For the second year running the ‘Psych Lovers’ Facebook group has run two end of year polls to determine our collective favourite albums.
There are two polls because we never like to see any release miss out on recognition. So in addition to the regular ‘favourite new release’ (for the Psych Lovers Top Ten albums of 2017, click here.) there is also a poll for those albums that weren’t full new releases, these include: re-issues, split releases, compilations, live albums and EPs. This has once again resulted in a list of ten cracking records that might otherwise have been forgotten, described here by members of the Psych Lovers group. Fill yer Gutbuckets!
1. Various Artists – The Return of Son of Gutbucket (Cardinal Fuzz/Noiseagonymayhem Records)
‘O Canada…… With glowing hearts we see thee rise’
The Return of Son of Gutbucket is an excellent compilation album, showcasing Canadian Psych bands, demonstrating the diversity of the genre, and providing a taste of the various flavours of current psych music.
Annunaki’s opener is a heavy, scuzzy beast, stomping in like it’s late to the party, smashing the place up, and then leaving too soon. The listening pleasure continues, through ‘Backhomes’ bright harmonica laden psych pop, to the pounding rhythm of Moths & Locusts complete with chanting vocal, up to side one closer, the atmospheric riff age of Shooting Guns.
Hawkeyes open side two with shimmering guitars and a rhythm evoking spaghetti western soundtrack’s before Psychic Pollution go all 80’s Spacey synth. Radiation Flowers provide a haunting, melancholic track and TBWNIAS close the party with a monster jam that feels truncated (as is the unfortunate nature of compilations).
So much crammed into so little time, go on, treat your ears!
Written by Peter Baird
2. Kikagaku Moyo – Stone Garden (Gurugurubrain)
Kikagaku Moyo’s highly anticipated Stone Garden EP suffered a painfully drawn-out birth, and therefore needed to be extremely good to live up to the hype.
Well, predictably it managed it with style, mainly by being a delightfully distorted outburst of joy, manifesting in five substantial songs that variously howl, pick, jangle, groove and float along through the kraut, psych, acid folk and pop realms frequented by the band. However, it’s worth noting that there is an edginess and pace present on this record that sets it apart from the rest of their stuff, making it a welcome addition to their back catalogue.
And if the fuzzed-out excitement of the music wasn’t enough, the bombproof gatefold sleeve with its arrestingly surreal imagery easily went the rest of the way to justify the long wait and relatively high price of this EP for me.
Written by Sean Gibbons
3. Hills – Alive At Roadburn (Rocket Records)
The very fact that this is Hills 3rd Live album out of 6 released says a lot about how good this band is live.
Released on Rocket Records, this live album showcases the band at their brilliant best at the Roadburn festival, Tilburg, 2016. It consists of 4 songs, two from Frid (National Drone & Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd), one from Master Sleeps (Master Sleeps) and one other track that is not on any studio album but is on all 3 live LPs (Frigörande Musik).
The band are in such a groove throughout that they apologise to the audience at the end that they don’t have enoigh time to play the fifth track they had intended playing. Definitely one of my to see bands in the future, for the time being listening to this with my eyes closed and imagining that I’m there is a very good second best.
Written by Ian Mc Glynn
4. Mt Mountain – Omed (Cardinal Fuzz)
Omed is a beautiful EP, well Crafted and completely different to my album of the year DUST.
Omed is an album that is sonically well crafted and each track reminds we of a widescreen movie with well crafted landscapes.
The album consists of 4 songs.
At Deaths Door – Beautiful instrumentation and the vocals are soft and powerful leaving you with a feeling of unease.
Divides – Bass and drums setting the scene. Beautiful vocals and a guitar solo to die for.
I don’t mind – Sparse with Vocals and guitars fighting against one another coming together to form a chorus you can’t help singing along to.
White Horses – An Epic track to close the album filled with emotion and great musicianship.
A great EP from a band that delivers every time.
