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
Ghost by Holy Monitor
Hailing from the sunbaked Mediterranean shores of Greece, experimental neo-psych/krautrock space rockers ‘Holy Monitor’ have unleashed a stunning new single back in September entitled 'Ghost', a ten minute plus journey filled to it's psychedelic brim with magical incantational sonic energy. The band are made up of Stefanos Mitsis - guitars, Alex Bolpasis - bass, Vangelis Mitsis - synths/organs and George Nikas - drums/guitars/vocals and this latest single follows on from their absolutely stunning self-titled album released back in February 2017. The single is available to buy/download right now from holymonitor.bandcamp.com
'Ghost' shuffles into audible range on a glistening instrumental drone accompanied by the throb of synth and the fizz of effected electronics. It builds meticulously into a pulsating organism with the arrival of humming bass frequencies before tumbling headlong into a metronomic percussive beast. Plinking synth lines and waves of reverberation arrive adding lysergic atmosphere to the mix with every single chord change, allowing magnificent guitar progressions to lick and harass the piece to within an inch of it's life. Organ lines howl pulling clandestine vocalisations with them as they meander through layers of reverberation collectively merging with every other piece of the sonic jigsaw to bring us a mesmerising ten minutes of music.
ARTIST: Holy Monitor
RELEASE: Holy Monitor
RELEASE DATE: 17th February 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Primitive Music Records / Blackspin Records
Stunning Athens based experimental psych/kraut rock collective 'Holy Monitor' have announced 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. Not content to have wowed us with last years 'Ongakubaka Records' release 'Golden Light/Aeolus', a compilation containing both of the bands previously released (only digital & in a ltd edition cassette) EP's, 'Holy Monitor' have returned with a ten track monolith that will literally blow your mind. Released via 'Primitive Music Records' in collaboration with 'Blackspin Records' the album is available to pre-order digitally right now from holymonitor.bandcamp.com
Physical copies are available to pre-order in two limited editions of high quality clear-copper & blue-white marbled vinyl, 200 copies each:
Swirling into the ether on a repetitious instrumental drone we jump off into the unknown just as 'Halcyon' powers up it's atmospheric core and washes us in subtle fret noises, serine lead lines and reverberating swells of sonic delight. 'Nemesis' arrives just as we're getting comfortable and we're soon dragged with it as it's motorik percussive swagger spews forth cascading organ lines, throbbing bass frequencies and the delicious whip of lead guitars. Otherworldly vocalisations arrive, riding a wave of screaming guitars and malicious synth swells as the sonic tension builds into a raging tremulous beast. Up next, 'Holy Monitor' unleash a full on psych behemoth in the form of the albums lead track, the mind altering, mescaline charged 'Bed Of The Earth'. Hypnotic lead guitars gently caress whirring organ swells as steadying drums and a humming baselines carry another impressive vocal performance. 'Bed Of The Earth' meanders deftly through sonic peaks and troughs until eventually exploding into a mesmerising lead break filled with electronic trickery, explosive percussion and the constant swirl of the organ all collectively awash with swathes of reverb. It's haunting vocals swirl and soar, peppered at times by delectable backing lines that seem to morph into one big throbbing behemoth tumbling gracefully through the ether like some new gravitational sonic phenomenon.
'The Vine' undulates and spirals as it floats into earshot circumnavigating itself in a peaceful haze of chandiramani percussion & shimmering tambourines before the hypnotic tendrils of it's utterly addictive guitar progressions take over, whirring above melodious baselines, the cascading plink of brilliantly constructed organ progressions and hauntingly good vocalisations. Before we can float away in a melancholic bliss however, the opening bars of 'Golden Light' (appearing here again and originally released back on 2015's 'Golden Light' EP) grace our ears and we're soon awash with it's eastern esoteric influences, menacing organ swells and stunning reverberations that loop and arc throughout, painting sonic pictures and instilling a blast of shimmering atmosphere. Up next, 'Αφροδίτη' gyrates into audible range trapped in a swirling synth drone before pounding drums and incessant organ stabs metronomically lead the charge accompanied by throbbing bass frequencies and constant barrage of lead guitars that leaps in and out of those blissful vocalisations with aplomb. Electronic theatric's announce the arrival of 'Bend The Tree's' (appearing here again and originally released on 2015's 'Aeolus' EP) and it gracefully glides on a droning synth progression and a highly addictive guitar line. This track bathes in swathes of stunning reverb as its hushed vocalisations take centre stage continuously urging the instrumentation to keep up with the pace.
