I used to group psychedelia with ‘weird, obscure, and abrasive.’ These words seem wrought right from the very genre, as if psychedelic drugs and the genre were completely locked together in the world of the weird and loud. But then something came along. It was probably the advent of groups like The Flaming Lips and Animal Collective. These are groups that merged the psychedelic odysseys with the accessibly pop, a later cursory expansion of groups like The Beatles and later Pink Floyd. Of course, this accessible weirdness is a far cry from the bloated drug-weary messes made by Iron Butterfly, with their hallucinogenic jam fests seemingly forever stuck in the 60’s.
To the point: the duo of ‘Bob and Martha’ seem like the perfect exemplary group to wrap your head around modern psychedelic pop. It’s weird, it’s a bit startling, but at its core, it is pop music dressed in fancy mis-matched colors.
Bob and Martha is Aparna Muralidharan and Dan Bonsignore. You can see why they opted for nicknames. Muralidharan drives the vocals of the group’s sound with this intensely dramatic fervor that is as polarizing as it is complex. The group is young and humorous as proven by their online introduction, Bob and Martha was formed in the summer of 2012 in an explosive firework of creativity and kittens.
Kittens? Apparently, their sense of creativity and weirdness is not confined to their music. Their self-titled EP is a tightly-wrapped six tracks, each one taking the oddness of the duo’s initial introduction to a new level. ‘Wolverine’ bleeds gracefully from ‘Toothbrush,’ both songs complimenting a dark brooding sense of incoming, um, darkness. The tracks build tension and strain, as the songs complacently lead into each other building for a tight flow and a sense of fluidity. ‘Pillow Flight’ is an album highlight, a cascading adventure of a song that intensifies as it goes. The whole EP gives off a feeling of Modest Mouse circa- 2002. This is the ‘Moon and Antarctica.’ A gorgeous everlasting epic, in this case, dialed down to six songs that are all fleshed out and complete ideas.
The vocals are pretty damn incomprehensible. In most cases, it doesn’t work. Here, it’s a nice compliment to the weird dynamic actions going on inside the song.
The group is currently circulating in the Brooklyn music scene, focusing their efforts in the DIY world of the Internet, and building a budding relationship with the excellently crafted indie label ‘Go Forth Records.’ The label builds a home for such odd little bands as ‘Bob and Martha.’ In an age where psychedelic music began, the rise of ‘Bob and Martha’ would have faced far more formidable obstacles. Of course, there are obstacles now, but they are a whole different beast. ‘Bob and Martha’ can rest knowing their music is just as accessible as anyone else’s. With a YouTube page, a small label, and an EP that is quite excellent, the group are well on their way to carving out a nook to mediate, jam, and play with kittens.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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