Indie Basement’s quiet but very hot August continues, and this week features: Speedy Wunderground’s swaggering debut album, signed The salon company; new DFA signatories JULIUS; cinematic guitarist Rachika Nayar; Ezra Furman finds empathy on the brink of apocalypse; Prince Pantha becomes one with nature; and 90s electronica producer Guillaume Orbite returns with his first album in eight years with Beth Orton and more.
Things are decidedly more bouncy in Notable Releases as Andrew listens to albums by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Stella Donnelly, Julia Jacklin, and more.
If you need more basement-adjacent BV content: The Smithereens and Melody’s Echo Chamber announced “lost albums; La Femme is finally making a record that’s not in French (to quote NBC Peacock, “It’s in Spanish”); I took Spoon’s tour to the hot-up show; and made a list of 30 famous actors who appeared in independent music videos.
Jaimie Branch, rest in peace.
Over there in the BrooklynVegan Shop’s Indie Basement Basementthe virtual shelves are filled with records from Stereolab, Broadcast, Mazzy Star, Beach House, Wet Leg, Kevin Morby, Yard Act, Cocteau Twins, The Beths, Aldous Harding, The Cure, Can, Neu!, Mazzy Star, Talking Heads, Just Mustard, Midlake, Pixies, Sparks, Liars, The Kinks, The Zombies, The Monkees and many more After.
Head below for this week’s reviews.
The show company – Tired of freedom (Fast Wunderground)
Ambitious, impressive and swaggering debut album by this young British band on Dan Carey’s label
Like many of the bands associated with Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label (black midi, Black Country New Road), The Lounge Society have a lot going for their sound and aren’t afraid to take some wild swings. After two EPs, the Yorkshire band have delivered their debut album, an ambitious and politically oriented concept album about a society collapsing over the course of the record. The Lounge Society’s trump card is bluster, and the album is reminiscent of everything from The Libertines to Modest Mouse, Joseph K, These New Puritans and Iceage. Sometimes all in one song. The group is young, not so far from high school, and this youthful abandon and idealism is found in these 11 songs that crackle with electricity. You get the feeling that they were trying to cram all the ideas they ever wanted to use into a 40 minute album. Maybe too many ideas, but more often than not the results are exciting – see “Blood Money”, “Remains”, the pretty and introspective “Upheaval” and the nervously funky “Boredom is a Drug”. Boredom, by the way, is not a problem here.
Rachika Nayar – the sky is coming (NNA bands)
The Brooklyn guitarist weaves cinematic tapestries with his instrument while mingling with dance music
Rachika Nayar is a guitarist, but one like Sarah Lipstate or Robin Guthrie who transforms their instrument so much, through looping and other electronic manipulations, that you may not be able to tell which instrument created those celestial sounds. It’s transporting, the take-off of the Music of the Spheres level, but Nayar also sneaks in some guitar heroics, playing like distant shooting stars that remind you she can shred. His new album, the sky is coming, is an on-the-nose title for music like this that is so evocative and radically cinematic that Iceland could make it an honorary citizen. She also dabbles in dance music here, resulting in the album’s most tantalizing moment, “Heaven Come Crashing,” which features choral ahhs from Maria BC and a dizzying drum-n-bass breakbeat that hits mid Road. When it does, the albums explode into orchestral, ethereal bliss that continues through valleys and peaks on the final three songs, ending with another high, “Our Wretched Fate.” Would the album have been better with more of these moments throughout? Maybe, but it’s all the more heavenly when you wait.
JULIUS- “VOL.2” (DFA / Mammas Mysterisk Jukebox)
DIY kitchen sink production brings this Swedish producer’s new album to life – which is also the first DFA release in three years
JJULIUS is the rock name of Swedish musician and producer Julius Pierstorff, who also runs independent Gothenburg label Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox with Elin Engström (together they make music under the name Monokultur). While JJULIUS’ music defies easy categorization, most of the sounds come from post-punk influences: cheap keyboards and drum machines, deliberately naïve elements alongside skilful production, free jazz, dub, krautrock, industrial, and more. His second album, which was released in the US via DFA (the label’s first release since co-founder Jonathan Galkin’s exit), sounds like the kind of album that might have been released in 1980 on Rough Trade, Postcard or the label. Swisswave Off Course. What Volume 2 lacks big hooks, it makes up for the vibe, sounding like an impromptu jam between Einsturzende Neubauten, Young Marble Giants and Liliput, a party I would personally love to attend.
