PREMIERE: SUSU Psychs Out Listeners With Trippy “Let’s Get High” Video

Credit: Sarah K. Craig

The first time Liza Colby and Kia Warren recorded music together, they looked at each other and collapsed into a shared giggle fit in the studio. Since then, they’ve done the same during live performances; it’s one of many habits of theirs that make their relationship akin to iconic sitcom friendships like Ethel and Lucy, Laverne and Shirley, Pam and Gina.

When they met, Colby and Warren were both front-women of rock bands, Liza Colby Sound and Revel in Dimes. Now, they have their own band, SUSU, which released its debut single, “Let’s Get High,” on 4/20 this year.

The song is both an ode to the members’ friendship and a poetic depiction of psychedelic trips they’ve taken together. “We were crossing our frequencies / a place that we could escape to / and no one else could find,” Colby sings, to which Warren replies: “I could see you looking at me / but I was looking at me through your eyes / all the boxes were turning to circles / couldn’t tell what was yours from what’s mine.”

In the video, colorful images of each woman’s face singing alternate with trippy imagery of lakes, trees, and jellyfish. With the members separated due to the coronavirus, the concept behind it was basically, “Can we please make a video out of nothing? Can we make this happen when we’re on opposite sides of the country?” Colby laughs. The final product is meant to emulate the lava-lamp-like screensavers on laptops — the perfect visual to stare at and meditate to while tripping.

While most of their songs were written sober, Colby and Warren have used weed and psychedelics to get closer to each other and gain inspiration for their music. They remember one acid trip in particular that was formative for their band and their relationship. When they decided to leave the house that day, Warren suddenly became very concerned about what they were wearing. “In my mind, I saw how I wanted to look — it’s one of those Grey Gardens things where you see a lady in a fur coat,” she says. She remembers thinking, “I don’t know if I can go outside if I don’t have a cashmere beanie or something.”

They dug through the closet and dressed themselves the way Warren was envisioning, then wandered back home. Then, Colby’s husband came home, and as they went to bed in separate rooms, the women kept yelling at each other through the wall. “We stumbled across some good gems and discovered ourselves,” Warren remembers. “What I take away [from these experiences] is certainly how I want to express something or a really funny way of encountering something, or if a character came out, like a Grey Gardens character.”

Credit: Sarah K. Craig

Part of the duo’s connection comes from both being women of color fronting rock bands, which allows them to support each other through the challenges they face. “There are certain kinds of expectations of what a person making rock and roll is,” says Warren. “A lot of the time, when we’d be pitched for something, they’d be like, ‘not bold enough, not black enough,’ and we’d be like, wait a minute, we’re just doing rock and roll — it shouldn’t be contingent upon what the person looks like. When Liza performs, there’s no shying away. She’s always an inspiration, like ‘stick to what you’re doing and don’t feel like you have to fit someone’s expectations.'”

“We are rock and roll just by being us,” says Colby. “Being rock and roll is doing the things that aren’t in the box, that aren’t necessarily what you think they are. And that is what we’re pushing each other every day to do.”

Follow SUSU on Facebook for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Double Winter Release Earnest Debut LP It’s About Our Hearts

There aren’t many bands that can cultivate a loyal and almost cult following before even releasing a full record, but Detroit psych/surf-rock outfit Double Winter is one such band. After years of playing around the city, the band finally self- released its debut LP, It’s About Our Hearts, on March 31. The record’s beachy riffs, sentimental melodies, and charming honesty is a welcome distraction from COVID-19 chaos and leaves us longing for the spring we don’t get to have. 

Vittorio Vettraino (guitar/vocals) says that the decision to release the record in spite of the global health crisis was made spontaneously. The group was set to have a release party at beloved Detroit venue UFO Factory on March 26th, which was obviously canceled due to the state-wide stay at home mandate. “We decided a couple of days before, let’s just do it,” Vettraino says. “None of this was really planned… We had a record release planned but after we rescheduled that, we were like, should we still just release the album? Like, why not. 

“It’s a weird time but we were like, we have to get it out there,” adds Holly Johnson (bass/vocals). A weird time indeed. In fact, I’m talking to the band via Zoom video call, each of them quarantined in their respective homes, reminiscing about the years it took to finally get this record out to the world. “We’ve had it ready for months now, so it’s not new to us, but it’s weird that people are hearing a lot of this for the first time,” Johnson adds.  

