Among Vancouver’s current bands, the Psychic Alliance may have the highest surplus of talent and passion in proportion to the thanks they receive for it. Though the psychedelic new-wavers made the move from Calgary two years ago, they only recently self-released their debut LP and still have trouble building an audience.
“It doesn’t help that there’s no venues for live music, really,” says front man and main songwriter Shaun Lee. “The main obstacle to building an audience is that the concept of a residency at a venue is dead. That’s how you develop a rabid fan base, by developing a relationship with people.”
Their record Flux Capacitor offers just a taste of the 50-odd original songs in their repertoire. Its 11 tracks rocket back and forth between hyperactive dance songs like “Get Crooked!”, spacey Ween-meets-Beatles jams like “Cradle Of Creation”, modern ragtime numbers like “Transfigg’rd”, and ELO-inspired anthems like “Spirit of the Living Thing” — proof of the band’s instrumental prowess and inspired, prolific songwriting.
Live shows often feature costumes, video projections, and friends and family acting out pagan-themed scenes onstage. A recent gig at the Rickshaw had robed marauders and crows disemboweling a priest.
“That’s mostly to keep from being bored,” says Lee. “We don’t want to be a gimmick band by any stretch, but we never want to play the same show twice. Depending on the theme of a show, you want a visual representation.”
The band is currently preparing their next record for early next year. It will feature songs mostly under a minute in length. “In our minds, it’s a full-length album,” says Lee. “It’s just been compressed. There’re 17 or 18 tracks, but we’ve trimmed the fat. I got really obsessed with taking any repetition out of a song. The hook is the only thing people remember anyway.”
Flux Capacitor is available now.
By Reid Blakley
Photo: Sara Power