If 2016 promised great things ahead, 2017 has already started delivering on those promises. While new records from Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Ride, and The Black Angels may have grabbed the headlines - and understandably so - it's the new breed who've once again risen to the fore.
Both Gnoomes and Shadow Band have released debuts that are early contenders for album of the year, while Bristol's Spectres and Italian duo Sonic Jesus continue to confound expectations, both putting out follow-ups to their 2015 debuts that go beyond any considered boundary or genre.
Add the unique global flavour of Flamingods, the distinctively dark urges of The Underground Youth, and Ulrika Spacek's audacious move into Deerhunter-esque territories and it's clear to see why 2017 is shaping up to be an incredible year for all things psychedelia and shoegaze related.
To start things off here are 30 artists we've been listening to since the turn of the year.
Slowdive release their first album in 22 years next month and early indications suggest it's going to be a cracker. Slowdive comes out on Dead Oceans on 5th May and both lead single 'Star Roving' and this, which came out at the end of March to coincide with the band's short UK club tour, bare all the hallmarks of classic Slowdive.
Another of the shoegaze scene's fabled "Holy Trinity", Ride's reformation two years ago and the subsequent round of blistering live shows reignited their creative spark and Weather Diaries, their first collection of new material since Tarantula in 1996, comes out on 16th June. This is 'Charm Assault', the lead single taken from the new record.
Mexican duo Mint Field create delicate ambient soundscapes augmented by angelic vocals such as the gorgeous 'Viceversa', which came out as a single at the back end of last year. Their new EP Cambios Del Pasar is out later this year, and from what we've heard is pretty stunning.
The Underground Youth
We've been fans of Manchester-based four-piece The Underground Youth for a long time at Some Velvet Mixtape, so when they put out their eighth long player What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This? in February we were naturally jumping for joy. Centered around Craig Dyer's haunting vocals and spouse Olga's distinctive drum crescendos, What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This? continues in the vein of its predecessors while further cementing The Underground Youth's status as one of Europe's most evocative psych-rock outfits.
This Portuguese trio have been building a reputation as one of the most exciting bands on the psych rock scene since their self-titled debut dropped two years ago. Last week (7th April) saw the release of second long player Distress Distress on Fuzz Club Records, and it's every bit as good if not better than the first one.
The Entrance Band
This Los Angeles-based trio have been creating psychedelic stoner rock masterpieces for the best part of a decade. Third and most recent album Face The Sun incisively demonstrated their wares, so revered independent label Fuzz Club invited them in to do a live session with the results captured for posterity and released last month. This is 'Seedless Easy Peeler' taken from the Fuzz Club Sessions LP.
Hampshire shoegazers Is Bliss made such an impact with last year's Velvet Dreams EP they were recently asked to support The Jesus & Mary Chain at the recent Bournemouth show of their Damage & Joy tour. Next month sees the follow-up in the shape of The Honeycomb Explosion EP, released on esteemed independent Club AC30. This is 'Into A Dream', the lead track off the aforementioned EP.
Gnoomes have created an early if unlikely contender for album of the year in the shape of Tschak!, their debut released last month on Rocket Recordings. Hailing from the city of Perm in Russia, the trio fuse all kinds of influences ranging from noise and post-rock to ambient electronica with motorik beats. With a UK tour scheduled for the early part of June, their live show is one of the "must-sees" for this summer.
Michigan outfit Heaters release a live album later this month. The Fuzz Club Session LP was recorded in South London during their UK tour last year, and captures their potent mix of psychedelia, surf and garage rock to perfection. This is 'Master Splinter', originally released on 2015's Holy Water Pool.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon. Daydream Machine have been making music that evokes the psychedelic vibe of the late 1960s played through several fuzz pedals with occasional layers of distortion added for good measure. The band's first album Twin Idols brought them to our attention when released in 2014 and second record The Show Must Not Go On, out last month on Picture In My Ear Records, further strengthens our belief in their cosmic haze.
Those of you fortunate enough to catch Bloody Knives during their UK tour last month will know they're one of the most brutally intense live acts on the planet right now. Fusing industrial post-punk with shoegaze tinged electronica in a similar vein to A Place To Bury Strangers or The Lost Rivers, their forthcoming album White Light Black Moon promises to be one of 2017's finest when it drops later this year. In the meantime, here is 'The Descent', the first single to be taken from the new record.
Italian psych rockers Sonic Jesus released one of 2015's finest debuts in Neither Virtue Nor Anger, which not only captured the ferocious intensity of their live shows, but also highlighted their precocious talents as arrangers and songwriters of some distinction. Last month they put out the follow-up, Grace, once again on the excellent Fuzz Club Records. And while the distinctive hallmarks of its predecessor remain, they've taken a more expansive, electronic orientated route that owes as much to bands like The Cure, New Order, and Interpol as it does A Place To Bury Strangers and The Black Angels. This is 'I'm In Grace', the lead single off the LP.
Montreal outfit Suuns have been creating experimental, electronic-tinged soundscapes for a decade now, last year's third long player Hold/Still was arguably their finest collection to date. They're putting out a limited red vinyl edition remix album of said LP for Record Store Day on 22nd April and this is acclaimed producer Redshape's reinterpretation of 'Instrument'.
Formerly known as Zeroine, ZRN are a duo based in the Danish city of Aarhus and make effect-laden darkwave that mixes ambient signatures with industrial overtones. Their new EP Swim comes out on 28th April via ZRN's own Across The Floor Records. This is 'Deep End', the lead track from the EP.
