Next Big Things 2011: Tame Impala

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Tame Impala, shot for SPIN in Los Angeles on December 4, 2010 / Photo by Kenneth Cappello.
WRITTEN BY
Emily Zemler

Home sweet home: Perth, Australia
Expect: Wigged-out psych rock for kids who dug Congratulations more than "Kids"
Must hear: Innerspeaker (Modular), out now

"I can't stress enough how insignificant Tame Impala is," Kevin Parker says, slumped on a bench in Glendale, California, a few hours before the last show of a long European and American tour. Maybe it's just his Aussie humility talking, but there's a lot of evidence to the contrary. Tame Impala's 2010 debut, Innerspeaker, which Parker wrote, played, and recorded himself at a house near Perth (with some mixing help from Flaming Lips and MGMT producer Dave Fridmann in upstate New York), revels in gauzy, layered sonic explorations -- the "White Album" meets Black Sabbath. Which puts Tame Impala, now touring as a four-piece, in some good company.

"There are quite a few artists at the moment, like Beach House and Warpaint, and the line between dream pop and psychedelia can get pretty hazy," Parker, 25, says. "Maybe people are just digging warblier, weirder sounds these days."

This sense of the ethereal is something Parker hopes to expand on with Innerspeaker's successor, which he aims to release later this year. "It's a lot more -- what's the word? -- decadent," Parker muses as the sun sets behind the distant L.A. skyline. "I'm giving in to temptation more. It's like if you got the album that's out now and gave it the Ninja Turtles ooze and turned it into a mutant version."

As further testament to the appeal of teenage mutant psych rock, Innerspeaker was nominated for five ARIA Awards -- the Aussie Grammys -- and Tame Impala spent last summer touring sheds in the U.S. with the similarly touched MGMT. Did Parker take any encouragement from his new friends' breakout success? "Sure, why not," he says. "They're probably the only guys who wouldn't want what's happened to them. But I don't think we need to compare ourselves, because we're not about to have a crazy hit that makes every-one jizz themselves and wear headbands."

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