This snazzy trio can’t be defined by any one genre of music. They’re folk, neo/classic soul and 20th century classical with punk and jazz all rolled into one funky band. And I’m sure you could throw in some other varieties as well. This is what they pride themselves on. They prefer not to have a specific, singular sound. How do The Stepkids define “The Stepkids”? “Psychedelia for the 21st century.”
The three dashing members, Jeff Gitelman (guitar), Tim Walsh (drums), and Dan Edinberg (bass and keyboards) have had much experience in the music industry, specifically with R&B and Hip-Hop, before the creation of The Stepkids. They toured with the likes of Alicia Keys, 50 Cent, and Lauryn Hill as a backing group.
Just as they don’t have a singular sound, they don’t have a singular “lead” singer. They are constantly emphasizing the importance of each member contributing equally. They all write the lyrics together and they all sing together, as a whole.
To get the full experience, you really need to see them in person. Watching this video of their live performance for “Suburban Dream” is getting me stoked for their Brooklyn performance. They also have a number of hilarious, mind-tripping videos that are worth checking out, but they just don’t do the trio justice. Come see them for yourself. LIVE. You won’t be disappointed. Plus, one of my all time favorites is opening for them, so get there early!
Lost in the criticism of their band being a manufactured product (see: The Byrds“So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”), The Monkees could simply be written off as a major precursor to future well-put-together commercial acts such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. However, as we lament the death of singer Davy Jones, there is no room for such cynicism. Compiling a list of the many classic tracks The Monkees contributed to the pop lexicon would take more time than most would think, but even for the harshest critic, “Porpoise Song” from their ridiculous 1968 film Head, is a perfect example of late 60′s psychedelia: stuck in time yet utterly beautiful.
Here is a follow up to Thursday’s post. This song from Darker My Love at first listen seems morose compared to the fuzzy, sun-drenched “Summer Is Here”, but it is embedded with a subtle dose of optimism that really connects. Watch “Two Ways Out” below. Thanks to SXSW for not disabling the ‘Embed’ function.
From time to time I will just share a band/song/video I like with no commentary. It continues our thread of new California psych rock bands. This is the song “Summer Is Here” off Darker My Love‘s 2006 self titled debut album, Darker My Love. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Keeping it Cali. I have to say even though many consider Brooklyn the most active area for up and coming indie bands, there have been a plethora of great acts coming out of the Golden State in the last few years that aren’t just riding the buzz you can catch by merely residing in the hipster capitol of the world. Long Beach garage rockers Crystal Antlers are like many of their West Coast contemporaries in that the swirling psychedelia of the mid-late 60′s heavily informs their aesthetic. For many the direct origins of what your hearing in this young band would be the 13th Floor Elevators, but Crystal Antlers have expanded on that style and give a nod to another seminal 60′s proto-punk band, The Velvet Underground. The droning and walls of noise they produce are much grander in scale, as is the natural progression of any style. I mean where can you go after Sonic Youth? It obviously has to be slightly louder, slightly noisier, slightly more abrasive.
Listen to “A Thousand Eyes” off their 2008 self-titled EP, Crystal Antlers.
If you live in the Southwest make sure to catch the band as they join Sleepy Sun for six of the shows on their tour. The dates are below:
So from melody driven bands carrying the essence of psychedelia and the spirit of California, we will shift gears to bands whose psychedelia is more overt, heavier and darker. The first time I posted about Sleepy Sun, the song was one of their lighter, more acoustic based tunes, that definitely draws from the same vibe as Devendra Banhart’s freak-folk. Unlike Banhart, who primarily stays in that zone, Sleepy Sun leans more on rock, yet it differs from Howlin’ Rain, Blitzen Trapper and The Mother Hips as it’s ties to blues and other roots styles is much less direct. The sound is obscured by more stylistic use of effects and darker tones.
Below is a trailer that shows the band hard at work in a studio in the iconic desert near Joshua Tree. They are gearing up to release their third studio album, Spine Hits, on Tuesday, April 10th. I heard about this first from the nice folks over at Relix. From what we hear in this brief clip, it sounds as if the band is pushing their sound in slightly different direction. It will be really interesting to see if it retains enough of their core, while incorporating enough new ground to be a success.
The band will be touring the country in anticipation and support of the new album. Here are some dates in the Northeast: