A Guide To The Best Neo Psychedelic Acts of 2023
Neo psychedelic is not so much a musical genre as a catch-all term for artists who employ classic psychedelic sounds of the ’60s and ’70s in their music. Nowadays, this style is defined as a fusion of psych rock, shoegaze, dream pop and electronic music, with instruments and modern techniques used to create a trippy, psychedelic sound.
The current psych revival is more than a mere flash in the pan. Spearheaded by bands like MGMT and Tame Impala, psychedelic sounds have undergone a resurgence in recent years. What started as a few scattered bands looking back to their ’60s influences in the late 2000s has blossomed into a giant melting pot of rock, pop, electronic and rap artists producing some of the most exciting new sounds of today.
The following artists represent just a few of the many emerging acts that will shape the face of neo-psychedelia for years to come. I could go on and on about each of these bands but the simple reality is that they deserve your attention. If you love the sounds of Animal Collective, Neon Indian, Temples, Tame Impala, MGMT, Warpaint and The Flaming Lips, you’ll love these bands too.
There are few bands more mysterious than Swedish neo psychedelic rock group Goat. Hailing from a small, voodoo-worshiping northern Sweden town named Korpilombolo, Goat dress in elaborate masks and costumes during their explosive live shows, keeping their identities hidden. As a band, their sound is also a bit mysterious and hard to pin down. Think Afrobeat, Anatolian funk, Andean folk music and stoner rock all mixed together into one glorious mess, and you have an idea of what the Swedish band does. They combine the unique sounds of various cultures and times, creating music that feels timelessly psychedelic and one of a kind. While Goat’s music draws on all manner of obscure influences, it isn’t mere pastiche; they take seemingly disparate elements and layer upon them, creating danceable music with otherworldly elements.
The underground neo psychedelic scene is exploding right now, and Psychic Temple are quickly becoming one of the most treasured and unique acts to come out of the movement. Led by LA-based composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Schlarb and featuring a revolving cast of collaborators, Psychic Temple’s albums combine elements of psych rock with pop, Americana, jazz and other far-ranging influences. In a world of their own, Psychic Temple is hypnotic audio for the open minded and a curio for fans of cutting-edge sounds. Sticking out as a singular force that’s created its own niche built around a heavy dose of reverb, portentous keys and wide-spaced guitars Psychic Temple’s wide-ranging style is united by their ability to create raw emotion, particularly through the use of long instrumental passages. Case in point – Plays Planet Caravan, Psychic Temple’s mind-blowing 2022 collaborative album with guitarist Jeff Parker.
Centre El Muusa
Originally started by prolific multi-instrumentalist/ composer Misha Panfilov, Centre El Muusa is a neo psychedelic quartet from Tallinn, Estonia. The band’s sonic palette is vast—their music is a journey into rock, blues, Americana and country with psychedelic undertones at its core. Their sound is a wonderfully varied exploration of heavy, driving riffs and sultry acoustic guitar solos. The music Centre El Muusa lay down is slow and dreamy, but with more than enough intensity and energy to keep things interesting. Each track has its own singular character but at their core they all share a common aesthetic of low fidelity soundscapes with unexpected twists at every turn.
Ghost Woman is a neo-psychedelic band in the truest sense. Grungy and beautiful, their music will have you floating along on the waves of their jangly guitars and taut percussion. Their music paints a picture of fleeting moments of beauty and inspiration, while their lyrics speak to the underlying melancholy of life. The band’s roots are in the rich soil of 1960s psychedelia, but their sound is very much its own thing. In Ghost Woman’s music, you can hear the influences of psych bands of yesteryear, but you can also hear the vast free form possibilities that aren’t constrained by genre or time. Their sound is a swirling vortex where only beauty exists, and even then it’s not beautiful in the way you might expect.
Based in The Netherlands, Yin Yin is at the forefront of psych-pop revisionism and reinvention. A neo psychedelic band inspired by disco and funk, they take cues from many different styles of music around the globe. Blending danceable grooves with heady fuzziness, Yin Yin’s unique blend explores the possibilities of psychedelic and South East Asian sounds. It’s a unique blend that’s guaranteed to keep your feet moving—a groovy fusion of Thai folk sounds with modern arpeggiated synths, dance beats and deliciously psychedelic wah guitars.
Kikagaku Moyo is a Japanese band that began busking on the streets of Tokyo. They’ve since blossomed into one of Asia’s most innovative psychedelic rock bands and now have their own record label, Guruguru Brain. Kikagaku Moyo’s unique brand of neo psychedelic music encompasses a broad spectrum of influences, from Krautrock, folk, classical Indian, 70s rock and more. Their compositions and live performances combine instruments including guitars, drums, flutes, and sitar to create uniquely striking compositions. Their ability to discover new ideas by experimenting with each other as well as with their instruments has given them the opportunity to make truly innovative music that you’ll want to hear again and again.
Monsterra are one of the latest groups to emerge from Poland’s vital neo-psychedelic scene, a country producing some of the most exciting new music around at the moment. Based in Warsaw, the band take their name from a tropical vine native to Central America, a region which provides them with their main musical influence. Rooted in surf rock and cumbia (a folkloric genre and dance native to Colombia), Monsterra’s music is tinged with elements of dub and imbued with psychedelia and lo-fi production. This fusion of styles makes Monsterra’s sound both retro and new and their unique sound aims to take the listener on a journey through the tropical jungles of South America to Poland and back again.
The Lazy Eyes
In just four musicians, Australian band The Lazy Eyes create a mesmerizing soundscape that speaks of another era. It’s hard to pinpoint one genre that would adequately describe their sound—it feels like all aspects of music come together in every song. Their unmistakably unique sound is as multifaceted as it is catchy. Whether they’re playing with texture, riding a groove or just going for the jugular, each song stands out as a work of stunning accomplishment. Their debut album, SongBook, shows that The Lazy Eyes’ music has one foot in the past and another firmly in the present, creating a unique world with influences from 60s psychedelic rock, soul and garage-rock, but with fresh takes on each style.
Magneto are the quintessential neo-psych band, an act with the technical prowess and the imagination to create some of the most evocative music you’ll ever hear. Their music blends psychedelic and surf rock, and the trio combine twangy guitars and cinematic soundscapes to create a haunting and singularly unique listening experience. Their soundscape consists of gentle percussion and moody chords with a masterful use of guitar effects. But it also transcends the limits of any category, as the band experiments with new sounds in unique ways that result in beautifully complex pieces on music.
Moon Duo craft hypnotic, driving psychedelic rock that’s made them one of the most sought after live bands around. Taking cues from CAN and Spacemen 3, but adding an electronic sheen to their sound, the duo of Sanae Yamada and Ripley Johnson share lead vocals and guitar duties to formulate a uniquely powerful union that has helped to shape their signature sound of heavy, fuzzed out rhythms, intense guitar swells and cascading synths tinged with electronic elements. They specialize in stripped-back instrumental minimalism with hazy psychedelic elements, but they make their own unique sound with haunting rhythms and eerie vocals over hypnotic guitar riffs.