Just asking because there seems to be an explosion of psych bands who mix quirky 60s pop tunes, Byrdsy guitar and harmonies and wigged out keyboards, and they all appear to be Welsh. In fact I’d say that of my favourite new bands of the last 24 or so months
more than half are from the country.
The Welsh weren’t always this groovy. Back in the 60s there were only a handful of top pysch bands (only Apple whose Buffalo Billycan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaHsPPPQTt4 is an absolute classic, and Eyes of Blue, who morphed into prog rock droners Man spring to mind). Of course all that changed in the 90s with the Super Furries and Gorky’s, but that was a mere trickle compared with the psych tidal wave we have now.
Primer movers in all this pop grooviness appears to be the See Monkey Do Monkey lable http://www.seemonkeydomonkey.com/ which is based in Cardiff. It wears its Welsh psychness very proudly on its sleeves (it was a big deal that it recently signed its first English band – The Moles) and boasts a very fine array of bands.
Top of my playlist is the SMDM album Box by the rather brilliant Colorama. It is a smorgasbord of 60s influenced pop tunes, but thanks to some ingenious arrangements and very clever touches is way more than just a retro fest. Lead track Candy Street recalls both The Kinks, and the type of bands who appear on the wonderful Rubble collections, and to these ears in spite of its genius its only the third or fourth best track on Box. It is one of those albums too that presents you with something new each time you listen to it.
I have been playing another SMDM album – Fire Inside by The Keys – for
most of the summer. It’s a bit more upbeat than Colorama with tracks that remind me of mid 80s Mary Chain, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Charlatans. What makes it so special is that the both the songs and the musicianship (the band have been around in other bands for well over a decade now) are inspired.
The title track is a corker – an organ powered groover that’s quite the equal of the classic 60s garage punk that it is rooted in. Almost as good is Chemistry, which has a whiff of Gorkys in its gentle, yet rather complex, Beach Boys-esque melody. Both songs boast some superb harmonies too. The other track you must hear is Oh Lord which sounds like it could be an out take from the BJM’s masterpiece Take it from the Man – that good.
See Monkey has several other great psych bands too including the garagey The Method and The Broken Vinyl Club whose debut album is something I can’t wait to hear.
The Welsh Psych revival doesn’t begin and end with See Monkey though. El Goodo’s genius album Coyote was oneof the very best albums of last year with its Stone Roses meets The Byrds vibe. It has been a clear influence on both The Keys and London’s best new band The See See. Feel So Fine is IMO a near perfect single.
Then there’s the Race Horses whose debut album from earlier in the summer, Goodbye Falkenberg, includes one fantastic amphetamine powered punky classic in Cake and lots of other rattling good tunes too.
So are the Welsh the most psychedelic nation inthe world at the moment – appears they just might be.