Though compiled relatively recently for the band’s debut, some of the songs on It’s About Our Hearts have been written and played live for years, giving the band time to fine-tune their sound and perfect their playing. “I could pretty much play these songs with my eyes closed now,” says Morgan McPeak (drums). The group’s rehearsal time was extended even longer than they anticipated after their first attempt at recording the record in 2018 didn’t go as planned. “We originally recorded a lot of these songs and decided to re-record them and that didn’t happen until like a year after,” says Johnson. “Some of the songs were newer on the first one and we knew we could record them better and that was a really good decision.”

So, in 2019, Double Winter took a second try at recording with engineer Ben Collins (Minihorse, Matthew Milia, Stef Chura) at an old church-turned-recording-mecca about half an hour outside of Detroit, Willis Sound. Collins, who is a friend of the band, turned out to be a much better fit for their sound, capturing the energy of a live Double Winter show. With a spacious and acoustically immaculate tracking room, Willis Sound is the type of studio that bands like Double Winter – whose chemistry is almost equally important to the chords they are playing – dream of. 

“The first place we recorded, we were all so isolated that it didn’t really feel like we were playing together,” says McPeak. “I get the benefits to recording that way…but it just didn’t sound like us anymore.” The second time was a charm for the band, though, and yielded a record that showcases years of friendship, countless gigs, and a settling of genre. “I feel like with this piece, it does span across several genres but we’re getting better at sort of funneling it in,” says Johnson. “It’s just showing that we’re getting more dialed into what we play and produce well together, it’s been really fun learning that, too.” 

So what, exactly is the sound that best describes Double Winter? The best way I can put it is blase-but-sincere doo-wop psych, and I know I sound like an asshole. Genre labels aside, It’s About Our Hearts is a sweet and well-crafted ode to generations of good music — from Yo La Tengo to the Shangri Las. A body of work that could only be created by artists with a non-pretentious but impressive palette. It’s about all the little things that are actually big things and make up a life – heartbreak, friendship, fucking up, realizing it a little too late. And, since we all have a little more time to reflect right now, we might as well do it to some damn good music.  

PREMIERE: Priestess Debuts Self-Titled EP

Photo by Noelle Duquette

Priestess is the haunting doom incarnation of Brooklyn-based songwriter Jackie Green. Green straddles worlds as divergent as day and night with a grace that understates her inimitable work ethic, playing music in what little spare time she has entering her second year of law school. Flanked by a new line-up of bandmates, she premieres her debut self-titled EP today on Audiofemme.

Raised upstate, Green had nearly fifteen years of classical violin training under her belt before she first picked up a guitar three years ago. She cut her teeth playing in a handful of Brooklyn bands, like Evil Daughter, while growing as a guitarist at home by writing her own songs. “I taught myself a lot about how to play guitar by writing songs that I couldn’t play yet and mastering them,” she explains. “The goal is always to be as good as Black Sabbath, but no one ever will be, including me!”

The EP articulates Green’s love of psychedelic rock and heavy metal well, though her take on these classic sounds is modern, nodding heavily towards contemporary doom metal. The looming riffs of opening instrumental track “L.V.B.” evoke the early King Woman EP Doubt, and the cadence of Green’s vocals throughout the EP, namely on lead single “Locomotive,” call to mind those of Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell.

Citing her extreme form of organization and time management, Green managed to get this EP written, recorded, and mastered while also putting together a new cast of bandmates and finishing her first year of law school. While on the surface it seems like she leads a double life, Green has come to the conclusion that she’s merely a multifaceted person. “I’ve almost kind of criticized myself, and I’ve sort of judged myself, like, you’re two-faced! Pick one! Like, who are you?” she says. “But I realized they’re really not so different, everything is still me – I like to work hard. I work hard at music, and I work hard at school, and I like to feel challenged and intellectually stimulated.”

Photo by Noelle Duquette

She says this with a marked humility that minimizes such an impressive achievement, to release music she wrote on an instrument she taught herself to play not all that long ago while completing arguably one of the most difficult academic tasks one can attempt. She believes one provides an escape for the other, between the cerebral and the physical realms – a refreshing take on the balance so many young creatives struggle to achieve in their lives. This form of intentional escape is evident in the EP itself, brimming as it is with the truth and freedom of an artist fully immersed in her present moment, a few hours stolen away from a packed schedule.

Priestess celebrates the EP with a release show this coming Monday, September 16 at The Broadway. Expect to hear tracks from the EP updated and evolved by new bandmates, as well as newer material. Green hopes to take it on the road while on break from school in January, and aims to be back in the studio recording a full-length this time next year. I have no doubt she’ll pull it off.

HIGH NOTES: 7 Reasons Panic! At the Disco Are Unsung Psychedelic Rock Icons

Having analyzed how LSD influenced The Beatles, my understanding of psychedelic rock music may appear sophisticated. But I have a confession to make: my favorite psychedelic rock band is actually Panic! At the Disco. Yes, you heard me right. I just called Panic! At the Disco a psychedelic rock band. 

