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Neo-psychedelia (or acid punk)[2] 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. Neo-psychedelia may include forays into psychedelic pop, jangly guitar rock, heavily distorted free-form jams, or recording experiments.[1]


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] and like contemporaneous acid house, projects transitory, ephemeral, and trance-like experiences.[3] Other bands have used neo-psychedelia to accompany surreal or political lyrics.[1]



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[2]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6][additional citation needed] The late 1980s would see the birth of shoegazing, which, among other influences, took inspiration from 1960s psychedelia.[7] Critic Simon Reynolds referred to this movement as "a rash of blurry, neo-psychedelic bands" in a 1992 article in The Observer.[7] 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).[8] 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.[9]


AllMusic states: "Aside from the early-'80s Paisley Underground movement and the Elephant 6 collective of the late '90s, 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]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Neo-Psychedelia". AllMusic. n.d. 
  2. ^ a b Shaw, Greg (Jan 14, 1978). "New Trends of the New Wave". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Smith 1997, p. 138.
  4. ^ "Psychedelic rock", Allmusic, retrieved 27 January 2011.
  5. ^ R. Unterberger, S. Hicks and J. Dempsey, Music USA: the Rough Guide (London: Rough Guides, 1999), ISBN 1-85828-421-X, p. 401.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Patrick Sisson, "Vapour Trails: Revisiting Shoegaze", XLR8R no. 123, December 2008
  8. ^ S. Reynolds, "It's the Opposite of Rock 'n' Roll", SPIN, August 2008, pp. 78–84.
  9. ^ "Shoegaze", Allmusic, retrieved 26 January 2011.