Words by Andrew Ryan Fetter
Andrew Fetter has been writing about music for over the last decade and playing in bands for even longer. His latest endeavor was the radio hour, The Noise Kaleidoscope which aired on 99.1FM WQRT in Indianapolis (now on hiatus – past episodes are archived online). On it he covers his personal collection and influences of psych rock from over the last half century, starting with early influences and reaching to its modern incarnations. Here are his top ten albums in no order.
Between Fucked Up and OFF! I feel like punk rock still has a chance. Those two bands more than any other are keeping the genre alive and interesting. And Fucked Up’s latest full length, One Day, hits all the right spots. After the lofty concept piece Dose Your Dreams, they’re still pushing the boundaries but reminding everyone why you’re there.
How do you pick the best album from the best band when they release three records in the same year? You pick the most recent one, obviously. Honestly, it’s exhausting keeping up with these guys. Mainly because the output is just so fucking good. Plus my editor would definitely give me shit for not including them in my list.
Starting with a nice nod to George Jones with “Another good year for the roses”, the latest release from the wonderful Kurt Vile is really the only thing that makes me happier than the death of Henry Kissinger. “Touched somethin (caught a virus)”, which is oddly not a reference to the pandemic, is probably the best song to vibe out with.
It’s annoying that this isn’t getting more “year-end list” love, but whatever. Not the first hip-hop album I’ve covered in the Head Space column, but certainly the most surreal. With obvious influences from Pink Floyd and Ween this one is a total mindfuck of a record. And the fact that Motown (yes, that Motown) released proves its worth alone.
Why is every Lana Del Rey album the soundtrack to a drug overdose? And you can literally pick your poison with each record. Her last couple of records since Norman Fucking Rockwell were just okay but Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard is another masterpiece. Her wit is as sharp as ever and there are just tears all over this.
Mudhoney fucking rules and there’s just no two ways about it. It still irks me that they’re buried under so many other hacks in terms of “grunge” greats, because these guys are the best of the best in that genre. They prove it once again with this triumph of a record. Between that and Steve Turner’s memoir out earlier this year, it’s like falling in love all over again. Just watch the video for “Little Dogs”. It’s great. If the VMAs were still a legitimate thing, it would win.
My girlfriend and I recently started listening to Old Gods Of Appalachia, a horror podcast that is based on mountain folklore. There’s an eerieness to it that is hard to describe. I get a similar vibe from PJ Harvey’s latest album. Based on her poetic novel Orlam, I Inside The Old Year Dying is a haunting and rustic folk-tinged journey into the supernatural. While certainly not one of her more “rocking” records, this is still an exciting and energetic record to listen to.
QOTSA were a band that took a long time for me to get into. It wasn’t until …Like Clockwork that what they were doing really clicked. Those low, dirty, desert-rock grooves are enchanting the more you hear them. And on In Times New Roman, those grooves reach new heights (or lows, however you want to gauge it). Plus I’m calling it now: Josh Homme wins the award for both best and worst lyric this year with “voyeurism jizm”.
W.I.T.C.H. has been the centerpiece of my column this year and it’s been a lot of fun diving into this band’s catalog and history. But even more enjoyable to hear that after four decades of inactivity they’ve still got it. It’s no surprise that this band was able to create an entire music scene in a region where such concepts may not be viewed as crucial. And as sad as it is that it all imploded, it’s still refreshing to hear (and also see in person earlier this year), the proof itself of why it meant as much as it did to the people there.
This belongs in my top ten based on the title alone. The world has gotten so, so stupid lately, painfully so. Thankfully Yo La Tengo records can soothe that pain, at least for a short while. After There’s a Riot Going On and We Have Amnesia Sometimes it seemed like the band was going in a more contemplative / ambient inspired sound, which I really dug. But This Stupid World seems to be bringing Yo La Tengo back to all the distortion and noise that makes their records so good and gives them some incredible staying power.