You probably have noticed that each year is getting thicker than the last in terms of releases and quality. It’s getting really hard to keep track of everything and especially to put up that kind of list. But who am I to complain? More good stuff is always good news, ain’t it?
It’s been a special year for us, getting to press the first More Fuzz Records LPs, and throwing ourselves more and more into all this, already working on new fuzzy pleasures to bring you in 2018. I want to thank deeply my man Mr. Fuzz, without whom nothing would have been possible, all the More Fuzz team who keep the Fuzz flowing, all the bands, labels and gigs/fests organizers for delivering so much great music to our ears and of course all of you for your loyalty and support!
Anyway, I tried my best to narrow down the list to the essentials, More Fuzz being dedicated to bringing you fresh stuff you haven’t heard about, I tried to focus on personal discoveries over big names you and I may still have loved anyway (don’t worry, I kept a few 😉 ). It’s been hard to cross all those names and awesome LPs from the main list, but you’re getting a top 25 this year again, with only killer LPs in it! And if you wanna dig deeper, I couldn’t resist putting a lot of other great albums in the Honorable Mentions (with clickable links), I would have put them all in the main list if I could aha 😀
You’ll definitely discover something that should help you escape the reality to find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before 😉
Top 25 Albums of 2017
# 25: Cobra Family Picnic – Magnetic Anomaly
After a debut EP in 2015, these trippy Arizonans took 2 years to prepare before taking off with their debut album through Sky Lantern Records and Cardinal Fuzz (two labels you can trust blindly). They’ll take you on a cosmic shamanic ritual, using a wide scope of fuzzy psychedelia, laid-back melodies, NASA samples and lots of echoes, delays and reverbs. All those elements add up to create their signature atmosphere, what’s amazing is this ability to evoke at the same time the cold emptiness felt while drifting in space and the blazing desert heat immobilizing you under the sun. Brilliant!
# 24: Sbonk – Icozi
Cocorico! as we say in French, for this newcomer band is the first of the two french bands represented in this list. Merging funk grooviness, relaxed bluesy garage melodies, noisy synths and pure 70s style riffing, they manage to sound familiar and yet bring a fresh point of view on groovy psych rock, even if they mostly use old-school recipes. These guys are really talented, it seems like everything is right where it’s supposed to, while leaving space for improvisation. You can sense it’s a real pleasure for them to jam together and it must be even more enjoyable on stage!
# 23: Deep Space Destructors – Psychedelogy
It’s been 3 years since the last record from this Finnish trio, I guess it’s the time their asteroid took on her ellipse through the void of space. They don’t disappoint, as usual, bringing us some of the best space rock I heard this year. Prepare yourself to embark on a journey where time will no longer have meaning. The guitar melodies echo on the smoothy basslines, drums pondering with splashes of cymbals, with sometimes a sitar passing by, you might cross paths with a few screaming soli too, always caught back by spacey riffs keeping these cosmic chants in motion to explore this universe further and further.
# 22: Cities Of Mars – Temporal Rifts
I discovered these guys a bit more than a year ago, in a tiny bar, invited by Stone From The Sky, in their home city. They literally nailed us on the floor with their nasty massive sludge and roaring singing, yet keeping a psychedelic doom feeling above all this. The Swedish trio must spend a lot of time in composition for they not only craft amazing songs but they also narrate stories happening between 6883 BC on Mars and 1971 on Earth, depicting a whole Sci-fi saga. This is their first full length, but the story started on their previous EP and single, check out their website for more info on their universe and the timeline of the songs 😉
# 21: Electric Octopus – Driving Under The Influence of Jams
After my first encounter with Electric Octopus with the awesome This Is Our Culture last year, I followed this band closely, got hooked this year by Smokeyhead and shouldn’t have been surprised to witness 5 releases totaling at over 10 hours of music for this year only, it seems to be their annual basis. If you need to relax, there are not much better bands out there to keep you going for hours like they do without being bored. Think about sweet jazzy drums, top-notch funky basslines, and psychedelic bluesy clean guitar jamming together forever. If you like it, don’t worry, it seems to be plenty more where that came from, they put out their 5th release of the year, Line Standing, right before the gong, with more than 4h of jams!
