Beyondify: Superstars, New Psych, Americana & Locals


Beyondify is our periodic feature which features new music before it hits Spotfiy.  There's a number of things to share in this edition, so I've decided to divide into four distinct segments:  superstars, psychedelic, Americana and local bands.

1. Superstars

The stars don't get bigger than Paul Simon.  I was pretty surprised that when I first discovered this clip that "Wristband" had less than 500 views.  It's over 40K now, but definitely something to chew on when compared to the 9 digit YouTube plays of the biggest pop songs of today.


Here we enter the NPR subsection of Beyondify.  There's plenty of great music on National Public Radio, and NPR has been kind enough to offer embeddable full album streams of some of their premieres Here's Santana IV, the following up to Santata III some 45 years later with the original band.  It smokes.


Antoher NPR stream.  He may not be a bona fide superstar to the general public like Santana or Simon, but Sturgill Simpson sure is to me.  A Sailor's Guide To Earth finds him reinventing quite a bit after Metamodern Sounds, but that's expected and absolutely welcome.  In fact, if I called Simpson a Van Morrison for the 21st century, that may actually be underselling this album.


Here's a new Bruce Hornsby track.  Notice anything? Yeah, the voice is there.... but no piano?  He's gone piano-free for his forthcoming album, preferring the simpler sound of the dulcimer (if you've seen the live show recently, you know he's a fan).  This track features Justin Vernon.


2. Psychedelic

The incredible artist-run El Paraiso label out of Denmark is releasing a stream of challenging, ambitious psychedelic music.

This first band was new to me, Mythic Sunship.  Their track is called "Ophidian Rising" which manages to reference both John Coltrane and Sun Ra in the title, so pretty much throws down the gauntlet.  And the band rises to the challenge.


One El Paraiso artist you've probably seen around these parts before is Causa Sui.  Jakob Skøtt is a member and also co-runs the label.  So when he drops a solo track, it's time to listen.  Strap yourself in for this one, folks.  The drumming alone is enough to tilt the planet's axis.


Sunwatchers describe their genre as "Punk Jazz Drone".  That's all here on "Herd Of Creeps" and it blends together for a paranoia inducing jam with multiple peaks, diversions and triumphant returns to the three-note theme.


3. Americana

Fruition has come to distinguish themselves amongst their Americana peers with songwriting that occupies a tier above. "Santa Fe" combines some nice vocal hooks with funky organ swells, taking them ever further from their string band roots.


Matt Valentine is a freak folker who dipped in the the Dead catalog for a cover of "Black Peter".  While the Dead's sparse readings evoked a bleak melancholic psychedelic space, Valentine's multi-tracked vocals and distorto guitar lines evoke a different style of trippiness.


I typically only feature album cuts in Beyondify, but I'll make an exception for this Band Of Heathens live-in-the-studio cut done for Texas Music Scene.  "Green Grass Of California" celebrates the budding (pun intended) marijuana industry and has the bonus of the band members explaining the song's origins .  They play Beat Kitchen on 4/23.


4. Locals

I didn't see this coming.  Low Spark is a reliable fixture in the Chicago scene, but their taking it to a whole new level on this cut from their forthcoming album, "Roll It Back".    It starts with the hard-hitting funk we've come to take for granted but takes an awesome left turn about half way through for a spiny through some out-there jazz.  Yes!

Mungion has been finding their way into more and more prestigious opening slots and creeping their way up festival bills lately. It's no surprise after checking out "Hindsight", a prog-fusion-jam hybrid in the mold of Kung Fu or RAQ.  These boys have got some chops.

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