Thursday, January 29, 2009

The BEST of 2008

Hail Voyagers!

I'm thrilled to bring you our "Best of 2008" list! Also, joining me in this exercise in near-futility are seven other music-obsessed geeks and freaks, (meant in the best possible way), from all over the planet.

In my world of audio-obsessive behavior 2008 was a GREAT year for music, psychedelia specifically. Memorable as well for some great shows by Kelley Stoltz, the Black Hollies (twice!), The Redwalls,Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears and local heroes The Nevermores.
I'm buoyed by upcoming releases for 2009, such as Outrageous Cherry, The Higher State (finally!), The Chemistry Set (ditto!),Dan Auerbach, The Lovetones, and many more. Keep it coming!

I know what I've been through over the last three-plus weeks in assembling my own list: 100s of hours-with and without headphones, listening and relistening to over 160 albums and assessing, reassessing, listing, contemplating, reevaluating, gnashing teeth, scrambling my brain............below is the fruits of said labor. Enjoy!


Our guests will be going in alphabetical order:

Aural Innovations - Jerry Kranitz

One of the premier sites for all things psych' and-especially, the spacier side of same. (Click on band name to be taken to original review!) Jerry's a good friend, a gentleman, and a scholar, too. Stay tuned as he's involved in a massive book project.

Black Sun Ensemble – “Across the Sea of Id: The Way to Eden” (Camera Obscura 2008)

The lastest (and very likely last) album from Black Sun Ensemble is a mixture of re-recordings of older songs plus new material. The music is primarily acoustic driven, dreamy, pleasantly melodic, and spiritually uplifting. The music is all instrumental, with acoustic guitar often dominating, but electric guitar floating alongside as well, playing sparse, enchanting melodies. Slow paced… dreamy… still psychedelic. Like drifting through the Arizona landscape that's home to these musicians. Lots of beautiful soloing plus tasty saxophone and violin enhancements. And of course we’ve also got the trademark BSE eastern influenced psychedelia with sitar and acid laced guitar. The CD is enhanced with a cool video directed by drummer John Paul Marchand.

The December Sounds/t (self-released 2008)

The December Sound are a Boston/Brooklyn band who recently released their debut album. Lots of variety here. Some songs feature a full impact assault of heavy rocking psychedelia, as if Helios Creed were playing guitar with the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I love the guitars that bubble and shimmer like Hawkwind's Space Ritual, but with a punked out searing edge. But we’ve also got songs with a trippy Eastern flavor and lots of generally outstanding power psych rock songs, as well as some melodic, almost pop oriented psych tunes. I've read where a number of reviewers have referred to The December Sound as Shoegaze, but I don't see how they could be labeled a Shoegaze band. A couple songs explore that realm with their dreamy guitars. But otherwise, definitely not Shoegaze. A very impressive set of heavy guitar driven psychedelia.

The Higher Craft - "Magic Box" (Big Yellow Taxi 2008)

The Higher Craft are a quintet from England that includes former members of Peyote Mothership and Magic Mushroom Band. Throughout the album we hear gorgeous grooving psychedelic vibes that bring to mind the 80s UK festie psych bands, some heavy duty rockers with awesome vocals from Christina, a bit of west coast psychedelic feel, and some slow paced mind massage music with jazzy but ultra trippy psychedelic vibes. Throw in a couple lengthy 10 minute jam tunes and a cool cover of “White Rabbit” and you’ve got one of 2008’s standout psychedelic albums.

L’ira del Baccano – “Si non Sedes Is Live MMVII” (self-released 2008, free digital download)

L'ira del Baccano are a dual guitar, bass, drums, & electronics quartet from Italy that play an all instrumental blend of stoner rock, metal, space rock and psychedelia. The band have a real flair stoner doom jams that exist in deep psychedelic space. Lengthy tracks (one nearing the 20 minute mark) result in multiple thematic twists and turns, alternately crushing and calm, invasive and melodic, continually shifting the pace but keeping a nice seamless flow. And the electronics keep bubbling throughout. We’ve also got cool power-psych rockers with a great combination of spaced out and pleasantly melodic guitars, one handling the freaky effects duties and the other creating the song. Excellent interplay between the two guitarists. Outstanding musicianship, tight as a knot playing among all members, and a real knack for incorporating multiple stoner/metal/space/psych influences.

La Ira de Dios - "CosmosKaosDestruction" (World in Sound 2008)

Imagine Jimi Hendrix playing with Space Ritual era Hawkwind, add a healthy dose of psychedelic thrash and doom, and you've got just the recipe for a band like Lima, Peru based La Ira de Dios. This is seriously aggressive and intense power rocking psychedelia that conjures up images of a devastating avalanche of molten lava. The band are a 3-piece on this album and I don't see the usual synths in the credits, which is fine because axeman Chino Burga knows how to take his guitar deep into space. Since their first album in 2005, the band have continued to prove themselves to be one of the best on the heavy psych rock scene. The energy level on this album is superhuman and relentless. Don't listen with any sharp objects in your proximity.

Niff Riff’s Freak Element – “The World’s Alive” (Riffdisc 2008)

A veteran of the Cleveland, Ohio alternative music scene, Nick Riff is known for the two albums he recorded for the great Delerium label in the 1990's, as well as contributions to numerous compilations. The World's Alive, by Nick Riff's Freak Element, was recorded in 1999 but due to various issues was never released until now. This sucker rocks from beginning to end. Lots of looped liquid guitar and all around psychedelic swirl. We’ve got heavy spaced out psych rockers with wailing trip guitar licks and blasts of alien electronics, and relentlessly pounding stoner-garage beats. And I really dig the mixture of crashing guitar chords and tasty solo bits. Nick does a hell of a fine job of writing catchy songs while taking them deep into the psychedelic cosmos and working in lots of instrumental stretching out within the space of 5+ minute songs.

Octopus Syng – “Birds of Morning Are Never Late” (Nasoni Records 2008)

Octopus Syng is a one man band consisting of Jaire from Helsinki, Finland on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, organ, keyboards, effects and percussion. The music is firmly in the 60s influenced folk-psychedelic, flower power pop-psych, San Francisco mold, and Jaire is a master craftsman in these arts. The 11 songs on the album are lovingly and respectfully retro and beautifully produced, with sophisticated arrangements. Honestly, this music sounds like it was recorded in the Summer of Love. Cross Syd-era Floyd with Ray Davies and a parade of 60s West Coast bands and you'll get something like Octopus Syng. The music is laced with seductively lulling melodies and vocals, though Jaire isn't afraid to rock out and can get wildly acidic at times too. The album is fully solo, with all instruments played by Jaire.

Seven that Spells – “Black Om Rising” (Beta lactam Ring Records 2008)

The lastest from Croatian psych monsters Seven that Spells is a two sided disc, one side being a CD with the album, and the other being a DVD with live performances of tracks from the album. Seven that Spells have been highly Acid Mother’s Temple influenced in the past, and even collaborated with Kawabata Makoto. But this outing is a little different. One of the standout tracks is a prog-punk-acid jam, with killer bass work and both melodic guitar lines and whacked out ripping psych leads. Other tracks reminded me of Japanese duo Ruins, but with the addition of guitar, and healthy doses of avant-prog-psych thrash. Intense, electrified, a level of complexity, but with a PUNK attitude. But also be prepared for some seriously freaked out psychedelic free-jazz fun. The energy level on this album is off the map, and even though it's only 40 minutes long you'll feel in no way deprived.

Stone Oak Cosmonaut – “Out of Orbit” (self-released 2008)

Stone Oak Cosmonaut are a Dutch trio who play a monster blend of Space Rock, Metal and Stoner Rock. We’ve got pounding slabs of Space-Metal, with swirling alien electronics, crunchy metallic guitar and cosmic space guitar, killer crushing Stoner Space Rock tunes, and much more. These guys know how to incorporate the electronics into the music so that it all gels nicely. But the highlight… the standout… the ultimate monster of the album, is the two part, 25 minute "Out of Orbit". It starts off as an easy paced spacey song with both freaky electronics and proggy synth washes. But the pace quickly picks up and when the guitar kicks in we're in full power trio psych rock mode. The band alternate between intense stoner metal and ripping spaced out psychedelic jamming, and I really dig the hip shakin' psychedelic boogie-woogie bits.

Thunderbolt Pagodas/t (Mutant Music 2008)

Thunderbolt Pagoda is the latest project from a group of Minneapolis based musicians that have been involved in such bands as Skye Klad, Salamander, The Pins, and others.

Side one of this LP only release (vinyl!!) opens with an intense, thunderous, metallic intro that leads to a psychedelic jam with melodic eastern flavored guitar, flute, synths and a potent rhythm section that creates a tension laced on-the-edge feel. Though it has vocals, the next track has more of a song element to it. But it's just as psychedelically volatile, as the verses inevitably lead to luscious acidic meltdowns. All of side two is taken up by "Release the Krakken" Parts 1 & 2. It begins very sparse, with a repetitive, echoed guitar note. Bits of flute, light drones and atmospherics soon join in, and the buildup is very gradual. But right after the 6 minute mark the drums kick in and the band launch into Rock mode, with a mixture of trippy psychedelia and sonic boom claps. Great stuff.

Next up is our pal Damien Youth! Not only a creator of great music, he's just as in tune with what's going on over a wide spectrum. Very wide!

1-The Last Shadow Puppets-The Age Of The Understatement

2-Bryan Scary-Flight Of The Knife

3-Pete And The Pirates-Little Death

4-Firewater-The Golden Hour

5-Simon Bookish-Everything/Everything

6-Louis XIV-Slick Dogs And Ponies

7-Adam Green-Sixes and Sevens

8-The Black & Whites-Self Titled

9-Vampire Weekend-Self Titled

10-(It's a tie between) The Aliens-Luna & The Muslims-Self Titled

Our next guest is a long-time friend and musically-warped being, lo-fi jr. He of Grown Up All Wrong fame/infamy! He's twisted in the right way.

1. Matt Baldwin - Paths Of Ignition

2. Boris - Smile (Japanese Version)

3. Rhys Chatham - Guitar Trio Is My Life!

4. The Dirtbombs - We Have You Surrounded

5. Gunslingers - No More Invention

6. Hush Arbors - ST

7. J.T. IV - Cosmic Lightning

8. Nisennenmondai - Neji/Tori

9. Sic Alps - U.S. EZ

10. Vincent Black Shadow - More Deeper


Next up..... Plastic Crimewave! He's graced our blog before, and you'll find the full-on extent of this man and his contributions to the psychedelic scene. Here he goes:

never let it be said i'm not excessive....

top 10 releases of 08:

1.v/a--wayfaring strangers:guitar soli

2.spires that in the sunset rise-curse the traced bird

3.stack waddy-s/t reissue

4.kawabata makoto-kiss me goodbye cdr

5.mondo drag-holy spirit
6.josephine foster-this coming gladness

7.fursaxa-kobold moon

8.richard pinhas-singles collection

9.jack rose-dr. ragtime and his pals

10.v/a -soul messages from dimona (soul messengers)

top 10 shows i saw of 08:
1.roky erickson at double door
2.DMBQ at the abbey
3.sri aurobindo at the talking head
4.dead c. at empty bottle
5.pierced arrows at empty bottle
6.terry reid/mark fry at empty bottle
7.homosexuals at the hideout
8.OnO at metal shaker
9.oneida at terrastock
10.simply saucer at subterranean

most listened to of 08:
1.sir douglas quintet
2.leon thomas funk
4.jt iv grandmothers
6.chicago transit authority
7.mark fry
8.four tops
9.mothers love (60s pre-queen)

Next is The Psych Queen - Celina, of "Your Psychedelic Tunes" Compilation fame (I think she's up to Volume 5 or 6 now)! Honored to have her involvement!

I think there is something that stands out in each of these albums that really displays that the heart and soul are both ever-present. Each artist here has their own way of innovative psych vibes, and I'm excited for anything more they have to give in 2009 and onward.

1. Al Hotchkiss - Insurmountable Princesses

Certain darkness and mystique meld this album into a beautiful string of come hither sounds. It's a breed of sounds all its own, and it's unlike anything that's being made right now. It is a must-have.

2. The Magnificent Brotherhood - The Magnificent Brotherhood

Another fresh album. The Brotherhood have it down as far as I'm concerned. They know how to make you move.

3. Mike Brown - Disappointing Sophomore Effort

One of the most incredible lyricists I've come across. An incredible one-man project, and I truly believe there s only more amazement to come. Just try and keep up, it's worth it. (It was actually really hard to choose between his first album "Brown Acid" and this.)

4. Heavy Water Experiments - Heavy Water Experiments

I like giving this album a good spin any time after sunset. It's a brilliant escape for your mind to mellow out to, still keeping the edge of the music. This album is truly substantial.

5. The Jesus Loves Heroin Band - Slow Fever

This album is so raw, and the music is all the better for it. It is what the whole thing is about. I really love that about it.

6. The Shivas - Where Have You Gone To?

Another one that's guaranteed to make you move. I have a hippie ear essentially, and bring in some brilliant percussion and some flowery language - along with a real sense of soul and a beat - and I'm in heaven.

7. Unimother 27 - Grin

This will definitely take you on a journey that your mind only thought it could handle. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...

8. Enormous - Attentionsbahn (Free DL)

This band has always caught my attention long enough for me to really embrace the (mostly) lyric-less sounds that they create. It's a wonderfully beautiful production, and I often lose myself in it.

8. Gangi - A

It's an excellent arrangement of loads of strings, keys, and skins, done as only Matt Gangi can do. A very unique psych/folk sound with a strange almost-poppy edge.

10. Serpentina Satellite - Nothing to Say

This one hits hard. It's definite ear candy with a tasty punch. These guys can really bring some amazing noise. I'm looking forward to all that they have to offer in the future.

11. Red Plastic Buddha - Sunflower Sessions

*honorary mention - I find their strange mix of experimental psych to really stand out as something to keep your eyes and ears glued to.

Next, Psychedelic Reaction creator, Chris Dunn..!

Here you go Valis. Here's my stand out records of 2008 and a few thoughts on each one.

In no particular order.......

Asteroid No 4These Flowers Of Ours : A Treasury of Witchcraft and Devilry.

How to follow up 2006's acclaimed An Amazing Dream ? Widely regarded as a massive step forward for this band of over 10 years, they certainly raised the bar with that cult classic and it was interesting to see where they'd go next with the momentum gained and the opportunity there to take a shot at going one step further.

I'm pleased to say that These Flowers of Ours....nails it, hitting it's stride with big vibrant choruses and anthemic, instantly likeable songs, but never leaving the Asteroid No 4's customary groove and stoned edge, which sets them apart from some of the more predictable rock and roll outfits that would struggle to make a record this good.

In truth it's a pretty steady, unremarkable start until the band do as the title suggests at the end of second track Let It Go and speed off into a outburst of screaming guitar and duelling Elephant Stone style drums, the latter from the brilliant Adam Weaver who stamps his mark all over the album. It's the perfect lead into a run of three tracks that, for me, are personally as good as anything they've done yet.

Hold On has the magic - cocky as you like blues chords with an infusion of harmonica and a hint of darkness - it's the sort of tune that would turn heads if it walked in the room. I Look Around is an electrifying early Ride / Verve influenced missile that will sound great at any Psych night, and no doubt go straight into many a self respecting Psych DJ's box of tricks, all followed by the drop dead gorgeous She's All I Need, a song for the lovers straight out of the top drawer complete with a blast of ecstasy midway through that will take the roof off when it's played live.

Live is where the band should be able to really cut loose with these crowd pleasers and take them into the stars and beyond, none more so than with All Fall Down which will just explode and take over the night, and your mind, with consummate ease. Taking the Velvet Underground's classic chugging What Goes On rhythm as a template, they fuse together to create a trance inducing end that sounds great on record but potentially spellbinding live.

Fine tuned, self assured and sounding as good as they ever have, The Asteroid No 4 are firing on all cylinders. Could be their most popular yet and deservedly so.

Black AngelsDirections To See A Ghost

Their full length debut, Passover, was pretty much the standout record I heard in 2006 and you just knew they would follow it up with a stone cold killer like this. All the hallmarks of their sound are here but twisted, darker, deeper, more intense and with their heads raised up into the ether and beyond, existing in a place you're happy to visit but uneasy to stay.

I still think, though, coupled with the intensity and the menace that broods at all times, they thrive because they know how to write a song with all the ups, downs, hooks and flow of melody that you hear elsewhere across the styles and genres but ,somehow, here it seems to be part of a bigger picture and you're invited to find your place amongst the synergy that's seemingly created at will. 18 Years in particular is just perfect.

Obviously there's more to them than the ability to turn out a cool tune and the other side of the Black Angels psyche is developed, given more space and runs free. It's this side that gives Direction To See A Ghost added longevity and provides something trickier to get your head around. Snake In The Grass, at 16 minutes long, closes the album and is less a song and more a bad dream, a bad trip - a stranger from the wrong side of the tracks speaking in tongues and here to freak you out.

