Another year gazing at the stars with glorious music filling all our needs and more!
Another year and its struggles went by, this damn pandemic kept us once again away from our beloved stages (though there were a few moments of bliss between August and October), records were more delayed than ever… Luckily for us, the bands seemed to have used that extra time to deliver always more of the good stuff that helps us pass the time.
I’ve been neck-deep in it all year, having lots of time to write reviews, and following closely the endless list of releases for the Fuzzy Charts every month, listening to even more records than any year before. The amount of top-notch music that has been put out is simply astonishing, it’s been harder than ever to make a final list, I even almost considered a top50 this year, so look closely in the Honorable Mentions section too. As usual, you’ll find lots of different shades in there, with a predominance of trippy and groovy, as it seems I wasn’t too drawn towards the heavy and dark side.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ll find something to fill your thirst, and hopefully still make some interesting discoveries along the way. Sorry for the late publishing, I changed my mind at the last minute to turn it into a top25, too frustrated to leave some of these gems out. On the other hand, that also gave me time to make a “little” playlist of all the albums mentioned in this top for you to take the time to dig at your pace through these 60+ releases 😉
Check out all the killer releases that paved the way through 2021!
- Top 25 Albums of 2021
- More Fuzz & Friends
- Honorable mentions
- Track of the year
- Top 10 concerts of 2021
Top 25 Albums of 2021
#25: DJINN – Transmission
For Fans Of: Goat, Hills, Smote, Kungens Män
Let’s start with an odd one, DJINN is a side project of musicians from Goat and Hills, where these guys allow themselves to experiment freely with their jazzy inspirations. This is their second album, but you can feel that they’ve been dwelling on these vibes for way longer than this. They offer us a raw diamond of trippy free jazz, mesmerizing as hell, definitely extreme in its own way, consider yourself warned. I have the feeling they search to summon some ancient spirits with their music, using the percussions, flute, and saxophone in a mix of psych-folk, free jazz, and more exotic influences. They find their own balance between chaos and patterns, building up drones and throwing swirling elements in the mix to see what kind of explosion it will trigger.
Follow these Swedish alchemists in their trippy jazzy experimentations, oscillating between blissful contemplation and glorious eruptions.
#24: The Fur – Sonntag
For Fans Of: Mantra Machine, Pyramidal, 35007, Blown Out
This one was released at the end of November, and that’s probably why it’s not higher on this list, as the end of the year was packed with killer releases. That said, I still played it quite a lot since then, coming back to it really often when in need of gorgeous warm spacey vibes. This Belgian Quatuor has a wide range of skills and a broad spectrum of trippy vibes, from the blissful aerial jams to interstellar riffage, their Heavy Psych blend is incredibly rich and takes you on an adventure through the stars.
Almost fully instrumental, apart from a few shout-outs here and some samples there, they’re navigating smoothly their sonic spacecraft through highs and lows, with always spot-on tone and brilliant production. Sonntag might be mostly oriented towards spacey anthems, The Fur never forgets to incorporate good doses of groove and heaviness to consolidate their eclectic compound and give it more depth.
#23: Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows – Transmission
For Fans Of: Red Mountains, All Them Witches, Saint Karloff, King Buffalo, Elephant Tree
After releasing a couple of EPs in 2016/17 and their debut LP in 2018, the Aussies took over our fuzzy scene last May with their outstanding 2nd album, ‘The Magnetic Ridge‘. It’s got everything you could want, and even more. Bluesy vibes, eerie psych passages, nasty doom riffage, powerful thrusts, nifty prog developments, a little grungey vibe, and a clearly occult coloration all over. But it’s not just a compilation of all that, rather an intricate blend, meticulously crafted and worked as a whole, forming their distinct universe to serve the story the band envisions.
The record takes us on a powerful journey, following the mischiefs of a “drug-addicted outlaw in the west”, and clearly, there is that feeling of being somewhere halfway between “A Fistful of Dollars” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“. In just 48min and twelve songs, Jack Harlon & the Dead Crows manage to express grandiosely, and seemingly effortlessly, demonstrate their first-class musicianship.
#22: Papir – Jams
For Fans Of: Oresund Space Collective, Carlton Melton, Causa Sui, Frozen Planet….1969
The Danish prodigies are back, breaking their rule of naming their albums with numbers, telling us this one is a bit apart from the rest, and with such an evocative title, I could only rush to put my ears on it. Papir is already known for a really jam-driven composition, working on long aerial contemplative and aesthetic soundscapes. So with an album especially focused on jams, one could assume it would give even more latitude to their free-flowing style to express itself and that’s exactly what we got here.