# 20: The Hazytones – S/T
This one is not from this year, but I don’t care, I discovered it thanks to their astonishing gig in Nantes during their European tour in March. These psychedelic doomsters from Montréal openly assume their love for heavy distorted fuzz, and you can feel it from the first to the last note of this badass LP. With a sound close to the likes of early Sabbath or Uncle Acid, they deliver some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard this year. Mick’s tortured voice will surely drag you to their crypt where the black mass lasts forever, fed by thundering drums, roaring bass, and burning riffs. When you’ll finish listening to these nasty 9 tracks, you’ll only want to hear them again. It’s even heavier live so make sure you don’t miss them if they come nearby and sing along on those kick-ass tunes!
#19: PERHAPS – V
That one is special and funny. Perhaps could be described as a Post/Math Rock but it’s really a lot more than that. The band has evolved from a release to another and cross paths with a few Acid Mother’s Temple members, who are on this one btw, but also Damo Suzuki and it really feels they’re like-minded spirits. It’s the kind of record you put on when you feel like you could use a break from reality. It glows with good old Krautrock or Space Rock gloriousness with a touch of Acid/Math Rock above it. It will envelop you slowly but surely in some nice and nagging layers of synths, progressively expanding the weird and cosmic sounds around it, meeting a few silly saxophones on the way, ending up into different states of craziness as the experiment goes forward, always holding onto you in a state of half-consciousness towards the next step.
#18: Papir – V
There’s one thing with Papir, they never disappoint. The Danes are continuously refining the subtle aerial jams and progish post-psych vibe that makes their sound unmistakable, adding some kraut or space touch to their complex blend. V is no exception, depicting more precisely than ever wonderful and wild landscapes. I always feel like a contemplating bird on an inhabited cold planet, peacefully flying over stunning fjords and luxurious forests, playing with the winds and clouds as the sound fluctuates.
#17: Red Mountains – Slow Wander
I didn’t know Red Mountains until a few weeks ago (I missed it on Mr. Weirdbeard‘s podcast, shame on me), being suggested to listen to this bad boy LP based on some of my tastes and I must say it was perfectly spot on. I had a familiar feeling right from the first song, probably because these Norwegians have worked their classics, especially Sabbath for the slow-paced heaviness and Pink Floyd for the prog vibe and psych side, modernize that mix with a more stoner texture and add nifty vocals always kept under control on top of it. There, you got it, it’s an instant classic, that’ll spin a lot in the years to come.
#16: Causa Sui – Vibraciones Doradas
Causa Sui is back only a year after their last LP, to bring us again the finest of their unmistakable style of epic psych-infused stoner, alternating blissful moments of tranquility and fuzzy heaviness. When four guys as talented and experimented unite to craft the third LP of a trilogy, you can only expect the best. And you shall be served, Euporie Tide and Return to Sky (#7 of my top last year 😉 ) were already stunning but I feel like Vibraciones Doradas manages to set the bar even higher. It’s pretty amazing for a band active for 12 years now to keep evolving and improving with each record as they do. Though this masterpiece only lasts 37 short minutes, so I’m really looking forward to what they’ve got in stock for us next? Another trilogy? Maybe new members? Collaborations? I don’t know, but it’ll be wonderful anyway.
#15: Spaceslug – Time Travel Dilemma and Mountains and Reminiscence
These polish heavy-space rockers took off brilliantly last year with their debut Lemanis and pushed their journey through space way further this year with two awesome releases, that I can’t separate from each other. As Mr. Greenglass said in his review of Mountains and Reminiscence, it really feels like they never got back home and just kept on going (Mr. Omen‘s review of Time Travel Dilemma here). The sound is massive and perfectly arranged, heavy, groovy, fuzzy and trippy at the same time, flirting with doom in the emptiness of deep-space, samples and vocals right on point, the whole enveloping you in a space-bubble drifting across galaxies, asteroid fields, and black holes.
#14: Here Lies Man – S/T
Have you ever thought about mixing Afrobeat with Psychedelic Rock? I know I haven’t, even though I love both, but that’s quite an unusual mix to make. Anyway Here Lies Man manages to take up the challenge and make one of the best LPs this year while doing so! It makes me think of some of the old Zamrock bands from the 70s with a more modern sound and production. It’s groovy as hell and will surely make you want to shake your booty on it, don’t worry it’s okay. The sound is really noisy, over-fuzzed, the guitar and the bass merging as if it was only one instrument, while the tribal drumming goes on and on with vocals and crazy synths echoing all around. Let these guy drench you in their fuzzed-out tribal chants, this should give you enough energy for all the year to come!
