Silver Sunshine – S/T

The self-titled release by Silver Sunshine comes as quite a surprise. Formed in San Diego in 2001, this four-piece has done a great job of reviving and invigorating a certain strain of psychedelia. I didn’t know bands were even pursuing this kind of sound anymore, but everything old is new again I guess. The CD’s artwork tips you off before you even hear a note: this band celebrates the 60s. The cover features the four members’ faces superimposed over what looks like the buds of flowers. With their longish hair and detached looks, these guys have visually captured a sense of times gone by.

The opening track, “Velvet Skies,” begins with a drum beat that’s one snare hit away from that of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” When the guitars kick in, you’ll remember what you liked so much about Rain Parade’s “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip.” That’s not to say that Silver Sunshine’s members succumbed to their influences, but rather that they’ve used them as a jumping-off point. “Velvet Skies” has quite a kick to it, moreso than you got from the “Paisley Underground” bands of the 80s.

“I See the Silver Sunshine” continues the attitude. The album is replete with references to colors, the sky, flying, all the sort of tropes you might expect from such a band. “Trinkets” features the lyrics “Giant paper aeroplane / It’s great for hanging candy canes / In the sky” followed later by “…My head is swirling so high.” You get the idea. And it’s not just the lyrics and artwork that turn back the hands of time here. You hear the occasional studio flourish, too, that has the same effect. At various points, it’s the backwards vocals, the majorly flanged guitars, and the sound of cuckoo clocks. (Neo-psychedelic music has some sort of obsession with time: the band name Three O’Clock, the Dukes of Stratosphere’s “25 O’Clock,” and so on.)

The bouncier, poppier songs such as “Way up in the Big Sky,” “If I Had the Time,” and “When She Wakes Tomorrow” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Zombies or a middle-period Kinks album. The more rocking tracks, like “Miranda May” and “Greenfield Park,” exhibit a more modern sensibility while still retaining the unmistakable feel of the 60s.

There’s really not a clunker in the bunch. This album has a lot to recommend it for the fans of this kind of sound, whether that audience is still wearing out their vinyl copies of Village Green Preservation Society or tracking down the Salvation Army’s Happen Happened on CD. Are we witnessing a rebirth of psychedelia here, or is this an anomaly of sorts? If the former is the case, Silver Sunshine just might lead the way.