Tag Archives: Syd Barrett


Two Nights of Psychedelic Pioneer Roky Erickson at Rough Trade NYC

September 1st, 2017

Formed in Austin, Texas, in 1965, the 13th Floor Elevators were psychedelic pioneers, influencing the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, “led by outsider genius Roky Erickson, who combined offbeat spiritualism with crude R&B,” according to Allmusic. “Many have cited them as the first true psychedelic rock band, and if they weren’t, they certainly predated most of the San Francisco bands that gave the sound a global audience. The Elevators played a bracing fusion of garage rock and genre-defying musical exploration powered by Roky Erickson’s feral vocals and rhythm guitar.” Erickson and his bandmates were known as vocal proponents of mind-expanding drugs, and when the frontman was arrested in Texas for the possession of just one joint, he pleaded insanity rather than go to jail for up to a decade. Erickson spent three-and-a-half years in a mental institution and was subjected to electroshock therapy and Thorazine treatments before being released in 1972. He eventually became a notable recluse along the lines of Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, Daniel Johnston and Skip Spence. But Erickson (above, performing “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer” and “Two Headed Dog”) still occasionally found time to record and even tour. His most recent solo release, True Love Cast Out All Evil (stream it below), backed by Okkervil River, came out in 2010. “A tumultuous history hasn’t stopped the former 13th Floor Elevator from achieving greatness,” said NME. And Pitchfork added: “On this affecting and ultimately triumphant album, Erickson comes out on top.” His new tour launches today, and Erickson plays Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday and Wednesday. L.A. experimental rockers Death Valley Girls open both shows.


Cate Le Bon Previews New Music at The Bowery Ballroom

April 12th, 2016

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2016

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2016
Cate Le Bon’s new album, Crab Day, doesn’t come out until Friday, but she gave The Bowery Ballroom a special Monday night preview of it, playing the whole thing straight through. Banana, who would also serve as her backing band, opened the show. She sat in with them as they played a set of lovely instrumentals: neat baubles of melody mixing the traditional guitar, bass, drums with marimbas and clarinet. Before they returned to the stage, a short film that combined the truly weird (like bare-feet-squashing-overripe-pomegranates weird) with some seriously groovy backing music written by Le Bon, played for the audience. At nearly 15 minutes, it was just long enough to make you feel uncomfortable, which seemed to serve its purpose.

Groovy, but slightly, delightfully weird, would be a good way to describe the set that followed. The opening number, the album’s title track, had a pulsing, inescapable rhythm that permeated the entire show, getting the crowd moving yet keeping everyone just off-kilter the entire night. Le Bon and Banana wore identical headgear—knit sun hats that looked almost like the ones French schoolgirls might wear in children’s books. But beneath the colored lights, they seemed to each fluoresce with a unique pastel glow, adding a beautiful quality to the already familiar-but-alien music. On songs like “Find Me,” Le Bon was a Welsh hybrid of David Byrne and Syd Barrett, the band swirling Eno-infused Talking Heads rhythms with a touch of surrealism.

With their multi-instrumentalism, Banana were a flexible counter to Le Bon’s otherworldly voice and off-center guitar playing. After announcing the start of “side two,” the ensemble seemed to go in for the kill, building on the grooves of the first half with a cool, long halftime Afrobeat outro on “How Do You Know?” and a shredding guitar jam from Le Bon on the set-closing “What’s Not Mine.” The encore featured three songs off of 2013’s Mug Museum with a more jagged punk sound that gave a different feel than the new material. It’s good to have both sounds in the bag and while Crab Day is still fresh off the presses, you can only imagine what’s next up for Cate Le Bon. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Nick Delisi | www.nickdelisi.com

(Cate Le Bon plays Rough Trade NYC on 5/5, and tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon.)


Vetiver Bring New Music to The Bowery Ballroom Tomorrow Night

May 12th, 2015

Andy Cabic (vocals and guitar) formed the pastoral folk-rock group Vetiver (above, performing “Wonder Why” for KEXP FM) in San Francisco more than a decade ago, combining disparate influences from Syd Barrett to ’70s folk troubadours. Their self-titled debut full-length (stream it below) came out in 2004, impressing fans and critics alike. “This is an impressive, summery debut that is worth not only seeking out,” according to AllMusic, “but also playing until you can whistle along to it.” The band recently released their six studio album, the synths-inflected Complete Strangers (stream it below). Per Consequence of Sound, “Like all Vetiver albums, this one also navigates some thorny emotional terrain…. Complete Strangers is a subtle album that feels immediately familiar, yet reveals fresh and unexpected elements with each new listen.” Catch them live tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. And arrive early to see Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson, who opens the show.


Two Nights of Soulful Psychedelic Pop with Connan Mockasin

January 8th, 2014

Connan Hosford recorded his first solo album—under the name Connan Mockasin— because “my mum forced me to make a record.” Forever Dolphin Love (stream it below) came out in 2011, and its winning psychedelic pop earned comparisons to Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd. The album also led to touring Australia and New Zealand with Radiohead and Hosford working with Charlotte Gainsbourg. When his father had a heart attack, the singer-songwriter returned home to New Zealand to spend time with him. After a while, Connan Mockasin (above, doing “I’m the Man, That Will Find You” for Studio Brussel) took off for Tokyo and holed up in a hotel room for a month working on his second album, Caramel (stream it below). Released two months ago, the Guardian enthusiastically says it sounds like an “LSD binge in a sleazy motel, or an elf covering a Barry White album, or maybe even a rom-com set on Mars.” Find out how great it sounds live when Connor Mockasin plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow and Glasslands on Friday night.


Mercury Lounge Gets Psychedelic Tonight with Sproton Layer

July 26th, 2013

Prior to starting the influential punk group Mission of Burma in Boston, 17-year-old singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Roger Miller formed Sproton Layer, along with his 15-year-old twin brothers, Ben (guitar) and Larry (drums), in their hometown, Ann Arbor, Mich., in the late ’60s. And while they found some local success, their lone album, With Magnetic Fields Disrupted—recorded in their parents’ basement—came out in 1992, some 22 years after the band had called it quits. But it still made an impression: In Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azerrad wrote that it was “an amazing band that sounded like Syd Barrett fronting Cream.” And while the brothers Miller went on to perform with other bands, something about Sproton Layer (above, doing “In the Sun”) stuck with them. And now that their psychedelic gem has been remastered, they’re again playing a few shows together (with Steve Smith on trumpet), including tonight at Mercury Lounge.




Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 (Including Peter Buck) Tomorrow

April 25th, 2013

Singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock got his start in music while attending art school in early ’70s London. He played with several bands, including the Soft Boys, before launching a solo career with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Röle. But Hitchcock didn’t decide to strictly go it alone, because following the release of two more solo albums, he formed the Egyptians, with whom, over the course of a 10 years, he put out a host of LPs, EPs and live recordings. And although somewhere along the way Hitchcock picked up the reputation for being an eccentric, he also earned comparisons to Bob Dylan (for his lyrics and deep repertoire) and John Lennon and Syd Barrett (for his voice). For the past decade or so, Hitchcock, known for his onstage storytelling, has been busy collaborating with others, doing the folkish Spooked with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and then three albums with the Venus 3—R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey on bass and Ministry’s Bill Rieflin on drums. Backing him with layered harmonies and jangly guitars, the Venus 3 bring out the best in Hitchock (above, doing
“Up to Our Nex” for Spain’s FIB). And you’d be silly to miss them—with Peter Buck opening—tomorrow night at Webster Hall.