This is an outstanding album from a true heavyweight of the scene and one of the best live bands on the planet as well.

Dead MeadowOld Growth

I'd only heard one album by Dead Meadow before this, their live offering Got Live If You Want It, and it probably wasn't the easiest introduction to a band with such an impressive and varied back catalogue to choose from. I found it heavy going but liked enough of what they were about to stick with it and it's one that comes alive with a higher state of mind, like you have to cut through the fog to get to the source. I was intrigued then, having read a positive review of their latest release Old Growth, to delve in to what was deemed to be their most accessible to date. Loved it from the first play.

Very cool album. Chunky riffs and shuffling grooves, wah wah used just right and not overplayed and a singer delivering words of wisdom born out of experience - from the soul with grit, sneer and, when required, a touch of melancholy. Whenever I've needed a record this year to bring me in line and put me back on the path this has served it's purpose well and I'm sure it will do for years to come too.

It also contained one of my standout tracks for the year, What Needs Must Be. I suppose you could call it one of those songs that came along at the right time. One of those times when the countless different variations that make you who you are converge and change, and you're perception is finely tuned, if a little agitated, occasionally the right tune drops into that heightened awareness and it's just what the Doctor ordered. Great lyrics in there as well. “Waited a long time, possibly still, for what few find and most never will, waiting to find what sets you free, until then what needs must be”. Enigmatic, self aware and grounded all at the same time. Don't give up the quest.

Fauna ValettaFauna Valetta

No idea where this band has come from, where they're going or what their story is but I know I love this debut album. It's got character and attitude bursting at the seams and a sort of twisted charm that comes about from a group who sound like they care less about the latest hip scene or developing trend and more about playing what they want to hear.

If you like your music clean cut with sharp lines and pretty colours then granted this will be a struggle to your ears, but if you can appreciate the constant unsteadiness and off kilter undercurrent running throughout you'll find yourself at home hear no doubt. Right from the off the short instrumental introduction paves the way with meandering organ, reminiscent of some aspects of The BJM's And This Is Our Music, giving way to the pounding Sleep By The Ocean that drives home the bands intent with deafening style, some massive, spiralling screeches of guitar and an almost British like sneer on the vocals.

First and foremost this sounds like a band who aren't adverse to a bit of volume and on first listen subtlety isn't something that springs to mind. Energy, four songs in, changes all that in an instant though. As cool as you like, it induces an instant swagger to your step with a lazy, slow rolling beat and gets away with some cheeky off the cuff licks al la mid 90's Noel. Gallagher. Nothing wrong with that in my book by the way. It's all wrapped up in the same haze the album's recorded in, loose and lived in and with an on the edge rawness you can't help but be drawn into. It's nice to hear an album cut with feeling and have some of the chaos of the recording left in for you to digest.

The bands that can capture a moment instinctively have it above those that can't or won't and on those terms Fauna Valetta are sitting pretty. Check out standout track, Wait, to see for yourself., a real head spinner, constantly shifting and rising, sounding like their lives depend on it and dragging you into the vortex in the process. Contrast this euphoria with the beautifully down and out The Flood, with it's talk of “drunken dreams” and promises to “die here with or without you”, and you've got a band who can wring the highs and lows out of life and get it down on tape seamlessly.

There's something original, natural, free and a little unhinged about this debut from Oakland, California's Fauna Valetta, but crucially the songs and structure are still strong and there's more than enough magic here to attract what I suspect could be an initially small but steadily growing audience.

Hush ArborsHush Arbors

A real stoner record. Well, it was for me anyway. Not in terms of heaving, chunky riffs or mind bending effects but intricate and beguiling. The vocals are reminiscent of 2008's big critial success Bon Iver, fragile and haunting at times whilst elsewhere on the album they sound like a Spacemen 3 infused Beta Band.

The nugget from this one, for me, is Gone. Catchy in the extreme, the runaway train of a riff will get you without a doubt.

The Quarter AfterChanges Near

Beautiful follow up to their jingle jangle debut, the Campanella brothers have upped their game and crafted a more varied record that's a must for anyone fond of the harmony heavy West Coast pop sound. Musically gifted, they take that sound and explore other avenues and the grander scope envisioned on Changes Near made it one I played repeatedly in 2008. Rob Campanella must be one of the most underrated guitarists around as well, genuinely brilliant.

SpindriftThe West

They just keep getting better. Their Psychedelic Spaghetti Western signature sound is on top form but there's way more to them than that, none more so than on The West.

A weird and wonderful collection of songs that have opened up a whole other side of Spindrift. Nobody is writing stuff like this at the moment, and as much as I loved the last two full length albums this takes it to another level. A band with a twisted brilliance all of their own and a definite standout for 2008.

Next..? Half of The Cheesy Dudes! Randy from Psychedelic Velveeta radio show! (Hell, we know he's slightly crazy because he lives in Fargo! Two weeks of Summer. Every year.)

Aqua Nebula Oscillator (Under The Moon Of...) Pan European Recordings

If freak beat was an actually a category of music, this gem one would define it. It's raw, loud, pulsating, and oddly sexy. The LP opens up explaining that this record is a therapy session for the mind and delivers an experience of musical directions that you can latch on to and ride and if you don't feel completely obliterated at the end. Pick it up and spin again. It's well worth that second dose.
Recommended listening – L.S.D. Therapy

The Hoa Hoa's(Sonic Bloom) Optical Sounds 2008

This record will get your toes tapping and your head bouncing. Its pop modern psychedelics at its best. A wide variety of instruments are used in simple melodies but take on such a huge affect that you can hear them in your chest. There are some sonic movers on here too, that feel like your traveling over earthly landscapes at a 1000 miles per hour.
Recommended listening – Bottles/New Love II

House Of Fire (S/T) Universal Warning Records 2008

Every time I listen to the record, I am amazed by how good this one feels. It's like having a great time with a best friend. Its pop psychedelics packed with a mid temp beat with hooks that will stay with you for days after listening to it. The instruments are arranged so well that you can pick any instrument of your choice and listen to it. The vocals are warm, inviting, and conversational. It's like this.. Welcome to our house and enjoy the fire. We will pick you up and lay you down gently.
Recommended listening – Walking Along The Sun

Ojos Rojos (13) Ojos Rojos Recordings 2008

This LP is vocally hypnotic and dreamy. The sound is full and warm which feels like pillows hitting your ears. It's melodies on melodies puts you into a heighten state of extreme bliss. Stunning.
Recommended listening - Eyes

One Switch To Collision (!!!Korrect!!!) Pan European Recordings 2008

This LP is a musical tribute to punk, psychedelic, and shoegaze. Each song blends from one genre to the next transparently. It has a quick driving beat and before you know it the LP is over. Sound quality is warm and full, there is no open space here. It's sculpted collision.
Recommended listening - Small Box Of Wax

the Pink Snowflakes (Sun Chasing) Lick-able Sunshine 2008

Now this is the cosmic odd ball that will take your equilibrium for a ride. It's heavy with emotion vocally and musically. The guitar work alone screams at you through tremolos and wah wah's that gives you the feeling of a blistering ride down a roller coaster with no tracks.
Recommended listening – Closest Thing To Paralyze

Serpentina Satellite (Nothing To Say) Trip In Time 2008

This Extender Player is ideal for the guitar fanatic and instrumental psych head looking for a full blown epic freak out. The musicians here throw in so many ideas at you that you never tier, even with songs clocking in at 20 minuets. I also love the overall sound of the mix; it will remind you of that old wide tape to vinyl sound.
Recommended listening – KOMMUNE 1

The Shivas (Where Have You Gone To) Trip In Time 2008

I have never heard a band that packs so many psychedelic styles in to one record. The lyrics in each song are written in absolute detail about a particular life or in the moment experience and also there not afraid to stand up and protest too. There is an enormous array of worldly instruments that do receive full attention and are brought up in front of the mix as to show case them. The vocals are dramatic and harmonious.
Recommended listening – Flying

To Get Her Together (John See's Lilly) Trip In Time 2008

This one is a lyrical trip. Imagine mushroom fields at Disneyland. The writer so detailed here that with each hook and phrase has you painting pictures in your mind endlessly. But most of all you will be humming these tunes for weeks. And there is a bonus; it's LoFi which give this LP even more character.
Recommended listening - Clarence In Wonderland

Uber Fuzz (Drowning In Honey) Acidray 2008

Ah yes if there was an entry for music for the dream machine this album would be the on the top of that category. The LP opens by putting you into a hypnotic state of mind, as the LP progresses it treats you with a visual experience at the cross roads, you then realize what road the writer takes with the lush vocal harmonies and heart touching instrumentation.
Recommended listening - Hello Satan

Our next guest hails from Rennes, Bretagne in
France, (also home to the wonderful nightclub, Mondo Bizarro) : Stèphane, of Stoned Circus radio show!

