Fester’s Lucky 13: 2015 Year-End Summary

Fast 'n' Bulbous Best of 2015

Top 100 Albums of 2015 |  Spotify Mix | 2015 Breakdown: Genre Lists | Shows, Videos | Movies, Television, Books & Comics

In years past, I often got outraged about albums that got critical conensus while other great ones were ignored. I’m passionate about the music I love and try to spread the word on, and can get a bit worked up. I’m feeling a bit more accepting this holiday season. While the diversity of what I cover has diminished somewhat in recent years, it’s also harder to piss me off about the stuff I care about getting ignored for Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett and Father John Misty.

While I still feel the majority of music critics don’t dig deep enough into what’s out there, to be fair, it’s not a very well paying job. It’s why I never went into it professionally. It’s thankless too, no longer given the kind of respect it once had 20-40 years ago. The result is that critics mainly listen to and write about whatever the hell they feel like. When most are not motivated to push beyond their comfort zones, there is a result that very little outrageously, offensively bad music gets pushed by most critics. The results end up being a little too predictable and boring, but the truth is I do like all the artists mentioned above to an extent. Kendrick Lamar’s album is #6 on my hip-hop list, even if I think parts of it is are chore to get through. If I were locked in a room with only those albums playing, I probably wouldn’t stab my hears for the first day. Okay that’s pretty faint praise. But it’s something. Heck, I even like parts of the Adele album, even if it is an extremely conservative adult contemporary that looks back to Barbara Streisand and Bing Crosby. There’s something to be said for an emotionally honest voice that connects with the masses. Heck, I even like what I heard of Hamilton, the hip-hop musical about the founding of our financial system. So, it was a difficult year for many in this world. Many reach to Lamar to make sense of the suffering and horrors, Stevens to process death in the family, and Adele to commiserate in romantic loss. The next tier of popular critical choices were all fairly ambitious, complex art rock from Björk, Joanna Newsom, Grimes and Julia Holter. Holter is by far the one I connected with the most this year.

I am no stranger to dark music, I just prefer mine to be a bit more cosmic and vast. But don’t forget about celebratory. We’ve avoided the apocalypse so far, so there’s still a chance to do something right. Some come on down the rabbit hole and put some color back into your music.

Comebacks of the Year

A decade isn’t so long anymore. Perhaps that’s because I’m middle aged, and it seemed like yesterday that Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods (2005) came out. Seriously. Great band, great last album, but I hardly missed ’em. But it’s damn nice to have them back, especially when their tour was the best I’d ever seen them play. No Cities To Love took a long time to grow on me, but yeah, they’re back and better than ever. Goatsnake is a band I never thought I never expected another album from again since their Flower Of Disease (2000). Great decision. Now if we can get an album out of Spirit Caravan or even The Obsessed!

Debuts of the year

This year the debut of the year award goes to Algiers. I would have thought they’d be catnip for the critics, but fiery postpunk with angry, political lyrics was more fashionable in 2013 when Savages were slathered with love than this year. I haven’t gotten to see them live yet, but they seem to bursting with possibilities. Sunder is technically a debut, though essentially the same band released an album just last year as The Socks. One can understand why they changed their name. Marriages is an exciting new band lead by Emma Ruth Rundle, who released the excellent avant dream pop Some Heavy Ocean last year, and also served in Red Sparrowes.

Overrated of the Year

Of the artists mentioned earlier (Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett and Father John Misty), I’d say Sufjan Stevens. I really liked Greetings From Michigan (2003), but it seems like every album since has resulted in diminishing returns until he’s lost touch with how to assert his vision musically. While plenty of people are drawn to his lyrics, he come across to my ears as utterly listless and bland.

Disappointment of the Year

It’s been another great year for my favorite artists, particularly the ones I was most eagerly anticipating releases from, like Graveyard, Ufomammut, Royal Thunder, Elder and Christian Mistress. They all delivered, and others like Witchcraft, Troubled Horse, Spirits Of The Dead and Wolf People will have new music next year. With luck, they won’t disappoint either. On the other hand, some legendary post-punk bands didn’t fare so well for me — Gang Of Four, Public Image Ltd., The Pop Group and Wire all released duds to varying degrees. And even though it’s been highly rated, I’m not really feeling the Killing Joke album either. That’s a shame as those five bands are responsible for some of the best albums of 1979-80, and of all time.


Some bands, like Golden Void and Baron, just aren’t widely known. However, both Magic Circle and Christian Mistress got some attention with their previous albums in 2012. Yet for some reason, despite releasing two of my top three albums this year, they are being almost totally ignored.It has more to do with what’s fashionable than anything.

Fester’s Lucky 13 – The Best Albums of 2015

01. Baroness – Purple (Abraxan Hymns)

Baroness - Purple (Abraxan Hymns, 2015)

It’s a tough call to name an album of the year that is just coming out on December 18. Aside from a couple singles, I only first got to hear all of it just a week and a half ago. With the pre-release excitement, it could have easily disappointed me. It did not, and I’ve listened to it probably 30 times since, despite also absorbing another 150 albums since year-end list season started before Thanksgiving. I was disappointed by their previous release, the double Yellow & Green album in 2012. It was admirable in it’s experimentation with less heavy rock, but just didn’t do it for me like their other albums. After their horrific accident that year where their bus fell off a 30 foot viaduct in Monkton Combe, their future was uncertain. Two members were unable to return due to severe injuries. Baizley’s arm was nearly amputated and it took some grueling physical therapy to get back to playing guitar again, let alone walking. But he was determined, and later in 2013, I witnessed their triumphant return to the stage. It was a totally celabratory show, with John Baizley and Pete Adams (who’s other band Valkyrie also released a great album earlier this year) stoked to be alive and rocking, and the new guys excited to be in one of the best rock bands on the planet. Leading up the the release, the band released a series of endearing, short videos that are so enthusiastic and candid, you can’t help to root for them no matter what you think of their music. They introduce new drummer Sebastian Thomson (Publicist) who some may know from 90s indie prog band Trans Am and bassist Nick Jost, who comes from a jazz background. They also made the wait a bit nervewracking, in case the album didn’t measure up to the anticipation. There was no need for worry. Bruised but intact, Purple is a perfect progression from the previous albums, with the ferocity of Red, the majestic twin guitar glories of Blue, and melodicism of Yellow & Green. It’s more consistent, focused, and emotionally powerful. It’s the document of a band at the peak of their powers. Pre-order now and you can access a download first thing Friday the 18th.

02. Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Relapse)

Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Relapse, 2015)

This may be an odd comparison, but the reasons some have given for liking the Courtney Barnett album, that her emotional directness hits a sweet spot that makes her music, which is nothing new, all the more compelling, applies to me for Christian Mistress. On the surface they may be an unpretentious, blue-collar party metal lead by the smoky, soulful rasp of a woman who’s probably seen more bar brawls than most men. The sound may be rooted in Thin Lizzy and the NWOBHM. But that was nothing of that era that could set shriveled black grinch hearts aflame with pure emotional impact like Christian Mistress. Let it be known this this album is indeed important. It needed to be made, and here it is. Don’t waste your short time on earth without it. | Full Review | Bandcamp

03. Magic Circle – Journey Blind (Armegeddon)

Magic Circle – Journey Blind (Armegeddon, 2015)

When Magic Circle came out of Boston in 2013 with their self-titled debut, they proved that you don’t need the Internet to succeed. Their albums sold out, and were unavailable through any streaming or downloading. No iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, or even Bandcamp. All they had was old fashioned word of mouth on how amazing their rock ‘n’ doom is. They don’t try to keep their influences secret — they celebrate their love of all things Sabbath, Trouble and Pagan Altar. Their dedication to their craft, a killer batch of new songs and an amazing vocalist make this a must hear for any metal fan. They even seem willing to grow out of their cult status and are now have a digital footprint, and will hopefully leave their mammoth tracks across the country in a tour next year. | Full Review | Bandcamp

04. Golden Void – Berkana (Thrill Jockey)

Golden Void – Berkana (Thrill Jockey, 2015)

