AOTW: Tame Impala

It has been a while since an impressive psychedelic rock band has made its way to the global stage. In a musical period where high-tempo European techno and tough-attitude American urban-pop seem to dominate the airwaves net-files, the dream-state melodies of Tame Impala make for a refreshing interlude to whatever you may have been currently listening.

The band shamelessly admits to late sixties rock influences like The Mamas and the Papas and The Doors. Infusing Beach Boys-like melodies in their vocals and Jefferson Airplane style trippy effects in their instruments, this Perth, Australia band is a leader in the redirection of Pacific-rock music. Even their artwork provides a subliminal connection to the late sixties San Francisco scene. Compare the album-art on their debut album “InnerSpeaker” to cover’s like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1970 “Cosmo’s Factory” and Iron Butterfly’s 1968 “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

When thinking of south-Pacific ocean music (dare I say “the surf sound” anymore?) from the last twenty years, we have listened as California, Hawaii, and Aussie bands transformed from skater-punk to mellow bonfire music. Tame Impala avoids both, daring to reinvent their own version of 1960s groove-psychedelia, playing instruments above Jack Johnson and volumes below the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The sound of “InnerSpeaker” has all the necessary qualities of tripped-out, acid rock. Every song on the album allows for vocal harmonies that float back and forth between Kevin Parker and Jay Watson. And each electric guitar solo hears a heavy use of Paisley Adam’s high cymbal and Dominic Simper’s uncomplicated base lines. The final product may be a break from what we are all used to in this hipster-Indie music world, which is nice for a change, although I would hardly call it original. Maybe to the Facebook generation, but for anyone who has a few early Pink Floyd records or Crosby, Still, Nash and Young LPs kickin’ around, the imitating qualities cannot go unnoticed.

Currently, Tame Impala is moving West to East just south of the Canada/U.S. border, touring with MGMT. Spending June in back-country places like Morrison, Colorado, Kansas City, Kansas, Columbus, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin may be a stretch for this Aussie foursome. Let’s hope Midwest America is ready for psychedelic-rock this time around, because God knows they certainly weren’t forty years ago.

Upcoming Shows & Events

June 14 – The Vogue w/ MGMT – Indianapolis, IN
June 15 – LC Pavillion w/ MGMT – Columbus, OH
June 16 – The Filmore Detroit w/ MGMT – Detroit, MI
June 18 – Riviera Theatre w/ MGMT – Chicago, IL
June 19 – Turf Club w/ MGMT – St. Paul, MN
June 20 – Riverside Theatre w/ MGMT – Milwaukee, WI
June 21 – Subterranean – Chicago, IL
June 24 – Piano’s SOLD OUT – New York, NY

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– Kory French


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