Greetings fuzzers !
This year, like 2015, was very prolific, be it the big names or the lots of new ones that appeared. Lots and lots of bands have released something, way too much to keep track of actually. I wanted to put so much in this list it wouldn’t have made any sense, so I only kept 25. Don’t worry, I’ve put the ones that didn’t make it in the Honourable Mentions section. 😉
I’m pretty sure you’ll find something in here to put you in orbit for a little hour (or more).
Top 25 Albums of 2016
#25 : Comet Control – Center of the Maze
Created on the ashes of Quest for Fire and Deadly Snakes, you can expect high quality music from these guys. Center Of The Maze won’t disappoint you, it’s filled up with heaviness and dreamy spaced-out tunes in a laid-back psych package. It exudes simplicity and honesty and yet the perfection of the composition and production proves it’s complexly and deliberately conceived.
#24 : Radar Men From The Moon – Subversive II: Splendor of the Wicked
I finally got to see RMFTM this year at Reverence Valada and it was just like I imagined. Hot summer night dancing beneath the starry sky, surrounded by lots of happy freaks, a nagging and blissful experience indeed. Groovy beats mixed with noise in space would be the closest description I could express for this Belgian instrumental quartet. This LP is the perfect thing to spin if you wanna dance while getting your dose of fuzz. Caution : you might be propulsed onto orbit without your consent.
#23 : GOAT – Requiem
I discovered GOAT when I saw them headline a few festival this year. It’s amazing how this crazy Swedish collective manages to wrap themselves in mystery, and how well it suits them. They have a very surprising take on music, preaching for uncategorization and showing it with all the influences they blend into their songs. Psych world music would be an accurate naming if you really want to put a label on it. You can hear some afrobeat, old school psychedelia, tribal chants and instruments from all sides of the world. And that’s the point, why limit yourself and not use anything you can to make music ? Their presence on stage is a grandiose explosion of feathers, color-swirlings and positive energy. Smile ! Shout ! Dance !
#22 : Slow Season – Westing
This album makes me think of a meetup between Motorpsycho and Led Zeppelin in the Californian desert. They surely draw a lot of inspiration from the British monuments and like the Norwegian old-timers, add their personal touch and a more modern spirit to this kind of legendary rock fashion. The result is brilliant and feels instantly classic.
#21 : Coogan’s Bluff – Flying To The Stars
I discovered these funny dudes on the Desertfest Antwerp lineup and I knew I’d love their sound (maybe you already read about them in our festival report a few weeks ago). Awesome festive blend of old school rock, blues, kraut and space rock, with great brass, stomping rhythm section, nice guitar melodies and cool vocals and writing. It’s amazing how they manage to express all this, keeping the retro vibe but modernizing it. They have a special touch of humor that seems to be the very essence of the band, without sacrificing anything on the quality side. I’d recommend to witness it live because that’s where they fully show their true personality as a band even if this album is already a sweet gem.
#20 : Russian Circles – Guidance
Each album of Russian Circles is a gift to the ears, proving as if needed their maestria in the exercise. Their grandiose post-rock songs will grasp you by the gut and drag you to the center of a raging storm. It’ll always suprise me how it happens without notice and yet how brutal it can become. Guidance is a logical development to the trio’s creations, always balanced between stillness and wilderness.
#19 : Monomyth – Exo
Monomyth have a special place in our hearts here, Further was the beginning of the dutch quintet journey (since their S/T debut was the planning and readying for the trip they embarked us upon) and the first album reviewed on More Fuzz. Exo is the end of this epic odissey and achieve what its two predecessors have started. If you let yourself go with their space-stoner-rock you might be able to see the landing and the exotic promised land. Close your eyes and travel to the other side of the galaxy !
#18 : Monkey3 – Astra Symetry
The swiss masters of Heavy Psych are back with a new wonderful album that proves their ability to lift us off. It seems that each time they come to us with a new side of multifaceted diamond, expanding their sound to the frontier of their capabilities. Astra Symmetry is a long journey among the stars punctuated with heavy riffs and blissful oriental melodies. You wouldn’t refuse to these hypnotic anthems to take them with you on this epic quest, trust me.