#13: White Manna : Bleeding Eyes
I love White Manna, their take on psychedelic rock is something that I truly connect with. Think about touches of kraut repetitiveness, heavy yet groovy riffs and spacey noises and melodies with a raw sound sometimes flirting with acid rock. It could seem so simple at times and yet be so complex, a beautifully crafted mix of diverse influences resulting in a unique energy. It’s even more flagrant live, even if it was on the smallest stage, everyone at Desertfest Antwerp was totally blown up by their performance. Have a listen at their Live Frequencies LP from 2014 to have a grasp of it. Even though their previous LPs were great, I think there was something missing in it, the energy was nothing compared to what they can deliver on stage. This time, they managed to capture more of it on this brilliant record that is Bleeding Eyes!
#12: Colour Haze – In Her Garden
I don’t need to introduce Colour Haze anymore, there’s no way you could have missed their album this year and you’ve probably already read Mr. Omen‘s review here. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their last LP, but they’ve taken back their spot in my heart with this one. It’s brilliant from front to back, almost 75 minutes of their typical fuzz infused trippy jams, livened up here and there by jazzy vibes, progressive touches or other instruments you might not hear at first but which will progressively get themselves heard as time flies. This LP is really contemplative and totally deserves its title, unraveling a new side of the garden they’re depicting you with each turn of the flowery hedges. The three interludes serve well this metaphor and probably are the beginning of each side, making sure you dive into the next pond nicely before the riffs come back, smoother than ever. Oh and what’s best with this LP: it gets better with every listening, as you discover more and more of the tiny high-pitched flowers and heavy shades that make the beauty of this garden.
#11: Black Moon Circle – Studio Jams Vol. III : Flowing into the 3rd dimension
The Norwegian Space Rock prodigies came back with another release this year, still embarking Dr. Space (from the Danish band Oresund Space Collective) on their journey to the limits of this time and space, like the two other Studio Jams LPs (already in my 2015 and 2016 tops). They also added another awesome Norwegian musician on this, Snah from Motorpsycho. One of my favorite space rock bands, with one of the best space music experts and a member of my favorite still-active band… These Studio Jams distort even more the blurry frontiers of reality, taking us further than ever, on a trip from which we might not come back, at least not unchanged…
Take your time, close your eyes and feel the sound, you might wake up in another dimension!
#10: Spidergawd – IV
Did I already say how much I love the drumming of Kenneth Kapstad (former Motorpsycho)? This guy just never stops pounding his huge drumkit, occupying the most space possible and doing so with precision and finesse. You could say the same about the band and their sound as a whole, it’s massive and epic, heavy and exquisite, hooking you from the first to the last note. The bass and sax merge together to create a smooth and mellow base on which the guitar can develop epic riffage or blast scorching solos, backed up by a sax take-off and groovier than ever bassline. Per Borten sings as if his life depends on it and still manages to express all those emotions with depth and nuances, most of the lyrics are about emotional themes after all. Maybe you already heard this either at Desertfest Antwerp or in this podcast by Mr. Weirdbeard, along with a song from the next LP of this list. Oh and I forgot to mention, these guys are active for only four years, delivering a kick-ass heavy and fuzzy LP each year, better than the last, so stay tuned for V 😉
#9: REZN – Let It Burn
Let yourself be embraced and mesmerized by this crushing cosmic droney doom.For their debut album, you can feel that REZN took the time to refine their songs, so the songs like to take their time too, luring you softly into their universe. You’ll be welcomed by fuzzy riffage followed by several stages of echoing cosmic drone, enchanting voices, doomy progressions, laid-back moments, keeping you on the hook until it climaxes in some tortured epicness, right before you were to blow up. Those songs really feel like they belong together, this nifty songcrafting makes this album fit perfectly to be listened as a whole. It’s a splendid debut, I already can’t wait for their next one, and will keep this one spinning a lot in the meantime.
