Psychedelic rock has been around since the ‘60s, and has survived in some form or another since. Continuing that trend are Oakland’s Club Night, with their strangely titled debut EP, ‘Hell Ya’. It’s clear that Club Night understand that behind all the weirdness, fuzziness and distortion that comes with psychedelic music, there must exist a well-written pop song.
Club Night demonstrate their penchant for songwriting well throughout ‘Hell Ya’, with some danceable riffs on ‘Shear’, and a great hook on ‘Well’. ‘Rally’ is sonically a bit more bizarre, but uses phased in drums to signal a heavier, more rocky part following its synth-heavy intro, linking the two sections neatly with aplomb.
Despite the tightness of these songs, though, there’s still a suitably weird vibe from ‘Hell Ya’, with jarring synths and heavily distorted vocals being littered throughout the EP. Specifically, on ‘Shear’, the keys and guitars mesh together to create a thick tone that helps the song establish its bizarre atmosphere.
‘Hell Ya’ gets weirder and more psychedelic as it goes on – ‘Well’ breaks down and goes a bit mad in its final section, and ‘Hair’ is a minute-and-a-half track featuring only guitar feedback and vocals. The track is an experiment that pays off and makes interesting listening.
The final track, ‘Work’, is a delightful, eight-minute-plus free-form mishmash of different ideas, comprising improvisational sections that go nowhere. This may sound like a contradiction of the endorsement of well-written pop songs in psychedelia, but ‘Work’ makes this approach feasible by keeping the tight playing that’s been evident throughout ‘Hell Ya’, and sounding like snippets of various different songs, none of them quite complete. It’s a great cumulation of everything that came before it.
‘Hell Ya’ isn’t entirely original – a lot of what’s described here follows in the tradition of modern psychedelic acts like Animal Collective, but Club Night have a distinguished personality, making ‘Hell Ya’ derivative in a way that saves it from tedium.
‘Hell Ya’ EP by Club Night is released on 25th August on Tiny Engines.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)