Shit-Fi Mixtape #7: Psych
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Here is another Shit-Fi Mixtape, following up on #4, that plumbs the depths of the late 60s and 70s underground, inspired by Patrick Lundborg's book The Acid Archives.
Rayne deserves to be one of those legendary restlessly out-of-place bands collectors and aficionados alike treat with deep reverence. Though their lone LP’s release coincided with the punk era, it was not of the punk era. Yet it doesn’t belong to the classic 70s sound, even if we stretch that sound to include outsider, underground weirdness. In fact, I’d argue it would’ve appealed to New York’s or Ohio’s 70s punks if they could’ve taken off their ideological shades for a moment. From Louisiana, Rayne caught the attention of Jello Biafra a long time ago and received a mention in Incredibly Strange Music Vol. II. Anyway, this band deserves the long-form treatment, so I’ll cut my effusiveness short here. Nightshadow, aka Little Phil and the Nightshadows, has been well-known on the psych collector circuit for a long time, but I didn’t hear this guitar-overdriven gem until last year. Thank you, The Internet. It’s pretty far out for 1968 in my opinion, so check out all nine minutes of this lo-fi rocker. Another awesome recent discovery of mine is Neutral Spirits, a band that managed to play to two different styles and do both well. Although I’m including a caveman-beats-guitar-with-rock-and-invents-riff instrumental called “Scenic Void” here, the band has a few more melodic tunes with urgent, earnest peacenik lyrics. Keeping with the antiwar theme, “You May Be Religious” by One St. Stephen gives the feel of being sung by an acid-casualty ‘Nam veteran. Tactless, crude, and uncouth, with lyrics meant to point out religious hypocrisy, though no early punk would’ve been caught dead listening to a band like this, you can see the outlines of some commonalities. “The Bible” by D.R. Hooker is about as sublime as it gets. Rather than saying much about it, I’ll let you decide if Hooker convinces you to believe as you listen. (If not, just consider the song to be about The Acid Archives book.) Cellar-dweller bullet-belt and flairs–wearing deadbeats from New Jersey, Sainte Anthony’s Fyre, who channel Grand Funk Railroad and other hedonistic acts of the 70s, could represent everything analyses of the white working class of that era would need to understand before explaining how and why punk could have arisen. Who’s up to the task? Kath’s 1974 LP is all over the map sonically, ranging from relatively sunny almost West Coast sounds to songs with a dislocated and disaffected protopunk/avant-garde sound, but always from a lo-fi, basement stance. The sum may actually be less impressive than some of the constituent parts in isolation. Check out “Say What You Feel,” which is heavy on the fuzz. The enigmatic Mystery Meat destabilize the boundaries we have constructed between garage and psych of the 60s. A relentlessly primitive recording that sounds like it was made in an airplane hangar, this LP definitely deserves a place in the lo-fi cesspool of fame. Finally, Stone Harbour represents a brilliant use of primitive, basement recording techniques to create part of their psychedelic soundscape, rather than the typical sensibility, wherein such techniques would be thought to work against sophisticated song-writing and -texturing. Here’s the rawest song on the record, “Workin’ for the Queen,” which may not really be representative of the LP’s achievement.