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

Promoottorit: Anthony Chalmers / Baba Yaga’s Hut

For English readers: Anthony Chalmers is a London-based promoter who runs Baba Yaga’s Hut. Read the interview in English here.

Yli kahdeksan miljoonan asukkaan Lontoossa ei ole kiinnostavista konserteista pulaa. Vaikka keikkoja ja keikkapaikkoja on paljon, monet kiinnostavat iltamat ovat samojen tahojen järjestämiä. Yksi näistä marginaalipaskan walluvalpioista on Anthony Chalmers, työteliäs lontoolainen promoottori ja radio-dj.

Chalmers pyörittää Baba Yaga’s Hut -nimistä ohjelmatoimistoa.

Baba Yaga’s Hutilla on monta keikkaa viikossa eri lokaatioissa. Lisäksi se järjestää vuosittain kaksipäiväisen Raw Power -festarin, jonka pääesiintyjinä olivat tänä vuonna Godflesh ja Circle.

Itse en tiedä keikkojen järjestämisestä mitään, ja olikin yllättävää kuulla, että Chalmers pyörittää koko puljua yksin. Promoottorin hommat ovat olleet hänelle leipätyö reilut kymmenen vuotta.

Kooste vuoden 2018 Raw Powerista.

Baba Yaga’s Hut ei keskity mihinkään tiettyyn genreen tai musiikkityyliin. Löyhästi voisi sanoa, että sen buukkaamat artistit soittavat psykedeelistä, raskasta, elektronista ja kokeellista musiikkia.

Chalmersin järjestämien keikkojen kautta olen tutustunut muun muassa hollantilaiseen Spill Gold -trioon. Bändin tiheät kompit, huumaava laulu, kaiutetut kitarat ja synalinjat hurmasivat intiimillä maanantai-illan ilmaiskeikalla Shacklewell Arms -pubissa.

Jututimme Chalmersia hänen työstään promoottorina suurkaupungissa. Lue haastattelu alta.

Anthony Chalmers
Anthony Chalmers

Leo / Kolmas korva:

Miten, milloin ja miksi Baba Yaga’s Hut (BYH) alkoi järjestämään keikkoja Lontoossa?

Anthony Chalmers:

Corsica Studiosin (klubi kaakkois-Lontoossa) omistaja Adrian Jones perusti BYH:n yksitoista vuotta sitten. Sen oli tarkoitus järjestää iltoja Corsicaan. Aloin pyörittää BYH:ia noin neljä-viisi vuotta sitten. Hommat on totisesti laajenneet Corsican ulkopuolelle sittemmin, vaikka se on toki edelleen kotimme.

KK:

Miten kuvailisit normaalia päivääsi promoottorina? Mitä teet niin sanotusti yhdeksästä viiteen?

AC:

Paljon maileihin vastaamista, paljon sosiaalista mediaa, paljon musiikin kuuntelua! Noin parina iltana viikossa keikka. Lisäksi teen Independent Music -podcastia sekä kahta radio-ohjelmaa: Resonance FM:lle viikoittain, NTS Radiolle kuukausittain. Aiemmin tein paljon dj-keikkoja baareissa ja klubeilla, mutta nykyään harvemmin.

KK:

Monet kiinnostavat artistit eivät koskaan soita Suomessa. En tiedä miksi näin on. Mitkä asiat mielestäsi vaikuttavat eniten siihen, että saat buukattua esiintyjät, jotka haluat?

AC:

Selkeästi vain tarvitsette promoottoreita tuomaan niitä! Sun pitäisi tehdä se 🙂 Hyvä maine yleisön, artistien ja keikkavälittäjien silmissä on kaikista tärkeintä.

KK:

Haluatko promota tulevia keikkojasi, joista olet erityisen innostunut? Lukijamme tuskin pääsevät niille, mutta he voivat pitää silmällä, jos/kun kyseiset bändit tulevat keikalle Suomeen.

AC:

Tänä perjantaina esiintyy David Thomas Broughton, jonka suuri fani olen. Olemme tunteneet kymmenen vuotta, mutta en ole koskaan buukannut häntä. Siksi olen tosi innoissani.

