I should just buy the black light now and get it over with. The stoner-psychedelic-rock thing is coming back heavier than a Dennis Hopper acid flashback, and just in time--a new Syd Barrett DVD has been released. The eccentric, visionary guitar player from the early days of Pink Floyd, Barrett became an acid casualty at a young age, but not before helping the band release one of the heaviest head trips of the time, 1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. He also recorded a couple loose, folksy solo albums, all of which have inspired the likes of Julian Cope and Robyn Hitchcock--as well as latter-day Technicolor folkies like Italy's Jennifer Gentle, new Sub Pop darlings who named themselves after a line in a Piper song. The new DVD, The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, is an abbreviated look at the life of a supernova who burned out well before his time. Director John Edginton interviews seminal members of Pink Floyd as well as the band's old landlord (a lighting experimentalist whose oozing-amoeba installations inspired the band to focus on a more far-out aesthetic) and fans Robyn Hitchcock, Graham Coxon (ex-Blur), and Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie). Because Barrett, who is still alive, has long chosen to live as a recluse from the music community, there's no current interview footage with the DVD's featured subject, but the film nonetheless provides an intriguing, if brief, overview of Barrett's blossoming and burning out in the British music scene of the mid-to-late '60s. It's a captivating time capsule for both a musician and an era whose influence is growing larger by the next month's CD release roster.

The transition from watching Syd Barrett footage to watching new NW buzz band Black Mountain perform at the Crocodile last weekend was nearly seamless. Live, the Vancouver group felt even further rooted in the psychedelic aesthetic--not simply because of all the long hair (facial and otherwise)--but also because of their ebullient, earthy aesthetic and the guitars and keyboards performing flying-saucer drive-bys throughout the songs. Their show was flat-out amazing. Black Mountain return to the Croc March 13 with Kinski and Oneida.

Modest Mouse didn't win a Grammy for best alternative rock album--that award went to (yawn) Wilco--but Seattle's Bill Frisell took home the award for "best contemporary jazz album" last weekend. The Grammys are generally a wash--overrated artists getting their props, again--but the fact that these talented Northwest artists made some kind of a mainstream impact gives the ceremony somewhat more credibility. The Shins also won recognition by way of the Garden State soundtrack, which includes a couple of their tracks and which took home the prize for "best compilation soundtrack album."

One of the more substantial aspects of the larger Grammys organization umbrella, however, is MusiCares (www.grammys.com/musicares), which helps musicians in need of medical assistance defray the cost of their bills. I passed that URL along to friends of Bonni Suval, the New York- based singer for the Seattle band Fear of Dolls who was tragically involved in a hit-and-run accident in front of Chop Suey Tuesday, February 8, after her band played a show there. Suval was crossing the street with bandmate Joel Bergstrom (who also plays in Black Nite Crash) when a reportedly intoxicated driver struck her down. Friends says Suval is currently in the hospital for at least 6 to 8 weeks, and those wishing to contribute financially can go to any Washington Mutual and ask for the account under Suval's name. Thanks to an incredibly charitable cabdriver-- who chased the reckless driver to West Seattle before police caught and arrested the offending man--Suval's attacker has been apprehended. Best wishes go out to Suval from a number of Seattle friends who have e-mailed The Stranger since the accident last week.

Awards that have nothing to do with the Grammys: The Stranger's recent Big Shot contest produced three reader-chosen finalists: Mon Frere, Razrez, and Schoolyard Heroes. We'll be announcing the grand-prize winner on Friday, March 4, at Neumo's, when we host a free Big Shot party. And since the contest's main concept is to boost burgeoning local-music acts, the event will also include performances by the Saturday Knights and USE and DJ sets by Members Only/W.I.R.E DJs.

In with the old: Olympia's the Old Haunts recently compiled their two eponymous EPs into a third eponymous CD for Kill Rock Stars. On these recordings, the trio stomp through rickety garage blues, as Craig Extine's nasally howl recalls a more vile Jack White (in the early pre-Loretta and Cold Mountain days) and the drums clatter like tin trash cans crashing over concrete. The Haunts revisit ghosts from their Northwest heritage, claiming the Wipers and Dead Moon as influences, while they clean the cobwebs from dusky, art-damaged punk. Check them out at the Funhouse this Friday, February 18.


Support The Stranger