Back in the 80s you could make a case for Australia being the home of psychedelia. Unfettered by the musical trends that dominated the airwaves in the UK and US and with a very real garage band heritage (Easybeats, Masters Apprentices) the Aussies gifted us perhaps the 80s most archetypal psych band in The Church along with maybe the decade’s best rock and roll album in The Hoodoo Gurus stunning glam meets garage meets old school punk of Stoneage Romeoes. Then there was the sensitive brittle pop of The Go-Betweens, the widescreen musical vistas of The Triffids and hundreds of other also rans from The Crystal Set through to the Ups and Downs and The Hummingbirds.
And it seems that Australia is once gain restating its case to be space pop’s final frontier with loads of excellent new bands – many of which have been first picked up by Nathan at the Active Listener in (Coughs) nearby New Zealand.
Tame Impala you know all about, Jaguar Ma played at just about every British festival last summer, but here then a few more to listen out for.
This Sydney band have been around a few year and already have an excellent digital mini album Sunrise. But as good as the album’s title track and they Byrdsie jangle of Temple Songs are they have clearly upped their game with their latest recording Silver Ship which has just landed in YouTube. Sure it is pretty clear that they have been listening to a few Brian Jonestown Massacre albums but this is a glorious tune that climaxes with an absolute killer dreamy guitar solo. Really looking forward to album number two.
I am not sure exactly what the band, who hail from The Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney, is up now but their digital EP from last year Saturnalia, was a wonderful mix of dreamy 60s psych and gentle electronica of the type peddled by Stereolab and The Soundcarriers. The title track is the place to start, but the bluesy stomp of Let’s Play runs it close. Hope they have new stuff soon.
With the grand ambition to mix the pop symphonies of Brian Wilson with the space Rock of Pink Floyd is Violet Swells a new-ish band from Hobart Tasmania. Helmed by Ben Simms the band released an absolute corking psych pop double sider in January with the superb Jupiter’s Garden sounding like a tougher version of Jacco Gardner (but with a telstar Jo Meek-esque ending), while the flip Only is a really sweet waltz with a grand psychedelic finale.
Melbourne’s Frowning Clouds issued their second album at the tail end of last year and it has been on repeat play at PopJunkie towers since then. It is a compelling mix of perky folkish garage pop like the opener All Angles, moody garage pop like Mayan Calendar Girls and kaleidoscopic Syd Barrett-esque oddities like Beetle Bird and my favourite the Sufis-esque Product Of The Peanut Butter Company. It is a really strong, and very varied album. And it comes on vinyl too.