With Tame Impala breaking through to massive mainstream crowds, Queens Of The Stone Age being one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and festivals like Roadburn selling out before you can blink your third eye, it’s pretty easy to see it is a good time for psychedelic music. And there is so much going on right now that it is impossible to catch everything that is released this year.
I could recommend looking up Mr. Stonebeliever on YouTube if you want to stay in touch with the psychedelic underground, but if you are in need of a more filtered approach: look no further. Below are listed 10 psychedelic records that are in danger of being overlooked, but definitely deserve a better fate. And of course some free tips of which psychedelic stimulant to turn to while listening. Enjoy!
1. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith Of Phobos
This year’s prize for quirkiest collaboration will not be a long debate. And sure, at a first glance Primus main bass man Les Claypool and “Son-of” Sean Lennon might not have too much in common. However, both their polarized weirdnesses make for one excellent hodgepodge of psychedelic prog on Monolith Of Phobos. Claypool’s singular bass-handling and knack for storytelling becomes quite ingenuously interwoven with Sean Lennon’s uncanny Beatle-esque choruses. Lennon’s mellow sixties vibe proves to be exactly what Claypool’s circus freakery needed to transcend itself. Drink in slowly on a sweltering Summer day. No extra chemicals necessary.
2. Kaleidobolt – The Zenith Cracks
From Finland hails the awesomely monikered Kaleidobolt. On their second album The Zenith Cracks they prove to be an excellent jam band, conjuring the spirit of ‘70’s rock bands like Thin Lizzy and Blue Cheer while having absolutely no regard for songwriting rules or sense of time in general. What makes their sound so recommendable is its grittiness, the feeling of being surrounded by angry hobos that have accused you of stealing their meth. A band like Bison BC is similar in this respect, only Kaleidobolt are less heavy and more expansive in their approach. Hobo psych rock jam extravaganza. A perfect soundtrack for getting “strunk”, or whatever your mates call it when your stoned and drunk at the same time.
3. Lola Colt – Twist Through The Fire
Not heavy per se, but all the more hazy and mellow are London’s Lola Colt who deliver a grand album of “Jefferson Airplane does postpunk” with Twist Through The Fire. This is a band that could just as easily play Roadburn as open up for Savages or even Florence and The Machine. Central to the music is singer Gun Overbye, who brings enough theatrical saying power to be fascinating while reigning it in just enough to remain believable. She brings a certain blackened depth to the music that can only be found in the very icons of postpunk and avantgarde like Nick Cave, Patty Smith, or PJ Harvey. Listening to opening track “Gold” you can’t deny that this is not a band to dismiss this year. It is music to dance to, although slowly, hardly moving, eyes closed. Just a tiny, whimsical strip of LSD and you’re ready to hop aboard the bliss train.
4. Zeal And Ardor – Devil Is Fine
“American Slave and Black Metal”, the description in their own words on Facebook. But before pictures of leather clad bondage freaks in corpsepaint come to mind, let me explain in full detail what Zeal And Ardor are about, because despite the fact that they have many odds against them, they deserve to be taken very seriously. Mixing old African American spirituals with black metal seems far-fetched and perhaps a little absurd even, but Zeal And Ardor somehow make it work. Not much unlike their American brethren in Cobalt or Panopticon these songs represent a strong historical feeling of despair that was already there in the original folk songs, and adding darkness to that proves to be a very good idea indeed. It’s like the shrieks and blastbeats strengthen the words, adding a level of madness and despair that translates the music to the modern world. It’s the best history lesson I had in my life. Take in sober and feel the pain.
5. Coogans Bluff – Flying To The Stars
On the lighter side of life these Germans have roamed the krautrock scene for quite some time now, and Flying To The Stars finally brings out their full potential. Like Motorpsycho teaming up with Jagga Jazzist Horns, but with Tom Waits on vocals for some extra added “Oomph”, you sure can’t accuse them of being unoriginal. Flying To The Stars is an unpredictable adventure movie canned into music. You never know whether serious or not, whether full-fledged song or jam, whether to dance or to trip balls. Good stuff therefore. Eat a space cookie and drink an Erdinger before flying to the stars!
6. King Buffalo – Orion
It’s really simple. If you love All Them Witches, you’ll love King Buffalo. That’s not even just my imagination; they’ve already found each other and shared the stage on multiple occasions. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes them sound so alike though. King Buffalo sound a lot more grungy and they don’t mine the blues as much as their Nashville blood brothers. And yet something unmistakingly links them together. A certain haziness in the vocals, that sense of timelessness as if they were timewarped here directly from the smoky ‘70’s, but without any retro-rehashing going on. What is there not to love about this? A required listen while trekking through mountainous terrain on one of those crazy Peyote camping trips.
7. Greenleaf – Rise Above The Meadow
So you thought stoner rock was dead? Listen to this! Greenleaf from Sweden are road-hardened stoner veterans, yet somehow they found a well of inspiration to make themselves sound completely fresh and new on Rise Above The Meadow. It’s like The Black Keys got their balls back while jamming with Kyuss and drummer Brann Dailor from Mastodon. The songs are all ace and will stick with you immediately, while the sheer force of the drums and the ferocious of the music will flatten your ears like a rabid steamroller. You won’t come by a better album to pump through your car’s speakers this year. Pack your bong with this Greenleaf and Rise Above The Meadow…
8. Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Probably the heaviest record of the bunch. Inter Arma mix their Neurosis-inspired sludge and doom with a tablespoon of black metal and succeed in doing two rare things: 1. keeping it listenable 2. Staying far away from becoming leather-clad caricatures. These shamans of heavy build their songs up like sonic cathedrals. Us feeble listeners can just humbly get down on our knees and take in its ferocious beauty. Like taking a shower in a roaring cascade; it’s terrifying, awe-inspiring and goddamn beautiful all in one. Plan your trip well ahead with this one, because it’s not one to undertake lightly.
9. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Speaking of black metal and trips…Oranssi Pazuzu have been delivering the spacey black metal soundtrack to trippy ville since 2007 already and they have become heavier and trippier with every release so far. The fact that they do so completely in Finnish only adds to the outlandish experience. Oranssi Pazuzu don’t really write songs, they make sonic attempts to recreate mental Maelstroms. Just close your eyes and listen to Värähtelijä and I’ll guarantee you’ll see circles eating other circles while revolving around vicious circle shaped space demons with endless rows of teeth…Ok, It’s probably best if you have a sober buddy around whilst fully taking in this shit. Happy tripping!
10. DeWolff – Roux-Ga-Roux
I had to add a Dutch record to the collection, and DeWolff have been Holland’s finest retro-rock threesome for quite some time now. Heavy on the organs, this band has always been more of a live beast than a studio band. It’s a smart move therefore to have Roux-Ga-Roux recorded in full vintage analog style. It adds so much to the spontaneity and live feel of the record, that is much less streamlined and song-oriented than their previous, effort Grand Southern Electric. DeWolff definitely feels happier being a little rough around the edges, and Rou-Ga-Roux displays a band that just thoroughly enjoys jamming together. Put on your hippie gown, take a smoke bath, and dust off your record player because this should be enjoyed exclusively on vinyl.
Dutchman, cheese fanatic, underground music enthusiast, teacher of English, father of two, singer in a band, ex- Lord Of Metal.
“Life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves”.