Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse (2013)
Youth Lagoon is the moniker of Trevor Powers from Idaho and Wondrous Bughouse is his second album after 2011’s The Year Of Hibernation.
The album is very dense indie dream pop, layered but also minimalistic. The overall sound is very experimental as synth and processed sound interplay to create soundscapes which weave around psychedelic indie pop songs. I am reminded at times of early Radiohead, and also mid-era Beatles and some Pink Floyd. Heavily altered vocals with hints of drone, and slight hints of distuning add to the tension, moving from dream to nightmare and back to dream again.
I really enjoyed this album, it is haunting, psychedelic, experimental, dense and dreamy. A real aural voyage through the mind as it is unbridled by reality and able to travel on it’s own whims.
Favourite tracks: Pelican Man, Dropla, Sleep Paralysis
Spotify link: Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (2013)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra come from New Zealand and the USA, formed in the wake of guitarist Ruban Nielsen’s previous noiseniks, The Mint Chicks.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are far less in your face than The Mint Chicks; more “refined”, as it were; less noisy. Production values are high and the sound has a certain classic charm to it. More than once on this album I am reminded of late Beatles (1967-1968; Sgt Peppers and the White Album), especially with regards to the guitar, on tracks such as Get Away From The Sun, One At A Time, Monki, Faded In The Morning. In fact, I would go further to say that there is a certain 60s British psychedelia sound throughout; I hear shades of The Kinks, The Small Faces and Mannfred Mann, along with some more contemporary sounds, such as the indie blues of Gomez on So Good At Being In Trouble.
This is a great album, especially if laid-back psychedelic indie is your thing. I think it may require a few listens to really get into; but it totally feels worth it.
Favourite tracks: Get Away From The Sun, So Good At Being In Trouble, Monki
Spotify link: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
Animal Collective – Centipede Hz (2012)
There is a website called Bassistwanted which once published a comic in which a guy asked his friend why the stereo was all messed and playing several channels at once: the Beach Boys, Phillip Glass and some World Music…
“You thought you were listening to Animal Collective, didn’t you?” goes the punchline.
And that description is quite apt, if not a little snarky. Animal Collective’s brand of neo-psychedelic freak folk is a complex multi-layered odyssey.
I find on Centipede Hz, Animal Collective are more restrained than on previous albums. Rather than four strands trying to expand you brain by pulling you in four different directions at once, they are now leading you on a journey through many places.
The classic Animal Collective elements are there and this will certainly appeal to fans and newcomers alike. It’s not as “out there” as previous outings, but it is still good, still mind-expanding and still exciting.
Favourite tracks: Today’s Supernatural, Applesauce, Monkey Riches.
Spotify link: Animal Collective – Centipede Hz