Optical Sounds has been Toronto’s unofficial psychedelic home base for about six years now, operating in their own underground, independent of both blog buzz and music industry bullshit. A "label” in the loosest sense (more focused on community and parties than physical releases), Optical Sounds has become a hub for any artist who feels like pumping up the reverb, dabbling in paisley or gazing at their shoes, whether or not they’re part of the “official” roster – they’ll still be invited to play one of their ragers.
We’ve got the official premiere of Optical Sounds’ second compilation, Psych Pop 2, streaming below, and it’s another gloriously imperfect snapshot of a scene that refuses to confine itself to a single sound or location. Like the last compilation (which included the words “From Toronto”), the album’s title is a loose umbrella: there’s all-D drone from Ostrich Tuning, girl group sun pop from The BB Guns, orchestral space rock from Flowers of Hell, dirty garage from B-17 and guest appearances by Montreal’s Chevalier Avant-Garde, New York’s Your 33 Black Angels, and more. Optical Sounds co-founder Richard Gibson explains (that's him up there with his older brother/OS partner/fellow ginger Robert):
The criteria is the same as it's always been for us at Optical Sounds. We have to REALLY love you! And I suppose what we are trying to do it get some attention to certain songs that we feel have been criminally overlooked. Almost all of these songs have been out for at least a year (some many more). So we're trying to put them all together on a compilation to kinda poke people, wake them up a bit, show them some deep lost gems that should have been hits from right here in Toronto.
Download Psych Pop 2 for free from Bandcamp. Eight of these bands will take over Toronto's Great Hall on Saturday, March 15, for the release party. Below, read Optical Sounds' "bios" for every band on the compilation:
B-17 - Let's kick it off with an Optical Sounds super group, of sorts. Featuring Richie and Cal from The Saffron Sect/The Hoa Hoa's/The Disraelis, Clint from Action Makes/The BB Guns and Nick from Easy Targets/MIMICO. First EP is Wishing Won't Make It so with a new album in the works. Hammer fisted stomp from the psychedelic pistons on the astral plane.
THE AURAS - The Peacock: "I'll spin some records before you trip out in the back of the van". GENUIS! Young psych freaks from Toronto's suburbs w/ a great attitude and love for music. They'll be around for agers to come. Remember: WE found them.
PRINCE NESS - "As long as the kids keep flying their kites... they'll be alright". Wise words and "high" hopes from Mike Ness, the man behind Punk Mountain. We couldn't resist how cute and unpretentious this group is. We had to include them. We have a secret crush on all of them.
CHEVALIER AVANT GARDE - The Hoa Hoa's first met CAG years ago while playing a show in Montreal. They insisted we hang out in their car and drink beers right up until the minute before show time.Brilliant artists who are currently gaining quite a bit of success in Europe. Too bad Canada and the US are slow to keep up. Courtesy of Fixture Records.
MIMICO - Pretty much a mystery band and we think that's the way they'd like to keep it. The brain child of Benjamin Oginz, with Jeremiah (Ostrich Tuning) and Nick (B-17) being the stoned pros that they are completing the freaky futuristic atmosphere.
YOUR 33 BLACK ANGELS - A chance meeting between The Hoa Hoa's and Y33BA led to a lasting friendship. They were the most fucked up looking band we saw at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Hardest working band we ever knew. 100% pure.
THE HOA HOA'S - The Hoa Hoa's were the reason for starting this label. This is from their final release and it's their best. Our favourite song they ever wrote about what life is like in their cold apartment Known to all Optical Sounders as "The Mansion". How ironic. Ground zero for countless laughs and trips. Memories for miles. As the 13th Floor Elevators said "Slip inside this house as you pass by". We all do.
PLANT MAGIC - A magic farmer who can't stand the city, so instead, grows her food and music in Brantford, ON. Truly gifted musician who excels at EVERY instrument. Plays everything on this recording. Former flautist and glockenspeiler in The Saffron Sect. Also: Spectacular DJ.
FLOWERS OF HELL - The multi coloured petals of Greg Jarvis, Flowers of Hell are more of an orchestra than a typical "rock band". This cover of Joy Division is beautiful and their take on "heroin" got praise from Lou Reed himself.
TESS PARKS - "Life is but a dream": She's making that statement come true as we speak. Signed to Alan McGee's new label, 359Music, she's a star child to the max. Massive brown eyes, massive songwriting sensibility. Most recently,. she's been cutting tracks with Anton A. Newcombe in Berlin. Amazing!
SUN STONE REVOLVERS - Blues and psych enthusiasts, SS Revolvers put their audience into a trance through the heart and soul of John Lee Hooker stoned on an Argentinean mountain top.
THE BB GUNS - A real hot group in the Toronto scene right now, we can see The BB's getting huge! 3 babes and 2 rocker boys who can really play. Mix X-Ray Spex and The Shangri-Las and you'll get the point. Punk riffs and girl group harmonies - how can you go wrong?!
ACTION MAKES - Seems like this is a blast from the past now but they were a staple band in Toronto for years. Action Makes were pure ruckus rock n' roll. Sadly they only recorded one full-length and a handful of singles - which were amazing. This drug-fueled freak out group are sorely missed.
PLANET CREATURE - One of our first groups on the label and always close to our heart. Right where their tunes pull the strings. 5 totally rocking girls with great sensibility for pop hooks and memorable songwriting. "We are animals, waiting to die". Woah!
MAGIC SHOPPE - From Boston, Mass we first met Josiah Webb at a Hoa Hoa's show in Buffalo, NY. We partied all night long and the next morning he was on the label. Has done some of his best work on OpticalSounds.
OSTRICH TUNING - Ostrich Tuning have a sound and vibe unique to this town and have made a name for themselves by being constantly courted to play the hippest live shows. Their sound is based on the "ostrich tuning" that Lou Reed used early on. All guitars tuned to D, their sounds their sounds drone and groove with the mystical voice of Ami Spears and the genius production of Ian McPhedran.
SOUNDS AROUND - Robb Schaede's solo journey to the center of the mind with help from other fellow Auras. Total hippie jams conjure Primal Scream on peyote or My Bloody Valentine in Morocco.
THE DISRAELIS - After a couple of year of break up and hiatus, The Disraelis are back! Now with Richie and Cal (B-17/The Saffron Sect), this is a favourite from a new set of recordings to be released this year. Cameron Ingles showing his songwriting ability, Cherry Red sort of sums up our romantic rock n' roll dream that drives this label. "Can I draw you a picture / Of you and I alone in the dark / coming down in the country / Your summer dress caught the light of the barn / I wanna go / I wanna live again / dream inside your arms / kiss your lips / They're cherry red again / I remember it all"