Psychedelic indie is somehow becoming a more prominent type of music within our society. Everyone has always looked to bands like Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead for their hallucinogenic musical fantasy rides, but when was the last time you dropped acid and listened to some Velvet Underground or Animal Collective records? My guess is about 60% of you people would say, recently, which means psychedelic indie is becoming some sort of cool phenomenon. Earlier this year, I reviewed the Brian Jonestown Massacres Who Killed Sgt. Pepper, and that struck me as extremely psychedelic, but there is another band slowly stepping into their turf. That band is (somehow not surprisingly) Pete Holmstroms (of the Dandy Warhols) new project, Pete International Airport, named after an equally trippy Come Down track. The band and the song sound extremely similar, and my guess is that 60% of the people who will read this also know the song, so they know what they are in for.
Pete International Airports self-titled debut drops this September, making this a very mellow, bizarre, and sure-to-be-discussed fall album. More than half the songs run well over five minutes (with an 11n-minute finale) and sound like the mind adjusting to some sort of medicated state. Think Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy after he shoots dilaudid and objects just seem to float past him. As this reviewer skateboarded along the beach listening to the record, I too felt slightly elevated, floating through time and space, with a mellow, but slightly off sound guiding me around. But Im not a fucking hippie .Im a music critic.
And my critiquing led me to believe that this wasnt too bad. It was actually pretty cool and enjoyable music, whether or not you were shooting dilaudid. The opener, Sweetheart Tattoo, is a relatively upbeat driver of a song where the singer barely mumbles into the microphone. As two guitars play, one clean-sounding electric soloing quite well and another strummed acoustic keeping perfect rhythm, the singer talks about pasting a sweetheart tattoo on the body of a loved one. The song fades right into 21 Days, which is available for free download on the bands website. Its creepy, Ween-esque opening with chimes and odd guitars lasts for about a minute and a half, but then comes a distorted rocker reminiscent of old Sonic Youth. The drums speed up the song, as the echo-effect vocals ring out with shrill and buzzing guitar rhythms. I swear theres a track of feedback playing the whole time. The guitar assault just cuts through like a buzzsaw into your skull, while the lyrics remain at a whisper.
Mark Twain Shoeshine taps into the electronic sounding jams, with an old-school piano line and computer-sounding drums. The singer performs a beautiful wordless chorus, while a chopped up guitar solo rings out into your cerebellum.
Starlight makes the singer sound like the creepiest stalker ever, as he whispers the lyrics over a very monotone drumbeat, with guitar riffs from back in the 1960s and the most epic piano chord progression ever created. The bizarre combination of such instrumentation allows the song to take you away. I can honestly say I took a nap during the song New Eastern, as it sounds like a twisted and scary version of the Eastern Hemisphere with its instrumentation and key. Not to mention the scary children singing within the chorus and the satanic-sounding verses. This is where things turn dark.
Repeater is not an homage to Fugazi but a terrifying number that sounds like plunging into Hell. There is screaming, panting, whispering, shrieking, and a guitar that sounds like pure concentrated evil. It freaks me out. The next two tracks equal the length of the last one. Idioms for Dummies has a nice sort of punk crunch to it–a nice break from the last two scary tracks–and George the 2nd is a happy-go-lucky tune that sort of reminds me of Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground due to its upbeat melody and use of ding-sounding instruments. The track fades right out into the finest achievement on the album. The song is the eleven-minute epic “I Care, which Im sure hipsters will smoke joints to for generations to come. Every star tells a story/Every star falls alone, the singer murmurs at the start of the song and begins to tell the story of people falling apart from one another. With the songs nostalgia-conjuring melody, the singers monotone yet somehow emotional vocals, and length of time, it is the perfect finale to a record like this, making you look back on the past hour knowing it was a good listen.
Im sure Pete International Airport will appear in the tent at whatever festival invades your area. Their weird brand of indie will certainly strike a chord with the crowd that has been building up decade after decade. At this point, there is plenty of room in the world for weird and new sounds. Some people can handle it, and others cant, but the people who can will be able to appreciate an album like this. Its got melody, its got class, its got individuality, and its got a Dandy Warhol. What more could a modern-day rock fan ask for? Just take it for what it is, strange. But hey, everything gets a little weird now and then.