Just a week ago I saw Earthless open for Graveyard. Their extended stoner psych instrumental jams are highly regarded in that community, but can try my patience. I noticed others in the audience who were visibly bored too. What blows my mind is that guitarist Isaiah Mitchell has another band Golden Void, that put out an album that rivals Graveyard’s, and would have made a much more compatible touring mate. Golden Void is currently one of the best bands in North America. So why the hell don’t they tour? Perhaps on this leg, Graveyard were afraid they’d get upstaged? I’m at a loss, but more people need to hear this album, a brilliant mix of psych prog and Americana.  | Full Review | Bandcamp

05. Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence (Nuclear Blast)

Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence (Nuclear Blast)

Since I first saw them in 2008, Swedish rockers Graveyard has been a favorite. Luckily, unlike many European bands, they tour North America pretty often. Every tour they get better, and while Hisengen Blues (2011) was so amazing it’s hard to top it, they continue to grow with each release. The latest has leader Joakim Nilsson extending his emotional reach with a couple impressive, soulful ballads. | Full Review

06. Elder – Lore (Armageddon)

Elder – Lore (Armageddon)

After a few year absence, Elder made a significant stylistic shift from stoner doom to heavy psych prog. Nicholas DiSalvo’s guitar pyrotechnics and their engrossing epic tracks have inspired awe among those who know what’s up. After jonesing for that their thick tones for nearly four years, I was lucky enough to have gotten to see them twice this year at a venue just down the street from me. I have a feeling the stature of this album will only grow in legend as time goes on. | Full Review | Bandcamp

07. Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse)

Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse)

Talk about a hard working band. I think I’ve seen them Royal Thunder five times in the last couple years, most recently last night. Every time, I’m more and more impressed with Mlny Parsons’ talent and passion. Her singing gets better every time with range, power, and some terrifying wails. I could see this band crossing over to a much bigger audience if things fell in place. It’s not too late to catch them so you can say you knew them back when. | Full Review | Bandcamp

08. Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot)

Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot)

I have to admit that when I wrote the review earlier this year, I was so used to Ufomammut topping themselves from one album to the next in an incredible run, that I may have been over the top about this one. Just barely. It’s still great enough to make the Lucky 13, even if it can’t top Eve (2010). I also got to catch their first ever full U.S. tour, which exceeded expectations. For cosmic doom sludge, look no further, this band is it. | Full Review | Buy

09. Algiers – Algiers (Matador)

Algiers – Algiers (Matador)

Like I said in the post-punk feature, I’m surprised this band doesn’t factor more highly in the year-end polls. Nevertheless, I see this band, which is already great, growing into something amazing. | Full Review

10. Baron – Torpor (Svart)

Baron – Torpor (Svart)

I discovered this band while obsessively checking Wolf People’s Facebook for updates on their upcoming album. While Joe Hollick contributes guitar to a couple tracks, Baron is a much different sounding band, but does share some roots in dark psych prog, the kind mostly found on obscure European albums from the 70s. Yet they’re also very modern and challenging, and deserve a bigger audience.  | Full Review | Bandcamp

11. Sunder – Sunder (Tee Pee)

Sunder – Sunder (Tee Pee)

As I re-listened to albums the past month to figure out the final positions in the list, Sunder kept it’s place solid. Every time they came up in the playlist I was reminded how great this French band formerly known as The Socks is. Others should be suitably impressed once they hear them, how they blow away much bigger, better known names. | Full Review

12. Snail – Feral (Small Stone)

Snail – Feral (Small Stone)

Those who bought Kurt Cobain’s bedroom tapes were misguided. If they really wanted a lost treasure from Seattle, they should look to Snail. Formed way back to 1992, they got back together in 2008 and this is their fourth and by far most potent and catchy mix of grunge, stoner doom and psych. I don’t know if Cobain ever got to hear them, but if he had, I think he’d been a huge fan. | Full Review | Bandcamp


13. Fuzz – II (In The Red)


It’s usually a tough decision to pick #13, because it’s the last album that gets the top echelon honors here. There were other very strong candidates in Jess and the Ancient Ones, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Royal Headache and Iron Maiden. It was pretty much a dead heat, with Fuzz pulling through on the strength that it’s Ty Segal’s heavy psych band at full strength, with a pretty deep album that I expect to return to for years to come. | Full Review

Beyond the top 100 below, there’s so much more great music, some of which is covered in the genre lists. Or go here to view the entire 600+ album list for the year. | Spotify Mix Playlist


  1. Jess And The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (Svart)Bandcamp
  2. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – The Night Creeper (Rise Above)
  3. Royal Headache – High (What’s Your Rupture)
  4. Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls (BMG/Ingrooves)
  5. Grave Pleasures – Dreamcrash (Columbia/Metal Blade)
  6. Wand – Golem (In The Red) | Buy
  7. Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last (Castle Face) | Buy
  8. Dungen – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)
  9. Cold Showers – Matter Of Choice (Dais)Buy
  10. The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (Holy How Are You?) | Buy
  11. Marriages – Salome (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  12. Tarot – The Warrior’s Spell (Heavy Chains) | Bandcamp
  13. Elephant9 & Reine Fiske – Silver Mountain (Rune Grammofon)
  14. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
  15. Avatarium – The Girl With The Raven Mask (Nuclear Blast)
  16. Valkyrie – Shadows (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  17. Horisont – Odyssey (Rise Above)
  18. Roundtable – Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia (Roundtable) | Bandcamp
  19. Kadavar – Berlin (Nuclear Blast)
  20. Jacco Gardner – Hypnophobia (Polyvinyl) | Bandcamp
  21. Anekdoten – Until All The Ghosts Are Gone (Musea/Virta) | Bandcamp
  22. Gazpacho – Molok (Kscope)
  23. The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – I (Svart) | Bandcamp
  24. Sacri Monti – Sacri Monti (Tee Pee) | Buy
  25. Mirror – Mirror (Metal Blade) | Bandcamp
  26. Mirror Queen – Scaffolds Of The Sky (Tee Pee) | Buy
  27. Torche – Restarter (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  28. Komara – Komara (Hevhetia) | Bandcamp
  29. Sundays & Cybele – Heaven (Beyond Beyond Beyond) | Bandcamp
  30. Flavor Crystals – The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals (Mpls Ltd) | Bandcamp
  31. Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Horse Dance (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  32. Stara Rzeka – Zamknęły się oczy ziemi (Instant Classic) | Bandcamp
  33. Male Gaze – Gale Maze (Castle Face) | Buy
  34. Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision (Tough Love)
  35. Minami Deutsch – Minami Deutsch (Cardinal Fuzz/Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  36. Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters (Club AC30) | Bandcamp
  37. Publicist UK – Forgive Yourself (Relapse)Bandcamp
  38. Tame Impala – Currents (Interscope)
  39. All Them Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (New West)
  40. High On Fire – Luminiferous (eOne)
  41. Goatsnake – Black Age Blues (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  42. Wand – 1000 Days (Drag City)
  43. Mammatus – Sparkling Waters (Spiritual Pajamas) | Bandcamp
  44. Witchskull – The Vast Electric Dark (Witchskull) | Bandcamp
  45. Singapore Sling – Psych Fuck (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  46. Demon Eye – Tempora Infernalia (Soulseller)
  47. Lunch – Let Us Have Madness Openly (Mass Media) | Bandcamp
  48. House Of Laurence – Awake (House Of Laurence) | Bandcamp
  49. Glowsun – Beyond The Wall Of Time (Napalm) | Buy
  50. Mother Engine – Absturz (Gebrüder Schall) | Bandcamp
  51. Ghost – Meliora (Loma Vista)
  52. Rocket From The Tombs – Black Record (Fire)
  53. Protomartyr – The Agent Itellect (Hardly Art) | Bandcamp
  54. Hand Of Dust – Like Breath Beneath A Veil (Avant!) | Bandcamp
  55. Northwinds – Eternal Winter (Black Widow)
  56. Sonic Jesus – Neither Virtue Nor Anger (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  57. Vidunder – Oracles & Prophets (Crusher)
  58. Mondo Drag – Mondo Drag (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  59. The Volcanics – Transmission (Citadel) | Bandcamp
  60. Mansion – Altar Sermon EP (Mansion) | Bandcamp
  61. Black Trip – Shadowline (SPV/Steamhammer)
  62. Weedpecker – II (Weedpecker) | Bandcamp
  63. Electric Moon – The Theory Of Mind (Sulatron)
  64. The Sword – High Country (Razor & Tie)
  65. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino)
  66. Shopping – Why Choose (Fat Cat)Bandcamp
  67. Demon Head – Ride The Wilderness (This Charming Man) | Bandcamp
  68. Palace In Thunderland – In The Afterglow Of Unity (Palace In Thunderland) | Bandcamp
  69. Arenna – Given To Emptiness (Nasoni) | Bamdcamp
  70. Lucifer – Lucifer I (Rise Above)
  71. Monster Magnet – Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Remix) (Napalm)
  72. Carousel – 2113 (Tee Pee)
  73. Ancient River – Keeper Of The Dawn (Summer Moon) | Bandcamp
  74. Devil Worshipper – Devil Worshipper (Holy Mountain)
  75. Freedom Hawk – Into Your Mind (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  76. Sergeant Thunderhoof – Ride Of The Hoof (Sergeant Thunderhoof) | Bandcamp
  77. The Holy Soul – Fortean Times (Damn You) | Bandcamp
  78. LoneLady – Hinterland (Warp)
  79. RA – Scandinavia (Adrian) | Bandcamp
  80. Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man (Matador) | Buy
  81. Kill West – Smoke Beach (Crang) | Bandcamp
  82. Rats On Rafts – Tape Hiss (Fire) | Bandcamp
  83. Ruby The Hatchet – Valley Of The Snake (Tee Pee) | Bandcamp
  84. Anna von Hausswolff – The Miraculous (Pomperipossa)
  85. Shamir – Ratchet (XL)
  86. Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet – 2 (Trouble In Mind)
  87. Møster! – When You Cut Into The Present (Hubro)