This discovery started my freshman year of college, when, as usual, I was a little late to the game and began listening to the 2008 album Pretty. Odd. It was entirely unlike the band’s 2005 breakout album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. First of all, several of the songs featured vocals from the band’s guitarist Ryan Ross, whose voice is reminiscent of a “Strawberry Fields” or “Across the Universe” John Lennon (and who apparently admires Paul McCartney). Secondly, it contained lyrics like “Don’t you remember when I was a bird and you were a map?”

I began to do more research, and what I discovered was that Panic! At the Disco are, indeed, the unsung psychedelic rock icons of our time. Here’s why I came to this conclusion. 

1. The Alice in Wonderland References 

Alice in Wonderland has become the ultimate musical signifier of all things trippy. Exhibit A: Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” Exhibit B: Panic!’s “Mad as Rabbits.” Bizarre body-horror images like “the stove is creeping up his spine again” and “his arms were the branches of a Christmas tree” conjure up Alice’s body distorting under the magic potions, and they even sprinkled a Disney reference into a very strange (one might say pretty odd) plot line: “Rope hung his other branch / And at the end was a dog called Bambi / Who was chewing on his parliaments / When he tried to save the calendar business.” And then, of course, there’s the chorus: “He took the days for pageant / Became as mad as rabbits / With bushels of bad habits / Who could ask for any more?” Indeed, who could ask for anything more trippy? 

2. Ryan Ross’s Beatles Shout-Outs

As you might suspect from listening to Pretty. Odd., Ross has counted the Beatles among his biggest influences — but not until he was already making the album. “I was partly drawn to them because they weren’t afraid of doing any kind of song. That was something we were trying to figure out: Are we allowed to do a jazz song? Are we allowed to do cabaret? Just from hearing the Beatles, it was like, ‘Well, they did it. It’s okay to write something other than a standard rock song,’” he told Spin. The album was actually recorded at Abbey Road, the recording studio used by the Beatles. Since then, Ross has called the Beatles nature’s Disneyland and nature’s therapist.” (I think he’s a little confused about what nature is, but I’ll let him have it.)

3. Brendon Urie’s Pivotal Mushroom Trip 

When frontman Brendon Urie got into a rut a few years back, feeling uninspired and reluctant to leave his home, he invited some friends over to do mushrooms. “I felt great. I felt alive again,” he told The Chicago Tribune. “Thirty minutes of a bad trip, kicked back into an amazing time — I really liked that I liked feeling uneasy again, like anything is possible. It wasn’t even taking the mushrooms — it was seeing what was out there. I like keeping that curiosity alive. It goes in waves, but it’s nice to keep that. It helps everything. It helps my anxiety, too. I love it.” This led to Urie’s creative resurgence following the departure of last-remaining original band member Spencer Smith and directly influenced 2016 LP Death of a Bachelor

4. “Nine in the Afternoon”

Urie has admitted that “Nine in the Afternoon” is about psychedelics, and that probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has listened to the band sing “your eyes are the size of the moon” (hello, pupil dilation) and “losing the feeling of feeling unique” (likely a reference to depersonalization). “We ended up just partying, by ourselves up in this cabin, which was supposedly haunted—just a bunch of guys on psychedelics,” Urie said. “The title came from our drummer, Spencer Smith — we were high and he was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what time it is but it feels like nine in the afternoon.’” His statement actually makes perfect sense if you’ve ever experienced time distortion from psychedelics. 

5. “Northern Downpour” 

Some of Panic!’s songs may be more obviously trip-inspired, but “Northern Downpour” is a masterpiece in the subtleties of its psychedelic influence. This song’s greatest lyrical accomplishments are the portmanteaus created from entire phrases. “You are at the top of my list” and “top of my lungs” become “you are at the top of my lungs,” mimicking the way perceptions and ideas bleed into one another on psychedelics. If there’s any doubt that this song was psychedelic-rock-based, it mentions “tripping eyes and flooded lungs” and even uses some “Lucy in the Sky”-esque imagery. While the star of the Beatles’ hit has “kaleidoscope eyes,” Panic!’s has “playful lips made of yarn.” Panic!’s diamonds, however, “appear to be just like broken glass.”

6. “Behind the Sea”

This track from Pretty. Odd. is unique in that the entire song features Ross’s vocals. Ross also wrote the song, along with the band’s bassist Jon Walker, which was also the case for “Northern Downpour.” Continuing the lyrical themes of “Northern Downpour” and “Mad as Rabbits,” “Behind the Sea” uses absurdist and rather inventive imagery like “the men all played along to marching drums… so our matching legs are marching clocks” and “scarecrow, now it’s time to hatch sprouting suns and ageless daughters.” 

