Psychedelic Soul was born in the late ’60s. The chemically altered consciousness and trippy production techniques of psychedelic rock found its way into soul music. The receptiveness by rock & roll made it a definite precursor to funk with its hard-driving rhythms. The use of electronics and diverse instrumental effects owed much to the ground broken by psychedelic soul. The music was new-school state-of-the-art soul at its most celebrated point. It evoked heady good times for the baby boomer culture and generations after.But there was also a darker and sometimes even a paranoid side to the music that reflected the uncertainty of social times. Particularly with the increasing militancy among the civil rights movement and the war in Viet Nam that was sweeping across the nation.
By the early ’70s, psychedelic soul had evolved into a mix of protest material, aggressive funky beats and gently shimmering love songs. The catalyst behind psychedelic soul was Jimi Hendrix, who cut his teeth on the R&B circuit before coming into his own as a genre-bending instrumentalist who spoke to both white and black listeners. Similarly, eclectic but more firmly based in R&B were Sly & the Family Stone. A racially integrated outfit forged in the psychedelic hotbed of San Francisco. Perhaps the quintessential psychedelic soul band, The Family Stone’s social awareness and euphoric positivity gave way to a darker and more pessimistic vision. As drugs took their toll on Sly Stone’s mental stability his song-writing and concert performances became problematic. Psychedelic soul was not only breaking out of Northern California.. East coast bands Vanilla Fudge and The Rascals were taking rock into a whole different direction and garnering mass radio exposure at both pop and black radio.
Sly and The Family Stone Vanilla Fudge The Rascals
The sound soon became so communicable that the Temptations, under the direction of producer/arranger Norman Whitfield, redefined themselves by cutting some of the finest psychedelic soul of the late ’60s and early ’70s… which included hits like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Ball of Confusion.”. None did so more than George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic aggregate, whose bizarre druggy humor and acid-tinged jamming were direct outgrowths of psychedelic soul. The movement became the building template for Prince who epitomized the epidemic popularity of the genre until his untimely death.
The Soft White Sixties are a band that are breaking on the streets of Los Angeles. To their credit it takes a great rock band to make music that is totally fresh and still be true. They decided to move themselves from San Francisco to Los Angeles because they knew that their future would be more attainable by being where there’s more media action. Evidently, the music press seems to fester on this issue versus the music..Isn’t it the music that really counts? Unlike other L.A. bands their songwriting is convincingly pure. There’s no disillusions with the 60’s emotions in their lyrics… There’s no need to use metaphors, similes or antecedents in describing their music. They are truly original in every sense!
The Soft White Sixties….. “The Ocean Way” E.P.
TSWS’s have recently released an E.P… “The Ocean Way”. It shows tremendous growth in their songwriting acumen.. Singer, Octavio Genera during their live performances roams across the stage like a panther looking for his prey. He depicts confidence and poise; traits you don’t see much in a rock and roll band; especially in L.A.! Their rhythm section has Ryan Noble on bass and Joey Bustos, drums.. which gives the band a walloping gallop. Guitarist and keyboard player, Aaron Eisenberg.. adds the pastiche to make this recording picturesque. They’ve recently recruited Rob Fidel to assist on guitar and keyboards. He will be playing a significant roll on their soon to be released album. The notes, beats and vocals are amazing on “Ocean Way”.. It swings and punches like a heavyweight contender. Sometimes a band needs to take a step backwards in order to make that great leap forward.“Ocean Way” is a treasure trove of emotional entanglement, glorious groove-ology and heavenly harmonies.
“The Ocean Way”, produced by Matt Linesch (Dave Mason, Edward Sharpe) starts with, “Miss Beverly” which is about a challenging love affair that involves a woman who has ended a relationship with another man. Genera pleads with his timeless affection for her and hoping she will finally respond to his agony. Pretty good shit!
When a song has in its chorus the words, “I lost my mind.. Sorry To say.. I pulled the pin and walked away” you wouldn’t expect from Genera’s songwriting… “Sorry To Say” just may be the “perfect” track for this young band.. Psychedelic soul at its best!
The band takes its victory lap with the closing track, “Tell Me Its Over” with its acoustic beginning… and punchline lyrics..“Get Your world off my Shoulder” it’s difficult to conceive that so much of this band’s insights are about lost relationships… After this song I honestly felt at a loss because the E.P.s was now over.. But The Soft White Sixties will be releasing a new album very soon.. Certainly a band that will be a sure contender to be the best rock and roll band in L.A..
We had the fortunate pleasure of catching up with member, Aaron Eisenberg during his free time while finishing up their forthcoming album…
LA has definitely influenced the band on several different levels over the last year, including songwriting, and I think overall it’s been a very positive change. That’s an interesting comment and something we’ve certainly run into quite a bit over the past few years – people not quite knowing where to place us in the vast musical spectrum that lies before us now. We’re not too proud to know when there are areas we can improve upon, but at this point we just take it as a compliment. The same could be said about most of our favorite bands when they first started too. And yes, we want to go everywhere, including Europe.
Well obviously there are considerably more bands down here quantity-wise. That’s probably the most obvious difference. Being closer to a lot of the music industry tends to put a lot more focus on all the business and marketing aspects that come with pursuing a “career” in music too – bands from LA tend to have their “brand” together right out of the gate and all that shit is front and center. Whether this really makes a difference in the long run is probably debatable, but it’s definitely a bit of a culture shock after being in SF where most people aren’t in constant promo mode as much.
We at Rock Bands of L.A.com wants to thank Aaron for giving some quality time to answer our queries… This is a must see band!