Psychedelic Sunflowers For Your Hair: Foxygen’s “San Francisco”

Last week, I included the twenty something bi-coastal duo Foxygen, on my list of things I am excited about in 2013  because I anticipate big things from these guys. Why? Well, aside from being brilliantly creative psychedelic rock provocateurs, they have a number of things that will make old school rock aficionados and the art school kids happy. First, the lead singer’s vocals evoke a late 60s era Mick Jagger, the far more melodic and ethereal Jagger before he got his rocks off with the sultry blues of Exile and beyond (admittedly, not my favorite Stones record; anathema, I know, knives down, please). But, as with Mick, the seeds of the more soulful sensuous tones manifest themselves subtly in moments throughout. Second, their retro/paisley psychedelic rock quality feels perfectly acclimated for a culture that relishes the halcyon ideals and/or the kitsch-y accoutrements of the past: the art school set and/or the so-called “hipsters”*. Other classic rock comparisons, I’ve heard include the Kinks, which I can hear, but I tend to think more of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd (i.e., Pipers at the Gates of Dawn). I also hear a good deal of the more languid, pensive tracks and the dada-like lyricism of Pavement (see “Range Life” or “Grave Architecture”, the pre-polish Pavement) or the curiously perfect pop meets avant-art rock of MGMT. In other words, they are working with a rather clever palette of sounds that should appeal to a broad swath of listeners.

foxygenAt the end of the month, Foxygen will release We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (yup, great title!) on Jagjaguwar (same label as Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, Okkervil River, Taken by Trees). In anticipation, they’ve dropped another whimsical piece of pop for our ears. Upon first listen, I was already swaying with joy perhaps because of the song’s title, “San Francisco”, a city that evokes many fond memories (and possibly future adventures, a line that brings much displeasure to my Chicago friends). Referent aside, it is a gorgeous dreamy reverie replete with a comical little internal monologue or duet between oneself or lovers chiming “I left my love in San Francisco”/”I left my love in a field” and a diffident female vocal retorting “That’s okay I was bored anyways”/”That’s okay I was bored in L.A.”, a great battle between emotional sincerity and disinterested pragmatism.

However, you spin, rationalize, or conceptualize it (I tend to over think these things), it’s just gorgeous. So listen to “San Francisco” below and get ready for more great things from these kids.

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Pre-Order We are the 2st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic here.

Check them out on tour; dates here.


* a term I think which in our culture is an effective verbal null set but in this instance means people with edgy, on the “garde”, and odd music taste.

4 thoughts on “Psychedelic Sunflowers For Your Hair: Foxygen’s “San Francisco”

  1. Yes to psych rock!! My favorite is Yeasayer, and I love every one of their albums and am sorry you did not enjoy the newest one as much… but this gives me something to add to my playlists! I’m excited to check them out!

    • Yeasayer are phenomenal. I loved their first two records. Fragrant World was good I was just hoping they’d go in a slightly different direction and so I think it was my own expectations that influenced my thoughts. If you haven’t heard it before check out the Pink Floyd record referenced above, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, as well as the second MGMT record, Congratulations, which I think totally got overlooked.

  2. Pingback: Foxygen « Dickthespic's Blog

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