7. Urie’s New Video With Taylor Swift 

I’m not saying Taylor Swift was tripping when she wrote this song or created this video, but people familiar with Panic!’s psychedelic influences will find the “ME!” video consistent with Urie’s style. The entire city in pastels, the creepy man flying down from an umbrella like Mary Poppins, the way Urie’s heart turns into a tunnel, and the snake that combusts into a bunch of butterflies will delight psychedelic users and non-users alike.  

PLAYING THE BAY: Psych Rockers Cellar Doors Take a Ride on Self-Titled Debut

Cellar Doors play a show at Milk Bar, with projections by Mad Alchemy. Photo by Tyler Loring.

Hello Audiofemmes! I’m Sophia, your new Playing the Bay columnist. I am: native Berkeley garbage, a sweet-n-sour enthusiast, and a novice mosher. Got some good bands for me to check out? Let me know on Instagram @norcalgothic

My first listen of Cellar Doors’ self-titled LP started on a city bus ride home at ten pm, and I can’t help but think that was the perfect introduction. The album sat alongside the rumbles of the engine like an old friend, and as I got deeper into its opener, the velvety “City Girl,” the hum and coo of the bus slid into the song like a backing instrumental.

Some of my strongest ties to music have been created in moments of transition. A song will get me from block to block; an EP from neighborhood to neighborhood; an album from city to city. So it was only fitting that, sitting there on that hard plastic seat with my legs swung up on the rail, I felt Cellar Doors could certainly provide the proper soundtrack for this City Girl to drag her tired self from A to B.

Hailing from San Francisco, Cellar Doors are Sean Fitzsimmons, Miki Rogulj, and Jason Witz. Heavily influenced by ’60s and ’70s psychedelica, they make woozy rock with a modern edge. Like a lot of psych rock, Cellar Doors enjoy letting the sound win; frequently, the vocals weave in and out of layered instrumentals – most notably heard on “Prism,” where Fitzsimmons’s voice seems to sink into a quicksand of drums and cymbals. On “Sirens,” he pointedly implores us to “look around you/listen to the sound.” For me, this approach is most effective when they seem to really have something to say in return for our silence.

On “Frost,” the bridge sidles into what appears to be an electric string instrument solo. Not only does this bring some focus to a dreamy, disconnected song, it’s an example of what ties together the album’s best tracks: “City Girl,” “Silhouette,” the lovely “Heroine,” and album closer “Wild Heart.” They are the most lyrically focused (possibly about the same person), and as much as they lean into the good-natured muddle of shoegaze and playfulness of psych, they feel distinct and effective, especially with the addition of smart choices like the tinkling percussion on “Heroine.”

Looking at the cluster of adjectives I’ve used to describe this LP, I wouldn’t hesitate to say this is an album of ease. This is not in regard to what I’m sure was an exhaustive process of creation, but more so about the feeling of listening to the album itself. While the songs don’t move from one to the next imperceptibly – in fact, I believe some care was taken to let those seams show – they have a warmth reflected in the amber-tinted ambiance of the LP’s cover.

The cover snap is, serendipitously, of a hallway – another moment of transition. I feel this sense of movement in the band, as they work to find the balance between old influences and modern instinct, and I look forward to seeing what remains when their tired selves, too, make it all the way to point B.

PLAYING DETROIT: Psych Rockers Dr. Wolf Learn to Shapeshift On Debut Single

Henry Johns and Nick Sapounas represent a new Detroit psych-rock band stepping out on the scene, Dr. Wolf. Though the two longtime friends and collaborators come from different musical backgrounds – Sapounas previously in the acoustic-folk group gray/bliss and Johns from Warehouse – they come together in an amalgamation of musical knowledge that explodes into medicine for the ears.

The duo is starting off strong with their release of two singles, “Came So Easy” and “Acceptance.” “Came So Easy” is a cascading and dark meditation that showcases the band’s ability to seamlessly combine psych guitars with warbly synths. The unexpected mix results in a trance-like reflection that takes the listener on a six-minute journey into the mind of its creators. The most intelligible lyrics, “Wasting all my time,” may be a nod to an unsuccessful love affair, shitty job, or stranger who won’t stop talking to you at the grocery store. It doesn’t really matter; by the song’s soaring guitar outro, time feels like an illusion rather than something that can be wasted at all.

