Australia is a breeding ground for amazing music. The 20th century saw the likes of INXS, ACDC, Nick Cave, and the Bee Gees rise to the global stage, but even the stature of these legends cannot cast a shadow over the artists emerging from the Aussie music scene today. A number of these artists are making their marks on the psychedelic rock resurgence through their marriage of 60’s sounds with modern music-making technologies and techniques. This has made neo-psychedelia a focal point in Australian music in recent years.
Psychedelic music is typically characterised by its ability to reproduce or stimulate psychosis. Disorienting sounds that replicate the hallucinatory experience, whimsical changes in tone and atmosphere that project extreme emotional dynamism and lyrical content concerning drugs and altered states of consciousness are defining characteristics of the genre. If you like the sound of that, plug in your headphones, unplug your mind, and get ready for a trip; here’s a list of Australia’s grooviest psychedelic artists you should (re)listen to.
Arguably the most well-known catalyst of neo-psychedelia is Tame Impala, the moniker under which the 32-year-old Sydney native Kevin Parker produces his iconic drum powered, synth-laden sounds. His latest album, Currents, delivers just over 51 minutes of infectious pop melodies and climactic psychedelic drops, earning him multiple accolades at the 2015 ARIA Music Awards in addition to international praise. Parker’s reach goes far beyond Tame Impala’s debut full-length release, Innerspeaker, in 2010. Less refined elements of the definitive album can be heard from Parker’s earlier work with Perth rockers The Dee Dee Dums and their 2004 EP The Serpentine.The group evolved into Tame Impala with the support of drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson in 2007, and soon after, guitarist/vocalist Nick Allbrook.
Watson and Allbrook teamed up with guitarist Joe Ryan and created their own project, Pond, just before the turn of the decade, and recently released their fourth album, The Weather, which sounds something like a discursive expedition through the sulci of the brain. The atmosphere is not unlike Tame Impala’s; Parker has been involved in producing each Pond album since 2012, though the explosive breakdowns, dissociating sound effects, and funky grooves of Pond remain disparate.
Mink Mussel Creek
Combine the talent of Tame Impala and Pond, and the results are otherworldly. Mink Mussel Creek is just that: a supergroup with supernatural qualities. The collective released only one albumin 2011, and it still stands among the best works each group has produced independently.
Not to be forgotten is Jay Watson’s solo project, GUM, which saw the release of its fourth album, The Underdog, just this year. In need of poppy rhythms and ethereal dream pop soundscapes? GUM will scratch your itch.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Their unique sound, implosive live presence, and prolific output is even wilder than their name; based in Melbourne, the seven-man outfit King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (KGATLW) released five albums in the year of 2017. Their latest projects have packaged middle-eastern microtonal moods, feverish doom metal, and psychedelic jazz into progressive rock bundles of massive proportions. However, the band’s music from previous years is not to go overlooked. Since their conception in 2010, KGATLW has built an extensive portfolio of sonic epics, notably the psychedelic journeys that are “Head On/Pill” from their 2013 album Float Along – Fill your Lungs and “The River” from 2015’s Quarters.
Not more than a year after the formation of KGATLW in 2010, the group’s harpist and vocalist, Ambrose Kenny Smith formed an offshoot-project: The Murlocs. Having released three albums since The Murlocs are consistent in delivering bluesy garage rock that will tantalise your third eye. Check out their 2017 LP Young Blindness for a case in point.
The Babe Rainbow
The Babe Rainbow embodies everything that is to love about 60’s psychedelia. If the title of their 2014 single, “Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest,” isn’t enough to impel a listen, just consider how the track’s sitar-driven melody will tickle your fancy in a way you thought was only possible via The Beatles’ “Love to You”. Also released in 2014, “Love Forever,” combines idyllic lyrical imagery and a danceable hook that will transport you to a state of euphoria somewhere between here and outer space. Just last year, the four-piece dropped their first album, which perfectly captures the tranquil vibe of their hometown, Byron Bay. Take it for a spin to alleviate any case of winter blues.
Need a heavier dose?Wolfmother delivers. This Sydney based band found its beginnings in 2004 and radiates a sonic aura reminiscent of that projected by Steppenwolf and Jack White. If you need to satisfy that Led Zeppelin fix, direct your attention to Wolfmother’s self-titled album.The hard-hittingdistortion doused riffs of track six, “Joker And The Thief”, will cure you of good hearing.
It seems that the stream of great Aussie neo-psych music has no end; this guide is at best a launchpad for your psychedelic journey, so buckle up, and after blasting off, take a listen to more homegrown talent such as Morning Morning, The Demon Parade, ORB, Lowtide, The Citradels, and The Black Heart Death Cult.