2015 Breakdown

This year is a little different in that I broke up some of the previously combined genres, and mainly kept them to lists of 13. You can look them up with the lists feature here to see all of them.


Wand - Golem (In The Red, 2015)It was another great year for psych, with about 150 albums that contained at least some psych. It made for great summer listening as I documented in July in Psychedelic Psummer: Tame Impala’s Synths Vs. All the Guitars. Tame Impala got by far the most attention this year, and while I was critical of it, it is quite good and did make my list. But Wand made it twice. I saw them twice this year and they also win as the most dynamic and entertaining live band of the batch. Longtime Swedish psych figureheads Dungen were the most impressive with their jazz prog chops.

  1. Sunder – Sunder (Tee Pee)
  2. Wand – Golem (In The Red) | Buy
  3. Dungen – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)
  4. Jacco Gardner – Hypnophobia (Polyvinyl) | Bandcamp
  5. Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last (Castle Face) | Buy
  6. Sacri Monti – Sacri Monti (Tee Pee) | Buy
  7. Sundays & Cybele – Heaven (Beyond Beyond Beyond) | Bandcamp
  8. Tame Impala – Currents (Interscope)
  9. Wand – 1000 Days (Drag City)
  10. Mammatus – Sparkling Waters (Spiritual Pajamas) | Bandcamp
  11. House Of Laurence – Awake (House Of Laurence) | Bandcamp
  12. Monster Magnet – Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Remix) (Napalm)
  13. Ancient River – Keeper Of The Dawn (Summer Moon) | Bandcamp

Psych Noir

Jess and the Ancient Ones - Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (Svart, 2015)After officially inducting my latest sub-genre name in a blood sacrifice ritual (kidding, I just did this – Kaleidoscopes & Grimoires: Psych Noir), I figure it’s time to add it to the Breakdown. Any and all questions about what this genre is, just refer to that article above. I gotta say, it’s looking good with ten albums making my overall top 100. Even Seremonia and Luciferian Light Orchestra made good albums and didn’t make the top 13. I look forward to more. The next one will probably be a big one from Purson in March.

  1. Jess And The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (Svart)Bandcamp
  2. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – The Night Creeper (Rise Above)
  3. Avatarium – The Girl With The Raven Mask (Nuclear Blast)
  4. The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – I (Svart) | Bandcamp
  5. Ghost – Meliora (Loma Vista)
  6. Sonic Jesus – Neither Virtue Nor Anger (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  7. Mansion – Altar Sermon EP (Mansion) | Bandcamp
  8. Lucifer – Lucifer I (Rise Above)
  9. Devil Worshipper – Devil Worshipper (Holy Mountain)
  10. 10 000 Russos – 10 000 Russos (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  11. Sexwitch – Sexwitch (Echolyn)
  12. Year Of The Goat – The Unspeakable (Napalms)
  13. Taman Shud – Viper Smoke (Trashmouth) | Bandcamp

Psych Prog

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske - Silver Mountain (Rune Gramofon, 2015)Also qualifying as psych prog but listed above are Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dungen, Sacri Monti, Sundays & Cybele and Mammatus. Guitarist Reine Fiske should some sort of psych prog MVP award, as he has served as an additional member with Motorpsycho, Dungen, The Amazing and the jazz fusiony Elephant9. This guy is a genius, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on several more albums next year, and maybe someday a solo album.

  1. Baron – Torpor (Svart) | Bandcamp
  2. Elephant9 & Reine Fiske – Silver Mountain (Rune Grammofon)
  3. Mirror Queen – Scaffolds Of The Sky (Tee Pee) | Buy
  4. Mondo Drag – Mondo Drag (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  5. Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkken featuring Kammerkoret Aurum and Sheriffs of Nothingness – En konsert for folk flest (Rune Grammofon)
  6. Agusa – Två (The Laser’s Edge) | Bandcamp
  7. Blandbladen – Vederkvickelse (Kommun 2)
  8. Sammal – Myrskyvaroitus (Svart) | Bandcamp
  9. Mini Mansions – The Great Pretenders (Fiction)
  10. The Amazing – Picture You (Partisan)
  11. Witchwood – Litanies From The Woods (Jolly Roger)
  12. Ancient Sky – Mosaic (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  13. Midday Veil – This Wilderness (Beyond Beyond Beyond) | Bandcamp


Tarot – The Warrior's Spell (Heavy Chains) Like a lot of people, I run hot, cold and lukewarm with a lot of prog. I revere King Crimson, Soft Machine, Van Der Graaf Generator, immensely enjoy Yes, Gentle Giant, Gong and Caravan, but waver on Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP. I’m pretty forgiving in terms of overambitious, sprawling albums, but sometimes the cheese factor can become too much even for me. Which is why I took a hard pass on Marillion in the 80s and 90s, and other like minded bands. However, because I do enjoy much of Porcupine Tree and some similar bands, I spent a good amount of time re-evaluating other modern prog, and wrote about some of it recently in Progasms: A Progressive Rock Rundown. I extracted albums by Roundtable, Elephant9, Northwinds, Agusa and Sammal since they appeared in other lists. Tarot is a recent discovery from Australia that plays a mix of prog and proto-metal.

  1. Tarot – The Warrior’s Spell (Heavy Chains) | Bandcamp
  2. Anekdoten – Until All The Ghosts Are Gone (Musea/Virta) | Bandcamp
  3. Gazpacho – Molok (Kscope)
  4. Komara – Komara (Hevhetia) | Bandcamp
  5. Møster! – When You Cut Into The Present (Hubro)
  6. Perfect Beings – Perfect Beings II (My Sonic Temple) | Bandcamp
  7. The Dear Hunter – Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise (Equal Vision) | Buy
  8. Diatessaron – Sunshine (Diatessaron) | Bandcamp
  9. Native Construct – Quiet World (Metal Blade) | Bandcamp
  10. Echolyn – I Heard You Listening (Echolyn) | Bandcamp
  11. Steve Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase (Kscope)
  12. Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle (InsideOut)
  13. Guapo – Obscure Knowledge (Cuneiform)


Roundtable – Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia (Roundtable)Ah doom. Despite my monthly participation in the Doom Charts (highly recommended if you want to keep up with under the radar releases), my obsession with doom has cooled slightly since my year-long doom orgy in 2013. But not too much, as two still made my overall Lucky 13. And since there’s so much doom, I’m listing 30 here. Unless you follow the doom charts, you probably aren’t familiar with Roundtable, a truly excellent doom prog band from Australia. Highly recommended!

