I swore that I wasn’t going to do any lists this year, too much really great stuff around to make any such judgements I said. Well that’s still true, but the temptation has just become to great to share these twenty fabulous 2017 releases amongst a sea of amazing stuff. Very subjective and time-specific but who cares, these are in no particular order!
(For the 2nd Half-Year Review of 2017, click here)
Zen Bastard by Earthling Society (Drone Rock Records)
‘Zen Bastard’ is one of those albums where you really feel that you have been on a journey. There seems to be a great deal of temporal and sonic distance between the start of side one and the end of side two. You are not entirely sure how you got there, but get there you did. I have a feeling that every listen of this superb set of songs will glean a different voyage. (Original review)
Also check out Earthling Society’s second release of the year ‘Ascent To Godhead’, out in August.
Freak Out Orgasm by Hibushibire (Riot Season Records)
As if you haven’t guessed by now I think that this is one heck of an album. After four years existence the band have delivered a debut that has not only arrived fully formed, but equipped to blown anyone who listen to it out of the water. It’s brutal and its heavy. But HIBUSHIBIRE are not a one trick pony… this is a varied album and the band are the real deal…I’m going to be playing this album regularly for years to come…about that I have no doubt. (Original review)
Hasta La Victoria by The Myrrors (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)
This is as much an experience as an album, the sound of a band who have gone away and re-thought what they are about and where they need to go next. A band that have recognised the paucity of our current situation and sought to wreak their own change, to inspire us to think afresh, and to give us the space to do it. In some ways ‘Hasta La Victoria’ is a creative space in which The Myrrors have poured their own creativity, but probably their own feelings of inadequateness, fear, determination and fortitude as well. Listen to this album and you can certainly see that positive change is possible, change away from traditional structures…change towards something more holistic and inclusive, change that does not rest on tradition but seeks power from a synthesis of tradition. If this is the future…sign me up! (Original review)
Hawkeyes/ Radiation Flowers split (Cardinal Fuzz)
This is a really great split LP. For me it was always going to be given the bands involved. However, I feel that both bands have really stepped things up here and, although a listen to their previous albums might suggest they might struggle to put out something that would be in any way coherent across both sides, I feel that they have organically developed their respective sounds in a way that has retained their distinctiveness while at the same time putting something out that feels to be right. (Original review)
Also check out The Radiation Flowers ace new album ‘Summer Loop‘
Raw Rock Fury by Ecstatic Vision (Relapse Records)
I’m not sure there’s more to say here because it’s really not that complicated. Go to the Ecstatic Vision bandcamp page…listen…get blown away…and spend your hard-earned on some proper pedal to the metal, balls out rock and fucking roll. That’s it! (Original review)
Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin by Julie’s Haircut (Rocket Recordings)
This sonic koan does just that with this album in that it retains the elements that give the who album its complexity…yet somehow come to terms with them in what sounds like a dialogue between the ‘twins’ in what is the most abstract of the numbers here…not so much an ending but a new beginning perhaps. (Original review)
The Black River by Elkhorn (Debacle Records)
Elkhorn are longtime friends Jesse Shepard (12 string acoustic guitar) and Drew Gardner (electric guitar). Fresh off their debut tape on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, this incredible duo fuses a rich vein of American primitive with psych, jazz, and improv. The result is a nearly perfect album that wildly bounds through the American story of guitar in the 20th century. It is a high wire act of the highest order. Album will come on heavyweight vinyl in a beautiful sleeve designed by Mikey Rioux with spot UV gloss embellishment. (Elkhorn Bandcamp)
In A Brown Study by Soft Power (Huuru Osasto Records)
This is a great album to just sit and receive, not too stuck on one style of music and just eclectic enough to make you want to put it on repeat. For me it is one of those ‘outliers’ that you get now and again that are utterly indefinable, but are just put together in a way that make a weird sort of sense and just work for all the right reasons. (Original review)
Algol by Stupid Cosmonaut (Drone Rock Records)
Algol’ is space rock, but not as we know it. It emerges from its minimalist stasis and gradually, and almost imperceptibly, develops a heavy complexity that has you heading straight into a nebula of heavy riffs and searing rhythms. Stupid Cosmonaut may be new to some but that will not last for long because this is a band who are going places with their new take on well established genre. Their collective name may be self deprecating but these guys are anything but stupid. (Original review)
Also check out a superb Stupid Cosmonaut split LP with the Boobs of Doom here.
