While psychedelic rock emerged in the late 1960s as LSD became popular among musicians and their fans, it didn't exactly take over the world for very long. Yet, while pop music rejected many of its more self-indulgent traits--long, improvisatory jams, spacey sound effects--the music lived on in the underground, inspiring--to this day!--groups to turn on, tune in and make albums. The last few decades have seen quite a few notable groups that have a psychedelia in their soul and here are some of them!
Oneida: Brooklyn-based band that knows how to drone. Current project is a three-part collection where the meaning of life is explained haphazardly through the use of heavy instrumentation and repetitive riffage. Had they come about in the 1970s, they might have spearheaded the Quaalude Rock movement. Maybe they can bring back the production of Quaaludes!
24) The Rain Parade: Leaders in the Southern California Paisley Underground movement of the 1980s, the Rain Parade started with Byrdsian 12-string guitars for their pop moments and then slid into coma-inducing trance-like tunes that highlighted their lazy side. Great music for staring at the side of a building.
The Lyres: Led by a guy they called Monoman, the Lyres (not to be confused with the modern day Brooklyn band Liars) played a charged up garage rock back in the late 70s and 80s when it seemed as if no one cared anymore. They are now considered "forefathers" of all that is revivaled garage and psychedelic. "Help You Ann" remains a classic and can change your life if you let it.
22) Apollo Sunshine: A new band that met at the Berklee College of Music and then immediately deliberately forgot everything they ever learned. It's obvious from their latest album Shall Noise Upon that these young men can play just about any type of music they desire. And do--with lots of reverb and other tripped out elements working while they zone. I don't think they kill children, which is a positive.
Ride: Ride never made it big in the U.S. since trade agreements between the U.S. and Britain were never properly worked out in the late 1980s and early '90s when these gents were plying their trade. But their "shoegazer" pedigree is well-deserved as their sheets of sound never relent. One guy defected to Oasis, while the other guys argued over a "new direction" that directed them to break up.
20) Flying Saucer Attack: Sometimes psychedelic rock turns into space rock, one of those minute distinctions that causes arguments of no small consequence amongst people who argue such things. However, the distinction is mostly lost on us average dullards who just enjoy listening to sounds that are always just out of reach. And who have to settle for getting stoned on Nyquil.
The Dream Syndicate: Not the LaMonte Young collective, but folks from L.A. who in the early 1980s were still listening to their Velvet Underground albums when the rest of the world--including many music fans--were consistently ignoring them. To their credit, the band liked feedback--and couldn't stay together long enough to cash in on whatever there was to cash in on.
18) The Charlatans UK: The "UK" appendage was thanks to there being a band in the U.S. with the same name, who haven't made this list or any other list that I'm aware of. The "UK" tag seems so quaint. They're still around and still make albums worth checking out since they've never lost that need to experiment and they turn the organ up when in doubt. Everyone loves organ music.
16) The Prisoners: Another obscure band from England who never got the recognition they deserve. Lots of great organ and fuzzed out guitars at a time when few people cared. Not like today. Well, actually it is like today, except these guys aren't around anymore and, in fact, when I tried to look them up, I found some other band with the SAME NAME. Maybe they could reissue these guys as The Prisoners UK?
Akron/Family: Live from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series, we present to you: Akron / Family, the best band ever to employ a "slash" in their band name. It's as if kids these days are defying you to remember their name. What's with all the unnecessary punctuation? Next thing you know writers at this site will start ending all their sentences with exclamation points! Now that would be annoying!
14) Spacemen 3: Have you ever had your doctor prescribe you Codeine? And have you taken more than the "recommended dose?" If so, you probably enjoyed these guys a lot. In many ways, I prefer them over Spiritualized, the band their leader eventually formed to get away from this. Something about the complete lack of ambition here than makes them seem even more ambitious. Hence, the paradox!
Bevis Frond: For a time Nick Salamon, the Bevis Frond, was releasing what seemed like an album a month. He was like the Bob Pollard of psychedelia. But really he just had a lot of ideas stored up and liked to jam out and had the funds to do so and so he did. Sometimes all of us are just one legal settlement away from realizing our dreams.
12) Black Mountain: How do bands get noticed these days? Sure, you can put up a MySpace page and wait for the masses to find you, but when you play this ambitious epic rock stuff at a time when people's attention spans are shorter than reading this blog, I'm not sure how you achieve immortality. Take vitamins?
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: These folks made the mistake of trying out an "alt.country" phase. Heck, the Byrds did it, too, and we're still blaming them for many bands beyond their control. From what I hear, BRMC are back on track and making noise again.
10) Porcupine Tree: Considered by many to be "progressive" rock, I prefer not to think of it that way. I prefer not to think in general. You put on an album by Porcupine Tree and I swear it sounds like you've gone on vacation somewhere. Somewhere you probably can't afford or where the locals would beat the crap out of you for wearing that hideous outfit. What were you thinking?
The Jesus And Mary Chain: Sometimes you don't need to do more than turn up the feedback and crank up the fuzztone and reverb and mumble. Yet, if it was so easy to do, then why are these guys one of the few who can do it?
8) Mercury Rev: Big in Europe, I'm told. Which would figure. If you want anything accomplished in the US, you're best to get it done elsewhere. You think outsourcing jobs to China is bad? What about having to send our young ones to Europe just to get their degree in rock n' roll? Hard to believe but these boys are now working on their doctorate.
The Olivia Tremor Control: Ten million kids buy a home recording unit. Nine million kids give up in frustration or make unlistenable junk and call it what, Fang Of Six? Then another million kids actually use the technology and scratch out something decent. From there one band makes this list. And they eventually go into real recording studios to make it happen.
6) My Bloody Valentine: By not making music, Kevin Shields grows his reputation. Of course, he recorded Loveless before stopping. So, he understood something about going out on a high note. Except now the group is touring again and the mystique will go away just like so much Jandek.
Spiritualized: Jason Pierce is one of those band-mates who doesn't like to listen to others. At least, that's the vibe I get from what I've read. He thinks walking into a recording studio means he's at Burger King and he can have it his way. This probably doesn't wash well with others. But as long as the albums come out the way they do, I don't really care who's happy and "creatively fulfilled." Democracy isn't always the best option.
4) The Butthole Surfers: What began as an abrasive noise consortium eventually morphed for a time into a truly tripped out spectacle before succumbing to the vices of hard rock. To say people had their life changed by a Butthole Surfers performance is not to overstate things by much. Anyone with a felony conviction on their record is likely to feel the same.
The Cure: Not always considered psychedelic by traditional definition, the Cure used enough feedback and freakout to qualify in my estimation. Sure, they had some goofy pop hits along the way--some pretty damn good--but the real enjoyment here has always been to put on the headphones and go to that "special place" where your mom can't yell at you and you no longer work at the gas station.
2) Julian Cope: He led the Teardrop Explodes and did a fine job at that. But Cope took awhile to find his footing as a solo artist. But once he did, there was no turning back. His Brain Donor side project is worth investigating as well. And as Julian once sang himself: The blues had a baby and the bastard couldn't sing! Right on!
Flaming Lips: You don't often think of Oklahoma as being a state of grand psychedelia, but the Flaming Lips are proof positive that your environment is what you make it. And they've made theirs something to admire. Everyone should hear Zaireeka on four separate stereos playing at once at least once in their lifetime as the band intended. Wayne Coyne can't sing but he'll spend his whole life ignoring that fact and continue to squeak by on a constant diet of weirdness. Dr. Atkins would be confused.