As every year is filled with great music 2017 was no exception. It is great to find that fuzz is still thriving in today’s music industry, with so many great bands putting out material each year. My year was mostly filled with a lot of psych, garage-rock, blues-rock, and doom, who all have a nice representation of releases in this top 15. It’s always great fun to write this thing because you go through the phase where you think “fuck this was such an awesome record” at least 15 times in a row. I hope any readers can share the same experience, or find some stuff they didn’t know yet. Dig in.
Top 15 Albums of 2017
15: Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard
The wizarrrrrrd, is back! Wizard Bloody Wizard is, as the name might suggest, highly influenced by early Sabbath. You might say Black Sabbath has always been a huge inspiration for Electric Wizard, but in their latest release, it is very obvious they upped the tempo a bit and put some more tension on those guitar strings. This gives the album a sound that comes closer to vintage Sabbath riffage than plucking a steel cable in drop B with maximum gain. This might come as a disappointment to the devoted doom-head (and me a little bit) but that doesn’t make this a bad release. Let’s say there’s progression in the band after their recent releases, but it will never achieve that legendary occult status of their early stuff. Still a good listen!
14: Buffalode – Graze Anatomy
Heavy rock duo’s with just guitar and drums have been on the rise the last few years. With famous examples like Royal Blood, it has long been proved that you don’t need more than just 2 people to make a hell lot of noise! The guys of Buffalode are well aware of this and create shaking grounds with their riffs drenched in octafuzz. I can’t help but hear a strong influence in sound coming from fellow-countrymen Part Chimp, which you can read about later on. Listen and judge for yourself!
13: Ty Segall – Ty Segall
A year is not completed until our beloved garage-rock-nutcase Ty Segall puts out a record. While this second self-titled release went over without a lot of fuzz (pun intended), you won’t be disappointed by the fuzz-levels when your needle hits the black wax. An album that is an extension of the wave of fuzzy garage-rock Ty’s been cruisin’ on all his life. It combines everything you heard and wanted to hear from Segall in preceding years. The unambiguous, almost silly lyrical themes together with face-melting guitar work create an accessible and great release for both seasoned rock-enthusiasts as the occasional fan.
12: ORB – Naturality
O, R, B, or ORB, brings fuzzy, almost doom-like riffs together with a curious psychy sound that more bands from Australia seem to be very comfortable with. Naturality reminds of Black Sabbath, King Gizzard and even early Pink Floyd. It’s fuzzy, a tad weird and psychedelic, so let’s call it a vintage groove combined with a modern fuzz. They’ve just completed a short European tour, which for some curious reason happened mostly in the Netherlands. Live they prove to be able to perform Naturality exactly as you want it to be performed, an energetic fuzzy set with lots of wah, space-echo and even a perfectly executed switch of guitar and bass halfway through. To sum up, great release, great band, and great gig!
11: Thee Oh Sees – Orc
This year Thee Oh Sees are back in a slightly trimmed version, releasing their 19th studio album as Oh Sees, yet ‘Orc’ is anything but a trimmed version of their previous material. Another great addition to this incredibly fruitful movement of psyched-out garage-rock, that modern psych giants like King Gizzard have happily adopted as their own. Orc starts off with the familiar Oh Sees madness of screeching guitars and vocals that make you slightly uncomfortable. As the album progresses, the songs mellow out into muddy, fuzzy grooves and crunchy riffs. With this release they definitely proved that after 20 years, Oh Sees is still capable of creating original and interesting music!
10: Mythic Sunship – Land Between Rivers
Another great band from legendary psych label, El Paraiso Records, the same that hosts bands as Causa Sui and Papir. Mythic Sunship is becoming a worthy member of this family with their third release, Land Between Rivers. A 35-minute long wall of sound fills just about 3 songs, an intense trip carried by raw, crunchy guitar tones, echoing leads and a strong and steady groove in the rhythm section. They carry you over the edge through wild and energetic jams, suddenly dropping you back into the flow with a great riff. Land Between Rivers is an album that has positioned Mythic Sunship right in the middle of the modern psych movement and cannot be ignored anymore!
9: Endless Boogie – Vibe Killer
Vibe Killer is filled with filthy blues-rock that usually ends up in a minute long jam. Professional hippie and record collector Paul Major takes you back to the glorious years of the 70’s with his deep and growling voice, telling stories about drug use and abuse, Cindy’s house and kite-concerts. Live these epic blues-jams can take even longer and if you’re lucky Paul spits out a few more stories you’ve never heard before while he endlessly boogies away through those catchy blues licks.
8: The Picturebooks – Home is a Heartache
Another amazing rock-duo that released new material this year, The Picturebooks. ‘Home Is A Heartache’ consists of 14 pure, heavy and incredibly catchy blues-rock killers. Fynn Grabke has everything you want from a true blues-rock frontman, open tunings, slide guitar, vintage hollow-bodies and a dirty bluesy overdrive, together with great vocals and catchy lyrics, he gives this record a killer blues-sound. Supported by a beast of a drummer (and that’s an understatement), Philipp Mirtschink, this duo is sure to get you moving both live as on record. In Amsterdam, they delivered an incredible set with a huge amount of energy and a great vibe. Definitely a must listen and see!
7: Mt. Mountain – Dust
Dust is definitely the most impressive psych release to be found in this list. This Australian band takes you on a psychic thrill-ride through the Australian outback with their droning sounds and scorching noise. The band explores a lot of different sounds throughout the album, using flutes, synths and percussion among other things, to create an album with a huge sonic range. Title track Dust is an epic 17 minutes long trip exploring every corner of their dynamic range, while other tracks like Kokoti deliver a melodic, trance inducing flight. Definitely a release that can compete, or even overshadow, other Australian psych-giants like King Gizzard and Tame Impala.
6: Colour Haze – In Her Garden
If personal all-time-favorite and legendary stoner-rock-band Colour Haze releases a new record, there is no way it doesn’t appear in this top. After a medium response on their release in 2014, In Her Garden is a 73-minute long masterpiece that’s slightly traditional, but has everything that Colour Haze is renowned for in a fresh new record-sleeve. Beautiful melodies and psychedelic chord progressions by Stefan Koglek give the band its distinctive sound, yet they still explored some interesting new sounds and transitions between songs using wind instruments, sitar, and synths. Live they provide a satisfying set list with CH classics next to the new material that appeared this year. Although new songs weren’t always as well performed, I can definitely say Colour Haze still got it!
5: Meatbodies – Alice
From the depths of the Califaronian garage rock breading grounds, Chad Ubovich is here with his brainchild Meatbodies. Being one of the three holy garage-rock-gods that created the band Fuzz together with Ty Segall and Charles Mootharts, we can surely say Chad knows what he’s doing. With their second release ‘Alice’, Meatbodies deliver us an almost inappropriate amount of fuzzy riffs and psychedelic textures. A must listen for fans of Fuzz, CFM and Segall.
4: Part Chimp – IV
Part Chimp’s back! Supposedly broken up since 2011, this 4-piece sludge noise band from London is back at it with IV, delivering rumbling riffs in a propulsive groove. If played at 50% of the speed, IV would be an incredibly heavy doom record to zone out to, but instead it amps you right up and gets your blood racing. Possible side effects include neck strains, tinnitus and the increased risk of mental disorders. This one is a fucking banger.
3: Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
If you haven’t heard of these guys yet then you should seriously start doubting you life decisions. To great pleasure of pretty much every hard-rock enthusiast on the planet, Elder came back after 2 years, to top off their 2015 release that added a new dimension to progressive metal, Lore. With Reflections of a Floating world they take their trip to the next level and together with their imperishable graphic designer, Adrian Dexter, create the most impressive combination of music and art this year. Ever-changing songs progress easily over 10 minutes from doom-like riffs into intense melodies and hypnotising psych. This band constantly delivers and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
2: Vinnum Sabbathi – Gravity Works
Competing with Elder on the heaviest release in this list, and so high-up for a reason! These instrumentalists from Mexico create sludgy space-doom in their epic debut ‘Gravity Works’. The concept is simple, yet original and well-performed. Guitar and bass lay down a thick atmosphere of doom while the drums easily poke through with the thriving force that keeps this spaceship flying. What really makes this band the pioneers of space-doom are the mesmerizing samples that add almost a kind of educational value to the music. With original samples from NASA, their music takes you back into the history of space travel while at the same time shaking you to the bone. No reasons not to dig this release!
1: All Them Witches – Sleeping Through the War
Top Gigs of 2017
I saw more bands live this year than releases included in this list. 2017 was a good year with new releases, but even a better year when it comes to gigs. Seems like the underground-rock scene finally seems to be reaching its full potential here in NL. With this list also the honorable mentions to these great bands that might have been touring this year instead of releasing new material, or even both!
All Them Witches @ Sugarfactory Amsterdam
Queens of the Stone Age @ Ziggo Dome Amsterdam
The Picturebooks @ Melkweg Amterdam
Ulrika Spacek @ Cinetol Amsterdam
DeWolff @ Tivoli Utrecht
ORB @ Paardcafe Den Haag
Endless Boogie @ Paradiso Amsterdam
Electric Wizard @ Patronaat Haarlem
Slo Burn @ Patronaat Haarlem
Thee Oh Sees @ Maasilo Rotterdam
Birth of Joy @ Tivoli Utrecht
The Grand East @ Tivoli Utrecht
Nachtschade @ Tivoli Utrecht
Colour Haze @ Doornroosje Nijmegen
Iguana Death Cult @ De Zwarte Ruiter Den Haag
True Widow @ Roadburn Tilburg
Tigercub @ Sugarfactory Amsterdam
Harsh Toke @ Roadburn Tilburg
Meatbodies @ Stroomhuis Eindhoven