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HYPNOTIC BRIDGE RECORDS

Hypnotic Bridge Records, of Sierra Madre, CA, is dedicated to contemporary psychedelic music on 7" vinyl, bringing the spirit of the late 1960s into the current era, both musically and in terms of visual aesthetics, with many of the sleeves featuring swirling colourful art reminiscent of 1960s posters. This is a label I count among my favourites, a highly recommended source for psych-pop and related styles, from new bands and long-running familiar names.

I have here the six singles they released in 2021, starting with Paint Me A Dream by The Chemistry Set. With roots going back to the 1980s, the band have had previous releases on labels such as Acid Tapes, Imaginary Records, and in more recent years, Fruits de Mer. Paint Me A Dream is an instant classic, a perfect pairing of ultramelodic pop and intense, mindbending psychedelia. Over on the B-side they do some highly creative things with Mark Fry's The Witch. A blend of retro organ and chanting sets the scene for some eerie psych-folk swathed in soaring flute-effect Mellotron, before culminating in a wild instrumental psych-out with squalling guitars, cosmic sound effects and Eastern-tinged organ melodies, which then becomes the backdrop for urgent, impassioned vocals. A really superb single from this continually great band.

The Permanent Green Light are not to be confused with the similarly named Finnish band Permanent Clear Light, who were formed more recently. The Permanent Green Light's history goes back to the 1990s, the band being made up of members of various other bands including The Three O'Clock, Jupiter Affect, Medicine, and The Marsupials. Their latest single includes Enormous Highs, riff-driven powerpop incorporating psychedelic interludes with atmospheric swirling organ, underwater vocal effects, and searing guitar solos, and Silver Girl, fast, punchy, catchy powerpop that opens with an authentically late 60s-sounding guitar riff and closes with a dreamlike soundscape based around sitar and tamboura, courtesy of guest musicians Anthony Saffery (Cornershop) and Sajid Shankar. Two exhilarating tracks that have made me curious to explore their back catalogue.

Italian band The Backdoor Society are joined by Hammond organist Paolo Apollo Negri (The Link Quartet) for a two-track 7" on Hypnotic Bridge. On The Run is raw garage rock with frantic guitar and organ topped off with intense emotional vocals, while Ballad of a Liar seamlessly juxtaposes wild freakbeat verses with lightning fast organ soloing and pop ballad choruses in which a strong melody tinged with melancholy is ornamented with chiming jangle. Both songs sound like authentic artefacts of the 1960s; fans of 60s garage and freakbeat would do well to give this one a listen.

The Resonars have a three-song EP that shows a genuine love and understanding of 60s music. Each song comes from a different angle, while sitting comfortably together on the same record. First there is Gold to Blue, ultramelodic, somewhat Byrds-ish pop swathed in glorious vocal harmonies, taking in a woozy psychedelic instrumental interlude. Little Grey Men is harder-edged, though still with a big emphasis on vocal harmonies, combining aspects of the 1960s US folk-rock of Buffalo Springfield et al with the powerpop that would follow in the 1970s. Finally there's the Richard Fariña cover Bold Marauder, great folk-rock with a melody grounded in historical folk tradition. Banjo is added to the usual band instruments for an additional authentic folk touch, while the heavy, crunchy psychedelic guitar solo adds extra intensity and grit. Another highly impressive single from Hypnotic Bridge.

London's Mark & the Clouds, led by Marco Magnani, formerly of Instant Flight, follow up their albums on the Mega Dodo and Gare du Nord labels with a new single on Hypnotic Bridge. You and Me in Space recalls the best bits of The Beatles, punctuated at times by a heady blend of spacey synths and backwards guitar, while Clocks is another prime slice of psychedelic pop-rock, taking in wild wah-wah laden solos and cinematic keyboards that provide a sense of spy movie drama.

The label's latest single comes from Timothy Eerie, whose mind-expanding lyrics and artwork are well in keeping with the Timothy Leary pun of their name. They are perhaps the heaviest band I've heard so far on Hypnotic Bridge, much more on the rock side of things than pop, though melody is no less important to them than it is to the poppier bands. I Fear the Void Is Waiting For Me includes a brief homage to The Beatles' Day Tripper placed within an altogether heavier setting. The guitars chug and wail alongside heady 60s organ, while the ultra-catchy chorus is impossible to dislodge from the brain. Acid Lake takes in forceful, insistent vocals, hard-hitting riffage shrouded in squalling feedback, wild retro organ, spacey electronic whirrs, and an intense guitar solo that harks back to the time when psych rock was starting to give way to early heavy metal. A really exciting, powerful pair of songs.

Hypnotic Bridge is undoubtedly one of the best labels for psychedelic music around today; I strongly recommend everything I've heard from them so far. All 7"s are limited to 500 copies; get them while you can at www.hypnoticbridge.com

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