#17 : It’s Not Night: It’s Space – Our Birth Is But A Sleep & A Forgetting
The name of the band gives two clues about their music, first that it’s space (rock), believe them, they know. Second, its length suggests post-rock influences, and there’s definetely some post vibe in the way the songs progress smoothly towards their apex, with noisey melodies becoming gradually faster and angrier through time. You’ll probably feel a drone aura also, because this trio knows better to take its time to do it right. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do a thing, just lay back in this comfy capsule drifting through the cosmos.
#16 : Baron Crâne – Electric Shades
This french trio self-released this psych-prog beauty in November and it won me over from the very first play. They never stop alterning between laguourous psych phases and math/prog ascensions with some sweet stoner riffs. Their sound is really refreshing and quite unique in its architecture, daring surprising superpositions. It feels like they’re walking on a thin rope, taking risks in creative ways only to successfully achieve their goal with a cunning panache.
#15 : Dreamtime – Strange Pleasures
Dreatime is an australian psych rock band that sticks to its name. Their music is kinda unique, remembering some 70s good old rock and feeling tribal at the same time. You’ll be abducted in an awaken dream willingly hypnotized by Strange Pleasures‘ tale. The albums goes through different phases, gaining increasingly in intensity, triggering emotions as the energy of the sound shifts. This is an authentic auditive experience right here !
#14 : Asteroid – III
Asteroid will always amaze me with how instinctive and instantly classic they sound. I’ve spin II A LOT in the last years and I was waiting eagerly for III. The swedish trio didn’t disappoint, this LP is dripping with their unique genuine aura. I only have one reproach, 36min is way too short ! But I guess given the level of quality on this masterpiece. So relax and enjoy those laid-back bluesy jams, tasty fuzz and enchanting vocals.
#13 : Brant Bjork – Tao Of The Devil
The coolest man in the world released a new LP this year and it was a killer release once again. Taking his branded sound and laid-back vibe directly to the 70s for a pure groove and heaviness only he knows how to deliver. Brant is one of my favorite artists and Tao Of The Devil one of my favorite BB albums, needless to say it’s probably the album I’ve played the most this year. I finally got to see him on stage with the Bros and Sean Wheeler, fantastic moment just like I dreamt ! I hope you got all that you need to fully appreciate this 😉
#12 : Fatso Jetson – Idle Hands
The Godfather of stoner rock had a busy year, one excellent LP and tour with Yawning Man, and this. A new full length from Fatso Jetson and a tour also, we’ve been waiting for this for 6 years now ! Surely patience pays, for this album shows a pretty wide range of what Fatso Jetson is capable of, helping you remember why they have that special place in our hearts. Boomer included even more of his family into this one, with his son on guitar and his daughter on vocals. They give a nice fresh touch which blends in as if it was always there, completing Fatso Jetson‘s unique sound. Let’s dwell a bit in the desert, shall we ?
#11 : Motorpsycho – Here Be Monsters
Motorpsycho is one of my favorite bands right now, Still Life With Eggplant was a masterpiece. These Norvegian geniuses make music since ’89 and they never stop expanding their universe and exploring new horizons. All this experience makes tremondous ingredients for crafting complex and deeply moving music and you’ll feel it. Here Be Monsters is the next step in Motorpsycho‘s evolution continuously following 2014’s Behind The Sun. They’ll embark you on a hypnotic lethargy mixing bits of all their musical tribulations, that assemble perfectly along the way.
#10 : ZAUM – Eidolon
These two dudes complexly craft a beautiful epic ritual slow-paced heaviness. Droney for sure, this hypnotic and poundering atmospheric doom will still relentlessly crush you against the floor. From the first listenning, this instantly won me over, so beware, it can quickly become addictive !
#9 : Black Moon Circle – Sea Of Clouds and Studio Jams Vol II: Serpent
Black Moon Circle is quite profuse, after an EP and a LP in 2014, they put out an amazing “Studio Jams” record last year (#11 of my top). So logically, we got a LP and another “Studio Jams” this year, wait what ? Both have their identity and feelings, and both are some of the best space rock albums of this year. The Studio Jams Vol II may feel rawer, wilder, than Sea Of Clouds, alternating freely between distant noises and sometimes jazzy, sometimes heavy grooves wrapped in outer space synths. The meticulous sense of detail of the “written” songs in Sea Of Clouds presents another side of what Black Moon Circle is capable of. As much as the Studio Jams will blow your brains to the outer limits of the universe, Sea Of Clouds will take you in an epic introvered journey to the depths of your body and soul.
#8 : Saturnia – The Real High
The portuguese multi-instrumentalist and nerd composer Luis Simões is probably as much a fan of Pink Floyd as I am. He plays, records, mixes and produces all by himself and seems to be as much a perfectionnist as the Floyd themselves. He depicts cosmic landscapes with oriental inspired scapey lullabies in a special way you can only love. That’s the perfect soundtrack to sink into the night, entering a meditating state while all energy seem to disperse into the universe.
#7 : Causa Sui – Return To Sky
Causa Sui‘s music is unique, their presence is fascinating and they’re so good at making you feel their sound. Each time I picture myself on the sand under a blazing sun, with just a cool breeze to keep it perfect. Probably because I’m addicted to their Summer Sessions, though sand, wind, sun and good vibes exudes from this new LP. It’s still outstanding instrumental improvisations, maybe more on their fuzzy side, neglecting their jazzy vibe a bit, but that’s okay. The result is remarkable and as delightful as these Danish fellas have used us to.
#6 : Buddha Sentenza – Semaphora
This one went out just a few weeks ago but I loved it right away and keep playing it again and again. The Purple jauge is pretty high 😉 with those german heavy-psych prodigies. This record radiates of prog, space and kraut, all I could dream of actually. Their music is indeed multi-layered and complex, incorporating violin, percussions and hypnotic synths. Catchy riffs, swirling melodies, melancholic sections, atmospheric momentums, kiss your blue planet goodbye while you float away towards the unknown.
#5 : Terminal Cheesecake – Dandelion Sauce Of The Ancients,
Blown Out – New Cruiser,
Melting Hand – High Collider,
11Paranoias – Reliquary For A Dreamed Of World
I know, I cheated, but let me explain. Terminal Cheesecake is an unpredictable underground British band that emerged during the 80s, birthed in noise and drugs. Blown Out is a heavily armed trio that makes no concessions, carrying you away through noisey and deep space. 11Paranoias is another project of Blown Out guitarist, that makes hallucinating noisey drone music, moving you from within. Melting Hand is Russel Smith, guitar player in Terminal Cheesecake, in which also play Gordon Watson (bassist of Luminous Bodies too), Mike Vest (Blown Out, 11Paranoias, Bong…) and Tom Fug (Luminous Bodies, Gum Takes Tooth) on drums. And these four bands released an excellent album this year ! It makes me think of all these desert bands, sharing members, except they’re from UK and share love for noise. I kinda see them as a collective even if I’m not sure it’s really one, but it feels like it. Four albums that share common roots and each one has its own identity !
#4 : Black Rainbows – Stellar Prophecy
After my little Saturday ritual last year with Hawkdope and less than a year after it, my favorite Italian band didn’t let me down. Stellar Prophecy immediatly supplanted this big brother, becoming my favorite CD to blast in the car during long night road trips. It’s got all that was in Hawkdope and even more, the space vibe is really strong with this one. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of groove, fuzz and heaviness along with catchy songs to sing along all day long. And please do, cuz’ it feels soooo good !
#3 : Elephant Tree – Elephant Tree
What to say about this record ? I didn’t know at first and I still don’t know why… I only went back to it when starting to work on this list a few weeks back, and regretted. I’ve listened to it everyday since, loving it more each time, everything is perfect in it. The most amazing part are the vocals, these two enchanting voices intertwined gives me shivers. Jack really got a voice and the knowledge to use it wisely. It’s always appreciable to hear a true singer. The sound got a sort of laid-back vibe, especially when the groove prevails or on the magnificent accoustic song Dawn. It’s still doom though, you’ll have your share of haunting songs, epicly crushing heavy riffs and nasty appealling fuzzy tunes.
