Best psych albums of 2018

Leo and Mertsi chose their top psychedelic albums, gigs and curiosities of the fine year 2018.

Mertsi’s Best psychedelic albums – TOP 10 (in random order)

Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain)
A dominating performance once again from the Japanese group. The band’s sound is truly unique and enchanting, their latest LP as coherent and otherworldly as their two previous ones, yet more laid-back.

RF Shannon – Trickster Blues (Cosmic Dreamer)
One of my favourite findings this year. RF Shannon is not a very well-known name in the “psych” scene, but thanks to Fuzz Club who distributed his new album in Europe, I got to know the Texan’s music and instantly fell in love. Trickster Blues is a great album filled with strong desert blues melodies.

Our Solar System – Origins (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond)
The Swedish band for me is one of the best psych studio bands in Scandinavia. With a gigantic 21-minute one-sider and four shorter tracks, Origins takes over the listener with a relentless psych-pagan element-bending power.
Read my full album review in Finnish here.

Black Helium – Primitive Fuck (Riot Season)
The LP was sold out before I had time to buy it, which still hurts my guts! Black Helium’s album is a mixture of sturdy rock’n’roll sounds, garage psych, kosmische and groovy stoner. The songs are full of such power that I was not surprised to read the band was formed in 2016 for a special one-off Halloween gig at a heady Londonese cub.

L’Eclair – Polymood (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)
Instrumental disco-funk-kosmische smoothness and groovy synths hailing from Switzerland. I like to play this record when I’m hosting a dinner or an evening with my friends. Coke Mountain is one of the psychedelic tracks of the year – so beautiful yet powerfully growing that it gives me goosebumps.

Black Lizard – Celebration Of A New Dawn (Fuzz Club)
Celebration Of A New Dawn by the Finnish group is a colorful and balanced psych/garagerock album that flows warmly and rocks smoothly.
Read my full album review in Finnish here.

Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Full Time Hobby)
I’ve been a fan of Jacco since I saw him for first time live at his home country Netherlands in 2013. He’s a fantastic musician and an likable artist. For Somnium he used old synths and other imaginative solutions to create timeless sounds. It’s a great album, though I expected a tiny bit more.

Kiki Pau – Hiisi (Beyond Beyond is Beyond)
Take a path to the forest and don’t turn back until you reach the verdant end. Skillful and imaginative album full of folky kraut rock and epic Pink Floydish jams from the Finnish band.
Read my full album review in Finnish here.

Hookworms – Microshift (Domino)
While the Leeds band’s new album wasn’t as psychedelic as their previous ones, it was a brilliant mixture of indie rock and up-beat kraut influenced electronic pop that provided some of the strongest songs of the year, like Negative Space.
Read my full album review in Finnish and English here.

Throw Down Bones – Two (Fuzz Club)
Combinations of techno and psych rock have clearly been on the rise, and I’ve been curious about it from the start. Two by Throw Down Bones may be the best mixture of acid house and krautrock so far.

Bonus categories

Best Live Gig: 10 000 Russos at Fuzz Club Eindhoven
Out of dozens of powerful live sets in Eindhoven, this one from the Portugal trio was perhaps the most astonishing. The rhythm of their haunting dark psych masterpiece Policia Preventiva (aka Germinal) is so powerful, yet the band plays it chillingly calmly.

Most Promising Psychedelic Band: Love’n’Joy
If their future LP (hope that happens soon) holds more of jewels like Come About, we’ll be seeing this Ukrainian band in the next year’s list as well.

Leo’s favourites

Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist – Love Is The Message (Cashmere Thoughts)
London jazz duo Yussef Kamaal split up unfortunately after their magnificent debut in 2016. This year they both came back on their own and especially Yussef Dayes’ return with Alfa Mist hit the spot with it’s soulfulness and warmness. Its live version (below) recorded in Abbey Road is my most listened song of the year.

Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Full Time Hobby)
Overall mesmerizing instrumental LP is a great record that don’t need skipping. Leaving vocals out feels like a good choice, they might have broken the dreamy atmosphere. Less baroque, more synth sounds in the spirit of Vangelis and Mort Garson.

Jesse – Fluids (Höga Nord Rekords)
Even though, my expectations for Finnish band Jesse’s Höga Nord release were super high, Fluids didn’t let a long-time Jesse fan and a friend of Höga’s catalogue down. A side pure bangers, B side goes under the water and needs more time to dive to appreciate. Love to hear how Jesse’s music evolves with every record.

Spencer Zahn – People of the Dawn (Double Denim)
I found Zahn’s album on September, but its magic becomes stronger now: it is a perfect soundtrack for dark and snowy winter landscape. Zahn conjures beautiful and scary world with his double bass and synthesisers. Not for dancing.

Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain)
Japanese guys can handle different styles from prog to psych to space rock. The strongest tunes for me are their ballads, Nazo Nazo in this album especially. Its video is also easily my most loved and watched music video this year.

Träden – Träden (Subliminal Sounds)
New group by members of classic 60s Swedish psychedelic rock group Träd, Gräs Och Stenar. Over-an-hour length monster has such an engaging moments from the beginning it should not be missed.

Nu Guinea – Nuova Napoli (NG Records)
Disco record from Italy (2018) that could be from Italy (1983). Favourite tracks Stann Fore and ’A Voce ‘E Napule.

Psychic Lemon – Frequency.Rhythm.Distortion.Delay (Tonzonen Records)
Fuzzy and catchy uptempo loops make it easy to fall into the music. The awakening from trance comes in the last track which is more laid-back than the other four in the album.

Steven Julien – Bloodline EP (Apron Records)
Maybe my most listened record of the year. Ode to Roland synths and drum machines. Long and groovy machine drum beats sometimes topped with gently melodies. Start from Queens of Ungilsan.

Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs (Tan Cressida, Columbia)
Only 20-minute long album is a manic stew. Short songs neither fade in or out and the beats are digitally constructed sample-based drafts. More shades in Earl’s world than in the previous dark/slow album.

Bonus Categories

Best Live Gig: The Mauskovic Dance Band at Shacklewell Arms, London
I have been a fan of the band since I saw their hilarious music video Analog Fruit last year. Free gig on Sunday evening was packed and sweaty experience in a small venue. Mauskovics looked like a group of crooks who were set free from the prison to play the gig. They played in a cheerful, hungry and sovereign way.

Keep an eye on: Spill Gold
Kraut/psych trio from the Netherlands released a promising EP in 2018 and is convincing on stage too. Hopefully in 2019 we will hear their debut LP.

Mainokset

Arvio: Hookworms – Microshift (2018)

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Click here to skip to English summary of the review.

Englantilainen Hookworms sanoi haastattelussamme halunneensa tehdä jotain aiemmasta noise/kraut/psykedelia-linjastaan poikkeavaa, ja siinä se totisesti onnistui: neljäs albumi Microshift kuljettaa bändin soiton elektronisempaan suuntaan ja kappaleiden aiheet iholle, sanoittaja-laulaja Matthew Johnsonin (MJ) henkilökohtaisiin kokemuksiin.

Uutta levyä edellyttänyt tauko ei ole ollut bändille ruusuilla tanssimista: bändin studio joutui tulvan kouriin ja saatiin jälleenrakennettua vain joukkorahoituskampanjan avulla. Avoimesti kamppailustaan masennuksen kanssa puhunut MJ kertoi Microshiftin tarinoiden kumpuavan muun muassa ahdistuksesta, eroista ja pakokauhusta.
Pitkillä varjoilla on kirkkaat valonlähteet. Microshift on MJ:n selvästä henkilökohtaisuudesta huolimatta toiveikas ja kuten Soft Season ja Each Time We Pass -kappaleet osoittavat, myös kaunis levy.

