Tag Archives: Psychedelic


Zallen (aka Mike Jones) has been laboring as an alternative pop artist for 15 years now and I have been awfully privileged to have been one of the few ‘in the know’. Zallen is a pop alchemist – able to take key 60s/70s pop influences and transform them into something personal and unique.

This is obvious from the get-go. The opening track of Zallen’s latest album – “Which Way Up” – manages to splice together the DNAs of 60s psychedelia (Barrett’s Pink Floyd, The Move and Traffic) with 70’s powerpop (Raspberries, Cheap Trick), not to mention a healthy dose of Bowie.

Ah yes, Bowie. This time around, it seems that Zallen has filtered much of the songwriting, arrangements and instrumentation through the lens of the legendary iconoclast. Tracks like “Grime”, “Stolen” and of course, “Bowie The Android Boy” are the clearest examples of this approach, without ever sounding outright derivative.

Indeed, Zallen utilizes Bowie’s penchant for eclecticism to spur him into expansive territory as the clean and uncluttered pop sounds of “Happy Puppy” and “Shy Boy” provide a wonderful contrast to the darker, buzzier compositions that pervade the album.

The CD comes with bonus enhanced portion with video, photos, lyrics and Zallen’s excellent artwork as well.

Official Site


’11 EP

Discovered on Twitter! Yes, thanks to a chance encounter on social media about an hour ago – I am reviewing this really cool EP from Transmission Party (aka Tommy Byrnes). This four-track EP provides a good range of what Transmission Party is about – a classicist take on pop-rock music that takes the best of the sounds of 60s, 70s & 80s and refreshes them for a new generation. If music is cyclical (and it is) then surely it is time for smart, melodic and imaginative pop-rock to make its return.

I personally am quite taken with (You’re My) Lighthouse, which channels the Dukes of Stratosphear uncannily with its poignant Beatles and Beach Boys references to produce a truly gorgeous chorus. Right Left Good Bad and Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me are bouncy catchy numbers that recall the blue-eyed R&B of early Who, Mick Jones’ B.A.D, Todd Rundgren and Paul Weller. Finally, we have the psychedelic nugget that is Boredom which is a little by-the-numbers but still interesting for its faithful evocation of flower-powered 1967. Certainly, one can detect glimpses of The Idle Race, the Move and Traffic.

All very exciting stuff and am looking forward to more from Transmission Party!

Download the EP at the Official Site. Watch the video of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me below.



THE BOXING LESSON Muerta EP (New Fortune)

If that shot of Saturn juxtaposed with an Egyptian pyramid doesn’t give the game away, then surely the title of the opening track – Dark Side of the Moog – will provide you with sufficient clues what The Boxing Lesson are about. Call it psychedelic blues or space rock if you will, there’s no escaping the strong influence of Pink Floyd on the four tracks that make up the Muerta EP.

Of course, it’s a little more than that. There’s a bit of the influence of Ennio Morricone’s epic soundtracks, the Ventures’ surf guitar instrumentals, the soaring textural soundscapes of The Verve and the post-rock sweep of Explosions in the Sky thrown into the mix as well. Which certainly makes The Boxing Lesson an intriguing proposition, whether they decide to utilize vocals or not.

Ultimately, this 4-track EP runs a substantial 23 minutes making it more akin to a mini-album. There’s enough raw magick here to suggest that the band’s upcoming full-length (due in 2012) will be one to watch out for.

Official Site



FEVER MACHINE Living In Oblivion

Researching Shanghai indie music led me to The Fever Machine. Listening to its Living In Oblivion is bound to raise eyebrows and result in confusion. This music comes from China and in 2011?

Well, strictly speaking, The Fever Machine consists of Dan Shapiro (guitars), Fabien Barbet (bass) and Miguel Bustamante (drums), three expats residing in Shanghai – although the relevance of their backgrounds is largely moot. What is more intriguing is the brand of neo-psychedelic rock that the trio delivers with passion and aplomb.

Certainly, for much of the duration of this 9-track album, you’d be wondering if you chanced upon an album from the late 60s-early 70s, the period which witnessed the first flowering of psychedelic rock into progressive rock. You want influences? Well, inspirations certainly run the gamut from Hawkwind, Rush, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, The Doors and any other seminal band from this period.

But there is a highly intense sense of urgent authenticity about Living In Oblivion, almost as if your life depended on gulping down everything that The Fever Machine had to offer. The fact that this wildly vivid music was made in Shanghai, frankly blows my freaking mind. Which is probably the point.

Pointless to single out any particular highlight here as Living In Oblivions needs to be swallowed whole even as songs like the opening throbbing Hell Yeah, the slinky acid-rockin’ Milfshake, the frenetically rambunctious Dance with Deviance and the instant stoner classic Don Pedro will definitely vie for second and thirds on your attention spans.

Suffice to say, Living In Oblivions is one of those essential debut LPs that rear their insistent heads every once in a while. I am guessing that catching them live will be an out-of-body experience. Check them out and hopefully, we can see them in Singapore sooner than later.

Official Site | Facebook

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Any band christening itself ‘Wonderful’ better live up to its name! Well, based on this boisterous, gleeful track, at least these Seattle-based freaksters stand a good chance of making many music lovers feel very warm and fuzzy. No mean feat to imbue a song with simultaneous genres – this is psychedelic, ethnic, folky and ethereal, all at once! The band will be releasing its new album Wake Up to Dreamland on 21st June. Worth that second look.

Official Site


ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee)

Psychedelic rock from San Francisco? Hurm. It’s not hard to imagine stoner fans of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead getting off to When Sweet Sleep Returned back in the heady 60s. But what about in 2010?

Well, I’m not sure whether this uncanny revocation by AHISS is tribute, pastiche or drop-dead serious. I mean, after the Paisley Underground movement faded away, it seems a little pointless to be this reverential in re-creating this particular genre, which has already been totally well-mined in the past by the likes of Rain Parade, the Soft Boys and more lately, the Jupiter Affect.

Don’t get me wrong, I love psychedelic rock if executed properly and with attitude but with AHISS, it just seems a tad redundant. For fans only.

Official Site | Myspace

Buy at Amazon


THE LUCY SHOW …undone (Words On Music)

Rock history is littered with the debris of promising bands who never quite fulfilled their full potential. You could say that The Lucy Show certainly qualifies. During their brief existence (from 1983 to 1988) the band released two critically well-received post-punk/new wave albums that never got the label marketing support required to sustain the commercial momentum to survive the cut-throat music industry.

US indie label Words On Music has done its part in re-issuing the two Lucy Show LPs in an attempt to expose the band to the modern day rock audiences. …undone is the band’s debut (1985) and is reminiscent of the Cure and the Comsat Angels in its use of sonic atmospherics and affected vocals.

Tracks like the REM-channeling Remain, the other-worldly Ephemeral (This Is No Heaven), the fragile Wipe Out, the dynamic Undone and the psychedelic Dream Days are excellent representations of the kind of post-punk that continues to be deeply influential to this day on bands like the White Lies, the Editors and the xx.

A relic from a different age.

Official site




ANTON BARBEAU Plastic Guitar (Pink Hedgehog)

I remember when I first started Power of Pop in 1998, one of the first CDs I reviewed was Anton Barbeau’s – one of the first artists to send his album to some music writer out of Singapore! More than a decade later, I’m glad to report that after many other albums, Barbeau continues to record his quirky music.

Barbeau is not going to set the modern rock scene (such as it) alight with his retrodelic 60s channeling muse with its obvious nods to Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock, early Bowie, XTC and all things psychedelic. But if you’re a fan of the genre and enjoy well-crafted whimsical melodic (classic) pop songs, then you’d like Anton Barbeau.

Official Site




MGMT Time to Pretend EP (Cantora)

This was, of course, was the release that introduced MGMT to the world in 2005. Subsequently, the electro-psych-pop duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Vanwyngarden, would be signed to Columbia, record a full-length debut – Oracular Spectacular – produced by Dave (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) Fridmann and take the modern rock world by storm.

This EP, the duo’s second, contains the original versions of Time to Pretend and Kids (two popular songs re-recorded for the breakout album) and four others not available elsewhere viz. Boogie Down, Destrokk, Love Always Remains and Indie Rokkers. This re-issue has been re-mastered by Greg Calbi and if you dig MGMT then it’s pretty essential, although personally, the version of Time to Pretend on Oracular Spectacular is virtually untouchable.

Still, more MGMT is always a good thing so I guess if you’ve only discovered MGMT recently, then this EP re-issue will tide you over till the next album.

You can buy the EP online and download Destrokk.


Dark Folke cover

THE OBSERVATORY Dark Folke (Self-released)

I will not pretend that I’ve been a rabid fan of the Observatory since the band’s genesis in 2001 as I’ve never really listened to the band’s previous albums viz. Time of Rebirth (2004), Blank Walls (2005) and A Far Cry From Here (2007). However, it’s impossible to deny their place and influence on the S-ROCK scene with their uncompromising artistic determination. Some might even consider it crass to describe the Obs as a rock band but at least they have demonstrated that it is possible to be both and thus, an art-rock band.

Dark Folke, the new album is encased in a little black booklet designed by Justin Bartlett, better known for producing album sleeves for dark metal/hardcore/underground bands. Not only that but the new album was recorded in Norway (home of dark metal) by Jorgen Traeen. So perhaps do all these signs point to a darker direction for the Obs?

Strangely enough, no. Even as indie pop bands like the Decemberists embrace the prog rock of the 70s viz. King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, so the Obs have imbued Dark Folke with a sound that is highly reminiscent of that heady era. (Yes I am a 70s prog rock fan!). Which is an odd (but good) choice as prog rock is considered “regressive” for the arty indie set (of which the Obs are obviously full-fledged card-carrying members).

You might argue that Dark Folke isn’t much of a rock album to begin with, as it mainly eschews drums (not rhythm, mind), so from that perspective derives its impetus from a more psychedelic-folk (with a jazzy bent) source. There are gorgeous tunes and ambient soundscapes to behold whilst the earthy acoustic guitar keeps matters firmly rooted and rootsy.

Personally, I find Dark Folke revealing that such vibrant, unique music is being made in my hometown (well, via Bergen, Norway – heh!) Such fragile & sinister beauty as displayed on the creepy Invisible Room, the heavenly A Shuffler in the Mud (which to my ears recalls the Fleet Foxes), the bluesy Dazed and Confused channeling Blood Rising (with Leslie sounding uncannily like Dave Gilmour!), the pastoral & haunting The Boring and the disturbing Mind Roots, feeds me with a chauvinistic sense of national pride, more than a million National Day songs.

Lyrically, Dark Folke, as you might expect, bleeds melancholia with a glimpse of hope peering through slim cracks, much of which is entrenched in writer Leslie Low’s own personal demons. The words and music merge into a coherent black thesis on life and death and everything in the middle. Dark Folke is a journey that has to be experienced from beginning to end, it is an artistic triumph that transcends genres and borders. Truly incandescent.

Check out the Observatory’s Myspace page.