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Psychic Ills: Masters of Drone

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Psychic Ills, a psychedelic indie art-rock band from Brooklyn, consists of Tres Warren (lead singer and guitarist), Elizabeth Hart (bass), and Chris Millstein (drums). This year's a big one for the group, as it marks their tenth year performing together as a band. Seeing the Krautrockers open for Mazzy Star at Union Transfer was a slow-burning delight, as they hypnotized the packed audience with their mid-tempo grooves and murky fuzz.

Psychic Ills have been key players in the drone doom world since the mid-2000s, a time when most of the Ills' contemporaries traded in booming guitars for electronic samplers. Psychic Ills decided to stick with heavy psychedelic scuzz, which proved to be a smart decision. Their gritty, reverb-soaked freak-outs hit the right chords in the NYC music scene. In 2006, after releasing their debut album Dins (via The Social Registry), The Village Voice named Psychic Ills "Best Psych Rock Band."

With the release of their sophomore album Mirror Eye (Social Registry, 2009) the band's psychedelic sound became less traditional, more improvisational. There's not much songcraft in the dark and sludgy record, but once again, the band's musical direction proved to be a wise one. In 2009, Psychic Ills toured the US with the Butthole Surfers, which helped to grow to their fanbase from a regional to a national level.

A couple years later, in 2011, Psychic Ills switched labels. They signed to Sacred Bones Records and released Hazed Dream. As the album's title suggests, Psychic Ills still pleases listeners with their signature doomy dreamy haze. But while the record is filled with the smoldering instrumentation Psychic Ills has become so well-known for, Hazed Dream is less abstract than the band's previous works. The record is decidedly more accessible.

This brings us up to 2013, with the release of the Ills' fourth and most current album, One Track Mind (Sacred Bones). It's their finest work to date, and can currently be streamed for free on SPIN.

A standout track is "See You There." The song's black-and-white music video (included with this article) was directed by frontman Tres Warren. It features an alien wandering around Brooklyn, creeping alongside humans who appear detached and faraway. Dark and weird, yet artfully done, the spaced-out art-rock vid beautifully represents the band's spaced-out art-rock vibe.

If you like your pre-concert snacks like you like your concert music -- spacecakey -- then definitely give Psychic Ills a listen.


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