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Best Psychedelic Band San Francisco 2005 -

The Gris Gris

In order to be a great psychedelic band, you need to be able to sound like the onrushing apocalypse and the sweetest kind of cotton candy, simultaneously. We're talking the aural equivalent of hard drugs, plain and simple. Officially, it's unclear whether the young sprouts in Oakland outfit the Gris Gris are knowledgeable about such mind-altering substances, but one listen to the group's self-titled debut CD (released last year on Birdman Records) would seem to indicate that they are. On the disc, Texas escapee and main honcho Greg Ashley sings sexy come-ons one minute and strangled rants the next, going from bashful crooner to banshee howler (sometimes in the space of the same song). He and his bandmates bang and thrash their instruments as if they were exorcising them, the cacophonic feedback, scattershot drums, and spooky organ raising a ruckus that would be overwhelming if it wasn't occasionally delicate and tuneful. The result is both beautiful and scary -- just like the best drugs.

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