“Acceptance” continues that otherworldly vibe, and shows a completely different side of the band. With aqueous synths and a deep drum-machine heartbeat, the song feels like tapping into a satellite and hearing an interstellar exchange. The implications within the song title – a certain resignation, perhaps – play out in the melody’s stoic, gradually oscillating pace. With such a divergent pair of singles, it’s hard to tell what musical direction Dr. Wolf will take as the project grows. But it’s obvious Dr. Wolf is going places. 

TRACK REVIEW: Kikagaku Moyo “Kogarashi”

Kikaguru Moyo

Japanese ensemble Kikagaku Moyo have released a new single “Kogarashi” leading up up to their record House In The Tall Grass.

In the new track, the band takes a more idyllic approach in production without straying far from their psychotropic sound.  Swirling harmonies soften up the disciplined rhythm.   “Kogarashi” showcases the band’s ability to blend the natural wo rld with celestial, surreal elements to make for an outcome that is spectral and eerie, yet stays true to their self-described “feeling good music.”

On the song’s inception, vocalist Tomo Katsurada says, “It was a nice warm day in the Autumn to get stoned and pass out in the park.  I remember I was surrounded by the multi-coloured dead leaves and felt warm when I woke up.  But all of the sudden, Kogarashi (the Autumn wind) blew all of the leaves away.  It was a beautiful and psychedelic Autumn moment.”

House In The Tall Grass will be released on May 13 under Tokyo-based record label Guruguru Brain, and the band will be touring the UK later in May.

Listen to “Kogarashi” below!

ALBUM REVIEW: Ajay Mathur “9 to 3”

9 to 3

Dig the new dirt on Swiss psych-rocker’s Ajay Mathur latest album, 9 to 3. Released this Spring, on May 1st 2015, 9 to 3 is a heady take on Americana, blending psychedelic rock with an international take on folk, for fans of everything from Dead Meadow to George Harrison. Mathur has an eclectic background, which sets the stage for the tone of his music.

Born in India, Mathur’s roots dig deepest with the inclusion of the sitar bleeding with guitars and straightforward vocals. Each one of his songs is autiobiographical in nature and written from the heart. He’s an artist for fans of Tom Petty who have been looking for a new voice with an edge. 9 to 3 is a 15-track cohesive album that’s the perfect introduction to the artist. 9 to 3 follows Ajay Mathur’s previous releases of A Matter of Time (2011) and Come See Conquer (2013). The title track “9 to 3” demonstrates Mathur’s heartfelt and relatable lyrics, perfect to go with the after work drink you need when getting home from a long day, ready to transition into the relaxation of evening. Sitars make for a meditative opener on “I Song,” that leads into whirling vocals and more elaborate guitars. “All up to Vanity” shows Mathur’s comedic writing chops and dabbles in jazz, and things get political with “My World (SOS to the Universe).” The album exhibits an impressive range of emotions and style while never straying from it’s cohesive mood of alt-Americana. The one you’ll want to slow dance to is “Tell Me Why,” where Mathur gets romantic with a song fit for a wedding and lyrics of yearning. We see his take on the classic rock anthem with “View from the Top.” The album shines brightest as it comes to a close as use of harp and sitar truly step up Mathur’s game on the fore-mentioned “I Song,” one stop before the grand finale. Perhaps the track most evocative of the energy of Mathur is the closing number “I Mantra,” an enchanting and comforting song that appropriately closes out the album. In its entirety, 9 to 3 is immersive, relaxing, and comfortable – all the while remaining unique and wholly Mathur. As artists continually try to out weird one another, or make waves by being different, 9 to 3 is a solid listen for a road trip, dinner music, or best for unwinding when you want to tap into the space that Jackson Browne left behind and expand your view on what Americana music means.

Listen to “I MANTRA” below. To stream the album in its entirety, head over to Soundcloud. For even more Mathur check out his FacebookBandcamp page, and website.

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TRACK REVIEW: Menace Beach “Super Transporterreum”

Menace Beach

This fall, British pysch-rock band Menace Beach are releasing their second project of 2015, an EP. Named Super Transporterreum, the band recently shared the EP’s title track.

What is a transporterreum, let alone a super one? I was hoping that it was some kind of spaceship, but a quick Google search revealed it’s not a real thing. The band’s singer Liz Violet came up with the name from a fever-induced hallucination she had after she caught the flu on tour. Similar to their last album Ratworld, “Super Transporterreum” is a fun three and a half minutes of fuzzy guitars, feedback, and vocal trade offs between Violet and Ryan Needham. Whatever it is, when they chant “Super Transporterreum” during the chorus, I want to sing along.

Super Transporterreum will be available via Memphis Industries on October 2nd. Check out the first song below!