The psychedelic trio keeps on walking their own path, delighting us with a fresh batch of atmospheric meditative pieces of serenity. The rhythm section spread its wings, weaving delicate but powerful ambiances on which Niklas can completely let himself go with the flow, offering us exquisite harmonies drifting smoothly through peaceful skies.
#21: Eldovar – A Story of Darkness and Light
For Fans Of: Pink Floyd, King Buffalo, Motorpsycho, Love
Two of the most prominent bands of our scene joining forces for a special collaboration record is the kind of thing that might arouse or at least pique the interest of more than a few stonerheads. Though as both bands showed in their last few records, it’s best not to build too many expectations. They are coming to the point where they feel the need to experiment, step out of their comfort zone, and surprise the listener.
The two singles previously released still gave an idea of what was coming our way, a core of strong Floydian vibes, with some resurgence of each band’s styles, with a twist. This record is more at the crossing of Elder’s “Gold & Silver Sessions” and Kadavar’s “Isolation Tapes”, with both bands coming together, each musician trying things out, giving us some voices we haven’t heard before, switching instruments, truly enjoying themselves, having fun, and just getting with the flow. The result is full of contemplative vibes, with still a few inquiries in heavier territories, some jammy parts reminding of Motorpsycho’s laid-back outbursts (after all it’s one of Nick’s main sources of inspiration) and atmospheres spanning several decades.
It’s maybe not the most catchy wholesome riffage record some were expecting, but it’s quite a peculiar singularity, an out-of-time gem full of details that flows smoothly in the ears. So lay back, relax, and let your mind surf on Eldovar‘s blissful sonic waves.
#20: Smote – Bodkin and Drommon
For Fans Of: Kungens Män, The Oscillation, Gnod, Tau
Smote is an English band that appeared out of nowhere less than two years ago, and quickly got my interest. They make a mesmerizing blend of kraut, drone, and tribal vibes, everything I could wish for. Since their first EP in April 2020, they’ve been quite busy, releasing enchanting music every few months. This year, they graced us with two amazing albums, Bodkin in March and Drommon in October. I couldn’t choose between them, so here are both of them.
Both albums are firmly rooted in the mystical imaginary and provide the perfect soundtrack to travel further than ever inside your own mind. The omnipresent use of drums, percussions, and other traditional instruments really forge a mysterious atmosphere, reinforced by natural samples, humming bass, and contemplative guitar drones. If you follow this white rabbit down the hole, you’ll surely find yourself hallucinating, possessed by their shamanic repetitive chants.
#19: Weedpecker – IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts
For Fans Of: Elder, King Buffalo, Tame Impala, Elephant Tree
The polish heavy psych masters are back after some heavy changes in their line-up. With 3 additions from the polish doom scene, one could have expected this fourth album to turn to the dark side… Except it’s exactly the opposite that happened! You’ll still recognize the Weedpecker vibe we all know, though their new blend also reminds me of early Tame Impala. This thick fuzzy tone and sunny psych-rock atmospheres bring some new and interesting flavors to their emblematic sound. Even if this mix could seem dubious at first, they have a way to melt smoothly one into the other with slick transitions, taking the time to let the songs develop smoothly.
Weedpecker took us by surprise with this turn in their sound, but I won’t complain, for I am quite curious about what they can do with a bit more experience in their new sonic blend.
#18: Comet Control – Inside The Sun
For Fans Of: Dead Meadow, Quest For Fire, Naam, Tame Impala
This was the album of the month of August in our Fuzzy Charts, and I must say that I was pretty happy with this result, as I always followed closely these Canadians, born on the ashes of the amazing Quest For Fire. 5 years after its predecessor, Inside The Sun gave me a strong feeling of maturity in the band’s sonic signature. They took the time to refine it and think it through, bringing back some vibes from their previous band, melting it with their own, and adding a few others to keep on pushing it forward.
Their blend of neo-psych is full of finesse, with a round fuzzy tone and grungey atmospheres, catchy and nostalgic at the same time. This is a brilliant LP and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us, though with this one, I have enough to content me for the next 5 years 😉
#17: The Oscillation – Untold Futures
For Fans Of: Telescopes, Lumerians, Gnod, Helicon
The Oscillation delivers their new output, a bit more than a year after Droneweapon, Demian Castellanos welcomes us back in his universe. With more than 55min of spacey droned-out psychedelia, you should find your way to the outer rim of the galaxy along the course of this killer LP.
I feel a little bit more darkness at play in this one, which one could understand in the times we live in, and even welcome, to dive inwards and stare into the mixed feelings these two past years might have birthed. There are still some glimpses of hope and somehow positive vibes here and there, pushing The Oscillation‘s sound forward, keeping on exploring the galaxy of possibilities in front of them.
#16: Wail – S/T
For Fans Of: Wight, Electric Octopus, Earthless, Zappa, Rostro Del Sol
I’ve loved this one so much I made a full review of it when it went out in July and came back to it regularly throughout the rest of the year. This quartet from Philadelphia took on the mission to be the funk band at our stoner fests, and they nailed it. Fully instrumental, it grooves without end, throwing jazz and funk in the mix while tweaking it with prog, and just the right dose of heavy and gritty.
These guys found their way to craft killer tracks that will melt your brain with their complex beauty and burn your ass at the same time with their groovy riffs. Get ready for this avalanche, you won’t regret it!
#15: Rostro Del Sol – S/T
For Fans Of: Santana, Hendrix, Zappa, Weather Report
This one was the big surprise of the beginning of the year, as it ranked album of the month of January in the Fuzzy Charts. The Mexicans blend all our favorite genres of the 70s in a glorious way, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Prog, you name it! With such a dense mix, one must not be surprised that they kept it instrumental, leaving enough room for each of them to fully express itself. And trust me, you won’t even miss it, the guitars are screaming and singing all along, the sax is swirling like crazy and the organs crooning, backed with a super tight and groovy rhythm section that will send you directly 50 years back. It’s really impressive how these guys manage to sound still fresh and nail so perfectly a style that has been around for so long, becoming an instant classic, and a band to follow very closely.
So put on your flares, warm up the DeLorean, and prepare to nod in approbation for the 40min of this amazing gem of groove and wonder.
#14: Electric Moon meets Talea Jacta – Sabotar
For Fans Of: Electric Moon, 10000 Russos, Vibravoid
I’ve been kind of surprised by this one hitting the shelves, and what an amazing surprise it was! The German veterans of stoner psychedelia unearthed some recordings of a show where they shared the stage with Talea Jacta, a duo definitely fitting the description of “one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets“. This band consists of 10000 Russos‘ guitar player and the brilliant drummer/percussionist Joao Pais Filipe, whom I knew from his solo project and collaboration with Gnod or Black Bombaim.
Sabotar is made of three jams, recorded in September 2019 at that gig in Lisbon, and mastered afterward by Eroc, a sound wizard and drummer of the german band Grobschnitt, making it sound so clean and bright. The first short track launches the gig, letting the musicians feel the energy flowing between them, and we already feel that it’s gonna be really interesting, with these ultra-bouncy tribal rhythms and trippy echoing guitars, intertwined in a cosmic ballet. Transitioning with contemplative effect-laden drones, the six explorers resume their quest for the ultimate astral jam, freaking out freely into a mesmerizing exaltation.
#13: The Kings of Frog Island – VII
For Fans Of: Colour Haze, Samsara Blues Experiment, Quest For Fire, Vibravoid
This record got a bit of a confused timing, with a first official release in July, postponed to the beginning of December, as the records were delayed (like lots of others last year sadly). It still scored #7 in the July Fuzzy Charts, with only two tracks available at the time. I spent quite some time since then with it, enjoying all the mesmerizing nuances of its 10 songs. The British veterans outdid themselves once again, offering us a beautiful album full of blissful mellow psychedelic stoner vibes. Their melancholic and hazy sound is in the direct lineage of what they used us to, and even after 7 albums, they still manage to express some sides of it that we didn’t quite catch yet.
Make yourself comfortable and dive into it, fully immersed, drifting smoothly with their hallucinatory flow.
#12: Kombynat Robotron – -270°
For Fans Of: Oresund Space Collective, Kungens Män, Smote
The German space scientists are back with a new LP completely rooted in space, as the title of the album and the tracks suggests. These four jams feature gorgeous motorik-induced instrumental space rock, with each their own point of view on this trippy genre.
It’s maybe the first time that Kombynat Robotron tries to give some guidelines to their usually completely free-flowing sound, trying to put special colorations into their tracks. They’re mostly improvising still, but with a direction, heading together towards a distant point in outer space. That is also something you can feel in the sound, a bit clearer than what they’ve used us to, giving some space, depth, and relief to the mix for a more efficient than ever result. I think it’s a turn in the band’s signature sound, though still true to their experimental core and just an evolution of what we’ve known them for, so look into their telescopes and feast your eyes upon the splendor space has to offer.