#2 : Kandodo / McBain – Lost Chants / Last Chance
Even without listening to it, I knew I could only love this and there’s two reasons for it. First, the band is composed of 3/4 of The Heads with John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) so you know it can’t be bad. Second, as the title may suggest, this is not an album, but two you’ll get here. There are 10 songs, but they only wrote 5, deciding to put them on the record at the original speed and remixed at 33rpm by McBain. It may seem odd, but who hasn’t played a record at the wrong speed ? I know I did, and sometimes it has funny results (like a Fuzz 45rpm I got that sound just like perfect doom in 33rpm). And here it’s just perfect, the 45rpm are awesome spacey psychey mesmerizing jams where all the instruments balance perfectly each other, like everything is meticulously put just right where it should be. The material being the same, you’ll feel at home with the 33rpm songs, but with the strange feeling that something’s off. To me those songs are a darker and melancholic reflection of their originals, unraveling a whole new atmosphere to you as time gives them room to express themselves.
#1 : Salem’s Pot – Pronounce this!
From the first listen, I knew this album would be high in this year’s list. Salem’s Pot really resonates with my mind and soul, especially with this one. So yes, their sound is a bit ‘cleaner’ than it used to be, but it’s also way more catchy if you ask me. From the beginning to the end, each song feels like an earworm, carving its place into your mind. These guys seem to be able to do anything, and to do it great. It’s like the earworm in the dark and gloomy basement finally made it to turn into a madcap moth, flying to the addic to find new old weird stuff to chew on. And the result is here, a wonderfully conceived, flawless LP that spinned and spinned and spinned all year long.
In alphabetical order, you’ll find here some very good releases, but that got cut off the final list even if I’m still fighting my best not to put them back in it.
- Black Dio ~ Black Dio : I had to put this wonderful drone/sludge italian trio somewhere, maybe you remember my review about their LP ? If not, it’s never too late, take your time, let yourself be enchanted by their gloomy and crushing sound! (plus there’ll be a surprise about them soon here on More Fuzz 😉 )
- Cairns (ex-She Hunts Koalas) ~ Terra Dementia : She Hunts Koalas‘ gig at the Volcano Sessions was one of my favourite gigs last year. They released an astonishing psych-doom album on Argonauta Records in April. Since then, they changed their name to Cairns for some reason, maybe a better fit to their music ? It surely feels like a journey wandering through desolated moors, staring at the starry sky finding your way from pile of rocks to pile of rocks.
- Cambrian Explosion ~ The Moon EP : Cambrian Explosion‘s first EP was exquisite, and this follow-up is made of the same metal. They create sound landscapes, using a pretty large scope of instruments in the process. It’s amazingly composed, with totally different atmospheres in a same song, leaving you disoriented before assembling all the fragments to show you it all was part of a greater whole. It will take you far away, from oriental temples to purple skies under different suns, be it on a heavy riff or an aerial melody.
- The Cosmic Dead ~ Rainbowhead : This one went out totally under my radar, which is odd considering how much I love these Scottish’ music. Then I saw them for the first time in my sweet city of Nantes and I got to catch up with this great LP. Only to forget about it again and stumble upon it while gathering names for this list. I guess that’s the only reason why they’re here and not in the list itself… And that’s too bad, because The Cosmic Dead are true masters of Hawkwind worship, with some kraut vibe and a personal touch that makes their sound unique.
- Deadsmoke ~ Deadsmoke : Doom/Sludge trio from Italy, these nasty guys deliver one of the most pounding sound I’ve ever heard. This LP is a bit short, barely above the 30min, but really consistent and dense. It’s amazing how violently they throw torrents of boiling mud mixxed with molten lava in your ears. They also let us breeze a bit with a few spaced-out pauses before getting back at it, harder, nastier, greasier. It’s brilliantly conceived and I’ll gladly let them rip my guts apart live someday.
- DeWolff ~ Roux-Ga-Roux : 100% energy, 100% groove, 100% retro-rock. These guys keep the good vibes coming for a few years and releases now, never to disappoint. Roux-Ga-Roux is no exception to this rule and hits you so hard in the face when you see it live, you can only ask for more !
- Electric Octopus ~ This Is Our Culture : I found this one by chance, thanks to youtube recommendation and the eye-catching visual of this LP. Groovy bluesy jams even sounding jazzy at times, this hypnotic funky jewel will get you shakin dat’ ass !
- EYE ~ Vision and Ageless Light : Splendid progressive space-rock with old school heavy metal riffs and psychedelia. EYE take their time to fully express their undeniable talent and blow you away in the outer space. I’m a big fan of that kind of stuff and I’m amazed I didn’t knew them before. Don’t worry, I dived in their backlog head-first and eyes-closed, and I suggest you do the same. Listen to this delicacy, the 27 min travel through space and time of the last song can’t leave you passionless.
- Farflung ~ 5 : 8 years since the last full length from the Californian space rock oldtimers. They haven’t been idle either during that time, with two wonderful splits in the last two years. I guess when you have a career like them, you can take some time to put things in perspective. And the result is here, another perfect cosmic trip like only them know how to put together.
- Holy Grove ~ Holy Grove : The artwork of this one made me put it in my cart on Heavy Psych Records without even listening to it. I have absolutely no regrets and this sweet piece of wax spun a lot this year. I’m usually not very fond of female fronted bands, but her voice kicks some serious ass and the heavy riffage is particularly efficient too.
- Oresund Space Collective ~Visions of… : This one went out too late, so I just got the time to listen to it once. As usual, OSC don’t disappoint, and deliver another perfect package of their totally improvised space tunes. Since they’ve announced they’ll slow down a bit in the next year(s ?), we better enjoy while it lasts. But I guess we’ll come back to it gladly to fill our addiction when in need. And I’m pretty sure these guys won’t stay idle long and work on new amazing projects in or out OSC 🙂
- Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell ~ Tranquonauts : I love Seedy Jeezus, I love Earthless and the description of this LP gives me a boner. I was waiting for this but I missed the European edition of (only) 100 copies and don’t like to pay more in postage than the record costs. Sadly there is no way to listen to it anywhere except the 4″ videoclip they put out as promo. I’ll just hope there’s gonna be a digital release or a repress of this one but it doesn’t seem so.
- Vibravoid ~ Wake Up Before You Die : As Farflung, these german astronauts have been rocking and rolling for a while now, and know how to put you in orbit from the very first notes. This new LP is an awesome psych/space rock odyssey through space and time with catchy songs and lyrics. So wake up before you die, and go play this gem on repeat until it’s anchored in your mind !
- West, Space and Love ~ West, Space and Love vol.II : Wonderful jams recorded in Stockholm by KG Westman (ex-Siena Root sitarist), Dr. Space (space maestro of Oresund Space Collective) and Bobby ‘Love’ Forsberg (Siena Root percussionist), with a few guest appearances for vocals and other instruments. That’s the kind of thing I love in our scene, and even more with OSC and other collectives like them, or what happens all the time in the desert scene, these collaborations really add more depth in the writing and the sound, always exploring unknown landscapes. And that suits particularly well Space music, which is deeply inspired by the exploration of spatial territories. To infinity and beyond !!!
- ZQKMGDZ ~ Orbit dualkraut : Space-doom with great riffs, blissful jams and strong krautrock influences, do I really need to say something else ? I love ZQKMGDZ, and this one is a perfect follow up to their 2015 debut, which was already awesome.
Top Concerts of 2016
(by chronological order)
- The Vintage Caravan, Dead Lord, Tiebreaker @ La Scène Michelet, Nantes
- General Electriks @ Stereolux, Nantes
- Stoned Jesus, The Lumberjack Feedback, Mars Red Sky @ Metalorgie Fest, Nantes
- Holy Wave, Blondi’s Salvation @ Le Mahout, Nantes
- Psyched Gatherings : Karma To Burn, Bang!, Ecstatic Vision, Goatess, Domadora, Sons Of Morpheus @ Glaz’art, Paris
- Giöbia, Snowy Dunes, Villagers Of Ioannina City, Toundra (and a few others) @ Freak Valley Festival
- Monomyth, White Hills, Saturna, Witchthroat Serpent @ Crumble Fest
- Black Sabbath, Fu Manchu, Hermano (and lots of others) @ Hellfest
- James Leg (with Matgaz from Mars Red Sky on drums) @ Fête de la Musique, Nantes
- The Cosmic Dead @ Le Ferrailleur, Nantes
- Blown Out, Lay Llamas, Terminal Cheesecake, Hills (and a few others) @ Yellowstock
- Papir w/ Dr. Space, OSC, RMFTM, Nik Turner, Yawning Man @ Reverence Valada
- EVERY SINGLE SHOW @ Desertfest Antwerp
- Fatso Jetson @ Le Ferrailleur, Nantes
- Brant Bjork @ Divan Du Monde, Paris
- Cities Of Mars, Stone From The Sky @ Le Lézard, Le Mans