Psychedelic Mondays: Temples- Sun Structures

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One popular idea in recent music discussion is that nothing is truly original. Artists may put a twist on techniques and sounds that have already been explored and tested, but no idea that is recorded is truly new or without influence. Although there may be no music released today [or ever perhaps] that is not influenced by past works, that does not necessarily mean that ideas must be classified as old and unoriginal. 

When it comes to the new band “Temples” that hails from Kettering, Northamptonshire, it is tricky to tell whether to classify this band as a blatant rip off of the “Beatles’ Revolver sound” or if they are original enough in their sound to be accepted as a new and original band that puts their own unique twist on a sound which has already heavily influenced many new bands in the “Neo- Psychedelic era”. 

That question aside, one thing that can be said without doubt about Temples new album “Sun Structures” is that it is jam packed with catchy Psychedelic Pop tunes such as “Shelter Song” and “Move with the Season”. Temples has garnered a lot of popular attention since they burst onto the scene with their debut album this year. In fact, music legends Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher have both separately praised the band as the best in Britain.

Temples- Sun Structures
Temples- Sun Structures 

This band is already being compared to Australian neo-psych outfit “Tame Impala”, although most are saying that Sun Structures as an album isn’t as smart or as interesting as “Lonerism” which was Tame Impala’s sophomore album released in 2012. However, if one were to compare the albums in terms of pure enjoyment then one would have to agree that the two are near equals. Give this album a chance and just try to remain static throughout its entirety, I dare you. 

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Psychedelic Mondays # 3: The Mothers of Invention- We’re Only in it for the Money

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Who needs the Peace Corps? This album ironically blared from the speakers of all the psychedelic shop windows of San Francisco during the summer of 1969. Fronted by Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention used this album to preach their dislike for “Fake” hippy culture as well as hippies in general. Frank Zappa is now well known for his hatred of the Beatles and along with them, the general subculture of the time. It is funny then how this album was one of the most highly accepted album by that same subculture. 

As well as being known for his thoughts on hippies, Zappa and the Mothers are also well known for their extreme experimentation and downright strangeness. This album does nothing to separate itself from the ‘weird’ category that Zappa had been placed in with his previous releases. On songs like “What’s the ugliest part of your body?” and “Flower Punk” Zappa changes the tone of his voice in order to play multiple characters within his songs [He usually uses a very silly, almost stupid sounding voice to represent hippies].

The album cover that they were going to originally use was a parody of the Sgt. Pepper cover released by the Beatles two years later. However, Paul McCartney would not give Zappa the right to use the cover and so an alternate shot was taken. This is believed to have continued the feud between Zappa and the Beatles and Zappa used the original cover for album art on the inside of the LP. 

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                                Original Cover                          Alternate Cover

This LP is full of little psychedelic gems. It has a running time of only 39 minutes and yet contains 19 songs which gives each track an average time of just over two minutes. This album which is full of strange, short compositions really shows the musical ability and the insanity of Frank and the Mothers. Even though Frank hated the hippies and the culture of the time, he was fully embraced by many of them and that makes this concept album all the more interesting. I guess the hippies truly did love everyone. 

Psychedelic Monday Review # 2: Love- De Capo

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Love. The most difficult band to search for on Google… especially in Google images. They are known for being one of the first racially diverse pop groups that had ever existed. In fact, because of their racially diverse group they were stopped from touring many times. This is one of the reasons that their beautiful music has failed to reach the ears of the masses. 

However, if one were to go onto a “Greatest Albums of All time” list, one would be more than likely to find their album “Forever Changes” in the top 50 or higher. For example, the Rolling Stones placed them at #40 while NME places them at #6 of all time. What this shows is that although unknown by most, Love sure can produce some great music especially for all you psych lovers out there. 

“De Capo” was the second album released by Love and it came out in 1966 [exactly one year before Forever Changes was released]. This albums is interesting because the first side consists of 6 perfectly constructed Psych Pop tracks whereas the second side is made up of only one 19 jam track entitled Revelation. Many have said that this album was somewhat ruined by the second half but I beg to differ as I find “Revelation” to be one of the strongest cuts on this LP. 

As for the first side, it boasts two of the best songs that Love ever released entitled “7 and 7 is” and “Orange Skies”. The other four tracks are nearly as strong and all 6 make a wonderful side of music that is definitely worth hearing. Although this album is not as well known nor as well loved by psychedelic listeners, I would argue that it rivals the wonder found on “Forever Changes” and at times is more slightly more special. 

New Segment! Psychedelic Monday’s Review #1- Bow Street Runners Eponymous Debut

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I will be starting a new segment on this blog entitled Psychedelic Mondays! Unlike the radio show on Q107 which is called “Psychedelic Sundays”, these posts will deal with REAL psychedelic music from the revolutionary 1960’s and beyond! Psychedelic Mondays will basically be my way of sharing a new Psychedelic album every week which I find to be rather… mind blowing. I hope that this will allow people to find new and exciting music that they may not have had a chance to hear otherwise and that it stimulates discussion on one of the greatest genres of all time… Psychedelic Rock [May also include Psych Folk, Pop, Acid Rock etc.]

This week’s review will focus on “The Bow Street Runners” which was a band that has largely been forgotten with time and yet was relatively well known in the 70’s and 80’s by psychedelic aficionados. They were a quintet outfit which originated in North Carolina, U.S.A. This band only released one album and it came out in 1970 which was slightly after the peak period for psychedelic rock. They have been heavily influenced by Psych power houses such as The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and The 13th Floor Elevators.

