Whew! Steep competition yet again!!! This list is even better than the last one. If you feel I missed a classic though, please leave a message to let me know. Honorable mentions to The Space Agency for “Bombay Potatoes”, Vum’s “Hall of Mirrors”, Mazes’ “Skulking”, Kelley Stoltz’s “Kim Chee Taco Man”, Kylesa’s awesome metal track, “unspoken”, Cult of Dom Keller’s “Saguaro”, and the king of Portuguese music, Sergio Godinho, for “O Rapaz da Camisola Verde”. Now, open your mind, open your ears, and even your heart, lets take a trip...
20. Dead Gaze - I Found the Ending
From the Cats Purring dude ranch in Oxford Mississippi, Cole Furlow (Dead Gaze) finds his way to the 20th spot on the coveted list. Living on an intentional community with members of bands like Bass Drum of Death, Flight, Dent May, Junk Culture, and others, Furlow has cultivated a sound reminiscent of The Stone Roses. It’s low fi sonic bliss - soothing yet grungy. This track is a pretty great ode to the transition in tunes from the 90s to the 2000s, and on to 2010s.
19. The Limiñanas - My Black Sabbath
From the Catalonia city of Perpignan, France, the Limiñanas track “My Black Sabbath” is a bit of old school French yé-yé combined with that theme song from the Snatch soundtrack. The softly spoken French lyrics and consistent snare make for such a cool sound. Great driving music that should really be playing all over the world.
18. Elephant Stone - Setting Sun
From Montreal, Canada, comes sitar-wielding pop-psych crew Elephant Stone. Their tune of the year, “Setting Sun”, is a bit of Beatles and a bit of The Redwalls with heavy influence from Austin Texas’ Reverberation Appreciation Society scene, and punctuated by singer Rishi Dhir’s laid-back indie vocals. It’s sunny afternoon track to be set on repeat.
17. Vickers - She’s Lost
From Florence, Italy, comes a truly excellent bit of brit-pop influenced sonic reverb and shoe-gaze vocals. This is the first I’ve heard by or of the Vickers, but if this song is any indication of what’s to come I’d love to hear more.
16. Le Femme - Packshot
Et j’entends dans la musique les cris, les tambours, qui eclatent et rebondissent autour de moi. Haunting psychedelic treat from Paris. Think April march meets the B-52’s. Infectiously catchy - this is the stuff of dreams - and the kind of stuff that earns them a secure place on this year’s best of psych list.
15. Tamikrest - Tisnant An Chatma
From around the city of Kidal in northeast Mali, Tuareg Berber group, Tamikrest, is blessing the rest of the world with some mind expansive Tamasheq bluesy psychedelia. Such a killer groove, powerful harmonies, and a great bit of exotic drumming. Tisnant An Chatma is a pretty serious contender for a desert island jukebox track.
14. The Growlers - Someday
When I want to hear some great Cali-psych, this is exactly what I want to hear - a catchy, happy, psychedelic love song. Honestly, I’m a bit late on The Growler’s bandwagon, I’d heard the name many times, but my cousin introduced them to me just this year - now I’m totally hooked. The self-described “beach goth” group carries on the Orange County psych-pop tradition magnificently.
13. Foxygen - San Fransico
Polished pop-psych from LA. Sounds like Sunday morning, childhood memories, and wonderfully warm weather. I've got to thank my father for the introduction - this catchy tune has grown on me immensely.
12. Pond - Giant Tortoise
Perth, Australia, is not letting up in the world of psych rock. 3 Tame Impala members return to the list again this year under the name Pond. That same unique singing psych-guitar wonderland that made the album Lonnerism so fucking cool, drives this tune onto the list as well. It feels like sinking into a bed of pure sound ecstasy and just being enveloped. I can’t get enough. I’m not sure how many times I've listened to this song already, and it just keeps getting better.
11. Goat - Dreambuilding
The return of GOAT!!!! High energy, wild drum insanity, raw female vocals, Os Mutantes style guitar - what’s not to love! Also, their live show is unreal.
10. Condor Gruppe - Ondt Blod
Belgium’s Condor Gruppe song “ondt blod” is like what it might sound like if Ennio Morricone did the soundtrack for shroom-laden surf rock party. It’s got whistling, weird instrumentation, hooky riffs, sugar, spice, and everything nice. Play loudly.
