After the late spring avalanche of great new releases last week, things are slowing down for the summer. It’s a good time to take stock of what we have to look forward to. Regular visitors to my Lists section will see that I keep an Upcoming Releases section at the bottom. Albums only make that when they get a title and official release date. For the most part, there are no titles and dates announced yet for these bands, though most have confirmed on Facebook and other venues that they are at some stage of recording, mixing or mastering. I’ll note which ones have been quiet and are included just for hopeful/wishful thinking. The Spotify playlist includes the most recent releases of the bands I’m obsessed with.
One of my top five favorite bands of the decade, Graveyard surprised everyone by issuing their second and third albums in a relative quick succession in 2011-12, which are currently my #3 & 4 albums of the 2010s. One of the few European bands that regularly tour the U.S., I’ve gotten to see them four times. I just missed their tour with Mastodon and Clutch because they skipped Chicago. I’d hoped they’d keep up their album-a-year pace, but you can’t have everything. Album number four should be ready by September according to the band.
Troubled Horse have members who share duties with fellow Swedish bands Witchcraft and Spiders. Their debut album Step Inside (2012) was one of my favorites that year, and since they have never played North America, I’m hoping another album will raise their profile and get them over here, perhaps opening for Witchcraft, who I haven’t seen since 2007. They announced their were writing the new album in April 2014, but have been quiet ever since. Fingers crossed it’ll just appear on the Rise Above catalog soon!
This Icelandic psych band has been around for a while, with a decent debut album in 2011, Dead Magick. It’s their EPs, however, that got me obsessed — Ord, Dead Comet and Buddha-Christ. They also contributed an impressive cover of “Riders On The Storm” for last year’s A Psych Tribute To The Doors. Darkly hypnotic yet melodic and memorable, this is the most perfect recipe of psych noir I’ve heard, after many others attempting something similar but failing to nail it. This band is pretty inscrutable, so who knows when they’ll have a full-length, but I hope this year.
Finnish occult psych rockers Mansion are even more mysterious than Dead Skeletons, though nearly prolific, having released three EPs in two years. The cultiest of the occult bands, they are followers of the Kartanoist cult. Does that mean if they were black metal they’d be the most Satanic? I’m not sure, I’d have to see them live to see what kind of vibe they have. I’d imagine they’d be at least as intense as The Devil’s Blood, and while they share some of the psych prog roots of Jess And The Ancient Ones, their sound has evolved quite a bit over the course of the EPs. It’s one of the reasons I’m so curious to hear the full-length, which the band said is coming this year.
Spirits Of The Dead
This Norwegian psych prog band’s third album Rumours Of A Presence was my album of the year for 2013. It still gets heavy rotation in my psychedelic doom cave, and I’m not even remotely sick of it. There’s early 70s references, but with a clean, meticulous modern sound in the recording. From the first listen, they’ve just left me wanting more, and as of early May there were photos of them in the recording studio. Yay! Now if we could just get a package tour of all the bands in this piece that have not made it to North America…
Of course I can’t forget Witchcraft! Their 2004 debut played a huge part in reviving interest in new takes on proto-doom, and psych, inspiring dozens of bands to follow. Magnus Pelander was previously in a band called Norrsken, which also featured two future members of Graveyard. I got to see them in 2007, and then they disappeared for five years before coming out with the brilliant Lights Out (2012). Fortunately they will not be gone that long again, with reports on Facebook that their new album is coming along. Can’t freakin wait!
True story, I confused this band with semi-shitty indie band Wolf Parade, and ended up missing them when they came through town. Yeah, I wanna stab myself in the eye. Also delving in 1968-72 era psych prog influences, with a touch of gnarly dark folk, it’s easy to imagine them as Finnish or Norwegian, but they’re actually British. Their second album Fain (2013) was a big jump in development of their songwriting and sound. More please.
After first discovering Witchcraft, the result of a frenzied search for anything nearly as good resulted in Swedish band Dead Man, who also shared a member with Norssken. Their retro rock has a more folky, sometimes country-ish element, but with some killer progressive chops. I can imagine it being something like the Grateful Dead were aiming at in the early 70s, but in my opinion, never nailed. I could listen to their self-titled 2005 debut and Euphoria (2008) forever, but dang it would be nice to have some new songs. With no new albums for seven years, you’d think they’d broken up. But they’ve been fairly active playing shows the past couple years, including a recent tour with Blues Pills. They must have something coming out soon.
Along with Witchcraft, Dungen was the other band that made a significant initial impact in 2004. They play around with different approaches to psych and prog, often with a jazzy flair. They’re great musicians to behold, having last toured after their sixth album Skit i allt (2010). Since then, Tame Impala has taken their approach in a more poppy direction and cleaned up in sales and sold out venues. Reine Fiske has been practically a full-time member of Motorpsycho and The Amazing since then, but a new Dungen album is long overdue. They give absolutely no clue if anything is coming.
Magic Circle – Mysterious doom band appears to be working on a follow-up to their debut, which you can’t find anywhere anymore.
Christian Mistress – After Possession (2012), they forgot to tour the U.S.! I have no idea why, as they should have no problem drawing an audience. Finally, that tour is booked for September, and a title for their next album on Relapse, To Your Death, also due in September. Finally!
Iron Maiden - It’s been a while since their last, The Final Frontier (2010). It turns out they had mostly finished an album, but Bruce Dickinson got sick with tongue cancer. He thankfully is on the mend, and should be in shape to tour by 2016. In the meantime, the band promises to release the new one this year!
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room (2011) was rapturously received, and I’m sure a new one would have even more anticipation. I’ve heard nothing.
Gojira - I’ve kind of lost interest in most extreme and death metal, but I’ve always got time for a Gojira album. The French band keeps it interesting with some prog metal and I remember reading about progress on their next album last year, so it shouldn’t be long.
Golden Void - Their second album was finished in April and a summer release should be announced soon.
Grave Pleasures – Formerly Beastmilk, this Finnish post-punk band’s debut Climax (2013) was overshadowed by Savages at the time, but has grown steadily in stature ever since. Johan Snell left, and they added Linnéa Olsson from The Oath. They’re quite a supergroup now, with also members of In Solitude, Hexvessel and Oranssi Pazuzu! They’ve signed with Sony and should have a new album possibly by summer.
White Denim – I’ve raved about them often, the best live indie band going right now hands down. Corsicana Lemonade (2013) got some good reviews, but was inexplicably robbed when it came to the year-end polls and lists. I’d like to see them get the success they deserve, but James Petralli released a solo album as Bop English, Constant Bop just last month. He’s been touring that album, so I don’t know when a new White Denim will be coming. Until then, Constant Bop is a great diversion, since Petralli is the band’s main songwriter and voice. He of course toys with different ideas he wouldn’t have normally in his band, but it’s not a huge leap.
Sadly, Hidden Masters have confirmed that there is no new album in the works, and have corrected me that is their fault, not Rise Above’s, that they did not properly tour and support their brilliant debut album. Fingers crossed that they can get something happening for 2016! In the meantime, check out the first track, “She Broke The Clock of the Long Now.”
I could go on with Avatarium, Hammers Of Misfortune, PJ Harvey, Fellwoods, Om, Sleep, Spirit Caravan. With only one album title named so far (Christian Mistress’ To Your Death), who knows how this will eventually shake out. If nothing else, this piece will hopefully get other fans showing the bands their interest if there is still no new album by the end of the year. If just half of these 20 bands come out with something, holy shit, it’ll be a helluva good year.