#11: SPECK – Unkraut
For Fans Of: 35007, Zone Six, Kanaan, Frozen Planet … 1969
SPECK is an Austrian trio, melting space rock, heavy psych, and krautrock together, binding it with strong doses of groove. They started in 2019 but only released a live session last summer before putting out this debut album at the beginning of December. Advertised by Komet Lulu and Sula Bassana (from Electric Moon & Zone Six), I knew I was in for a treat, and UNKRAUT didn’t disappoint.
The band brings out a fully instrumental trippy and gritty sound from outer space, fueled by a strong Motorik drive. It’s highly hypnotic and once you embark on the journey, you’ll soon find yourself in a sort of trance, cruising through galaxies propelled at the speed of light by the hazy and groovy energy that animates the trio. Be careful, this Unkraut (which means weed, like the unwanted herbs that can grow in a garden) is highly addictive 😉
#10: Acid Rooster – Irrlichter
For Fans Of: Agitation Free, White Manna, Lumerians, The Cosmic Dead
You might have already discovered this one when it ranked #3 of our August Fuzzy Charts, this one might be “just” an EP, it still deserves all your attention. This german trio crafts some mesmerizing instrumental space/kraut, mastering all the gimmicks of this style with brio, while still unique enough to carve themselves their own spot. Launched on proper motorik tracks, each tune shines a special light on different sides of the band’s sonic imprint. At times groovier than ever, at others, full-on trippy, here going down and there lifting you up, it might only be a 20min 4track trip, but it’s a rollercoaster of emotions.
The Germans know exactly what they’re doing and you can feel it, be it in the stunning songcrafting, and all the details they incorporate, or in the production, making it sound exactly as it should, strengthening even more the fascination induced by the melodies. I might be a sucker for that kind of stuff, but these guys managed to knock me out with this killer EP, so let yourself go, close your eyes, and trip on those acid vibes through space and time.
#9: Giöbia & The Cosmic Dead – The Intergalactic Connection:
Exploring the Sideral Remote Hyperspace
For Fans Of: Hawkwind, Vibravoid, The Myrrors, White Manna
As Mr. Momo said in his blurb for October’s Fuzzy Charts, this split has been quite exciting since it got announced, two of the most interesting space rock bands of the last decade joining forces for an intergalactic explosion. Those two bands definitely share strong reverence for the masters and pioneers of Space, the almighty Hawkwind, and while Giöbia tends more to stay on the calmer side of Psych with occasional spaced-out outbursts, The Cosmic Dead are known for uncompromising light-speed grooves, rushing through asteroid fields.
Here Giöbia handles the take-off of this sonic UFO, their first track taking us to a galaxy far far away. Once there, they shut down the thrusters, encountering the ghost of Pink Floyd in a dreamy cover before droning out peacefully. The Cosmic Dead take their time to pick up the pace, not risking to shock us with a 20G acceleration just yet, checking the integrity of the spaceship they just took control of. They build up smoothly before exposing us to their entrancing irresistible impulsion. The tension is almost excruciating, and when they release it, you can feel the engines thrumming, liberated of any restraint, cruising through galaxies effortlessly in a raging trippy groovy fury.
#8: Snail – Fractal Altar
For Fans Of: Alice in Chains, Void Cruiser, Rezn, Foot, Swan Valley Heights
The Seatle grunge is not dead, 6 years after the stunning Feral, Snail released their new offering, a perfect blend of grunge and stoner, full of nuances and beauty, as they have the secret. Appealing and numbing at the same time, their melancholic vibes and gritty riffage take me in my soft spot every time. No matter how much I can listen to it, it always has this special touch that I will fall for, and ask for more. The composition is as outstanding as on its predecessor, everything falling perfectly in place, with the right dose of nostalgia, energy, and catchiness. The tracks flow naturally after each other, taking you away onto their blissful harmonies. Each of them has its own vibe while they all work together to build and reinforce the overall, keeping you on the hook for the whole course of the album.
I’ll always be amazed by how amazing this band manages to sound, by how simple it seems and yet how sophisticated it is, by how heavy and yet uplifting it can be, by how dark and yet soothing…
#7: Domkraft – Seeds
For Fans Of: YOB, Year of the Cobra, Conan, High on Fire
If you thought my top was a bit too light this year, this one should bring enough heaviness to restore balance in the Fuzz. Two years ago, I chose their previous album, Slow Fidelity, as my favorite album of the year, no less. The first notes of Seeds brought me straight back to that special touch I was mentioning then, Mr. Momo also wrote a review and interviewed them right here. Domkraft really has a special way of crushing us under relentless waves of massive fuzzy tones. It might be harsh and nasty, there is a tortured beauty about it, and that makes a tremendous difference, at least to me.
