Since 2008, Richard Gibson and his brother Robert have quietly been operating the underground Toronto-based psych label Optical Sounds. A genuine individual who’s passion for music seeps from his pores, Richard has forged a scene–largely centered around the Kensington Market bar The Embassy–that recalls the prime of the psychedelic heyday.
Home to many of the city’s finest psych and shoegaze bands, Optical Sounds brings together the kind of artists who self release their material, but wave a collective flag and gig constantly around town with one another. A musical collective in its truest sense.
Earlier this week, Optical Sounds released Psych Pop Vol. 2, a compilation featuring songs from artists on the label along with some that are part of its extended family. You can hear the compilation for free via Bandcamp or streaming below. You can also see many of these bands performing live this Saturday night at the compilation release party taking place at The Great Hall.
Richard was kind enough to take a bit of time to chat with us about the label, himself and the new compilation. Read on for the full conversation after the jump.
Last week, the Fader premiered the latest video from Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band of Freaks. Set to the lyrically revealing “Step Right Up,” the video was filmed on location at a Phish concert on their 2013 Summer Tour (can you tell which venue?). About the location choice, Bleeker says “It is my opinion that Phish has the most enthusiastic concert-going music fans in the world. The choice to shoot this video in the parking lot of one of their shows this summer was simple. This was the only large crowd I could think of that would lovingly embrace and interact with a man in an antler helmet without a moment’s pause. ” “Step Right Up” comes off Alex Bleeker & the Freaks 2013 release How Far Away, available via the good folks at Woodsist.
Catch Alex Bleeker and the Freaks live when they perform our post-Phish late-show at Mercury Lounge on December 30.
(Poster by Jessica Milton)
We’re teaming up with our pals at Popgun Booking to bring you this most-excellent show, happening on November 5 at Glasslands. All three bands are great so be sure to arrive early. Show starts at 8:30. Tickets are $10. Purchase tickets here.
Here’s the latest video from Brooklyn’s Superhuman Happiness, who are playing our show with Os Tropies tomorrow night at The Garrison in Toronto. Our very own Bearded Rainbow will be providing the evening’s projections. RSVP for the show here. We hope to see you there!
Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker, who is playing our show tonight at the Comfort Zone in Toronto with his band of freaks, has kindly shared a selection of jams that he’s currently been digging. His new album How Far Away is out now via Woodsist. Catch him tonight along with Moves and Bonnie Trash. 9PM.
Check out the full list of jams after the jump.
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.
Watch Yellowbirds perform a few tracks at off their forthcoming album, Songs from the Vanished Frontier, out May 28 on Royal Potato Family. Thanks to the good folks at BreakThru Radio for the viddy.
Behind a nondescript East Williamsburg tenement at 229 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, NY lies Woods‘ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole–Rear House. But after 10 long years the band will say farewell to the former live-in practice space turned ramshackle recording studio, which has also housed bands like Real Estate, Ducktails, The Babies and other members of the Woodsist family. To mark the occasion, Woods are releasing a new single on July 9 featuring a cover of The Kinks’ tune “Gods’ Children,” along with a re-recorded version of “Be All Easy.” “God’s Children” comes from the soundtrack to the 1971 British film Percy, while “Be All Be Easy,” originally from 2011’s Sun and Shade, was re-recorded to capture the live form the song has taken since it’s original release. Both are the first to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu, formerly of Mmoss.
Woods hits the road next month for a tour that includes stops with Parquet Courts and Alex Bleeker & the Freaks. Full dates below.
While Alex Bleeker spends his days as the bassist in popular indie rock band Real Estate, he also moonlights as the guitarist and frontman in his own band, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, which takes more from Crazy Horse, the Grateful Dead and Little Wings than The Feelies or Yo La Tengo. Over the past several years, Bleeker has performed sporadic shows in New York and Brooklyn either solo or with a rotating cast of musicians that has, at times, included members of Real Estate. During that time he also released a 7″ and an EP on Underwater Peoples, and will now release his debut full-length, titled How Far Away, on Woodsist in the Spring of this year. Stream “Don’t Look Down,” the lead track on the album, below.
How Far Away comes out May 28 on Woodsist.
Catch Alex Bleeker and the Freaks alongside Quilt and Weyes Blood at our show this Sunday at Glasslands Gallery. RSVP.
After a lengthy period of gestation, Montreal-based cosmic voyagers The Besnard Lakes return with a new album, titled Until in Excess, Imperceptiple UFO , on April 2 via Jagjaguwar. The album comes as the follow-up to one of our favorite albums from a few years back, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night which was preceded by the similarly great …Dark Horses. Listen below as new song “People of the Sticks” transports us right back into the trademark narcotic embrace of The Besnard Lakes.