He gave us his list as an "Album of the Month" breakdown of 2008:


The Magnificent Brotherhood - ST

The Urges - Psych Ward


The Fleshtones - Take A Good Look

The Black Hollies - Casting Shadows


Lords Of Altamont - The Altamont Sin


Subcandies - Out Of The Blue


Graham Day & The Gaolers - Soundtrack To The Daily Grind *


Jarvis Humby - Assume The Positions It's *


Launderettes - Fluff And Fold *

Fuad & The Feztones - Beeramid


Love Me Nots - Detroit


Otis Optic & The Option People - ST


The Fuzztones - Horny As Hell


Stereoscope Jerk Explosion - La Panthère Pop

(* = 2007 release.)

Also, Stèphane says his "Album of the Year, 2008" is The Magnificent Brotherhood! For more links to the bands, albums, and labels go here.

Well, that wraps up our guest portion. A "Paisley Ribbon Panel" indeed! I hope they've enlightened you & brought up some releases you might not have been aware of before reading this. I also hope you take a moment to thank them for their participation. Me, I roundly applaud their efforts. I've found plenty I wasn't aware of.)

OK. I guess it's my turn. Before I get to my list allow me to make a few Special Mentions:

#1) Picture yourself out in a vast green field, on a slight rising spot. Now, way off in the distance is a pin cushion, bright red so you know it's there. You take out a pair of binoculars to get a better look and it becomes plain indeed what it is. Now, on said cushion sits a lone pin. Upon that pin sits my contribution, though given co-producer credit, for The Squires of the Subterrain 2008 album, Feel The Sun, in the interest of transparency & full disclosure I've not included this (great!) albumn in my own Best Of list, but it most certainly deserves it. You've been hipped.

#2) I've not included compilations, or EPs, in my Best Of list, but wanted to point out a few: The Grip Weeds - Infinite Soul: The Best Of & The Spongetones - Always Carry On, also The GO's redux two-LP set Tracking The Trail Of The Haunted Beat.

#3) Finally, a huge salute to The Royal Purple, just for doing what they do..!

Rolling on....

This is the first year where I felt compelled to actually order, heirarchic-style, my list; unsure why that is. I surmise it was because I'd spent so much time over the last three and one-half weeks listening to 160+ albums over again and making some sense of it all. That's certainly part of it. While it was labor, a labor of love, it was always fun. To the bands who are on this list: THANK YOU!
To those who feel in any wise slighted, (as if), know that I could've listed a Top 100 and been very comfortable. You might've been close to the cut off, ok? Leave it at that.

The List:

Trip Inside This House Top 50 Albums of 2008

#50. Wire - Object 47
#49. Longwave - Secrets Are Sinister
#48. Black Mountain - In The Future
#47. Elf Power - In A Cave
#46. Apollo Sunshine - Shall Noise Upon
#45. The Orchid Highway - ST
#44. Serpentina Satelite - Nothing To Say
#43. Deerhunter - Microcastle
#42. Grails - Take Refuge In Clean Living
#41. Department Of Eagles - In Ear Park
#40. Cosmic Trip Machine - Lord Space Devil
#39. De Novo Dahl - Move Every Muscle, Make Every Sound
#38. Evangelicals - The Evening Descends
#37. The Shortwave Set - Replica Sun Machine
#36. The Resonars - That Evil Drone
#35. Secret Machines - ST
#34. Dungen - 4
#33. The High Dials - Moon Country
#32. Awesome Color - Electric Aborigines
#31. The Alps - III
#30. Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In
#29. Dead Meadow - Old Growth
#28. Steve Kilbey - Painkiller
#27. The Shore - Light Years
#26. The Junipers - Cut Your Key

#25. Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears - Flight Of The Knife
#24. Cocoanut Groove - Madeleine Street
#23. Gary War - New Raytheonport
#22. Cuchillo - ST
#21. Clinic - Do It!

