1. L.A. WITCH- L.A. WITCH
This debut will drug you, knock you out and torch your El Camino somewhere outside Barstow. Guitarist Sade Sanchez's narcotic voice shadows Hope Sandoval and Stevie Nicks. And she plays a fuzzy echo of fellow Angelinos the Seeds and X that is all the stuff you love to hear emanate from from the garage. Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English are the getaway car that creeps down the alley, before accelerating towards the desert with you in the trunk. Tone for miles on this ride.
Garage, punk, psyche.
2. SLOWDIVE- SLOWDIVE
After a two decade long hiatus, this could be the best album they've ever made. Slowdive manages to capture all the swirly dreaminess of their youth and multiplies that by now being masters of their craft. Nick Halstead's lush melodies have a melancholy beauty that evokes emotion even without some of the best lyrics he's ever written. And Rachel Goswell still sounds like your dream girl.
The only reason this is not my number one is that I didn't beat it to death quite as much as L. A. Witch.
Dream-pop, shoegaze, ambient.
3. ALL THEM WITCHES- SLEEPING THROUGH THE WAR
On their fourth album, bassist/vocalist/lyricist Charles Michael Parks Jr. is now a master conjurer. The shamanistic words behind Parks' languid drawl are at once profound and meaningless. Like following a dirt road just to see where it goes. These guys are all killer players and seemingly effortlessly throw down some fuzzed out blues (with a touch of Krautrock in this case) that has increasingly become their own and not just the sum of their Sabbath and Allman recollections. Ben McLeod is one of my favorite guitarists right now.
Blues, stoner, progressive, psychedelic.
4. OH SEES- ORC
The 19th album from founder John Dwyer, and first with the current Dan Rincon-Paul Quattrone drumming duo starts with a manic buzz of Krautrock inspired garage riffage that hits a progressive rock groove about three quarters of the way through its 50 minutes. Orc settles in with some grungy metallic sludge and finishes with an avant-jazz freak form exploration. Because, why not?
The two drummer attack is a must see live. With bassist Tim Hellman, this is perhaps the best incarnation of this band.
Punk, garage, noise, experimental
5. KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD- FLYING MICROTONAL BANANA
By now you may have noticed that I am quite partial to psychedelic garage kind of stuff. Even if just by sheer output, Gizzard is truly the king of the realm. They put out five really good albums in 2017. All of them extend the boundaries of the garage genre the way Talking Heads did punk rock. And like the Heads they are not afraid to get dancey, worldly or weird. There's also enough Iommi-esque riffage on here to satisfy my baser metal needs.
Warning: If you listen Rattlesnake more than twice. You'll listen to it 100 more times. Although an earworm, its not even the best song on the album.
I can't wait to see them live. Dear Lizards, please come to within a reasonable driving distance on a weekend.
Ride the snake.
Psychedelic, garage, progressive.
6. THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE- DON'T GET LOST
All the trance-y drones this band has been known for since 1995 with the addition of more grooves and synths than ever before. Hrmm, Sounds like a guy in a Captain's hat wrote that, but I'm sticking by it. There's still enough guitar and noisy experimentalism here to make it a proper BJM album. As a fan of this band for years, I think its amongst their best. Clocking in at over an hour the drone may eventually get to you. I like to clean house to it.
Psychedelic, ambient, garage.
7. TEMPLES- VOLCANO
The second album from this British quartet adds more synth to their psychedelic Brit revival. Great melodies and sugary lyrical imagery still abound on frontman-producer James Bagshaw’s move towards the glam end of the electronic spectrum. Comparisons to Tame Impala's 2015 release Currents are not unwarranted, but whereas Australia's Impala is retrofitted for 1978, these Englishmen are still in the summer of love.
Psychedelic, garage, pop, electronic.
AND THE REST OF THE BEST...
Here's several more from the class of 2017 for your consideration. They are in no particular order of worthiness.
Having missed Metz at Hopscotch Festival, they are still high on my list of bands I hope to see in the new year.
Afghan Whigs have made an amazing record.
Can't wait to see Wolf Alice at Welcome to Rockville in April.
Legends Gary Numan and Tommy Stinson with Bash & Pop come out of nowhere with great albums.
The Coathangers with a tasty snack sized EP.
The Orwells continue to make trouble.
Ty Segall could bake bread and I'd listen to it.
Electric Wizard spilled the bong on my Sabbath LPs.
Frank Carter is a rock star.
Royal Blood are the best thing I get to play on the radio.
Pond. Something is definitely up down under.
The Black Angels. Still black.
THE ORWELLS- TERRIBLE HUMAN BEINGS
TY SEGALL- TY SEGALL
Garage, experimental, punk.
AFGHAN WHIGS- IN SPADES
THE BLACK ANGELS- DEATH SONG
METZ- STRANGE PEACE
Punk, noise, experimental.
ELECTRIC WIZARD- WIZARD BLOODY WIZARD
Stoner rock, doom metal.
WOLF ALICE- VISIONS OF A LIFE
GARY NUMAN- SAVAGE: SONGS FROM A BROKEN WORLD
Electronic, rock, ambient.
POND- THE WEATHER
THE COATHANGERS -PARASITE EP
FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES- MODERN RUIN
BASH & POP -ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN
ROYAL BLOOD- HOW DID WE GET SO DARK
Rock, post grunge.