LIVE REVIEW: Plague Bubonika @ Trash Bar

Plague Bubonika

Meet Plague Bubonika. They play thrash-psych-surf-rock, so basically the auditory form of eating sand as a wave tosses your body-surfing ass: oh fuck I think I might die but this is really fun. Fitting for their sound, I was introduced to them in a rad turn of cosmic events, a Twitter friendship and micro family reunion at Williamsburg’s Trash Bar – a perfect night for the memory shelves as the music venue is slated to close due to raising rent price. The show caught you off guard in that sense where you had to hold your breathe as you felt something important was happening. Strings popped off a guitar, the boys conjured a new one from the arms of the sweaty audience and continued playing with a mere brush off the shoulder. Plague Bubonika is Tony, Dreamy, Atilla Hunk and Zacky Boy coming live from Wilmington, DE. As if it wasn’t a rockin’ special time already, they dedicated a song to yours truly, which I must shamelessly brag about and request you listen to below.

The take away from this post is that nepotism is fine with the talent and originality to back it up, and journalists are attention seeking narcissists who can absolutely be won over. Oh yeah, and get sick on Plague Bubonika without losing eye contact – I see big things ahead.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Vickers “Ghosts”

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Ghosts opens with a bassline that worms its way into your brain, immediately hypnotic and catchy. The track, “She’s Lost,” unfurls with reverberating electric guitars that, at some points, craft a smooth wall of echoes and at other points, shred with gnarly intention. It’s a pretty accurate indicator of what the whole ten-track album holds: a blurring of the lines between ’60s psych fuzz and ’90s garage fuzz.

Ghosts is the sophomore full-length release from Italian four-piece The Vickers, who have been making waves in their home country since 2009. Andrea Mastropietro, Francesco Marchi, Federico Sereni, and Marco Biagiotti self-produced the album, and even recorded part of it in their own home studio in Florence, which makes the well-executed density of their songs even more impressive. This album would please even the most staunch psych-rock purists, taking cues from trailblazers like The 13th Floor Elevators. The Vickers play with instantly recognizable psychedelic tools, like trippy organs and reverb-drenched guitars that create a hazy and wobbly texture, but they approach the sound with garage-grunge sensibility.

The fifth track, “All I Need,” for example, borrows a little more from punk rock than classic psych, with its driving bass and percussion and significantly more clear, taut guitar and vocal work that brings The Arctic Monkeys to mind. “Walking On A Rope,” on the other hand, is a distinctly Beatles-inspired number that goes through several changes, switching from a somewhat jangly-pop sound to a wide open, falling-down-the-rabbit-hole sensation. The whole affair is practically an homage to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”  

Meanwhile, “Hear Me Now” and album closer/title track “Ghosts” stand out amongst the bunch as more subtle and simple songs—the former has a sludgy, grungy edge, while the latter is laid back with an air of contentment. All ten of Ghosts’ tracks together form a very well rounded bunch, with a variety of influences that present psychedelia in new lights. The entire album is now streaming on Bandcamp.

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TRACK OF THE WEEK: The Black Angels “Diamond Eyes”

As if you needed another reason to be excited about Record Store Day (which is NEARLY UPON US, coming up April 19th!), Austin psych trip The Black Angels have announced that their 10″ clear vinyl Clear Lake Forest EP will drop the same day. It’ll be the third in a rapid-fire round of releases since 2010 for this foursome, and if new single “Diamond Eyes” is any indication, it’ll be more of the heavy-rocking, straightforward psychedelia that the group’s been putting out for years.

The Black Angels released at least one bona fide rocker in 2013 with “Don’t Play With Guns,” off Indigo Meadow, which came out that spring. This group doesn’t favor long jams–their style of psych is no-nonsense and utterly, miraculously free of stoned musings and distortion-packed trips to nowhere. The songs are direct descendants of The Velvet Underground’s, and the group even took their name from a Velvet track, “The Black Angel’s Death Song.” It’s psych music with a steady rock and roll heartbeat.

The instrumentals on “Diamond Eyes” are a sludgy mess, but it’s clearly an organized chaos. Alex Maas’ vocals glide over the track in smooth, practiced slides, reality sliding in and out of focus. Still, The Black Angels are too catchy for “Diamond Eyes” to be a demanding listen. The group’s expertise as  perpetrators of this particular style allows you to relax into the music, because even at their most tangential, The Black Angels clearly know how to write a rock song.

The Black Angels will be playing Austin Psych Fest, which they also curate, in very early May. But before you buy your plane tickets to Texas, make sure to pick up a copy of Clear Lake Forest  on vinyl April 19th. Listen to “Diamond Eyes” below:



I like the idea of Rootsy music with heavy handed/slightly inappropriate production.”

