If you have seen my end of year list before then you will know the whole thing was done in an FA Cup kind of way, with my three chickens choosing who played who and leaving me to make the often impossible decision of which album I preferred. This of course often led to me slowly loosing the plot, to the point where I started to wonder were the chicken’s doing it on purpose? a bid to remove me from power so that they could move into the big house. This year no chickens were involved in the decision making because the local fox (no not the bar maid at the Psychedelic Arms, grow up) decided that chicken was on the menu. So I’ve sat alone with parchment and quill, stroked my beard thoughtfully and gazed into the distance in a bard like fashion. So this list is all my fault and I take full responsibility for it. I own 90% of these albums the other 10% I played on various platforms and they no doubt would have different placings if I actually owned them because nothing beats a beer, sitting in my favourite chair and that vinyl experience. There is probably another 30 odd release that didn’t make the list. Some of these were E.P.s most notably by Thee Telepaths and Cegvera- Creations. Lastly I would just like to thank the bloggers in particularly Psych Insight, Dayz of Purple and Orange and Soundsberg for bringing stuff to my attention. The promoters who put on the all the gigs (especially The Other Window who brought so many bands to my doorstep). The labels of which there are so many, but I must single out Cardinal Fuzz, Riot Season, Drone Rock Records, God Unknown, Rocket Recordings, Sky Lantern, Beyond, Beyond is Beyond, Weird Beard. Of course non of the above would exist without the bands who make the music. If you stumble on this list and your band or favourite band isn’t on it don’t worry keep on keeping on, I’ve probably not heard it and this list will be in a different order next week, rendering this whole exercise pointless and remember Neil Young’s Hitchhiker didn’t make the list, mind you he gets his own list, with only him on it.
1. Mèsange- Heliotrpe (God Unknown)
It has been a busy year for Luke Mawdsley, a solo cassette only album, a second album with Caviller Song touring with Mugstar and this dubious honour. Mésange is his collaboration with violinist Agathe Max who is part of the duo (along with Gareth Turner Anthroprophh and Big Naturals) that recorded last years winner, Kuro. This album has has to be one of the the most chilled out albums of the year, the clever bit though is the depth of the album there is something unsettling lurking beneath these serene soundscapes. I also had the pleasure of seeing them play live and it really was something special.
2.Dead Sea Apes-Sixth Side Of The Pentagon (Cardinal Fuzz)
I said all along this was a contender for my album of the year and it was a very close call. I gave it a glowing review earlier on in the year and it has lost non of it’s impact. Their creeping, twisted space dub is a constant joy and with a double album due in a couple of weeks (keep your eyes peeled on the Cardinal Fuzz shop), it looks like its going to be another great year for the band.
3. The Cosmic Dead – Psych Is Dead (Riot Season)
If you want actual proof that psych is not dead then listen to, no buy (you will thank me) this album, even handling this album is libel to induce the condition known as ‘Fuck Me This Is Good!’ The also win gig of the year, their tinnitus inducing set at The Musician in Leicester will stay with me forever.
4.Cobra Family Picnic-Magnetic Anomaly (Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern)
I said this earlier in the year ‘Cobra Family Picnic’ are one of those bands that seem to come along fully formed and their chops finely honed. Maybe it has been this bout of fine weather and the anticipation of those long hot days, either way as I spend more and more time in my garden this will surely become my soundtrack to my summer.” and I was right.
5.Myrorrs-Hasta La Victoria (Beyond,Beyond Is Beyond)
One of the most consistent bands of the last few years have made an album of hypnotic excellence. The band a few UK dates coming up, I suggest you try to get along.
6. TBWNIAS- Elevator (Cardinal Fuzz)
Kicking like a mule with tooth ache, Canada’s finest are on top form from the outset (aren’t they always!). The band, Cardinal Fuzz and Chris Hardman have formed an (un)holy trinity, bringing 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.
