Way Past Pleasant: A Guide to Psychedelic Folk

Here we have a playlist that’s super fun to listen to yet deeply flawed in regards to its educational mission. Part of Pitchfork’s Essentials series, the Grayson Haver Currin-curated guide would make a worthy soundtrack for a weekend of mountain hiking. The only problem is that it isn’t at all canonical. The playlist spotlights too many inconsequential outliers while shunning numerous artists central to psychedelic folk’s identity. These include Love, Tyrannosaurs Rex, Kaleidoscope, Donovan, and The Holy Modal Rounders. Since there’s nothing in the accompanying text suggesting Way Past Pleasant is an intentionally unconventional guide, we’re left wondering why a music critic would think Hiss Golden Messenger is more essential to defining psych-folk than Donovan, who it can be argued invented the genre. — Justin Farrar