Levitation Room // Minds of Our Own
Recommended Track: Loved
Context sure can be a bitch. In any other scene Levitation Room might be considered a knock out psychedelic rock group poised for mainstream breakthrough; but Southern California has been awash in this groovy shit for years, and without offering any innovations on the formula, either musically or aesthetically, it’s hard for any one band to stand out.
With their straightforward and reverent take on 60s sounds, give or take a little more Grateful Dead than usual, Levitation Room invite comparisons to their compatriots Mystic Braves, the Blank Tapes, Allah-Las, etc. Yet it would be a shame to overlook Minds of Our Own, Levitation Room’s debut EP out on Burger Records, who’ve certainly done their share of flooding the market with 60s-inspired claptrap. Although for the most part content to be nothing more than a shining example of its genre, Minds of Our Own is elevated above the normal ticky-tack fare from the incense and peppermint crowd by its warm sound and almost innocent vibe, its loving esteem for the era that inspired it. As such there’s a kind of authenticity to this music, even if we’ve heard it all before.
And, yes, you’ll recognize much of what you hear on Minds of Our Own, even if you’ve only taken a cursory interest in modern garage bands or spent time any time at all listening to classic rock radio. Though meandering and spacey at times, Levitation Room’s music is above all very safe, like a hug from an old friend. I’ve heard Levitation Room unkindly dismissed as a lesser Mystic Braves, which makes sense in that both groups play a popular update of slightly psych mid-sixties garage in the same scene and sometimes on the same show. Indeed many songs on Minds of Our Own echo musical tropes found on last year’s Desert Island, though the Braves write better lyrics and are fond of embroidering their music with horns and tambourines where Levitation Room keep it simple, favoring a solid 4-man-band arrangement over flowery over-instrumentation.
A highlight of Minds of Our Own is the rich interplay between the instruments and especially the guitar work by Julian Porte and Gabriel Fernandez. It’s nice listening to a band who understands part of the point of having two guitarists is having them play different things, and the pair layer their melodic lines so effectively it can be almost euphoric in its very rightness as on expansive close-out jammer “Visions of My Mind.” When Levitation Room do dip into sonic areas that haven’t been done to death (the low-key jazzed out “Friends” is a welcome deviation from the norm), the result is music that’s interesting and a bit outré while still falling safely within the genre boundaries that have come to define this particular music scene. And therein lies the rub. Anywhere else, London say, Minds of Our Own would be regarded as a fine and perhaps groundbreaking piece of psychedelia from a band who’s got this 60′s revival thing on lock. In Los Angeles, however, Levitation Room will have to take a few more risks to earn that extra slice of pie.