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Neo-psychedelia (or acid punk)[4] is a diverse subgenre of alternative/indie rock that originated in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the British post-punk scene. Its practitioners drew from the unusual sounds of 1960s psychedelic music, either updating or copying the approaches from that era.[1] After the post-punk bands, neo-psychedelia flourished into a more widespread and international movement of artists who applied the spirit of psychedelic rock to new sounds and techniques.[2] Neo-psychedelia may also include forays into psychedelic pop, jangly guitar rock, heavily distorted free-form jams, or recording experiments.[1] A wave of British alternative rock in the early 1990s spawned the subgenres dream pop and shoegazing.[3]


Neo-psychedelic acts borrowed a variety of elements from 1960s psychedelic music. Some emulated the psychedelic pop of bands like the Beatles and early Pink Floyd, others adopted Byrds-influenced guitar rock, or distorted free-form jams and sonic experimentalism of the 1960s.[1] Some neo-psychedelia has been explicitly focused on drug use and experiences[1] like contemporaries acid house, projects transitory, ephemeral, and trance-like experiences.[5] Other bands have used neo-psychedelia to accompany surreal or political lyrics.[1]



See also: Punk rock and New wave

Neo-psychedelia, or as they're calling it in England, acid punk ... is one of the two strongest trends in new wave music ... While this may seem a paradox, since punk was largely a backlash against '60s drug culture, in fact acid rock in the '60s was originally a spinoff of that decade's "punk rock" scene.

Greg Shaw writing in Billboard, January 1978[4]

Psychedelic rock declined towards the end of the 1960s, as bands broke up or moved into new forms of music, including heavy metal music and progressive rock.[6] According to Chrome's Helios Creed: "We never said that we were psychedelic, we said we were New Wave, or Acid Punk ... So they made this list of bands and called it 'Acid Punk'. There was Devo, Pere Ubu, Chrome, and some other bands I never heard of. There was about ten of them, the top ten of Acid Punk, they didn't want to call it psychedelia, it was New Wave psychedelia".[7] In the late 1970s, bands of the post-punk scene, including the Teardrop Explodes, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Soft Boys, drew from the sound of 1960s psychedelia,[1] In the US in the early 1980s these bands were joined by the Paisley Underground movement, based in Los Angeles, with acts like The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles and Rain Parade.[8] In the 1980s and 1990s there were occasional mainstream acts that dabbled in neo-psychedelia, including Prince's mid-1980s work and some of Lenny Kravitz's 1990s output, but neo-psychedelia has mainly been the domain of alternative and indie rock bands.[1]

My Bloody Valentine performing in 2008

Influenced by house music, northern soul and funk, a less nostalgic brand of neo-psychedelia, dubbed "scallydelia", developed in the late 1980s among alternative rock bands of the Madchester scene, including The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and The Farm.[9][additional citation needed] The late 1980s would see the birth of shoegazing, which, among other influences, took inspiration from 1960s psychedelia.[10] Critic Simon Reynolds referred to this movement as "a rash of blurry, neo-psychedelic bands" in a 1992 article in The Observer.[10] With loud walls of sound, where individual instruments and even vocals were often indistinguishable, they followed the neo-psychedelic lead of bands like My Bloody Valentine (often considered as the earliest shoegaze act).[11] Major shoegaze acts included Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, and The Boo Radleys, who enjoyed considerable attention in the UK but largely failed to break through in the US.[12]


AllMusic states: "Aside from the early-'80s Paisley Underground movement and the Elephant 6 collective of the late 1990s, most subsequent neo-psychedelia came from isolated eccentrics and revivalists, not cohesive scenes." They go on to cite what they consider some of the more prominent artists: the Church, Nick Saloman's Bevis Frond, Spacemen 3, Robyn Hitchcock, Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips, and Super Furry Animals.[1] According to Treble's Jeff Telrich: "Primal Scream made [neo-psychedelia] dancefloor ready. The Flaming Lips and Spiritualized took it to orchestral realms. And Animal Collective—well, they kinda did their own thing."[2]

List of artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Neo-Psychedelia". AllMusic. n.d. 
  2. ^ a b c Terich, Jeff. "10 Essential Neo-Psychedelia Albums". Treble magazine. 
  3. ^ a b c Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991), "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, retrieved 7 March 2010 
  4. ^ a b Shaw, Greg (Jan 14, 1978). "New Trends of the New Wave". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Smith 1997, p. 138.
  6. ^ "Psychedelic rock", Allmusic, retrieved 27 January 2011.
  7. ^ Barr, Stuart (1993). "Helios Creed". Convulsion. 
  8. ^ R. Unterberger, S. Hicks and J. Dempsey, Music USA: the Rough Guide (London: Rough Guides, 1999), ISBN 1-85828-421-X, p. 401.
  9. ^ P. Smith "Playing for England", in A. DeCurtis, ed., Present Tense: Rock and Roll and Culture (Duke University Press, 1992), ISBN 0-8223-1265-4, pp. 109–10.
  10. ^ a b Patrick Sisson, "Vapour Trails: Revisiting Shoegaze", XLR8R no. 123, December 2008
  11. ^ S. Reynolds, "It's the Opposite of Rock 'n' Roll", SPIN, August 2008, pp. 78–84.
  12. ^ "Shoegaze", Allmusic, retrieved 26 January 2011.