A subgenre of the mid-80's jangle pop genre, Paisley Underground (so named for the paisley shirts many bandmembers favored) was a psychedelic-revival movement centered in Los Angeles. Most (but not all) paisley underground bands borrowed heavily from the ringing guitars of the Byrds, and in the drones, raga-rock, and colorful whimsy of the late 60's psychedelic bands. While it was a largely retro-scene, an attempt to keep alive a form and style that had been dead for well over a decade and a half, it also produced some very fresh-sounding new music.
Few paisley underground bands rose above cult status, but The Bangles eventually scored big, the Rain Parade's David Roback would have 90's success with Mazzy Star, the Long Ryders would influence the alternative country movement of the 90's, and Dream Syndicate and Game Theory would receive critical acclaim, if not sales at the register.
Paisley Underground's moment was a short-lived one, stretching from about 1982 through 1986. As the late 80's approached, most of the original bands had disbanded. Since the genre stemmed from a local scene that had moved on to other things, there was no significant second wave. Still, much paisley underground music remains good listening to this day; it bridged a gap from the 60's to the neo-psychedelia of 90's dream pop, and remains a colorful offshoot of jangle pop, one of the more important 80's rock movements.
Some important/influential paisley underground artists and songs include:
1. The Bangles: The Real World
The all-woman Bangles, formerly The Bangs, formed in Los Angeles in 1981 and specialized in a rootsy 60's based guitar rock that recalled the Byrds and The Grass Roots. "The Real World" is an excellent representation of their early sound, and was part of a 4-song EP debut on Faulty records in 1982, which featured original bassist Annette Zilinkas, who would be replaced by Michael Steele by the time of their 1984 debut album on IRS, All Over The Place. Light, breezy, tuneful, mildly psychedelic, this remains one of their best tracks; the EP, which is now out-of-print and rare, is worth seeking out for the other tracks as well, including "Mary Street" and a tough, rocking cover of "How Is The Air Up There?", a garage-punk tune originally done by New Zealand's La De Da's. Their sound changed by the time of their second full length album, Different Light (1985); their early material is best.