2017 has been colossal in terms of underground music releases. Nearly all of the bands who we had expected to release new music this year did so and we also had some immense new arrivals to the scene, pushing boundaries and making waves all on their own. With the vast amount of submissions that we get to the blog on a daily basis it was very difficult to review all of them, we tried our best and we endeavoured to condense who we deem top contenders for our best releases of 2017 list down to a reasonable bunch of candidates. End of year lists generate conversations about bands who deserve support from small online publications like ours. So, from the veritable Fuzz Club Records to Edinburgh's 'Morningside Young Team', Sweden's VÅRØ Records to 'Blackspin Records' over in Greece and on into 'Wrong Way Records' over in the UK, Ireland's own Penske Recordings and straight through to the awesome American based Saint Marie Records we've tripped the sonic fantastic with this years 'End Of Year List' bringing you some blistering psych, sublime shoegaze, dreamy dream pop & atmospheric post-rock for your listening pleasure and you didn't even have to vote for one single entry!
Happy Christmas one and all and we'll see you all in 2018 for more fun and frolics!
Primal Music & Radio
Holy Monitor - Holy Monitor
Holy Monitor by Holy Monitor
2017 kicked off with a bang and we were introduced to a band back in January who absolutely blew our minds. Stunning Athens based experimental psych/kraut rock collective 'Holy Monitor' released their debut self-titled full length release filled to the brim with luscious soundscapes that skip through a multiple of different sonic disciplines with blistering aplomb. Released via 'Primitive Music Records' in collaboration with 'Blackspin Records' , this album is a total trip!
Dead Gurus - Acid Bench
ACID BENCH (On Sale 50% Off) by Dead Gurus
Dark and foreboding, menacing and hypnotic, Minnesota based psych aficionados 'Dead Gurus' are no strangers to this modern underground psych scene. The band are made up of Jason Edmonds (Magic Castles), Bennett Johnson, Collin Gorman Weiland (Daughters of the Sun and Dreamweapon) & Ryan Garbes (Wet Hair) and what they collectively create is a no holds barred, deeply entrancing thrill ride through the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum. Their seven track opus entitled 'Acid Bench' was unleashed on February 17th 2017 via the exciting UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records'.
Percolator - Sestra
Sestra LP by Percolator
Dublin based three piece 'Percolator' have been creating electronically charged experimental standards drenched in poly-rhythmic kraut rock connotations underscored with subtle flourishes of shoegaze, prog rock & resonating noise since 2012 with the bands core lineup of Ian Chestnutt - guitar/vocal, Eleanor Myler - drums/vocal & John Murphy - bass staying true to the project since its conception. They popped up on our radar back in 2013 with the immense 'Little Demon' EP (which we played tracks from religiously over on our sister radio station Primal Radio) and they returned this year with a staggering collection of eight tracks packaged as 'Sestra', released via Cork based independent record label Penske Recordings.
Wozniak - Courage Reels
Courage Reels by Wozniak
Having wowed us all with their musical presence over previous EP releases, the sonic force that is Edinburgh's noisemakers 'Wozniak' unleashed a stunning collection of tracks in the guise of their highly anticipated debut album deftly titled 'Courage Reels'. This album tumbles through a plethora of immense genres generating enough power through each endearing track to continuously turn industrial strength turbines! Stand out tracks on this release are 'Crush, Shader, Perihelion and Super Panther', but the whole album is immense from start to finish. It was released back in April via the Edinburgh based independent record label 'Morningside Young Team' and worthy of your ears. Recommended!
Todavía - Shyness
Shyness by todavía
Los Angeles based dream pop aficionado Todavía aka self-releasing multi instrumentalist Rhyan Riesgo unleashed a highly anticipated brand new eight track album entitled 'Shyness' via the bands bandcamp page back in April. Todavía's sound is distinctly dreamy, with hushed synth swells, sequenced percussion, swirling guitars and shimmering reverberation that all circumnavigates that almost ethereal vocal tone. This album is luscious, addictive and a very early contender for our year end list.
