Browsing Tag

Indie Psych Pop

Lapdog ripped up the indie songwriting script with their psychedelically mellow single, Yellow Belly

Someone let the raconteurs of indie psych experimentalism, Lapdog, off the leash and into the studio to record their double A-side single, Yellow Belly / Buy & Sell, and the airwaves are infinitely sweeter for it.

Despite the complex time signatures which rip up the indie songwriting script, the melodies in Yellow Belly reach the pinnacle of mellow melodiousness before the single slips into Grandaddy-esque synthy obscurity, bringing it right back to the wobbly with saturation tones from the prelude.

With vocal lines which take cloud-like form as they drift through the intricately layered yet mesmerically smooth soundscape, The Salt Lake City conduits of soul-kissed innovation hit it out of the dog park with Yellow Belly. Feel good tracks have never felt so good.

Yellow Belly / Buy & Sell is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Benjamin Dean – Sinking Our Teeth: Forbidden Fruit Has Never Tasted Sweeter

Taken from his debut album, Veda, the up-and-coming alt-indie crooner, Benjamin Dean’s single, Sinking Our Teeth (Into the Fruit Again), is a lesson in hedonistic prolepsis.

After the opulent instrumental aesthetics have constructed a glisteningly atmospheric tone, Benjamin Dean’s soul-deep vocal lines start to wrap around the lyrics that illustrate how sweet forbidden fruit is when you’re anticipating the nectarine bliss.

Contrasting the teasing intensity of the lyricality, the ambience resonates like a Dionysus daydream; as scintillating as a candelabra under the moonlight, Sinking Our Teeth is an arrestive example of how experimentalism and deep concepts don’t always need to be hand in hand with inaccessibility. Slipping into the impassioned style of this celestial soundscape is as easy as breathing.

Sinking Our Teeth (Into the Fruit Again) is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Lewis & Ford Interview: The Last of the Psych Pop Dreamers Dug into their Reggae Dubbed Blisters of Euphonic Bliss to Reveal Even More Soul

From good vibes to groove reggae to discussing their 9 musical lives, A&R Factory sat down with Damien Lewis & Caleb Ford from the psychedelic dream of a duo, Lewis & Ford, ahead of the release of their new single, Secret Beach. We thought we loved the music before getting to the sanctifying gist of it. Now we’re head over heels in those psych-pop soundscapes.

What can we expect from your fifth single, Secret Beach?

Caleb: Secret Beach is an ethereal track that is aimed at transporting the listener to another sonic dimension. In the song, the ‘Secret Beach’ is not a place, so much as a state of mind: a place you can go in your mind to get away from all of the stresses and worries of life. We all need that from time to time in this crazy world! Musically it incorporates some of the palettes that we often like to paint with: groovy reggae drum and bass lines, soothing and soaring melodies, and reverb-laden guitar and dreamy synth pads.

Damien: Secret Beach continues the evolution of our sound drawing on our psychedelic pop landscapes and roots in reggae music, we were the founding member of the roots reggae band Revelation in the 2000s

Is there anything that remains a constant through your singles?

Caleb: In the area of lyrics, we aim to tell a story in an eloquent way that leaves the meaning up for various interpretations. We try to stay away from themes and lines that are “too on the nose,” and, rather, say something in a poetic way that sparks the listener’s imagination. Sonically, our music is typically a product of our musical upbringings and tastes. Elements of psychedelic rock, dub reggae, and dream pop often make their way into our tracks, but usually in an organic way. We never try to force anything, and we try to let the songs develop naturally, and keep an open mind to what each composition needs.

Damien: Our aesthetic is very important to us, both as artists and also in how the public views the group. While we do not ever limit ourselves and pour anything into a mold we do have a sound and use certain instruments and production techniques that are part of our DNA. As artists capable of, and having creating music of any genre it’s important for us that the catalog feels fresh with every single yet not random. We don’t make music for anyone but ourselves or to appease any suits. It feels 100% authentic to us at the end of the day.

You’ve both spent a decade touring, writing, and producing material for other artists; what was behind your motivation to embark on your own project?

Caleb: All of the experiences that we have had working on other people’s projects have been incredibly instructive and have contributed to the musicians that we have become. However, we never stopped hearing the call in the back of our minds to make our own music and let our unique voices be heard. Damien has worked with some of the biggest names in pop music and has been nominated for Grammy awards as an audio engineer. This experience has given him a skill set that enables us to take our productions to a level we never would have dreamed of twenty years ago when we first started writing and recording. As for myself, my time away from music earning a PhD in history afforded me many opportunities for travel and intellectual opportunities that have helped me to come back to music with a fresh perspective. In a big way, our life experiences contribute to who we become as people, and our respective experiences over the past decade or two I think really contribute to giving us a unique musical and lyrical voice.

Damien: Well, really we started with our own project in high school. We had a blues band and played every week at a bar in Detroit. Upon graduating we became sidemen for hire in other people’s bands and started working in the studio. We also had a home studio before it was cool around 2003. Eventually, the overwhelming urge to do your own thing takes over as I’m sure everyone can relate to in any industry.