#8: Centralstödet/The Myrrors – Ljudkamrater
I found out about this one with Mr. Omen‘s review and it totally blew my mind. I already liked the Myrrors and their desert psych vibes but I didn’t know Centralstödet before and I must say I went reaaaally far from this galaxy while being cradled by their jazzy noisy jams. The two guitars take turns, intertwined in a fuzzy dance of noise and wonder, backed by a solid, chilly and groovy rhythm section, exploring space and time freely. After the crazy progression of the A-side, The Myrrors come as a soothing wind taking us in its arms and bringing us safely and slowly on the ground. I’ll always be amazed by the relaxed feeling these guys can radiate with their shamanic psychedelia. Yet you’ll find lots of layers and details if you peek at the window of your return pod, passing by a desertic planet with purple cactus and a wind that sounds just like a flute under the red moons. Chill out, you’re floating amongst the clouds, enjoy the ride…
#7: Stone From The Sky – Fuck The Sun
Maybe you remember these Frenchies, who premiered a song (my favorite from this LP) on More Fuzz months ago. These guys rock a special kind of aerial instrumental Heavy Psych, incorporating post-rock touches with layers of swirling guitar with lots of delays resting on a strong rhythm section, with a crazy-moving yet smooth bass player and a drummer as precise and efficient as a Swiss watch, ready to kick out the jams for the epic fuzzy riffage that’ll always be coming sooner or later. Everything sounds just like it’s supposed to, every tiny element falling in place to build that special atmosphere of theirs. The best way to appreciate it is live and they tour pretty often in Europe so keep an eye out if they don’t come nearby, but we might also help you get a glimpse of it 😉 In the meantime, put your amp at 11 and play it loud to get the full blast they’re able to deliver.
#6: Void Cruiser – Wayfarer
Maybe you discovered this awesome new LP by the Finnish Space Grunge-infused Doom Quatuor with Mr. Innkeeper‘s review here. I know that I put it on repeat from the very first listening, adding it high in my preselection for this list. It’s one of the LPs I’ve always found myself coming back to this year, hence this #6 position, that hasn’t been easy to hold given the quality of those behind. They really took the time to work on their sound for this one, giving it a proper identity, some sort of gnarly vibe (on the nifty vocals especially, but not only) above the crushing fuzzy heaviness that makes it instantly recognizable. As you dig deeper into the album, you could think they’re experimenting different mixes of style, sometimes the cosmic vibe takes over, sometimes it’s the doom side, but you’ll always be in for a treat and they’ll surely surprise you more than a few times along the way. Beware, you might realize too late you’ve been scattered in a thousand little pieces while this melancholic merciless battlecruiser break through an asteroid field.
#5: Red Scalp – Lost Ghosts
Another great band coming from Poland, these Sabbath-worshipping Space Indians aren’t really newcomers. On this third release (check their previous EP reviewed here by Mr. Weirdbeard), they stepped up their game a whole lot, their riffs are more burning than ever, the sound is perfectly balanced and cherry on the cake: they added a saxophone! This psychedelic stoner doom will hypnotize you to come chant and dance around the fire, to feel at the deepest of your soul every drumbeat, bass groove, and solo note. Then the heaviness kicks in, the solo is back and the horn starts to chant and it won’t really stop before the LP is over, sure you’ll get a few hazy breaks, but only to take you a bit further and come back at you, stronger and stronger. The songcraft is flawless, catchy riff after catchy riff, each moment coming right on point, toying with you as the rhythm changes, never to let you down, until the final note. This one will stay in my personal classics, I instantly fell in love with it and it shall spin for all the years to come!
#4: Motorpsycho – The Tower
I’ve already said a lot about these Norwegian legends, here and in my previous tops, active since ’89 and rocking their way through lots of different styles without interruption. From Indie Rock to Metal, with a few excursions in folk, country, noise or jazz, nothing seems beyond their abilities and ambitions. For a few years they seem to have chosen to stay a bit in the Heavy Psych/Prog galaxy, taking their time to explore each of its solar systems through the last 5 or 6 LPs (which didn’t prevent them from doing a theatre soundtrack this year also). It’s really outstanding to see a band with almost 30 years of career that keeps pushing the limits of their universe, be it technically or creatively, taking risks with each release, only to come closer to perfection. With a change of drummer between Here Be Monsters and The Tower, it seems they’ve dwelt back to the essentials only to find new paths to explore. The magic of the band is still intact, but with fresh blood and new ideas I guess, expressing them progressively through the 85 minutes of the album. Open your ears for an overview of what they’re capable of these days, let yourself go with the flow of these heavy prog jams, peaceful ballads and catchy rock anthems. Like each of their LP, this one will take you on an emotional trip, playing with your feelings from a mood to another like a rollercoaster with your stomach. I already can’t wait for Roadburn to see them again!
