The Best Modern Psychedelic Rock Songs

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

Looking for the best modern psychedelic rock songs? Look no further! This list includes some of the best tracks from the past few years.

The Psychedelic Sound

Psychedelic rock emerged in the mid 1960s with bands such as the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane creating a new sound that was influenced by drugs such as LSD. The psychedelic sound is often characterised by extended jams, strange sound effects, and trippy lyrics. If you’re looking for some modern psychedelic rock songs, then you’ve come to the right place.

What is Psychedelic Rock?

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as acid rock or simply psychedelia, is a style of music that emerged in the mid-1960s. The genre is distinguished by its use of feedback, distorted guitars, and elements of non-Western musical traditions. Psychedelic rock developed as a subgenre of rock music and was influenced heavily by 1969’s psychedelic counterculture.

Psychedelic rock is often characterized by extended improvisation, distinctive fashion, and trippy lyrics. The sound of psychedelic rock is often created by layering multiple guitars and employing feedback to create a “wall of sound” effect. The style typically makes use of extended guitar solos and explores progressive song structures.

Psychedelic rock reached the height of its popularity in the late 1960s, but the genre has experienced a resurgence in recent years. Modern day psychedelic rock bands such as Tame Impala and MGMT have helped to reinvigorate the sound for a new generation of listeners.

The Origins of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and experienced a brief but highly influential period in Western popular culture. The sound of psychedelic rock was characterized by distorted guitars, lyrics about drug use and mind expansion, sitars, feedback, and extended solos. While psychedelic rock began in the 1960s, its peak of popularity was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Psychedelic rock then faded away as punk rock and disco became the dominant genres of popular music.

Psychedelic rock began to emerge as a distinct genre in the early to mid-1960s, with bands such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, and Love creating hallucinatory and mind-altering sounds using feedback, extended solos, and sitars. These bands were inspired by earlier psychedelic artists such as Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators, and garage rock bands such as the Sonics and the Seeds.

The Best Psychedelic Rock Songs

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as “psychedelia,” is a diverse style of rock music that is inspired, or influenced, by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The genre emerged during the mid-’60s and became widely popular in the following years.

“A Day in the Life” – The Beatles

One of the most quintessential psychedelia songs, “A Day in the Life” is the final track on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The track is famous for its use of reversed sounds, distorted vocals, and heavy usage of studio effects – all hallmarks of psychedelic music.

“She’s a Rainbow” – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are one of the most iconic and influential rock bands of all time, and “She’s a Rainbow” is one of their best-loved psychedelic tracks. Released as a single in 1967, it peaked at #25 on the Billboard 100 chart and has been included on numerous Stones compilations, including the 1971 classic Hot Rocks 1964-1971.

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “She’s a Rainbow” is a trippy ode to then-girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, with Jagger’s ethereal vocals floating atop Richards’ chugging guitar riff and Brian Jones’ swirling Mellotron. The song’s beautiful, kaleidoscopic music video, which was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and features model Celia Hammond in a series of colorful costumes, is considered one of the first promotional videos ever made.

“Tomorrow Never Knows” – The Beatles

“Tomorrow Never Knows” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, released as the final track on their 1966 studio album Revolver. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was primarily written by John Lennon. The song has been recognised as a key work in the development of psychedelia in popular music, with George Martin’s innovative production and sound effects serving as an exemplar of studio work in this field at the time.

“I Can See for Miles” – The Who

The first single from The Who Sell Out, “I Can See for Miles” was an instant hit when it was released in October 1967. It reached the top ten in the UK, US, and Canada, and remains one of the band’s most recognizable and popular songs.

The track is a perfect example of psychedelic rock, with its driving bassline, swirling keyboards, and distorted guitar solo. The song’s lyrics are about a man who has been cheated on by his lover and is now able to see her for who she really is.

Despite its success, “I Can See for Miles” was not included on The Who’s next album, Tommy, as Pete Townshend felt it didn’t fit with the rest of the tracks. However, it has since become one of the band’s most iconic songs, and is regularly included in their live setlists.

“Paint It, Black” – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones released “Paint It, Black” in May of 1966. The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. The song is about the despair and darkness of war. It was released as a single in the United States and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has been covered by multiple artists including Grateful Dead, U2, and David Bowie.

“Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix

“Purple Haze” is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and released as the second single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967. The song features his inventive use of feedback and distortion and helped to cement his reputation as one of the greatest guitarists in rock music. “Purple Haze” is also one of the most popular psychedelic rock songs and has been covered by numerous artists.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – The Beatles

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The composition is credited to Lennon–McCartney, although Lennon was the primary writer.

The song has been ranked as one of the greatest songs of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and NME. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was released as a single in the UK on 1 October 1967, with “All You Need Is Love” as its B-side. The single peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks and at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In an interview with Playboy in 1980, Lennon said: “Paul’s contribution was the lyrics ‘ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ I had bought a PH balance chart and was looking through it while Paul was going on about LSD.” Asked in a 1987 BBC Radio 1 interview what inspired him to write “Lucy”, McCartney replied: “I think it was John’s daughter – I’m not sure. You know, kids seeing things – they often see things that grown-ups don’t see.” When asked if he knew what an acid trip was when he wrote the lyrics, he replied: “No … well maybe.”

“Sunshine of Your Love” – Cream

“Sunshine of Your Love” is a song by the British rock band Cream. It was released as a single in October 1967 and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. The song appears on the 1968 album Strange Brew and combines blues rock with psychedelic pop. It features a solo by guitarist Eric Clapton that Rolling Stone magazine has ranked as one of the greatest ever, as well as lyrics inspired by Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Bassist Jack Bruce and lyricist Pete Brown wrote the song, which was recorded in December 1967.

The song features a distinctive riff by Clapton that dominates its verses and chorus, played on a guitar using an amplifier with built-in tremolo settings. The band recorded it at IBC Studios, London after completing work on their second album Disraeli Gears (1967). Releases of “Sunshine of Your Love” as singles in different countries included alternate versions with different instrumentation and mixes. The band performed it on several television programmes and it became one of their best-known songs. American musician Jimi Hendrix included a cover version on his Electric Ladyland album (1968).

“All You Need Is Love” – The Beatles

“All You Need Is Love” is a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was first performed by the Beatles on Our World, the first live global television link. Watched by 400 million in 26 countries, the programme was broadcast via satellite on 25 June 1967. The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom’s contribution to Our World, a live broadcast watched by a then-record breaking audience of 400 million people in 26 countries.

With an estimated 50 million copies sold, “All You Need Is Love” is one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was released as a non-album single in July 1967 and was later included on the Magical Mystery Tour LP (1967), which accompanied the December 1967 British television film Magical Mystery Tour. It also appears in some episode endings of the Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995–96). The song has been covered by many artists and has been included in several films and television series.

“Hey Jude” – The Beatles

“Hey Jude” is a classic psychedelic rock song by the Beatles. It was released in 1968 and was written by Paul McCartney. The song is about a man who is trying to convince a woman to love him and is also a message of support to John Lennon’s son, Julian, during his parents’ divorce. “Hey Jude” is one of the Beatles’ most popular songs and has been covered by many artists.

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