Amalgams of dream pop, psych and American roots can’t be easy to pull off. What’s your creative process like?

Caleb: There is no one right way to write a song. Sometimes it starts with a single lyric or thematic idea, and sometimes it starts with a guitar riff or drum beat. However, one constant in our songwriting process is that we trust each other’s instincts, and are always willing to let the other person try things out, and take the lead if we think they are onto something. The other side of that is that we are willing to accept that sometimes certain things that we thought could work (like a particular lyrical idea, or a bridge, or hook, etc.) don’t end up being right for a particular song. So, you have to throw away your egos, and always be open to what the song needs. Another factor for us is that we are big believers in the idea that different places and environments can spark musical creativity. Because of this, we usually avoid writing and recording in typical recording studio spaces. A lot of our music has been written and recorded in the high desert near Joshua Tree in Southern California, but we have also written songs in historic buildings in our hometown of Detroit, MI, and in the basements of friends in Jamaica Queens. Every place has its own vibe that can influence and inspire the songwriting process.

Damien: We like to think our sound is unique and we certainly don’t model it after anything, it is quite literally a reflection of our musical past and influences. If one was to dig hard enough, you could find inspiration from all of our favorite records from our life in subliminal ways. We have a certain palette of instruments and processing that we use that we consider the colors we paint with. Sometimes we have words or concepts first, sometimes we build the music first and then write the chorus. We find inspiration in writing in unique environments and surroundings. Many of our new songs were written and recorded from random Air BnBs in the southern California deserts.

Sonic good vibes are scarcely so visceral; what’s your secret?

Caleb: I think the sonic vibrations of our music are really a combination of many factors: our experiences as musicians and people, our respective skill sets, and a combination of our musical influences (everything from reggae, psych rock, classic soul and r&b, gospel, surf rock, and even classic country). We try to take the best from all of those influences and fuse them into our compositions in a natural and organic way. But, again, it is never forced. That’s just the music that comes out of our hearts and imaginations.

Damien: 20 years of writing and producing records, thousands of live shows from 12 to 12,000 people lol. We’ve had 9 lives musically from blues, reggae, funk and pop. Lewis & Ford feels like our most authentic selves right now. We draw upon our life experiences but we are never afraid to push ourselves into new spaces. At the end of the day, the song has to be amazing, that’s the secret really, it’s in the writing. It’s easy to make things sound cool now but can you write a great song and a great hook? That’s the secret sauce we spread around.

As songwriting partners, how would you say your styles complement each other?

Caleb: We grew up with a lot of the same influences (Motown, ‘60s and ‘70s rock, reggae, etc.), so we come from a very similar place and share a lot of the same musical tastes. That makes working together a natural and easy process. I think the other aspect is that we have different strengths that compliment each other well. Damien is a wizard when it comes to production, and has a knack for knowing just what a song needs when it comes to textures and ear candy. He is also a gifted and clever lyricist, with a keen ear for melody and harmony. Also, because drums were his main instrument for a long time, he has a great sense for finding the perfect grooves and rhythms to propel a song forward. On my end, I just try to sing and play guitar (and sometimes keys) in a way that makes a song interesting and pulls the listener in. I also love harmonies (which I think comes from both my gospel upbringing and my love of the Beach Boys, Beatles, Pink Floyd, and other groups that utilized harmonies in an evocative and moving way). Lyrically, I am influenced as much by nineteenth-century English romantic poets as I am by modern raconteurs like Dylan, Lennon, and Marley.

Damien: That’s one of our biggest strengths. Between the two of us, we can play every instrument (which we do on every record) we don’t really use any outside musicians. Our long relationship as friends allows us to tap into a kind of subliminal communication. We also don’t approach any idea or performance be it good or bad with any ego or judgement. We are good at respectfully pushing each other to get the best out of ourselves. Making music together is effortless and fun, we walk away from every session with something good.

(here’s to hoping) Is there a debut album in the pipeline?

Caleb: There absolutely is a debut album in the pipeline. I think we are aiming for the summer of 2023 for that, so stay tuned!

Damien: Yes we have a lot more music on the way, we plan on releasing a steady stream of singles, the next 3 are already lined up. Then we will most likely package everything together with some new material. It’s a singles world once again and we actually prefer it that way.

Listen to Lewis & Ford on Spotify. Connect with them via Facebook and Instagram. 

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Maxton Hunter sets his trajectory to the moon in his psych-pop single, Halfway Home

As classically soul-stirring as Chris Isaak and as compellingly contemporary as a pop-styled Courtney Barnett, Maxton Hunter’s latest single, Halfway Home, extends psychedelic indie Cali warmth across the stratosphere.

Commercial potential and magnetic don’t always go hand in hand, but they have a tight grip on each other in the oceanically breezy indie hit. It’s quite ironic how the lyrics leave Maxton Hunter pontificating on superpowers, given the celestial sense of melodicism that drives through Halfway Home. And vocally, he could very well be the last of the great dreamers. For catharsis’ sake, we can’t wait to hear what comes next from the up-and-coming artist.

