March was a busy month for me, as I started a new job and went back home to the Philly area for a visit. Alas, I missed last week’s edition of Weekly Listening due to the hectic schedule and minimal time allotted to explore new music. I’ve mostly been listening to what we’ve reviewed on the site (including the excellent Arbiter record from 2022). I’m also excited about the new single from my musical soulmate Jason Isbell’s upcoming album. But Jason, as much as I love him and Americana, is about as far from psych rock as possible!
This week, we have psych-soul jams from Brazil, Fourth World music from Hungary, mystical garage rock from Los Angeles, and a psych-doom masterpiece from Canada. Enjoy!
Psych Jams of the Week
Tanto by Tagua Tagua
Tagua Tagua is a psych-soul act formed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2017 and fronted by songwriter and producer Felipe Puperi. Felipe’s one-man band has plenty of Brazilian followers but has also gained international attention, being featured on NPR and KCRW. Tanto is his second album, featuring lush psychedelic pop and neo-soul, all with a Latin flavor.
Felipe has a plenty-long musical resume, previously fronting Wannabe Jalva, playing Lollapalooza Brazil, and supporting shows for Jack White and Pearl Jam. Tanto was released on March 3, and you may be hearing more from Felipe soon. He recently toured Europe and the U.S. West Coast and played several shows at SXSW.
All the songs on Tanto are sung in Spanish in Felipe’s smooth and sometimes falsetto vocals. The album title and first single, Tanto, translates in Portuguese as “so much.” According to Felipe, the album is inspired by the feeling of “falling in love for the sake of falling in love.” That’s a sweet sentiment, and the music and vibe of the album are just as sweet, with simple arrangements packed with soul and an almost drug-induced feeling throughout.
One could classify Tanto as Indie R&B and Latin Soul, but it also bears the genre of Tropicalia, which I’ve been drawn to recently. Tropicalia is a Brazilian artistic movement that arose in the late Sixties, around the same time psychedelic music emerged. It merges Brazilian and African rhythms with English and American psych and pop rock, along with the movement spreading to works of film, poetry, and theater.
If Tagua Tagua’s Tanto is Tropicalia, then let’s just say I dig it. With warmer weather around the corner, this is the perfect album to chill by the poolside on a lazy summer afternoon.
A Second Invitation to an Uninterrupted Katabatic Lens by Decolonize Your Mind Society
Something about the music being made in Hungary deeply fascinates me. Psychedelic Source Records is one Hungarian musical collective that puts out great tunes regularly, and I recently discovered these folks – Decolonize Your Mind Society. Nothing about this experimental music collective is conventional, either in the strange, fourth-world instrumental music they make or in how they describe themselves. They also wear masks and costumes in live performances like the Swedish psych-rockers Goat.
This new album, dropped on March 3, is a follow-up to their 2020 debut, A Courteous Invitation to an Unhabituated Anabatic Prism. The band says they are inspired by non-European traditional music, psychedelic ritual performances, non-tempered tuning systems, and Jon Hassell’s Fourth World Music. The “society” was founded by Balint Szabo Gosheven, who describes himself as a “guitar anti-hero” as a continuation of his creative work.
The main thing you must know about Decolonize and this album is the incredibly unique sounds they’ve managed to make. This is primarily because they play with unique instruments such as the refretted just intonation guitar and glissonic wind instrument. I don’t pretend to know what this means exactly or how these instruments work, but when you listen to the album, you’ll immediately notice the dissonant sounds that one usually doesn’t hear.
Some of the album is a bit jarring, and it takes a while to get used to, probably because it’s non-Euro-centric music. This is like music for an anthropology student or a psychedelic librarian (if that makes any sense), but I mean that in the best way possible. It’s all heady, rather intellectual, and challenging, but well worth a listen.
Islands in the Sky by Death Valley Girls
When exploring new music, sometimes I’m drawn in by the band’s aesthetic and how they present themselves to the world. This is like judging a book by its cover; admittedly, it probably shows my lack of knowledge of musicianship. Sometimes, it turns out a record with bad-ass cover art, well, sucks. Other times, the gamble pays off.
This was what happened with Death Valley Girls. First – a great band name and a presentation of goth ladies making occult-like music. It drew me in. But after listening to Death Valley Girls’ new album, Islands in the Sky, the music made me stay.
The band has received plenty of press and seems to be media darlings. Iggy Pop calls them a “gift to the world,” and sites like Pitchfork, SPIN, and MOJO have all covered their music. I didn’t know much about them before listening to this new record, but I was impressed. They are occult rockers, but more of the Hot Topic variety and less of the Satanist/Aleister Crowley type. This isn’t a knock on them; the music is more about healing, self-help, and celebrating life and less about the darkness of the world we tend to think of when thinking of the occult. Islands in the Sky has an expansive sound and moves in almost spiritual directions, especially for a band known primarily for being garage rockers.
Death Valley Girls describe themselves as LA rock ‘n roll mystics, and they tap into the energy of great female rockers from the past, whether Stevie Nicks or Patti Smith. The music of Islands in the Sky is infectious, groove-laden, and all with a touch of mystery. You may enjoy it if you like other modern psychedelia acts like Acid Dad, King Tuff, and L.A. Witch.
Miss Mellow (Self-Titled)
Miss Mellow is a newer band from Munich, Germany, formed in 2019 and recently dropped their debuted self-titled album in February. The record is an eclectic treat for stoner rock and heavy psych fans, combining spacey jams with funk and krautrock. As the band describes in their bio, many influences are jammed together on this debut LP, but it all melds in harmony. The quartet wasn’t sure what direction the music would go when they started playing together, but they have much more clarity now.
There’s not a ton of information out there on Miss Mellow since they’ve just emerged, but I’m hoping they keep making music like this. Every track on the debut is at least more than six minutes long, with plenty of jamming and a groove that carries throughout. They somewhat remind me of King Gizzard, but they also have an undeniable krautrock feel. Check this one out for sure, and support these newcomers on Bandcamp!
Memento Mori by Hail the Void
Hail the Void is a heavy psych/doom act that somehow has slipped under my radar until now. They’ve made much noise in the heavy underground since their self-titled debut album won “Best Debut Album” at the first annual Doomed and Stoned Awards. Memento Mori, their follow-up effort, is just as awesome and also picked up some accolades. It landed the top spot on the Doom Charts in February for a good reason.
The three-piece emerges from the dense woodlands of British Columbia with a sound just as atmospheric as it’s punishing. “High and Rising” may be the best track on the new album, but the entire record is killer from front to back. The riffs are to die for, but what separates these guys from other Stoner/Doom acts to me is the clean, melodic, and hauntingly beautiful vocals. Kirin Gudmundson (who also handles guitar) has a great voice that hits surprising notes.
It’s Bandcamp Friday, so head to the site and support some of these artists!
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