9. Clinic - King Kong ii
Yes, Clinic is still around - and yea, they still rule. While Internal Wrangler and Walking with Thee are still my 2 favorite Clinic albums (and two of my all time favorite albums), the Daniel Lopatin rework of the Free Reign album (Free Reign ii), is pretty damn sweet. King Kong ii is mind-bending, pulsating, unnerving, heady, and heavy. Ade Blackburn’s vocals are as creepy and transporting as ever. It's been well over a decade, and still nobody has come close to replicating the totally bizarre Clinic sound.
8. Black Angels - Don’t Play With Guns
The Austin, TX psychedelic kings have returned!!!! These guys reestablished Austin, TX as the home of psychedelic rock ,and even helped bring psychedelic rock orginator Roky Erickson out of retirement. I’ll be first to admit this album is not their best, but the standout track, “Dont’ Play with Guns”, is still a gateway for dark and disturbing trip into the unknown.
7. Emma Acs & The Inbred Family - Balloon Farm
I first heard Denmark’s Emma Acs in 2011 and have been anxiously awaiting any and all news of new music ever since. Unfortunately news about this mysterious group has been sparse at best. Then this track surfaced - again, a totally unique sound. Piercing vocals parading trippy lyrics to the tune of a wailing sitar. It’s unreal, the stuff of fantasy, it’s like staring into a ball of cotton candy for too long, or trying to contemplate deja vu. EMMA ACS, I need more songs!!!!
6. The Night Beats - 7 Poison Wonders
Named after the album Night Beat by Sam Cook (a Real Folk Blog favorite), Seattle’s Night Beats have a sound much more akin to Austin’s 13th Floor Elevators than that of the Mississippi born Cooke. “Seven Poison Wonders” is an example of pure psych rock at its finest. A gem of a tune filled with glorious reverb, some kinda crazy sci-fi sounds going on in the background, and a consistent pounding trance-inducing drum. Sounds like a pack of jackals and a deep-woods freakout - a crazed cacophony of consciousness-altering guitar-driven madness. Top notch.
5. White Manna - Illusion of Illusion
I have to include at least one truly psychedelic raga on this list. Shout out to The Cult of Dom Keller’s “Saguaro” which was the runner up, but White Manna’s “Illusion of Illusion” turns the mind to jelly. This song comes on eerie and slow, then takes you for a droning ride and won’t let go. For me, it sounds like some sort of occult ritual in the desert. I think this song on repeat for 20 minutes is pretty much equivalent to at least 2 hits of acid. Enjoy.
4. Tara King Th. - L’Enquête
I know people compare anything good to come out of France to Serge Gainsbourg - that said, Tara King Th. takes the Gainsbourg sound to modern psychedelia. L’enquete is an Innovative, well structured, psychedelic classic. Sounds like a road-trip into foggy abyss. This is Rhone-alps based Tara King Th.’s second time on the Real Folk Blog list, and if they keep creating tracks like this they’ll have many more entries to come.
3. Of Montreal - Fugitive Air
Paste magazine once called lead singer Kevin Barnes the modern David Bowie. I've got to agree - his work is consistently provocative, evocative, and groundbreaking. Of Montreal started with the legendary Elephant 6 record label creating sappy emotive lo-fi indie, and have slowly progressed over the years into a neo-psychedelic powerhouse. Of Montreal album “The Sunlandic Twins” may be in my top 5 favorite all-time albums. Since then, they keep putting out at least one totally sweet track in every album. Again, of Montreal releases an edgy poppy gem in their 12th album with raw, almost Iggy Pop-like, “Fugitive Air”. Feels like a sexually driven bipolar trip into urban decay. Listen to this song… then listen to pretty much their entire catalog.
2. MGMT - Alien Days
If you are looking for a reason to confirm that the music now is good as ever, look no farther. Middleton, CT neo-psych rockers MGMT have released 3 totally excellent albums one after the other. A psychedelic hat trick!!! It’s like a Flaming Lips and Tame Impala hybrid with that totally unique MGMT touch. As this song confirms, they’re still at the top of their game. Alien Days is a geniusly-composed psychedelic symphony - a meteor shower of harmonic glory.
1. Diane Coffee - GreenWow!!!! Well deserved number one to psychedelic doo-wop Diane Coffee (Shaun Fleming - drummer for Foxygen). When the high note is hit in this song my brain melts into my shoes and warms my toes. I haven’t even seen the whole video because my eyes are closed halfway through. It sounds like a pancake breakfast, a prom last dance, and a warm morning sun all at once. I’m totally in love with this song - ENJOY!!!!!!
Well, that it's ya'll - tune in, turn on, and put some life into whatever it is you do.