Good psych-based music has certainly never gone away. While it may not have necessarily been as prominent as other styles over the years, it has always existed in one form or another, particularly in the worlds of vinyl collectors and audiophiles. With the success of bands like Tame Impala and The Black Angels, more and more people are opening their ears to bands that are taking cues from the 13th Floor Elevators and early Pink Floyd. Here's a look at the ten psych rock acts to watch this year, groups fit for taking you on psychedelic journeys that can put you both in a trance and a freak out.
See also: Ten jam bands to watch in 2014
10. Strangers Family Band Coming in with a big, guitar-driven sound and a wild psychedelic projection light show in the vein of The Black Angels and Spiritualized, Strangers Family Band recently made the move from Orlando to Los Angeles. The act has an appropriately sun-drenched, West Coast, paisley-pop sound that would have fit right in with the late '60s Sunset Strip scene. It's music made for driving with the top down. The music is really complemented by the keyboards texturing the sound so that it's trippy yet soft and instantly makes your body move to the beat.
9. The Spyrals Taking cues from early Rolling Stones, this trio from San Francisco has perfected the West Coast psych garage sound. The production has a vintage muffled feel that makes the music a pleasure to listen to. Jangly guitars and tambourine complement front man Jeff Lewis's reverb-laden rock and roll preaching, creating a fun to listen to dichotomy of rough and clear sounds. While there are many competent bands trying to replicate this sound, the Spyrals rise above thanks to its knack for creating song upon song of seriously catchy melodies with just the right amount of grit.
8. Temple of the Smoke Staying on the heavy, space rock side of things, Temple of the Smoke, from Belgrade, Serbia, plays music that is very deliberate. The music, inspired by science fiction and local politics, contains less of the wild freak-outs typical of other psych acts; things here are more composed with a heavier weight and stoner rock feel to them. The use of synthesizers create ambient instrumental jams that bring in a trip hop flavor to some tracks, but the near primal drums, thumping bass and guitars-through-vintage-amp rock keeps the sound grounded firmly in a '70s post rock with krautrock influences. This is truly an eclectic band.
7. Quilt Quilt is great at crafting refined, light as a feather, Beatles-esque melodies with an Eastern slant. Anna Fox Rochinski is the highlight -- with her voice, she could fit right in with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar or Hair. Clear as a bell and soft as a cloud, her vocals instantly capture your attention and put you in a fuzzy mood conducive to napping in the sunshine after a picnic. Held in Splendor, due out on Mexican Summer on January 28, was recorded in a month, a span in which the band recorded together live and built the album up as it went along with Jarvis Taveniere of Woods. Lap steel guitar, saxophone, cello and violin all come into play as the outfit churns out perfect sugary psych-pop gems one after the other.
6. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard With Theremin on hand for some extra weirdness, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard from Melbourne, Australia, creates huge space-psych atmospheres that feel like a celebration of noise. Since the s seven piece formed, it has been very prolific, recording three albums of pure psych rock in the span of the past fifteen months, each better than the one before. Complex extended jams go even bigger live, and with a slot at this year's Austin Psych Fest, the group is sure to garner attention stateside.
5. Temples Assaulting the senses with a retro sound, England's Temples have garnered praise in their home country, with Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr professing to be major fans. Starting as studio project duo called the Moons mid-2012, James Edward Bagshaw and Thomas Edison Warmsley saw the need to flesh out to a full band after the quick success of their single "Shelter Song." Using vintage equipment to get some really authentic tones and effects, the band makes music that could be the soundtrack to a daydream. Booming drums give an extra bombastic feel to the outfit's neo-psych, with songs relying more on echoing bright melodies than sonic noise jams. The group's debut full length, Sun Structures, will be released on Monday, February 10, from Heavenly Recordings.
4. Electric Eye Taking inspiration from Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii and Flaming Lips' The Embryonic is a good base to jump off, and when these guys jump, they really have lift off and fly. Norway's Electric Eye is a master of tension and release; building deep bluesy groves and themes into massive sounds, the act takes things into absolute freak out territory that peaks effortlessly and then sticks right there pounding the point across. The band's last album, Pick-Up, Lift-Off, Space, Time, released by Fuzz Club, is full of crashing cymbals, reverb-heavy vocals and droning atonal bliss -- delivering everything you want in an experimental psych band.
3. Morgan Delt Topanga Canyon's Morgan Delt is a musical mastermind who self-released a cassette tape titled Psychic Death Hole last year that quickly became an underground favorite. His self-titled, debut full-length, set to be released on January 28, is full of mini psychedelic symphonies with dashes of Eastern mysticism. Delt's new single, "Obstacle Eyes," is gaining a lot of buzz right now. A airy, mind-melding song, the tune has almost menacing undertones thanks to the warping of notes through tape manipulation that sound as if you took the brown acid. In short, it's perfect psych pop.
2. The Cult of Dom Keller When these four bluesman from Nottingham with a taste for dark psychedelia get together, they created a sound that has a solid backbone steeped in the blues, enabling the guitar to explore crazy heights and sounds. Oversaturated fuzz and reverb send a shock from the instruments that lends to tranceful bliss, as the band effortlessly brings an updated Brian Jonestown Massacre sound full of mysticism to a modern audience. The band's full length, The Second Bardo, is due in mid-February on Reverberation Society, and with the group's first stateside appearance at last year's Austin Psych Fest being a big success, here's to an American tour this year to support the new album.
1. Jacco Gardner Jacco Gardener classifies himself as a Baroque pop multi-instrumentalist, and while that sounds almost daunting and a little pretentious, it's actually a great term for the gorgeous psych-tinged chamber music this Dutch talent creates. Hailing just north of Amsterdam, he uses traditional local instruments and classical instrumentation such as the harpsichord and newer inventions such as the Mellotron to create a sound that sways between being strangely familiar and challengingly alien. The production value of the music calls to mind Brian Wilson or Love or Syd Barrett, as many have compared Gardener to.
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