17. Helms Alee - Weatherhead
This is only the second LP from Seattle's sludgy power trio Helms Alee. Their debut album was one of my favorite releases from a band that I hadn't heard before back in 2008 when it came out. With expectations set dangerously high, I anxiously checked this out when it dropped and I was stunned. It might sound cliche to say this about a band that only has two albums out, but holy moley did these guys improve on their songwriting, musicianship, and basically every aspect of their craft since the previous album - and that album itself was stellar! Suffice to say that this isn't your typical stoner / sludge album. These folks have a very distinctive sound - in part because all three of them - two girls and a guy - share vocal duties equally, and in part because they love to bend and twist time signatures, pace, tone, vocal styles and just about every aspect of their music like they're purposely trying to lose the listener in the funnest game of "follow the leader" ever conceived. The thing is, they are so good at keeping the hook in your upper lip, that you're just dragged along helplessly while you simply sit back and enjoy the ride. It's really progressive stuff for a sludge band, but it's a load of fun, and very compelling. This band is terribly under-rated in my opinion, but hopefully this album will help to start changing that.