Hey there fuzzers ! Here’s the top 20 of the records that got a special ring to my ears in 2019 !
2019 has been quite a year for us at More Fuzz, with the new Stone From The Sky record, Break A Leg, that’s been in the works in ’18 already, but also our surprise signing of the young and talented Djiin, on the release of their debut album, The Freak. We also launched More Fuzz Booking, for which I’ll work more this year, closely with Chloé, Djiin‘s singer and harpist, but also a hell of a booker, promoter and friend. It’s also been a crazy one for me, loooots of changes in my life, some really interesting encounters and as usual, loads of music, gigs, fests, and parties.
About my top, now, I must confess I spent most the year listening to non-fuzzy music, got a big soul, disco and funk throwback in the 70s, I guess you can understand 😉 But still, some really good records bipped on my radar, often supported by amazing live acts, so here’s what I think of them.
Remember to check my honorable mentions, there’s 30 wonderful records there, that could have made it to the top, if they had been released sooner or if they didn’t went under my radar until the last minute 😉
Top 20 Albums of 2019
20 : Ruff Majik – Tårn
Ruff Majik is probably one of the bands I’ve seen the most this year, probably because they moved in Europe and are enjoying the great stoner scene there. Every one of their show was a fucking blast, taking you by the gut from the very first moment, toying with you for a while before leaving you feeling like a used sock on the floor after a bad day. It’s soooo good and catchy yet totally twisted at the same time, groovy blues, made heavy as shit, with an overfuzzed tone and the soulful yet tormented voice of Johni Holiday. This album reflects that perfectly, even though I’m still not totally satisfied with the sound (that’s the only reason why it’s not higher in this list), but I guess I just need the loudness, sweat and beer smell of a dark club to make it take life. The South-African trio explored lots of heavier (black metal, grunge, sludge…) influences on this record, while keeping their core identity and it works so well, the previous albums were great, this one is even better. Prepare for more, as they’ve already warned us they’re gonna go even further in that territory.
19 : Holy Serpent – Endless
The Australian doomsters came back with another amazing LP, 3 years after the last one. From the cover, it seems they’ve been watching the world burn with some naked chicks in between, how ironic given the state of Australia these days, but I guess they didn’t know it in October :/ I wasn’t expecting so much of this at first, but it’s probably one of my favorite classic doom releases in a while. After listening to this record, you’ll probably want to curl up on this sand, bracing yourself (or the naked chicks) to endure the wicked reality we live in, depicted by haunting voices and guitars, on a completely doomed background set up by these slow and nagging basslines and relentless low-tempo drumming. We’re screwed, all we got left to do is brooding and trying to enjoy the fireworks and chaos around us while we still can breeze.
18 : Nebula – Holy Shit
Nebula‘s back, and after a little while since getting back together, it seems they’ve adjusted to their new form and started to kick some ass as only they know how to. Exhuding California, laid back style, but hot as fuck, a bit darker than the usual Nebula, this record is totally worthy of their reputation, and will surely give way to other killer LPs in the next few years. Anyway, make sure to catch them live, for it is there the magic happens, and prepare to sweat from banging your head and booty. Consider yourself warned.
17: Elder – The Gold and Silver Sessions
Yeah, I know, you expected this one higher, but maybe you know my tendency to favor smaller bands in my tops, and I definitely listened more to all the releases quoted after this, but it still deserve a special spot here. My favorite song on Elder‘s last LP was Sonntag, the krautrock one, but that was way too short in my opinion. So with The Gold and Silver Sessions , my appetite for psyched-out kraut jams was totally fulfilled, bringing me to the lighter side of what I love in Elder‘s sound. A hell of a start for the promising PostWax series, as you’re about to find out. Since this session was something apart from their usual way to work, I don’t know how much of this we’ll have on the next LP, but I sure can’t wait to find out how they’ll probably merge everything in a glorious new style, as they got us used to.
