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A review of psychedelia with White Manna's new EP


They say that music comes around in cycles. One genre I’m not sure many would have predicted to come back around though is psychedelica. However, despite the world we live in being vastly different to that of the Sixties, the genre is enjoying resurgence.

The latest band adding their name to an ever-increasing list of current psychedelia acts is White Manna who hail from California. I think it’s safe to say right now though, if you’re after another Toy/Temples/Tame Impala, you’re not going to find that in White Manna. They lack the pop sensibility that many of their counterparts possess; however this isn’t in anyway a criticism. You see Tame Impala et al are all classed under the ‘psychadelica’ genre, purely because it’s an easy comparison to make, but it’s also a lazy one. White Manna possesses a much more genuine, heavy psyche sound. The fact that their new S/T EP starts with a 7-minute opus entitled ‘Acid Head’ tells you everything.

Don’t be scared off by that though, that makes it sound like a difficult listen, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘Acid Head’ is the perfect start to the EP, it sums up the band perfectly. It’s got that total garage/lo-fi vibe, and is not too heavily produced. It’s got the token psyche sound, but what really sets it apart is the vocals which give the impression that the songs were based around the words, as opposed to the other way round.

The EP continues in the same manner with the next track ‘Keep Your Lantern Burning’. The best thing about this band is that once they rope you in, they don’t let off. This is summed up best on third track ‘Mirror Sky’, the shortest song on the EP clocking in at a meagre 5 minutes 20. This track is clearly the highlight, with apocalyptic lyrics echoing over the top of guitar Hendrix would be proud of.

Just as you think you can read White Manna like a book, they proceed to kick off following track ‘Don’t Gun Us Down’ with a chilled sax affair reverbing over the top of what sounds like 100mph wind. A few minutes in though and they’re back to the White Manna we have became familiar with, albeit a laid back hazy carnation.

The EP ends with ‘Sweet Jesus’, which gives us more of the same without being predictable or boring. It is the straightest up ‘rock’ song on the EP, bringing to mind early BRMC. Meaning, that despite clocking in at 9 minutes, the track is one of the more accessible.

To say the band are still in their early days, they possess a certain something that sets them apart from the bands they are no doubt going to get lumped in with. If they can impress this month with a debut EP, it makes you wonder what they’ve got up their sleeve for the full length. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a thrilling listen.