"Psychedelic" is covered with the dust of the past. We associate it with the free-spirited, drug-laden cultural movement of the '60s that only gray-haired folk and Deadheads (somewhat) remember. Alongside a resurgence of girls rocking Kate Hudson’s Almost Famous bohemian crunchiness, this hazy genre is making a definitive comeback with the likes of bands such as Post Animal and Beach House. Modernizing that sound could be intimidating, but Derek Silva, Fabian Silva, Gilbert Castillo and Justin Martinez of Mantra Love, an emerging Houston psych-rock band, proves it can be done by breaking away from the traditional sound of the genre to create a style unique to themselves.
Mantra Love released their first self-titled EP back in 2015 that garnered some well-deserved attention from the Houston music community, specifically that of Justin Martinez of The TonTons who eventually became their drummer. Imagine if The Strokes, Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala had a musical love-child; Mantra Love's sound is nostalgic to the heyday of psych with wavering tempo, plucky guitars and dreamy vocals. Their tracks lead us through an introverted search for spirituality, with “Perceptions,” “Song for the Human Experience” and “Dream Chasing” delivering a lasting, enjoyable trip without the necessity of any drugs.
Mantra is a word chanted repeatedly to invoke spirituality, and Derek Silva wants Mantra Love's message to be clear—one of pure love and good vibes. “Mantra is something you repeat," he says. "In the most simple way, repeat love. It’s a reminder to return to [your] center.”
“Strawberry Milk” ups the group's production quality to move away from its previously grainy tracks that sound like re-discovered vintage vinyl. The track breaks away from the moodiness of their prior work and introduces the possibility of toying with other genres, such as pop. Overall, the sound is tighter, cleaner and more electronic all while maintaining the meandering, twangy, omnipresent guitar simmering beneath it all.
Although a single, the new track is a prelude to their next EP slated for later this fall, and Mantra Love plans to drop a music video directed by Bryce Saucier toward the end of August. Silva doesn’t plan to reveal any secrets about the video yet but promises a bright, “pop” cinematic approach. The band hopes its new music and new videos can help place Houston on the map.
“That’s one thing we’re trying to change," Silva says. "We want people to take Houston bands more seriously. We think for that to happen we need to have musicians that are really stepping up to build an audience.”