Infinite Spin’s top 33 & 1/3rd Albums of 2020
By William G.
It’s been a grim year. That is a fact. However, there was no shortage in great music released to keep us going. As a person that lusts for tripped out psychedelic experimentation, we have to admit and state the obvious here. 2020 may very well be the most creative year for musical artistry in my 44 years on this fair earth. …and what is it “they” say? When it gets shitty, the music gets good.
Ok. Without anymore nonsense from me, here’s the list:
1. Nest Egg – Dislocation (Little Cloud Records, The Acid Test Recordings) Buy Here
Dislocation epitomizes the year with a post-apocalyptical pulsating dark krautrock that revels in madness, oozing Peter Murphy(ish) post-punk fuck you all attitude while delivering and making good on the band’s “music for nihilists” motif. Now that we all have been dislocated, Nest Egg helps us along as we yell collectively into the abyss.
2. Tales of Murder and Dust – Fragile Absolutes (HPNG Records) Buy Here
A magnificent trip through the atmospheric dark, Denmark’s Tales of Murder and Dust deliver, not only a stellar psyched tinged dark-wave, post-punky masterpiece of a record, but a much needed relation point during a year full of nothing but the pictures pained this album conveys through sound.
3. Sei Still – Sei Still (Fuzz Club) Buy Here
It’s 1972 and the needle drops to the tune of Neu!’s debut and opening track, ‘Hallogallo,’ begins to play. Just kidding. As much as Mexico City’s Sei Still sound like they are straight out of early 70’s West Germany, make no mistake. The band adds effects and a spin to the drum of the classic motorik, breathing fresh air into a beloved style that has been fast tracked to full on revival. Krautrock is back.
4. The Janitors – Noisolation Sessions Vol. 1 (Cardinal Fuzz, Little Cloud Records) Buy Here
Heavy darkness that translates isolation and despair that does not overbear, but leads one into self for a deeper introspection by way of fuzz and drone.
5. The Cult of Dom Keller – Ascend (Cardinal Fuzz, Little Cloud Records) Buy Here
An album representing perseverance and fortitude through sound; An in your face acid rock slaughterhouse melting the mind with small breaks in the form of parting clouds while coalescing lengthy psychedelic jams with drone on a record that just sends chills down the spine.
6. Helicon – This Can Lead Only to Chaos (Fuzz Club) More Here
Starts off as a cracking in your face punch to the gut and changes speeds, incorporating a more calming subdued sitar atmosphere to the constant psygaze(y) slab of well rounded heavy psychedelic badassery.
7. VanishingLines – No Replacement Found (Little Cloud Records) Buy Here
Astonishing drone drenched soundscapes with harrowing rhythm as the death drum leads one into beautiful despair.
8. Flavor Crystals – five (MPLS Ltd.) Buy Here
A perfect winter companion to nestle up with, five can lure you to a peace with it’s beautiful and well paced soothing, yet ominous shoegazey sounds, then drop an odd effect that will melt your mind. Just to make sure you stay tuned in and wide awake. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native Flavor Crystals deliver yet another masterpiece.
9. Tambourinen – Wooden Flower (Cardinal Fuzz, Centripetal Force) Buy Here
Tambourinen will draw quick resemblance to the now fortified Myrrors soundscape synonymous with both existential ponderings and transcendental bliss. While similarities to that project lay rightfully so, this album moves away and over as Grant Beyschau provides all writing/instrumentation with “Wooden Flower” leaving in its wake a beautiful meditative drone psych out.
10. Slift – Ummon (Stolen Body Records) More Here
Comparisons to the Osees inevitable; Think later, more progressive and experimental era Osees. With that said, Slift delivers a banger a top of many lists in 2020 that strikes like lightning through space. Also, a vinyl package amongst the tops of all records the year has birthed.
11. Las Cobras – Selva (Fuzz Club) Buy Here
Uruguayan post-punk tinged shoegazey brand of psychedelic that’s drenched in world influence, immersing one into Selva’s dreamscape as drawn in by dueling female/male vocals.
12. Moths & Locusts – Exoplanets (The Weird Beard) Buy Here
If Hawkwind were in their prime in this day and age, their 4th album would not have been “Hall of the Mountain Grill,” it would have been Exoplanets. There. I said it. With that said, this is nowhere near a Hawkwind copycat album, but a super solid progression on what it is Hawkwind started. Star streaming kraut like rhythmic space rock pace meets science fiction fantastical landscapes creating, in the process, a world of its own. Recently released on October 30th, Exoplantes is an album that hit 3 turntables on New Years, alone, in my camp and is currently the most listened to record for this writer as we speak.
13. Mugstar – Graft (Cardinal Fuzz, Centripetal Force)
Psychedelic space rock governed by krautrock out of Liverpool, Graft’s cosmic keys lay into 70’s experimental nostalgia. A well noted swift instrumental ride through space by an outfit that has been at it for over 17 years.
14. White Manna – Arc (Cardinal Fuzz, Centripetal Force) Buy Here
Arc incorporates other worldly soundtrack and fusion(esque) sounds to their preexisting brand of acid freak-out psychedelic jams. A true progression for a band well entrenched in the world of psychedelia.
15. Alien Mustangs – Beat of the Earth (Cardinal Fuzz, Little Cloud Records) Buy Here
With Spacemen 3 being the favorite band born of the 80’s, the influence is glowing. However, far from minimal and very far out, Greece’s Alien Mustangs deliver a well crafted psychedelic gambit record that incites visions of the past while forging a fresh brand of sound.
