After a month of Fridays featuring countless new albums, we're finally given a little break. Just kidding, the overload continues and this week's reviews include: Bill Callahan's wonderful YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я , the second of three King Gizzard albums out this month, the first Lightning Seeds album in 11 years, two terrific shoegaze/dreampop groups (Poster Paints, Winter), Montreal trip-hop-y duo Lesser Evil, Ecstatic International (Priests, Ex Hex), The Reds Pinks & Purples, and former Princeton co-leader Matt Kivel.

If you think that's a lot, Andrew reviews 17 albums (!!!) in Notable Releases this week, including Plains (Katie Crutchfield & Jess Williamson), Denitia, Mykki Blanco, The 1975 and more.

More Basement-friendly news: Beat Happening are reissuing all their albums on vinyl; NIna Hagen announced her first album in 16 years; A Certain Ratio announced a new album; so did Dougie Poole and Meg Baird; there are new Cure songs to listen to (live from YouTube); SAULT dropped a new EP;  and The Moldy Peaches are reuniting to play the Meet Me in the Bathroom premiere in...LA!?!?

Be sure to visit the Indie Basement section of the BV shop, that's stocked with vinyl and merch from Pavement, Wet Leg, Parquet Courts, Beach House, Broadcast, Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian, Talking Heads, Spoon, Lilys, Cocteau Twins, Can, Dinosaur Jr and lots, lots more.

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Bill Callahan - YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я (Drag City)
Bill Callahan holds a mirror up to the world on this politically minded but warm and inviting double album

"Listening to this record takes one hour," Bill Callahan wrote in a letter announcing his wonderful new album YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я. "An hour sounds like a year to me these days. Taking an hour of someone's life. I fault the internet. I fault ourselves for falling for the internet. An hour is actually lovely, nothing, a lifetime. You have to live that lifetime though in order to appreciate the hour. I'm not suggesting people must listen to this record all the way through in one sitting. It IS sequenced for that particular purpose, though, in case anyone wants to."

YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я is an album about slowing down, unplugging, waking up, and looking at things with clear eyes, as Callahan faces fatherhood, mortality and an increasingly fractured, tech-reliant society. A songwriter known for sardonic, bleak humor, Bill is not exactly sunny here but more of a straight-shooter, seeing the world as it is (or as he sees it), but hoping for change or revolution. In someone else's hands, YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я could be preachy but he's more like a play-by-play and color commentator all in one, shooting straight while backed by Emmett Kelly, Jim White, Matt Kinsey and Sarah Ann Phillips for one of the more lively, band-oriented albums he's made in some time.

“The coyotes are getting bolder,” he sings on the wise, affecting "Coyotes" that seems to be about the US political climate. “They come to watch the dog sleep." Callahan's songs are also poetic enough to take multiple, wildly different interpretations: is twangy closer "Last One at the Party" about Donald Trump or David Berman, or autobiographical? His warm, weathered baritone draws you in close, but he never tells you what to think. A record that earns its hour length with ease and rewards repeat listens, YTI​⅃​A​Ǝ​Я holds up a mirror to our world but lets us make our own decisions.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Laminated Denim (KGLW)
Created as intermission music for their recent Red Rocks shows, King Gizzard create a compelling, wigged out countdown clock on their second of three October albums

October is King Gizzard month, with the Australian band touring the hell out of North America and dropping three albums this month. Laminated Denim is the second of those and has an interesting backstory. Way back in 2019, the band announced two shows at Red Rocks that would happen the next year, where each would feature three hour sets with no repeat songs across both. For the intermissions between 90-minute sets, they created two songs, each exactly 15 minutes each. But as the pandemic postponed those shows repeatedly, King Gizzard got frustrated with sitting on these tracks and released it as Made in Timeland earlier this year. But then they didn't want to use songs that were already released for the Red Rocks shows, so they made two new 15-minute songs which were played at the shows' intermissions on October 10 & 11, and released them as Laminated Denim (an anagram of "Made in Timeland") the next day (this album, this week). Not only are King Gizzard wildly prolific -- this is their 22nd album and one of five this year -- but they also don't half-ass anything. "The Land Before Timeland" and "Hypertension" are jammy but compelling, with hooks, twists and turns and lots of freaky wig-outs woven into their marathon running-times. Maybe not a starting point for the uninitiated but definitely not just bathroom break music, either.

Grab King Gizzard vinyl in the BV shop.

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LESSER EVIL SUBTERRANEAN
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Lesser Evil - Subterranean (self-released)
Debut album from Montreal duo delivers eerie trip hop vibes

Montreal electronic duo Lesser Evil -- aka Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux (Chocolat) and Ariane M -- released their terrific debut EP back in 2018, full of dark, mysterious and alluring sounds that pulled influences from a lot of the same places that '90s trip hop did, but they put their own spin on it. Four years later, they've finally released their full-length debut which delivers on the EP's eerie promise. Chirstophe avoids the obvious touchstones -- namely '60s/'70s soundtrack and sampling in general -- but gets the mood just right, with layers of unsettling analogue synthesizers that spread out like fog over jazzy, understated grooves. Ariane brings subtle cool with her vocals that are perfect for the surreal, alien world they've created. Lesser Evil are a less-is-more kind of band but they show their hand on "Fiction," "Contemplate," and "Wandering" which are knockouts. But you need the build-up to let those songs hit you hard. The suspense is terrible on Subterranean and you want it to last.