#20. The Telepathic Butterflies - Breakfast In Suburbia
#19. Gangi - A
#18. Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground - ST
#17. The Black Angels - Directions To See A Ghost
#16. Kelley Stoltz - Circular Sounds
#15. The Peth - The Golden Mile
#14. The Quarter After - Changes Near
#13. The Aliens - Luna
#12. Dora Flood - Dream Out Your Window
#11. The Flower Machine - Marmoset Meadow

#10. Darker My Love - 2

#09. Time And Space Machine - Volume One

#08. Ideal Free Distribution - Then We Were Older

#07. The Dandy Warhols - ...Earth To...

#06. Bipolaroid - E(i)ther Or

#05. the Black Hollies - Casting Shadows

#04. The Upsidedown - Human Destination

#03. Thomas Function - Celebration

#02. Future Clouds & Radar - Peoria

#01. Asteroid #4 - These Flowers Of Ours: A Treasury of Witchcraft and Devilry

Some may ask what it takes to be #1 on my list and that would be fair. Here it is:

After listening to so many albums from 2008-and, so many really good albums, this one came in soaring. While I've no clear idea of their intention on the opening track, "My Love," I do know what it does to me: it transports. From the very start there's the whirr and rumble sounding akin to some kind of flight device. Are we being taken back in time? Or are we just being led to share the ride? Either way, it works. Beautifully. 15 seconds in and the gentle strumming of guitar, 34 seconds and percussion comes in, 53 seconds in and the drum gives a roll and the vocals come in, perfection. Ear candy in its purest form. 1:33 and the first "aaahs" and the insistent drumming........dammit this song just works. At 2:54 the buzzing guitar. They're making me scream for more volume. I wanna' bathe in this. Stacks of amplification devices, to touch the Sun. Six minutes. Never overstaying.

"Let It Go", track 2, reminds of many forebears. Especially the Paisley Underground collective. That soaring guitar recalls Ride, then the jangle...pure Byrdsian delight...and let me say this, too: Eric CAN pound the skins!

"Hold On" comes on like an acid party jam with Neil Young, Gene Clark, and Arthur Lee. That might be Brian Jones in the corner.

"I Look Around".....tell me this ain't from 1967.

And this song just nails it for me, the heart & soul of this beautiful album; it's in our time but stands outside it. Grinning. That squall of guitar at 1:50.., pure Tomorrow-meets-The Syn.........this is why I'm convinced that someone 20 years hence will be blogging-because he has to, and in his "10 Questions" survey this album will come up as a classic of not just its time, but all time.

With "Hei Nah Lah" and its Middle-easterm slow motion moves it echoes an opium dream Coleridge would be boggled by. I am.

I'll stop now. Suffice to say I think this album has everything a psych' fan-and reader of this blog would- or could, ever want. Endlessly appealing. Faultlessly produced. Brilliant. Get it! Here. Salute to Mr. Vitt & Co.

There you have it! I'll be adding my thoughts on the Top 10 over the next few days and this post will stay up for two weeks. Right now this has taken 12 hours and I need a break and I need a drink and I need some music...

Gods bless the bands!!!!!!! -valis


Anonymous said...

A genuinely epic post, an MRI of the current psych scene that will find no match in this or any other galaxy.

Countless thanks!

Jim K.

Anonymous said...

Prodigious effort and wonderful guest contributions. Still not sure about that latest Dandy Warhols though - I heard a couple of tracks from it and thought they were some of their worst stuff.

Unknown said...

Illustrious, Intelligent, and Illuminating.

This is intense!

Congrats on this amazing effort!

You are luverly you are


gerryboy said...

A truly wonderful and gargantuan effort, old chap. Only someone such as yourself, with such a grasp of what it takes to make a great/good psych album could have compiled a list so interesting. Great work, amigo!

Gotta go and chase all of these down.

Anonymous said...

A truly outstanding compilation. I doff my chapeau to you Valis. Interestingly enough Stephane who is just down the road from me, produced a list that compares closest with my own attempt at a best of '08.

I'm off now to start checking out a whole heap of bands new to me. Many thanks for the time and efffort you exhert producing this blog, I always look forward to checking out 'Trip Inside This House' each week. Psychedelic blessings aplenty to you mon ami.

Anonymous said...

we are very happy to see some of our companions in your and your friends' best of 2008 list! thanx for everyone who worked on this, a really massive project! and most of all, thanx valis!!!

greetz from berlin,
trip in time