This San Francisco outfit channels the best of the Byrds and the Paisley Underground with jangly Ricks and deft use of chorus pedals.

There are times when San Francisco jangle-rock band Light Fantastic sounds like they could be hatchlings of the Byrds: Their eponymous debut EP’s first track, “Falling Through,” shimmers with 12-string Rickenbackers drenched in reverb as frontman Terry Sowers coos aloof vocal harmonies and drummer Scott Goldberg flirts with marching-band rhythms reminiscent of Michal Clark’s sublime work on Notorious Byrd Brothers.

There’s also a prevalent surfy element here. By the time the chorus of “Make It Up” cascades into watery minor chords, you can easily imagine keyboardist Rachel Hoiem playing her piano in a sandbox, a la Brian Wilson. It makes perfect sense that in their short existence, Light Fantastic has already shared the stage with similarly jangly bands like the Flamin’ Groovies, Beachwood Sparks, Allah-Las, and the Tyde.

But ’60s vibes aren’t all there is to Light Fantastic. The perfectly crystalline guitar chime and period-correct production in closing song “All Come to Meet Her” play like an homage to L.A.’s mid-’80s Paisley Underground movement. There are changes here that sound so in-tune with bands like Rain Parade and the Three O’Clock, it sometimes begs the question: Was there a government program that gave out free chorus pedals to guitarists in the ’80s? lightfantasticband.com

It’s ok for a guitar to not sound like a guitar.

As much as we all love juicy, organic guitar tones, it can be just as inspiring to go the opposite way. Combining various modulation effects, envelope filters, oscillators, and more can result in sounds that owe more to Kraftwerk than Led Zeppelin.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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