16 : King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is a band that makes heads and tongues turn, a lot, the Australian prodigies showed with constant and intensive creativity, killer album after killer album, that they know what they do, that they do it right, and that there’s always more, a whole fucking lot more. They can pretty much do anything, while keeping consistency and their signature touch to it, everytime they announce an album, we’re all wondering what crazy ideas sprouted into their crazy minds. So this time it’s Metal, good old school Thrash and Heavy style, and it starts on burning wheels, Planet B and Mars For The Rich are instant hits, and the Melbournians even gifted them with spot on, current times, engaged lyrics. The only break you’ll get here is the Doom anthem Superbug, other than that, expect full-throttle riffing and shredding (and even a quick drum solo aha). Where King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard amazed me is that they make it seem so easy, and almost make it easy listening, so even if you’re not the biggest fan of Metal, make sure to listen to this gem at least once.
15 : Duel – Valley of Shadows
After two albums and a live record in 3 years, all backed by intensive touring, Duel is getting serious as fuck. As much as I already loved their fuzzed-out tone, ground-burning energy, catchy vocals and heavy riffing party rock, this album is a cornerstone. The Texan definitely brought it to the next level with this album, and I’m really stoked about it. Valley of Shadows truly represents, from start to end, the awesome feeling I got whenever I see these guys set fire to any stage they walk upon, bringing back the old school heavy metal style in a even more catchy rock version of it. This one is a killer album and if you haven’t listened to it yet, prepare to headbang and sing along 😉
14 : Domo – Domonautas Vol. 1
Domo is back, after discovering them with Jams From The Sun split they did with Pyramidal in 2015 (#7 of my top then) and digging their debut album (from 2011), I was craving for some fresh new stuff, and right before the end of the year, this little bad boy came out. Still a perfect blend of Spanish’s warm psych-stoner vibes and darker spacey swirls, the Alicante-based quartet took their time to work on their sound, their skills, and those nifty 4 songs to make a righteous come-back. The songwriting is surgical, the bass providing a steady and relentless foundation for the other instruments to explore the space sierras they discovered along their trips, under the narrative of the almost menacing voice of Òscar, sometimes even reminding me of our own Red Sun Atacama‘s roars. Drumming is top-notch, with crazy breaks and fills, the guitar, synths and an occasional trumpet or sitar entertwined in building glorious spirals or hyperspace thrusts, or both at the same time. I’d kill to see those guys live anywhere this year 😉
13 : Dommengang – No Keys
I discovered Dommengang two years ago with their amazing Love Jail, #11 of my top last year, and I kept coming back to it, until No Keys got released, which has everything his predecessor had, and even more! Starting on burning wheels with a punkish vibe reminding of The Stooges, they bring us with them on their journey, and as I said last year, what a trip. Every song is a killer, each in its own style, still maintaining unity overall, the Dommengang sound that’s now so recognizable, catchy and that you can’t resist. Retro Californian vibe with modern sound, perfect composition and developpment inside the songs but also in between them. The Los Angeles trio still got that blues spine that holds everything together but with a darker rock side to it on this record (as the cover suggests). They’re taking us deeper into their world, while trying out some new stuff, recalling of their so diverse influences, for our most glorious pleasure.
12 : Pyramidal – S/T
The other half of the Jams From The Sun mentionned right above, Pyramidal granted us with their seftitled album, which is, unexpectedly, the 4th proper album of their already 10 years long career, that also includes the aforementionned split and two great live records, ’13 at Freak Valley, and ’14 at Psychedelic Network. So I guess the Spanish Spationauts wanted to wait until they’re totally satisfied with their sound and direction before putting their name on a plate, because that’s how it feels, from the first to the last note. You’ll find everything you can expect and love from a space-kraut jam band, still with the warmth of the Iberic peninsula, still with jazzy vibes all over. That wonderful saxophone always comes to smooth things out and highlight the guitar works, the synths, occasional violin and percussion bringing some southern inspirations, even arabic at times, as if we’re travelling through Spain’s history, but looking at it from Space. Going from peaceful laid-back dune trips to lightspeed impulsions so naturally that you end picturing yourself over spacey landscapes on the back of a flying camel that’s playing saxophone under the sun. Do you even trip ?
11 : Daxma – Ruins Upon Ruins
This one is the first Postwax record that I got with which I fell in love, I didn’t know those guys so much before, and this is just two songs (still over 25min of music in total), but I got totally blown away by their wonderful post-rock vibes, going darker and darker with time, while always staying above the clouds. This reminded me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a bit less weird maybe, but also the last Ancestor record (#2 of my 2018 top) or other Post-Rock/Metal records that are amongst my classics. The violin and guitars work so well together, always backed perfectly by amazing drumworks, and aggremented by samples or soulful vocals, depicting an atmospheric landscape, torn apart by a few storms here and there, seeming always fragile and yet never letting go, full of emotions, keeping you on the blade of a razor, not knowing if you’ll fall or be cut into pieces. This record is one of the most beautiful and emotionnal releases this year, and one of the main reasons I’m so glad I got onboard with PostWax, thanks a lot for this, and see you in a dark room really soon, I hope.
10 : The Cosmic Dead – Scottish Space Race
I’m a crazy fan of The Cosmic Dead, to me, they’re one of the most forward-driven and uncompromising bands in our scene, and clearly the trippiest. If you’ve seen them live, then you know what I’m talking about, or maybe they scare you off. As usual hailing from the sacro-saint Hawkwind legacy, probably with more of a Lemmy spirit to it, The Cosmic Dead is loud as fuck, melting punk and heavy metal in space searching for a new kind of fuel or something like that. After a new change of lineup, the Scotts came back more motivated than even to rock our asses out, and they did. I remember getting totally wiped out by a new song when I saw them in ’18, it was actually Ursa Major, Omar told me when I last saw them in Paris, and that night, their show was only the 3 others songs of this album. Don’t doubt that I instantly bought a LP and that it spinned a lot since.
9 : Stone Cold Fiction – Strange Times
Total newcomer here, Stone Cold Fiction, signed on Lord Vapour‘s label Magic Moustache, I instantly fell in love with their sound. Coming from Brighton, you can clearly feel the British vibe here, reminding Elephant Tree at times, in the singing or fuzzed-out riffs. As fuzzy as it might be, they bring elements far from the only fuzzy sphere, some gimmicks remind the British Indie Rock era, bouncing with the groove kinda like at the circus, from time to time some smooth echoing bluesy melodies manage to pierce through the thick haze of fuzz, and I can also hear a really grunge atmosphere at work over all this album. So yeah, I have trouble to really define this record, and I thinks this is also what makes me like it so much, it still takes me off-guard with every listen.
8 : Red Scalp – The Great Chase In The Sky
Given how I loved Lost Ghosts two years ago (#5 of my 2017 top), and after seeing them on stage last year, where they excell as much as on record, if not even more, I was clearly waiting for this record. Surely not as dark as its predecessor, The Great Chase In The Sky still takes up the challenge and bring it to the next level, the 5 Polish Space Indians worked well in between and this album is once again flawless, with epic guitar or saxophone solo all over, backed with tribal ritualistic chanting and mesmerizing synths bringing kind of a spirits mood, all bathing in the fuzz and grooves of the bass and drums. Red Scalp still craft perfectly one of my favorite Space-Doom vibe, and this one will follow its big brother in my instant-classic crate of records!
7 : Green Lung – Woodland Rites
Green Lung already got a lot of my attention last year with their Free The Witch EP, and if I was a bit afraid of what could follow such a wonderful EP, Woodland Rites dispersed these doubts in less than 3min. The wonderful doom vibe they had is still very present, but expansed, as if they hid some of their best skills last year to knock us out this year. Totally rooted in the british heavy rock territory, with lots of influences drawing from their forefathers, from a few decades ago or this one alike. Expect some epic riffage, twisted voice from beyond, haunted organs and slow-paced and groovy rythms, but also kitschy moments or crazy kick-ass soloing along the 8 catchy songs that fill this guilty pleasure of a record.
6 : White Noise Generator – Dead Leaves
I discovered White Noise Generator at the Pink Tank Fest in the end of November, and fell in love with this amazing band from southern Germany. Given the growing ties between Pink Tank Records and myself, I got my hands on a CD shortly, probably the one that gets the most played in my car (with another Pink Tank favorite of mine, Aux). The sound is powerful as fuck, complex and dense, full of groove and passion, even now as I write this, I still got goosebumps from the listening. The voice of Martin is not the usual we can hear in our scene and it feels damn good, alterning between soulful deep and clear melodies and scorched yells, his voice bears so much emotions that it always seem on the verge of breaking, but never does, perfectly mastered and harnessed to give the exact effect. You’ll have plenty of amazing kickass drumming, groovy and heavy bass lines, lots of fuzz, wonderful guitar work and solos, all this envelopped in smooth and spacey synth, like the icing of the cake. This description still doesn’t give them justice, for the songcrafting is as minutious as german heavy-psych & prog bands have used us to, every riff, every fill, every spacey swirl and especially every break is right where it’s supposed to be, leaving you in awe of the mastership this quatuor develops.
5 : The Devil And The Almighty Blues – Tre
The Devil and the Almighty Blues are back, after touring quite a lot since their previous album, II, I hope you got the chance to see them, I know I didn’t miss any opportunity. The Norwegian Heavy-Blues quintet have that special vibe, bluesy, heavy, deep and dark, that I love. The gritty haunted voice of Arnt instantly hypnotize my ears and soothes my soul, as does the laid-back, measured and dragging blues-licks taking their time to follow the path of redemption. They refined their skills and vibe along the now three records they’ve released, and I can’t help but think that this one is the one where they absolutely outdone themselves. As if they figured out everything they tried before, and nailed it. The sound sure improved, but what makes the difference is their perfect sense of timing, and the groove is in the timing, knowing when to play, when to riff, but especially, when to hold you in the air, on a basic melody or howl, just to come back to you at the exact right instant. Hats off guys, this is probably the record I’ve listen the most this year, and it’ll stay spinning for a while.
4 : Motorpsycho – The Crucible
Alright, if you’ve read some of my tops the other years, you knew this was going to come, this Norwegian trio will always keep a special spot in my heart. Motorpsycho gifted us with a follow-up to the incredible The Tower, taking up the torch and progressively building around it as they keep on doing for quite some years now. Expect to be surpised a bit, some twists and turns can feel weird at first, with lots of prog and jazz frenzy, as always wonderfully executed and mastered by the Norwegians veterans. They will play with you, using their smooth and calm moments, voice harmonies and even a mellotron to make you comfortable before bursting out in epic riffs, jazzy breaks or prog jams, all aggregating graciously into a delicate and complex yet ecosystem, whose only purpose is to make you eargasm.
3 : Monkey 3 – Sphere
The Swiss masters came back to their classics after experiencing a bit. What’s amazing with Monkey3 is they always bring something more, getting always better and better, live as studio, it doesn’t matter, they build sonic atmospheres, so they’ll always get you where they want. Every song is a different world they unravel at light-speed in front of your wide-open eyes. This album takes me back to The Wall, and then goes through different dimensions, honoring the wonderful sound of the Pink Floyd and making it evolve, heavier, spacier and even more epic. Boris is a aerchmaester at work, leaving our ears delighted, just to bring another riff or solo to delight us even more, always backed perfectly by the rythm section and sweet synths layers, every instrument seeming to dance in harmony through melodies and orgasmic riffs.
