In the sixties, psychedelia wasn’t just a sound: it was a state of mind—an altered state of mind. The biggest drag about recent psychedelia is that for every dozen bands that talk about blowing minds (reciting the proper influences, trotting out the hip covers), there are really only one or two that can blow anything other than hot air. The Ophelias from San Francisco belong to that delightfully manic minority…a potent tab of futurist acid pop, with jagged ensemble intensity that sounds like vintige English freak beat—early Pink Floyd, a pithier Van der Graaf Generator—laced with postpunk menace. Leslie Medford’s occasional trumpet and flute add a spooky Renaissance gentility.
—David Fricke, Rolling Stone
A literate floral pagent with black country acoustic guitars. Raucous despite their immaculate manners, every solo is sweet.
—Pat Blashell, Spin Magazine
Medford demonstrates honest intelligence without coming off as elitist or snobby—a refreshing change from the chaotic stupidity that so often accompanies rock music.
—K. Shaner, Face It Magazine
The Ophelias are fortunate in several respects: the musicians do new things with the music yet retain a certain warped traditionalism, they are accomplished enough to play around with a multitude of styles, and they have a particularly strong singer/songwriter.
—Joni Hollar, The Daily Californian
It’s hard for me to imagine a more audacious guy than Ophelias singer/conceptualist Leslie Medford…Collectors and critics will probably rediscover the Ophelias in fifteen years and write blathering essays about Medford’s psychosis-tinged genius.
—Tom Lanham, San Francisco Chronicle
These characters stole the show at the Haight Street Fair. A real psychedelic band, no plastic paisley shite here.
—J. Neo, Puncture Magazine
This is one of the most original and fascinating groups the American independent scene has to offer. The daring arrangements, biting acoustics and dazzling creativity continue as the Ophelias carve a spectacular niche in the underground community.
—Brad Bradbury, The Hard Report
I’ve listened to the albums, and now I’ve seen the band on stage. Surely Mr Medford will be an MTV star! Seen the dance he does?! A rock original.
—W.W., The Arbiter of Taste, Richmond, VA
The songs are pregnant with mystery, inviting interpretation and involvement…a critic’s dream!
—J.F.Tiger, Seattle Times
No other San Francisco band reaches the heights of supreme imagination, ego and crunchiness required for true rock stardom as well as the Ophelias.
—Anne Powers, San Francisco Chronicle
There are no Ophelias skeptics at this station!
—Larry Lumb, WUOG, Athens, Georgia
Hallucinatory by its very nature, it works like a drug, altering the perceptions and capable of transplanting the listener in time. Chalk one up for the city by the bay.
—Melanie Fioritto, Cleveland Press
The arrangements are complex, yet the band is able to teeter beautifully at crucial moments. I wasn’t so sure about the Ophelias at first, but they have become belligerently convincing.
—Scott McCaughey, Reflex Magazine, Boston
While group leader Leslie Medford writes brilliant pop melodies, it’s his twisting and turning of them that makes his music so wonderfully bizarre…Not enough room in this colume to do the disc full justice. Recommended.
—Dan Oullette, Daily Californian
Almost every reviewer has considered them the most innovative band out of San Francisco in many years.
—Bob O’Brien, Los Angeles Times
This is truly psychedelic music, the fine line between reality and the dream state are blurred to perfection.
—Cary Tennis, Western Assoc. of Rock D.J.s (W.A.R.D. Magazine)
Most bands never get this bold in their careers, let alone right out of the gate.
—Gregory Cline, BAM Magazine
There’s real drama in the Ophelias, and Medford seems to be a genuine original. You trust him.
—Bill Wyman, East Bay Express
Medford mixes metaphors and dynamics as adroitly as styles, and the band play just arch and hard enough. This young group is in love with its own intelligence and humor: in the Ophelias’ case, both attributes are of a high order. Their daring and variety make them a group to watch.
—Carlo Wolff, Goldmine
When you consider the swine they sign, how on earth does a pearl like the Ophelias slip by the major labels?! Oh, I guess I just answered my own question. Anyway, certainly among the best bands ever, never to have been offered a major record company contract.
—Joe Carducci, Rock and the Pop Narcotic
You wonder are these people just really smart or just plain out of their heads? Dang cool whatever it is!
—Troy Gaspard, Tower Pulse! Magazine
Note: hash brownies will help.
—Fred Mills, Boston Globe
You’ll pine for the days when rock stars choked on their own vomit.
—D. Sprague, East Coast Rocker Magazine
I’d rather be gay and forced to sleep with these four insufferable guys—and I’ve gotta be among the least promiscuous men in the history of Christendom—than listen to this record again. The worst aspects of Queen in a more straightforwardly pop context. Affected lyrics, stilted vocals. A thousand textural veils revealing face-less talent, intelligence, and remarkable diversity. Philosophy background aside, I gotta tell you way too much thought went into this overwrought well of ten dippy pop songs. There is not one note, one word, one sigh, that does not peek at itself asking, “Do I look okay?” and the company of such an attitude makes me almost as angry as it makes me ill. I hope they get their great and obvious wish of being laid to rest some distant day in England.
—Mark Rhodes, Alternative Press, Cleveland
Theirs was a higher life, ‘twixt heaven and earth, amid the storm-clouds, touched with the sublime.
No band staggers more elegantly, giggles more soberly. The Ophelias are about the both of things: light and dark, masculine and feminine, high and low, comedy and tragedy, rationality and the unhinged.
American bands in particular seem to only be able to regurgitate the kitch and pop-culture they sucked in TV-addled youth. Not so The Ophelias.
One of my all-time favorites for over 30 years and one of the best debut albums ever. It’s catchy yet off-kilter. It rocks at times and soothes at others. At the center is Leslie Medford, one of the most engrossing and versatile vocalists you’ll ever hear. Every song is a standout, so picking a favorite is virtually impossible. Here’s another chance to support this band; don’t squander it. Favorite track: Mr. Rabbit.
—R. W. Cupp
Amazon review of The Big O:
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2015
has this album been all of my life? Mix some Neutral Milk Hotel with
a little Loud Family by way of Ziggy Stardust and you might come
close to the sound, but it is wholly unique.
Good speakers and/or headphones are required for this trip. Pick this up if you see it – it is long out of print.
— William Seng