16. Aquarius Lux – Infinite Korridor (The Weird Beard) More Here
An instrumental shot through psychedelic motorik space rock serving a single purpose: To catapult one to orbit through soundtrack as one escapes from this filthy human plagued planet.
17. Korb – II (The Weird Beard) More Here
I’m going to get right to it here. Korb II is prime example of a modern record manifesting krautrock while progressing it. It’s like Tangerine Dream crashing into Faust IV with the almost soundtrack soundscapes meeting the driving force. …and the fact Korb use, pretty much exclusively, vintage analog equipment, accents that krautrock manifestation progression 10-fold.
18. Bent Arcana – Bent Arcana (Castle Face Records) Buy Here
Jazz fueled psychedelic meditative badassery from John Dwyer of Osees fame that delivers the progressive quotient one may have been missing on Protean Threat. …and then some.
19. The Vacant Lots – Interzone (Fuzz Club) Buy Here
A sexy album that can easily fit in the new wave 1980’s heyday synth drenched dance halls; Interzone is a fantastic blend of psychedelic darkwave and post-punk.
20. Psychic Lemon – Jam Sessions Vol. 1&2 (The Weird Beard) Get it Here & Here
Nearly 2 hours of free form psychedelic jams from one of the best in the business. Was available in an extremely small run of cassettes that sold out fast, but is available at a name your price rate on Bandcamp, digitally.
21. Osees – Protean Threat (Castle Face Records) Buy Here
The Osees come at us with a 40 minute punch in the face of an album that sees the band return to their more psychedelic punk brand most often seen prior to 2016’s releases of both An Odd Entrances and A Weird Exits. “System has been broken down.” Word.
22. White Hills – Splintered Metal Sky (God Unknown) Buy Here
A post industrial merciless leap through the murky cityscape of Manhattan, complete with field recordings to further accentuate the fall of man. The soundtrack for the post-apocalyptic state 2020 saw us enter into. A further evolution of the White Hills lengthy catalog that defies concrete genre categorization.
23. Mayflower Madame – Prepared For a Nightmare (Only Lovers Records, Little Cloud Records) Buy Here
A reverb heavy psychedelic post-punk jaunt out of Norway, Mayflower Madame’s Prepared For a Nightmare comes with artistic presentation fans of The Underground Youth could most definitely relate with and hold in high regard.
24. Holy Wave – Interloper (The Reverberation Appreciation Society) Buy Here
Interloper sees the band continue it’s assent into an Indie blend of synth laden poppy post-punk and dreamy, almost later Tame Impala/The Holydrug Couple style sound, yet maintaining the integrity of the early reverb drenched psych band that 1st came onto the scene some 7 years and 4 albums back.
25. Polymoon – Caterpillars of Creation (SVART Records) Buy Here
Finland’s Polymoon brings us their brand of heavy psychedelic progressive in one of the year’s finest debut drops with Caterpillars of Creation.
26. The Oscillation – Droneweapon (Self Released) Buy Here
A 45 minute drone meditation record that more than helped restore much needed balance during this fucked to death year. The Oscillation is THEE master of electronic manipulation along with Pete Kember.
27. Burnpilot – INFINITISM (Pink Tank Records)
An album that comprises 2 songs and clocking in at 40 minutes; INFINITISM is what going on COVID-19 LOCKDOWN sounds like. Menacing kraut rhythms and long experimental psychedelic jams as well as very harrowing, ominous electronic landscapes. This record served as soundtrack as my area just entered into that 1st wave of the unknown. …and how perfect is that?
28. Radar Men From The Moon – The Bestial Light (Fuzz Club) Buy Here
Radar Men From The Moon are another genre defying outfit that challenge the narrative. The Bestial Light is a perfectly vial album that touches on the noise side of metal and the nihilistic side of post-punk with a consistent industrial overtone . It’s kind of like ripping Jesus from the cross.
29. Sonic Boom – All Things Being Equal (Carpark Records) Buy Here
A dreamy return to glory for the maven of psychedelic electronic sound. Expectations fully met and then some.
30. Dead Sea Apes – Night Lands (Cardinal Fuzz)
Progressive psychedelic krautrock that transcends one into an intense foray into nature while balancing the existential with the visceral. Fans of The Myrrors will hear the Nik Rayne influence all over this insanely wonderful album.
31. Lastryko – Limbo (Necio Records) Buy Here
An album that pays a visit to the motorik but is more rooted in reverb soaked progressive sound and all sung to the tune of native Polish tongue.
32. Centre el Muusa – Turquise (Sulatron Records, 2020) More Here
An instrumental album that changes course many times over on it’s 6 tracks, covering the gambit on heavy fuzzed out smoky psychedelic acid jams as well as soothing head spacers; Turquise brings more fuel to an already well lit fire.
33. Krautwerk – Neuling (The Weird Beard) More Here
Homage to the great Krautrock of lore with all love to the motorik as well as a dreamy psychedelic sound lending itself to the calming vocals.
1/3rd. EP of the year: Osees – Weirdo Hairdo (Castle Face Records) More Here
For the 2nd straight year, the Osees have been able to grab this little space. With an influx of constant creative output and a relentless willingness to push the envelope, John Dwyer and company continue to put out badass experimental jaunts to accompany the band’s regular and prolific studio releases. Weirdo Hairdo is one of those.
Little Cloud Records. The labels relationship with the likes of Cardinal Fuzz have helped make records normally only available abroad, available to us here in the US while, also, dropping an array of top records of their own, out right. Great work guys! Check them out here.