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Title: Neo-psychedelia  
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Subject: Soda Stereo, Trance to the Sun, Psychedelic music, Trip hop, Hookworms (band)
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Neo-psychedelia is music that emulates or is heavily influenced by the psychedelic music of the 1960s. It began to be revived among British post-punk bands of the later 1970s and early 1980s and was taken up by groups including bands of the Paisley Underground and Madchester scenes, as well as occasional interest from mainstream artists and bands into the new millennium.


Neo-psychedelic acts borrowed a variety of elements from 1960s psychedelic music. Some emulated the psychedelic pop of bands like The Beatles and early Pink Floyd, others adopted the jangly guitars of folk rock bands like the Byrds-influenced guitar rock, or distorted free-form jams and sonic experimentalism of late 1960s acid rock.[1] Some neo-psychedelia has been explicitly focused on drug use and experiences, while other bands have used it to accompany surreal or political lyrics.[1]



Pioneering neo-psychedelic band Echo & the Bunnymen onstage in Amsterdam, in 2006

As a distinct genre psychedelic rock declined towards the end of the 1960s, as bands broke up or moved into new forms of music, including heavy metal music and progressive rock.[2] In the 1980s and 1990s there were occasional mainstream acts that dabbled in neo-psychedelia, including Prince's mid-1980s work and some of Lenny Kravitz's 1990s output, but it has mainly been an influence on alternative and indie-rock bands.[1] It began to be revived in the wake of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s by British bands of the post-punk scene, including The Teardrop Explodes, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Soft Boys,[1] The Cure,[3] and The Glove,[4] Siouxsie and the Banshees also plunged into "full-on modern psychedelia"[5] on their 1982 album A Kiss in the Dreamhouse.[6] In London, then Holland, The Legendary Pink Dots mixed pop and exotic psychedelia with neo-classical influences.[7] In the US in the early 1980s these bands were joined by the Paisley Underground movement, based in Los Angeles, with acts like The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles and Rain Parade.[8] On the East Coast of the US it was adopted by new wve bands in the 1980s, including Lyres from Boston, and The Fuzztones, The Chesterfield Kings and The Vipers from New York. New wave band XTC published two records under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear: an EP in 1985 and a full-length album in 1987.[9] After the breakup of the Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope continued an esoteric psychedelic course in his solo career.[10]

Influenced by house music, northern soul and funk, a less nostalgic brand of neo-psychedelia, dubbed "scallydelia", developed in the late 1980s among alternative rock bands of the Madchester scene, including The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and The Farm.[11] Other alternative rock acts that delved into psychedelic territory included Nick Saloman's Bevis Frond, the space rock of Spacemen 3 and diverse acts like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips.[1] The late 1980s would see the birth of shoegazing, which, among other influences, took inspiration from 1960s psychedelia.[12] Critic Simon Reynolds referred to this movement as "a rash of blurry, neo-psychedelic bands" in a 1992 article in The Observer.[12] With loud walls of sound, where individual instruments and even vocals were often indistinguishable, they followed the lead of noise pop and dream pop bands like My Bloody Valentine (often considered as the earliest shoegaze act),[13] The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the Cocteau Twins.[14] Major acts included Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, and The Boo Radleys, who enjoyed considerable attention in the UK but largely failed to break through in the US.[15]

1990s to the present

Tame Impala onstage at the V Festival in 2009

In the 1990s the Elephant 6 collective, including acts like The Apples in Stereo, The Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power and of Montreal, produced eclectic psychedelic rock and folk.[16] Other alternative acts to pursue psychedelia from the 1990s included The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Porno for Pyros, Super Furry Animals[1] and The Dandy Warhols. In the early 1990s stoner rock emerged, combining elements of psychedelic rock, blues-rock and doom metal. Typically using slow-to-mid tempo and featuring low-tuned guitars in a bass-heavy sound,[17] with melodic vocals, and 'retro' production,[18] it was pioneered by the Californian bands Kyuss[19] and Sleep.[20]

