25 September 2015
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5
So a jazz-funk offering from a Hungarian guitarist isn't really a shoo-in for the psychedelic genre, you can pick up on that as he judges you with his eyes on the cover - but follow on through with my logic. Play this set by a group of crack musicians including the headlining guitarist along with Bobby Womack (of "Across 110th Street" fame) and some of his cronies, and we're entering the waters of oddball 60's studio team endeavours such as Elektra Records "Zodiac" or the Electric Prunes religion-themed albums. Factor in polyrhythmic percussion and lava lamp guitar lines to reach some vibrations only a step or two removed from the Grateful Dead in full-on concert flight. That one or two steps reflects on the fact that these fellers are jazz masters at their respective instruments, which the Dead could never really claim. Look under the hood and I think this record has some psychedelic power.
Szabo's name is on the cover, and he throws in some great playing along with three strong writing contributions, but Womack is the name that we tend to consider when this album comes up. The original recording of Womack's "Breezin'" is present, which George Benson would record a few years later to kickstart smooth jazz for better or for worse. The last three tracks are also Womack's, and interesting to hear as he would recycle some of the music for some of his R&B epics later in the decade. Of course the devil is in the details and the jazz vibe paints the tunes very different colours.
If you are a psychedelic soul who grooves on the sounds of David Axelrod or the jazzier moments of the Dead or the Allman Brothers, this is actually something you want to hear. It's all in the marketing. You look at the cover, run a basic scan on the history, and you're looking at early fusion/smooth jazz romp. But take the sounds themselves, and you're on a magic carpet, wafting through the L.A. haze with the Dude alongside.
07 September 2015
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5
Speaking of artists' baby pictures, here we've got Gregg and Duane Allman stuck in a blue-eyed soul group. It's not embarrassing - the future stars shine well - but it's not quite a good fit. Still, this is the second album, which I've read is more in the right direction than the first. Diverging a bit, I should admit that's I've never quite know what to make of the Allman Brothers. For many years, I sort of just assumed that they were a solid band that I didn't rally want to listen to. Then I started warming up more and more to there spacier instrumentals, better ballads, and "Rambin' Man." But I'm from the deep South, and I start getting repulsed when the more redneck-y, Lynyrd Skynyrd vibes start kicking in. Then again, I string my Les Paul just like Duane Allman (wrapped over the bridge) to optimize for slide guitar - so I guess I have to be a bit of a fan to do that.
Getting back to Hour Glass, there is a notable disconnect between what the record company probably wanted, and what the bros. wanted. Most of the tracks want to be the Grass Roots, although with more powerful vocals and significantly better lead guitar. I'm not going to say the Grass Roots straight-up sucked, but I will say the the best thing to come out of the band was Creed from the Office. Then there are three tracks with the Allman DNA struggling to come out. "Changing of the Guard" wouldn't be completely out of place on an Allman's album, "To Things Before" seems to test out the chord pattern for "Melissa," and "Now Is the Time" hints out some of the later band's jazzier vibes. We've also got an outlier with a cover of "Norwegian Wood" featuring Duane on electric sitar. Do I need to say more. With the bonus tracks, you get some notable added value with several tracks from an aborted Gregg Allman solo album, which definitely comes closer to the sort of sounds you would expect, especially with an early run of "It's Not My Cross to Bear."
If you are down with the Allmans, you've either heard this already or you need to. For the rest of use there are some groovy sounds to be had here. A few essentials, and a lot of stuff that walk the line from fair to middling, with a small helping of surprisingly good.
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5
I dunno. Maybe I'm a bit too much of a youngin' to have Linda Ronstadt on my radar. I know the name, the voice seems somewhat familiar, but I couldn't recall any of her hits. I'm not even sure what "Different Drum" sound like. This is not to say that the music sucks, I'm just saying that I'm coming towards this album from the dawn of Ronstadt's career with absolutely no context. The L.A. fuzzy studio is definitely in place, along with some hickory tones wafting in from Elektra's west coast offices. I'd be willing to wager that I'm hearing a little of the L.A. session pros the Wrecking Crew in the tracking, but I'm going by ear alone on that one. What we've got in the end is a very well-crafted folk rock concoction that can at least make a respectable showing in the late 60's album race, although I don't think it would end up a finalist.
The Stone Poneys were not your kids screwing around in the garage. There's a soon-to-be A-list vocalist in place, the songwriting is several notches above average, and if the band is handling the instrumentation on their own, they have a lot of groovy spit and polish (and if it's the Wrecking Crew, that's cool too). It's like 30 minutes with a very chilled out A.M. 60's pop station. I keep thinking of selecting so-and-so track as the "should've been" hit single, but most of them actually come out that way. I guess today it's "Orion," but it might be "If I Were You" tomorrow. I also went looking for the track that crosses the twee/cheese barrier, but the band miraculously seems to avoid that (if presses, though, "All the Beautiful Things"). So if Fairport Convention was the British Jefferson Airplane, then the Stone Poneys would be the American Fairport Convention. I swear it makes sense in the end.