Has A Shadow - Sorrow Tomorrow
Sorrow Tomorrow by Has A Shadow
Mexico natives 'Has A Shadow' released their sophomore album (their first via Fuzz Club Records) entitled 'Sorrow Tomorrow' back on January 18th 2017. The band create a brand of dark and ritualistic modern day psych gaze that heaves and undulates through swathes of unabashed reverberation and driving instrumentation tinged with menacing gothic tones. This album was so good we gave it 5/5 after just one listen!
Jellyskin - Jellyskin
jellyskin by jellyskin
Leeds based 'Jellyskin' correlated all of their previously released singles, added a splattering of newer material and packaged it all up on what was their very first self-titled physical release. Formed in 2016, 'Jellyskin' exploded onto the underground psych/gaze scene with four consecutive single releases, each one absolutely sublime. Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the past year you would have read about the band on Primal Music's web pages & listened to them over on Primal Radio daily; they are seriously that good. 'Jellyskin' create stunning musical soundscapes that gracefully meander through experimental shoegaze, dream pop, psych rock and it's many, many sub genres. The availability of Jellyskin's singles in one release is a big bonus and we had earmarked these guys very early on as contenders for our best of year end list. Highly recommended!
JuJu - Our Mother Was A Plant
Our Mother Was A Plant by JuJu
JuJu teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dipped his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also featured guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It got it's full release back in September on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com and every single one of you needs this album in your collection. It is immense.
Tuath - Things I Don't Know
Things I don't know by Tuath
‘Tuath’ exploded onto the Irish underground scene back in March 2015 with their intensely addictive & deeply experimental debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(Ail)’ closely followed by their immense spaced out single ‘Amhairc Thart Ort Fein’ in September of the same year. Last year the band returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’ packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skipped from serine psych-rock into blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotically progressive rhythms and sullen space rock hues. Back in January the band created what is their most interesting release to date. 'Things I Don't Know' pulses through four tracks of soaring reverb laced progressions, deeply filled with haunting vocalisations that are collectively underpinned by heavier grunge filled moments, swirling instrumentation and massive swathes of melody. It cemented a place in our minds back then and was always going to appear on our end of year list.
Miniatures - Jessamines
Jessamines by Miniatures
The debut album from 'Miniatures' is a dense and lush affair. Its textures are tightly woven to create velvety soundscapes that envelope and endear. Formed in 2012 and currently based in Melbourne, the trio seem to be a further example of the strength of the Southern hemisphere's creative scene right now – especially when it comes to the dreamier side of the spectrum. The band worked with renowned Melbourne based producer Matthew Hosking to fine tweak the sounds on this album and the finished product is spectacular. 'Jessamines' floats and flickers. It had it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records.
Helicon - Helicon
Helicon by Helicon
When Glasgow based experimental psych outfit 'Helicon' announced their highly anticipated self-titled debut album we got really excited. With eight EP's under their belts, 'Helicon' have taken the live scene by storm, touring Europe and sharing the stage with some serious heavy hitters including Wooden Shjips, The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons. Helicon's sound is addictive, engagingly dynamic and at times all consuming or otherworldly with melodic eastern tinged psych, swirling drones, mantra like vocalisations and intricately intense guitar work that collectively merges into one almighty sonic attack. Their debut album is officially released on the 8th of December via those good folks over at fuzzclub.com and it is sublime!