In the UK the Madchester scene influenced the early sound of 1990s Britpop bands like Blur.[21] The Verve mixed on 1960s psychedelia with the shoegazing aesthetic.[22] Oasis also drew on 1960s psychedelic pop and rock, particularly on the album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000).[23] In the immediate post-Britpop era Kula Shaker incorporated swirling, guitar-heavy sounds of late-1960s psychedelia and with Indian mysticism and spirituality.[24] In the new millennium neo-psychedelia was continued by bands directly emulating the sounds of the 60s, such as Tame Impala,[25] Pond,[26] Crystal Antlers,[27] and The Essex Green,[28] while bands like Animal Collective applied an experimental approach that combined genres from the 1960s and the present.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Neo-psychedelia", Allmusic, retrieved 30 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Psychedelic rock", Allmusic, retrieved 27 January 2011.
  3. ^ C. True, "The Cure: The Top: review", Allmusic, retrieved 23 March 2012.
  4. ^ B. Swift, "The Glove Blue Sunshine: review", Allmusic, retrieved 23 March 2012.
  5. ^ S. Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 (London: Faber and Faber, 2005), p. 428.
  6. ^ J. Marszalek, "Siouxsie & the Banshees reissues",, 10 April 2009, retrieved 19 July 2011.
  7. ^ S. Huey, "The Legendary Pink Dots: Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 23 March 2012.
  8. ^ R. Unterberger, S. Hicks and J. Dempsey, Music USA: the Rough Guide (London: Rough Guides, 1999), ISBN 1-85828-421-X, p. 401.
  9. ^ J. Leckie, Producer John Leckie On The Ten Essential Records He's Worked On. retrieved 19 July 2011
  10. ^ P. du Noyer, "Subversive dreamers: Liverpool songwriting from the Beatles to the Zutons", in M. Murphy and D. Rees-Jones, Writing Liverpool: Essays and Interviews (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007), ISBN 1846310733, p. 245.
  11. ^ P. Smith "Playing for England", in A. DeCurtis, ed., Present Tense: Rock and Roll and Culture (Duke University Press, 1992), ISBN 0-8223-1265-4, pp. 109-10.
  12. ^ a b Patrick Sisson, "Vapour Trails: Revisiting Shoegaze", XLR8R no. 123, December 2008
  13. ^ S. Reynolds, "It's the Opposite of Rock 'n' Roll", SPIN, August 2008, pp. 78-84.
  14. ^ N. Raggett, "Cocteau Twins: Echoes in a Shallow Bay: review", Allmusic, retrieved 23 March 2012.
  15. ^ "Shoegaze", Allmusic, retrieved 26 January 2011.
  16. ^ D. Walk, "The Apples in Stereo: Smiley Smile", CMJ New Music, Sep 1995 (25), p. 10.
  17. ^ G. Sharpe-Young, "Kyuss biography", MusicMight. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Stoner Metal", Allmusic, retrieved 22 May 2009.
  19. ^ E. Rivadavia "Kyuss", Allmusic, retrieved 10 December 2007.
  20. ^ E. Rivadavia, "Sleep", Allmusic, retrieved 22 May 2009.
  21. ^ S. Erlewine, "Blur" Allmusic. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  22. ^ J. Ankeny, "The Verve: biography", retrieved 30 November 2013.
  23. ^ S. Erlewine, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Allmusic. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  24. ^ S. Erlewine, "Kula Shaker" Allmusic, retrieved 6 July 2011.
  25. ^ J. Macgregor, "Tame Impala", Allmusic, retrieved 26 January 2011.
  26. ^ J. Lymangrover, "Pond", Allmusic. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  27. ^ Katherine Fulton, "Crystal Antlers", Allmusic, retrieved 1 September 2012.
  28. ^ J. Ankeny, "The Green Essex", Allmusic, retrieved 26 January 2011.
  29. ^ J. C. Monger, "Animal Collective: biography", retrieved 13 March 2012.
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