I have the feeling that the Swedes reached perfection in their epic hypnotic sludge sound, though I’m pretty sure their next one is gonna make me regret those words. They’ve already released a new track in October, a cover of AC/DC’s Night Prowler, bending it to their unyielding sonic identity, throwing some catchiness on top. All along the course of Seeds, the wall of riffs is suffocating, the bass and drums thunder and hammer at us like a merciless juggernaut that won’t stop until there’s nothing left, letting the haunted vocals cover the slaughter like mist after a night-long battle. That might be the solution to start anew, get rid of all the violence and toxicity to plant new seeds on fresh soil, unburdened by all the noise and pollution of our destructive society…
#6: Delving – Hirshbrunnen
For Fans Of: Pink Floyd, Elder’s Gold & Silver Sessions, Motorpsycho, Yawning Man
Nick DiSalvo, the genius fronting Elder, is presenting us with his solo project, Delving, a fitting name for a project born in the pandemic, and for diving deeper into Nick’s musical universe. Everything on this album is written and played by himself, except a few additional guitar tracks, giving us a good idea of the wide spectrum of soundscapes that can bloom in his mind. The music on this one is deeply reflective, melting the Elder vibe we know into ambient electronic drones and pure prog jewels.
If you liked Elder‘s Gold & Silver Sessions, you should love this, I would also recommend you to check out one of his previous projects, also named Gold and Silver, with which he released Azurite and Malachite, back in 2014. This all shows that this vibe some might discover with Delving has been a part of his musical DNA for a long time, and that might also explain how it feels so good, his extraordinary talent doing the rest. Nick is clearly an accomplished artist (if anybody ever doubted that in the first place aha), pursuing his inspirations, giving in to his obsessions, keeping on offering us some of the best music out there.
Take a step back, a deep breath, observe the cold winter outside, enjoy this moment of peaceful contemplation and the utter elegance of Delving‘s dreamy vibes.
#5: Mythic Sunship – Wildfire
For Fans Of: Sungrazer, Causa Sui, Monomyth, 35007
Wildfire is the 5th album coming from the Danes of Mythic Sunship (review here), and it must not have been an easy task to find a worthy successor to the outstanding monument that was Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music. They even signed on a new label, the Californian Tee Pee Records, on the other side of the world, as a way to launch a new chapter of their evolution. As befits the album title, it takes off on burning wheels with killer riffs and swirling sax, kind of transitioning from the previous LP, exhilarating harmonies and melodies pulling us effortlessly off Earth’s gravity, before taking us on a mesmerizing trip through the stars of this new galaxy.
This album is only a new step on the band’s journey, strong of each of the previous ones, and exploring further. The Danes display confidence in their songcrafting, mastering their anaconda-rock perfectly, letting their sonic snake weave freely through unknown territories full of piercing melodies and sheer moments of rapture. The guitars are chanting all along, telling tales of speechless wonder, bouncing along with the rhythm making you want to dance in a hypnotized trance like peyote-fueled Indians around a campfire.
The music of Mythic Sunship always comes to me as overflowing with joy, soothing any burden of the soul to leave us euphorically exhausted, smiling dumbly, in awe of the musical beauty they summon. Wildfire is a perfect example of this, and I’m pretty sure there will be more where that comes from, in the meantime, we can always come back to this one or its predecessors to help us go through any dark times, like anchors of happiness in the storm.
#4: Motorpsycho – Kingdom of Oblivion
Bandcamp – Facebook – Instagram – Spotify – Youtube
For Fans Of: Elder, King Crimson, King Buffalo
The Norwegian masters delivered once again an amazing album in 2021, as pretty much every year for the 33 years they’ve been active. You might be used to finding them around this spot in my tops, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise. That said, Kingdom of Oblivion is definitely one of their best albums, maybe even better than The Tower which was already a masterpiece. They really don’t make it easy for us, and at the same time how could we complain when a band relentlessly keeps on creating such brilliant LPs, year after year, without ever seeming to reach any low point in inspiration? They NEVER disappoint, every album is a gem, with the band keeping on pushing their orgasmic alchemy forward, exploring the myriad of possibilities in front of them, and with such virtuosity and talent, any direction they chose will only bring high-quality material, like a diamond mine that could never run dry.