This album combines a grand assortment of instruments but relies heavily on the electric guitar in order to create the dreamy psychedelic sound that they were striving for. As well as this, there is also a heavy use of flutes and trumpets which provide the listener with a decadent supply of different and interesting sounds. 

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                                                The Bow Street Runners Circa 1970

Although it is true that this album does not offer an entirely different sound then what was occurring at the time, what makes this album interesting is its ability to offer a variety of different genres on one record. On “Rock Fish Blues” you get basic blues rock whereas on “American Talking Blues” you will find a more diverse and rocky Psych sound. This ensures that the record stays interesting while also offering some of what the listener expects. 

Yes it seems that if this band had had a bit of luck and were discovered a little bit earlier, they could have easily continued to make albums which would have pushed the envelope of what was being recorded in the United States during the late 60’s and early 70’s. At least they were able to leave their mark on the world of music with this exciting debut which will hopefully continue to reach the ears of new psychedelic listeners. 

 

Review #4- Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels

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Shockingly powerful. You can almost feel the hunger from the rap duo of El-P and Killer Mike as they spit off line after line of pure fire. Although they have teamed up before on previous works such as Killer Mike’s acclaimed album “R.A.P Music” there seems to be something incredibly special that comes off of this official debut by the duo.

The pounding beats compliment the high power lyrics that are dropped on this LP. The level of grime on tracks like “Get it” are incredible and as the listener you almost feel dirty just listening to it. Although it is true that the “underground is better than mainstream” belief that has been spread throughout hip hop listeners from the beginning may be overused. However with an album like this, which in a way only succeeds because it is underground, it seems necessary to point out the fact that DAMN, UNDERGROUND RAP IS SO SUPERIOR TO MAINSTREAM.

This is the kind of music that makes people wonder why the masses buy into mainstream hip-hop artists like ASAP FERG and Rick Ross  when music like this is readily available… and for FREE might I add. This kind of rapping is what I like to call “Smart rap” and it offers what it is that I truly enjoy about hip-hop music. Lyrically driven but also supported by incredible production, this is why hip-hop will continue to stay relevant. Music with a message, this is real music. 

8.5

Their next LP “Run the Jewels 2” is planned to be released later this year. GET PUMPED!

 

 

Album Review #3: Fairport Convention- Liege and Lief

Ever wanted to listen to some awesome 60’s folk but didn’t want to listen to Bob Dylan? Well if you have, then this band is one that you should definitely check out! 

Fairport Convention are an English folk rock band who came to be known most prominently in the late 1960’s. They are often credited for being the most important British folk band in the newly regenerated folk scene and for being the pioneers of a genre called “electric folk.” Electric folk was used to describe a slightly heavier type of folk music which was based heavily upon Celtic folk music of old. Along with “Unhalfbricking”, “Liege and Lief” is considered to be the bands greatest work and it is easy to hear why. The story telling on songs “Marty Groves” and “Tam Lin” alone are worthy of note and the rest of the album sounds just as good. 

Although previously the band had always used at least one Dylan cover on their full length LP’s, on this record all of the tracks have either been written or arranged by the band themselves. This brings a sense of individuality to this album that perhaps was not seen as prominently on their previous releases. 

Sandy Denny, a singer who later performed with Led Zeppelin on their track “The Battle of Evermore” uses her voice to create a mood of fantasy and wonder as the audience follows along with the music using her voice as their guide. On songs such as the album opener “Come All Ye” and “The Medley” Denny’s voice is the centrepiece of the tracks and the musicians that back her up do an amazing job of supplying music that compliments her vocal style. 

This is a classic record that deserves at least a couple of spins. It is recommended that the lyrics be read with the songs in order to understand the majestic stories which are spun with the words of Sandy Denny. For folk music lovers this is a must and for all others this is a fun record which if nothing else will never fail to entertain.

8.5/10

Album Review #2: Cynic- Kindly Bent to Free Us

Cynic is an American Progressive Metal band that originated in Miami, Florida in 1987. Their first album entitled “Focus” which was released in 1993, is still regarded as one of the most influential albums in the Progressive Metal music scene and has garnered a lot of praise from critics and Cynic fans alike. After the initial success of their first album, the members of Cynic had trouble coming up with enough material to continue on with a sophomore release. This along with personal differences caused them to disband in 1994.

Flash forward twenty years and Cynic is now releasing their second album since the group reunited in 2006. “Kindly Bent to Free Us [2014]” is almost nothing like the bands first album as it focus’s far more of its attention on melody and structure of the songs rather than the heavy instrumentation which was found on “Focus”. The band blends together a combination of jazz, alternative rock and metal in order to create a delightful sound that resembles the sounds of other progressive bands such as Porcupine Tree and even Rush. 

The album begins with an incredible track entitled “True Hallucination Speak”. This cut is probably the best song on this album and let’s people know that if it’s the old Cynic you have come for, you shall most likely be disappointed. You will find a mix of heavy and groovy bass lines, wonderful guitar solos and breakdowns which are true to the progressive genre. The next two tracks entitled “The Lions Roar” and “Kindly Bent to Destroy Us” continue to do the same as the first track did which is to introduce the listener to a new brand of music that this band has not dealt with so much in the past. 

It is clear that Cynic has used this album in order to reinvent its image. Although, their lack of experience in this genre seems to show on tracks like “Infinite Shapes” and “Moon Heart Sun Head”. Although these tracks have some strong parts, the entire middle section of the album seems to drag on a little too long. There seems to be a lack of direction and focus [no pun intended] from the band during the final stages of this LP. 

Overall, the album is a solid effort from a band that most likely has some interesting and new ideas for their fans on their next full length release.  

7/10

PS. This album cover is awesome as hell. 

 

 

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