  1. Magic Circle – Journey Blind (Armegeddon) | Bandcamp
  2. Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot) | Buy
  3. Roundtable – Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia (Roundtable) | Bandcamp
  4. Demon Eye – Tempora Infernalia (Soulseller)
  5. Northwinds – Eternal Winter (Black Widow)
  6. Demon Head – Ride The Wilderness (This Charming Man) | Bandcamp
  7. Khemmis – Absolution (20 Buck Spin) | Bandcamp
  8. Moon Curse – Spirit Remains (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  9. Monolord – V (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  10. Disenchanter – Strange Creations (Disenchanter) | Bandcamp
  11. Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  12. Chrch – Unanswered Hymns (Transylvanian/Battleground) | Bandcamp
  13. Bell Witch – Four Phantoms (Profound Lore)
  14. Tombstones – Vargariis (Soulseller) | Bandcamp
  15. With The Dead – With The Dead (Rise Above)
  16. Pentagram – Curious Volume (Peaceville)
  17. Satan’s Satyrs – Don’t Deliver Us (Bad Omen)
  18. Holy Serpent – Holy Serpent (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  19. Balam – Days Of Old (Balam) | Bandcamp
  20. Sorcerer – In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross (Metal Blade)
  21. Relentless – Night Terrors (Do Or Die Records) | Bandcamp
  22. Shepherd – Stereolithic Riffalocalypse (Shepherd) | Bandcamp
  23. Swallow The Sun – Songs From The North I, II & III (Century Media)
  24. Hey Colossus – In Black And Gold (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  25. Dead Temple – Cult Of Acid (PRC) | Bandcamp
  26. Demon Lung – A Dracula (Candlelight) | Bandcamp
  27. Clouds Taste Satanic – Your Doom Has Come (Kinda Like) | Bandcamp
  28. Mortalicum – Eyes Of The Demon (Metal On Metal) | Bandcamp
  29. The Black Wizards – Lake Of Fire (Raging Planet) | Bandcamp
  30. Blackout – Blackout (RidingEasy)


Grave Pleasures - Dreamcrash (Columbia/Metal Blade, 2015)The recent trend of metal musicians getting involved in post-punk projects is a promising sign that the genre is done with suffering the indignities of going in and out of fashion. It simply is. While there were energetic supporters of all their albums, I was not taken with this year’s offerings from the older legends – Public Image Ltd., The Pop Group, The Monochrome Set, Wire, The Fall and The Names. And while Killing Joke’s latest got plenty of acclaim, I felt that many (42, in fact) younger bands made better albums this year. While nothing got the critical acclaim the way Savages did two years ago, it was a great year for post-punk.  See the full feature here.

  1. Algiers – Algiers (Matador, 2015)
  2. Grave Pleasures – Dreamcrash (Columbia/Metal Blade, 2015)
  3. Cold Showers – Matter Of Choice (Dais, 2015) | Buy
  4. Male Gaze – Gale Maze (Castle Face, 2015) | Buy
  5. Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision (Tough Love, 2015)
  6. Publicist UK – Forgive Yourself (Relapse, 2015) | Bandcamp
  7. Lunch – Let Us Have Madness Openly (Mass Media, 2015) | Bandcamp
  8. Protomartyr – The Agent Itellect (Hardly Art, 2015) | Bandcamp
  9. Hand Of Dust – Like Breath Beneath A Veil (Avant!, 2015) | Bandcamp
  10. Shopping – Why Choose (Fat Cat, 2015) | Bandcamp
  11. LoneLady – Hinterland (Warp, 2015)
  12. RA – Scandinavia (Adrian, 2015) | Bandcamp
  13. Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man (Matador, 2015) | Buy

Desert/Fuzz/Stoner Rock

Goatsnake - Black Age Blues (Southern Lord, 2015)I realize not a lot of bands are crazy about the stoner rock tag, so I added options, which are still useful to differentiate from heavy psych and hard rock. As mentioned above, Goatsnake make a welcome comeback after over a decade. Two big favorites of mine, Sungrazer and Been Obscene broke up this past year, which was a big disappointment. French band Glowsun, German Mother Engine and Polish Weedpecker all helped make up for it with those luscious fuzztones.

  1. Snail – Feral (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  2. All Them Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (New West)
  3. Goatsnake – Black Age Blues (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  4. Glowsun – Beyond The Wall Of Time (Napalm) | Buy
  5. Mother Engine – Absturz (Gebrüder Schall) | Bandcamp
  6. Weedpecker – II (Weedpecker) | Bandcamp
  7. Electric Moon – The Theory Of Mind (Sulatron)
  8. The Sword – High Country (Razor & Tie)
  9. Arenna – Given To Emptiness (Nasoni) | Bandcamp
  10. Moonbow – Volto Del Demone (Moonbow) | Bandcamp
  11. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Masters Of The Molehill (Cardinal Fuzz) | Bandcamp
  12. Black Space Riders – Refugeeum (Black Space/Cargo) | Bandcamp
  13. FOGG – High Testament (Tee Pee) | Bandcamp
  14. Old Man’s Will – Hard Times – Troubled Man (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  15. RotoR – Fünf (Nois-o-lution)
  16. My Sleeping Karma – Moksha (Napalm)
  17. Beesus – The Rise Of Beesus (New Sonic)
  18. Grusom – Grusom (Kosmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  19. Satan’s Satyrs – Don’t Deliver Us (Bad Omen)
  20. Savanah – Deep Shades (Savanah) | Bandcamp
  21. Shellfin – Cities Without Names (Shellfin) | Bandcamp
  22. DoctoR DooM – This Seed We Have Sown (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  23. Black Rainbows – Hawkdope (Heavy Psych Sounds) | Bandcamp
  24. Deville – Make It Belong To Us (Fuzzorama) | Bandcamp
  25. Radar Men On The Moon – Subversive I (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  26. Shepherd – Stereolithic Riffalocalypse (Shepherd) | Bandcamp

Hard Rock

valkyrie-shadowsAs I noted in Hard Rock Ascending back in May, there’s been a renaissance of killer hard rock albums lately. Undeterred by the fact that it’s unfashionable to the point where even magazines that supposedly cover hard rock pathologically ignore or dismiss bands that do not lay claim to more trendy forms of metal and psych. Despite the lack of love, these bands continue to flourish, with dedicated fans for the most part. Baroness, Graveyard, Royal Thunder and Kadavar have been tearing up stages in sold out shows across the world, while Horisont has yet to make it to North America. Last time I saw Valkyrie, Pete Adams pulled double duty with them on a hot autumn night in a small stuffy club, and then played the next set with Baroness.

  1. Baroness – Purple (Abraxan Hymns)
  2. Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence (Nuclear Blast)
  3. Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  4. Valkyrie – Shadows (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  5. Horisont – Odyssey (Rise Above)
  6. Kadavar – Berlin (Nuclear Blast)
  7. Torche – Restarter (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  8. Witchskull – The Vast Electric Dark (Witchskull) | Bandcamp
  9. Vidunder – Oracles & Prophets (Crusher)
  10. Black Trip – Shadowline (SPV/Steamhammer)
  11. Palace In Thunderland – In The Afterglow Of Unity (Palace In Thunderland) | Bandcamp
  12. Carousel – 2113 (Tee Pee)
  13. Freedom Hawk – Into Your Mind (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  14. Sergeant Thunderhoof – Ride Of The Hoof (Sergeant Thunderhoof) | Bandcamp
  15. Corsair – One Eyed Horse (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  16. Spidergawd – II (Crispin Glover)
  17. The Vintage Caravan – Arrival (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  18. Moonbow – Volto Del Demone (Moonbow) | Bandcamp
  19. Nocturnalia – Above Below Within (Gaphals) | Bandcamp
  20. Venomous Maximous – Firewalker (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  21. Old Man’s Will – Hard Times – Troubled Man (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  22. Datura4 – Demon Blues (Alive)
  23. Beesus – The Rise Of Beesus (New Sonic)
  24. Grusom – Grusom (Kosmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  25. Satan’s Satyrs – Don’t Deliver Us (Bad Omen)
  26. Shellfin – Cities Without Names (Shellfin) | Bandcamp
  27. Dead Lord – Heads Held High (Century Media)
  28. DoctoR DooM – This Seed We Have Sown (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  29. Sonic Medusa – The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  30. Sweat Lodge – Talismana (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  31. Deville – Make It Belong To Us (Fuzzorama) | Bandcamp
  32. Spiders – Why Don’t You EP (Crusher)
  33. The Heavy Eyes – He Dreams Of Lions (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  34. Cherry Choke – Raising The Waters (Elektrohasch) | Bandcamp
  35. Blues Pills – Blues Pills Live (Nuclear Blast)
  36. Captain Crimson – Ageless Time (Transubstans) | Bandcamp
  37. Kylesa – Exhausting Fire (Season Of Mist)
  38. Clutch – Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker)
  39. Luna Sol – Blood Moon (Slush Fund) | Bandcamp
  40. The Atomic Bitchwax – Gravitron (Tee Pee) | Buy
  41. Dead Temple – Cult Of Acid (PRC) | Bandcamp
  42. Ponamero Sundown – Veddesta (Transubstans) | Bandcamp
  43. Abrahma – Reflections In The Bowels Of A Bird (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  44. Drenge – Undertow (Infectious)
  45. Eagles Of Death Metal – Zipper Down (T-Boy)
  46. Plainride – Return Of The Jackalope (Plainride) | Bandcamp
  47. Denizen – Troubled Waters (Argonauta)
  48. Kings Destroy – Kings Destroy (War Crime) | Bandcamp
  49. Coliseum – Anxiety’s Kiss (Deathwish)
  50. Conduct – Fear And Desire (Conduct) | Bandcamp
  51. Chron Goblin – Backwater (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  52. Death Alley – Black Magick Boogieland (Tee Pee)


Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls (Ingrooves, 2015)Iron Maiden had quite a story this year, with Bruce Dickinson successfully fighting off cancer and coming out with their first double album. Despite the fact that their recent albums weren’t very consistent, seeing them live a few years back reignited my teenage fandom and had me anticipating the new one more than I’d expected. Amazingly, it exceeded most everyone’s expectations. I can’t wait to see them again next spring!

  1. Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  2. Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls (BMG/Ingrooves)
  3. Mirror – Mirror (Metal Blade) | Bandcamp
  4. High On Fire – Luminiferous (eOne)
  5. Sumac – The Deal (Profound Lore) | Bandcamp
  6. Sunn O))) – Kannon (Southern Lord)
  7. VHÖL – Deeper Than Sky (Profound Lore)
  8. Night Demon – Curse Of The Damned (Century Media)
  9. Lord Fist – Green Eyleen (Ektro) | Bandcamp
  10. Dark Quarterer – Ithaca (Metal On Metal) | Bandcamp
  11. Ironsword – None But The Brave (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  12. Satan – Atom By Atom (Listenable)
  13. Saxon – Battering Ram (UDR)
  14. Enforcer – From Beyond (Nuclear Blast)
  15. Sonic Medusa – The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  16. Ghost Bath – Moonlover (Northern Silence) | Bandcamp
  17. Horrendous – Anareta (Dark Descent) | Bandcamp
  18. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal (Bidrune)
  19. Flight – Flight (Bad Omen) | Bandcamp
  20. Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)
  21. Relentless – Night Terrors (Do Or Die Records) | Bandcamp
  22. RAM – Svbversvm (Metal Blade)
  23. Saviours – Palace Of Vision (Listenable) | Bandcamp
  24. Myrkur – M (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  25. Acid King – Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere (Svart)
  26. Thy Catafalque – Sgúrr (Season Of Mist)

Garage Rock/Punk/Noir

Royal Headache - High (What's Your Rupture?, 2015)Australia’s Royal Headache is another band I thought I’d see on more year-end lists, as it’s so incredibly catchy and impassioned. No accounting for taste! And wow, Rocket From The Tombs! Sweet baby Krampus, what a great surprise. David Thomas has been churning out decent albums with Pere Ubu that it’s easy to take any project of his for granted. A decade ago he put together a new lineup of Rocket From The Tombs (with original members Craig Bell and Cheetah Chrome plus Richard Lloyd), the pre-punk band that predated both Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, and he took on his original Crocus Behemoth nom de plume and rocked the fuck out of the old songs in a tour and on the raw Rocket Redux (2004). Very promising, though Barfly (2011) was very lackluster. This latest, however, it’s totally fun. It rocks harder, with yet another treatment of classic “Sonic Reducer” and “Read It And Weep” and a cover of The Sonics’ “Strychnine,” but also with some pretty prickly anger poking through. Sloppy fun, with barbs, beats the hell out of, say, the last couple Stooges albums. Last year my thirst for Australian garage noir was sated with excellent albums from The New Christs and Hits. This year that itch was capably scratched by The Volcanics, their third album produced by Rob Younger (New Christs/Radio Birdman) and The Holy Soul. There’s more to look forward to with Young Docteurs’ Beginning At The End in March. An apt title, as it’ll be the debut album for a band that first formed in 1978, playing a hybrid of psych and post-punk.

  1. Royal Headache – High (What’s Your Rupture)
  2. Rocket From The Tombs – Black Record (Fire)
  3. The Volcanics – Transmission (Citadel) | Bandcamp
  4. The Holy Soul – Fortean Times (Damn You) | Bandcamp
  5. Kill West – Smoke Beach (Crang) | Bandcamp
  6. Membranes – Dark Matter/Dark Energy (Cherry Red/Metropolis)
  7. The Sonics – This Is The Sonics (Revox)
  8. Bop English – Constant Bop (Blood And Biscuits) | Bandcamp
  9. Datura4 – Demon Blues (Alive)
  10. Koes Barat – Koes Barat (Sub Pop)
  11. Eleventh Dream Day – Works For Tomorrow (Thrill Jockey)
  12. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge)
  13. White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again (Polyvinyl) | Bandcamp

Indie Rock & Pop

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love (Sub Pop, 2015)I have not been too crazy about much indie rock and pop lately, though there’s always exceptions. I’ll always have time for Sleater-Kinney, who I talked more about above. Kelley Stoltz makes a fascinating mix of psych and indie garage pop. Bob English is James Petralli of White Denim. While we wait for their return, 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. I also like albums by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Screaming Females, Low and Bully, but I don’t even remotely lurve them.

  1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
  2. Kelley Stoltz – In Triangle Time (Castle Face)
  3. Bop English – Constant Bop (Blood And Biscuits) | Bandcamp
  4. JEFF The Brotherhood – Wasted On The Dream (Infinity Cat)
  5. Eleventh Dream Day – Works For Tomorrow (Thrill Jockey)
  6. Beauty Pill – Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are (Butterscotch)
  7. Weird Owl – Interstellar Skeletal (A Recordings)
  8. Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter (Fortuna Pop!)
  9. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Merge)
  10. Stove – Is Stupider (Exploding In Sound) | Bandcamp
  11. Black Lizard – Solarize (Black Lizard) | Bandcamp
  12. Mikal Cronin – MCIII (Merge)
  13. Nadine Shah – Fast Food (Apollo)

Dream Pop

marriages-salomeHoly crap, I’ve always enjoyed the projects Emma Ruth Rundle has been involved with, but Marriages is a whole new level, a great band with some fierce guitar playing that you wouldn’t immediately associate with dream pop, but it fits. Flavor Crystals are an excellent band from Minneapolis. I’ve been catching up with all four of their albums, and wow, they progress through shoegaze, space rock, kosmische and dream pop with some imaginative arrangements on all them. Highly recommended.

  1. Marriages – Salome (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  2. Flavor Crystals – The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals (Mpls Ltd) | Bandcamp
  3. Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters (Club AC30) | Bandcamp
  4. Tamaryn – Cranekiss (Mexican Summer) | Bandcamp
  5. The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door (Anti-Machine)
  6. Dråpe – Relax/Relapse (Riot Factory)
  7. Helen – The Original Faces (Kranky)
  8. Negative Gemini – Real Virtual Unison EP (Human) | Bandcamp
  9. Soko – My Dreams Dictate My Reality (Babycat)
  10. Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – I Declare Nothing (A’ Recordings)
  11. Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf (Heavenly)
  12. Beach House – Depression Cherry (Sub Pop)


sundays-cibele-heavenWith great releases in recent years from Eat Lights Become Lights, Camera, Papir, Electric Orange, Sungod and many others, Kosmische has once again become a popular genre. Enough to populate a top 13, starting with the excellent Japanese band Sundays & Cybele, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation and another Japanese band obsessed with German style kosmische, Minami Deutsch.

  1. Sundays & Cybele – Heaven (Beyond Beyond Beyond) | Bandcamp
  2. Flavor Crystals – The Shiver Of The Flavor Crystals (Mpls Ltd) | Bandcamp
  3. Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Horse Dance (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  4. Minami Deutsch – Minami Deutsch (Cardinal Fuzz/Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  5. Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  6. Death Hawks – Sun Future Moon (Svart)
  7. Föllakzoid – III (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  8. Maserati – Rehumanizer (Temprary Residence)
  9. Sendelica – Anima Mundi (Sendelica) | Bandcamp
  10. zZz – Juggernaut (Excelsior)
  11. Eternal Tapestry – Wild Strawberries (Thrill Jockey)
  12. The Leaf Library – Daylight Versions (WIAIWYA)
  13. Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf (Heavenly)

Space Rock

carlton-melton-outMany of these would also make up the lower end of my psych list. Plenty of dirty, distorted, droney stuff. 10 000 Russos, Black Space Riders, Ancient River, Radar Men On The Moon and Eternal Tapestry would also qualify here but are listed elsewhere. The top of the crop here is Carlton Melton.  Thunderous, monolithic drones that move like glaciers have now taken shape into more memorable, evocative compositions. If you remember Australian instrumental indie rock band The Dirty Three’s best work in the ’90s, much of the new album has similarly powerful emotional impact.

  1. Carlton Melton – Out To Sea (Agitated) | Bandcamp
  2. White Manna – Pan (Cardinal Fuzz/Captcha) | Bandcamp
  3. Astral Son – Silver Moon (Headspin) | Bandcamp
  4. Ecstatic Vision – Sonic Praise (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  5. Blown Out – Jet Black Hallucinations (Golden Mantra) | Bandcamp
  6. Throw Down Bones – Throw Down Bones (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  7. Zone Six – Love Monster (Sulatron)
  8. Sendelica – Anima Mundi (Sendelica) | Bandcamp
  9. The Myrrors – Arena Negra (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) | Bandcamp
  10. Blown Out – Planetary Engineering (Golden Mantra) | Bandcamp
  11. The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door (Anti-Machine)
  12. Herbcraft – Wot Oz (Woodsist)
  13. White Hills – Walks For Motorists (Thrill Jockey)


The Lucid Dream - The Lucid Dream (Holy How Are You?, 2015)The Lucid Dream and Singapore Sling. Yaassss. Okay I’m getting tired. The Lucid Dream has dabbled in garage noir, shoegaze, German kosmische/space rock, pre and post-NYC no-wave noise, and the pop melodicism that links early Echo & the Bunnymen with The Stone Roses. The result is a pretty badass, cohesive modern psych noir sound that I imagine catching fire with a pretty big audience. Lots of crossover here of course with other lists. Not included here are Marriages, Flavor Crystals and Pinkshinyultrablast.

  1. The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (Holy How Are You?) | Buy
  2. Singapore Sling – Psych Fuck (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  3. Infinity Girl – Harm (Topshelf) | Bandcamp
  4. The Underground Youth – Haunted (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  5. Ghost Bath – Moonlover (Northern Silence) | Bandcamp
  6. Tamaryn – Cranekiss (Mexican Summer) | Bandcamp
  7. The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door (Anti-Machine)
  8. Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You (Cobraside)
  9. Crocodiles – Boys (Zoo)
  10. A Place To Bury Strangers – Fixation (Dead Oceans)
  11. Helen – The Original Faces (Kranky)
  12. Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – I Declare Nothing (A’ Recordings)
  13. Sundowners – Sundowners (Skeleton Key)

Electro Pop

shamir-ratchetAt the age of 20, Las Vegan Shamir has already tried his hand in country and punk. His androgynous voice recalls Antony’s work with Hercules And Love Affair, but the lyrics here are even sharper and wittier. As you might guess, I don’t spend a ton of time with dance pop, but every few years one just gets under my skin and stays there.  The rest is a hodgepodge of electro psych (The Soft Moon), the return of coldwave pioneers Colder, Norwegian pop star Susanne Sundfør, and even New Order! Who knew they’d be the post-punk/new wave geezers who could manage an album that didn’t suck!

  1. Shamir – Ratchet (XL)
  2. The Soft Moon – Deeper (Captured Tracks)
  3. New Order – Music Complete (Mute)
  4. Colder – Many Colours (Output)
  5. Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs (Kobalt)
  6. Haiku Salut – Etch & Etch Deep (HDIF)
  7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar)
  8. U.S. Girls – Half Free (4AD)
  9. Outfit – Slowness (Memphis Industries)
  10. Grimes – Art Angels (4AD)
  11. Negative Gemini – Real Virtual Unison EP (Human) | Bandcamp
  12. Chvrches – Every Open Eye (Glassnote)
  13. Colleen – Captain Of None (Thrill Jockey)

Avant Rock & Pop

stara-rzeka-zamknelyStara Rzeka could fit in all kinds of categories, from black metal to shoegaze. This is the second and supposedly final installment from the artist. Julia Holter came out with her most accessible collection of avant pop tunes yet, and has been rewarded with a ton of critical adulation. Chelsea Wolfe is on a lot of people’s lists this year with her avant goth. Even better is Anna von Hausswolff from Denmark, who mixes in some modern classical, drone and ambient into her brand of experimental art rock.

  1. Stara Rzeka – Zamknęły się oczy ziemi (Instant Classic) | Bandcamp
  2. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino)
  3. Anna von Hausswolff – The Miraculous (Pomperipossa)
  4. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss (Sargent House)
  5. Teeth Of The Sea – Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  6. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was (Constellation)
  7. Shining – International Blackjazz Society (Spinefarm)
  8. Vision Fortune – Country Music (ATP/R)
  9. Björk – Vulnicura (One Little Indian)
  10. Sóley – Ask The Deep (Morr)
  11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (Constellation)
  12. Grimes – Art Angels (4AD)
  13. Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie (Rough Trade)

Experimental, Modern Classical, Ambient & Drone

sunn-o-kannonI’ve always got time for Sunn O))). This album is shorter but more intense than their last. It’s a unique experience that reminds me of listening to John Coltrane’s Ascension for the first time. Something I may only do every few years, but remains ingrained in my memory.

  1. Sunn O))) – Kannon (Southern Lord)
  2. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Never Were the Way She Was (Constellation)
  3. International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) – In The Light Of Air (Dorian)
  4. Eartheater – Metalepsis (Hausu Mountain) | Bandcamp
  5. Vision Fortune – Country Music (ATP/R)
  6. Noveller – Fantastic Planet (Fire)
  7. Ian William Craig – Cradle For The Warning (Recital)
  8. Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, girl (Sacred Bones)
  9. Zun Zun Egui – Shackles’ Gift (Bella Union) | Bandcamp
  10. Holly Herndon – Platform (4AD)
  11. Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee (Constellation)
  12. Gnaw Their Tongues – Abyss Of Longing Throats (Crucial Blast)
  13. Glenn Mercer – Incidental Hum (Bar/None)

Jazz & Fusion

invisible-astro-healing-rhythm-quartet-2Formed by music students at Bakersfield College in California, Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet mix Ethiopian influenced spiritual jazz and funk fusion. RIYL: Phil Cohran, Seventies-era Miles Davis, Mulatu Atsaké, Rob Mazurek, Amon Duul, Sun Ra & his Arkestra. Møster! is another great Norwegian jazz fusion group featuring Elephant9’s Ståle Storløkken. Sons Of Kemet from the UK get deeper into Afro-funk on their second album.

  1. Elephant9 & Reine Fiske – Silver Mountain (Rune Grammofon)
  2. Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet – 2 (Trouble In Mind)
  3. Møster! – When You Cut Into The Present (Hubro)
  4. Sons Of Kemet – Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do (Naim)
  5. Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl – We Are Not The First (Rvng)
  6. Kamasi Washington – The Epic (Brainfeeder)
  7. The Bad Plus & Joshua Redman – The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (Nonesuch)
  8. Shining – International Blackjazz Society (Spinefarm)
  9. Girls In Airports – Fables (Gateway)
  10. Zu – Cortar Todo (Ipecac)
  11. Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee (Constellation)
  12. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Quarters! (Castle Face) | Bandcamp
  13. Monsieur Doumani – Sikoses (Monsieur Doumani)


terakaft-aloneMalian Tuareg desert blues group Tinariwen aren’t the only band doing the style also known as Tishoumaren or Assouf desert rock. Terakaft have been around nearly as long, with Alone being their fifth album. It’s a bit more percussive than past efforts, with a touch of psychedelia. Also from Mali, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba play Mande music, and are on their fourth album. They got some attention for their second album, I Speak Fula (2009). An offshoot of Staff Benda Bilili, Mbongwana Star are from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and play a modern mix of electronica and Soukous. Yet another band from the musically rich Mali is Songhoy Blues, who work within the Songhai tradition.

  1. Terakaft – Alone (World Village)
  2. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power (Glitterbeat)
  3. Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa (World Circuit)
  4. Songhoy Blues – Music In Exile (Transgressive)
  5. Lenine – Carbono (Universal)
  6. Koes Barat – Koes Barat (Sub Pop)
  7. Sons Of Kemet – Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do (Naim)
  8. Bixiga 70 – Bixiga 70 (Glitterbeat)
  9. Cheikh Lo – Balbalou (Wagram)
  10. Zun Zun Egui – Shackles’ Gift (Bella Union) | Bandcamp
  11. Omar Souleyman – Bahdeni Nami (Monkeytown)
  12. Shy Ben Tzur & the Rajasthan Express – Junun (Nonesuch)
  13. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Quaranta (Ponderosa)

Electronica, Techno & Dance

pinkish-black-bottomThe band formerly known as The Great Tyrant, changed their name to Pinkish Black after a member committed suicide. They evolved their interests in doom, goth, industrial and kosmische into a more electronic direction. Their third album is their most focused and accomplished so far. Eccentronic Research Council is on their third album of spoken word poetry and stories entwined with electro psych. An interesting alternative to just listening to a narrated book.

  1. Pinkish Black – Bottom Of The Morning (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  2. Eccentronic Research Council – Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine? I’m Your Biggest Fan (Without Consent)
  3. Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl – We Are Not The First (Rvng)
  4. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete (Warp)
  5. Eartheater – Metalepsis (Hausu Mountain) | Bandcamp
  6. Asian Dub Foundation – The Signal And The Noise (Beat)
  7. Jlin – Dark Energy (Planet Mu)
  8. Holly Herndon – Platform (4AD)
  9. Rabit – Communion (Tri Angle)
  10. Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh (Sacred Bones)
  11. Lakker – Tundra (R&S)
  12. Flako – Nature Boy (Five Easy Pieces)
  13. Floating Points – Elaenia (Eglo)
  14. Madonna – Rebel Heart (Interscope)

R&B, Soul & Funk

bridges-comingIf hip-hop, pop and rock can reference sounds 20-50 years old, there’s no reason why a soul singer can’t do the same. Leon Bridges’ debut album of vintage sounding southern soul is enjoyable, if not riveting. I saw him on SNL recently and he could also work on honing his live chops. But certainly he’s got talent and potential. Dawn Richard is a perpetually underrated singer, while Unknown Mortal Orchestra have really caught on with their third album of electro-funk.

  1. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)
  2. Dawn Richard – Blackheart (101 Distribution)
  3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar)
  4. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show (RCA)
  5. Miguel – Wild Heart (RCA)
  6. Dam-Funk – Invite The Light (Stones Throw)
  7. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (Sony)
  8. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too (Big Dada)
  9. Adele – 25 (Columbia/XL)
  10. Boots – Aquaria (Columbia)

Country, Folk & Americana

moonbow-voltoKentucky based Moonbow released their promising debut of hard rock in 2013. This time they’ve (partially) unplugged for a much more folky endeavor, with the fiddle-driven acoustic songs retaining pretty rocking stoner/doom arrangements, with an assist from Hank Williams, III. The result is startlingly original, and may gradually catch on to a larger audience. Death Hawks are a Finnish folk noir band on their third album, though some would just consider them psych. Chicago’s Ryley Walker plays a kind of cosmic folk influenced by the likes Van Morrison and Tim Buckley.

  1. Moonbow – Volto Del Demone (Moonbow) | Bandcamp
  2. Death Hawks – Sun Future Moon (Svart)
  3. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green (Dead Oceans)
  4. Trembling Bells – The Sovereign Self (Tin Angel) | Bandcamp
  5. Galley Beggar – Silence And Tears (Rise Above)
  6. Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade In Time (Thirty Tigers)
  7. Joanna Newsom – Divers (Drag City)
  8. Timbre – Sun & Moon (Sun & Moon)
  9. Patti Griffin – Servant Of Love (Thirty Tigers)
  10. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
  11. Grimm Grimm – Hazy Eyes Maybe (ATP)
  12. Foals – What Went Down (WB)
  13. Eleni Mandell – Dark Lights Up (Yep Roc)

Hip-Hop & Rap

blackalicious-imani-1I know, sacrilege to rank Kendrick Lamar down in sixth. No malice intended, this is just what I enjoyed this year. I freakin love Blackalicious, and it’s great to have Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab back after a ten year absence. Vol. 2 will be out next year.  Milo, Czarface, Shahmen and Knxwledge were new to me this year, and they sounded damn good in my hip-hop playlist this year. Just missing the cut are Earl Sweatshirt, Lupe Fiasco, Dr. Yen Lo, Doomtree and Vince Staples.

  1. Blackalicious – Imani, Vol. 1 (Blackalicious)
  2. Milo – So The Flies Don’t Come (Ruby Yacht)
  3. Czarface – Every Hero Needs A Villain (Brick)
  4. Shahmen – All In The Circle (World Of Wils)
  5. Knxwledge – Hud Dreems (Stones Throw)
  6. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Dawg/Aftermath)
  7. Georgia Anne Muldrow – A Thoughtvierse Unmarred (Mello Music Group)
  8. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf (Self-Released)
  9. Open Mike Eagle – A Special Episode Of EP (Mello Music Group)
  10. Le1f – Riot Boi (Terrible)
  11. Little Simz – A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons (Age 101)
  12. Paperi T – Malarian pelko (Johanna)
  13. Roots Manuva – Bleeds (Ninja Tune/Big Dada)


I must have bought the main Ruts offerings, The Crack (1979), Grin & Bear It compilation and Peel Sessions three times over the years, the first time on vinyl for my radio show back in the late 80s. This should be the last, everything including more bonus tracks than ever before, extra BBC sessions I’d never heard before, and an entire live album recorded with surprisingly good sound for the punk era, at the Marquee in July 1979. A tight, powerful band that could blow the likes of Stiff Little Fingers and The Clash off the stage, and play punk reggae better than anyone, including Bad Brains. Essential. The bonus tracks are interesting but not essential on Astral Weeks. On the other hand, it’s one of the greatest albums ever made, nicely remastered. Listening to The Isley Brothers’ entire recorded output is an excellent history lesson of the progression of R&B to soul to funk rock, including some recordings with Hendrix. Awesome.