Halfway Home is now available to stream on Spotify and all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Darcy Court has released their triumph of a 60s-psych-tinged alt-indie debut, Bar of Clay

The instantly trailblazing 60s psych pop-inspired indie rock act, Darcy Court, brought plenty of the Cali heat into their euphonically blissful debut single, Bar of Clay, which unravels to the narration of the conflated emotions that transpire when locked in a too-good-to-be-true crash and burn relationship and all you can do is await the final collision.

The kaleidoscopic synaesthesia-inducing melodies feed into the rich timbre of the single that flirts with the alt-90s era just as much as the 60s psych-pop nuances to create an era-spanning indulgent tonal pool that you’ll find infinitely temperate.

Indie debuts don’t get much more promising than Bar of Clay. Darcy Court have got exactly what it takes to reach the same heights as their iconic 60s influences.

Bar of Clay was officially released on April 8th; it is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Winternom – True: Meet your new existential alt-indie playlist staple

The alt-indie-folk-rock newcomers, Winternom, are set to bring souls in from the cold with the standout single, True, from their sophomore album, The Cold or the Crowd. Sonically, the hazily sweet single sits between Elliott Smith and Pavement, with a few proto-punk-meets-psych-pop nuances.

Lyrically, the Ottawa, Canada-hailing artist comes into their own with their witticisms that walk the line between existentialism and affection in a way that pays ode to the Alt 90s while still delivering emotive modernism. Despite its overarching lo-fi vibe, the dreamy textures in True never resonate as brash. Instead, they keep the tones bright to contrast the less than sunny, deeply relatable vocal disposition.

True is now available to stream along with the rest of Winternom’s triumph of an album, The Cold or the Crowd via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Low Highs cut to the core of romantic scorn in their psychedelically dreamy alt-indie single, Don’t You Ever

The South Florida residing alt-indie duo, The Low Highs, have released their eagerly anticipated sophomore single, Don’t You Ever. The mellifluous earworm allows dream pop, indie psych and folk-rock textures to pull together in the atmospherically absorbing release that cuts to the core of romantic scorn.

Don’t You Ever captures the disjointing feeling of realising a relationship was filled with empty promises of perpetuity before exploring the confusion that leaves us questioning every exchange and retracted extension of affection as though our interpersonal history has been rewritten with the utterances of a few words.

The Kraftwerk-y style melodic synths and funky indie disco percussion paired with the hypnotically distorted vocals make exploring those torrid emotions infinitely easier. You’d be hard-pressed to find another up and coming outfit bringing a better aura to the airwaves. It’s almost ironic that a song on empty promises was so promising.

Don’t You Ever premiered on January 21st. You can check it out for yourselves by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Alt-Indie solo artist Bent 290 has released his psychotropic sophomore single, Minds and Makers.

‘Minds and Makers’ is the psychotropic sophomore release from alt-indie solo artist Bent 290 (Dakota Schilling). With hints of Midwest Emo in the vocals, nuances of reggae in anthemic guitars and lashings of electronic psych euphoria, it’s impossible not to warm to the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter’s instantly enamouring expressionism.

If you could imagine what it would sound like if Muse, All American Rejects, and Tame Impala aurally met in the middle, you’ll get an idea of the kind of bitter-sweet soul on offer here.

The project, Bent 290, was born during the 2020 lockdown when Dakota locked himself away in a cabin in North-Eastern Indiana. His debut release broke onto the airwaves to critical acclaim in 2020. After the release of his power-pop hit, we’re sure that only good things will follow.

Minds and Makers is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

KennethWayne laced the airwaves with indie lo-fi psych-pop soul with ‘Sound of Regret’.

US alt-indie artist KennethWayne’s experimental sound is constantly in flux; taken from his LOOK UP mixtape is the best introduction to his eccentrically affable style. Sound of Regret is a sweetly kaleidoscopic hit of lo-fi psych-pop that retains soul despite the retrospective melancholy.

Between the kicking percussion, accordant guitar chords and the masterful straight-off-the-tape-deck vibes, if Sound of Regret fails to leave you feeling endeared, you can assume your soul is defunct. Fans of Elliott Smith, the Beatles and Nick Drake definitely won’t want to miss out on this release.

Sound of Regret is now available to stream on SoundCloud.

Follow the artist on Instagram. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Rob Quo leads the conversation with his vintage psych-pop single, ‘Talkin’ Bout the Truth’.

London-based Singer-songwriter and emissary of soul, Rob Quo, has released his EP, Let It Spin, which captures his vintage-inclined style at its most accordant and psychedelic.

If you can imagine what it would sound like if the Zombies covered ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’, you’ll get an idea of the hazily sticky-sweet vibe Rob Quo orchestrated with the lead single; Talkin’ Bout the Truth.

The EP marks the singer-songwriter’s transition away from folk and blues and into the realm of experimental aural eclecticism. With an LP in the works, due for release in 2022, the old school crooner is well worth a spot on your radar.

Talkin’ Bout the Truth is now available to stream via SoundCloud.

Follow Rob Quo via Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast