Psych Lovers is a Facebook that is pretty much what you would expect it to be, a group for those who love their music a certain way, as you can see for this list of eleven amazing albums (there was a tie at number 10). What I like about it is that there are musicians, label owners, artists, record shop owners, online sellers and even bloggers on there. We discuss music in a respectful way and no one ever calls out anyone else on their taste. Most of all it’s very expensive as you get to hear about all the ace releases, re-issues and forgotten albums that now cost a fortune to buy.
Anyway these are the albums that were loved the most by this group of psych fans this year (there’s also a separate Top Ten of ‘miscellaneous albums’ that didn’t qualify for this list, click here for that).
Believe us, the irony of title of the winning album is not lost on us. Discuss…
1. The Cosmic Dead – Psych Is Dead (Riot Season Records)
I can credit the Cosmic Dead as being one of the first bands that exposed me to modern psychedelic music a few short years ago. I found it somewhat disconcerting then when they declared that ‘Psych Is Dead’ with this, their seventh proper album in as many years. Were we about to see a monumental change in musical direction from Glasgow’s finest? No such fear! From the feedback laden first bars of side long motorik opener, Nuraghe, into the fuzz drenched grooves of the title track and culminating in the unrelenting freak out of #FW, this record epitomises everything that contemporary psych should be. If Psych Is (The Cosmic) Dead then long live psych. A more than worthy winner of our album of the year. And James, if you’re reading this, I haven’t forgotten about that bottle of Buckfast either!
Written by Dai Croll
2. The Myrrors – Hasta La Victoria (Beyond, Beyond is Beyond)
One of Che Guevara’s well-known sayings was “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” (“Until victory, always”), and on ‘Hasta La Victoria’, The Myrrors have developed their own, altered definition of “victory.” Repetitiveness and minimalism being the key factor here, it almost feels and sounds like a soundtrack from a long-lost Central American western, with the narrative described in a mostly instrumental manner. Tracks such as “Organ Mantra”, “Somos La Resistencia” and the title track increases in tension, yet they’re very complex in its instrumentation. In the middle of this are two rather ambient tracks “Tea House Music” and “El Aleph”, both of which have an airy atmosphere to them that almost provides a sense of relief. On these five tracks, that feels like one continuous piece of music, not a moment of the album’s thirty-seven minutes ever feels short of natural, or even rushed, truly captures the spirit of the deserted landscapes of the American Southwest and its mystic beauty.
Written by Greg Barratt
3. Lamagaia – S/T (Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender)
Remember those rockets you drew as a kid – pointy nose, blasters pushing you into space, your 7 year old face grinning out the window? – Aurora, the first track of Lamagaia’s S/T is those blasters.
Pedal driven guitars weave around the pulsing drums with the vocals appearing briefly then returning later to help fire the rocket deeper into space.
The second and final track, Paronama Vju starts slowly with the guitar riffs building, and then working with the sax that appears almost ethereal in places. If Aurora was blast off, Panaroma Vju keeps you in orbit then gently brings you back to earth completing the circle.
This album (likes so many Cardinal Fuzz releases!) has rarely been filed away in its proper home – more often it’s in the ‘going to be played this evening’ pile – still exhilarating nearly a year since release.
Written by Denise Arkley
4. Earthling Society – Zen Bastard (Drone Rock Records)
As soon as this beautiful blue slab of vinyl drops onto your deck you know you’re in for a treat. From the mysterious easterly breeze of feedback to the main mothership of a guitar that forges through the title track to the dub and echospace of Outsideofintime to the tripped-outer-spacedness of the truly epic Kosmik Suite this album cements Earthling Society’s reputation as the UK’s finest psych outfit. They have now released a series of records as fine as any band you could name.
Finally a word for ‘Drone Rock Records’ who are putting out an incredible and ever-growing selection of psychedelic wonderment. This release places this label at the forefront of the many great independent psych imprints that are currently blasting our collective lugholes.
Each record Earthling Society release seems to break the mould and put it back together in a more satisfying order. I’m excited at the prospect of what is to come.
Written by Stephen Bradbury
5. Blown Out – Superior Venus (Riot Season Records)
Strap yourself in as you’re in for one hell of a ride.
From the opening of Impious Oppressor you’re firmly forced back in your seat for the ride of your life to an undiscovered galaxy. This track just builds and builds till you reach the end of your cosmic trip.
After this Superior Venus has a slightly groovier start to it. I personally, can’t help but nod my head along at a steady pace from start to finish.
For me, Blown Out take you out of this world and on towards the next crushing anything in their path.
All in all, another top quality release from Riot Season Records.
Written by Chris Lane
6. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Cosmic Curios (The Weird Beard)
The second amazing release from the fledgling Weird Beard label is a total showstopper from TBWNIAS. This bunch of Canadian heads has put out a whole bunch of stuff over the last year or so and each release seems to top what came before. Cosmic Curios is no exception.