7. Pigsx7 – Feed The Rats (Rocket Recordings)
Porky perfection, I wrote earlier this year ‘Absolute total fucking chaos, this is the sound of a band being thrown down some stairs, concrete stairs, concrete spiral stairs, long concrete spiral stairs…..slowly. ”
8. Earthling Society – Zen Bastard (Drone Rock Records)
Cooking Disasters courtesy of a great album “This is NOT a cooking album! I mean the album is cooking, but it is not to be played whilst cooking. I made a lovely pie using some turkey left over from Christmas, some turkey stock a few manky looking veg and half a jar of cranberry sauce. Stick it in the oven and waited forty minutes. Enough time to play side one of the new Earthling Society album, and zone out, check pie, realise oven is not turned on, turn oven on play side two, zone out, check pie, oh that’s looking good, play side one again, zone out, shit! The pie!”
9. John McBain-Accidental Soundtracks Vol 1 (God Uknown)
John McBain’s resume is faultless and yet for some (God) unknown reason I still approached this with some trepidation. I’ve played this to pretty much anyone who will listen and each time I’ve got that approving nod. An incredible album by an incredible talent.
10. The Janitors- Horn Ur Marken (Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern/Riot Season)
This eagerly anticipated album didn’t disappoint. Seven glorious slices of fuzzed up drone from the Swedish underground.
11. Plastic Crimewave Syndicate- Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom (cardinal Fuzz)
Released at the tail end of the year I wrote “This my good reader is psychedelic punk, it’s the unruly kid that sits at the back of the psych class, throwing bits of paper at all the nicely dress goody, goody psych kids, its a big bad brown acid munching motherfucker of an album that will jump out of your speakers and knock you on your ass.”.
12. Colossloth – Heathen Needles (Cold Spring)
A dark masterpiece, which I really enjoyed and gets repeated plays “Colossloth’s manipulation of static and white noise to create these strange yet compelling soundscapes is what sets him apart from his peers. The album has the sound of an untold dystopian force fighting it out with ancient and mythical guardians of nature”.
13. Gnoomes- Tschak! (Rocket Recordings)
Second album from these purveyors of kraut/Psych got the thumbs up “album closer B-Day, here all of the bands ideas come together in six breathtaking minutes of pop, psychedelia and experimentation.”.
14. Blown Out- Superior Venus (Riot Season)
I said “they have a knack of making fuckin’ epic albums” and I was right they do!
15. Mt Mountain- Dust (Cardinal Fuzz)
Four tracks that had me thinking of bands such as Earth, Swans and even Boris when they’re in a mellow mood. An absolutely captivating listen.
16. Cavalier Song- A Deeper Well (God Unknown)
Certainly a band not happy with being pigeon holed, the album, the sound and the delivery seems to have matured so much from last years debut.
17. Tbwnias – Cosmic Curios (Weird Beard)
The band that just keeps on giving. This collection of previously unreleased or hard to find tracks is proof that some bands just have it whatever it is. I mean this is just a bunch of improvised tracks, that have sat gathering dust waiting for the right moment, well here they are and thank Merlin’s beard they’ve seen the light of day.
18. Gnod – JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE (Rocket Recordings)
As country we are divided, as planet we are confused. At times it feels like we are in some kind fucked episode of Black Mirror from which we can’t escape. Thankfully Salford noise terrorist Gnod have provided us with a soundtrack.
19. White Manna- Bleeding Eyes (Cardinal Fuzz)
When I found out White Manna were playing Leicester, I dug out their previous album ‘Pan’ and played it to death so much so that when this album arrived it got played and the strangely put on hold. It was my youngest daughter that chose to play it recently at which point my jaw hit the floor.
20. Hibushibire- Freak Out Orgasm!(Riot Season)
You can’t buy everything can you! Sometimes you just find yourself walking around muttering into your beard cursing cash flow and a shitty job that doesn’t pay. If Mr Riot Season decides to another pressing then I will not make the same mistake. An album that will appeal who their psych a little more, shall we say ‘full on’.
21. Kungens Män – Dag & Natt ( Adansonia Records! )
Just when you thought the Swedish music scene couldn’t possibly spew another flashback inducing band this lot come along and deliver some kind of Kosmische, freeform, drone, jazz thing. That may sound odd but it really is very good.
