I have been pretty much immersing myself in bands who are playing at the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia over the past few weeks. I have been picking bands at random off a bill even more extensive than the one I got for my last car service, and have been having a great time. It was not until I alighted on Alfa 9 however that I realised how much my ears had become attuned to the distortion of hundreds of tracks. They sounded so clean when they came jangling out of my speakers.
Famously described by one reviewer as “The Stones Roses if they had lived in Haight-Ashbury”, Alfa 9 bear some resemblance to the baggy band from Madchester in that they burned out after their first album, 2006’s Then We Begin, and a punishing schedule of touring and took some six years to produce a follow-up, 2012’s aptly named Gone to Ground.
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Then We Begin opens with an absolute stunner of an instrumental (Prelude) before segueing via a Queens of the Stone Age bass line into the slow burning title track. This is such West Coast album full of lush tunes and pastel moods, I absolutely love it and it’s going to be hitting my stereo on a regular basis over the next few months.
Whether Gone To Ground is Alfa 9’s equivalent to The Stone Roses Second Coming perhaps depends on where you stand on the latter (and I know that many would like to do just that). I happen to think that The Roses’ eponymous album is a masterpiece (a word I have not used in my Backseatmafia posts before) and while the sophomore effort does not come anywhere near it, I think it is a good album in its own right.
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Gone To Ground is a different proposition altogether since it marks a departure into that clean sound that I mentioned at the start. It reminds me of those great Byrds/ Flying Burrito Brothers albums full of jangly guitars and smooth harmonised vocals. It is an album that is, like the raisins, packed full of California sunshine.
Alfa 9 are one of the big finds for me on the PsychFest bill. They certain mark a bit of a departure from some of the other bands I have been listening to, but they have cleansed my musical palate very nicely and underlined for me the eclectic nature of the line up.
This is the fifth in my series of posts about bands that I have found while going through the bill of the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. Do not forget that you can also follow my research as I gradually add to my Spotify playlist “PsychBest” (click on the link or search “PsychBest on Spotify) which includes tracks from those who are appearing at the Liverpool Fesitval, along with a few who are not but whom I have also discovered along the way.