You often delve into an artist's baby pictures to find them smeared in diaper butter, but this sounds pretty straight up solid to me. I suppose if I follow this road to a collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, we'd find the trippier vibes drying up, but we've got a twilight mist wafting through this album to give it a nice spot in the Psychedelic Garage.
02 August 2015
Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5
The best psychedelic rock album we've sent out into the world so far. The past few albums have revelled in full-on 60's psychedelia, and that's not forgotten, but with this album, you'll hear a modernized, shoegazed, Sonic Youth-thunking conceptual cycle about the search for, and reclamation of the human soul in the grinding gears of modern society. It's prog rock lyrics set to compact, catchy ditties brimming with far out drums and wires. Jazzmasters, Casinos, Les Pauls, Strats, and bizarre Fernandes concoctions all sent into the slipstream for vistas of guitar noise. Take a tour of the title track, Labyrinthian Alchemy, and Cadmium Glow for the quick fly-by. Have a listen at Soundcloud, buy the thing for a paltry $2 at Bandcamp (with a vinyl option likely coming soon), or if you're unfortunately destitute, have a look at the comments for this post. We need to be sustainable, but we want to be heard! We may be delusional, but we are confident that we are musical shamen looking for a way to reclaim the soul!
27 July 2015
30 June 2015
You can dig it over at Bandcamp:
Or at the end of this link:
23 June 2015
Following our psychedelic muse a little farther, with a free EP cropping up next week and an LP next month. Start grooving with this shoegazin' barnstormer. Sort of our unauthorized, unasked for aural sequel to Kerouac's "Desolation Angels," one of me favorite books.
14 June 2015
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Another fusion fanatic who served with Miles Davis on his most far-reaching explorations of electronic sound as well as being a part of Herbie Hancock's 70's crew, including the Headhunters. The funk extravaganza of the Headhunters is the main reference point, although with the better side of smooth jazz inflecting the proceedings. Funny thing about the smooth jazz and new age. They were pretty groovy in the analog 70's, but quickly melted into tross once early digital recording reared its head. Anywho, I keep checking the liner notes to see if Herbie found his way into these sessions, and I guess he didn't (unless he used a pseudonym like on Roy Ayers "Virgo Vibes"), but analog synth expert Patrick Gleeson is present. It's a interesting moment to come across Gleeson as he makes fine use of the polytonal pads that were unavailable at the time of his recordings with Herbie.
I keep running through the tracks as I tend to ramble specifically in my second paragraph, but I've got to take this album as a polished sphere. While not monotonous, the tunes do pretty well glide on from one track to the next. I guess that's also true of the Headhunter albums, although these songs are not the 10-15 minutes jam outs that that band slid so easily into. Just start at the beginning, don't worry about the time, and let it stop or repeat at the end as desired.
There are only, like, two full-on studio albums with the Headhunters, so this isn't a bad place to come searching for another fix. The electronic funk and mild sci-fi conceptual overlay is just about as satisfying.
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
John Klemmer is a saxophonist best known for making bangin' jazz to match your red velvet, disco bangin' pad. I mean that as a complement. Seriously. This is a bit before all that though, with Klemmer following more experimental pathways. Notably with his Echoplex, an analog delay sending his sax lines into infinity. The rest is a groovy set of early 70's jazz fusion. It doesn't quite reach the existential plains of a "In A Silent Way" or "Bitches Brew," but really, what does?
The two Prelude tracks are the zen heart of this album, and is one of the only things I've heard that make me recall the infinite space of Paul Horn's "Inside the Taj Mahal." I think this is one of the only times I can recall the clicking of the sax valves to be a notable part of the sound. These tones of orbital paths do crop up in window dressing on other tracks, filling in for the waterfalls of "Waterfalls I and II," but it's a more conventional setting. "Utopia: Man's Dream" follows the fusion handbook pretty closely while also adding a touch of its own zang, while "Centrifugal Force" ups the funk a bit.
Jazz fusion can be absolutely unlistenable, or thrust jazz through the better parts of rock psychedelia and world beats. Although not an absolute pillar of the form, John Klemmer's early career makes a great case for his saxophone's interstellar properties, and "Waterfalls" is an oft forgotten statement that reflects the colorful insanity of its front cover.
