Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound When Sweet Sleep Returned

[Tee Pee; 2009]

Styles:  psych-rock
Others: Howlin Rain, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, early Pink Floyd
{{Link:}} [Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound→] - [Tee Pee→http://teepeerecords.c

It’s been said that psychedelic rock had already peaked when tragedy struck Altamont in 1969. The 1970s would bring cocaine, heroin, and punk to the rock world, while popular radio would be overtaken by smooth rock and supergroups. LSD lost its luster, and by the ’80s, AIDS made free love impossibly dangerous. Hard rock and heavy metal helped distort psychedelia’s legacy, and it seemed rock ’n’ roll had moved on entirely. What I’m still trying to grasp is why, by 2004, we had been saddled with a pervasive resurgence of psych-rock bands.

Comets on Fire definitely helped fuel a revival with their totally satisfying second and third albums, while a host of less interesting bands seemed cocked and ready to fire off some clichéd purple haze bombs. Perhaps noise rock, born partly out of no-wave’s success, had opened the door for unoriginal bands to play with distortion and dissonance, simultaneously re-introducing trite psychedelic ideas and sounds. There’s some convincing evidence that the more interesting “freak folk” acts that got branded as part of “New Weird America” created a spirit of ’60s revivalism. Arthur Magazine has helped shuttle along the revival, and in the process of hailing and re-documenting the halcyon days of psychedelia, they have, perhaps unwittingly, become accomplices in a crime against the music world. Their transgression: the proliferation of boring psych-rock bands playing old, worn-out styles without an ounce of originality.

That’s all I can say after listening to Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s third effort. I can’t tell a story about how the third song sounded one way compared to the fourth song, because as soon as the third song started, AHISS had already lost the game. They hadn’t summoned a single new or original idea in their quest to pay homage to the Byrds, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Cheer, or 1970-era Pink Floyd.

AHISS might as well just reformulate themselves as a cover band. They’d probably make more money touring if they focused on playing their favorite old songs instead of trying to rewrite the classics, pretending they had some kind of new vision. Granted, psych-rock geeks who nerd out over noodly guitar solos will probably find something to talk about or appreciate, and myopic classic rock fans who won't listen to anything that doesn’t sound like The Who or Blue Cheer might also enjoy this band. After all, their favorites are old, crusty, and can’t quite rock like they did in their heyday, while bands like AHISS have enough energy to mimic the old master's sound pretty well. They probably offer hope to those fans who refuse to move out of their interstellar, rock-drenched musical comfort zone, flying high with fuzzy acid-bombs and flowery fields of crazy days.

AHISS did teach me one thing: I have more tolerance for bands who are redoing punk, no-wave, or David Bowie -- at least those acts seem to have fun and, importantly, soul. So much of psych-rock just wallows in guitar histrionics and “soaring sounds” without offering much heart. If you’re wasted on pills and weed while jobless, I suppose it’s possible that AHISS’s unoriginal effort might tickle you, but I’m gonna throw away this shitty CD because it’s cluttering up my backpack.

1. Two Stage Rocket
2. Two Birds
3. Drunken Leaves
4. The Slumbering Ones
5. Kolob Canyon
6. By The Rippling Green
7. Clive And The Lyre
8. End Under Down

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