Psych Lovers is a Facebook group for fans of all things, well, psych; and is probably the best thing that I belong to on the internet. Even though its been in existence for less than a year many of us have got to know each other well enough to do a poll for the best new albums of the year; along with a separate poll for live and re-issued albums (which is being published by Andy U on the awesome Days of Purple and Orange website) without falling out over it…actually it’s a great group because we tend not to fall out over the music we all love. This process was a real revelation for me bringing up lots of albums that I had not previously heard.
So, unlike the ‘Essential Psych‘ list that I’ve already published, this list is the result of the opinions of MANY ‘Psychonauts’ who are, by definition, seriously into their music, something that is full reflected in this awesome list;
The words below come from members of the list, with thanks to everyone who contributed.
Enjoy this brilliant list and the awesome albums on it:
1. Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Long Grass
Kikagaku Moyo are back with their latest offering, House In The Tall Grass. Their renowned hazy soundscapes and dreamy vocals are all present as you would expect, but the album plays on a softer approach to their craft which has previously often featured some real guitar freak-outs and heavy drones. The ridiculously solid rhythm section shimmies and sways throughout, giving the guitars and vocals all the space to drift in and out, like a heady journey through the clouds.
Even with an almost folk-like approach at times, the album never feels like it needs a sense of urgency. The mellower songs give the album a more laid-back, stoned feel to it but without it ever becoming uninteresting or boring, yet they still remind us of the lysergic heaviness and groovy-ness the they are so very capable of unleashing.
Favourite tracks: Silver Owl, Melted Crystal
2. Dead Sea Apes – Soy Dios
Ah so this is where it started for the Dead Sea Apes is it said I, I bet it’s the sound of a band finding its feet thought I, bloody well wrong was I. It seems that DSA found there trade mark groove right from the off. For those of you not familiar with their sound (go to the back of the class please), It’s tribal, it has groove and has space. The scorched desserts of Manchester are only known to a few, but those who frequent there are masters in the art of modern psychedelia.
=3. Kandodo McBain- Lost Chants/ Last Chance
What do you get when you combine 3/4’s of The Heads with Mr John McBain from Monster Magnet, spread across two slabs of vinyl which can be played at both 33 and 45rpm? No, its not a trick question. The answer is Lost Chants/Last Chants, the album by Kandodo/McBain, which is right up there with my best of 2016. As one who prefers their modern psych to be slow-builders, my personal preference is the 33rpm version but the 45rpm more than holds its own. Both versions are immediately recognisable from one another but offer slightly different takes of the same song. It really is no gimmick so you really do get two excellent psych albums for the price of one.
=3. Myrrors – Entranced Earth
A group that have unleashed 3 perfect albums in a row that are guaranteed to bring something new to your being with each and every listen. That’s called“deep shit” and not easy to attain. Coming from the desert lands of Arizona, The Myrrors music reeks of dry and arid space where the thirst is only quenched at the well of a hidden sense of spirituality. There is a historical aspect to this group that for the seasoned listener is totally steeped in intrinsic understanding and original execution by way of early 70’s cosmic, eastern acid rock crossing the spectral folk leanings and meeting repetitive swirling krautrock mantras headfirst. Progressive psychedelia where Popol Vuh meets Träd, Gräs & Stenar are both accurate jumping off points as much as collisions as reference points. It’s laid back, understated “heaviness” without being such, is where the mind wanderings begin and you just go with it! Electricity collides with acoustic embellishment and creates cinematic imagery where there is tension but not alarming at the outcome. The Myrrors tell stories with their music and do it superbly. Early morning awakenings or late night vibrations, Entranced Earth is the spirit of the age and there are no constraints whatsoever. Light this and fly!
=5. Nudity – Of God’s Creation
When word got out that Cardinal Fuzz were putting out double album retrospective of Seattle legends Nudity, my Excito-Meter went into the red. Long had I waited for such a release and here it was, four side of music that showcased the bands inventiveness and daring. Each track leaps out of the speakers like an aural firework. There is no fat that needs trimming which is unusual when you have tracks that push the twenty minute mark. To mention influences would be a futile exercise because each listen seems to bring something new to the table. This is space/psych rock of the highest order.
