Future Five: Psych-Rock and Shoegaze
Big in the 90’s, shoegaze has been making a comeback recently, bringing with it a whole host of psych-rock sounds. That’s why this weeks future five focusses on the weird and wonderful world of psychedelia, showcasing our Future Five psych-rockers.
Originally from Warrington, Psyblings are a five-piece psychedelic rock band who met at university in Manchester and have gone from strength to strength since their genesis in 2015. They performed at Manchester Psych Fest and Dot to Dot, as well as starting 2017 with their own headline tour of the UK. Their debut single ‘Where’s Your Moon’ oozes attitude without being too in your face. It invites you to join in the madness rather than warning you to stand back.
Their latest single ‘Sand’ opens with a touch of Jamie T’s style to frontman Greg Dixon’s vocals. Growing more gritty as the track unfolds and the laser noises come in, adding a futuristic sci-fi feel. Muso’s Guide describes them as ‘taking the spirit of the 60’s and dragging it kicking and screaming into the present’. Kicking and screaming are certainly right, as their live shows are a sweaty, messy adventure into the unknown. Catch them at Band on the Wall on January 26th for their first show of the year, an experience not to be missed.
It took Menace Beach three EPs and an album to find the perfect lineup, but now they’ve settled down it’s clear that they’ve finally got it right. Based out of Leeds, their 90’s esque alt-rock sound with a touch of psych-noise is scuzzy and light at the same time, with co-vocalist Liza Violet’s sweet, almost angelic voice floating away out of this world, while Ryan Needham’s contrasts to keep you grounded, the two balance each other out perfectly.
2017 saw them release their second full length album, ‘Lemon Memory’, on Memphis Industries and take it on an extensive tour of the UK, rocking Manchester’s Deaf Institute last February. They’ve toned down the fuzz and feedback on their newer material, but have in no way lost their edge; it’s still there, just a little more restrained than it was in their early days. They’ve been fairly quiet on the gig front since they played Manchester Psych Fest in September, so keep your eyes peeled for new material.
Afgan Sand Gang
It’s hard to fit Manchester-based Afghan Sand Gang onto this kind of list because the only place they really seem to belong is in the tiny niche they’ve cut out for themselves since they formed last year. They describe themselves as ‘electronic shoegazers’ but that barely scratches the surface of what they’re creating. Released on brand new DIY label Brassica Records, their first single ‘Mantra’ is more of a journey than a song. Starting slow and quiet, it’s not clear which direction it’s going to take until it kicks in and becomes a hypnotic, droning experience with a throbbing undercurrent. Just when you think it’s over, it starts up again with a much darker, scuzzier edge to it before fading out, leaving a bewildered silence in its wake. The newly emerging three-piece even have the Lee Broadbent (Cabbage) seal of approval, which is a big deal in Manchester’s alternative music scene, with him describing them as ‘a true psychedelic experience’. They support Psyblings at Band on the Wall on January 26th.
Describing themselves as alternative/noise/grunge, SlowHandClap’s sound is, in reality, much harder to pin down. With more than a little touch of shoegaze to their hazy guitar riffs and a slightly punky edge to frontman Sam Bullock’s vocals from time to time, SlowHandClap would probably be best described as a band for fans of dark, small, sweaty venues than of any particular genre.
Drawing inspiration from 60’s psychedelia with a little bit of 90’s grunge thrown in for good measure, the Manchester three-piece cite their influences as Sonic Youth to Nirvana to Butthole Surfers. Their first single ‘Teething’, taken from their debut EP ‘Cheers Now, Cya Now’ and its accompanying video is a look into their grungy, underground, DIY world while new track ‘Vertigo’ takes a slightly darker, angrier turn. Since their debut show at Rebellion last August, they’ve graced the stages of venues all over Manchester, including Aatma and The Night and Day Cafe and are set to fill 2018 with more of the same.
A little more alt-pop than the rest of the list, Bloxx’s DIY, lo-fi feel and dreamy, shoegaze elements are what secured their place on here. Their sound feels both unique and familiar, with a touch of indie in their melodies and a hazy, scuzzy undertone that gives them a vaguely psychedelic edge and sets them apart from the crowd. Slightly rough around the edges vocals flow seemingly effortlessly from frontwoman Ophelia to beautifully accompany the laid back, easy to listen to melodies and catchy chorus. Last year they headlined plenty of their own shows across the UK, as well as supporting Inheaven on tour and are set to support Pale Waves at a number of sold-out shows in February, as well as being added to the lineup for Live at Leeds 2018.