The sounds of psychedelia’s peak from 1967 and going into 1968 have been well documented. Whether delving into the classics of the era or digging for obscurities, there are a wealth of great tunes to be found within an eighteen month period. By 1969, the musical tide was very much turning; British whimsy and three minute pop gems about myriad cups of tea and talking gnomes had largely been pushed aside for harder rock sounds. Various bands clung on for dear life, of course, and even well into 1969 there were bands across Britain knocking out various 7” pieces of plastic for the psychedelic cause. In another volume of musical history, Grapefruit Records have dug deep to bring three discs of interesting cuts from the year. The results are quite often less gaudily coloured, but you’ll still find a few bands sticking to familiar formulae. While at least half of the material gathered here is more of the well-honed pop/rock variety than flat out psych, the journey is one that’s still more than worth taking. Covering over seventy tracks in all, such a box set could seem daunting, but the curators have included at least ten familiar names, which actually adds to the commercial appeal without detracting from the potential obscurities and rarities.
In 2010, back when Real Gone was in its embryonic stages, we received an email from a musician in the US asking if we’d review the then new album by his band The Great Affairs. That man was Denny Smith, singer-songwriter and previously a member of rock band fORMER. When he contacted us again approximately five months later, he had the distinction of being the very first artist to approach Real Gone for repeat coverage. Almost ten years on from that first contact, Denny dropped by to tell us all about the new album, his extra-curricular projects and more besides. The Great Affairs’ current album, ‘Ten & 2’ could be their best yet…
The Great Affairs have evolved over the years. On their second album ‘Ricky Took The Wheels’ they owed a reasonable debt to The Black Crowes in terms of influence; by the following year, they were experimenting with stripped back Americana and, two years hence, their music – with a guiding hand from a new rhythm section featuring drummer/vocalist Kenny Wright – things had moved further towards gritty bar-room rock. Whatever the chosen style, though, each release could be relied upon for a handful of superb tracks.
Finding a sound somewhere between a sixties surf band, easy listening library music, Saint Etienne’s quirky instrumentals and Air, Norway’s Orions Belte make neo-psych pop and downtempo sounds that totally mess with the fabric of time. Their debut album ‘Mint’ plunges the listener into downbeat moods that seem to constantly waver back and forth between sixties kitsch and mellow alt-pop from the 90s mellow pop. Occasionally, it’s as if things are deliberately presented at the wrong tempo, but the results are always finely crafted.
Montana’s Idaho Green are a band not so much shrouded in mystery as cloaked within the obsurd. Their list of band members is obviously fabricated and their band bio partly lifted from the legend of Lynyrd Skynrd. Scraping below the surface, though, they’re not related to Steve Gaines or Ronnie Van Zant; they’re still very much alive and have been active in one form or another since 2008. They’ve been releasing material since 2012 and the ‘Rancher Bones’ EP is their sixth release and despite only being short, it shows more scope and invention than before and is certainly more varied than 2016’s ‘Fuck Yeah…We’re Idaho Green’.