Written by Krishan Singh
5. The Myrrors/ Centralstödet – Ljudkamrater (Cardinal Fuzz)
So here we go my first ever review of anything other than somewhere on tripadvisor, and this Myrrors / Centralstödet split release from Cardinal Fuzz definitely takes me on a trip and gets a full 5 stars. For me, starting with a firm favourite in my ears The Myrrors 2nd track night flower codex as you listen to the ebb and flow of the music which takes you on an inner self journey from relaxation to enlightenment is a 12 min journey that is well worth taking, flipping over to the feedback fuelled ride that is Centralstöde, wakes me from my Myrrors coma and takes me to a higher place, a place I don’t want to leave in case I miss the journey home. This is definitely a release with a split personality. Just make sure you pack a bag for your trip Big Al
Written by Al Wyatt
6. Hawkeyes/Radiation Flowers – Split (Cardinal Fuzz/Sunmask)
This is one of my personal favourites this year. Side A consists of two tracks by the amazing Hawkeyes.
Kicks off with Atom motherfuckers never learn. The main guitar riff is uplifting and the song builds slowly until the groove takes over. It’s an absolute belter.
Next up ‘Creator/ Destroyer’ leads off with a beautiful guitar riff that is hypnotic. The song allows you to drift away and focus the mind on the cycle of life and death. It is epic from start to finish.
Side B has three tracks by the amazing Radiation Flowers.
33 floors up is a catchy number that makes you feel like singing even though there aren’t any words.
Next up is ‘Never Fade’ the first track with Vocals. The vocals are mesmerizing, relaxing and allows you to catch your breath after the onslaught of the other tracks.
Finally, to close this beautiful record, ‘Always in the Ground’, an uplifting track that has a spiritual feel to it.
As the album ends it leaves you breathless and all you can do is play it again. Outstanding!
Written by Krishan Singh
7. Tbwnias/ Crab Boat – Quality Rolls (Cardinal Fuzz)
Although this album maybe a tribute to the loss of a friend, it 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. It’s 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
Written Iain Wilshire
8. Carlton Melton -Hidden Lights (Agitated Records)
I suspect that for many the name Carlton Melton is synonymous with fuzzed out mellow vibes, so it’s perhaps no surpise that this year’s release from them, a maxi-EP/mini-LP called Hidden Lights, welcomes the listener with a gently expanding synth-embellished drone, into which is gently introduced shimmering cymbals and guitar, which further help grow the song until it is all-but unrecognisable from its humble origins.
And with mind and body thus suitably prepared, the first track on side two starts off on a higher plane, blissfully cruising there until it fades and hands over to the final track, the eponymous Hidden Lights, a Carlton Melton barnstormer that sees Andy and Clint’s powerful rhythm section hefting Rich’s sublime soloing aloft to close it out nicely.
Written by Sean Gibbons
9. Hills – S/T (bonus lp) (Cardinal Fuzz)
Out of silence the deranged old clock strikes thirteen, whilst a multitude of insects consume the listener ….
No, not a scene from a Stephen King horror flick but the intro to track one, side one of Swedish trio, HILLS, debut “Hills” released originally many moons past in 2009.
2017 sees this album, at last get a timely reissue and repackage from Psych label CARDINAL FUZZ, unleashing this monster with bonus, unreleased material in a, no expenses spared, Silver Leaf, Double package. Both highly superior visually and sonically.
HILLS make rough edged, contemporary Psych’, sounding like they have been forcibly removed from 60″s Acid drenched California.
With crafted Pop Sensibility, HILLS are far from a commercial commodity. Doused in KRAUT ROCK, there is more than a nod towards the direction if AMON DUUL, CAN etc, and even KRAFTWERK, especially in my favourite, the flutitious “ISTKLAL STREET” which I believe is named after the Iconic Street in Istanbul, Turkey.
So Classical Psych’, So Retro, So Then and so very Now, it’s all so very good from where I’m sitting…
Written by Brian Denis
10. Cegvera -Creation EP (Dirty Filthy Records)
For their debit release, South West based Dirty Filthy Records bring us this squalid slab of primeval noise. Cegvera describe themselves as ‘the soundtrack to our lovely, dystopian society’s and I can’t think of anything more apt than that. For all its ferocity though, there are moments of true beauty, tempered with samples that provide a bleak social / political commentary totally at counterpoint with Gerado Arias’ sublime guitar work. Whoever said that music like this can’t be intelligent obviously hasn’t heard of Cegvera. Personally, I haven’t heard enough of this band and I’m eagerly awaiting a full length LP with hopefully a lot more of the same. Thought provoking, brutal, dirty, filthy. You need this record in your life.
Written by Dai Croll
For the Psych Lovers Top Ten albums of 2017, click here.