Friday, May 13, 2011

Emerging New York Psych Rock

New York has been a fertile breeding ground for the "shoegaze" or "psych rock" sound for what seems like forever. Beginning with The Velvet Underground in the late 1960's, where else but NYC for continuing this part dreampop, part improvisational/experimental, part simply noise driven sound. It is a music that embraces harsh, agressive feedback and drone along side of sweetly melodic pop songs. Thematically often capturing feelings of heartbreak and longing for something you just can't have.

Broolyn based and Kanine Records signed Dream Diary successfully stradle this line between romantic enthusiasm and slightly off-kilter sonics. Guitar hooks are strong, and background vocals mesh with enough percussion to avoid over-sweetness.

follow a more synth-driven path, with blended boy/girl vocals and stark keyboard arpeggios that mirror the early-to-mid 90's Projekt records sound, that is dark and moody.

Invisible Days
make vocals a priority (not often the case on the 'gaze' front) and flex superior harmonizing capabilities. The dream textures are still there, just not overpowering.

The Rassle
present a bratty vocal style and ramshackle rock band sound on songs like "Celebrate the Days" and "Full Speed Ahead." Positioned between the happier side of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Mick Jones' Big Audio Dynamite.

(The) Tony Castles
work the dreamier, more romantic side of things as on their song "Black Girls in Dresses." There is a distinctly soulful element displayed here.

emphasises single-note guitar rhythms and Ventures-style drumming to get their point across. Two-girl vocals complement each other in a joyously trashy way.

Boy/Girl electronic duo Further Reductions marry static electronic percussion and synths to Sisters of Mercy style vocals.

mesh western twang with a mid 1960s vocal style, while maintaining an edgy vibe to their songwriting. French Camp employ counter-melodies via snaking guitarlines and pulsating keyboard embellishments.

Although New Jersey's Big Troubles point to bands like Lilys, Swirlies and even pre-Loveless MBV as influences, one could make the case for them being the love child of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. "Freudian Slips" has the bouncy happy hooks, head bobbing good vibe with just the right deviation into Reid Brothers sugary "Just Like Honey" smooth vocal textures.


Anonymous said...


DaveCromwell said...

Now *that's* what I'm talkin' about, Anouk!

ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

I praise Dave for finding meaning within these dubiously named cesspool of genres and for bringing clarity to it all. Pure chaos within the lymphatic system of r 'n' r illuminated with but the stroke of a "pen" under the artful Deli limitations.

DaveCromwell said...

You touch on an issue I've been mulling over for a while now," VFSD - when you refer to specified "limitations." It is true that writers can ramble on about a topic. I certainly like to. However, I just read this wonderful piece on the legend that is singer/composer Paul Simon in the current issue of Rolling Stone. In it he reveals how he is always rewriting his lyrics - paring them down - looking for the most concise way to get the feeling, the emotion across. That explains some of the most brilliant lyrics we have experienced from him through all these years. Simon talks about how he tries to "reduce what he's trying to do all the time." How the joy and challenge for him is in the efficiency. Take a complex thing and make it as simple as you possibly can. By compressing your experiences to their very essence, they might mysteriously reopen into something that goes well beyond.

ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

Indeed, reduction was one of the more enduring lessons imparted to me in my song writing classes. However, as truth is often found in the details, I often worry that truncations of verbiage obfuscate their intended message. Then again, I often marvel at the multi-generational plot developments found in a modern day country pop song. So there you have it, an intriguing source of endless rumination.

-valis said...

Good stuff Dave. Concise yet meaningFUL. We know the codes.

Anonymous said...

Another quality read. I actually find journalistic genres great fun. And on occassion I enjoy trying to make up a few myself ' Spectorian Noir' Nugazeshugaze' and of course 'sonic soarcore' However we know there are really only two musical genres that matter the good and the bad. The Crom-meister separates the good from the bad so we dont have to and provides us with some musical gems. Bravo

DaveCromwell said...

Excellent point regarding the other side of the coin, Andy.

"as truth is often found in the details, I often worry that truncations of verbiage obfuscate their intended message"

That's where the challenge lies. To make sure the words deliver the "intended message."

Oh, and I know you know the "codes" Valis. You have been presenting this genre of music for some time now.

And since Andy just brought up some amusing genre hybrids (and even the ones he's making up ;-) )

I just read about this one - and it made me laugh:

Japan (where else?) gives us "Black Cowhide Rocket Garage" (and as the writer put - Note: real genre) - ha!

Mr Smork said...

very accurate descriptions.
not easy reading to me this time. cause such music requires lots from me. i quiet like it, but i am not discovered it yet....

DaveCromwell said...

Sure, I know there were a lot of different bands covered in this piece. Over time, hopefully you'll get to them all. In the meantime, just click play on the video I posted and enjoy listening to that one.

William said...

thanks for the psych rock tips dave- Yellowbirds are really cool and I like the others too but Yellowbirds were my fav- Thanks for keeping me in touch with what the kids are listebing to these days even though I'm more of a kid than you are age wise ;)