Pantha of the Prince – Gaia Garden (Modern recordings)
German Producer Hendrik Weber Becomes One With Nature On This Rainforest Rave Record
As Pantha du Prince, German producer Hendrik Weber has created all kinds of electronic music over the years, from techno and house to ambient and experimental noise. (Most of his records, however, are rather cold.) His latest, Gaia Gardenis a third chapter in his series exploring the idea of ”human as nature”, which he previously investigated in 2013 light elements and 2020s Tree Conference. “My music is about raising consciousness, depicting the reality of life and lost paradise through music,” Hendrik explains. “It’s about entering a free space and developing a maximum degree of openness and sensitivity to our body – to our mental states and the atmosphere around us. It’s about mindfulness and a high level of awareness of what is going on around us and within us. With all of this mindfulness in mind, Pantha Du Prince has crafted a meditative and flowing album of verdant dance music, perfect for a rainforest rave gentle enough not to disturb the ecosystem (or the neighbours, which in this case could be brightly colored lizards). Hendrik keep things out of Deep Forest/Pure Moods territory.
Ezra Furman- We all Flames (ANTI-/Bella Union)
Ezra explores an apocalyptic vision in his anthemic and empathetic style
“It’s a first-person plural album,” Ezra Furman says of his ninth album. “It’s a queer album for the stage in life where you’re beginning to realize that you’re not a lone wolf, but dependent on finding your family, your loved ones, the way you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by communities under threat, especially those I belong to: trans people and Jews.” All of us in flames is the last part of the trilogy which started with the years 2018 Transangelic Exodus and 2019 twelve nudes and continues musically in the ’80s-inspired synth-injected anthem rock style of those records. (Springsteen remains a big influence.) Ezra wrote the songs in the early stages of the pandemic, made the record with John Congleton who helped bring this hopeful apocalyptic vision to life. Flames right – it’s a warm sounding record, with levels pushed into the red that melts the diode, especially Furman’s passionate vocals, which make it sound like they’re trying to tear you away from your speakers and shake you by the shoulders in a stupor. It all adds to the we-against-the-world intensity of these anthems — “Forever in Sunset,” “Point Me Toward the Real” and “Temple of Broken Dreams” — from one of our most iconic songwriters. underappreciated and empathetic and performers.
Guillaume Orbit – The painter (Warner Music)
Madonna and Blur album producer returns with first album in eight years, featuring Beth Orton, Georgia, Lido Pimienta, more
Back in the 90s, William Orbit was one of the go-tos if you were a rock or pop artist who wanted to add a bit of rigor electronica to your sound. He produced his then-girlfriend Beth Orton’s debut album in 1993, superpinkymandyhelped Madonna revitalize her sound on the 1998 album Ray of lightproduced Blur’s 1999 album, 13, and has also worked with everyone from U2 to Ricky Martin. This is his first album in eight years and follows a period in his life when, entering his sixties, he took up painting…and drugs. “I always had an aversion to drugs,” he recalls. “Then one day I was at a New Years party, and I thought I was going to try some cocaine. I remember joking with everyone, ‘Remember this in a year, when I’m in rehab!��� And then I thought, ‘Hmm, that’s pretty cool. Orbit suffered a psychotic breakdown at a festival and later hit rock bottom when, according to his official biography of this album, he barricaded himself at home despite being “convinced he worked for the Royal Family and was at risk of murder by the Church of England”. He straightened up and opened his contacts app to call on several of his former collaborators, including Orton and Katie Melua, as well as Georgia, Lido Pimienta, Polly Scattergood and many others. Orbit is a skilled producer, but most of the sounds here seem stuck in the slick sounds of the turn of the millennium, although the album goes up and down somewhat depending on who is singing. (Georgia? Pretty good. Katie Melua? Not so much.) However, the two songs with Orton, especially the “I Paint What I Can See” dub, still have that spark, even if they mostly evoke waves of nostalgia.
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