Psychotica – Self-titled (1996)

psychotica

A thousand apologies for the length of time between posts, but it’s kind of hard to enjoy music with an ear infection. The ear’s all better now, though, so, as penance for being a bad blogger, I give you this, one of the top 5 albums of all time.

First of all, Psychotica is the most amazing band you’ve never heard (and if you have, I commend you) and their self-titled debut is the perfect representation of everything that is incredible about them.

I discovered Psychotica at Lollapalooza 1996 when they opened the festival. Frontman Pat Briggs emerged from some crazy cocoon dressed in a silver skintight space-suit with a silver-dreaded mohawk and a painted on purple bar across his eyes. And he looked totally fucking awesome and way cooler than the flannel-clad dipshits in the big bands during that time. Truth be told, I was probably sold on this band before they even played the first notes, but it was a good instinct because if possible, their sound was even cooler and more innovative than their look.

I initially acquired the album on tape, which is actually the format it seemed to be recorded for, as there are clearly “sides” to the album. Side 1 kicks off with Ice Planet Hell – the obvious single. Booming bass and eerie screamy-but-good-voice vocals continue into crunchy guitars and an easily singable chorus, “It’s so cool, it’s so swell, living here on ice planet hell.” Other standout songs on Side 1 include Starfucker Love, which –  in addition to the vocal stylings of Mr. Briggs – features a dark reggae-rap breakdown by a blonde swedish chick named Reeka who found a way to incorporate the phrase “bloody glove” in her rap. Awesome. Little Prince is the ballad on Side 1 and it’s really beautiful and inspired me to re-read a childhood favorite and determine it truly is one of the greatest books ever written and is in no way really intended for children. Freedom of Choice is a cool cover of a Devo song – and really, who covers Devo songs? – but compared to the band’s original stuff it’s just kind of whatevs. 180 degrees is a slightly darker ballad, but Pat’s vocals are intense and strong and gorgeous and I will sing along from my gut when I hear them. And then closing Side 1 is an instrumental track called The Sleep which is violin and piano and has a classical sound that is actually really appropriate for a sad lullaby.

Side 2 is wonderful but not quite as strong as Side 1. Starts off with a power-rock song called Flesh and Bone, but hits its stride with Blue Fear, which incidentally also has lyrics about flesh and bone. The “single” on Side 2 is Barcelona. It’s got a Spanish-inspired sound – not surprisingly – but the real beauty of this song is a unique and incredible vocal ability of Mr. Briggs’ that allows him to hit two notes at once for a strange captivating sound that I’ve never heard anyone replicate. New Man is the last “real song” on the album and is also beautiful and then the album closes with another instrumental, a sort of bookend to The Sleep, called The Awakening, only this one is more synth-based and much weirder.

I can’t even express with words how different and spectacular and cherished this album is for me. It is perfect from beginning to end and has really withstood the test of time as a regular rotation in my various music players. I’ve successfully converted dozens (or at least a dozen) folks into fans, which is kind of a lot since so few people have ever even heard of them. And the rumors on web-town are that they are kind of back together and planning another tour. So get with it, get with this album, and see me at the next show.

Also, here is a photo of me and Pat, from an album listening party in 1999:

nyc11

1 Comment

  1. Noelle said,

    February 28, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

    I didn’t read your post BUT this picture was taken the year in which we became friends, A DECADE ago.

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