Right from the opening bars of N.S.T. you know you’re in for a ride on a rocking rollercoaster – man this flies out of the blocks. Eastern Teutonic Curfew glides in on a magic carpet with violins and other exotic instrumentation, and Sastrugi brings you back to earthy riffing before lifting back to the outer spatial regions. Side two kicks off with the live-in-your-living-room vibe of ‘Home Invasion’, and then concluding with the epic’ Just Funkin’ You over the Stars’.
Total vibing spacerock and a fantastic cover too – it is indeed curiously cosmic.
Written by Stephen Bradbury
7. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Elevator (Cardinal Fuzz)
Kicking like a mule with tooth ache Canada’s finest are on top form from the outset (aren’t they always!). This album really showcases why there is so much love for the band, especially here in the UK where their albums are usually sold out within days of release. The most played track over the last twelve months has been Bridge Of Regret, its an epic distillery of all their best elements. I personally feel that in years to come this album will straddle their back catalogue like Ted Hughes’s Iron Man. The band, Cardinal Fuzz and Chris Hardman have formed an (un)holy trinity, bring out the best in all three something that can only be achieved with mutual respect and this makes the final product cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Written by Iain Wilshire
8. Dead Sea Apes – Sixth Side If The Pentagon (Cardinal Fuzz)
Sixth side of the Pentagon is Dead Sea Apes fifth album and contains 11 tracks, the band here of Brett Savage – Guitar, Nick Harris – Bass and Chris Hardman – Drums, are joined by Adam Stone – spoken word/vocals. The opening track, ‘The map is not the territory’ sets the tone very nicely for the whole album with its dub feel starting off slow and building up. Running through the album are four numbered tracks ‘Sixth Side 1’ through to ‘Sixth side IV’, these are short interlude tracks ranging from 20 seconds to 55 seconds long and are by no means filler. The afore mentioned Adam Stone features on vocals or spoken word on two tracks ‘Pale Anxieties’ and ‘Tentacles (The Machine Rolls On)’ here the apocalyptic dystopian theme is carried on with a spaced out echo on the spoken poetry vocals which perfectly compliment the music. Track 11 ‘Rectifier’ with its bass led dub and swirling synth is a perfect way to end a perfect album.
Written by Laurence Blackwell
9. Kungens Män – Dag & Natt (Adansonia Records)
Kungens Män have been on a steady upward trajectory for some years now. With their new album ‘Dag & Natt’ on Adansonia Records they may have reached the summit. For starters, this is the most impressive packaged album I’ve seen for a long time.
Dag & Natt meaning ‘Day & Night’ is a concept album with the first LP ‘Dag’, dedicated to the lush soundscapes of daytime. I’m not normally a big fan of the saxophone but on the opening track, ‘Morgonrodnad’, it creates the mood perfectly to start the Day or album off. The album continues for another four tracks building the atmosphere until the close of day.
On the second Lp ‘Natt’, like the first, it continues with the dusk like tones of the sax to create a mood of calm as daylight comes to an end.
The only question now is, does the band like it on the summit or do they continue off the stratosphere and into orbit? Only time will tell!!
Written by Ian Mc Glynn
=10. Electric Moon – Stardust Rituals (Sulatron Records)
With Stardust Rituals Germany’s Electric Moon must have created their best ever release so far. The trio of Sula Bassana (guitars, e-sitar, mellotron, organ, e-piano, effects), Komet Lulu (bass, bass synth, vocals, space echo, effects & Marcus (drums) give us all you might expect from an Electric Moon album and more. It seems like a bit more planned/written album than before, although there’s still room for the heavy and mind-blowing space jams as well. I also like the fact that Lulu is singing on most of the tracks. I must also add that the cover art on both the vinyl and CD editions is phenomenal and suits perfectly the mystical, majestetic mood of the amazing music.
Written by Mika Laasko
=10. Here Lies Man S/T (Riding Easy Records)
Can’t figure out the cover photo, mirror or milk? – It’s just beautiful. The transparent green vinyl looks like Wonka sweets, and I’m in love with the Riding Easy logo.
Turntable primed. Go, another floaty spacey record. I like them. No…. it’s a 70’s cop show theme. I slide across the bonnet of my Volkswagen Touran in time with the fuzzy guitar hook. What’s that weird synthesiser? Sounds like its being broadcast from Pluto in 1,000 years’ time! Hear the lazy vocal delivery, deliciously simple in contrast to the deep grooves of the conga drums. I’m naked at the best party ever, dancing, loving it.
The world could end for all I care fall down around my ears and I’d be blissfully unaware – transfixed/transported, hypnotised/seduced, turgid with excitement yet flaccid in total surrender to the afrobeat, grubby LA filth rock of Here Lies Man. That’s just track one…
Written by Tony Reynolds