The Grand Rapids are on another plain, and it’s good for your soul.

Everyone knows someone who’s travelled through Asia and discovered Eastern religion. Sometimes – usually, it must be said – it’s a good thing, and the person in question has embraced a sense of emotional tranquillity. And then there’s the person who takes it too far – changes their name, erects a shrine of a deity in their bedroom and spouts rambling pop-philosophical rhetoric in annoyingly measured tones that, sadly, only induces annoyance in conversational partners.

To such people, I say – just get into some droning psychedelia: it’s better for the soul, and eschews the pretension that some other cause might otherwise attract. And why not start with The Grand Rapids, and their debut album Great Shakes? Start with the opening track, ‘Dronemachine’, with its rumbling backbeat and barbed wire, Brian Jonestown Massacre guitar lick. Move on to ‘Headless Riders’, and its marriage of post-punk feedback and lumbering beats – just close your eyes, and immerse yourself in the mesmerising simplicity of the moment.

‘Brian’s Got A Rubber Soul’ is more than a subtle musical pun: it’s an existential lament for solitude in a world plagued with narcissism and obsession. The title track hangs there for a moment, waiting, like Allen Ginsberg tantalising a crowd of acid-freak Hells Angels; and when it breaks, the psychedelic tide brings with it a musico-meteorological change that takes you to a warm and comforting place.

‘Julia’ is a beautiful pop song that deserves its own hour-long dedicated examination; ‘Read On’ takes your hand and leads you through the darkness and into the light of hope and enlightenment. Finally, you’ve got the Velvet Underground-meets-Warlocks drone of ‘Sailor From The Sky’: if you can open your mind, you’ll be in a better place.

4/5 stars


Great Shakesis out now through Psyche Ward

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