Sounds like: If Jason Segel’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall adapted his puppet rock opera into an actual psych-rock band.
For fans of: Foxygen, Os Mutantes, Gnar Tapes, the non-terrifying musical sequences in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Why you care: Psychomagic is for the children. All right, maybe a song about satisfying a bondage fetish isn’t appropriate for ages 12 and under, no matter how whimsical its lead flute riff. Still, if you put aside the band’s freakier impulses, there’s an endearing silliness to its brand of psychedelic mischief that would play well with the sandbox set.
Prior to the group’s formation, that’s exactly the demographic Steve Fusco would road-test his material for. “Kids are super, brutally honest,” says the 29-year-old transplanted New Yorker, who performed regularly at a children’s museum in Tampa, Fla. “People in Portland will nod even if they don’t like the music. With kids, they’re like, ‘I don’t like this!’ ‘You suck!’ ‘This song makes me sleepy!’ It was amazing training.”
Fusco and drummer Anthony Brisson put together Psychomagic after bonding at a show at Club 21 (or as Fusco remembers it: “He kept following me around like a creep”), and the only thing that changed for the singer-guitarist is the size of the kids in the audience: Two of the band’s songs are, in fact, adapted from an unfinished “puppet play” he was writing. As big a fan of Andy Kaufman as he is of Thee Oh Sees, Fusco changes character from tune to tune—affecting a dandyish British accent on “I’m a Freak,” sneering lustfully on “I Wanna Be That Man” and, on “Elvis on the Moon,” curling back his lip into a familiar blubbering twang—while the music plays his straight man, delivering surf-flecked garage rock that’s both rollicking and playful.
With a proper album impending on L.A. psych label Lolipop Records, the band is working on songs with a fuller sound and more refined melodies. Fear not, though: “They’re not, like, more adult or anything,” Fusco says.