It seems that 1966 was the year for garage-rock, even up in the the remote Nassau County hamlet of Baldwin, NY. For it was there that a little-known band by the name of The Amberjacks came into existence back in the mid ’60s. Short lived like many bands of the day, these young lads put out one lone single in 1966, “Hey Eriq!” b/w “Blue Jaunte,” on the Migliore label before fading away into obscurity. While little is known about The Amberjacks today, it can certainly be said that “Hey Eriq!” contains one of the finest vocal refrains in rock music.
It seems, back in the mid to late ’60s, there existed some idea, predominantly in the southern United States, that Canada was home to a large population of hippies and long-haired bearded folk. I mean, it’s not totally inaccurate, but there was certainly a feeling amongst these southerners that Canada was a hippy haven or perhaps a place for weird folks. Perhaps because of this idea that Texas entrepreneur Colonel Paul Beckingham decided to take his San Antonio group The Hangmen to the metaphorical north and change their name to the Five Canadians. Perhaps it was just a cheap play on the the Five Americans, another band from Texas who had achieved Top 40 success. Either way, these lads were southern to the core.
Never stepping foot in these northerly lands, Beckingham booked the Five Canadians at Abe Epstein’s famous General McMullen studio in Houston to record a series of singles in May of ‘66. None of them ever reached the Top 40, and they certainly didn’t achieve the level of success as their American counterparts. But thanks to the inclusion of “Writing on the Wall” on several influential garage compilations, the song is considered one of the all-time garage punk essentials. Hear that farfisa sing…
A few years back, when I got the idea to first start hosting shows, I reached out to a few of my favourite local bands along with a little-known California psych act by the name of Jeffertitti’s Nile who happened to be making their way through town. Having only heard their seven song EP, Hypnotic River of Sound, I had no idea what their live performance would be like or even how they might look. But when they walked through the front gates of the Church of the Electric Dirt dressed halfway between pranksters and members of Hendrix’s band, it was plain to the eye that these individuals were not of this earthly realm.
This hauntingly beautiful track was the first to be recorded by Baltimore band The Stratfords back in ’64. Eerie, reverb-laden vocal harmonies, lo fi tremolo-heavy guitar, and minimal hand percussion give the tune a slight western feel that may very well possess some sort of voodoo curse. Featured on the b-side is an excellent noir instrumental titled “Enaj.” The Stratfords managed to achieve minor hit status in their hometown, playing at teen centres (seemingly the thing to do back then), school dances and local clubs. Magical stuff happening here, folks.
Habibi, which translates to “my love” in Arabic, is a band of all-female garage rockers out of Brooklyn that formed in the spring months of 2011. With a shared love for Middle Eastern Culture, punk, motown and garage rock, members Erin Campbell, Rahill Jamalifard, Lenny Lynch and Karen Vasquez cross the sounds of bands like The Shangri-Las and The Ramones and The Marvelettes with Eastern-tinged melodies and mystical lyrics that sound like they were recorded in ’60s Detroit. There’s even some songs which feature Jamalifard singing in her native language, Farsi. It’s deep and it’s out now on Burger Records.
I Need You Bad, a new compilation curated by Sonny Smith (Sonny & The Sunsets, The Sandwitches, Warm Soda), captures a glimpse of the contemporary San Francisco garage rock scene with a collection of songs from Magic Trick, Warm Soda, The Memories, Cool Ghouls, Burnt Ones, Pure Bliss and more. Hear Pratt’s contribution to the album below. San Francisco folky Jessica Pratt‘s “Dreams” is featured on the album and is available to stream below.
Poster by Curtis Godino of Drippy Eye Projections.
Our next show in Toronto is on July 31st with Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band of Freaks (which now happens to feature Dylan from Woodsman on drums). The show is fittingly going down the old The Comfort Zone, so you can expect Bleeker and co. to tap into the venue’s former jamband spirit with some deep improv. Supporting will be Toronto garage rockers Moves and Bonnie Trash. We’re giving away a few pairs of tickets to our readers so look out for those on Twitter and Facebook. RSVP on Facebook here. Lightshow TBA.
Tickets are $11.50 at local record stores Rotate This and Soundscapes or online via Ticket Fly.
Last winter, in what seemed like one of those 40-tab deep internet surfing sessions, I stumbled across the music of Bay Area garage rockers The Spyrals. I then wrote about them and enjoyed the album for several months. They kindly thanked us, and that was that. Over a year later (a few weeks ago), they once again made contact to tell us about a new, related project called Jesus Sons. The story is still the same—we know almost nothing about these guys. They come to us like riders in the night, delivering messages containing bluesy garage nuggets that will please fans of the Night Beats, early Stones, 13th Floor Elevators and so on. Below, hear a track and watch their new video. More via their Soundcloud page.
Hell Shovel, the project led by Jeff Clarke of Montreal’s Demon’s Claws, swung through town on Friday night and proved how they’re one of the best garage psych acts on the scene right now. They sound a bit like Ty Segall, but on significantly more acid. As their description reads, Hell Shovel “is the sound of Johnny Cash drowning in a pool of cough syrup.” Since its inception, the group has released a few albums in limited runs through labels such as the German based Sound Of Cobra Records and toured through the US and Europe with acts like Acid Baby Jesus. And just last year, the group released their debut LP, Hated By The Sun, which you can stream below or purchase via Bandcamp. Watch out for Hell Shovel!
Madison, WI-based garage-psych artist Dead Luke has released his third proper full-length on Oakland record label Moon Glyph. The cassette, titled God Takes LSD, melds Spaceman 3-esque stoner rock, jangly garage pop and murky blues riffs into a tapestry of delightful lo-fi, jammy psychedelia. Check out the slow burner “Oh My Lord Can’t Help” along with the sun-soaked pop of “I Love” below. Also be be sure to give a listen to “The Best Drug I’ve Ever Done” from Dead Luke’s 2010 release American Haircut.
Order God Takes LSD from Moon Glyph.