If ever you want to forget about a breakup, making an album about one may not be the way to succeed.  Fans will surely read into lyrics and song titles, and journalists will bring it up in interviews and critiques (no exceptions here).  Though I suspect for Doug Tuttle, formerly of New Hampshire’s MMOSS, recording a solo record was not only a form of catharsis, but impossible to avoid.

In the past year Tuttle has relocated to Somerville, Massachusetts and written over 30 new tracks.  He plucked out the finest 11 and dropped his self-titled solo debut on Monday via Trouble In Mind.  The result of his ardent focus on songwriting is glaringly apparent on this record.  The album is a close relative of his former work with MMOSS, lingering within the neo-psych-rock-shoegaze revival, though there is a sense of solitude throughout the record far more so than his prior work.  This is in part because the songs would suit a lone listener equipped with headphones more so than a dinner party.

It is not an uplifting record by any means.  The emotional high points could be described as content at best, blissfully miserable at worst.  But more often than anything, the songs render a sweet, dreamy numbness; as if floating through a universe of fuzzed out colors and kaleidoscopic particles and thinking: “well, that’s just fine.”

The record’s first track, “With Us Soon” opens with a mildly bright surge of choral harmonies similar to those of Colin Blunstone and The Zombies.  This is one of the most audibly optimistic gems of the album and it is difficult to not mention its proximity to the sitar-licked songs of The Beatles’ later work.  Though this cheerfulness is short-lived, as the following “Forget the Days” catapults us into longing with a clash of crying effects pedals and drone vocals.

Tuttle’s voice is consistently sweet yet mournful throughout. His breathy pleas never overpower the rich soundscape he’s crafted.  Though this soundscape is difficult to pick apart instrumentation-wise, because the separate elements congeal so seamlessly. Yet the album is not all low-fi-psych-wave void of instrumental prowess.  On “Turn This Love” Tuttle exhibits his high aptitude for lead guitar solos, which are impressive but never overwrought.

“Leave Your Body” is another high point on the album for me.  The opening croon of what sounds like a B-3 Organ (but I imagine is a tape effect or digital embellishment) sets a melancholic gospel mood that melts into the softer side of My Bloody Valentine.  The song drops into minor chords that become pretty and painful all at once. “I Will Leave” is perhaps the most straightforward pop song on the record.  With its tinges of early Simon and Garfunkel, it recounts the inevitable demise of certain relationships, a dilemma we are all too familiar with.

One of the nicest things about this album is its accessibility.  While Psychedelic music can be convoluted, esoteric and alienating, Tuttle’s songs manage to omit strangeness as well as a pop sensibility that most could enjoy.  I’ve heard no official news, but I suspect that with the kind of habit Tuttle has for constant songwriting, a new album is already being fleshed out.  I personally can’t wait.

Check out Doug Tuttle’s “I Will Leave” below:

Audiofemme recently had the pleasure of chatting with the totally lovely Doug Tuttle, regarding his music and the myriad ways in which it influences his life. Here’s are his words of wisdom:

