The Aussie Psych Thing

Kevin Parker told The Guardian last year that he didn’t think there was such a thing as an Australian psych scene. It seemed an oddly Trumpian (i.e., easily disproven) thing for the Tame Impala mastermind to say, given the amount of evidence to the contrary oozing out of Oz in recent years.

Then again, musicians are always wary of convenient labels from the media; being lumped together with a bunch of other bands whom they may not know personally, and who play music that may only be tangentially related to their own bag. From Parker’s perspective, the only community that he can see the links in is the one he helped foster in Perth, which eventually yielded a series of bands and projects with overlapping memberships, who all share a taste for brain-melting acid rock, florid Syd Barrett songcraft, headphone-ready atmospheres, and the hard, Angus Young-like edge that’s fundamental to Aussie rock.

Though Tame Impala and Pond have risen the highest in terms of international profiles, they keep close ties to the likes of Mink Mussel Creek, The Growl, and GUM. Over in Melbourne, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have their own posse of like-minded travelers, such as The Murlocs, Pipe-eye, and The Babe Rainbow. Elsewhere on the continent, there are more clusters of eager young freaks, as well as institutions that support their activities, like the Sydney Psych Fest.

Whether all this glorious Technicolor weirdness constitutes a scene is up for debate, but it most definitely is a “thing.” What matters is the abundance of inventive music that transforms the gnarliest of ‘60s/’70s psych-pop and rock elements into something vivid and vital—that’s certainly the case for Pond’s giddy new album, The Weather. Here’s a selection of songs by young Australian bands who may not constitute a scene per se, but who share an eagerness to take you on a trip.