Sixth Side of the Pentagon by Dead Sea Apes (Cardinal Fuzz)
For me all Dead Sea Apes releases are special but I find this one, along with ‘Lupus‘, to be ahead of the pack. It is both an departure and a leap forward for a band who are continuing to push their sound and their vision into new areas. It is an album that is political, experimental, and complex. It is an album that will have you thinking and, if it does its job, it will challenge you to think more deeply about the world around you. For all these reasons it is for me pure bloody essential! (Original review)
Also check out the very special Dead Sea Apes 12″ with Adam Stone, ‘In The Year 2039‘.
Kick Out The Jams by Cosmic Fall (Self Release)
Cosmic Fall take you on a series of sonic journeys that are heavy, soooo fucking heavy, yet are but no means dense and oppressive. If this is space rock it is space rock that flies with a certain nimbleness… not the heavy cruiser of Blown Out, but a deft destroyer. There is an openness and space to this music that you feel could go on forever without wearing you down. (Original review).
Feral Ohms by Feral Ohms (Silver Current Records)
Feral Ohms was formed in 2011 by three Bay Area underground rock vets. Loud, super-fuzzed, just over the border of psychedelia into a darker, harsher jungle. Doses of concrete basement West Coast 80s punk, 70s hairy bare-chested wall of amps festival rock, 90s Screaming Japanese underground and various other forms of scuzz, primitive, biker and outcast rock and roll mutations abound. (Feral Ohms Soundcloud)
Psych is Dead by Cosmic Dead (Riot Season Records)
…I think I get it. This album consists of three tracks. The first is probably the most recognisably Cosmic Dead, the Scottish psych band. The second declares psych dead. The third is proving it. Whether or not psych is dead is moot as far as I’m concerned, because The Cosmic Dead here show that they are very much alive and ready to move on in a manner that bodes well for the future. This is a massive raised finger that is backed up with something as raw and visceral as you could imagine… (Original review).
Concrete Desert by The Bug vs Earth (Ninja Tune)
Like master painters exploring a subject over a lifetime’s work, Kevin Martin and Dylan Carlson – The Bug and Earth, respectively – have each been mining and defining their genres for more than 20 years. They’re united by an interest in – really an obsession with – heaviness. They search for, examine and break the boundaries between beautiful and ugly, minimal and maximal, light and dark – but The Bug and Earth always make music that is heavy in the most thrilling of ways. (Ninja Tune website)
Feed The Rats by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (Rocket Recordings)
There’s no getting away from it…this is a massive slab of an album. It’s one that has been over three years in the making, given the band’s previous release, and for those waiting with baited breath since there Cosmic Dead split I doubt there will be very few who are disappointed. (Original review)
Vibe Killer by Endless Boogie (No Quarter)
I may be new to Endless Boogie but I have fallen for this band hard…as hard and heavy as this album showcases the band’s sound and ability. ‘Vibe Killer’ is just that, simply an amazing slab of psychedelic blues rock that delivers in spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. There’s not much more to be said really, just have a listen and tell me I’m not wrong! Because, on this occasion, I know I’m definitely not! (Original review)
Land Between Rivers by Mythic Sunship (El Paraiso Records)
With ‘Land Between Rivers’ Mythic Sunship have managed to keep all the things that made their previous album special, and somehow added a sonic layer which makes this album sound even more raw AND accomplished than its predecessor. This is a super-intense set of songs that manage to bring together diverse musical genre and philosophies into a gestalt whole that is both fascinating and frightening. (Original review).
Remoria by Heroin in Tahiti (Soave)
Listening to this superb album I cannot help thinking about how Heroin in Tahiti have used this idea of an alternative history as a cipher for our current world. Through it they have reflected the darkness of our times and shone an ominous mirror upon it. Yet there is also another message here, a message that this does not have to be the only way. There are alternative approaches to politics, to economics and in the way that we treat and associate with our fellow humans. This then, for me, is a powerful album that is reflective of our times that, despite its dystopian foundations also offers hope to those who seek to effect change. (Original review).
Serious Business by Grey Hairs (Gringo Records)
This is Grey Hairs second album, perfectly placed to document the times. 2015’s ‘Colossal Downer’ with its grim faced party child on the cover was the band on early good form, now they’re warmed the fuck up and are playing tense. The playing is tightly wound around the vocals, which are set to attack – attacking themselves, attacking the generation. (Joe Thompson (Hey Colossus) Gringo Records website)
Across the River of Time by Father Sky Mother Earth (Self-Released)
I’m not sure if the following makes sense, but this is superior drone. Its something that really will grab you and, while it requires an investment of time and attention from the listener, it will repay that many times over. So if you’re put off by words like ‘drone’ and ‘doom’, don’t be, alternatively if those things are your thing this is going to be one of your key albums of the year. Just try to stop listening to it. (Original review)
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