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Shoegaze in a New Decade: Psychedelica 5 Album Review

It’s the music of your best nightmares. An album of heart-pounding, intoxicating chaos representing every offbeat night you’ve ever had, mellow jams that soundtrack the interludes, and coloured sonic beacons that shine on everything in between. Indeed, the fifth installment in Northern Star Records’ critically acclaimed Psychedelica series is what label co-founder Scott Causer describes as “the greatest to date”.

Psychedelica 5 opens with The Laurels’ Tidal Wave: a coloured upsurge of effects-laden guitars that gives way to Nothing Inside, the percussive drone of Iceland’s answer to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Singapore Sling. The two tracks are at odds, and the entire album is filled with apparent discrepancies – but, based in a bed of psychedelia and shoegaze, none ever seem in conflict.

From the electronica-infused space-jamming of Perfect Blue, to the melodic musings of Dead Parties, to the lively storytelling of indie-rockers The Medicine or The Silhouettes, Psychedelica 5 packs a different punch in each track. Ethereal vocals and gentle guitars swim in sonic slush at the feet of shoegaze masters Youngteam, Spotlight Kid and The Early Morning Satellites while fuzzier sounds are offered by 93MillionMilesFromTheSun and Slowness. Periscope and Eat Lights; Become Lights spin celestial freak beats while up-tempo forays into instrument showcasing are celebrated by The See See’s subtle use of brass, The Nova Saints sitar-starring and Air Cav’s foregrounding of emotive strings in the rock-and-roll base of Call to Arms. But the soundscapes aren’t silenced there.

Displaying the new talent of dozens of artists from every sphere of the psychedelia universe, Psychedelica 5 is a 34-track compilation which holds much to be discovered with each listen– the first, second or tenth time around. A mixed bag of fresh faces and regulars to the Psychedelica series,  Causer elaborates on Psychedelica 5.

“Aside from previously unreleased tracks from Northern Star regulars The Nova Saints, The Lost Rivers, Youngteam and The Electric Mainline, it also features some of your favourite new bands you’ve yet to hear.  There are many highlights for me but my current faves and bands to look out for are The KVB, Telstar Sound Drone, The Early Morning Satellites and Dead Parties.”

The album also features wider-known acts, including Causer’s all-time favourite female vocalist, Paula Frazer. Frazer, of Tarnation fame, appears on Psychedelica 5 with her new band Skystone whose To The Other Side is an atmospheric ballad that ambles with bluesy confidence and soul.

The big names don’t stop there: Causer explains one of his favourite tracks on the album – How to Kill a Mosquito – is by The Hippy Mafia, who in 2011 supported Beady Eye on tour.

“The band features an ex-Happy Monday [Gaz Whelan] and they are totally unique.  They sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before and have completely reinvented the way you will think of psychedelia.  Absolutely mind-blowing!   Their debut album is due out in May and will be the sound of the summer.”

As for Psychedelica 5, it is set for release in mid-May. This hand-picked assembly of assorted artists is a sparkling testament to Causer and Northern Star Records’ passion for music and unearthing new talent. An absolute monster of musical mayhem, Psychedelica 5 is best listened to with a burning love for psychedelia and shoegaze but without preconceptions as to what its modern purveyors create. Bound to uncover some new favourites for music fans, Psychedelica 5 is an unpaved journey of discovery from start to finish. Definitely not one to be missed this summer.

You can pre-order Psychedelica 5 here:

22-year-old ethical vegan and music fan. Tell her about that cool new band you discovered.

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