Avausraidat Negative Space ja Static Resistance herättivät ennakkoon huomiota kahdesta syystä: ensinnäkin biisit ovat loistavia elektronisen indierockin tehopakkauksia. Seitsemänminuuttinen Negative Space lainaa tanssimusiikista, ja yhtyeen omin sanoin kappaleet sopisivat vaikka kuntosalille. Toiseksi ero Hookwormsin aiempaan abstraktimpaan tuotantoon on pysäyttävä. Rytminvaihdoksilla leikittelevä Ullswater on tarttuvaa ja oivaltavaa elektronista vaihtoehtopopia.

Toivo saattaa puskea yllättävistä raoista.

Muutoksen voima ei kuitenkaan ole Hookwormsin onnistuneen paluulevyn taika: se on sen monipuolisuus. Tunteiden kirjo kulkee päättäväisestä energiasta hädin tuskin päivänvalon kestävään sovintoon oman olemisen kanssa. Jännite kantaa vahvana läpi levyn.
Kaoottinen Boxing Day viittaa päivään, jolloin tulva täytti yhtyeen Leedsin-studion tilat. Kappale katkeaa kuin tie rotkon reunalla – mutta vain tippuakseen turvallisesti Reunionin sovinnolliseen lempeyteen, kohti uudelleenyhdistymistä.

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Loistelias päätöskappale Shortcomings tiivistää levyn ytimen: elämä saattaa hukuttaa studion tulvaan mutta myös puskea uutta toivoa yllättävistä raoista. Discosta asti ammentava psykedeliavivahteiseen laulu päättyy toivekkaasti: ”Hold out, it’ll come.”

Microshift on kirjo mieleenjääviä kappaleita, joiden musiikillinen ilmaisu on rytmivaihdoksissaan ja syntetisaattorisoinnuissaan rikasta ja tarttuvaa.

On kiinnostavaa nähdä, raottaako Negative Space -hitti ovea uuteen, tanssittavaan suuntaan psykedeelisen rock-musiikin kentällä. Niin tai näin, Hookwormsista voi Microshiftin myötä taas puhua bändinä, jolla on kiinnostavaa sanottavaa.

Hookworms’ new album Microshift transforms the Leeds band’s sound to much more electronic and up-beat. Microshift’s catchy power, however is not only in the successful transformation of character, it’s in the quality of songs. They are more rhythmic in sound and more personal and less abstract in lyrics. Despite their hard themes, such as relationship break-ups and grief, the songs carry great glimpses of hope and harmony within. Microshift sounds like it that bases on something genuine, on real (often painful) experience. It leads to an emphatic and honest album about both the shadows in life and sources of lights behind them.

Microshift shifts from the opener pair’s energy bursting synth pop to grim and chaotic Boxing Day, which by the way stops – but only to land softly on Reunion’s soothing sounds.
Ullswater and the brilliant closing track Shortcomings are prime examples of Hookworms’ refreshed style of converting their energy levels to inspiring and stylish, yet unique sounding indie synth rock. Hookworms end their four year album drought with stylish and relevant album, whose electronic and up-beat influences may just become more frequent in Neo Psychedelic scene.

New psych videos: MIEN, Dreamweapon, Holy Wave & More

A cosmic deep-focus monolith from Dreamweapon

The Portuguese band’s upcoming album Sol is worth waiting for, according to this music video.

 

 

 

Much-hyped MIEN shows their quality

MIEN is sort of a ”super group” as it comprises of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. Very promising single with a cool video.

 

Hookworm takes a break from ”Pumped up exercise rock”

The third music video from the new Hookworms LP Microshift calms down from the previous ones. Learn more about the band from our Hookworms interview.

 

 

Psychedelic color flow from Pretty Lightning

It’s a colorful video to a rhythmic Pretty Lightning track Tangerine Stream. A classic psych visualization feels like a nice little variation from the many text videos out there..

Holy Wave on the road again

The Texan group Holy Wave announced a new album due this March. Their new music video is a gloomy one, but it has some nice sounds.

A dazing psych-etno-overdoze from JuJu and Goat percussionist Capra Informis

Seven minutes of relentless stream of psychedelic consciousness is for me on a brink for being too much for one video, but have a go at the new JuJu video and decide for yourself!