=5. Cosmic Dead – Rainbow Head
The West Highland landscape with its rugged, beautiful, ever changing landscape, with its myths and legends has always attracted artists, writers, musicians … And so The Cosmic Dead spent a few days ensconced near Kyle of Lochalsh back in 2013, I guess, just to see ‘what happens’. The first of these sessions Inner Sanctum was released a couple of years ago, this year, Rainbowhead appeared. What? There’s more? … Side one effortlessly glides between the riff driven space rock of Human Sausage to the shimmering electronica and vocal mantras of Skye Burial, and then Inner C takes us on a journey of fluctuating guitar riffs and synth tones shimmering over a driving relentless rhythm section onslaught. Side two kicks into gear with odd guitar / synth bleeps over a heavy bass riff before taking us on a sonic squalling heavy jam, twisting this way and that before it’s inevitable end … One of those bands that you feel wouldn’t work without all four members, they tap into some kind of primal elemental force and keep on delivering.
=5. Big Naturals/ Antroprophh s/t
From the minute the needle hit the vinyl and the feedback hit and then gave way to the drums I fell in love with this record.
Side A consists of a single song by the band Big Naturals. The drum sound on this album is hypnotic. The guitars are loud and the groove is almost tribal. The first part of the track is heavy and then changes to become more melodic and the music has you nodding your head and takes you on a journey into your own thoughts and emotions. A great hypnotic journey that should be taken by everyone.
Side 2 has three tracks by Anthroprophh.
Track one contains heavy guitar with a metal drum sound before it takes you to the middle east. Distortion takes over with a piano which sounds like a horror soundtrack.
Track two sounds like an industrial song before the vocals kick in sounding distorted and muffled.
Track three takes you on a journey to a jungle swamp with the guitar and piano sounding like animals. A battle between guitar and drums hit hard and loud before the groove settles back and the song ends in a sonic loop.
As I said an unforgettable album that takes you on a personal journey that leaves you breathless.
=8. Mugstar – Magnetic Seasons
Having been fortunate enough to see this band live twice in the last couple of years I was extremely excited about this release. The sheer wall of sound they produce is incredible.
From the opening track Unearth through to the end of Ascension Island you’re taken on a wide range of musical experiences. For me the sound they produce is incredible. Multi layers of sounds reverberating through my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed (and am still enjoying) this album from start to finish.
Standout tracks for me are, Time Machine, La Valle and Remember the Breathing.
I can’t wait to hear their next adventure.
=8. JuJu s/t
If you didn’t know, JuJu is Gioele Valenti, one time member of the Lay Llamas. On this record, ritualistic tribal beats & grooves combine with swathes of psychedelia & driving Krautrock to give us seven tracks of modern psych with a message. Citing the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean as a major inspiration, it will come as no surprise that this record can come across as being quite sombre in parts, “Where do we go from here now that you’ve lost your soul?” That being said, this is anything but downbeat, in turns both euphoric & hypnotic, this is music with conscience. And I like it a lot.
=10. Carlton Melton – Aground
Following on perfectly from 2015’s critically acclaimed Out To Sea LP comes this companion EP featuring more of their trademark droning jams. As the title suggests, we may be unexpectedly back on dry land but they still have us sailing through space and time, creating vast oceans in our minds and a sense of endless discovery, which sums up their music perfectly.
This release sees the guys continue to explore the outer reaches of psychedelia. The songs flourish and flow beautifully, including those which drop in under the 4min mark, showing that there is no real need to bombard our senses or over stay their welcome on every track. This is the sound of a band who know when to unleash a wall of sound but also when to reign things in, both to amazing effect. A masterclass in psych and drone.
Favourite tracks: Upon Your Return, Holiday Hours
=10. Blown Out – New Cruiser
Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic, Fuckin’ Epic,
(This was the concise, yet accurate, response to a request for a review of this, er, Fuckin’ Epic album – Ed)
=10. Heron Oblivion s/t
Most of the albums that I listen to are of the variety that could be filed under the general term ‘difficult’. Not as in ‘difficult second album’, but as in ‘a difficult and challenging listen’. Nothing wrong with that, if a band have put in a lot of effort to come up with part of themselves at significant creative and financial cost; the very least we can do is take it seriously and think about what it means to us…Which brings me to this Heron Oblivion album, a set of songs that are far from difficult to listen to but which had a huge amount invested in them from the musicians involved and, from the first time I heard them, have had me utterly beguiled with their alchemic magic and beauty. This feels like an effortless album, and certainly listening to it provides a welcome respite from long heavy jams and rapid fire garage stabs that I (also) love so much.
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Spofity playlists here