Lauantaina Esben & the Witchiä on lämppäämässä Hilary Woods. Hänen albuminsa Colt on ehkä vuoden eniten kuuntelemani levy.

Ensi torstaina Corsicassa soittaa The Field. Keikka on loppuunmyyty, mikä on hienoa. Julkaisen ensi vuoden Raw Power -festarin ensimmäiset esiintyjät ensi viikolla, mikä on aina yksi vuoden parhaista päivistä.

KK:

Muita vinkkejä, suosituksia tai terveisiä tulevaisuuden promoottoreille?

AC:

Tee duunia sellaisen musiikin parissa, johon sinulla on intohimoa.

Välitä artisteista — elantosi on kiinni siitä, että ihmiset tulevat katsomaan heitä. Artistit ovat ylivoimaisesti tärkein juttu, ja he muistavat, kun heitä kohdellaan hyvin.

Vastaa sähköposteihin nopeasti. Oikeasti, se antoi minulle maineen pätevänä promoottorina. Olin ainoa, joka vastasi viesteihin.

English version (full interview)

1. For the start, who is behind Baba Yaga’s Hut?

It’s just me (Anthony Chalmers) who runs everything at BYH & Raw Power.

2. How, when, and why Baba Yaga’s Hut started organizing gigs in London?

BYH was started by Adrian Jones the owner of Corsica Studios for his in house promotes around 11 years ago. I started running BYH for him around 4, 5 years ago and things have really expanded outside of Corsica since then. Although it’s still our home for sure.

3. How professional promoter you are? Does it make your living or is it more like a hobby?

I’v been full time as a promoter now for over 10 years!

4. Your events are located in different venues. How much do you co-operate with the venues, and what kind of deals do you have with them (no need to talk about money and such but in general)?

Not really sure how to reply to this one. I have worked with most venues in London so we all know each other and when I have a gig that I think fits a particular venue I get in touch and sort some dates.

5. How do you keep yourself updated of all the new interesting artists? And how do you choose who is going to play where?

Luckily the more you do it the wider your contacts are and you have a lot of repeat acts, labels that I work with, booking agents that I always work with. But I still listen to all the submissions. Lots of recommendations from other acts that I book for certain.

6. At least in Shacklewell Arms you have some free gigs. I was wondering, how do you cover all the expenses, when, lets say, 4-member band from abroad is playing there?

The venue gives us a fixed budget.

7. How would you describe your normal day as a promoter? What do you do from “nine to five”, so to speak?

Lots of answering emails, lots of social media stuff, lots of listening to music! Then a show in the evening twice a week on average. I also do a weekly podcast called the Independent Music Podcast, weekly radio show on Resonance FM and a monthly show on NTS Radio so a lot of that too.

I used to DJ a lot in bars / clubs but I don’t do so much of that anymore.

8. Many interesting artists never play in Finland. I don’t know why. What do you think are the most important things to get the artists you want to see?

Just need promoters to bring them over clearly! You should do it 🙂

Building up a good name for yourself with audience, artists and agents is the most important.

9. Would you like to promote some upcoming gigs that you are very excited about? Probably our Finnish readers won’t be able to join, but they can keep an eye on if those bands come to Finland.

This Friday I have David Thomas Broughton who I’m a huge fan of. Although we have known each other for a decade I have never booked him before so that’s really exciting. On Saturday I have Hilary Woods supporting Esben & the Witch. Her album Colt is maybe my most listened too of the year.

On Thursday after we have The Field at Corsica which is sold out so that’s nice. Got first announcements for our festival Raw Power coming next week too which is always one of my favourite days of the year.

10. Any other tips, recommendations or greetings for wannabe-promoters?

Work with music that your passionate about.

Really give it a shit about your artists, you are making your living by people coming to see them. They are the most important thing by a mile and remember when people treat them well.

Reply to emails reasonably fast. I swear for years people just thought I was really competent because I was the only person getting back to people.

Think that’s it!

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