California bands Wand and Peacers transmit wonderfully disparate strains of psychedelia | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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California bands Wand and Peacers transmit wonderfully disparate strains of psychedelia


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Three years ago, Cory Hanson’s LA band Wand released three albums of melodically rich psych-rock in 13 months. The group then fell silent, but Hanson didn’t slow down: last year he dropped his first solo record, The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo (Drag City), whose muted chamber-pop employs more elaborate arrangements than Wand’s old material. This approach bleeds beautifully into the band’s new release Plum (Drag City), performed by an agile five-piece that gracefully pivots from dreamy pop tunes to slashing hard rock. On “Charles de Gaulle” Hanson sings about the Beatles coming to the U.S. “to start their empire of music to infect the land,” and he clearly considers himself a subject of that empire. Keyboardist Sofia Arreguin weaves baroque patterns through dueling riffs from Hanson and fellow guitarist Robbie Cody, and the songs traverse gentle valleys and muscular peaks, often taking surprising detours—into the pedal steel-sopped languor of “The Trap,” for instance, or the needling, spasmodic pulse and sweet-toned, patient vocals of “White Cat,” or the episodic sprawl of album closer “Driving.”

On his second album as the Peacers, Introducing the Crimsmen (Drag City), veteran Bay Area psych merchant Mike Donovan leads a nimble four-piece working band that heightens the nuance and dynamic range of his twisted tunes while retaining the shambolic, damaged vibe that colors all his projects (he was also the mastermind of the defunct Sic Alps). The distended rhythms recall the solo work of Syd Barrett, with raw melodies and ramshackle guitars drifting in and out of focus—it’s deliciously out of sync, each song existing as a tantalizing glimpse of what it might’ve been. Donovan and company could surely polish up their music, but the fuzzy edges give it its charm. Darto opens.   v

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