldest, who are just a complete dream of a band, but perhaps the band who are most likely to achieve huge-scale success is Yak, who have just released their debut single Hungry Heart. They're pretty much Eighties Matchbox on acid, and that's the best thing a band can be.

But the Shoreditch-centric 'psychedelic garage goths' are not the only bands in the UK that are great examples of modern psychedelia; up north you've got Liverpuddlians Mugstar, who just churn out great LP after great LP, and the Leeds scene features a rich array of bands that are influenced by psychedelia; Hookworms' fuzzy first few releases channel Loop, Black Moth merge metal with woozy psych and garage, and Kogumaza are a 3-piece that are noisy but the definite article. Just across a bit, I think, from Hull the Black Delta Movement make garage-psych that you can't help but love; it's just like a modernised version of Kim Fowley or The 13th Floor Elevators, so as you'd imagine, they're a very spot-on band.

Elsewhere, there's an undeniable amount of incredible psych bands; the garage exploits of Falmouth's The Black Tambourines won all my love last year, whilst not many bands capture the essence of the shoegaze scene as well as fuzzy Scots The Cherry Wave or Donny-based 93MillionMilesFromTheSun

Down south, my hometown of Southampton is also home to a few notable psych bands. Melt Dunes, formerly Elephantantrum are a band that make sprawling, long songs, as well as putting on incredibly hypnotic live shows. Dead Rabbits are ethereal and fall somewhere between dream-pop and rugged punk rock, and Wild Smiles blend Mudhoney grunge and surf-rock, kind of like The Wytches - they released their debut album Always Tomorrow last year, and it was absolutely incredible. In short, there is no shortage of rising psychedelic talent in Southampton, or any other part of the country; it's a vibrant genre with pockets of perfect bands all around the country.


And in the rest of Europe
The European continent is just as prominent for neo-psychedelia as the UK; lots of the bands that make it get a lot of press coverage here. Maybe the most interesting one of these is Goat, who seemingly have the world at their feet. Hailing from Sweden, Goat perform in tribal masks, fuse elements of music from all around the world with fuzzed out guitars to make some of the most refreshing psychedelia ever; I even put their debut World Music at number 2 in my albums of the decade post.

Scandinavia is a complete hotspot for great bands at the moment, however; what I think was last year's best psych release, The Dawn, by The Wands comes quirkily out of Copenhagen - it blends cosmic organ sounds with robotic sounding vocals, and it absolutely perfect - you can't not be infatuated by it. Norweigian trio Deathcrush are a complete marvel; they sound like the perfect point where Courtney Love meets the Cocteau Twins, and they're completely perfect.

The rest of the continent is great too; Italy yields the amazing Go!Zilla, who've put out a few great records, the incredible New Candys, who put out one of the best psych LPs I've heard in a while with 2012's Stars Reach The Abyss, and 23 and Beyond The Infinite are one of the coolest bands in the world, incorporating a lot of noise-rock into their sound. France is home to one of the most beautiful psychedelic-pop acts in the world, Melody's Echo Chamber, whose glitzy self-titled debut still stands out as one of the decade's nicest psych albums.

The latest Fuzz Club Records (another label putting great psych out there) compilation brought to light two of the most brilliant German psych bands for me; the Slowdiving History of Colour TV took my breath away, and Camera, whose synth driven sound is something I've pretty much never heard before.

Melody's Echo Chamber's album artwork is among the most perfect I've ever seen...

The psych down under
Australia is, perhaps expectedly, a real gatekeeper for modern psychedelia. Obviously you've got Tame Impala, perhaps the most renowned psych band in the world, who completely blown away critics and fans alike with some of the greatest albums of recent years. You'll probably already know it, but they've released two albums to date, with a third potentially in the pipeline. Their introspective debut Innerspeaker was a promising and near-perfect opening gambit, but Lonerism, a wonderful celebration of otherness that is almost certainly a 'contemporary classic'. Their third album is poised to be the decade's most important psych release, and whilst we don't know what it will hold, with the enigmatic Kevin Parker at the helm you just know that the new Tame Impala record is going to be out of this world.

Pond are often dismissed as just a Tame Impala offshoot, but they're so much more than that; they're very similar to their more famous counterparts, which is partially down to the fact that they're fronted by one time Tame Impala bassist Nick Allbrook, but they have a cosmic sound of their own. Their latest album, Man It Feels Like Space Again (read our review here) is their sixth record, but it's so creative and expressive and it makes you think that this band will never run out of ideas.

