The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

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If you weren’t aware that there is a massive psychedelic revival underway, don’t worry: you’re not alone.  As lovers of the spaced-out and groovy, we at FP decided to put together a top 10 psychedelic list last year, only to watch it become one of our most-viewed pieces of all-time.  As a result, we were particularly attentive to anything that might have the smallest chance of blowing your mind this year.  And now, at the conclusion of a particularly kaleidoscopic twelve months, we bring you are ten most consciousness-expanding records of 2012.  Enjoy the ride.

10. Pond, Beard Wives Denim

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

Given that the band shares members with the better-known Tame Impala, it should come as no surprise that Pond’s fourth record Beard Wives Denim sounds like a distant cousin of that bands excellent 2010 debut Innerspeaker.  But, where Innerspeaker came off as a practiced and polished labor of love, BWD has a looser, riskier, unrehearsed feel.  Throughout the record Pond sounds as if it is trying on for size the many branches of psychedelic music, from the crunchy garage-rock of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” to the hallucinogenic “Sorry I Was Under the Sky.”  Although the music press has filed them away in the dreaded “side project” folder, Pond can stand proudly by this diverse, spirited debut.

9. Moon Duo, Circles

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

Another entry in the side project file, Moon Duo shares mind-bending guitarist Ripley Johnson with Wooden Shjips, whose 2011 LP West landed third on last year’s version of this list.  Unlike Pond however, whose sound is clearly tied to that of its big-brother-band, Moon Duo bears little resemblance to Wooden Shjips, and the only thing Circles shares with West is its tremendous far-out-ness.  While West was full of meandering guitar-driven explorations, Circles is fundamentally groovy, filled with a kind of meditative minimalism that is central to the psychedelic state-of-mind.  It’s the kind of record that would make Ralph Waldo Emerson proud.

8. Gonjasufi, Muzzle

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

While MU.ZZ.LE features significantly fewer long-haired guitar heroes than, well, every other record on this list, it’s inclusion on a list of mind-bending psych records is indisputably warranted.  Indeed, Gonjasufi and production partner Psychopop make psychedelia for the prescription-drug generation, a kind of hyper-relaxed, haze-soaked music with a slightly paranoid undertone.  Briefer and perhaps less ambitious than 2010′s excellent A Sufi and a Killer, MU.ZZ.LE is nonetheless equally arresting, equally mystical, and equally worthy of your attention.

7. Woods, Bend Beyond

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

For each of the last four years, Woods have put out a new record, and every one of them has been great.  If anything, the band is a victim of its own consistency: its albums are so uniformly excellent that they surprise no one, finding themselves ranked seventh on lists like this (as they were last year as well) when they probably deserve much better.  Bend Beyond is perhaps somewhat brighter than the band’s previous record, and the guitar freak-outs are a bit more restrained, but all the analysis is a bit beside the point.  If the record says “Woods” on the cover, you should be listening.

6. Foxygen, Take the Kids Off Broadway

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

Foxygen is the clear winner of “portmanteau band name of the year,” and so it’s appropriate that their first commercially available album is full of sonic portmanteaux, throwing everything from The Kinks to Elephant 6 into a musical blender and serve up some delicious results.  I could go into details, or I could just tell you that Take the Kids Off Broadway has a 10-minute song called “Teenage Alien Blues.”  Checkmate. We also reviewed their newest, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.

Foxygen – “Waitin 4 U”

5. Ty Segall & White Fence, Hair

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

And here’s the crazy part: Hair is only Segall’s third best record THIS YEAR.

Ty Segall & White Fence – “I Am Not a Game”

4. Royal Baths, Better Luck Next Life

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

To quote FP contributor Tim Myers’ review of Better Luck Next Life: “It’s an album drenched in violent lust and strung out on speed. The scene is always a seedy one, evoking images of back alley drug deals and ravaged motel rooms. The subject matter is undeniably dark, as singer Jigmae Baer details vampiric sex scenes and murder fantasies with an icy detachment that makes the album feel that much steamier.”  Um….awesome. Check our interview with them.

Royal Baths – “Faster, Harder”

3. Six Organs of Admittance, Ascent

 The 10 Best Psychedelic Albums of 2012

If I ever make a list of “The 10 Best Albums full of face-melting guitar solos of 2012,” this will be #1.