Local music: Psychic Wheels

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the November 1, 2012 edition

During the dying days of the David Lynch lounge act known as Burglar, bassist Spencer Morgan began writing songs. Drummer Adam Scoppa, a record freak who later became one of DJs behind the Heatwave! dance party, immediately noticed the resemblance between Morgan’s songs and the skewed lovelorn pop of groups like The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Magnetic Fields. So he turned Morgan on to those bands and others like them, setting in motion a stylistic fetish that spawned an entirely new project.

“At one point I told him, ‘If you want to play some death pop, let me know,’” Morgan said.

Scoppa was game: “I figured we could be in a band that sounded like that, but louder and weirder.”

Psychic Wheels started out as a trio with Morgan’s childhood friend Molly Davis, who had a mutual interest in droning garage rock and baroque pop. Building around Morgan’s creeping baritone and Davis’ chiming coo, they worked in aspects of Pixies’ spastic, Spanish-fried post-punk and The Cramps’ seminal psychobilly.

Conceptually it was a wonderfully strange brew, but sonically it was a little thin. Their first and only show as a trio proved underwhelming, so they regrouped as a five-piece and reemerged eight months later as a force.

Now with Morgan’s wife Kate and Scoppa’s former Main Street Gospel bandmate Tito rounding out the lineup, they’re set to release their first record, a 7-inch EP called Sequined Mess Friday at Ace of Cups alongside Comrade Question and Detroit’s Deadbeat Beat.

The vinyl features six songs; the digital version, included with the physical purchase, comes with a bonus track. In grand shoegaze tradition, rudimentary love songs like “You’re Gonna Die (Before You Fall In Love)” and “Strawberry Sunshine” lumber beneath a raging wall of sound. As Scoppa explained, the effect is both woozy and cantankerous: “You ever have a dream that’s not really a nightmare, but it’s kind of unsettling anyway?”