Bolywool - From Void To Matter Vol.3
From Void to Matter Volume 3 by Bolywool
Hailing from the wind swept isle of Öland in Sweden, Calle Thor and Oskar Karlström aka 'Bolywool' have been fascinating us lot here at Primal Music for quite some time with their shimmering, cinematic, frost laden soundscapes filled to the brim with flourishes of atmospheric post-rock and scintillating shoegaze collectively underscored by stunning electronic progressions. They started out on a sonic journey back in May 2017 with the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records . Throughout the three EP's 'Bolywool' went from strength to strength culminating in what we think is their best release to date and a worthy entrant to our end of year tally. 'From Void To Matter Vol. 3' was officially released back on December 1st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
Holy Monitor : holymonitor.bandcamp.com
Dead Gurus: wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
Has A Shadow: fuzzclub.bandcamp.com
by Primal Music
RELEASE: From Void To Matter Volume 2
RELEASE DATE: 29th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: VÅRØ Records
Hailing from the wind swept isle of Öland in Sweden, Calle Thor and Oskar Karlström aka 'Bolywool' have been fascinating us lot here at Primal Music for quite some time with their shimmering, cinematic, frost laden soundscapes filled to the brim with flourishes of atmospheric post-rock and scintillating shoegaze collectively underscored by stunning electronic progressions. Their collective sound has the ability to bring listeners on a melancholic journey into their world, a world that twists and turns through epic snapshots of life, death and an inherent love for their homeland. Back in May 2017 the band released the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records and now they have returned with their second thrilling instalment, boldly continuing on a journey of sonic enlightenment and once again blowing our minds. 'From Void To Matter Volume 2' was released back on the 29th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
From Void to Matter Volume 2 by Bolywool
The soft thud of sequenced percussion accompanied by pulsing bass frequencies and cascading synth lines permeate the ether as ‘The Dial (Revisited)’ glides into audible range punctuated by reverb laden guitars and impressive production values. Otherworldly vocalisations add to the seemingly peaceful atmospheric hubris that tumbles wilfully throughout the piece but that ethereal feeling is short lived as we’re pushed headlong into a raging whirlwind of sound that surrounds an immense chorus progression that seems to build and build brilliantly into a undulating sonic behemoth. ‘Bolywool’ continuously amaze me. They are experts at changing the mood of a track at will and it’s well documented here as the track bounces quickly from a melancholic fuelled slice of atmospheric post-rock into a lurching lysergic tinged monster, amalgamating serene vocalisations with churning percussion, fuzzed out guitars and swirling lead lines to create something altogether magical. Not only is ‘The Dial(Revisited)’ my favourite track on this release but it’s possibly Bolywool’s best track to date and it ranks as one of my favourite tracks of this year by far.
Up next, ‘Mirror Sky’ rumbles on a repetitive back beat as reverb laced guitars tremble and shimmer through icy atmospherics, the hum of bass and sullen synth swells. Stunning vocals float effortlessly atop of the collective instrumentation guiding the listener into a deeply atmospheric break filled with blissed out sonic reflections and the collective twinkle of instrumentation before exploding into a huge wall of hazy guitars and that soaring maleficent howl. The EP closes out with ‘Blues For Stornoway (Pts 1,2,3 & 4) and if ever a piece of music deserved to appear on a movie soundtrack it has to be this track. Beautifully melancholic opening vibes meander and intertwine with delay and reverb, enveloping themselves around a ghostly vocal line and the woozy flourishes of synth and rumbling percussion. It loops and arcs through shimmering electronics and wavering instrumental progressions before opening up into an almost industrial feel, metronomic in it’s tempo but majestic in it’s approach before finishing up caught in a brilliant atmospheric cloud of samples and synth that rise and fall into it’s stunning finale. A blistering end to another marvellous collection of tracks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE: From Void ToMatter Volume 1
RELEASE DATE: 26th May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: VÅRØ Records
Back in March 2016 whilst writing for 'The Sound Of Confusion' I was tasked with reviewing a fantastic fourteen track album entitled 'Hymnals & Bombs' by Swedish based (Borgholm/Gothenburg) cousins Calle Thoor and Oskar Erlandsson AKA Bolywool. Having never heard of the band before I instantly fell face first into their shimmering & experimental sonic landscapes and I was literally blown away by their musical interpretations on life and the way in which they told melancholic stories through the medium of sound. Now the duo have released the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter Volume 1'. This stunning two track EP was released back on the 26th of May 2017 via VÅRØ Records and it is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
From Void To Matter Volume 1 by Bolywool
Pounding, rhythmically charged percussion announces the opening salvos of ‘Hafmeyjan’ and with its arrival it pulls droning synth swells and the constant twang of guitar with it to collectively conjure up mesmerising incantational atmospherics. Beautifully intense passages of serine vocalisations swirl into the ether riding the turbulent instrumental wave before rippling skywards on undulating pulses of reverb and delay. ‘Hafmeyjan’ stirs the imagination and instills heavy swathes of melancholic abandonment as it meanders through layers of brilliantly executed production used effortlessly to whisper tales of salt lashed islands and far flung windswept beaches. This is a stunning opening track and it reminded me of just how good Bolywool are at telling stories through the medium of sound.