Whilst Pond and Tame Impala are the two main Aussie psych exports, they're not it. GUM and Space Lime Peacock belong to the same crowd, and it's worth checking them out, but last year also saw the UK debut of who I believe are Australia's third best psychedelic band, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. King Gizzard's sound is absolutely insane, kind of a psychotic surf-adelic sound, driven by two drummers and all the instrumentation under the sun. Elsewhere down under, there are more bands worth checking out; The John Steel Singers, The Good-Morrows, and Martyr Privates being the best, and Jagwar Ma being amongst the most well known. And he doesn't quite fit here, but he is a Kiwi so we'll let him off; Connan Mockasin's  unusual psychedelic-pop is actually some of the most original music of the past five years, and if there's one album you should flock to after reading this, it's his Please Turn Me Into Snat


King Gizzard and The Wizard Lizard: outfits on point
Some great psychedelic bands from North America
Two of the longest running cult bands dabbling famously in psychedelia hail from across the Atlantic; The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, both of whom release ALBUM AFTER ALBUM of top quality stuff, even though BJM's shamanic leader Anton Newcombe has moved away to Berlin these days. Spawned also from the BJM are Joel Gion and The Primary Colours, who are fronted by the BJM's infamous tambourine man; they released their first Apple Bonkers LP last year, and although most of it was nothing new, the last track Don't Let The Fuckers Bring You Down is an absolute scorcher.

Anyone who knows Ty Segall won't be surprised to know that the genius dabbles in psych a lot; last year's Manipulator had a good amount of kooky psych-pop on it to compliment the garage rock, Melted has a definite Hawkwind influence, and side project Fuzz and their debut is heavy, fuzzy shredding in a kind of stoner-rock way. As well as Ty Segall, p4k favourites Thee Oh Sees make a lot of the similar, and GOD is it good. They also put out about an LP a year, like Ty pretty much does, so you'll probably hear from them in 2015.

The almost soundtrack-like sounds of Foxygen will be familiar to most people, they've released two albums in the last two years that have just wowed with ornamental melodies and pretty great song titles. The Ghost Of A Sabre Tooth Tiger are a really woozy psych band, formed around the power couple of Sean Lennon (son of John & Yoko) and Charlottle Kemp Muhl, (also a supermodel) that make music you shouldn't overlook; it's incredibly good, haunting, and almost sinister. But they do make quirky psych-pop songs, that sound sort of like they'd soundtrack a decent 21st century adaptation of The Wicker Man. 

For me, however, the sound of North American psych is the Loop-like hypnotic sounds of CA band Wooden Shjips, and side project Moon Duo, as well as The Black Angels, who are almost like a 13th Floor Elevators for the 21st century. Those bands are completely flawless for me, and between the Shjips and the Angels, they've released enough great albums in 10 years to fill a fairly large iPod. In a slightly more underground way, The Warlocks are really the definite article, Unknown Mortal Orchestra are just a total dream, and the prog-pop of Wand is magic. 

America is, perhaps inevitably the best, most well-known place in the world for it's music of this type, so it's impossible to squeeze them all into this post, but if these tickle your fancy, check out the likes of Peaking Lights, The Soft Moon, A Place To Bury Strangers, Widowspeak and of course, MGMT.

And lastly, don't forget Elephant Stone's kaleidoscopic psych-rock is nigh on perfect, look out for their self-titled debut; they're Canadians, led by Rishi Dhir, who has played sitar for the aforementioned BJM. They make music that is kinda spiritual, music you can lose yourself in, which is the best kind of music I think. Like a lot of the bands on this list, they're very escapist and because of that, I think a lot of the neo-psychedelia in the world is some of the greatest. 



The best of the rest
Psychedelic, as I've said before, isn't necessarily a hugely prescriptive term, and lots of these bands differ from one another hugely; there's also, as you'll discover, not a huge amount of difference between bands from all around Europe, the US, Australia and the UK; well there is, but it's not as if each area has it's own sound...

Finally, some bands worth taking note of from all around the world have also earned themselves a place on this long, pointless post. Russia's Pinkshinyultrablast's shoegazing sound is surprisingly refreshing, whereas whilst the dreampop sounds of Korea's Vidulgi OoyoO are similar to what you've heard before but do something fantastic with it. Finally, and I say finally because this band deserve the final say in this, Tinariwen are from the Saharan areas of Mali and Algeria, and have wowed audiences all this festival season. Their sound is truly phenomenal, and although they've been around and politically active for a while, their 2011 and 2014 LPs Emmaar and Tassili have caused the biggest ripples in the world of the music press. Their sound fuses what I'd describe as hypnotic psychedelia and guitar music with more traditional Tuareg (Saharan) music to make something truly stunning.

I know in this long, dull, pointless post I've namedropped band after band after band, but I'm not annoying enough to just do that - I've put one track from every single band mentioned into a YouTube playlist for you to listen to and discover something new and great. 

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)