Bill’s Indie Basement (2/2): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
It’s Groundhog Day which in Indie Basement-land is when we look to see whether Kevin Shields leaves his house and sees his shadow, meaning that new MBV record won’t be out till George RR Martin releases Winds of Winter. I’m not holding my breath, so this week we’ve got some crucial Cocteau Twins vinyl reissues, a new record from California sunshine pop vets The Orange Peels, a psych-rock supergroup featuring members of The Horrors, Black Angels, and more; the return of the Broadcast-esque Lake Ruth, and an obscure ’80s ambient trio from Philly who you’ve never heard of but might like anyway.
If you need more Basement-approved music and news, the new singles from A Place to Bury Strangers, Holy Wave, and Cut Worms are both pretty great, as is this Woods/Dungen collaboration. Plus, also, too: the new Hookworms and Field Music albums are out today and both terrific, and I’m looking forward to catching Australian band RVG when they’re on this side of the planet in March.
The Orange Peels – “Running Away”
Allen Clapp has lead The Orange Peels since 1997, making sunshine pop for such labels as spinART, Parasol and Minty Fresh who will release the band’s seventh album, Trespassing, on April 27. We’ve got the premiere of the album’s first single, “Running Away,” which Clapp says is “kind of like if Fleetwood Mac and Robyn Hitchcock had written a top-40 hit in 1977.” He elaborates:
It’s about lost weekends in mountain towns, hiding from reality, trying to lose yourself – even though you know it’s not working. We recorded the drums for this song in the Redwoods, and you can actually HEAR it on the record, which is something we’re really proud of. Immaculate jangle meets harmonic bliss. Every once in a while, someone says I sound like Lindsey Buckingham in my vocal tone and delivery, and it’s probably gonna happen on this song too. Maybe it’s because we both grew up within 20 minutes of each other on the San Francisco Peninsula – a spit of land between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay that now hosts Google, Apple, Facebook, and the entire Silicon Valley. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what California sounds like.
“Immaculate jangle meets harmonic bliss” pretty much nails it. Listen, and check out the tracklist, below:
01. Camera 2
02. Running Away
03. Room 222
04. Dawn Tree
05. Heart Gets Broken by the Song
07. All Our Tomorrows
09. Stealing Days
The Cocteau Twins – Head Over Heels & Treasure Vinyl Represses
Cocteau Twins‘ ethereal sound — Robin Guthrie’s gossamer waves of treated guitar supporting Elizabeth Fraser’s one-of-a-kind otherworldly vocals — and equally bewitching album art (courtesy of Vaughan Oliver) made them perhaps the quintessential ’80s 4AD band, and they remain very influential today.
4AD has been working its way back through the band’s catalog, repressing the records on vinyl for the first time since their initial release — 1990 masterwork Heaven or Las Vegas and 1988’s Blue Bell Knoll, along with compilations Tiny Dynamine / Echoes In A Shallow Bay and The Pink Opaque were released a while back and up next are 1983’s Head Over Heels and 1984’s Treasure, both of which will be out March 16. They were remastered from the original analogue tapes on to high-definition digital audio, and you can preorder now.
Their second album, Head Over Heels was where Cocteau Twins figured out their sound, and “Sugar Hiccup” remains one of their most loved songs. (The whole record is almost as good, too.) Treasure, however, is perhaps second only to Heaven or Las Vegas as the best thing the band ever did (A lot of people would argue this with me), Guthrie’s guitar-work here is still awe-inspiring and Frazer conveys so many emotions even though you can’t make out much (any) of the lyrics. It’s the first LP to feature bassist Simon Raymonde (who now runs Bella Union Records) and posters of the cover art graced every goth kid’s bedroom wall in the ’80s. Essential.
Watch the videos for “Sugar Hiccup” and “Ivo” (from Treasure):
MIEN are a psych-rock supergroup featuring The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. The seeds of the band were planted at SXSW well over a decade ago, where Maas ended up hanging out with Dhir and Lapham, forming friendships. Dhir also has played bass in The Black Angels who shared festival dates with The Horrors, which brought Furse into the picture. The real bonding moment, apparently, occurred over the mutual affection for The Association’s sitar-fueled “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin” and a desire to cover the song.
That cover was attempted but never finished. It did, however, lead the four of them to start working on their own music together, mostly over the internet. A dark sound, heavy on atmosphere and analogue synths, emerged. “Imagine the Black Angels as Nico in her ’80s industrial phase mixed with George Harrison and Conny Plank,” is how Lapham puts it.
MIEN’s self-titled debut will be out April 6 via Rocket Recordings. The first single is “Black Habit,” which begins with a driving bassline which, with a motorik beat, soon gets into Neu! territory but then gets dragged into the gutter. Watch the video:
MIEN will make their live debut at Austin’s Levitation Fest.
The Nightcrawlers – The Biophonic Boombox Recordings
Are you familiar with The Nightcrawlers, the ambient synth trio from the Philly/Jersey area who released nearly 40 tapes from 1980 – 1991? Me either till just recently. Despite owning an arsenal of analogue gear that would make Rick Wakeman and Tim Gane envious, all of those tapes were recorded live to a JVC Biphonic Boombox. They were then dubbed-to-order via the Synkronos label run by the group’s Peter D. Gulch.
Influenced by Tangerine Dream, Steve Reich and other synth and ambient luminaries, this was music almost no one heard at the time, but Anthology Records — the reissue label run by Mexican Summer — is putting out a Nightcrawlers double-LP compilation titled The Biophonic Boombox Recordings on February 23. (Preorder.) You can check out “Luv-li-musik,” which sounds pretty good for being recorded onto a boombox:
Lake Ruth – “One of Your Own”
Lake Ruth, the trio comprised of multi-instrumentalist Hewson Chen (The New Lines), Matt Schulz (Enon, Holy Fuck, SAVAK) and vocalist Allison Brice, are back with their second album. If they’re new to you: the band’s sound is baroque, jazzy and clinical. It’s hard not to mention Broadcast when describing them, but there’s a little Cardigans and St. Etienne playfulness in there too, plus Schulz is a real walloper which keeps things from sounding too fragile.
That second album, Birds of America, will be out February 16 via Feral Child Recordings and it betters their very good 2016 debut. There’s more drive to the performances, more ease in their playing, the songs are catchier, and the production and mix (courtesy of Geoff Sanoff) is crisp. The whole record really pops. You can check out first single “One of Your Own” below.
You can catch Lake Ruth live tonight (2/2) in NYC at The Bell House. They’re playing the Frontier Room (the front/outer bar) and their six-piece live lineup includes René Dennis (The New Lines), Sohrab Habibion (Obits, SAVAK) and David Mason (Listening Center). The Galaxy Electric are also on the bill and The Big Takeover’s Jack Rabid will be DJing between sets and tickets are on sale.