Tis the season for year-end best-of lists, and The Record Exchange is pleased to bring you our 2017 Staff Picks!

Here’s John O.’s Top 10, followed by an abridged version of his blog post on the year in music as heard through his ears.

English Tapas
One More for the Road
Big Fish Theory
It Runs Around the Room with Us
Freedom Is Free
The French Press
Sorry Is Gone

Sun Blood Stories continue to amaze me. Ben and Amber’s singing and playing are reaching new heights.

john o

Sun Blood Stories makes its latest appearance in Denver tonight, 9/15/17, at Lion’s Lair with Big Dopes and Serpentfoot. The former quintet now trio from Boise, Idaho, has been creating its experimental psychedelic music since 2011. Though the band emerged around the time when the most recent wave of psychedelic rock was headed toward its peak, Sun Blood Stories seemed to come from a different place. Its shows feel a bit like you’re seeing what a traveling, shamanistic musical ceremony might be like. Its songs, some rock, some weirdo folk but all informed by an attempt to create a mood and an experience as much as, or more so, than melody.

The 2017 album It Runs Around the Room With Us has a title that suggests the supernatural and the songs themselves are often melancholic compositions haunted by memories, dreams and experiments in crafting atmospheres that stir the imagination and don’t seen leave the mind. We recently caught up with the band via email to discuss some of its history, inspirations and perspectives in creating its riveting body of work. Where a specific band member responds the name will precede that response otherwise assume it’s a collective answer. But you can figure that out because you’re smart.

Read the Full Interview

Sun Blood Stories started as Ben Kirby’s solo project, but it’s just as much Amber Pollard’s band now. Her eerie, fearsome wail and hallucinatory guitar dominate It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017), providing the perfect foil for Kirby’s laconic drawl and rippling, yowling slide riffs. Drummer Jon Fust holds the groove no matter how jarring the tempo changes get and, together, this dark psychedelic trio makes some of the most challenging, exciting rock music in the Northwest.

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Some—just some—of the best recent recordings to come out of Boise

Sun Blood Stories’ second album, Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015), was the best local release of 2015. Its follow-up doesn’t try to match its wild abandon, which is probably a smart move. Instead, It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017) shows the psych-rock band refining Twilight‘s bluesy riffs, fluid grooves and layers of mind-warping noises to create a more somber, introspective experience. It’s not as immediately accessible, but it’s just as powerful and even more beautiful.

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Having recently had Beatles on the brain, specifically the early years of their hysteria-inducing mop tops, I started to think about their early interviews. I started to look up some of those early pressers and was taken aback by just how many times the fab foursome was asked about money and marriage, but there were some gems amongst the clunkers. And so, inspired by the early press conferences of the Beatles, especially their US interviews, I decided to ask some of those very same questions to some of the best and brightest making music today.

I first came across Boise’s Sun Blood Stories while taking a look at this year’s Treefort lineup. It was pretty much love at first listen with these “High Desert experimental psych-fuzz”-makers. Their magnetic, colorful sonic machinations are both soothing and stirring, commanding attention whether they’re caressing or crashing into your eardrums (which they do with equal enthusiasm).

The triad of Amber Pollard, Ben Kirby, and Jon Fust gamely took on the Beatles questions, read on to get acquainted with these new friends and make sure you check their Bandcamp for all sorts of goodies. Oh, and someone please invite these three to play some shows in Europe, won’t you?



1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted


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Their latest album, It Runs Around The Room With Us, is an onslaught of ambient-psychedelia with Jon Fust on drums, holding it all together. The improvisational element of the band’s music gives multi-instrumentalists Pollard and Kirby, the freedom to showcase their slide-guitar work.  And the new dynamic of the band has affected the way they perform live, as well as their approach to the recording process.

“We recorded similar to the last one; in the basement,” says Pollard. “It’s a little different now because we are a three piece and we live together and record at home. There’s something really special about staying up until four in the morning and going to work at seven. And making sure we have enough whiskey to make it through the day.”

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If Sun Blood Stories‘ It Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.

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