The San Diego Psych Effect

Over the last couple of years, San Diego has been on the forefront of psychedelic rock, to the point where ‘San Diego Psych’ has become a genre of it’s own. One of the bands exploding onto the scene is Oceanside’s Sacri Monti, which consists of members of Radio Moscow, Joy, Color, Pharlee and Monarch. Sacri Monti, who first made a name for themselves with their 2015 self-titled debut released their second album ‘Waiting Room for the Magic Hour’ on TeePee Records in July, and celebrated with a packed Jonesing Jams release party at London’s very own Black Heart. Since then, they’ve toured excessively around Europe and North America, the latter alongside fellow San Diegans and friends Earthless, who’s history with Sacri Monti dates all the way back to frontman Brenden Dellar’s childhood when he was given guitar lessons by Earthless’ very own Isaiah Micthell.

When leaving four years between two albums, there’s bound to be some sort of development which can go in either direction, and a stellar debut can often be hard to follow - however, ‘Waiting Room for the Magic Hour’, which is named after the band waiting for that burst of inspiration, did not disappoint. While staying true to their roots and San Diego sound, they took their second album in a lot more progressive direction than it’s predecessor, paying homage to their 60s and 70s influences as well as allowing for more variation, including acoustic guitar and ballads - not to mention the nearly nine minute long epic ‘Fear and Fire’, which is nothing short of a musical masterpiece, bringing to mind the likes of British prog connoisseurs T2. Saying that Sacri Monti is an excellent band would be putting it lightly, and seeing them live is like being hit by a wall of sound with infinite layers, leaving you with goosebumps to the core. Not to be missed.

Joining Sacri Monti from San Diego an also bringing us some Californian sunshine is Monarch, who’ll also be popping their London cherry at the festival. Having flourished in what’s already a booming music scene, Monarch has soaked up the Californian culture of light hearted 60s psychedelic pop, and mashed it all up and thrown it into a mix of contemporary San Diego psych, comparable to Sacri Monti, progressive song structures along the lines of ‘Comets on Fire’ and guitar tones that at times allows you to draw comparisons to British pioneers of the twin-guitar Wishbone Ash.

It’s hard to pin Monarch down as a specific genre and we’d rather not label them - there’s elements of jazz, prog and pop, as well as them at times being a heavy rock band. However, what we can say is that it’s musical craftsmanship at it’s best, as they’ve managed to combine all of the above, and turn it into two albums of eclectic collections of sounds and influences, which takes you tripping down the Californian coast.

Writer: Ella Stormark (FB: @ellastormark)