The year's just about over and I listened to a lot of albums, one of my absolute favorites of which is included on this week's feature page. But I also listened to a lot of great local releases, as well. Here are seven of my favorites.

    7. Mystery Cave - Ausarian Comforts: Mystery Cave's John Christopher Harris already has plans for more new music in 2016, but I'm still marveling at the gloriously psychedelic beatscapes he's offered up this year on his disorienting and groove-heavy Ausarian Comforts LP.

    6. Le Chateau - s/t: Le Chateau became my favorite new band of the year, thanks to their blend of taut songwriting with heady electronic atmosphere. I'm already eager to hear what's next.

    5. Brian Ellis Group - Escondido Sessions: Astra's Brian Ellis took it to the next level with this richly arranged and gorgeously executed set of jazz fusion.

    4. Sure Fire Soul Ensemble - s/t: Local purveyors of cinematic soul The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble cooked up a dozen delectable nuggets of funk on their self-titled debut, ranging from laid back Stax-style soul to Afrobeat-inspired groove sessions that could go on for at least twice as long without wearing out their welcome.

    3. Author and Punisher - Melk en Honing: Recorded with Pantera's Phil Anselmo, Author and Punisher's fourth album was weirder, heavier and more intense than past efforts. While Tristan Shone mostly cast aside catchier mid-tempo numbers, this white-knuckle ride of punishing industrial metal is well worth enduring.

    2. Wild Wild Wets - 14th Floor: I, for one, was eagerly waiting for Wild Wild Wets to release their debut album, and the noisy, psychedelic rock favorites didn't disappoint. Equal parts Deerhunter, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Zombies, it's a journey through several generations of amazing, guitar-driven head trips.

    1. Birdy Bardot - s/t: It's a thrill to be caught entirely off guard by an album, and Birdy Bardot's debut album—which features contributions from countless amazing musicians—maintains a stunning balance between modern indie sensibilities and vintage, reverb-laden charm.


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