I don’t like jam bands. It’s not their fault; I just think they’re mediocre. But hey, you’ve got to listen to something when you’re on drugs right? Well, you have options… trust me. Here are some great albums and songs, old and new, that might make your summer more interesting than another spin of that Phish bootleg:
Stevie Wonder – Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants – In 1979, Stevie Wonder crafted this unrelated response to the Iranian revolution, which could perhaps be read as: “Hey Mr. Ayatollah, why don’t you quit your wheezing and contemplate the metaphysical life of plants.” Trust me, you’ve never tripped harder than this quantum leap between our world and the majestic kingdom flora. Listening to this soundtrack, I wonder how any images could live up to the five-minute epic “A Seed’s A Star” with its battle cry of “tell us about the leaves that stretch beyond the galaxy.” Thanks to my friend Ashley for introducing this lost wunderwork.
Animal Collective – Sung Tongs – Released just last month, this free folk album is joyous and at points almost seems a work of pagan devotion. I imagine anyone that has been in the sun would appreciate stomping around the jungle with this playing.
Boredoms – Pop Tatari – When the robots and appliances go lunatic and start to raze our cities, they’ll be accompanied by human minstrels clad in frying pan armor, documenting their exploits. These tapes will be rocketed into space as a warning to other sentient beings. But owing to the permeable nature of the space time continuum, they will have passed through a black hole and fallen in an empty field near Osaka in the early 90s where the Boredoms transcribed them as Pop Tatari. If you’re smart, you’ll want to know what robotic genocide sounds like echoing over purple hills at like a trillion skulls a second. Not that it will save your ass, but the moment of recognition before you get vaporized will be simply precious to the teeming hordes of cyborgs viewing your death live on a Sony Trinitron in Shea Stadium.
Chris Morris – Jam – Cult satirist Chris Morris has spent his entire career as a voice of reason within British media. Jam, his most recent work, parodies the complete incomprehensibility and nihilism of consumer culture. This is pretty far out there, but if you suspect your television is letting lizards loose in your living room, than this album, scored by warp records artists and loosely defined as comedy, might be the right panacea.
Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, A True Star – Something/Anything? had made him pop music royalty, but Rundgren decided to reject his new commercial success and release this fuzzed-out, indulgent masterpiece. Audiences were nonplussed, which is a shame because this album is just jam-packed with towering melodies and enough synth ridiculousness to make Yes bashful.
Bee Gees – 1st – They found their audience with dance crowds, but in ’67 they were the best faux Beatles out there. Experience the wonder of “Cucumber Castle,” and you won’t go back. I picked this because my friends all chipped in to get me a bitching disco ball for my birthday, just as I specifically requested.
Os Mutantes/The United States of America/Silver Apples – All Self Titled – 1968: The year after Sgt. Pepper was easily the most far-out, kitchen-sink, bells-and-whistles period in music history. In Brazil, Os Mutantes blended garage rock, Pet Sounds pop and traditional tropicalia music into a druggy carnivale. The U.S. of A. were setting radical politics to dense orchestration and an oddly seductive circus atmosphere. New York’s Silver Apples predated krautrock, using found sound and electronics to create an hour-long mechanical wave.
Basically, these three albums back-to-back-to-back will induce open eye hallucinations and have you swearing that somewhere, someone is experiencing the same set of colors in a way you couldn’t possibly understand due to the limits of language.
Ten loose psychadelic gems: Squarepusher, “Tetra-Sync,” “Philip Glass String Quartet No. 5 (part V);” Sun Ra, “Voices of Space;” Einsturzende Neubauten, “Ein Seltener Vogel;” Serge Gainsbourg, “Melody;” Fela Kuti, “Gentlemen;” The Slits, “So Tough;” Mandy Moore, “Senses Working Overtime;” Dukes of Stratosphear, “Bike Ride to the Moon;” Olivia Tremor Control, “21 Green Typewriters.”