Author: Jeanette D. Moses

Austin Psych Fest ran from May 8 to May 10, featuring psych rock legends and newcomers alike in a three day festival of hazy riffs, amplifier feedback and unrelenting fuzz.

Check out photos of Holy Wave, Lightning Bolt, Las Robertas, Chui Wan, Night Beats, Thee Oh Sees, ZZZ’s, The Black Angels, Fat White Family, The 13th Floor Elevators, Chelsea Wolfe, A Place To Bury Strangers and Fuzz.

Holy Wave played at 8 p.m. on day one, bringing swirly grooves and smoke-wreathed melodies to the proceedings. Lightning Bolt played at 10 p.m. and evoked a whole different kind of feeling—the loud, aggressive, noisy kind.

On day two, Las Robertas hit the stage in the early evening., commanding the audience with their sleepy garage rock sound. While they were about halway through their set, Chui Wan chilled everyone out with their space rock vibes at the Elevation Amphitheatre. Night Beats followed up Las Robertas with their sparse, almost R&B vibes, giving way to the trippy sound and infectious energy of Thee Oh Sees.

On the last day, Japanese psych punks ZZZ’s jabbed at the audience with their erratic, disorienting music. The Black Angels softened things up with their psychedelic wall of distortion, giving way to the sleazy psych pop of Fat White Family. Then genre innovators The 13th Floor Elevators took the stage to celebrate their 50th Anniversary, pulling a huge crowd around their stage. Chelsea Wolfe took the Elevation Amphitheater stage as they were settling down, washing over the crowd with her trademark brand of creepy, eclectic pop. Finally, the Levitation Tent brought the intense noise-infested grooves of A Place To Bury Strangers, followed by the garage psych of Fuzz.

All in all, the Austin Psych Fest experience contained subtle shifts in genre and style, showing the sheer diversity of the genre even 50 years after its inception.

Butter Knife
Suicide Squeeze Records
Street: 10.29
Audacity = FIDLAR + Nobunny
Audacity play garage rock exactly how it is meant to be: nasal vocals, minimalistic percussion, crusty guitar distortion and bratty lyrics covering topics like teenage lust. What makes Butter Knife so great is that it captures a band still genuinely thrilled to simply be making a record. Butter Knife is 13 tracks of unsullied and energetic garage, a bit like the snotty output found on early Black Lips albums. No fancy studio work on this album—audacity has stuck by the mantra of “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and it has never sounded better. But Audacity, like any great garage rock outfit, shouldn’t be listened to in headphones. This shit is always best when blasted through a shitty PA in an under-ventilated asbestos ridden basement. I feel like I can already smell the body odor wafting from the sweat soaked stage show this group is sure to inspire. Breathe deeply and suck those pheromones in. –Jeanette D. Moses


King Khan & The Shrines
Idle No More
Merge Records
Street: 09.03
King Khan & The Shrines = Black Lips + White Fence + Not In the Face
In the mid-aughts, King Khan felt unstoppable. His tour schedule with The Shrines and The BBQ were a non-stop party, his album output was steady, and he produced for the Black Lips before piecing together the collaborative super group The Almighty Defenders. And then it all came to a screeching halt. King Khan announced he was retiring from music … until now. Idle No More is the first recorded output from the Shrines since 2008’s Vice record release, The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines. In that five-year gap, Khan says he lost many close friends (Jay Reatard among them) and went through two years of intense psychiatric treatment. It was in this midst of depression and healing that the first songs of Idle No More were crafted. On “Darkness,” the first song written for the album, he croons “This endless darkness never ceases to grow in my soul” over minimalistic percussion and lush horns and it’s heart wrenching. Although Idle No More comes from a darker place than earlier Shrines work, the bulk of the album is celebratory. It melds the psychedelic soul sounds that the band is well known for with a gospel influence. “So Wild” is my stand-out track, and seems to be an anthem for some of Khan’s fallen friends. “I drink to your memory and how it took the world by storm! Laughin’ at all them tragedies that made us who we are today,” a raspy voiced Khan sings over distorted guitar. Idle No More may have been a long time coming, but it picks up exactly where you expect it might. [Oct. 18 @ Urban Lounge] –Jeanette D. Moses

The Growlers
Gilded Pleasures
Everloving Records

Street: 11.12
The Growlers = White Fence + Allah-Las
The second 2013 release from The Growlers picks up right where Hung at Heart left off. Although technically an EP, the nine tracks on Gilded Pleasures play like an LP. The country influence on this release weighs as heavy as the usual ’60s pop that shines through The Growler’s albums. While Hung at Heart was an album filled with a salty, but sweet collection of odes to a new love, on Gilded Pleasures, the dust has settled and cracks are appearing. Falling in love is easy. It’s staying in love that is hard. Plaintiveness is seeping in to these relationships. “Humdrum Blues” opens with a slow thumping drumbeat before Brooks Nielsen’s signature croon and an organ twist into the song. “Not afraid of being lonely, but if she leaves I don’t know what will happen,” he wails. On “Nobody Owns You,” Nielsen’s haunting life advice returns over some woozy psych surf: “Think back about the things you used to care about and how they’re so insignificant.” Gilded Pleasures is still a bleeding-heart record, but the heart on this one is bruised and battered. The songs still go down easy. If you haven’t been paying attention to The Growlers, it’s time to start. –Jeanette D. Moses
Ghost of the West
Tee Pee Records
Street: 10.22
Spindrift = The Blue Angel Lounge + The Asteroid #4
The American West has been an influence on Spindrift since the beginning. The wide-open spaces of places like Joshua Tree, animal corpses rotting under the blazing sun and the myth of the desert have marked all of their records, but for Ghost of the West, Kirpatrick Thomas wanted something different. He wanted to make an album that didn’t emulate the myth of the West, but embodied the West—what it actually was. To accomplish this, Spindrift set out on a 21-stop ghost-town tour and filmed the journey for a documentary (to be released in 2014). Ghost of the West is the soundtrack for the unreleased film. The album hits all the familiar stops: a cinematic quality, an ethereal sound and a darkness that bubbles up under each track. The faster songs are the standouts and keep the album from getting dull: “The Matador and the Fuzz,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “Gunfighter” feature energetic guitars and plenty of yips and yells. But the majority of Ghost of the West is sleepy sounding. It’s an album of cowboys on the range, just trying to get by—there aren’t many bar fights or bad guys here. Overall it feels piece-meal to have the album without the documentary. I can’t help but feel these songs would hit harder if they were presented as they were conceived, alongside the visuals of the documentary. Without a visual landscape, most of the songs on Ghost feel unimaginative. I’ll take the myth of the West, the myth of Spindrift’s West, over the “real” West any day.
–Jeanette D. Moses

The Growlers
Hung at Heart 

Everloving Records
Street: 01.22
The Growlers = Not in the Face + Allah-Las + Beach Boys

After multiple release-date delays, The Growlers’ third full-length finally arrived and features some of the group’s strongest material to date. I was infatuated from the opening track “Someday,” a love song where lead singer Brooks Nielsen croons to a lover to “hang on for the ride,” because better days are just around the corner: “When tall boys turn into champagne, when bologna turns into steak,” he sings. The lyrics are salty, but the sentiment is sweet and the theme carries through the rest of the tracks. Hung at Heart is a collection of love songs that only a shit-bag rock n’ roller could appreciate. Production value is as key as consistency here. The band sounds tighter, Nielsen’s vocals pop and the variety is even greater than their earlier albums. I’ve had this 11-track gem on repeat since I got it. Like a caustic lover, The Growlers have a way of sliding into my heart, nestling in and becoming impossible to let go of. –Jeanette D. Moses