I’ve been involved in the world of psychedelia for years now, in many capacities, and certain things start to stick and draw you ever deeper; like Alice and the infamous rabbit hole. One of the things I’ve noticed and indeed gone down said hole with, is the insane quality of psychedelia emerging from Italy, in every conceivable form. So in a bid to expose the wonderful bands I’ve fallen in love with, I’ve chosen 12 of the best and over the course of three articles, will introduce them to you (in no particular order!).
Here are the first four;
Hailing from Venice, New Candys are arguably the most well-known Italian psych band at the moment. They formed in 2008 and are frequently described as being bar and brooding, with distant melodies and always a strong countenance. They first came to attention in 2012 when they released their first LP Stars Reach the Abyss, which was followed in 2015 by As Medicine, which saw their first association with label Fuzz Club. The latest LP Bleeding Magenta has seen them catapulted from a name some knew, to a name everyone in the psych scene knows and they have toured extensively in Europe, the US and Australia on the back of its release. New Candys offer a brand of psychedelia that is accessible and appeals to every taste, their always perfect live performances have gathered them an army of fans who travel to see them, wherever they play. As Italian psych bands go, New Candys are a great place to start, there really isn’t much not too like.
Moving on, next comes Kill Your Boyfriend, for no other reason than I first discovered this band through the split single they did with New Candys in 2015. They, however, are an entirely different entity – with music so dark the post-punk greats are turning in their graves. After the split single first LP The King is Dead was released in late 2015 and Ghosts EP in 2016. Things then went quiet for a while, leaving us with great tracks to ruminate over, before latest single ‘Elizabeth’ provided an abrupt awakening, with its motorik beat, intense energy and sinister video. Live this band are something else, with a kinetic energy that has drawn comparison with Devo and Joy Division, with good reason. With a recent UK tour under their belt which earnt them a new wave of cult followers and a new album rumoured to be in the pipeline, Kill Your Boyfriend are thankfully not going away and satisfy the darker side which is constantly in demand, especially as the times we live in are seeming ever grim.
In complete contrast to that as they are based very firmly within the shoegaze spectrum are Modena’s Rev Rev Rev. They released their self-titled debut album back in 2013 and have repeatedly been hailed as one of the finest new wave of shoegaze bands. They’ve clocked up airtime and praise from BBC 6 Music, Drowned In Sound, Clash Magazine and Bandcamp Daily and wound up taking their notorious live shows across the UK and Europe; sharing the stage with the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Telescopes and Ringo Deathstarr along the way. Second LP des fleurs magiques bourdonnaient followed in 2016 and then latest offering Kykeon was released late 2019 and adds more psychedelic elements than the previous offerings making its appeal universal.
Active since the late nineties, from Emilia, Julie’s Haircut are an institution in their own right. They are devoted to spacey, hypnotic sounds and they are masters of their art. The band’s music has evolved in time, through a series of albums and EPs, from the garage-rock soulful energy of their debut towards more experimental grounds, focusing on improv and sound research, without losing touch with the groove and melody that characterized their music since day one. I discovered them in 2017 with the release of Invocation and Ritual Dance of my Demon Twin which was released on Rocket Recordings, as was their latest album In The Silence Electric. I was quickly hooked on their mesmeric layers of sound and delved deep in the back catalogue, which is quite an undertaking and is testament to their prolific productivity. Live they are quite something, not least because there is so many members and in small, underground venues this presents a challenge that they are able to rise too. The world needs bands like Julie’s Haircut who seem to always provide a welcome breath of fresh air with whatever they produce.