2 : Mantra Machine – Heliosphere
Mantra Machine is a band that takes its time, it’s been 5 years since the wonderful Nitrogen, and when you hit play, Hydrogen will instantly take you back to the far edge of the galaxy, where the Dutch quatuor left us back then. You’ll be welcome again by that sweet tone that resonates inside, those spacey riffs and relentless echoing drums, punctuated by far-out swirls, all merging in waves, going higher and higher with every minute. They took the time to process their last trip to Andromeda to prepare this one, to Delta-V as it seems, refining the diamond of sound they already had in their hands to bring us something even purer. As with their albums, Mantra Machine take their time in their songs, developping slowly, steadily, but surely masterpieces, so take your time, lay back, close your eyes and enjoy the trip…
1 : Domkraft – Slow Fidelity
I love Domkraft, it started with “The end of electricity” and kept growing with every live I saw or new tune I heard. So last year when I heard about the Postwax series, with the new Lowrider, the Domkraft and Mark Lanegan project is the one that got me the most psyched. And it delivered. Even though at first I was interested in a full cooperation record between them (maybe next time ?), this release is overflowing with the overfuzzed tone and nasty doom we all love, still with the special psych twist recepy of the swedish trio. I fell in love with Where We Part Ways at the first listening, and it definitely overcame the little deception I had from not hearing so much Mark‘s signature crooner voice. The way they built it, as a tryptic, kind of 3 songs in one, starting slow and ethereal with Besvarjaelsen‘s Lea Alazam, then getting a bit grittier and darker with Mark before ending in a harsh climax, the voices of Slomatics‘ Marty Harvey and Domkraft‘s Martin Wegeland entertwined in a sort of a sludge howl closing this amazing song. This record definitely got a special special touch on my soul and a special spot in my heart now.
First I want to talk to you about two albums, one we released with More Fuzz Records and the other that made us instantly sign the band when we heard it. Those two albums are very special to us, and to me, but it wouldn’t be fair to put them in my top, and I honestly wouldn’t know where to put them inside. I’m already not so satisfied of the order I managed to make, but that’s how it works, isn’t it ?
Stone From The Sky‘s Break A Leg got the hard task to be the follow-up of the killer Fuck The Sun that was released in ’17 by Psyka Records, repressed in ’18 by SFTS, Psyka and More Fuzz on glorious smokey blue-green wax. The Le Mans trio hasn’t been standing idle in between, Break A Leg is everything you could have hoped for, worthy succession to Fuck The Sun, with still the surgical Post-Rock infused Heavy-Psych songcrafting we know them for. Dylan’s drumming is still always right on point and so powerful, you’ll feel every blow and ask for more. The groove of the bass and aerial layered melodies of the guitar will lift you up and take you on a trip amongst the clouds and beyond.
DJIIN totally knocked Tanguy and I out when we first heard The Freak, and just two weeks after that, at a (wonderful, obvisously) Mythic Sunship gig put up by Chloé, we decided to join forces. Her raucous, deep, tortured and passioned voice doesn’t tell stories, it takes you to the story. The magical sometimes bluesy, sometimes oriental, always proggish guitarwork of Tom, aggremented by Chloé’s harp, takes hold on Johann’s strong and groovy bass licks and jazzy-at-times, heavy tribal drumming coming from Alan. It all contributes to set the atmosphere in place and then twist it in unexpected ways to result in a brilliant tribal prog stonersome.
Now check all those other brilliant albums I didn’t have enough room for in my top, ordered by Atmosphere Levels, and alphabetically by bandname inside those.
By Fat Level
Grotto – Lantern of Gius
Hazemaze – Hymns Of The Damned
Mephistopheles – Satan Sex Ceremonies
Monolord – No Comfort
REZN – Live at Electrical Audio
Salem’s Bend – Supercluster
Slomatics – Canyons
Slow – IV – Mythologiae
Swan Valley Heights – The Heavy Seed
The Lumberjack Feedback – Mere Mortals
Witchfinder – Hazy Rites
By Purple Haze Level
10,000 Russos – Kompromat
Arcane Allies – Saraswati
Black Bombaim & João Pais Filipe – Dragonflies with Birds and Snake
КОМВУИАТ ЯОВОТЯОИ – Modul 12
Monomyth – Orbis Quadrantis
Papir – VI
Psychic Lemon – Freak Mammal
RMFTM & 10,000 Russos – RMFTM & 10,000 Russos
Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha
Yawning Man – Macedonian Lines
By Temperature Level
Birdstone – Seer
Brant Bjork – Jacuzzi
Crypt Tryp – Haze County
Lo-Pan – Subtle
Merlin – The Mortal
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – And Now for the Whatchamacallit
Swedish Death Candy – Are You Nervous?
Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
Ty Segall – First Taste
Ty Segall & Freedom Band – Deforming Lobes
Thanks for reading and Keep it Fuzzy !