14 April 2015
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Tim Hardin ups the musician's quality in pretty much every area. I know I'm pushing the Tim Buckley comparisons, but Tim Hardin 1 and 2 are somewhat analogous to Buckley's debut and "Goodbye and Hello." The production becomes more gossamer and textured while the tunes themselves become more transcendental. Most of the blues grit from the debut has been scrubbed away, but the sound becomes more widescreen punctuated with adventurous percussion patterns.
There's straight away some money in the song titles - you'll now spot some stone cold classics like "If I Were A Carpenter" and "Lady Came From Baltimore." Of course, they were popularized by others, but these do have the benefit of being the originals. Plenty of other tunes here could've ended up with the same fate - the only one that doesn't do it for me is the Old West music hall scrapping "See Where You Are and Get Out." "Tribute to Hank Williams" certainly leaves an impression - sort of a spiritual forbearer to Mark Kozelek's more modern burst of melancholic nostalgia as Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. That mid-60's L.A. session groove settles in a little deeper on many of the tracks, but they do better to serve the songs here and up the cinematic quotient.
Whereas Tim Hardin 1 deserves more recognition, Tim Hardin 2 is a classic that hasn't really seen its proper due. I wasn't around for the man's actual career. Maybe he had a screaming band of followers that we've all forgotten about. But in the here and now, the fellow's been flying under my radar for too long.
Trip-O-Meter: 3.25 out of 5
An A-list songwriter plagued with a C-list career. Tim Hardin was one of the main templates for the singer-songwriter, although I imagine he might have had more Brill Building aspirations. While this release wheels around a tight corner of rock, folk, and blues, it's 1966 and just enough grooviness seeps on through the arrangements to place Hardin under the watch of our psychedelic eye. It's not completely dissimilar from another Tim's debut, but where Tim Buckley is on a vision quest of elliptical philosophy, Hardin's a little more down in the grit. He can't trapse upon a five octive range like Buckley can, but he's more convincing with the world-weary rasp that powers the bluesy tunes he like "Smugglin' Man," "How Long," and "Ain't Gonna Do Without."
The highlights here I guess are going to depend on your love for arrangement syrup. "Misty Roses" glides along the bossa nova stratosphere, and "It'll Never Happen Again" throws a full-on mid-60's L.A. session arrangement into the mix. Again, the man has no trouble penning a tune, so you may appeal more to the more stripped down and pulsing "Smugglin' Man." The lyrics do serve as a signifier for the later Rock Mountain High of the 70's singer-songwriters. Of course we'll give Hardin the benefit of time as it wasn't yet a cliche when putting together the lyrics of something like "Reason To Believe."
This is an album that was never meant for the stratosphere, but certainly deserves the same notoriety as the Buckley's. If you've got the disposition for the dawn of soft rock bolstered with just a touch of leftover sludge from the Mississippi Delta, then this is definitely one for you.
07 April 2015
Welp, this is the most psychedelic video I've seen for a while. I always do "I Am the Walrus" at karaoke without fail, and I'm always up for avant-garde strangeness, so this is directly up me alley. Warning: you will see boobies in this video, so it's NSFW. I dunno, maybe it shouldn't be a warning - I like to see boobies. I'll get to you soon with new reviews - been stewing in my own juices or something. I did create a lot of electronic music in those juices, though, which will soon be coming your way. Oh yes, video:
15 February 2015
Moving straight along to our second release, a psychedelic rock opus from long-term underground stalwarts, Glaze of Cathexis. The tunes careen through echoes of the Beatles, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and a host of 80’s indie rock acts. Sharp songwriting, shamanistic lyrics, and piercing guitar parts abound. During the writing and recording of this LP, the band members were slogging through the wilderness of uncertainty, culture clashes, and corporate skullduggery, but the results still aim at a spiritual high and a release from the darker corners of our temporal existence. The mono mix is free, while we would dig a bit of your bling for the stereo mix. Honestly speaking, some tracks sound better in both of the formats.
The official release date is for February 24th, but here at the Psychedelic Garage and Roving Sage Records, we believe that the time in NOW, and we’d like to share our debut release with you a touch early.
The Roving Sage and Shinano Express is a sacred union of freewheeling fusion and ethereal cosmic-shamanic spoken word. It’s sort of like an Aussie Gil-Scott Heron or Jim Morrison stumbling in from his grave for a few more utterances.
Our primary goal is simply to share our vibrations, so the basic release is free. We do live in the real world, though, and could use your support. For a few bucks, you’ll get bonus tracks which include instrumental takes of most of the spoken word tracks. Dig us.
You can enter the world of the Roving Sage and Shinano Express over at our bandcamp link:
Listen to a few sounds here: