If 2013 heralded the emergence of psychedelic rock in the 21st century, 2014 firmly nailed its colours and those of its various sub-genres to the mast. Alongside the already well-documented reunions (Ride, Slowdive) and classic album tours (The Jesus & Mary Chain) there's been a plethora of great music from both new and established artists.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Revelation not only documented Anton Newcombe at his creative peak but the subsequent shows in support of the record went on to be some of the band's finest in their near twenty-five year history. While Hookworms followed up last year's Pearl Mystic with a record just as potent and electrifying in the shape of The Hum. The Black Angels also released their most infectious collection of songs in recent years with the Clear Lake Forest EP to coincide with this year's Austin Psych Fest, again a roaring success.
Indeed, while the growing number of "Psych Fests" might have been a cause for amusement in some circles, there can be little doubt that the ones at the forefront of the movement have been up there with this year's best regardless of genre. The aforementioned Austin Psych Fest - the line-up for next May's 'Levitation' event simply HAS to be seen to be believed it's that good, Liverpool's International Festival Of Psychedelia, Eindhoven Psych Lab, Portugal's Reverence and Manchester's Cosmosis. The list goes on. And with all of these events confirmed for next year along with imminent new records from the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers, Spectres, Moon Duo, The Soft Moon, Pinkshinyultrablast and 93MillionMilesFromTheSun, 2015 promises to be just as spectacular as its predecessor.
So without further ado, here's our end of year round-up featuring fifty of the finest artists to grace the Some Velvet Mixtape stereo this year.
A Place To Bury Strangers
Brooklyn's finest exponents of sonic annihilation recently announced their fourth album was finished and ready to go. Entitled Transfixiation, the record comes out on 16th February 2015 through the Dead Oceans imprint. A nine-date tour of Ireland and the UK follows, kicking off in Dublin on 31st March. This is 'Straight', the first single off the album, and needless to say it's a corker.
Regular readers of this column will know we've been enthusing about Bristol's Spectres for some time. Having signed to esteemed independent Sonic Cathedral earlier this year, their long-awaited debut Dying is released on 23rd February 2015. Here's the epic 'Sea Of Trees', which closes the album in colossal style.
Sea of Trees from Sophie Hoyle on Vimeo.
The Away Days
Hailing from the Turkish capital of Istanbul, The Away Days specialise in cathartic dreampop that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Creation Records at the turn of the nineties. They have an EP out in January of next year called This, but if you can't wait until then to hear what all the fuss is about will be playing a handful of UK shows during the early part of December. This is 'Best Rebellious', taken from the EP.
Sounds Of Sputnik
Essentially the solo project of Russian musician Roman Kalitkin, Sounds Of Sputnik's debut album New Born came out in November. Featuring collaborations with Swervedriver's Graham Bonnar and Ummagma's Shauna McLarnon, it's a heady cocktail of post-rock, dreampop and all out noise. This is the title track from the record.
Staying in Russia, Pinkshinyultrablast hail from St Petersburg and specialise in elegant, fizzy noisepop that brings to mind Lush, Bleach or the Cocteau Twins at their most sumptuous. Their first EP, Happy Songs For Happy Zombies came out in 2009, and while the ensuing years have been relatively quiet, they're back with a new record on a new label. Debut LP Everything Else Matters comes out on 26th January through Club AC30 and here is the first single from the album, 'Umi'.
While Sydney-based four-piece Day Ravies may not win any awards for best band name, their scuzzy take on psychedelia via new wave post=punk is a rampant joy to behold. Their debut album Tussle came out in 2013 and the as-yet untitled follow-up is due next year. This is 'The Other Side Of The Fence', which will feature on the new record.
Also from Australia - the slightly more civilized suburb of Melbourne - are Cochlear Kill. Although relatively unknown at this moment in time, their recent EP Colour Me Radd struck a chord with technical boffin Lindsay Gravina, who mixed it's three tracks. Here's the EP in full.
Having released one of this column's favourite singles of 2013 with the delightful 'Hush Hush', Limerick trio 'Sisters' have been pretty quiet these past twelve months. However, just to prove they haven't vanished without trace, they released a download-only single 'February' to coincide with a handful of CMJ shows they played in October, and it's great.
Also from the Irish Republic are Princess, a duo from Dublin who only started making music together in the summer of 2013. Their first EP Black Cat came out last summer, and although we've had to wait over a year for its successor in the shape of current single 'Molly', it really was worth it. As I'm sure you'll agree...
Also relative newcomers are The Enters, a three-piece from London whose woozy, ethereal style is reminiscent of many a 4AD or Creation band from that late 80s/early 90s halycon era. They put out an EP in August, Small Town Love, which was produced by former Test Icicle Rory Attwell. Here's the title track.
One of the year's finest LPs came courtesy of Philadelphia's Nothing. Guilty Of Everything, released in March on Relapse Records, combines elements of ear shredding noise with a grunge aesthetic and pop sensibility. In November the band released a split twelve-inch single with shoegaze legends Whirr. Out on Run For Cover Records, this is Nothing's contribution, 'July The Fourth'.
Lull are a four-piece band from North London. Their debut EP Dead Or Alone was produced by former Yndi Halda bass player Daniel Lovegrove and comes out on 12th January 2015. Here's the title track, which reminds us of Slowdive covering the Smashing Pumpkins circa Gish.
Flights Of Helios
Another of this column's favourite bands in recent months would be Oxford's Flights Of Helios, who describe their music as "grief wave". With influences ranging from Enya to Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros to Autechre, they're not exactly your archetypal band when it comes to psychedelic rock. Nevertheless, new single 'Succubus' is a gorgeously crafted piece of sombre drone pop. Listen for yourselves below...
Self-confessed Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine obsessives Thud are something of an anomaly where the Hong Kong music scene is concerned. While many of their contemporaries take the traditional cantopop route, they can be heard conjuring up experimental pieces such as recent single 'Lime', which carries an ethereal grace in a similar vein to Seefeel or Moonshake back in the day. Check it out here...
Toronto four-piece Wish fuse widescreen ambition with a lo-fi aesthetic. With elements of Pavement, Deerhunter, Lilys, Sonic Youth and early Boo Radleys influencing their sound, it's difficult to pick out what not to like. Their self-titled long player came out in November and it happens to be one of the finest debuts we've heard this year. Here's the hallucinogenic video to former single 'Retro Grade'.
Anna Bulbrook and Marc Sallis are probably better known for their work with The Airborne Toxic Event and The Duke Spirit respectively. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that 'Come Unwound', their first release together as The Bulls ranks on a par with pretty much anything else they've put their names to.
The Black Angels
One band that needs no formal introduction to Some Velvet Mixtape are Austin's finest, The Black Angels. Having released the excellent Clear Lake Forest EP earlier this year, they've collaborated with London imprint Fuzz Club to bring us an early Christmas present in the shape of 'Molly Moves My Generation', a limited edition split ten-inch also featuring Sonic Jesus. Here's the video to the second part of this colossal beast.
Another of our favourite acts in recent years hail from Doncaster in the shape of 93MillionMilesFromTheSun. Having released the excellent Northern Sky towards the tail end of 2011 to rapturous reviews including a healthy 8/10 here, we've waited patiently for the follow-up. Until now that is. Fall Into Nothing is finished and ready to go in the early part of 2015. Here's 'Sunshine Girl', taken from the new record.
The Cosmic Dead
Glaswegian outfit The Cosmic Dead describe themselves as "Scotland's foremost Hawkwind tribute band." We'd prefer to label them the bold axis where Sabbath style doom prog connects with the transient psychedelia of Spacemen 3. They've just released a split twelve-inch single with Liverpool's Mugstar on Evil Hoodoo. Here is 'Fukahyoocastulah', all twenty-six minutes of it.
Which brings us onto the other band on the Evil Hoodoo twelve-inch. Their contribution, 'Breathing Mirror', is actually Mugstar's first release since last year's Axis long player and captures the intensity of the band's live show at its most full-on.
Another band with a new record out next year are Moon Duo. Shadow Of The Sun, their third long player, is the first to feature drummer John Jeffrey. Due to be released on 2nd March 2015, here's the lead single and final track on the album, 'Animal'.
London-based trio Desert Ships released their Mark Gardener produced debut long player Doll Skin Flag in 2012. Drawing comparisons with artists such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Flaming Lips and even film score composer John Barry, they were heralded as one of the capital's brightest talents at the time. Although things have been relatively quiet in the interim period, they're back with a new single, again produced by Gardener. This is 'Skyliner' and it's simply breathtaking.
Three Days Dark
Trent Halliday hails from rural Essex and makes music under the moniker Three Days Dark. The first self-titled Three Days Dark album slipped out last year with the as-yet untitled follow-up due in the early part of 2015. The first single off the record, 'Walk With Me', came out last month and reminds us of Jim Morrison jamming with Daevid Allen's Gong, which is pretty good going for a one-man band, I'm sure you'll agree.
The Soft Moon
America's finest exponents of darkwave The Soft Moon release their third album, Deeper next March. Having relocated to Venice recently, main man Luis Vasquez has conjured up arguably his harshest, most visceral collection of songs to date if new single 'Black' is anything to go by. Here's the video.
Jonas Munk has been making records as Manual for the best part of a decade. Memory And Matter, released in October on Darla Records, compiles selected remixes and rarities from 2007 onwards. Comparisons with Robin Guthrie, Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream aren't wide of the mark, as the elegantly layered ambience of 'Miraparque' demonstrates.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Having released their first record since 2010's Autumn Again earlier this year in the shape of Sea When Absent, it would be churlish not to include A Sunny Day In Glasgow in such an end-of-year round-up. As comebacks go, they don't come much better than this elegiac return to form. With members of the band now based around various parts of the globe the the album took eighteen months to complete. Nevertheless, all that hard work and dedication paid rich dividends. Here's 'Crushin'', one of many highlights from the album.
The Black Ryder
LA based two-piece The Black Ryder made a significant impact on the psych rock scene when their debut long player Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride landed four years ago via the Mexican Summer imprint. Originally from Sydney, the duo of Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper relocated to the States soon after the album's release. Next February will see the long awaited follow-up The Door Behind The Door, with a UK tour also scheduled to coincide. This is 'Santaria' from the new record.
Lord Ha Ha
Nottingham based five-piece Lord Ha Ha have only been together just over a year. However, their organically charged and often improvised space rock recalls the likes of Porcupine Tree or Bark Psychosis at their prime. Here's the sprawling epic 'Fish Don't Kiss', recorded earlier this year.
Originally part of the Sarah Records stable in the early nineties until initially disbanding in 1996. Secret Shine got back together eight years later, releasing two excellent long players All Of The Stars and The Beginning And The End since. Last month saw them put out a single, 'Each Time', on Dreams Never End. Here's 'Anything About Me', flipside to 'Each Time'.
Swedish duo Dream Lake formed at high school in 2011 and have been creating atmospheric dreampop vignettes ever since. Comparisons with Beach House, A Sunny Day In Glasgow and The xx have seen them become one of their host nation's hottest new bands in recent months. This is 'Let Us Stay In The Light', released in November on 100 Songs.
Dream Lake - Let Us Stay In The Light from Dream Lake on Vimeo.
Eirik Asker Pettersen records rhythmic drone under the moniker Closing Eyes. Extended to a four-piece for the purposes of playing live, his EP Melodies For The Contemporary Mind came out earlier this year and is well worth a listen.
Hailing from Aarhus in Denmark, Zeroine are a two-piece who specialise in eerily constructed Velvet Underground inspired minimalist darkwave. Latest single 'Animous' was recorded over a nine month period and came out in November. We think it's one of the most intense pieces of music we've heard all year. I'm sure you'll agree...
Formed in Warsaw at the beginning of 2013, Evvolves claim their main intent was to "kind of rescue the naive and womanish shoegaze, as equipoise to its more popular post-rockish, pathetical version." Blimey! To these ears, recent single 'Wolf' brings to mind the jarring grandiosity of Medicine circa Shot Forth Self Living. Which can only be a good thing.
Nomadic troubadour Life Leone spent his teenage years travelling between the deserts of Southern California and jungles of Southeast Asia. Having settled in the Lucerne Valley, he's used those early life experiences to good effect if new single 'I Can't Say No' is anything to go by. Recalling Bug era Dinosaur Jr and the more recent meanderings of Ty Segall, it's a bombastic lesson in tripped out fuzz rock that bodes well for its creator's unassumingly bright future.
Canadian five-piece The Hours make shimmering guitar pop that owes more to the first wave of psychedelia than any of its more recent incumbents. Still in their infinite stages as a band having formed only last year, current single 'Miss Emerald Green' radiates an elegant charm befitting of a band who describe themselves as "A refreshing dream pop chandelier."
Little is known about the origins of London-based foursome Kahlo. However, the two recordings that exist suggests a bright future lies ahead. The mysterious 'Tango Acid' finds itself entwined in a surreptitious wave of atmospheric guitars while 'Glow' has an air of Julee Cruise fronting the Cocteau Twins about it. In other words, so far so good.
Seattle's Black Whales have been together for six years and in that time shared stages with the likes of Wooden Shjips, Vetiver and The Breeders. First album Shangri-La Indeed came out in the summer of 2011 to a fanfare of plaudits, and last month saw them release the long awaited follow-up Through The Prism, Gently. Here is the new record in all its widescreen glory.
Anyone familiar with the work of Dead Skeletons might know Henrik Björnsson as the other half of their creative hub alongside Jón Sæmundur Auðarson (aka Nonni Dead). However, it's with Singapore Sling that Björnsson has spent the past fifteen years making music that predates the whole psych rock revival by several years. Last month saw the band release their seventh album (and first for Fuzz Club Records), The Tower Of Foronocity. Here's opening track 'You Drive Me Insane'.
The Underground Youth
Anyone present at Manchester's Cosmosis and Eindhoven's Psych Lab events this year is likely to have been blown away by The Underground Youth's incredible live sets. Having released one of 2013's finest long players in The Perfect Enemy For God, the Manchester outfit followed it up this year with the Beautiful & Damned EP. Although currently on hiatus, there's a feverish buzz of anticipation surrounding where their next musical venture might take them.
Hotly tipped LA two-piece Tashaki Miyaki have been honing their sensual, atmospheric songwriting talents since the turn of the decade. The multi-instrumentalist, male/female duo have been likened to Beach House and Mazzy Star and if recent single 'Cool Runnings' is anything to go by, it's easy to see why.
The Altered Hours
Irish five-piece The Altered Hours specialise in swirling psychedelia that could be described as Jefferson Airplane for the post-punk era. Last year's Sweet Jelly Roll EP brought them to the attention of a wider audience while their most recent seven-inch 'Dig Early' confirmed their potential as one of the genre's most exciting new acts.
You Walk Through Walls
You Walk Through Walls, the three-piece formed by Air Formation's Matt Bartram and James Harrison in 2012, finally released their first self-titled long player this year. Out on Club AC30 in July, the record bears all the hallmarks of Bartram and Harrison's sonic palette, further abetted by bass player Harry Irving. This is 'Gone In A Day', taken from the album.
Barnsley five-piece Pusher have amassed a steady legion of new found fanatics thanks to some incendiary live performances this year. They've also put out a handful of impressively moody singles, the latest of which 'On My Own' came out on the Serpentine label in November. Here's the video.
Newcastle's Fractions released their first EP in September, causing Drowned In Sound's Paul Brown to call it, "One of the most wonderful EPs of 2014.". Fusing the icy, ethereal vocals of Lucy Gallagher with sparse yet melodic electronica that recalls M83, Broadcast or St Etienne, they're a surefire bet to be on the tips of many a tongue this time next year. Here's former single 'Breathe', which also features on the EP.
R. Michael Hendrix has been experimenting with lo-fi recordings since the summer of 2009. The results of that initial foray can be heard on This Dreadful Mess, a seven-track mini-album released two years later that drew comparisons with The Cure, David Bowie and Echo & The Bunnymen. Since then he's embraced noisier territories culminating in Urban Turks Country Jerks, his first full-length album which came out in April on Moon Sounds. Here's 'In This Daydream', taken from the record.
We've been keeping our eyes on London four-piece Dressmaker since their monochrome video for the excellent 'Skeleton' appeared in our inboxes last autumn. Since then, they've put out an EP, Glass, which combines darkwave sensibilities previously employed by the likes of Bauhaus and The Sisters Of Mercy with a propensity for all out noise. This is 'Future', taken from the EP.
Chicago's Lightfoils combine lush atmospherics with a deft ear for melody. The band's eagerly anticipated first long player Hierarchy came out in July and is easily one of 2014's finest debuts. Here's 'Diastolic', the stand out track off the LP.
Hailing from the Russian industrial port of Rostov-On-Don, Aerofall are a five-headed melange of noise, confusion and even more noise if recent single 'Nice' is anything to go by. Here's the video in its explosion of multi-coloured glory.
Last month saw SPC ECO release their fifth album The Art Of Pop on Saint Marie Records. Prior to that the band released an EP, Zombie, and here's the sumptuous title track.
Presents For Sally
So, with festive season approaching, we'll leave it to one of this column's favourite bands Presents For Sally to wrap up Some Velvet Mixtape for 2014. This is 'Everytime A Bell Rings An Angel Gets Its Wings' and it's available on a very limited edition seven-inch vinyl (only 50 copies!) which comes individually stamped adorned with festive wrapping paper and can be purchased here.
Merry Christmas everybody, see you in the new year!
Spectres photo by Katrina Morley.