- by James Weiskittel Rating:7 Release Date:2016-06-03 Label:
New York-based Psychic Ills are more than just clever wordplay on the genre that they so confidently traverse, as the handful of albums they have released over the past decade reveal a band growing and evolving not unlike many their mid-70s psychedelic forbearers. Currently operating as a two-piece (featuring frontman Tres Warren and bassist Elizabeth Hart), the band is about to release their fifth album, entitled Inner Journey Out.
While the recording process began some three years back with frontman Tres Warren's demos, the album eventually evolved into a perfect amalgamation of all the genres they have flirted with on past releases. From the gentle folk of album opener 'Back to You' to the droning closer 'Fade Me Out' (where Warren confesses “I know I’ll miss you when you’re gone”), Psychic Ills explore a ton of different sounds over the course of Inner Journey Out’s fourteen tracks. Flourishes into washed-out jazz (“Ra Wah Wah”) and home-grown gospel (“Another Change”) are welcome deviations for this duo, as Tres Warren’s playing seems to grow more brazenly confident the further the band stretches their sound.
And for her part, Hart’s ever-present rumble provides a sense of ballast to the proceedings, locking in seamlessly with the numerous drummers and percussionists on the record. Touring keyboard player Brent Cordero does an admiral job of tying it all together while the album is further augmented with a guest appearance from Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval (“I Don’t Mind”) as well.
As is the case with so many modern-psychedelic-folk bands (where the ground-work was laid decades ago), an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach is typically the go-to plan for those looking to put a new spin on things. But where Psychic Ills may have been guilty of that approach in the past, this deep into their career they seem to have found themselves. For all of its meandering and searching, Inner Journey Out sounds like a deliberate statement.
With a non-descript faded record sleeve for an album cover serving as perhaps an intentionally subtle statement in and of itself, the Psychic Ills are clearly all about the music this time around. Every bit the culmination of their ten-year career, Inner Journey Out is a reverent wink and a heavy-handed nod to the sounds of yesteryear from a band that clearly has their sights set on the road ahead.
Nice review, James! I really dig this band. Hope Sandoval sounds great on that one track...
Thanks Jim...not really in my wheelhouse, but this release was suprisingly solid.