Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See (1993)

Maybe it's just me, but it seems Mazzy Star isn't held with the appropriate level of reverence these days.  Maybe with all the great mellow dream pop that's come out over the decades since, people forget just how incredible their first two albums were.  Or maybe their fluke popularity at the time (albeit in limited alt.rock and MTV 120 Minutes circles) rendered them somehow uncool.

But damn, this album is so great, certainly one of the top ten stoner albums, ideal for a late night of kicking back in the dark with a pair of headphones.

Guitarist David Roback started out with his brother in the Rain Parade, sticking around for their phenomenal, paisley underground classic debut before joining up with Kendra Smith, bassist for fellow paisley underground band Dream Syndicate, as Opal.  Opal recorded one proper album, 1987's dark and mesmerizing Happy Nightmare Baby, with Smith intoning over Roback's spacey guitar and organ jams; it's a fantastic, underappreciated psychedelic classic, one worth checking out.  (Alas, it's not available on Spotify.) 

When Smith departed, Roback hooked up with Hope Sandoval, a young singer whose work he had been producing, and changed the band's name to Mazzy Star.  Their debut, 1991's She Hangs Brightly, has a cleaner, brighter sound than the Opal album, highlighted by Sandoval's entrancing, seductive croon.  It's still plenty eerie and trippy, but without the edgier drones that made Opal so captivating, instead returning to some of the retro-jangly sounds of Rain Parade.  (The harder-edged "Ghost Highway," a holdover from Opal's aborted second album, gives a view into what that might have been had Smith stuck around.)

For 1993's follow-up, Roback amped up the guitars a bit, throwing in some blues and darker organ drones, making the album a bit of a hybrid between Opal and the first Mazzy Star album, trippy and spaced out but still grounded by Sandoval's uniquely seductive vocals.  Lead off single "Fade Into You" is the one that got all the attention, a slow, hushed ballad, and it's gorgeous and holds up well.  But you've also got more starkly psychedelic tunes -- "Mary of Silence" is a long, creepy, funereal dirge that sounds like a cross between Joy Division and the Doors, with Roback cranking out some manic guitar shadings, and it's a stunner; the closing title track, another extended track, nurses a similar vibe, with shades of the Velvets' "All Tomorrow's Parties," another one that will fuel your psychedelic explorations.  There's also the quietly acoustic "Five String Serenade" and the slightly more upbeat psychedelic groove of "She's My Baby" to mix things up.

It's a great package, a surprisingly dark and woozy album for something which actually had a little commercial traction, and it sounds as great today as it did 25 years ago.

Here's the "Fade Into You" video:
...and the "She's My Baby" video:
Also, how about a trippy little light show set to "Mary of Silence"?  (Note -- please do not drive or operate heavy machinery while viewing.)