I’ve been a huge fan of the Byrds ever since my idealistic high school days, which is why I’ve been kicking myself for not listening to Gene Clark’s masterpiece of an album No Other until a few days ago. Since then I’ve been playing the album on repeat, and the grandiose sounds permeate the mundanity of my days with a brilliance I haven’t felt since first hearing the Dead’s American Beauty. “Life’s Greatest Fool” kicks off the album with Clark’s country croon, jangly guitars, a lofty choir. The upbeat tune moves you to perceive your surroundings with rose-tinted glasses, engendering a need for sun soaked road trips while this song blares in the background.
At a first listen, the grandiosity of the production can feel overdone, the lyrics pretentious in their sweeping statements; however, Clark’s delivery subdues the whole thing. He doesn’t give us a concrete perspective on life. He admits that “words can be empty though filled with sound/Stoned numb and drifting, hard to be profound.” And despite this the lyrics are rife with profundity in humbling ways. It’s a song full of questioning, Clark’s unique outlook bundled in the guise of genuine curiosity, open ended and unsure.
Surreal electrifying energy. “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” is a hypnotic track on Electric Music for the Mind and Body, an album full of psychedelic strangeness. I cannot get over the seamless switches from bluesy garage rock to soaring, euphoric organ that pervade the song. Take a listen.
My friend from KALX Berkeley impulsively took a bus to Colorado Springs, surprising me on this stressful start to the fourth week. We’ve spent most of the day sitting on my couch showing each other songs we’ve been into lately. Aside from the classic “Caught In A Butt Sandwich” by The Mangfather Bob Katz, the best song she showed me happened to be by a kickass multiracial artist named Kohinoorgasm. Kohinoorgasm is a bay area artist that used to DJ at KALX, now working as a solo artist. She strives to empower people of color through her music. The music video of “Azaadi Is Freedom Is Fate” has an evident motif of hair, which Kohinoorgasm notes as a “distinct issue for femmes of color.” The song itself is an exploration of the concept of freedom, Azaadi meaning freedom in multiple levels. As a multiracial woman who identifies strongly with my Indian culture, I find Kohinoorgasm to be an empowering presence in the DIY music scene.
Vashti Bunyan is for slow, cold Sundays like today. “I’d Like To Walk Around In Your Mind” moves in that strange flow of time that occurs this moment in the week. Vashti’s tender voice and introspective lyrics are reminiscent of lonely, reflective Sunday thoughts, but leave you warmed by the fuzzy psych-folk instrumentals that wash over them.
It’s been easy to feel powerless as I hear about friends and family who have already faced racially fueled harassment as consequence to this election. As a person of color processing events that have transpired these past few days, music has been a necessary tool in reaffirming my worth and power. “Alright” is an anthem of persistence and revolt, and Kendrick’s words are a source of reassurance and solidarity in a time that feels hopeless to many.
Coining the term “Beach Goth,” the Growlers are known for their psychedelic/surfer blend of garage rock. However, “I’ll Be Around” shows the Growlers distancing themselves from this genre, delving deeper into the neon-soaked night sound they explored in their previous album Chinese Fountain. Produced by Julian Casablancas, the song has a danceable beat and is rife with spooky synth solos. It’s the perfect tune for a Halloween night out.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard produce deafening, propulsive shredding that echoes from a villain’s dungeon in your Saturday morning cartoons. Throughout their career, the seven-piece outfit from Melbourne has imbued jazz, soul, surf, and metal into their distinct blend of psychedelia. While it’s tempting to pigeonhole them with all the other emerging garage rock revivalists, this band is entirely its own animal. A first listen to “Am I In Heaven?” and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is already distinguished from the rest. The mind bending song begins in a serene haze of jangly acoustic guitars and quickly descends into apocalyptic, adrenaline-fueled inferno. Check it out: