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Psych





VIDEO: In “Fool,” Jonny Kosmo Makes A Surreal New Friend

Photo: Joseph McMurray

LA artist Jonny Kosmo has built a dedicated following fusing immaculately-produced 70’s-vintage funk/soul tunes with an at-times truly surreal visual sense that evokes contemporaries Unknown Mortal Orchestra, albeit with a seemingly more playful and innocent heart. But with his latest video, “Fool,” which also serves as a preview for his upcoming album, “Pastry” (out June 4th on Feeding Tube Records in the States), he’s upped his game on both fronts. 

The track itself is a warm, pleasantly viscous slab of gently psychedelic slow-funk steeped in 70s Stevie Wonder-era synths, shimmering tremoloed guitars with occasional wah-wah lead flourishes, a bass line as thick as hash oil, and soulfully gauzy close-mic’d vocals.  

The accompanying video, however, left us questioning our sanity in the best way. Set in a hilly beige meadow that could’ve served as a Windows ’95 desktop background, Kosmo sings the title track while intently at work with a metal detector. He ends up crossing paths with an unusual new friend, and the dance party ensues. It’s simultaneously hilarious and unsettling, another example of the David Lynch-lite vibe that is quickly becoming a Jonny Kosmo signature. Gabe Hernandez





Lionel Boy Oozes Laid-Back Melancholy On New Single "Mango Michelada"

Photo Credit: Basil Vargas 

Lionel Deguzman, the singer/songwriter mastermind behind Lionel Boy, hails from Hawaii, one of the chillest places on Earth. Clearly the laid-back island vibe stuck with him, even after his move to his current home base of Long Beach several years back, as the first single from his self-titled debut album (Out May 14th on Innovative Leisure) demonstrates. 

“Mango Michelada” delivers a satisfyingly chilled-out, mildly psychedelic downtempo groove, with a minimal but assured beat draped by gauzy synth pads, while the breezy male/female “call and response” vocals amp up the sense of absolute cool. Overall, the impression is of a track that falls somewhere with within rap, RnB, ambient and psychedelic music all at once. 

Lyrically, the track is a softly stream-of-consciousness recollection of a past love that ended in betrayal. “All my life I’m fuckin’ with savages/looking for love in the wrong places,” sings the female vocalist, at first by herself with only the synths framing her. When Lionel Boy joins in to double her, just as the full arrangement returns, it’s a genuinely relatable moment of emotion that make us eager to hear what Lionel Boy has in store for us with his coming debut. Gabe Hernandez





Geoff Bradford Drops Debut EP "Texas Psychedelic"

Geoff Bradford gives Austin a fresh taste of relaxation and energy with his beautiful and dynamic, new EP “Texas Psychedelic.” The EP comes across as almost a look at musical history as it takes you through acoustic, jazzy and electric tracks, all the while featuring Bradford’s clear and distinctive, Ben Folds-esque vocals. The EP revolves around echoey and ethereal instruments — both physical and electronic — and slow tempos resonate with peace.

 

The EP is five heavily-varying tracks — Bradford experiments with dynamics, tempo and timbre throughout. Here, Bradford’s personality and creativity is on full display. Though the lyrics and vocals are largely the same, the changes in beat and instrumentation highlight moods ranging from bright and playful to relaxing.

 

When listening to “Texas Psychedelic” I find myself amazed by just how vibrant every part of the song is. While powerful guitar trills or riffs cascade in the background, there is still a consistent clarity that puts me at ease — at no point do I find myself overwhelmed.

 

Perfect for the reopening of “the old normal,” tracks truly are buoyant and delicate. It’s what the psychedelic experience is all about and “Texas Psychedelic” is an unorthodox, feel-good album that we very much need. 

 

- Eric Haney

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New single "Jesus" begotten by Native Sun

Jesus” is the name of the new song by Native Sun and not unlike its namesake it’s got a certain hippie-freak vibe, and if Jesus Christ Superstar wasn’t already a thing it’d need to be after this song because it makes me wanna put on a flowing white robe and sing my heart out to the hills of Galilee, helped along by the song's assurance that "it's ok to lose your mind."

And did I mention it's over six minutes long--at least in its unedited form, the video version above is slightly foreshortened--and it’s got sections. Like how after an opening minute-and-a-half that's chock full of rousing guitar fanfare and lighter-waving vocals “Jesus” transforms into more of a glam number (actually it all kind of is) but more of a glam ballad and one that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. And then before long we get a dueling guitar solo and another big chorus and then another tag team guitar section that takes up the whole last couple minutes up to the (not) ending complete with fake fadeout a la “Helter Skelter” before returning in even more frantic form but with a fadeout that sticks this time.


So yeah we've got a song here that makes even Jesus going to Hell sound cool. And maybe it would be cool because him and the Devil could hold a peace summit or at least just talk things out. But what's more alarming is how there's a reoccuring theme here, given that Native Sun’s last single was called “Government Shutdown” and it made that subject sound really cool too, but in more of a punk rock kinda way. So I’m not saying we should call the CIA or anything but maybe keep an eye on these guys is all I’m saying because there's clearly a subversive element at work. (Jason Lee)





Spirit of the Beehive take a dark ride on "Entertainment, Death"

Blatantly disregarding the double-live principle of rock school on their fourth full-length, Spirit of the Beehive instead take the listener on a dark ride. The record is called Entertainment, Death and with its cover image of faceless funhouse patrons being beckoned into the mouth of madness of an amusement ride’s entryway, a mouth belonging to a cartoonish but menacing red-eyed devil, we’re given a hint of what’s to come inside--a carnival ride full of herky-jerky twists and turns. 

Entertainment, Death moves restlessly between ambient floating-in-space “tunnel of love” passages like heard in the song above and whiplash passages as illustrated below, similar to when the midway ride's bumper car rolls over a relay switch illuminating a skeleton or some other scary creature leaping out of a casket and lunging straight at you, accompanied by a loud cackling laugh and a spray of hissing steam. 



Despite the seeming stream-of-consciousness of much of Entertainment, Death the album is organized around a conceit that makes thematic sense out of its through-composed structure. Album opener “Entertainment” begins in medias res and ushers the listener through a sonic birth canal of rumbling drones, squealing test tones, scuttling percussion and intense ethereal whooshing. But relative calm then descends with a loping rhythm and chirping birds and a pastoral folk song melody with harmonized vocals informing us that “I woke up when I heard the blow / heading east towards KSMO” a calm that’s broken only slightly by the entrance of glitching synths and a warped string section. 

Guitarist/vocalist Zack Schwartz and bassist/vocalist Rivka Ravede have explained elsewhere that while on tour for 2018’s Hypnic Jerks they suffered a tire blowout in route to a gig in Kansas City, Missouri (a tour that had them opening for the band Ride no less) which led to them imagining a scenario where they perished in the aftermath of a car accident and where their new album would be conceived as a series of fleeting thoughts and musical fragments and distant memories triggered in the split-second leading up to their imminent death occurring on the last track fittingly called “Death.”

More than just an inner space travelogue the record also serves as a reckoning of sorts for lives spent creating and consuming “content” (a.k.a. entertainment) with the Beehive crew expressing some ambivalence and admitting “I regret some choices I’ve made / entertainment only remains / while I keep descending / who will decipher the pain from the lie?” and between the bookmark tracks of “Entertainment” and “Death” the album delves into a sonic and lyrical purgatory for the rest of its running time, descending into Hell for the penultimate multi-part “I Suck The Devil’s Cock,” a song that doesn’t so much advocate demonic fellatio as it advocates demonic fellatio used as a metaphor for the Faustian bargain of selling one’s soul for rock ‘n’ roll or of serving the servants by serving new content to the modern-day deity of the Internet server.

Just in case you're not finding it easy, one good way to get on the wavelength of Entertainment, Death is to read up on what the Buddhists call “bardo”--intermediate, indeterminate state of non-being (based in becoming vs. being) like the twilight state between wakefulness and sleep (a.k.a. hypnagogia) or the cosmic void between life and death or between death and rebirth. Spirit of the Beehive cross the dharmata bardo or “luminous void” described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead with Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle as represented by the record's shifting tempos, warped pitches, flanged timbres and vacillations between chaos and stillness where “enough is never enough” and where the “remember[ed] promise of a future” is replaced by an eternal present. 

Both the quotes directly above are taken from “There’s Nothing You Can’t Do” which transforms a cheap ad slogan into an aspirational mantra and a luminous void (“Property of Void Industries”) and for almost two minutes it comes on like a song you’d hear at a sexy alien discotheque--with a slinky groove wedded to a strangely alluring detuned trumpet and wispy vocals that declare the merits of a “heavy hand, middle class / chemical in a bag / all I want; love me all the time” before lifting off into s hook at 1’13 that's sublime enough for one to overlook the quiet desperation of lyrics like “Could it all be in my head?” and “I made my bed, I’ll lie in it”--a song that just about any other band would leave untouched and promote as their radio-ready new single. But instead SotB drown their potential hit song in the bathtub toward its end, submerging it under waves of feedback and distortion and paranoid-sounding screaming that promises “I’ll be your friend” over and over again but which I usually hear as asking “Are you afraid?”

 

And so with Entertainment, Death the Philly-based three piece (reduced from five on their last LP; Zach and Rivka are joined here by multi-instrumentalist Corey Wichlin) Spirit of the Beehive have assembled fragments of their musical past--ranging from early shoegaze and noise-based music to sample-based collage and dreamy indie rock and electronic experimentation--into a cut-and-pasted musical journey that combines the aforementioned elements with other influences (e.g., vaporwave) resulting in a manifesto for the end times that beckons you to enter the void and to buy their band t-shirts and art works. (Jason Lee)

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