Results for psychedelic rock

interviews

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21
reviews
EmbryonicEmbryonic available on iTunes

The Flaming Lips Embryonic

The Flaming Lips are back with their 12th album, Embryonic. The band has been around for three decades now, which some people wouldn't expect from a bunch of psychedelic rockers from Oklahoma. Jim, who wrote about the band in his book Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, has been waiting for them to return to their roots. They are rocking out again on Embryonic, and while they've done this sound before, and better, he gives the album a Buy It. Greg agrees that they are moving in the right direction. The fans may wonder where the pop songs are, but he's fascinated to hear them attempt the jazzier material. Greg applauds the ambition, but finds the execution lacking. He gives Embryonic a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 201
True Love Cast Out All Evil (with Okkervil River)True Love Cast Out All Evil available on iTunes

Roky Erickson True Love Cast Out All Evil

Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson has an album out called True Love Cast Out All Evil. Since fronting the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson has been in heavy decline, dealing with mental illness and drug abuse. He was nursed back to health by his brother and, in part, the Austin community. So this record, which was produced by Will Scheff of Okkervill River, is a personal as well as a professional achievement. Greg describes this record as reflective rather than howling. But, it's beautiful to hear his voice, which is still intact. He gives it a Buy It. Jim wishes that Erickson had collaborated with someone like Billy Gibbons, who could‘ve brought out the acid rock side of the singer. He doesn’t recommend this if it's your first foray into Erickson's music, but gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 230
dijs

Jim & Greg

“The Red Telephone”Love

Last week, Arthur Lee, the singer and guitarist for the psychedelic rock band Love, died of leukemia at the age of 61. Jim and Greg explain how Lee was one of the most important figures of the psychedelic era. He influenced bands like The Doors, The Byrds, and even the other great African-American psychedelic rocker of the day: Jimi Hendrix. His masterpiece, Forever Changes, also influenced contemporary "orchestral pop" artists like The Arcade Fire and The Polyphonic Spree. Lee was a pioneer, but a largely unheralded one. This may have been the musician's own doing, since he was a rather dark, eccentric figure. But, while Lee certainly had many troubled years, Jim and Greg believe his music deserves to be celebrated. To pay tribune to Arthur Lee, our hosts highlight a song off of Forever Changes. They both add "The Red Telephone" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 37
features

SXSW '06

This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.

  • First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.

  • Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.

Beastie Boys at SXSW 2006

  • In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.

  • Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…

  • Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.

Tim Fite at SXSW 2006

  • We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.

  • The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.

  • Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.

  • One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?

  • White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.

  • Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.

  • Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.

Go to episode 18

Instrumental: The Wah-Wah Pedal

Wah-Wah It's time for the next installment of our Instrumental series, where we trace the history of an iconic piece of musical gear. Next up: the wah-wah pedal. The wah has a distinctive sound that became a building block for psychedelic rock, funk, and even reggae – but its creation back in the mid 1960s was the product of a technological glitch. Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange join us to break down the history of the wah and unpack the science behind the pedal and demonstrate what it adds sonically to iconic riffs.

Jim and Greg explore how legendary musicians from Eric Clapton and Earl Hooker to Melvin“Wah-Wah”Ragin and Mikey Chung used the pedal. They ultimately note that, despite getting a bad rap for being gimmicky, the wah-wah pedal plays a critical role in a number of genres of music.

Go to episode 610
news

Music News

The labels are still holding onto the idea of selling physical media and have rolled out a new music format called SlotMusic. Each memory card will contain albums and other extras that can be played on mobile phones, computers and some portable MP3 players. So far listeners can only purchase these SlotMusic cards at big box stores like Walmart, but the big labels are certainly hoping they can entice digital music fans to actually purchase more than a single mp3. SlotMusic mp3s are higher quality than most purchased by consumers, but Jim and Greg aren't sure that will be enough incentive to walk into a store to buy music when you can simply do it online from your own home.

Keyboardist Rick Wright, founding member of Pink Floyd and psychedelic rock genius, passed away recently at the age of 65. As Jim explains, Wright was a quiet figure in a larger than life band, but he deserves to be honored. Wright was a huge jazz fan and brought a lot of those musical influences to Pink Floyd's sound. You can hear this in the song, "Summer '68" from the band's 1970 album Atom Heart Mother.

Go to episode 148

Music News

Jefferson Airplane In a cosmic coincidence fitting for a psychedelic rock song, two founding members of Jefferson Airplane died recently on the same day: January 28. Signe Toly Anderson, the group's original lead singer, died at the age of 74. She sang on the band's 1966 debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off before leaving the group to be replaced by Grace Slick. Rhythm guitarist and singer Paul Kantner also died that day. Greg credits Kantner as being the anchor of the group, harmonizing in between Slick and Marty Balin and holding the group together instrumentally amid the psychedelic chaos. Kantner also co-wrote some of Jefferson Airplane's most well-known songs like "Wooden Ships", "Volunteers", and much of the After Bathing at Baxter's album. He was a true visionary, exploring utopian ideals and themes of interstellar travel, especially in the underrated early years of Jefferson Starship. In honor of his passing, Greg plays Kantner's A.A. Milne and Fred Neil referencing composition "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil."

Go to episode 532
world tours

Brazil

Os Mutantes

The excitement of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will soon fade into memory, but the music coming out of Brazil has endured for centuries. Jim and Greg bring the Sound Opinions World Tour to Brazil and explore the country's rich musical heritage. Of course, Brazil is enormous and has produced more genres of music than we could even name. So Jim and Greg focus first on the pivotal period of 1958-1968, beginning with the rise of bossa nova. Our guide is Sérgio Mielniczenko, host of The Brazilian Hour radio show since 1978. He explains how the deceptively minimalistic yet harmonically complex music of João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sérgio Mendes, and other bossa nova artists revolutionized music in Brazil and around the world.

But in 1964, just as "The Girl From Ipanema" was becoming a global hit, Brazil's government was overthrown in a military coup. Artists like Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, and Geraldo Vandré turned to socially conscious protest songs in response. This post-bossa nova generation became known as música popular brasileira (Brazilian popular music) or MPB. Meanwhile, the Jovem Guarda (Young Guard) led by Roberto Carlos created an apolitical form of Brazilian rock ‘n’ roll. And in the late '60s, the Tropicália movement blended high art, lowbrow kitsch, traditional Brazilian rhythms, psychedelic rock, and electric instruments into an irreverent mix. Tropicalistas like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Tom Zé, and Gal Costa were curtailed by the government crackdown of 1968, but their music has proved influential for decades.

Jim and Greg also want to acknowledge all of the great new music coming out of Brazil. Chris McGowan, author of The Brazilian Sound and The Brazilian Music Book, calls in from Rio and explains that Brazil is a large country and there are a huge variety of popular musical styles. He runs through some of the most popular genres of the moment, starting with sertanejo, Brazilian country music. They also talk about new avant-garde music, Brazilian hip hop, and electronic dance genres Axé and tecno brega.

Go to episode 560