L.A. band Wand plugs into retro-futuristic psychedelia; Carole King’s City revisited

Essential Tracks
The Los Angeles band Wand.
(Drag City)

Wand, “1000 Days” (Drag City). A lysergic journey in search of bliss, the Los Angeles band Wand’s new album mixes tripped-out psychedelia, glam and rock with washes of analog electronics to create a wonderful retro-futuristic mess. Focused on pop structures but swimming with paisley-patterned distortion, the 12 songs on “1000 Days” touch on Marc Bolan’s early work with Tyrannosaurus Rex, the oddball seduction of early Roxy Music and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. But they’re hardly retro.

Rather, like kindred spirits Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer, Wand injects old sounds with here-and-now energy. The title track opens with acoustic guitars spinning a sweet melody and features lyrics involving cement people and cement beds. Just when it should fade, a gentle synthetic beat carries us to a conclusion. “Lower Order” moves with a proto-metal vibe, like early Iron Maiden on Quaaludes. “Dovetail” delves into rhythm that suggests German rock bands Can and Guru Guru. If “1000 Days” sounds schizophrenic on paper, it all comes together when heard at full volume.


The City, “Now That Everything’s Been Said” (Light in the Attic). Before “Tapestry” but after “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” songwriter Carole King formed a band called the City. The artist had just relocated to Laurel Canyon from New York City after splitting with ex-husband Gerry Goffin, and she’d soon become a household name.


As she was easing into the her new environs in 1967, King joined with guitarist Danny Kortchmar, best known for his work with Lower East Side proto-punk band the Fugs, and bassist (and her then boyfriend) Charles Larkey. Their only album, called “Now That Everything’s Been Said,” came out a year later on producer Lou Adler’s Ode imprint, and it’s just been reissued.

A dozen songs that connect Brill Building songcraft with California canyon rock, “Now That Everything’s Been Said” features King’s trademark voice, piano and songcraft. Supported by post-Byrds folk rock textures and the ridiculously inventive percussion of guest drummer Jimmy Gordon, songs such as “Victim of Circumstance,” “Lady” and “Man Without a Dream” blanket the ears with “Tapestry"-esque comfort. That stands to reason: King co-wrote most of the songs. What’s surprising, though, is that this record isn’t already part of the so-called rock canon.

"[W]e expected it to zoom to the top of the charts within, at most, a few weeks,” wrote King in her autobiography, “A Natural Woman.” It’s never too late.


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