The 1990s were a halcyon era for homespun indie pop with a 1960s flair. The decade’s finest artists earned an association with the Elephant Six Collective, a swirl of bands who shared an affinity for psychedelia, Brit Invasion pop-rock, and charmingly scuzzy bedroom productions.
One of the gems of this inspired retro-pop DIY movement were The Minders. The band initially formed as a lo-fi recording project by Martyn Leaper and Apples In Stereo and Elephant Six visionary Robert Schneider in 1995. The Minders went on to sign with venerated indie Spin Art Records, release a series of collectible EPs, singles, and albums, and tour with Of Montreal, Elliott Smith, Mates of State, and The Apples In Stereo.
Now, the Portland, Oregon-based quintet is releasing some of its strongest strains of scruffy psych-pop. Its latest album, Psychedelic Blacktop, due out February 18th, on the band’s own Space Cassette Records imprint, is an artistic high watermark of garage-rock A-sides.
Psychedelic Blacktop is a garage rock record of lysergic pop songs played by a band bonded by touring, years together, fiery chemistry, and shared musical inspirations. The album isn’t thematic; it’s a loose string of vignettes of a life. The 13-song album exhibits a peaks and valleys flow courtesy of diverse stylistic forays.
Psychedelic Blacktop was produced by Martyn and Mike Coykendal (M Ward, Beth Orton, She and Him, Blitzen Trapper ). It was tracked one song at a time, in a shed at the bottom of Martyn’s yard, and then the tapes were transferred to Mike’s tape machine, and then mixed on Pro Tools. The album is pure analog with and boasts spacy echo textures and wooly slap-back vocal atmospherics.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the album in its entirety. Bringing together garage rock, psych, and pop, the band manages to craft a sound that is timeless and infectious. There are moments of harmonic folk, power pop, rock and roll, and mellow, more orchestral fare. Bringing it all together is a sense of escapism and optimism that resonates in the best kind of way. The band isn’t afraid to channel influences ranging from 1960s psychedelia to freak-folk. What makes the album fascinating is the literary sensibility that ties all of the songs together as well as the way the band layers lush instrumentation to make for one of the more intriguing and fun releases you will hear this year.
Band member Martyn Leaper describes the inspiration and process behind the album:
It’s hard to believe we’re finally releasing this album. The Minders got started on this project in 2018, a full two years before the Pandemic hit. During the summer of 2018, we re-recorded the song “Hooray for Tuesday” (Our first album release, 1998) on my eight-track recorder, the same way it had been done 20 years before. The recording sessions had been fun and led us (the band) to record our next album the same way.
Needless to say, we had a lot of fun crafting this record. Recording to tape is labor intensive and requires a higher level of performance from each musician since there are no ways to cover up mistakes. The eight-track format is also limiting in the field of overdub options. We were constantly challenged when it came to arranging each song. These challenges were inspiring.
Several tracks on the record were recorded in pieces after the pandemic hit. I was forced to record the first song “Home” without any of my bandmates. Hence the title. I’m really proud of this record, it is an album I feel I can play from start to finish without skipping through tracks.