One can only be admirative of the dedication these guys are displaying, year after year, they refine and polish their sound, never tired of trying things out, always providing us with fresh and delightful albums. Dwelling on this version of their identity for around 10 years, you can feel that they evolve in this blend of Progressive Heavy Psych of theirs like fishes in the water, everything flows ever so naturally, as complex as it may be. Each album takes us on a pilgrimage to their own reality, and Kingdom of Oblivion might be one of the most mature versions of it yet. Their sound is heavier than ever, with still the same abundance of details going with their delightful and perfectly timed composition, their ecstatic epicness flawlessly executed as always.
They might have worked more on the contrast in their music for this one, keeping on pushing their heavy side forward while experimenting on the calmer end of their sonic spectrum. The Norwegians are proving once again that their exquisite finesse can shine both in graceful refinement as well as in grandiose magnificence. The energy and emotions go up and down throughout the course of the album, with blissful ballads succeeding to gritty anthems instinctively, leaving us a bit puzzled about how they just pulled this off, for the only few seconds it can take before the next orgasmic part comes to take us away, scattering any thought into a big and fluffy cloud of pure euphoria.
#3: Kanaan – Earthbound
For Fans Of: Motorpsycho, RotoR, Astrodome, Causa Sui
Double Sun was my favorite album last year, and even though I knew the competition would be hard, I had high expectations for the Norwegians’ new output this year. I spinned a lot their Live in Oslo (released in June) to help me wait for November and this promising album, with a couple of singles dropping ahead to turn up the hype. Those singles sounded fuzzier than what Kanaan used us to, which was a bit surprising at first, though it enriches even more their heavy psych infused with prog/jazz vibes, while giving a whole new dimension to such a brilliant band.
Earthbound unveils a new side of the band’s universe, glorifying heaviness, while keeping everything that made them so great to begin with, their finesse still shining through this thick fog of fuzz. The maestria of these young musicians is pretty obvious, and fills us with rightful frowning approbation. They’re grooving without end, barely letting us breathe (don’t worry, there’s still calmer moments of blissful delight here and there), keeping on bringing tight licks, killer transitions, heavy riffage, and orgasmic climaxes.
I’m completely stunned by how mature, rich, and satisfying their music can be, especially after this kind of evolution in their sound, in such a short time. And yet it still sounds as natural as ever, as if they’ve always been doing this, Kanaan seem to nail anything they try, turning every melody into pure gold pouring out of their amps.
#2: Temple Fang – Fang Temple
For Fans Of: Electric Moon, Mondo Drag, Motorpsycho, Pink Floyd
After their Live at Merlyn that enchanted me last year and each of their mindblowing performances, you couldn’t imagine how much I was waiting for Temple Fang‘s debut album. Even though this is not exactly an actual studio album per se, but an hybrid product made of live recordings reworked, dubbed, and produced in studio to come to the final result, that might be the closest we could get from them for now. After all, it sounds like it, while staying true to the core of the band, who are deeply attached to letting the music freely evolve as it can only truly do in a live setting. For more details on this, and the band’s take on it, please go check out the interview we did at the Down The Hill Festival a few months ago.
Their piercing guitars, smooth bass, enveloping drums feel are spiraling together in complete harmony, depicting stunning soundscapes with an unsettling apparent easiness. Their enchanting voices are lifting us up to skies up above, making us feel enlightened just by the touch of these cristal clear melodies on our souls, bearing heavy loads of emotions. It’s hard to pin down Temple Fang‘s style exactly, as they mix lots of influences, inside and outside of the heavy rock spectrum. They don’t really sound like any other band, and you’ll have the feeling of hearing these kinds of vibes for the first time. That’s probably one of the things that make them so awesome, as it is definitely not an easy feat to pull in a sphere of genres that exists for decades.
I just love the free-flowing feeling their music exhudes, they weave graciously hypnotic harmonies, reverberating enigmatic echoes coming and going in movements, taking their time to build up, progressively increasing the tension, and relieving it in thrilling outbursts. Their songs might be around 20 min long, but you won’t even notice it, captivated by those waves of ecstasy, merrily floating in meditation, unable to think about anything expect how good this sounds, and how serene you feel, letting yourself go with those transcending soundwaves.
#1: King Buffalo – Acheron
For Fans Of: Motorpsycho, Elder, All Them Witches, RotoR
King Buffalo teased their return pretty well, promising us 3 albums composed while in quarantine. Longing To Be The Mountain became one of my classics since it got released and I was quite hyped about those special records, and even more while following the news that dropped here and there about it (like this article from The Obelisk describing the recording conditions of Acheron). It was pretty obvious they would try different things on each of those records, to give each one its own identity, and allow themselves to express different sides of their emblematic sound, all the better for us!
The Burden of Restlessness got released first and was already a killer album, but somehow didn’t move me as much as I expected, maybe because of the overall colder harsher vibe of it, not especially what I was into at that time. I still came back to it pretty often during the year, giving it a few try to be sure, admiring this new shade of King Buffalo, and the remarkable songcrafting they display with each passing album. But as soon as we received the presskit for Acheron, I was fascinated, drinking these wonderful warm flowing organic melodies like ambrosia. Completely obsessed with it, I took my time and good dozen listens to prepare a detailed review for the release day (check it out there).
Acheron flows ever so naturally, from beginning to end, its long trippy tracks are transporting you to those caves it was recorded in. I feel like I can lay on the cold grounds, feeling the strength of the waters digging slowly but inexorably their path through the stone, looking at the ceiling, the warmth of King Buffalo‘s fuzzy incantations reverberated on the walls, taking me through them, drifting away in the distant starry sky above. This album felt perfect from the very first time and only got better with every listen, comfortably soothing, stirring up ecstatic joy and peace.
King Buffalo keeps on proving they’re one of the most outstanding bands in our scene right now. Even though my top proves the competition is tough, they always manage to deliver flawless albums filled with wonder, arousing curiosity and fascination with every release.
More Fuzz & Friends
As usual, I don’t allow myself to put the records we produce ourselves in my top, as it wouldn’t be so fair to the other bands, because if we’re producing it, it’s obvious that we love those records. This year we only released one, but there are two others that we might have also produced as well as another one from the More Fuzz Family that I listened to A LOT. This is also quite a special relationship with a record, to have listened to it so many times, and especially before the release date, kind of fucks up how I can rank them in comparison with others, so I decided to put them here too (thus also giving me 3 more spots in my top20 eheheh). They are not specially ordered, I love the three of them in their own way, check out if you do too 😉
Stone From The Sky – Songs From The Deepwater
For Fans Of: Toundra, RotoR, Somali Yacht Club, My Sleeping Karma
Our More Fuzz Records buddies came back with a new album this year, after changing their drummer, and we’ve been delighted with the evolution in their sound from the very first listen. Stone From The Sky gave a lot more attention to contrast on this new album, shifting naturally in the blink of an eye from the highest mountaintops to the bottom of the oceans.
With thick fuzz making you shiver from the tones going through your body, piercing intoxicating guitars echoing frantically, and pachydermic thrumming from their new recruit, the trio takes us on an intense journey through those seven tracks. Songs From The Deepwater is exhausting and delivering at the same time, releasing lots of energies into the cosmos and taking our beloved Stone From The Sky to new heights, so don’t miss them on tour this year!
Djiin – Meandering Souls
For Fans Of: Ruby The Hatchet, Gaupa, Motorpsycho, The Dead Weather
We fell in love with Djiin as soon as the first notes of their debut album, The Freak (last copies in our shop), hit our tympans. Since then, they changed their bass player, toured intensively, and spent a few years refining their skills and sonic identity, working steadily on new material, pushing forward their distinctive sound. Meandering Soul is the result of these years of hard work, so be ready for a demanding new chapter of their evolution.
They’re still melting down 70s prog with psychedelic doom vibes, throwing some hints of krautrock and eastern folk, under a finish of occult rock, though the expansion in their songwriting is quite striking here. Each song is an intricate ritual involving several disorientating pieces, killer breaks, and shifts in rhythm. The Quatuor eventually binds everything together, giving it all a meaning by throwing the bigger picture in your face in a maddening frenzy.
Tremor Ama – Beneath
For Fans Of: Kind, Witchcraft, Savanah, Baroness
Tremor Ama is another of France’s finest up-and-coming bands, they’re bringing a fresh take on our beloved genre and were warmly recommended to us by Red Sun Atacama. We could have signed them on More Fuzz Records and will probably regret it quite a while, which might explain why we shed some light on them through two clip premieres, as well as a review+interview.
Tremor Ama’s atmospherical heaviness is powerful and hypnotic, thick fuzz and warm grooves crash with piercing guitars and soulful vocals to depict majestic soundscapes. Their meticulous appealing songwriting makes the best of their dark and ethereal atmospheres, eventually tilting into heavy and epic catharsis.
