Some music constantly feels like it is about to tumble down and fall apart throughout each song. Consider the early Seattle bands of the late 80s and you get that slacker indie rock that’s so flaccid its incredible that any actual melody can stand upon it at all. Well today’s recommendation appears to channel that same era of guitar music but they too show off the deft skills required to maintain a song whilst it’s in constant threat of tumbling down. It’s like finding beauty in a derelict building that looks like it shouldn’t be standing up at all. This is Jenga indie, were it to be played with the dexterity of brain surgeons. This is Buckeroo or Kerplunk indie, this is indie done in the style of that old Operation game, or those buzzer games you used to get at village fetes, but they’re all won confidently as if played with ninja precision. It has a tension that feels like it’s going to collapse, go off, explode, or fall apart at any moment, but it never does.
As some of you regular Recommender readers will already know, we are part of a new music discovery service, called Music Robot, which launched last week to an explosion on Twitter and the like. It pulls together content from 18 of the UK’s brightest music blogging minds and from day one we’ve been uncovering plenty of awesome bands from all the easy-to-access blog posts. One of those bloggers, Lost Lost Lost, delivered a new group, called Psychic Hill, a girl/boy duo from Leeds, and we simply had to hand them a bit of Recommender coverage. Any fans of the alternative rock scene from the late 80s and early 90s will find much to admire here, as the duo’s music has clearly been inherited from that period, with more direct links to The Lemonheads and Pixies.
We got in touch with one half of the duo, Rob (Riggs) Schofield, and he explained that they’re still unsigned and are yet to venture out for live sets, although that shouldn’t prove much of a stretch as Riggs is still currently fronting the band, Imp, and Lu Brown used to be in the band, UltCult, so there is some stage experience with this pair. This may go some way to explaining their accomplished sound. There are four tracks currently available online on their Bandcamp or SoundCloud. The Ghost Of Yellow Dog is one that immediately stands out, with a layered, burnt, higher-pitched vocal that reminds us of Perry Farrell doing one of Porno For Pyros‘ slower songs. Wonder Lu is an absolute charm, sounding like a it’s being played on a clockwork guitar that seems in need of winding up. Revival Houses has the same slow motion guitars that you could find in the Dinosaur Jr.‘s tune, Get Me, in that it’s played with that just-got-out-of-bed level of effort. All these songs would collapse were they not full of melodies, sometimes twee, sometimes burned, but always attractive.
Considering their music is so frayed at the edges, it appears that their best trick is in keeping it from completely unravelling. This is the musical equivalent of that stoner friend of yours, who’s constantly baked, but always adorable. The influences may be woven directly into their fabric, but they avoid it sounding dated or faded. Just like Brighton’s recent grunge revivalist, Gross Magic, there is lots to compare with some of the best bands from that past era, including Smashing Pumpkins, but where that Brighton band also plug in Nirvana, Psychic Hill prefer to remove that same sense of powerful thrust entirely. This is instead so slack we’re surprised the guitar strings don’t fall off, but there’s no denying that they’ve absolutely nailed the Seattle slacker sound. There’s no rock posturing, as in Pearl Jam or Mother Love Bone, as this is far more akin to Bob Mould and Black Francis at their most measured, instead they’ve captured the art of finding melodies in simple songs. Spreading a track over three chords doesn’t require an accomplished musician, but in creating something that hooks the listener in they’ve bottled the clever simplicity that allows them to produce something very accomplished indeed. (MB)
PSYCHIC HILL – THE GHOST OF YELLOW DOG
PSYCHIC HILL – REVIVAL HOUSES
PSYCHIC HILL – WONDER LU