The History Of Colour TV
Berlin-based trio The History Of Colour TV released their album last month. Entitled Something Like Eternity, the record - released on French imprint Crane Records - represents a major diversion in the band's sound from their unequivocal shoegaze roots. Produced by Peter Deimel, whose list of credits includes The Kills' No Wow, Valentina by The Wedding Present and Anna Calvi's self-titled debut, Something Like Eternity takes a stripped down and straight ahead approach that recalls bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Boxer Rebellion, and latter period Sonic Youth.
One of the finest albums to be released in 2016 was Ulrika Spacek's excellent debut The Album Paranoia, and they're about to follow it up in June with Modern English Decoration, a brand new collection of songs that takes on a slightly more refined turn from its predecessor. Out on 2nd June via Tough Love, they'll also be supporting Slowdive in Oxford that evening. They're scheduled to play a few shows throughout the same month and are well worth checking out.
This Other Kingdom
Dublin's This Other Kingdom have been making a name for themselves on the psych rock live scene for the past four years, having first come to our attention off the back of their debut EP Sunlight. Rêveur, the band's second long player, and first for Wrong Way Records, comes out on the 21st of this month and continues their effervescent trip via West coast reference points and Eastern influences aplenty.
Hailing from Bahrain and now based in London, Flamingods just happen to be one of the most innovative bands to emerge from the psychedelic underground in years. Fusing traditional Eastern folk with sounds and styles encompassing all aspects of rock, pop and dance music from around the world, last year's Majesty was a breath of fresh air and their forthcoming EP Kewali - out on 26th May through Moshi Moshi - follows a similar path.
Bath-based three-piece Port Erin have been playing their experimental, jazz infused soundscapes for the best part of a decade now. Having toured extensively over that period of time and even bagged coveted slots at Glastonbury Festival over the years, their long-awaited fourth studio album Ocean Grey comes out next month on Burning Shed Recordings and is well worth the wait.
Tel Aviv's Vaadat Charigim are another band who've frequented this column on previous occasions, and forthcoming single 'At Chavera Sheli' - 'You Are My Girlfriend' in English - suggests their best work may just be around the corner. Out in the early part of summer on Burger Records, 'At Chavera Sheli' is driving, shoegaze-inspired power pop at its finest.
Has A Shadow
Hailing from Guadalajara, this Mexican outfit channel the spirit of post-punk bands such as Play Dead and The Sisters Of Mercy while dragging it kicking and screaming into the present. Second album Sorrow Tomorrow finds their redolent darkwave awash with layers of reverb, fuzz, and drone which can sometimes make for uneasy yet pleasurable listening.
Florida's Astral Lite take inspiration from many sources which is just as well because New World Vultures, their debut record released in January of this year, sounds like it could have been recorded at any juncture between 1967 and the present. Yet, for all its referencing of the past, has a futuristic and ultimately timeless vibe flowing through it.
Hailing from Catania on the island of Sicily, Clustersun have been together since 2013 and released their first album Out Of Your Ego on Italian independent Seahorse Recordings in April of the following year. Next month sees the release of second album Surfacing To Breathe on the same label, and this is lead single 'Raw Nerve'.
Kikagaku Moyo were one of the undisputed highlights from last year's Liverpool Psych Fest while third album House In The Tall Grass - also released in 2016 - cemented them as one of the psychedelic scene's most innovative acts. Next week (April 21st) sees the release of the Stone Garden EP, their first release for the band's own Guruguru Brain imprint. Sonically it's quite a diversion from Kikagaku Moyo's previously more song based work, instead taking an experimental and largely instrumental journey into bolder spheres.
Daniel Land is another regular of these columns, having previously appeared here with Engineers, Riverrun, and his previous band The Modern Painters. Last November he released his first record for three years and it's up there with his finest to date. In Love With A Ghost finds him moving away from the traditional band structure with many of its compositions adopting a more minimalist, stripped down approach instead. This is 'Everyone's Got A Guy Garvey' story with a video that reminds us of New Order's 'Round And Round'.
The Vacant Lots
The Vacant Lots release the eagerly anticipated to 2014's debut Departure later this month. Entitled Endless Night, it's a much darker, more electronic orientated record than its predecessor and one that highlights the duo's penchant for channeling new ideas into their trademark sound.
Long time favourites of us here at Some Velvet Mixtape, Novella have been confounding us with their Stereolab influenced dreamgaze for the best part of six years. First album Land came out two years ago after a handful of impressive EPs and singles and follow-up Change Of State takes them a step further towards greatness. Released in February on the Wichita label, it's a Joe Meek inspired collection of sublime pop that sounds as if it belongs in the future as much as it does the past.
This Philadelphia-based outfit fuse classic psychedelia with a modern twist via the mid-Eighties Paisley Underground sound of bands like The Long Ryders, The Othermothers, or early Primal Scream. Their long awaited debut Wilderness Of Love came out in February on the Mexican Summer imprint and is one of the finest we've heard so far this year.
LA duo Tashaki Miyaki have been making delectable atmospheric dreampop since 2011. With a sound that owes as much to the cinematic scores composed by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch as it does the likes of Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine, they're an opulent anomaly in the world of psychedelia. Debut album The Dream came out last week (7th April) on Metroplois Records and is well worth checking out. This is 'City', taken from the LP.
Also hailing from the city of Los Angeles, Froth have been around since 2013. Their tendency to mix panoramic soundscapes with occasional dalliances into krautrock territories shone through impeccably on debut LP Patterns. Follow-up Outside (briefly) sees them adopt a more experimental approach, culminating in songs like 'Contact' and former single 'Sensitive Girl', which highlights their propensity to go beyond the extreme every once in a while.
Previous Some Velvet Mixtapes
Slowdive photo by Shaun Gordon.