Psych Revival: Finnish Rockers ‘Us’ Revisit the ‘Paisley Underground’

With the passing (from cancer) early last year of David Roback, there was certainly the requisite mourning for a beloved musical genius – but also lots of reminiscing on the Paisley Underground, the 1980s – but ’60s-loving – LA movement that gave rise to the likes of The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock and The Bangles. Roback was something of the scene’s uber-maestro, ultimately orchestrating three critically-acclaimed bands, Rain Parade, Opal and the inimitable Mazzy Star.

Now the Finnish psych-pop quintet Us have veritably kicked off the nostalgia for an already nostalgic sound with their new single and video, the pithily titled ‘Paisley Underground.’ They lyrically enthuse about, “A place where nothing could bring us down.” And true, for all the dark, even spooky psychedelia swirling around that scene, there was still always something decidedly optimistic about the overall vibe. And the song captures that so perfectly, with its exuberantly fuzzed-out guitars, and rousing rat-a-tat drumming; and much like their forebears, Us are nothing less than masterful with a melody.

The accompanying video mixes positively groovy graphics with shots of the surely not sufficiently bundled up gents gleefully romping about – as Fins often do – in the Scandinavian snow just outside of Helsinki.

“’Paisley Underground’ was written last February after a concert in Manchester,” recalls vocalist/guitarist Teo Hirvonen. “We were sitting in a hostel lobby reading about the bushfires in Australia and the outbreak of the pandemic in China. The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ came on the radio, and while I certainly don’t consider that song to be an anthem for the Paisley Underground, it did remind me how much I loved that music. We spent the morning working out the arrangement, and the lyrics address not being able to go anywhere or to see anybody.”

Of course, during possibly the worst year of a lifetime, Finland was again just voted the happiest country on the planet by the World Happiness Report (the entire top ten save for New Zealand were European nations, by the way). So perhaps ‘Paisley Underground’ is wistfully nostalgic, but might also be a consummate anthem for the Finland of the present – a place where, apparently, nothing could bring us down.

‘Paisley Underground’ b/w a cover of Sly Stone’s ‘Help Me’ will be released on 7″ vinyl August 20 – and can be pre-ordered at Bandcamp.

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