  1. The Ruts – The Virgin Years (Caroline)
  2. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (WB, 1968)
  3. The Isley Brothers – RCA Victor and T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983)
  4. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti, Presence, In Through The Out Door & Coda  (Atlantic, 1975-79)
  5. Scorpions – Taken By Force, Lovedrive, Tokyo Tapes, Animal Magnetism, Blackout (Caroline, 1978-82)
  6. Yabby You – Dread Prophecy: The Strange And Wonderful Story Of Yabby You (Shanachie)
  7. Billy Cobham – The Atlantic Box Set 1973-1978
  8. The Velvet Underground – The Matrix Tapes (Polydor)
  9. Ork Records: New York, New York (Numero)
  10. Tom Ze – Tom Ze (Mr. Bongo, 1970)
  11. Game Theory – Real Nighttime (Omnivore, 1986)
  12. Close Lobsters – Firestation Towers 1986-89 (Fire)
  13. Carl Hall – You Don’t Know Nothing About Love 1967-72 (Omnivore)
  14. The Comsat Angels – Chasing Shadows (Edsel, 1986)
  15. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Junk Culture (Virgin, 1984)


Unlike albums, I missed way more shows that I can possibly keep track of. I can’t deal with the lack of sleep, particularly on week nights anymore, but certain bands I’ll always make the effort for. I’d been tempted for years to fly to Europe just to see Ufomammut. Finally, they came to a venue just down the street from me, much better deal! They sounded just as massive and trippy as I expected. Also great were Dungen, Electric Citizen, Mondo Drag, Chris Forsyth, Rocket From The Tombs, All Them Witches, Wovenhand, Valkyrie, Spirit Caravan and Night Demon.

Ufomammut, Reggies, May 13, 2015

  1. UFOMAMMUT Reggies, 5/13
  3. ELDER, MOS GENERATOR Reggies, 3/12
  4. GRAVEYARD Lincoln Hall, 12/5
  5. KADAVAR Double Door, 10/4
  6. BARONESS, Reckless, 11/28
  7. WAND, HEATERS Empty Bottle, 4/5
  8. SLEATER-KINNEY Riviera Theatre, 2/17
  9. ROYAL THUNDER Beat Kitchen, 6/22
  11. ELECTRIC WIZARD Metro, 4/7 
  12. PENTAGRAM The Abbey Pub, 10/9


These are not sorted yet, but I really like Missy Elliott’s new video. Good to have her back!


inside-outI have not seen most of the Oscar bait movies that are released toward the end of the year as I don’t make it to the theaters very often. You’re better off looking at Rotten Tomatoes. I hate most dramas, serious art films, most thrillers and horror (though I have high hopes for Krampus!) and prefer comedies and animation. Surprisingly, a lot of my unpretentious movies like Shawn The Sheep got very high marks on Rotten Tomatoes!  Mad Max: Fury Road was good, but I didn’t enjoy it, except for the crazy dude with the giant guitar! I think post-apocalyptic dystopias are all too realistic nowadays, and they just depress me. Kingsman: The Secret Service was much more fun. I’d even take Tomorrowland over Mad Max. The Police documentary Can’t Stand Losing You was pretty good. I feel like I saw way more documentaries, but maybe from 2014. I also liked  Love & Mercy.

Have not yet seen: Ex Machina, Brooklyn, Spotlight, Sisters, Star Wars, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Room, It Follows, Carol, Timbuktu, Amy,  Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Best Of Enemies, Girlhood, Straight Outta Compton, Carol, Minions, Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Sicario.

  1. Inside Out
  2. Shawn The Sheep: The Movie
  3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  4. Trainwreck
  5. Paddington
  6. Spy
  7. Danny Collins
  8. What We Do In The Shadows
  9. Paper Towns
  10. Mr. Holmes
  11. The End Of The Tour
  12. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  13. McFarland, USA

The awesome flame-throwing guitar setup in Mad Max. Did they steal that from KISS?That is an impressive guitar setup in Mad Max...


master-of-noneSome shows had such short seasons, it took a while for me to remember them. Others I’m not sure if they even aired anything in 2015, like most of the Masterpiece Mystery shows like Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lewis. Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None was my favorite new show, though it was over too quickly. I’m glad Netflix is sponsoring these shows, but hopefully they’ll light a fire under the other networks’ butts to get some similarly high quality comedies in full 20+ episode seasons. And if all the reality TV could fuck off and die that would be great, thanks. Except for maybe The Secret Guide to Fabulous. Others that were okay, The Good Wife, Jessica Jones, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, The Mysteries of Laura, Married, Louie, Rick and Morty, Indian Summers, SNL, Big Bang Theory, Portlandia, Marry Me, Another Period.

  1. Master Of None
  2. Broad City
  3. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  4. The Muppets
  5. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
  6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  7. Inside Amy Schumer
  8. Maron
  9. Elementary
  10. Daredevil
  11. The Mindy Project
  12. You’re The Worst
  13. Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll


moore-secondhandSecondhand Souls is the sequel to Moore’s 1993 urban fantasy comedy, A Dirty Job. Fairly light reading in a Tom Robbins kind of way, and that’s how I like it. It’s super funny, and great storytelling, though it’s better if you read the first book even if not completely necessary. I went to college and plowed through heavy literature and post-structuralist political theory, but that’s way behind me. Bring me the cartoons and YA novels, no shame! Heck, the Richard Robins and Rhys A. Jones books are probably for pre-tweens. I was really excited about Warren Ellis’ new novel, Normal, but my pre-order info gave noticed that it was delayed until November 15, 2016. Huh? A year? I guess I should have put some others on my list to Santa, like Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Van Halen Rising, or Garth Risk Hallberg’s City On Fire.

  1. Moore, Christopher – Secondhand Souls: A Novel
  2. Albertine, Viv – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir (2014)
  3. Cavanagh, David – Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life
  4. Weller, Sheila – Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–And the Journey of a Generation (2008)
  5. Martel, Jay – Channel Blue (2014)
  6. Saunders, Kendra – Death and Mr. Right (2013)
  7. Young, Rob – Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (2011)
  8. Wall, Mick – Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe (2014)
  9. Hasted, Nick – You Really Got Me: The Story of the Kinks (2013)
  10. Faye, Lyndsay – Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings (2009)
  11. Bebergal, Peter – Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll (2014)
  12. Stephenson, Neal – Seveneves: A Novel
  13. Paone, Brian – Yours Truly, 2095
  14. Roberts, Richard- Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m A Supervillain (2014)
  15. Naquin, R.L. – Phoenix in My Fortune: Monster Haven 6
  16. Jones, Rhys A. – The Beast of Seabourne (The Artefact Quintet 2) (2014)
  17. Thompson, Kelly – Storykiller (2014)
  18. Hughes, Matthew – The Damned Busters: To Hell and Back 1 (2011)


sex-criminals-3I don’t know why, but the comics I’m reading have become mostly extremely dark and violent, with occult crime noir (The Fade Out), a grim tale set in an alternative universe in 1987 San Francisco at a school for assassins (Deadly Class), a space opera amidst war (Saga) and horror (Wytches, Pretty Deadly). The long running Chew has had some heavy turns of events, and Sex Criminals got darker, but is still maintaining a certain amount of whimsy (which Chew also has, plus chogs). I’ve also moved 11 miles south of my comic shop and I get my issues every 6 weeks or so, which has created a bit of a backlog. If I can finish this in time, hopefully I’ll get to read some of them!

  1. Sex Criminals – Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
  2. Saga – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  3. Chew – John Layman & Rob Guillory
  4. Deadly Class – Remender, Craig, Loughridge
  5. Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
  6. Ms. Marvel – Wilson, Alphona, Herring
  7. Chrononauts – Mark Millar, Sean Murphy
  8. Pretty Deadly – Deconnick, Rios, Bellaire, Cowles
  9. The Fade Out – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips
  10. Karnak – Ellis, Zaffino, Brown
  11. Trees – Warren Ellis & Jason Howard
  12. Phonogram – Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, Cowles
  13. Wytches – Snyder, Jock, Hollinsworth, Robins

Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2014
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2013
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2012
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2011
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2010
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2009
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2008
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2007
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2006
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2005
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2004
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2003
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2002
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2001
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2000
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1999
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1998
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1997

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