22. Lamagaia -S/T (Cardinal Fuzz)
I said “It is an absolute pleasure to hear albums like this and then go off and write about them. I couldn’t give a monkeys if anyone reads them, the fact that they do and take time to work their way through my typos and my lax attitude towards grammar fills me with pride. As long as albums are being released that are this good, I’m going to take time out to write about them.” If you want read more it’s here.
23. Slomo- Transits
“It has been five long years since Slomo last decided to spew out their unsettling brand of doom laden experimental noise. In those five years this new album has been created, no birthed, no this albums sounds like Holy McGrail and Howard Marsden have stolen the TARDIS headed back to the dawn of time and recorded the sound of the primordial ooze and played it back through the kind of contraption that was marked ‘Warning electronic brain fucking machine’. This is the fourth Slomo and although I would like to say it picks up from where their last album (The Grain) left off, I’m not entirely sure that it does. You see the thing is as their name suggest, Slomo move slowly, but they do move, like the sinking rays of sunlight that seem hover in the sky forever and then suddenly plunges us into darkness.” Full review here.
24. Myrrors/ Centralstödet (Cardinal Fuzz)
“The Myrrors are just stupidly cool, they look and sound like a band that are going to be huge (do bands still get huge?) and seem to get better with every release Enhanced Earth was one of the standout albums of last year. As for Centralstodet they from Sweden which means you have already reached for your wallet because everything that comes out of Sweden these days seems to be incredible and this lot are no exception. I always approach split releases with a bit of caution in case the two artist clash, but there is nothing to fear here because not only do these bands compliment each other but they are both on top of their game in a big way.” full review here.
25. Here Lies Man – S/T
There is something quite brilliant about this album with its Sabbath meets Afrobeat groove. It really should higher on the list, but I don’t own it and therefore its not been played as much. I really should right this wrong.
26. Julies Haircut- Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin(Rocket Recordings)
“There are sharp turns in this album, that at first listen can lead to puzzlement, but that is also it’s strength because the more you come back to it, the puzzle comes together and you start to get the bigger picture and it’s only then do you get how clever and brilliant this album really is.” I wrote this earlier last year.
27. Electric Moon – Stardust Rituals (Sulatron)
Another album that makes the list through streaming only. Electric Moon have been consistently brilliant from the start and this album is no different.
28. Hotel Wrecking City Traders-Passage To Agartha (Cardinal Fuzz)
“What HWCT have achieved here in my opinion is nothing short of remarkable, they have managed to do is not only touch bases with so many other genres but glance back in their rear view mirror and keep driving their sound forward. Here is an album of length, depth and variety that deserves your attention. So grab yourself a copy from here , here or anywhere you can, whilst you can.” A killer double album!
29. TBWNIAS/ Crab Boat – Quality Roll (Cardinal Fuzz)
Although this album maybe a tribute to the loss of a friend, what actually feels like is a celebration of life. TBWNIAS give two tracks first at the request of their friend is an interpretation of The Creator Has A Master Plan by Pharoah Sanders it showcases all of the traits that we have come to expect and love by the band. A strong steady beat with fills used as a weapon rather than part of the beat a rolling bass that emphasises the groove and allows the band to explore. They follow it with Hepsibah (a name for girls is of Hebrew derivation, and the name Hepsibah means “my delight is in her”) a track with such a beautiful that the music just had a lot live up and it does. Crab Boat give us the thirty five minute track MRI, I say track but this is more of a journey. Its the kind of multi layered psych trip that offers unexpected twists and turns, with the fine art of little is more being used to its full potential.
30. Vert:x- From Now To Now-(Weird Beard Records)
This album has been a long time coming, over the years tracks have cropped up on cdr’s and various compilations. So it’s great to see a bunch of heads (and beards) finally get together and get this album out on vinyl. So we have two firsts here, the first full on proper album by Vert:x and the first release on Weird Beard, and what a fantastic way to start for both of them. You can buy the physical album here but, where your physical self ends up, who can tell.
31.MUGSTAR!!! I’VE ONLY JUST GOT TO HEARING IT!!! SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!!!!