Lost in the criticism of their band being a manufactured product (see: The Byrds“So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”), The Monkees could simply be written off as a major precursor to future well-put-together commercial acts such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. However, as we lament the death of singer Davy Jones, there is no room for such cynicism. Compiling a list of the many classic tracks The Monkees contributed to the pop lexicon would take more time than most would think, but even for the harshest critic, “Porpoise Song” from their ridiculous 1968 film Head, is a perfect example of late 60′s psychedelia: stuck in time yet utterly beautiful.
We’re going to shift gears and get back to some music with classic sensibilities for a while. The burgeoning psychedelic revival happening on the West Coast has spawned two main strains and Ethan Miller of Oakland based Howlin’ Rain has created art in both. Up until 2006 he offered psych rock of a heavy, dark and noisy bent with Comets On Fire, but since then he has explored the other side of psychedelic music that leans more on the blues, roots music and classic soul. Almost more of a singer/songwriter approach, stressing melody over atmosphere. Below you can check out a short documentary, courtesy of Relix, that catches the band in the studio, on the road and on stage. The most poignant parts come when Miller is being interviewed and speaks candidly about the process and struggle of being in a band these days. At least he has the magic touch of legendary producer Rick Rubin to aid with the band’s latest release, The Russian Wilds, which is scheduled for release this Tuesday, February 14th. You will get a sample of the sound Miller is achieving, which has been linked directly to his upbringing in the pristine Northern California enclave of Humboldt County amid the majestic Redwoods.