Five Long-Lasting Psych Jams from 2008

I intend to make this brief -- as I'm exhausted from scouring through 2008 and coming up with lists of my favorite music. You can find most of my year-end ramblings over at AGIT-READER, where I just went bonkers. I'm more excited for 2009, not that '08 was a total disaster, as far as Primitive Futures were concerned, it was a goldmine, it's just, as far as landmark albums that will impact my life years from now, I'm drawing blanks. Though that Cut Copy record is pretty monumental, keep it close to the hip.

The albums that will probably provide me with more sustenance in the future are the ones the have yet to truly reveal themselves, and as a consequence, were a bit off-setting upon first listen. A few of these are also recommendations late in the fourth quarter, and I'm unsure of the shelf-life. But usually, down the road, after multiple late night sessions and stone-soul picnics with these doozies, the real grooves eek out and layers get peeled back. So, in an effort to preserve my initial kismet with what can be considered amorphous psych -- here's a little primer on the deep jams that might one day define 2008.

Shepherds - Loco Hills (Not Not Fun)

It feels like more and more younger outfits are looking into the crevices of kraut to find their calling, to hear the echoes, to wash their eyes with. I consider Shepherds the great American desert worship record -- there are endless horizons in every sharp groove, mirages of stacked cities and underground chill tents. The Loco Hills are in context, a very non-descript place and Shepherds a very non-descript band. I'm sure with technology I could give you a brief bio, location, dudes' names -- but I'd rather keep it anonymous and just imagine they meditate to Agitation Free and even more obscure guitar records from private press Germany, and then throw sand to the wind to see how it reflects in setting sunbeams.

Crystal Antlers - S/T EP (Touch and Go)

More than anything, the Crystal Antlers remind me of the kids back in the More Than Music Days (see Cave In, early Rapture, 90 Day Men) that were more concerned with post-punk and art-fuck, clean-living and anti-vivisection, than actually setting the stage on fire. They all possessed a heart and a passion to get cruddy and gooey in sick psych warfare, but never dosed drug number one to take them to that place. I'm not implying that it's only drugs that get you to atom heart mother, it's not, I'm just saying, Crystal Antlers found the gateway few hardcore punks ever venture through, the one that leads to this type of heavy lysergic abandon. OK. It is hard to trust anyone who's never once smoked a joint.

Alasehir - The Philosophy of Living Fire (Siltbreeze)

Speaking of dosing -- the Gibbons bros. need no introduction. Leading Bardo Pond through the ether all these years have made them a dual-headed piper to acid-freaks and heads lost in smoke for nearly two decades. In Alasehir the layers of morphined effect and endless waves get stripped to deep-grey raga-blues, repetitive wormwood fantasy, living room bong-stomp, non-frilled psych that hypnotizes without washing the soul. One of Siltbreeze's under the under-radar gems this year. Still playing.

Motorpsycho - Little Lucid Moments (Rune Grammofon)

Trondheim, Norway's finest might be one of the most underrated groups the world has ever seen with a massive discography (augmented by several double-albums, concepts, genre exercises, film scores) all of which has yet to have proper distribution in America. I would have never known about Little Lucid Moments were it not for the band's rare performance at this year's Terrastock 7 in Louisville, KY. There they basically played this epic album from beginning to end. Picking through their collection, I've always had a hard time finding a starting place for inquiring minds. Now I'm going to have to suggest this, while moving your way back in time. The average ear might pass this off as indulgent rock, nearly dinosaur in it's unabashed love of the eternal riff. It's extremely polished and journeyman, clich├ęd at points and put-on -- but it forms pure into an enigmatic tower of intricate beauty. It's something that needs digested in one sitting to truly absorb this record's power.

Magic Lantern - High Beams (Not Not Fun)

Like with the Shepherds, I would have never ventured back into the NNF camp without the glowing recommendation of the Moon's Dusty. The label was always intriguing, and pressed beautiful packages, but smelled more pretentious than mind-melting. Magic Lantern isn't like all the others, and compared to Shepherds they're the Ash Ra/Amon Duul side of the balance, coiling around a powerful mass of sturm und drang, and shredding within the center free of fear, but always sculpting intentionally instead of just pissing into the void like so many of their contemporaries. Somehow they've stolen the blueprints.

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