We're not music critics, but we do know our way around a great album, or two, and 2016 is no exception to our growing collection. Our contributor Kari Leigh Ames takes us through her list of notable albums from the past year. Find out who made the cut below! You can catch Kari @karileighames to see how else she spends her time.
2016 could easily be described as a banner year. With virtual reality making a breakthrough into the mainstream, fake news leading the social media headlines, and psychedelic drugs on track to be approved by the FDA, the future is becoming now and reality may seem like a dream—but we have survived, dear Fuzzheads. As we hurtle through this wild space-and-time shuttle into the year 2017, let's take a moment to reflect on some notable albums released in the past year.
ORANSSI PAZUZU - VÄRÄHTELIJÄ
Svart Records, February 2016
Staying true to their Finnish origins, Oranssi Pazuzu have polished the spaced-out, blackened sound in their newest effort. The anguished vocals and urgent riffs mirror their name, a reference to the Babylonian wind-demon. With a siren-like soundscape as backdrop, Oranssi Pazuzu brings ritualistic drums and emotional fuzz to a new place.
CLEAR PLASTIC MASKS - NAZI HOLOGRAM
Soft Junk Records, October 2016
Drawing their album name from the neo-fascistic quality of our current political atmosphere, Clear Plastic Masks will take you on a scrambling dance and leave you feeling like a hurricane. Through a variety of foreboding stories and insistent keys, frontman Andrew Katz warps the narrative to suit his needs. He sings matter-of-factly in the title track, "It's just an illusion, honey, fuckin' with your mind."
ULTIMATE PAINTING - DUSK
Trouble in Mind Records, September 2016
Ultimate Painting's follow up to their acclaimed sophomore record finds a return of the sleepy hooks and demure harmonies we have come to adore. With an ethereal, movie-like quality, their modest take on earnest, folky psychedelia escorts listeners on a fluid journey through Dusk. We love Ultimate Painting so much that we teamed up with them earlier this year on a guitar strap as part of our Artist Series. We're confident you'll love them, too.
THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE - THIRD WORLD PYRAMID
A Recordings, October 2016
Joined by indie-psych darling Tess Parks and Norway's Emil Nikolaisen (Sarena-Maneesh), Anton Newcombe's fifteenth album came in like a lamb as the first fully recorded and produced at his new recording studio in Berlin. Featuring imagery evoking psych icons Spaceman 3 for the album art and a band that just won't quit, Anton manages to hit an extremely high bar set by his prior efforts. The droney, chant-like phrases almost reflect worship music, from the angelic choruses to the ominous prophecies.
HOLY SONS - IN THE GARDEN
Partisan Records, October 2016
The tender vocal melodies lent by Emil Amos (Grails, Om) meet and part with wandering harmony on this dreamy theme, produced by the legendary John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Kurt Vile). In The Garden has a peaceful confidence in its bright, soulful rhythms that comes solely from Amos, a man well-known for his nonstop touring and the multitude of releases under several monikers. Taking a hint from his cover of Del Shannon's "It's My Feeling," it would appear as though he's channeling some deep existential wisdoms from within and can hardly help but let the beauty flow in this nod to the aesthetic of essential albums of yesteryear.
PRINCE RAMA - XTREME NOW
Carpark Records, March 2016
The "Now Age" guru-sister duo Prince Rama brings a playful empowerment to this instantly classic album. Produced by Alex Epton (The Kills, Neon Indian), the long-anticipated Xtreme Now will leave you breathless and buzzing with energy, just the way they intended. Tribal drum beats, diversely inspired vocalizations and Prince Rama's relentless commitment to having fun will have you believing that everything is an instrument on the path to enlightenment.
DOUG TUTTLE - IT CALLS ON ME
Trouble In Mind Records, February 2016
Doug Tuttle (ex-MMOSS) issues easygoing promises and contemplates his options through airy harmonies and thoughtful melodies on his newest record. It Calls On Me is a relaxed departure from his previous albums, but still brings to mind cheerful images of flowers and sunshine streaming through tree branches on every track. Tranquil organ solos, reminiscent of the 1960s, and untroubled reflection will keep you hooked until the end.
GOAT - REQUIEM
Sub Pop, October 2016
Claiming possession by a village witch, Swedish rockers GOAT rode into our psyches to deliver an otherworldly message. An amalgamation of vintage rock tones, Baka Forest People vibes, cult hypnosis and a slew of other far-out influences, their aptly named double-album Requiem will ensnare your attention and become a quintessential favorite.
Kari wears many hats. You can follow her @karileighames on Instagram to learn more.