 

//Mertsi

Interview: After 4 years, Hookworms are back in town

Hookworms is a 5-member psych-punk/kraut/noiserock band from Leeds, England. Despite their very powerful sound Hookworms is not the most well-known psych-influenced bands around. But that may change very soon.

Hookworms have an aura of certain mystique about them. Indeed, during four years I’ve waited for Hookworms’ new music, I’ve started to see the band as the friend you haven’t seen in a long time but who left a lasting impression back then.

Hookworms’ music changes shapes like elements, it’s fluently beautiful and robust at the same time, it transforms between mesmerizing anthems and unstoppable kraut energy –and the icing on the cake is singer MJ’s amazing vocals that sound like Zach De La Rocha’s just-as-wild-but-much-more-British relative. Albums Hookworms (2011) and Pearl Mystic (2013) are particularly powerful.

 Music video: Away/Towards from Pearl Mystic.

After The Hum (2014) Hookworms have been making new music and done a bit of touring. They’ve also faced troubles: their studio got wrecked by a flood but luckily, with the help of their fans, they managed to rebuild it. After four years, Hookworms are back with new music. We had the chance to ask them some questions about their new album that introduces a ”seismic” change to their sound, as described by their record company Domino. The band members go by their initials. My mail was replied by either JN, JW, MB, MJ, or SS.

Kolmas korva: So, how are you doing? How’s Leeds (presumably)?

Hookworms: ”Hello, we’re OK. Leeds is very cold at the moment, but probably not as cold as Helsinki?”

What have you been up to after The Hum (2014)? Looking as a fan from the remote Finland it feels as if you guys have been a bit off the radar.

”After The Hum came out we did a bit of touring and some festivals. Our studio flooded on Boxing Day 2015 so we were out of action for the best part of 7 months in 2016.

A few of us released some records with our other bands (Cowtown, Family Scraps, Xam Duo), then we started writing and recording the new album which took a couple of years to make. Now the boys are back in town.”

For me, your style of combining echoing noise sounds with kraut-influenced psychedelia has always been very powerful. Can you name a few of your major influences?

”El Faro, Square Mile, M&S Service Stations, Backflip Madness, Roland synthesizers and Kanye.”


Two singles you have published so far from Microshift had new nuances in them. They sound more rhythmic, more electronic, more danceable than many of your previous songs. Negative Space is so energizing we actually used it in our Party Mixtape.
The music video of Static Resistance shows a guy living in a fast-paced rat race limbo.

Can you tell us about the creation of Microshift and the themes you want to speak about in your new music?

Microshift was made quite differently to our last two albums. We used the studio and computer as more of an instrument, building up lots of short loops, and much of the initial writing was with synthesizers, drum machines and samplers which we’ve never done before.

Something pumping enough that you can run to it, Exercise Rock.


The intention was to make something more upbeat; body music but through the lense of a rock band. Something pumping enough that you can run to it, Exercise Rock. The lyrical themes of the record include but are not limited to: anxiety, body image, grief, relationship break-ups, opening up to others, wanting to escape the life you’ve built, and all the other things that poor mental health can entail.”

//Mertsi

Hookworms’ new album Microshift out 2nd of February via Domino Records.
https://hookworms.bandcamp.com/album/microshift

 

 

Kolmas Korva Mixtape #7: Party Mix I

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No idea what to play at your party? This mixtape solves the issue, no matter if you’re into psych, pop or whatnot. Let elegant beats and lifting anthems celebrate the evening.

Moodoid – Reptile
The Growlers – Night Ride
TOPS – Petals
Mac Demarco – Freaking Out the Neighborhood
Uusi Fantasia – Heimo Ihminen
The Mauskovic Dance Band – Analog Fruit
Temples – Strange Or Be Forgotten
Klaus Johann Grobe – Wo sind
Hookworms – Negative Space

Mixcloud users can follow our Mixcloud page. Next mixtape during next weeks.