Pure Psychedelic Rock: Various Artists

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for some new music to trip out to? Check out our list of the best pure psychedelic rock albums by various artists! You’re sure to find something that will take you on a wild ride.

The Sound of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a 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. Psychedelic rock covers a wide range of styles, from the minimalist drone music of early acid house, to the complex and sinuous orchestrations of late-1960s psychedelic pop, to the George Clinton-influenced funkyadelic fusion of Parliament-Funkadelic. It often makes use of new recording techniques and effects, electric guitars and amplified bass guitar, heavy drums, and dense layers of sound.

In the 1960s, psychedelic rock was extensively used by bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Byrds, Moby Grape, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Sly & The Family Stone, 13th Floor Elevators, Iron Butterfly. More recent examples include Tame Impala’s 2012 album Lonerism; Panda Bear’s 2015 album Crosswords EP; Beach House’s 2016 album Depression Cherry; Allah-Las’ 2016 album Calico Review; and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s 2018 album Sex & Food.

The Artists Who Defined Psychedelic Rock

By the end of 1966, the term “psychedelic” had become part of the vocabulary of rock & roll, thanks to hits like the Beatles’ “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work It Out,” the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” and Love’s “Alone Again Or.” These songs were all unquestionably psychedelic — not just in their sonics but in their shared ability to invoke a mind-altering state without any help from illicit substances — but they were also pop records, which meant they had to be catchy and accessible enough to cross over to the mainstream. Rock & rollers who wanted to make truly psychedelic music — music that was challenging, experimental, and often deliberately opposed to anything resembling a hook — had to look elsewhere.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelic pop or simply psychedelia, is a style of rock music that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The genre attempted to replicate the experience of altered states of consciousness, often achieved through the use of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD. Psychedelic rock was heavily influenced by Eastern music, particularly Indian ragas and sitars, as well as jazz.

The Beatles were one of the first and most popular psychedelic rock bands. They popularized the use of sitars on Western pop records with their song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” from the album Rubber Soul. The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” from their album Pet Sounds is another early example of psychedelic pop. Psychedelic elements began appearing in pop and rock music in the mid-1960s with songs such as The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” and The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”.

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