The Paisley Underground’80s West coast neo-psych scene
Edgy ‘80s alt rock with psychedelic flavors.
In the early ‘80s, a batch of young SoCal rockers weaned on post-punk fell in love with ‘60s garage rock and psychedelia - still largely considered "uncool" at the time - and created a sound that mixed edgy ‘80s alt rock with more psychedelic flavors. An off-the-cuff remark by singer Michael Quercio of The Three O'Clock (one of the scene's poppier exponents) gave the cabal of ‘60s-influenced upstarts the tag "Paisley Underground." Quercio's group was part of the L.A. contingent that included The Bangles (when they were still The Bangs) and Rain Parade, but there was also an enclave of bands from the Central Valley university town of Davis, such as The Dream Syndicate and Game Theory. Some of the Davis bands, including True West and Thin White Rope, overlapped with the tougher-edged, more Neil Young-tinged "desert rock" sound that blossomed later in the decade and also included Arizonans like Naked Prey, Sand Rubies, and Giant Sand. A parallel scene developed in San Francisco with the likes of Translator and Wire Train, and the neo-psych sound didn't take long to become a nationwide underground phenomenon. (Take Norman, Oklahoma's Flaming Lips and Milwaukee's Plasticland, for instance.) Still, the Paisley Underground put its own post-punk slant on the style, with an approach that was more about filtering ‘60s rock through a contemporary sensibility than engaging in any kind of overt revivalism.