Wormsand – Shapeless Mass
For Fans Of: Monolord, Rezn, Domkraft, Toner Low
We’ve premiered their album right here, which I reviewed while Mr. Momo interviewed them, and they’ve joined our little fuzzy family through More Fuzz Booking. After a self-titled EP two years ago, they came back bearing heavy artillery with their killer debut album, putting the French scene inside out with their singular blend of heaviness and infectious energy, crushing scene after scene, leaving a trail of enthusiast and converted doomsters behind them.
Playing a lot with the contrast between darkness and light, heaviness and aeriality, somewhere at the crossroads of Doom, Heavy Psych, and Sludge, with hints of Prog, Noise, and Grunge.
Brace yourself, it’s nasty and unforgiving, but it feels freaking good.
Now check all those other brilliant albums I didn’t have enough room for in my top, ordered by Atmosphere Levels, and alphabetically by band name inside those.
By Fat Level
- 10,000 Years – II
- Atomic Vulture – Moving Through Silence
- Green Lung – Black Harvest
- Hermit’s Weedsom – As Above, So Below
- Kadabra – Ultra
- Little Jimi – The Cantos
- Maha Sohona – Endless Searcher
- Savanah – Olympus Mons
- Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip
- Triptonus – Soundless Voice
- Vokonis – Odissey
By Purple Haze Level
- Camera – Prosthuman
- Carlton Melton – Night Pillars
- Elara Sunstreak Band – Vostok 1
- Elephant9 – Arrival of the New Elders
- Estrada Orchestra – Playground
- Gondhawa – Käampâla
- Holy Monitor – Southern Lights
- Kungens Män – Den nya skivan
- Mt. Mountain – Centre
- Octopus Ride – II
- Pilot Voyager – Bud Fascination
- Shem – II
- Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska – The Eternal Electric Landscape
- The Holy Family – The Holy Family
- White Manna – First Welcome
- Yawning Sons – Sky Island
By Temperature Level
- a/lpaca – Make It Better
- JuJu – La Que Sabe
- Madmess – Rebirth
- Snowy Dunes – Sastrugi
- Spidergawd – VI
- The Gluts – Ungrateful Heart
- Uranus Space Club – Another Planet, Another Love
- Zahn – Zahn
Top 10 gigs of 2021
- Causa Sui @ Loppen, Christiania, DK
- Motorpsycho, Slift, Temple Fang, Slomosa, Mohama Saz, Manngold, Motor!k @ Desertfest Antwerp, BE
- King Buffalo, Golden Hours, Electric Moon, Fake Indians @ Desertfest Ghent, BE
- Bismut, Mr. Bison, Kombynat Robotron, Causa Sui @ Alterna Sounds Festival, Münster, DE
- Narcosatanicos, Oresund Space Collective @ Ond Jazz in Loppen, Copenhagen, DK
- Monomyth & Temple Fang @ Down The Hill, Rillaar, BE
- Interkosmos, Kozmotron, Gigatron2000 @ secret festival, DE
- 10000 Russos & The Gluts @ Hafenklang, Hamburg, DE
- Faust @ Hafenklang, Hamburg, DE
- Black Bombaim + Krypto @ Rodellus Festival, Ruílhe, Braga, PT
Bonus: Favorite track of the year
Merlin – Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure
For Fans Of: Salem’s Pot, Wight, Daft Punk, Pink Floyd
I freaking love Merlin, these guys are silly geniuses, and also amazing trolls, each of their releases is quite a surprise, and this split with Wizzerd is nothing else than this (full review here). Using their side of the record for a 22min track, decomposed in 4 movements exploring completely different universes, while managing to maintain some coherence throughout the whole trip, what else could you ask for?
Here they start by a refreshing critic of Stoner Doom with a 6min anthem that pins down the core of this genre, with lyrics mocking all the clichés about it. Once this point clearly made, they shift to the “Forest of Funk”, with an extremely appealing funk-rock passage, going back and forth between lightheaded breaks and heavier moments, binding the different parts together. Then they surprise us again with the “Disco Plexus”, a french-touch inspired thrust leaning towards more modern sonorities, while keeping it organic, if those two parts didn’t manage to lift your mood and make you shake your booty, I don’t know what can… But then, maybe you’ll be more into the last part of this epic journey as Merlin transitions smoothly to “Atom Heart Merlin Suite”, an obvious unashamedly inspired trippy sequence, reminding us all what our beloved genre owes to this monument that Pink Floyd is.
Come on, embark with us on this adventure, and you should be ready to face everything that this shitty period of time might throw at us, dancing your ass off with a crooked smile.