2018 Top 10: Neo-Psychedelia

  Top 10 Neo-Psychedelia releases 

  1. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt

  2. Beach House - 7

  3. Panda Bear - Day with the Homies

  4. Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal

  5. Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love

  6. MGMT - Little Dark Age

  7. Richard Swift - The Hex

  8. Insecure Men - Insecure Men

  9. HOLY - All of these worlds are yours

  10. The Voidz - Virtue

What ties all of these releases together is their non-specific relation to psychedelia of the past. They aren't psychedelic rock or pop but they use whacked out synth effects and sometimes dreamy guitars to create soundscapes for what more or less becomes pop music. So it's a catchall term, but I appreciate this umbrella because someone else made it and it's fun music to listen to. The multidimensional range on this list, if we're working from the 60s-70s origins of psychedelia, is VU to late Beatles to Pink Floyd toCaptain Beefheart.

On the Velvet Underground end of the spectrum is the new Jason Spaceman album And Nothing Hurt, which is chock full of references to the original era of psychedelia. It's a normally good Spiritualized album, which sort of automatically makes it one of the best albums of the year.  7 is a huge comeback for Beach House, who have never had such shoegaze overtimes in the forefront. The heavier this record is, the better it is, and it has a lot of big moments, especially in the first half. The second half drops off a bit and sounds more like a normal Beach House record, but at that point they've already done what they set out to do.

Panda Bear's long EP is a really nice one that reminds me a bit of the last good Animal Collective release, Fall Be Kind. He mixes together the Beatles and Beach Boys with some Spacemen 3 overtones, making me think that Sonic Boom must have been involved in this somehow, if only in spirit. 

Guerilla Toss is firmly on the Beefheart end of the spectrum and Twisted Crystal is another welcome addition to their crazy catalogue. It is a direct successor of GT Ultra, and like most sequels, it's less good, but only a little. Yves Tumor has a similarly strange range of interests, but engages directly with his own weird pop vision on Safe in the Hands of Love. It's a strange and satisfying listen that isn't quite right for anyone but sort of right for anyone. MGMT is also in the zany category with Little Dark Age, but they sometimes get more Floydian or even Ariel Pinkish on this one. It's a consistently good record without hit singles, which is going to disappoint everyone who knows them for their first couple singles. 

Insecure Men are more at a VU and Beefheart Intersection with their dark and fun self titled debut. This is the latest output from the Fat White Family family and it follows on the heels of the other spinoff Moonlandingz last year - both of which were better than the last FYF album, so keep spinning off, guys!  Richard Swift is also on that end of the spectrum with his posthumous, too soon The Hex, which picks up where he left off on the production of the recent Damien Jurado records and acts as his Blackstar, a comparison that works on many levels. 

HOLY brings us an insane Floydian acid trip of an album with All These Worlds Are Yours. It is a brilliant mess and has more vision than most. If Hannes Ferm can reign in his own proclivities a bit and scope a little more appropriately, he may put out an actual masterpiece before aliens take over earth or whatever. Finishing the list are the Voidz, which appropriately sees Julian Casablancas covering all of the territory of all of the other 9 albums on this list in one 15 song art rock opus. It's pretty fun when you're in the mood to pretend you're on shuffle but you're not.