'Icarus' builds rapidly, trapped in a turbulent instrumental drone, haunted by atmospheric guitar squall, reverberating fret noises, subtle sonic swells and the constant thump of the incessant bass drum. This track glides and arc's through a dark and malicious psych induced world filled with howling vocalisations that twist and morph into many different frequencies at will. Up next, the albums penultimate piece swings deliciously on a bedrock of driving kraut/motorik percussion and repetitious instrumentation. 'Ice Giants' conjures up hypnotic hallucinations of 70's sci-fi b-movie aliens aligned with a modern day sonic twist. The albums closing piece (appearing here again and originally released on 2015's 'Golden Light' EP) charges into ear shot on a bedrock of pounding drums, swirling guitars and soaring synth swells that are constantly building in tempestuous fashion and continuously circumnavigating that fragile vocal track. 'Cacti' builds from the off adding layer after layer of stunning instrumentation as it deftly skips along its chosen sonic path. A fitting ending to wonderfully creative album. Apart from the noticeable & previously released track inclusions, 'Holy Monitor' have put together a serious collection of impressive soundscapes that are sure to attract both new and old listeners alike. My favourite track on this album however has to be the highly addictive 'Bed Of The Earth' and it's driving cacophony of delectable psychedelic sounds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 now on hiatus) 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.
RELEASE: Golden Light / Aeolus
RELEASE DATE: July 16th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Ongakubaka Records
Hailing from the sunbaked Mediterranean shores of Greece, experimental neo-psych / krautrock space rockers ‘Holy Monitor’ have had both of their two previous self-released digital EP’s (Golden Light & Aeolus) seamlessly brought together on one fantastic full length album courtesy of Virginia based independent record label ‘Ongakubaka Records’. 'Holy Monitor' blend a stunning mix of neo-psychedelic krautrock & soaring space rock with motorik rhythms and dreamy hypnotic vocalisations that collectively form soundscapes so lusciously inthralling, they will have you hooked from your very first listen. The album is available to buy/download right now with a limited number also available on cassette from: ongakubakarecords.bandcamp.com
Golden Light/Aeolus by Holy Monitor
Like a pulsating beacon of musical promiscuity the opening motorik bars of track one, ‘The Way Out’ ripple outwardly, like some magical pre-ordained mantra, as the piece meanders through throbbing bass lines coupled with hypnotic rhythmic percussive patterns, surging synth swells and a magnificent vocal attack. This is a truly wonderful opening track as it sucks you into the collective mindset of ‘Holy Monitor’ and introduces you to their blissful acid-drenched musical landscape. Up next, we’re treated to a swirling repetitive guitar line intertwined with snaking bass frequencies and another impressive vocal performance. ‘Golden Light’ is full of eastern esoteric influences as its menacing organ swells and stunning reverberation loops and arc’s throughout, painting sonic pictures and instilling shimmering atmosphere.
‘Cacti’ charges into ear shot on a bedrock of pounding drums, swirling guitars and soaring synth swells that are constantly building in tempestuous fashion and continuously circumnavigating that fragile vocal track. It builds from the off adding layer after layer of stunning instrumentation as it deftly skips along its chosen sonic path. Up next, ‘Bend In The Trees’ gracefully glides in on a droning synth progression and a highly addictive guitar line. This track bathes in swathes of stunning reverb as its hushed vocalisations take centre stage continuously urging the instrumentation to keep up with the pace. A brilliantly executed track and possibly my favourite on this entire release. Track five, ‘White Sands’ slows proceedings down a tad initially as a golden cascading organ progression enters audible range. A steady beat is added to the maelstrom before the hypnotically charged vocal arrives and we’re treated to a masterclass of neo-psychedelic discovery.
The EP’s closing track is a thing of beauty. ‘Winterlong’ growls as its supercharged guitar lines expertly protect the immense vocal. Wurlitzing organ progressions swirl as throbbing bass lines add weight to the metronomic swing of the entire track leaving the listener wanting more.
A fitting finale to a stunning release!
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.