SSR Pick: Dominic: April 21, 2022

Hey there one and all. How are you? Thanks for clicking on our humble newsletter once again.

You join us this week neck deep in Record Store Day releases, besides the other new releases and great used stuff that keeps coming in. Busy, busy, busy.

So, with that said there’s just enough time to tell you about a nice little record that arrived at my door the other day. Full disclosure, I am online friends with the artist and my liking of this record is heavily influenced by that but there is no payola here at Sorry State. We are under no pressure to write about anything that we don’t care about. We just love music and evangelizing about it and pointing you towards records we feel you might like.

The Gentle Cycle: Landslide Eyes. 300 Mics

The Gentle Cycle from Los Angeles, California follows up their self-titled debut from five years ago with this terrific album of psychedelic niceness. Their vein of psych being a mostly sixties inspired and a West Coast one. The group is led by Derek See, guitarist and vocalist with Roger Brogan on drums and Scott Bassman playing bass on most tracks. Keyboards and other instrumental touches are also added by Derek and Roger on most tracks. The group is essentially the brainchild of musician, writer, guitar guru, DJ, record nerd and all-around nice guy Derek See. What this man doesn’t know about a guitar, records and music from the sixties would make a very small list. It’s that knowledge and love that comes through in his music.

I was introduced to him via the mod girl-group he had called The Bang Girl Group Review a few years back and have followed his career since. We are Facebook/IG friends and so I get regular updates on his latest projects, and I can tell you he keeps busy. In addition to The Gentle Cycle, Derek plays in 60s Garage legends The Chocolate Watchband, 80s Paisley Underground torchbearers The Rain Parade and with Luna & Galaxie 500 main man Dean Wareham. He has performed with Country Joe McDonald and was guitar tech for James Williamson of The Stooges, which is so fucking cool. Derek also played on the Careless Hearts LP with Williamson from 2009. Whilst not performing Derek finds time to write about music and records for a host of magazines including his own blog Derek’s Daily 45 plus sells records online and repairs and restores vintage guitars.

I’m glad he found time to record these tunes that are the Landslide Eyes album. Derek has said that he wanted to make the type of album that harks back to that late 1960s through early 1970s period where records were played and listened to as a whole experience, and I think he has managed to pull that off. From the opening notes of side one to the close of side two, the listener is pulled into the Gentle Cycle universe and kept there. Although using vintage equipment and pulling on the past for inspiration, the record is far from just another retro garage affair. Far from it, the song writing is too good for that and the playing even better.

I just received my copy in the mail recently, a beautiful clear lavender vinyl pressing and have had it on the turntable frequently. Hard to pick an outright favorite track yet, but opener Like December Is Bold sets you up nicely for what’s to follow. Derek’s vocal style comes off as somewhere between that of Arthur Lee and Gene Clark, two heroes whose influence can’t help but rub off on any self-respecting Californian music lover. Throughout the record there are subtle nods to groups like Love, The Byrds and more obscure sixties bands, but also to the aforementioned Paisley Underground psych of the 80s and the next psychedelic revival of the 90s and early 00s. All beautifully molded together and brought up to date for modern ears, albeit those ears with an appreciation for the past, but not slaves to it.

There is nice balance and contrast to the songs too. Rocking anthems like cover of 70s Memphis power pop group The Hot Dogs’ Let Me Look At The Sun sit next to moody instrumentals and softer love songs like Ivy all seamlessly. The links to those last two tracks have videos for them and they are two excellent examples of what The Gentle Cycle is all about.

For those of you who celebrate 4/20, this might be an excellent listening experience. Just saying.

Okay, I must get back to work, but thank you for reading. I hope you have a great Record Store Day and get yourself something nice. Of course, your local record store needs your business all year and we here at Sorry State sincerely thank all of you great customers and friends who help us keep the lights on with your support. Thank you. See you next time - Dom

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