Classifying music exclusively within a genre is as diminishing as it gets; not only does it prevent some great artists from getting the exposure they deserve due to an immediate, pre-listen dismissal from writers, DJs, and others, but it also reduces their work to prejudice-based labelling that can ultimately play against an artist's need to evolve and broaden their horizons for fear of letting their audience down.

The so-called "psych" is no exception, even if the word is much less hermetic than it used to be. Having suffered several mutations -- as well as disappearances and reappearances -- since it first surfaced in the mid-60s, the genre never really went away despite its occasional lack of mainstream visibility, always bubbling under the surface within a dimension usually referred to as "underground", with a couple of bands eventually making the crossover towards a larger audience -- after all, the sacralisation of an artist or band comes when their music is so relevant it makes all niche-association irrelevant.

The last neo-psych boom came roughly in 2012/2013 and its heydey lasted until the end of 2014, a period of approximately two years during which psych fests were popping out like shrooms everywhere around the globe; labelling something or someone as "psych" was a guarantee of hype. Although the multicoloured wave has laid low(er) ever since, the music world benefited immensely from the huge amount of independent labels that emerged from the craze, most of them taking advantage of the genre's intrinsic visual side. And even though many bands (some of them quite good) lasted little over an acid trip, others have consolidated their audience, either by dabbling in other genres or by refining their take on psych (what does "psych" mean anyway apart from a deep awakening of the senses?), and many others are now beginning to blossom, having already drunk from new influences as well as old ones.

Whether you're a fan of psych or not, the ten bands and artists below are definitely worthy of your time.

Gloria (Howlin Banana)

With the overexposure artists are subjected to nowadays it's quite hard to find a band whom we know almost nothing about and whose photos and videos depict everything but the band's members. That's the case with French six-piece Gloria, who have been laying low image-wise to the point of having no website or social media presence whatsoever, with all promotion being made via their label Howlin Banana. That didn't prevent them from getting a fair share of (well-deserved) buzz when their excellent debut LP In Excelsis Stereo dropped last November, and although they maintain a low-key attitude promotion-wise, here's hoping their Ronettes-on-acid sound gets the praise it duly deserves.

The Babe Rainbow (Flightless)

They've been active for a couple of years now, but for some reason Australian psych-poppers The Babe Rainbow chose 2017 to release their debut proper - must be a numerology thing. Don't get fooled by the vintage-looking visuals - their uplifting, free-spirited music may revisit (more than) a couple of Summer of Love elements, but it's their take on contemporary sounds ranging from DeMarco to UMO that, once combined with their sun-kissed tunes from down under, ultimately provides us with a rare freshness.

Sugar Candy Mountain (PIAPTK/It's A Gas)

Although not exactly newcomers to the scene, Oakland-based duo Sugar Candy Mountain's exposure came as a consequence of their sophomore album 666, which came out last year via People in a Position to Know/Joyful Noise (US) and It's a Gas (EU). Assuming influences from heavyweights such as Brian Wilson, The Beatles, and Os Mutantes, their touch-and-go attitude towards retro sounds seems to be somehow liberated from any direct comparisons as they marry laid-back jangly tunes with darker undertones. Proceed with caution: it's hugely addictive.

The Orielles (Heavenly)

From the label that gave us Temples, The Wytches, and TOY among other neo-psych pearls comes West Yorkshire trio The Orielles - a band whose debut single on Heavenly Recordings 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' has been causing quite a stir among the so-called indie/alternative circuits. Agreed, they've already self-released a handful of tracks and played their fair share of shows, but this eight-and-a-half minute epic with the Heavenly stamp of approval is set to be their golden ticket to wider exposure.

Tagore (Novíssima Música Brasileira/Sony Music Brasil)

Brazilian neo-psych is not just about Goiânia four-piece Boogarins; Recife-based Tagore are also part of the exciting new take on Tropicália that's being triggered by bands such as Carne Doce, Rios Voadores, and Luziluzia. The exotic class allied to the universality of their sound is best embodied by their sophomore album Pineal, released last fall via Novíssima Música Brasileira/Sony Music Brasil, a delicious and colourful trip that mixes both the old and the new, wilderness and civilisation.

Bifannah (The John Colby Sect)

I first bumped into Bifannah as a result of my love for Spanish label The John Colby Sect, which in turn caught my eye via A Coruña-based band Fogbound (their debut album Emotional Blackmail was released earlier this year). Singing in a mix of Spanish and Galician that sometimes sounds like Portuguese, the uniqueness of Bifannah comes from their continental take on tropicalism while keeping strong ties with the naiveness of '60s garage. Uncomplicated and sweet, they are currently working on their debut full-length.

Green Seagull (Mega Dodo)

Taking their name from a misheard Rolling Stones lyric, this London quartet emerged from the ashes of New Electric Ride (remember their excellent 2014 album Balloon Age?) and Magnetic Mind. 'Scarlet' is an exciting, very promising neo-baroque tune that precedes a proper LP, due out later in the year.

Shadow Band (Mexican Summer)

If this one slipped your radar, we're here to make sure it doesn't happen again. From the city that gave us American Bandstand, say hello to Shadow Band - a light-psych collective whose debut LP Wilderness of Love came out earlier this year via beloved Brooklyn label Mexican Summer. The Paisley Underground-infused sonic delicatessen they treat us to reminds us of label comrades Allah-Las', but theirs has an East Coast attitude, with slight European undertones.

Okey Dokey (EXAG'Records)

Nashville-based supergroupish Okey Dokey were formed by rock veterans Aaron Martin and Johny Fisher, who in turn recruited musicians from Wild Child, The Weeks, Rayland Baxter, and Shaun Fleming's Diane Coffee for their brilliantly-produced psych-pop/soul vision. Their debut album Love You, Mean It was released earlier this year via EXAG' Records and it has all the elements to become a long-lasting classic.

Evolfo (The Royal Potato Family)

East-Coasters Evolfo have been together for quite a while now, as one can easily tell from the self-released singles and EPs on their Bandcamp page. They used to be called Evolfo Doorfeht ("The Food of Love" backwards), eventually dropping the "doorfeht" part when they traded Boston for Brooklyn. Theirs is a solid garage-psych energy whose direct influences seem so diverse that any direct comparisons prove to be useless. They released their proper debut LP Last of the Acid Cowboys in April via The Royal Potato Family.