Up next the duo unleash ‘Meø Lögum Skal Land Byggja’ and it opens up tumbling erratically into a shimmering ball of sequenced electronics, swirling samples and the constant accompaniment of a synth heavy drone. Lazy, but brilliantly produced drum patterns rattle and shake, underscored at times by throbbing bass frequencies and tantalising good instrumental atmospherics that glide and shimmer on wave after wave of stunning reverberation. It’s synth lines glisten as they rise and fall giving off the impression of waves crashing on a storm ravaged beach-head and the constant rolling of different sonic frequencies add swathes of light and shade, reminiscent at times to the sun breaking through dark storm clouds. A magnificent ending to what is the opening volume of Bolywool’s planned trilogy of EP’s.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE: Hymnals & Bombs
RELEASE DATE: 2nd March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Novoton
Bolywool is a Borgholm/Gothenburg-based duo consisting of cousins Calle Thoor and Oskar Erlandsson. Collectively the duo create melancholic journeys through experimental soundscapes, skirting the outer fringes of ambient shoegaze and atmospheric post-rock. Bolywool have been writing, recording and releasing music since 1998. Their latest fourteen-track opus entitled ‘Hymnals & Bombs’ had its official release on March 2nd 2016 via Swedish independent record label Novoton.
Hymnlas & Bombs by Bolywool
‘Hymnals & Bombs’ opens with the reverb-drenched instrumental ‘Svart Hav’. Massive cinematic-styled synth swells gorge on the atmospheric ripples created by its impressive sound waves, heralding the entry point to this monolithic fourteen-track opus. Track two, ‘Electric Mainland’, is cushioned on a bed of expertly sequenced drum patterns, soaring synth swells and impressively layered dual vocal progressions that draw the listener in and gently caresses the senses. ‘Love Meander’ swims in a sea of reverb with its beautiful vocal lines complimenting each other to stunning effect, whilst ‘Out Of Sight Of You’ is a slice of sonically vivid post-rock. ‘The Noctilucent Cloud Pt1’ has psychedelic tendencies swirling within its impressive soundscape, as wave upon wave of impressive synth and addictive guitar stabs evoke a sense of calm. ‘Open Your Eyes’ drones within a state of suspended animation as the hauntingly brilliant hypnotic vocal track builds and builds within a maelstrom of shimmering noise! Eventually we’re treated to a break of sorts, reminiscent of waves crashing on a storm-lashed beach, and I can hear subtle hints of early ‘A Storm In Heaven’-era Verve penetrate through the noise waves. A stunning track.
‘Apex In September’ is a welcome calming reprise from the cacophony of sound presented within the previous track, as its atmospheric, glitchy samples and synth stabs make way for the sound of rushing water courtesy of ‘Stromness (Under Cold Skies)’. It’s post-rock tendencies are cut short with the arrival of its explosive, soaring chorus progressions. Coming in at six minutes and fifty six seconds, ‘Stromness’ is the longest track on the album but is stunningly beautiful. ‘Bird Of Prey’ arcs into the sonic ether and we’re treated to an intelligent, glittering ball of sonic luminosity that showcases the clever songwriting ability that this band have. Track ten, ‘Flow’, meanders on a wave of beautifully golden atmospheric sound waves that are full of circling, reverberating guitar progressions and soaring synth swells. ‘Glorious Failure’ is a modern-day shoegazing gem and probably my favourite track on this entire release with its walls of addictive guitars, repetitive drum sequences and stunning, crisp vocal lines. ‘Hinterlands’ is a beautiful piece of atmospherically ambient post-rock with electronic infusions, whilst ‘Halcyon To Your Peregrine’ is a different animal altogether with its driving, pulsating beats, droning synths and addictive guitar progressions. The album’s serine closing piece is entitled ‘All Hail The Sleepy Lunar Beasts’, and it does exactly as it says on the tin.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.