Albums similar to the middle era Beatles, Pet Sounds and/or Odessey & Oracle
Studio Released November 1967
A review from The Rising Storm site:
"Tages (pronounced “tah-guess”) are universally known as the best sixties pop band from Sweden. They struck it big early, hitting the Swedish #1 with “Sleep Little Girl” in 1964! Their efforts in the psychedelic era would be their last. Studio should sit comfortably next to masterpieces of the year, a few notches closer to Odessey & Oracle than Sgt. Pepper and not very far at all from the following year’s Birthday Party. Thanks to the tape cuts, orchestration, harmonies, and studio tricks, it even sounds like they got their hands on a copy of Brian Wilson’s unreleased Smile tapes. Certainly, anybody willing to spend enough time exploring all the rabbit holes in the Beatles catalog owes themselves a trip through this marvelous record.
The album opener, Have You Seen Your Brother Lately, proves how apt the name “Studio” is for such a creatively produced statement. Few won’t be sold within the first few seconds, hearing a looping string quartet surrender to a commanding rhythm highlighted by pounding drums and boxy plucked bass lines. Delicate touches of grand piano and kazoo bust open the door to an album rife with auditory treats and excellent craftmanship. Vocals are good, reminding me of an edgier Colin Blunstone, with plenty of fine backup parts.
But Studio is a diverse affair, It’s My Life, the 2nd track growls out dark guitar distortions straight from the Move arsenal under workout vocal leads. The drums stand out, consistently providing ahead-of-their-time and vicious beats. Tunes are often loaded with orchestration, like the soft ballad, People Without Faces, and bouncier brass marches like What’s The Time and She’s Having A Baby Now. Tasteful psychedelic treatments abound in backwards guitar leads, weird stomp boxes, and sound effects sprinkled throughout the record. Songs are short pop winners, maybe missing some of the excellent songwriting of their contemporaries, but the entrancing production really makes up for the lack of a better bridge or two.
The only real dissapointment is the lack of a proper CD or LP reissue (thankfully, the album is available digitally). An album like Studio should have propelled them to top 500 lists worldwide, rather than remain a Swedish rocknroll footnote. Members of the Tages would form Blond in 1969 but disband by 1970."
Zombies of the Stratosphere
The Well-Mannered Look (2007)
Zombies of the Stratosphere write extremely catchy, jangle-guitar pop with hooks that recall classic '60s rock bands like the Kinks.
Taking their name from an old sci-fi movie about a zombie invasion, the band's style seems more influenced by the British Invasion of the 1960s than a '50s-era B Movie. On their latest album, The Well Mannered Look, Zombies of the Stratosphere offer a mix of smartly crafted and addictive songs. The first track "Thrush" features beautifully orchestrated harmonies backed by lush instrumentation. While most of the music is upbeat, the band's lyrics explore lonely, more melancholy themes.
The band members met while studying in college. Jeff Hoffman was working as a literary agent and sound engineer, and Arthur Smith was a film archivist and curator at a broadcasting museum. Both are film noir and comic book enthusiasts. (NPR’s Second Stage)
Opener "Thrush" wouldn't have sounded out of place on Odyssey & Oracle, while "Barber Street" and the title track nail the Ray Davies day-in-the-life-of-an-everyman narrative and sound. "Boy With The Shades" is a lushly orchestrated midtempo number that recalls The Left Banke, while "Decisions" rocks with abandon and "The Story of Your Life" has a great combination of jangle and music-hall stomp. The bottom line is that if it were 1969 and we were on Carnaby Street, these guys would be gods.
The Dukes of Stratosphear
Chips From the Chocolate Fireball (1987) [Compilation]
AMG review :
"During the mid-'80s, XTC developed a deep fascination with '60s psychedelia that manifested itself on their late-1986 masterpiece Skylarking. While Skylarking was filled with lush pop reminiscent of the Beatles and Beach Boys, it was generally a sober affair, since they decided to leave many of the lighter songs off the album for B-sides and future albums. During this time, they decided to develop their alter egos of the Dukes of Stratosphear, a way to let all of their infatuation with psychedelia flourish. Both the EP 25 O'Clock and the full-length Psonic Psunspot, collected on the single-disc Chips From the Chocolate Fireball, capture the sound of '60s psychedelia remarkably well. All of the sonic details, from the fuzz guitars to the cavernous echoes and sound effects, are in place, as are the self-consciously trippy lyrics. But what makes the Dukes of Stratosphear far more than a comedy band are the songs, which happen to be some of the best pure pop tunes XTC ever wrote: "My Love Explodes" has a tense, spiraling guitar line and melody; "Little Lighthouse" and "You're My Drug" are wonderful pastiches; "The Mole From the Ministry" is a devilish homage to "I Am the Walrus" and Bowie; and the group rarely wrote a song as infectious as the bright, jangling "Vanishing Girl." Despite the clever craftsmanship, XTC has never sounded so carefree or effortless, been quite as immediately catchy or consistent -- Chips From the Chocolate Fireball is too good to be overlooked as a side-project folly, because it truly is some of the best music XTC ever made. And, coincidentally, it's some of the best psychedelic pop ever recorded as well."