We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Manzanita by Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound (out June 19 on Tee Pee)
Press play if you like: Black Mountain’s mountainous blackness; Jefferson Airplane’s softer landings; hazy afternoons spent traipsing through the grass
Some background: It’s easy to stereotype psychedelic music, but the genre has always attracted a wide variety of personalities and sounds, from paranoid weirdos wielding apocalyptic drones to flower children flaunting bucolic bliss. San Francisco’s Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound houses a little of all of the above. The group’s new full-length, Manzanita, stacks monuments to oblivion like the pulsing “L.A. Sacrifice” amid dandelion-scented drifters like “Green Meadow Slowdown.” Underpinning them all is an immaculate—and even sober—sense of songcraft, a focus on sun-dappled melody and jangling interplay that counteracts even the deepest shadows. It’s those high highs and low lows that push Manzanita above so much of the current garage-psyche crop. Granted, the group’s sumptuous co-ed harmonies, Zombies-esque keys, touches of flute, and crushing slabs of distortion don’t hurt—nor do Charlie Saufley’s alternately smoky and helium-filled vocals. Above all, though, AHISS brings soulful grace and weary wonder to a sound that once thrived on both.
Try this: Starting with a minor-chord rumble before erupting into some interstellar typhoon, “Blue Wire” showcases every one of Manzanita’s strengths: strong melodies, nimble playing, spirited exploration, and a through-line of cosmic empathy.