In 1971 psychedelic music had already reached its apex and was starting to peter out. The era of psychedelic drug induced albums put out by the Beatles, Beach Boys and Jimi Hendrix were still considered great, but bands were breaking up, artists were dying off and people wanted a change. There was a need for a new direction. The 1960’s, that decade of so much fluctuation and turbulence, ended and the 1970’s began as a decade of diversion. People wanted to forget the past decade and just spend the next ten years having fun. It didn’t exactly turn out that way, but there were some great movements in music that led away from what the sixties started.
One of those movements was David Bowie’s glam rock experimentations. Sure there was The Man that Sold the World and that was the beginning, but really what I’m referring to is Hunky Dory Bowie. The David Bowie that produced songs like “Queen Bitch” and “Life on Mars” was experimental in a fashion-conscious androgynous sense, but was the music that experimental? It was different, but yet still similar to what Lou Reed was doing with the Velvet Underground. That art house music, while around in the sixties, did not become prevalent until Bowie put it on the map.
Art-house rock, as it was known, was very much a cultish style with people like Andy Warhol taking up the cause. Today, with the same sorts of diversions, fluctuations and turbulence in the musical landscape there is a group that is emerging as a breath toward a past fresh air. That group is Foxygen and what they are doing is wholly unique in today’s fractured environment. Despite a funny name, this is a band that really pays homage to their heroes, but more than that they construct well framed, well written songs on their recent seven song album, Take the Kids Off Broadway.
There a ton of groups trying to recapture a scintilla of that success from the days of experimentation, but being blatant rip off artists is not flattery it’s tantamount to being a cover band. Foxygen is not that. Their debut album is quirky in a Wes Anderson sort of way and that kitschy essence that they purvey is something drastically missing from the hacks that inundate us with their subterfuge. Making an album that gets any sort of recognition is such an arduous task these days, but when an album this fun and this good comes along it’s quite easy to recognize and laud with high praise.
Here’s a track off their new album called “Make it Known” for you to download: