2nd Half Year Review 2017 (25 Essential Albums)

I’m not doing an end of year list as such this year. I did a review of the year so far back in July in which I shared twenty of the albums that had really spoken to me in the first half of 2017 (see the bottom of this post for this list, or click here to go to that page). So now here are twenty five more from this year to complete the set, some of these were released in the first half of 2017 but have taken a bit longer for me to appreciate. The fact that I can point to forty five releases this year speaks of the quality of music that is being produced these days, and there were many more that I could have included, but that would just have made the list too long.

Dag & Natt by Kungens Män (Adansonia Records)

Completing the cycle is ‘Cirkeln är Slut’ which, at first listen, is one of those tracks that you are sure you have heard before. The riff is very familiar as are the guitar licks. This may be because there is such an easiness to the track as it glides effortlessly through your consciousness. Perhaps we’re at the point of dreamful sleep, if we are then that makes perfect sense here. Again there’s that wonderful sense of the band creating sonic sculptures that really marks this album out for me. (Original review)

A Deep Well by Cavalier Song (God Unknown Records)

‘Heathen’ immediately feels darker, more aggressive. Heavier and more abstract, this track imposes itself on you far more. You feel that it is actively going for you. It’s a cacophony of noise and confusion… sturm und drang… the edge of intelligibility. There is a deviance to this track, a breaking of taboo perhaps, that pulls you in like a black hole into something bleak and unknown… a real contrast with the numbers either side of it, but for very different reasons. (Original review)

Intro/ Outro by Moths and Locusts (Noiseagonymayhem/ Cardinal Fuzz)

Out of the collapse of ‘Acid Cloud Pt 2’ comes something altogether calmer. There is something almost bucolic and pastoral about the beginning of ‘Scream’ by contrast. Gone are the hard edges that have rained upon is so far to provide a gentle, yet quite sinister, slower track which feels like a real come down… and entreatment to become more thoughtful and considered. ‘Roadside’ to is less hectic and, again, feels like an interlude… almost a fragment of a song, which itself seems to be making a statement within the context of the album. (Original review)

From The Centre Of A Parallel Universe by Frozen Planet 1969 (Pepper Shaker Records/ Headspin Records)

What I like most about this album though are the little moments. You could listen to it on one level and get massive arcs of sound that pull you along, but listen another way and each track seems to be a series of improvised vignettes, chapters in an unfolding story if you like, all of which are important for the overall feel. As such this is already proving to be an album that needs to be heard again and again. (Original review)

Subversive III: De Splendede Mens by RMFTM (Fuzz Club Records)

There’s no easy way round it… from the alarming first few bars onwards this is not an easy double album to listen to. It requires time and patience to get into. When you do get inside it though it is clearly a substantial piece of work that is in many ways set outside of even the experimental. This is the subversive album of the trilogy, the one where RMFTM have really hit the psychological nail on the head again… and again …and again. This is not something to be taken lightly, but does seem to me to be a free expression of a collective who have managed to let go of something and set a new benchmark. (Original review)

Vibraciones Doradas by Causa Sui (El Paradiso)

Which brings us to the title track (‘Vibraciones Doradas’ is Spanish for ‘Gold Vibrations’), which has a kind of dramatic grandeur to it that, while maybe common with much stoner/ doom music, the band develops way beyond the genre. What I mean is that for many bands the sturm and drang is everything, but for Causa Sui it is the building blocks on which they build other musical patterns, again drawing in their varied experiences from across a wide musical spectrum that takes the track into uncharted territory… with the last five minutes or so taking us through a panoply of musical forms in a wholly coherent manner, yet never sounding any less that fresh and improvised. (Original review)

Brown Spirits by Brown Spirits (Clostridium Records)

I was pretty much sold on this album within the first minute of opening track ‘Lysergic Library’, which really sets you up for the rest of the record. Within that short time you’re getting jazz, drum ‘n’ bass, krautrock together with some sinister flourishes that are suggestive of the Italian influences to come. As the track expands out, though, it is the Hammond organ that really wins me over, it’s pretty much perfect here providing a smooth continuity as all else fragments around it, a stunning opener. (Original review)

Belatedly by ORE (Box Records)

This is a remarkable album of confusion, despair and loss, and album that takes the listener through the stages of grief/ change/ ritual in a manner that is both reflective and unsettling. If you listen to it closely you can get a real sense of being there with Underwood and his fellow musicians, and could well emerge with greater self-knowledge and perhaps even wisdom. That, in a sense, is very much up to you; Underwood’s part in this is to explore and reflect his own feelings and experiences in this work and provide the listener with the tools to undertake this journey themselves… however abstractly. That, for me, is the power of this album, an album of tuba doom drone… remarkable! (Original review)

Return of the Son of Gutbucket (Noiseagonymayhem/ Cardinal Fuzz)

This compilation has only gone to strengthen in my mind how much great and diverse psych music is being made in Canada. ‘Return of the Son of Gutbucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion’ proves that it is just that, an explosion of different bands operating in different cities, often very par apart, producing music that is different, rewarding and above all bloody brilliant. I love all the tracks on this album, but even if you don’t I can pretty much guarantee that if your are reading this blog there is something here that you will like. Go on, fill yer bucket! (Original review)

EOXXV by Electric Orange (Adansonia Records)

‘Residuum’ is a track that in many ways sounds utterly timeless. The minimalist bleakness seems symbolic of the emptiness of space, but could also reflect a profound inner emptiness… an emptiness that nevertheless contains beauty. I watched ‘Blade Runner 2049’ at my local IMAX yesterday and it struck me this morning how this would work as a soundtrack to those never ending bleak city- and landscapes. There’s despair and melancholia here but also, as the track progresses, a sense of stoic defiance. (Original review)

Stardust Rituals by Electric Moon (Sulatron Records)

The tracks themselves are refreshingly diverse, each having its own character and feel, with the final track ‘(You Will) Live Forever Now’ taking up the whole of the second side with one of those extended space rock epics that the band are famous for. If anything, though, its the shorter and more punchy tracks of side one that really set this album apart for me and provide me with a new way of appreciating their work. (Original review)

Lamagaia by Lamagaia (Cardinal Fuzz)

‘Aurora’ launches, and with the spacey guitar take off it really does launch, and banging into a massive heavy track that just keeps hacking away the debris in your brain for just under seventeen minutes. In short, it’s an absolute banger…but one that, as you would not  normally associate with such a term. It just keeps on going and going…past the usually proscribed three minutes…through the ten minute mark…without taking breath and heading on out into uncharted territory for such a stripped down track. This in not so much garage rock as space port repair shop…it rocks…and rocks…then rocks some more. (Original review)

Obsidion by Barrows (Tonzonen)

This is an album that keeps you guessing all the way through, but never lets you waver from it’s mission which, according to the band, is “about the experience of a man who is abducted from earth and brought to ​​​​’Obsidion’, a place where dimension is indefinable and the boundaries of human consciousness cease to exist”. Listen carefully any you’ll experience it! (Original review)

The Guillotine by Hey Colossus (Rocket Recordings)

This, then, is another album that has really hit the mark in 2017. With ‘The Guillotine’, Hey Colossus have hit a sweet spot of musical development and lyrical anger that raises this album above their previous already excellent offerings. This is an album that I am only just beginning to appreciate. It’s an album that I could listen to a hundred times and still see new ideas, hear new sounds, and feel new emotions. It’s yet another example of the way in which bands in the so-called psych scene are growing and developing, expanding the leftfield and challenging the status quo in several directions and dimensions. (Original Review)

Tribute to Lemmy by Sonic Shaman (Sapphire Records)

The Sonic Shamen gathered together at the Foel Studios in Wales in November 2016 for some jam sessions. What you hear is what we created with no overdubs, just played from the heart and soul. Warts and all. The music was very inspired by English psychedelic rock bands like Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, and others… (Sonic Shamen Bandcamp page)

Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom by Plastic Crimewave Syndicate (Cardinal Fuzz)

This is another record that is just drenched with influences from the sixties to the present day, there’s the proto-punk garage of The Stooges, notably in opener ‘Ghost of Dread Reaction’; a darker krautrock vibe in ‘Future to the Ancients’ that breaks out into some unholy jammed-up sonic fuckathon which threatens to get totally out of control but just, JUST, keeps it together. (Original review)

Kompost by Flowers Must Die (Rocket Recordings)

This, then, is an eclectic album that sees the band transitioning and developing into something different and, actually, far more interesting. It is an album that says to me, ‘yeah we are a psych band, and this is a psych album…but psych can mean many different things…here they are!” The Cosmic Dead recently declared that ‘Psych is Dead‘, for me this ‘Kompost’ album says that psych is alive…but it’s moving on…it is expanding its limits in new and interesting ways. Not a decaying mush but a vibrant genre which Flowers Must Die are feeding in a new way… (Original review)

From Nothing To Eternity by CB3 (Eggs in Aspic/ Lazy Octopus)

it’s not long before the band are really, well, burnin’, as the track explodes into action with a great mixture of a slow and heavy stoner feel combined with more detailed sounds that could have been originated in Germany in the early 1970s. This gives the track a feel of both the familiar and the strange… in a way that you get the feeling that further listens will glean even more. As the track progresses, it’s over twelve minutes long, it hits a cool psychedelic trippiness that the band hold nicely until the end after which you feel well and truly in the groove. (Original review)

Are You Waiting? by Frank Sabbath (Bermuda Cruise)

This is an ace album for many reasons, but I thing I like about it most is that there is so much going on in each and every track, which in themselves are so different to each other. The breadth of musical styles on display here is quite stunning as the band push themselves through their paces in a way that seems so free and natural. ‘Are You Waiting?’ is a total breath of fresh air for me and at the moment I can’t breathe in enough of it. (Original review)

What Big Eyes by Lower Slaughter (Box Records)

What they are not is one, or even two, dimensional. If anything they’re 4D as they reach into your brain and fry it with massive riffs, deep bass lines, hammering drums and feral ur-vocals which collectively form an indomitable sonic topology of cruelty and injustice. This is a massive album with a massive statement, one that deserves to be heard. (Original review)

Magnetic Anomaly by Cobra Family Picnic (Sky Lantern/ Cardinal Fuzz)

Sometimes you want to put on an album and be pulled in lots of different directions. This album does that, often within the same number. There are many styles being played here, but always in a way that works, there’s no jarring or dissonance as such. What there is is a progression of sorts through different emotions and settings which, when put all together, give you an immense feeling of satisfaction by the end of the it all. I’m sure, no I’m certain, that this is an album that’ll get pulled off the shelf with motorik regularity. (Original review)

Two Treatise on Gnostic Thought by Anunnaki (Noiseagonymayhem)

…‘The Valentinan Speculation’, has a more earthy feel to it in places and takes the listener on a diverse and often troubling journey into the inner psyche; and with a massive full-on guitar assault at the end. Both tracks are redolent with spiritual and ritualistic meaning taking the listener on a journey of discovery in a novel and interesting way. (Original review)

Dust by Mt Mountain (Cardinal Fuzz)

With ‘Dust’ we have a set of tracks that, while veiled and eerie, nevertheless beguile and enfold the listener. This is an album of supreme gentleness that is not easy listening but is easy to listen to. And when you do listen to it closely you really feel a presence that is almost indescribable. It’s hard to say what Mt. Mountain were channeling when they were recording this album, but they were properly in the zone. Tune in and zone out! (Original review)

Modern Cosmology by Jane Weaver (Fire Records)

in the run up to the festival I had a few listens to her ‘Modern Kosmology’ album. After seeing her perform a set mainly based on that album I went out and bought the thing today. It was one of those occasions, and not for the last time this weekend, that seeing someone live really helped me to understand their music. Suited to the biggest Furnace stage the set was slick and punchy, Weaver being well served by a superb backing band. But it was the quality of the songs that really marked it out, with that motorik beat never far away Weaver’s confident performance was excellent; topped of with just a hint of vulnerability breaking through on occasion. (original report on the Liverpool Psych Fest)

Fuzz Club Sessions by 10000 Russos (Fuzz Club Records)

These recordings do just what a session should do, and that is partly due to the great care and attention that has been put into the recording and mixing of these tracks. They show the band playing in a live and visceral way, without being quite as ‘out there’ as they are when they are live. As a result it is both a must for those who dig 10000 Russos, but would also act as a good introduction to the band for those new to these guys. (original review)

1st Half-Year Review 2017 (20 Essential Albums)

Zen Bastard by Earthling Society (Drone Rock Records)

Freak Out Orgasm by Hibushibire (Riot Season Records)

Hasta La Victoria by The Myrrors (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)

Hawkeyes/ Radiation Flowers split (Cardinal Fuzz)

Raw Rock Fury by Ecstatic Vision (Relapse Records)

Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin by Julie’s Haircut (Rocket Recordings)

The Black River by Elkhorn (Debacle Records)

In A Brown Study by Soft Power (Huuru Osasto Records)

Algol by Stupid Cosmonaut (Drone Rock Records)

Sixth Side of the Pentagon by Dead Sea Apes (Cardinal Fuzz)

Kick Out The Jams by Cosmic Fall (Clostridium Records)

Feral Ohms by Feral Ohms (Silver Current Records)

Psych is Dead by Cosmic Dead (Riot Season Records)

Concrete Desert by The Bug vs Earth (Ninja Tune)

Feed The Rats by Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (Rocket Recordings) 

Vibe Killer by Endless Boogie (No Quarter)

Land Between Rivers by Mythic Sunship (El Paraiso Records)

Remoria by Heroin in Tahiti (Soave)

Serious Business by Grey Hairs (Gringo Records)

Across the River of Time by Father Sky Mother Earth (Self-Released)



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