#3: Samsara Blues Experiment – One With The Universe
Samsara Blues Experiment is a band I follow closely, for their amazing bluesy jams, the awesome sound they can deliver, their groove, the relaxed feeling they can express and above all, their mindblowing live performances. I never miss on an opportunity to catch them live since the first time I cross their path at the Freak Valley Festival in 2014, lucky me, they tour pretty often and always come through my city. Each of their LPs always finds its place within my collection sooner or later, and as soon as I put ears on this one, I knew I needed it! The German trio celebrated their 10 years anniversary, releasing their 4th full-length, 4 long years after their last LP. You can feel they took their time to refine every tiny detail, always balancing the energy so you never know if they’re jamming or if it’s the result of months of rehearsal, I’d say it’s probably both. Anyway, One with the Universe is a masterpiece, their most achieved LP so far, really close to what it feels to witness it on stage.
#2: Frozen Planet….1969 – Electric Smokehouse
I discovered this band at the very beginning of the year thanks to Mr. Omen‘s review, and it stayed #1 of my list throughout the year, only losing its seat in the final weeks. As if one kick-ass LP wouldn’t be enough, they released another, From The Centre Of A Parallel Universe, by the end of August. Both are improvised sonic blasts coming from a galaxy far far away and these guys sure seem to like rocking their way through space at an ever increasing high speed! The drums seem to keep it simple yet efficient, nearly ritual at times and if you listen carefully you’ll hear it’s all about finesse and control, watching Frank Attard in action must be such a delight. The bass is purely straightforward fuzzy grooviness that never stops, no matter what, always pushing the limits further and further, though Lachlan Paine knows to calm down a bit, to let the groove take a deep breath before resuming hyperspeed. Paul Attard is a master in his art and it feels like he can do anything, fuzzy riffage, spacey noises, hypnotic echoes, endless solos and he’s taking it to another infinite dimension by mixing all those together! Trust me, you won’t come back unchanged by the intergalactic travel this band keeps pursuing.
#1: Mother Engine – Hangar
I already knew I liked Mother Engine a lot, but they surprised me nonetheless this year with this awesome LP (reviewed here by Mr. Fuzz himself!) and one of the best lives I’ve seen this year. As closure for their trilogy through space started with Muttermaschine and their crash on Absturz, Hangar is a name that fits particularly well. This effort is about re-building a better spacecraft, to go even beyond than its glorious predecessors and keep pushing further still in the next trilogy… The reason is quite logical, after the hell of a trip they’ve taken with their two previous LP and tours, they couldn’t have come back unchanged. You can feel the experience acquired during these long months in space and the discoveries made along the way. The sound is more complex, better, trippier, crunchier and heavier than ever, and it wasn’t an easy task given the height of the bar set before! I love long songs so these 20min cuts seduced me before I hit the play button, assuring me each of these instrumental space trips has the time to wander and explore, to try new things and push the frontier of what’s already known. The good side is the number of details you can admire along the way, I wanted to play it again, and again, and again, to discern every tiny aspect of this wonderful masterpiece. Be sure not to miss them if they come anywhere near you, or to catch them live, for you’ll get even more of it! No one can remain unmoved by the full blast of Mother Engine, melting your face with their furious jams as they take off towards the unknown!
(by alphabetical order)
3rd Ear Experience – Stoned Gold
All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War
Arcadian Child – Afterglow
ASIWYFA – The Endless Shimmering
Black Lips – Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?
Deaf Radio – Alarm
Dead Sea Apes – Sixth Side Of The Pentagon
Doom Side Of the Moon – Doom Side Of the Moon
Dopelord – Children of the Haze
Dr. Space – Alien Planet Trip Vol 1
Dunbarrow – S/T
Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
Electric Moon – Stardust Ritual
Geezer – Psychoriffadelia
Gipsy Sun Revival – Journey Outside of Time
Kabukimono – The Cry of the Banshee
Khemmis/Spirit Adrift – Fraught With Peril
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana (and the 4 !! others)
Kingnomad – Mapping the Inner Void
Monobrow – The Nacarat
Mothership – High Strangeness
Oresund Space Collective – Hallucinations Inside The Oracle
Sasquatch – Maneuvers
Siberian – Through Ages Of Sleep
The Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field
The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Elevator
The Cosmic Dead – Psych Is Dead
The Flying Eyes – Burning The Season
Truckfighters – V
Thanks for reading all this, I hope you found a few gems to keep it fuzzy and spacey !