AF: Do you see this record as an extension of what MMOSS would have grown into had you stayed together, or do you consider it something your own?  Perhaps an exploration of sounds you were unable to seek within the group?
Doug Tuttle: I think it’s quite a bit different then where MMOSS was headed actually, in the last days of MMOSS things were getting more and more jammy, and sounding a lot more like the Grateful Dead.
AF: What are the biggest differences from this record and the ones you released with MMOSS?
DT: The big thing is MMOSS records were generally half improvised JAM type songs, my record is half improvised POP songs haha.
AF: I read in your interview with IMPOSE magazine that you plucked the songs for this album from a platter of 30 you’d recorded.  How do you crank out so much in such a short amount of time?  Are you the restless, fiendish type who just writes and records holed up in an attic for weeks at a time?
DT: I’m self employed and had just moved to the Boston area, I was insanely bummed out, and happened to me having a really slow work season, so I recorded from the time I woke up, to the time I went to bed a lot of days.
Just killing time really, but also, recording is pretty much my favorite thing to do.
AF: It’s interesting to me that Psychedelic Rock’s first incarnation embraced both traditional instruments (Sitar, hand drums, classical guitar, etc) as well as new effects and technology in the Western music industry.  Now in its latest resurrection we are at the pinnacle of digital instrumentation and recording capability.  How has the recent technology within music affected your perception of/involvement with Psychedelic music?
DT: Not too much, I recorded the record on tape, mainly because that’s all I know how to do, I actually had my friend Ben Greenspan give me Protools lessons so I had a way to get the songs into the digital world/sequence them. All the gear I have is either old or home made, for the most part I’m not too impressed by newer stuff, I would really like one of the new digital Mellotrons though.
AF: What is the size of your ideal audience?  Are you a fan of playing live, or do you prefer an intimate group at a party, or even to be heard through a pair of headphones alone?
DT: I like playing to anyone that will listen, more the merrier! 
AF: Do you see yourself releasing any future albums (or even a version of this one) on vinyl?
DT: This one is available on vinyl and CD.
AF: I read that you recently relocated from New Hampshire to Massachusetts.  Any particular reason you chose Massachusetts?
DT: I grew up in NH and moved to the Boston area when I was 18 (1999/2000) as it was the closest “big city”.
I moved back to NH shortly after MMOSS started. After the break up of MMOSS I needed to get away and this seamed like a good choice….and the Bee Gees wrote a song about it, so there’s that.
AF: Do you feel there is a nurturing music scene regarding your sound in your new location?
DT: Yeah, the Boston music scene is VERY supportive regardless of what kinda stuff you’re playing, it’s rare to go out here and see two bands that sound anything alike on the same bill.
AF: Are you already writing for your next release, or are you taking a break?
DT: I’ve been working on a lot of solo guitar music lately, not sure it will see the light of day though.
AF: What do you feel is the most contemporary aspect of your music?  How do you differentiate your work from the period sound of your influences?
DT: Hard to say, I’m not really trying to make 60’s music or anything, I just listen to a lot of it.
I think it’s a lot easier for me to avoid the cheesy aspects of “psychedelic rock” or whatever you want to call it….not that I do….but I could.
AF: As a newly solo artist, do you find that you miss collaborative decision-making?  Or are you stoked to be making the calls?
DT: I like recording by myself more I think, at least if it’s something I wrote, I love playing on other peoples stuff though.
AF: You have some interesting sampling going on at the beginning and end of “With Us Soon.”  They’re a bit animalistic and operatic.  Where are these from?
DT: I recorded the record on used tape, that’s whatever was on there when I bought it, I think it’s someone singing opera, it’s playing at double speed so it’s hard to tell.
AF: Of your influences, which ones do you feel came through the most on this record?
DT: Hard to say, I was listening to The Byrds a lot…Shadrack Chameleon, David Hemmings, Pisces, Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill , The Bachs, The Folklords. Lot’s of slightly twisted Folk Rock stuff, I like the idea of Rootsy music with heavy handed/slightly inappropriate production. I remember Matt form Herbcraft talking about this while I was recording them, telling me to treat every effect like a new toy, and be as heavy handed as possible…I like this ideal.
AF: What new bands have you been listening to lately?  Or are you steeping in the old-but-good for the moment?
DT: I really like that La Luz record, the new Kevin Morby thing is great, Herbcraft…Morgan Delt.
AF: What knowledge have you gained from a songwriting and recording point of view as a one-man-band?
DT: Be excellent to one another.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 12/10: “No Needs”

entranceband2013A few weeks back The Entrance Band premiered its video for “Spider,” off Face The Sun, and we here at AudioFemme were awed and enchanted by its surreal intricacies and enigmatic, unsettling imagery. Then, yesterday, Entrance Band bassist and director of the”Spider” video, Paz Lenchantin, announced that she’ll be touring with Pixies this summer, and today, the band released its second video directed by Lenchantin, a collaboration between London fashion brand Sister Jane and photographer Amanda Charchian, for “No Needs,” also from Face The Sun. It’s been a good few months for The Entrance Band, and the new video is possibly even cooler than the “Spider” music video that came out early last month.

Dream imagery and an undertow of violence characterizes the beginning of the video. The silent, cinematic opening brings us to a dark thicket, sporadically lit by flashing floodlight, with lyrics from “No Needs” scratched across the screen–“Dear one, the time has come to face the sun…”

A psychedelic array of colors, painted on the faces and monotone dresses of a robot-faced parade of models, dominates the video’s aesthetic. It’s simple theme and variation, with colors that cross-hatch, kaleidoscope or blow into each other as the story line progresses. Like “Spider,” this video evokes a spooky strangeness emphasized by flashed lighting and sped-up frames. Images warp or refract, models arrange themselves and scatter. What we’ve come to recognize as Lenchantin’s signature blend of creepy and pretty is in operation here in full force, complete with a choreographed ring-around-the-rosie in front of a yellow UFO. With added insight from Charchian and Sister Jane, the images come barreling, frame after frame, in this video.

You can watch the music video for The Entrance Band’s “No Needs” below, and the entire Face The Sun album is available for purchase here!

No Needs from The Entrance Band on Vimeo.