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Poster Paints - Poster Paints (Ernest Jenning Record Co / Olive Grove Records)
Duo featuring members of Frightened Rabbit and The Vaselines mine Glasgow indiepop for gold on their terrific debut album

Formed during the pandemic by Frightened Rabbit guitarist Simon Liddell (he was a touring FR member before joining the band as a full contributing member in 2014) and singer-songwriter (and current Vaselines keyboardist) Carla J Easton, Poster Paints explore the duo's love of the Glasgow indie scene they grew up with, as well as shoegaze and dreampop. Their debut album executes the difficult trick of copping to their influences while doing something new with them. The Sundays come to mind most readily -- Easton sounds more than a little like Harriet Wheeler -- but they never stoop to imitation, mixing a few different styles for a distinctive sound that also dips into soul and R&B. It helps that the songs are great. They wisely include "Number One," which was released as a 7" in 2021 and then again on their EP from earlier this year; it's one those "in another world this would be a #1 Smash" kind of song that deserves to get in front of as many ears as possible. (Same for "Never Saw it Coming" which was also on the EP.) "Falling Hard," "Not Sorry" and gorgeous closer "My Song" are nearly as good. This accidental duo has made a great album. Some things are just meant to be.

Winter What Kind Of Blue Are You?
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Winter - What Kind Of Blue Are You? (Bar/None)

If you need more shimmering, shoegazy dreampop, Winter is here in early fall with her second album. Even more than Poster Paints, Samira Winter wears her influences like band badges on a cardigan: there's a song called "Sunday" (I can be sure why it's titled that); "Crimson Enclosure" (seriously great title) and "Atonement" (ft. Hatchie) borrow from different parts of Isn't Anything and Loveless; and Cocteau Twins cast a shadow over most of the album. But memorable songs are at the core of What Kind Of Blue Are You? and Samira, with producer Joo Joo Ashworth, nail the sonics. As the guitar haze lifts, the melodies stay with you.

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Lightning Seeds - See You in the Stars (BMG)
The Specials' Terry Hall & The Coral's James Skelly assist on the "Pure" hitmakers' first album in 11 years

There's a familiar brassy synth line on "Green Eyes," one of the many catchy songs on the Lightning Seeds' first album in 11 years, deliberately echoing the group's debut single, "Pure," which was a worldwide hit in 1989 (even the US). It's a knowing nod from Ian Broadie, who is the Lightning Seeds, letting fans know they're in safe hands and familiar territory.

"Pure" might be the only song Americans are really familiar with but The Lightning Seeds have over a dozen hits in the UK, including football anthem "Three Lions" which has gone to #1 three separate times (1996, 1998 and 2018). Broadie is also important on his own, having been a member of Liverpool's Big in Japan along with Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and Bill Drummond (The KLF), and his producer CV includes Echo & the Bunnymen's Crocodiles and Porcupine, The Fall's I Am Kurious Oranj, Sleeper's Smart, most of The Coral's albums, and more.

Enough history lesson. Broadie is not reinventing the wheel on See You In the Stars, and that's just fine. These are the same sort of sweet, midtempo love songs -- played with a mix of guitars and synthesizers and given bright, colorful, orchestral arrangements -- he's been making his whole career. The production is nicely subdued, especially compared to some of their glossy '90s records, and Broadie brought in some old friends and collaborators as well. Terry Hall (The Specials, Fun Boy Three) co-wrote the album's lead earworm, "Emily Smiles," and provides backing vocals on the baroque, giddy "Sunshine," while The Coral's James Skelly co-wrote two of the best songs, "Great to Be Alive" and "Live to Love You." See You in the Stars goes down smooth and delivers what you want from a LIghtning Seeds album, pure and simple, every time.

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The Reds, Pinks & Purples - They Only Wanted Your Soul
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The Reds, Pinks & Purples - They Only Wanted Your Soul (Slumberland)
Glenn Donaldson's prolific, gloomy indiepop project collects loose odds and ends on this worthy comp 

Glenn Donaldson has been giving the Oh Sees, King Gizzard, and Guided by Voices a run for their money in the last few years, in the race to release the most records in the shortest amount of time with his The Reds, Pinks & Purples indiepop project. Having put out a bunch of singles and EPs in addition to many albums, he collects the odds and ends on They Only Wanted Your Soul, including the project's debut, the hard-to-find I Should Have Helped You EP that was released on Swedish label I Dischi Del Barone in 2020. Donaldson has maintained a remarkably consistent aesthetic, from the cover art featuring San Francisco architecture, to the feelin' gloomy romance and minor chord jangle of the songs. This sounds as cohesive as any of the group's "proper" albums. It includes seasonally disaffected holiday tune "We Won't Come Home at Christmas Time," and what might be the ultimate RPPs song, "Saw You at the Record Shop Today," that's a tale of mild stalkerism set against references to Buzzcocks and Husker Du, acoustic guitars and congas. What more could you want?

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Matt Kivel - bend reality ~ like a wave (Pedro Y El Lobo)
This Princeton grad's latest solo release is enlivened by Bonnie "Prince" Billy on three songs 

Matt Kivel used to lead Princeton with his brother Jesse, and has been pursuing a solo career for the last decade which has moved him beyond the indiepop of his former band into more experimental, folky territory. bend reality ~ like a wave is the first album Matt's made since moving from NY to Austin, and his first in a while to feature a full band. Three songs feature Bonnie "Prince" Billy -- "amagansett," "the clearing" and "find love" -- and Matt's fragile vocal style blends perfectly with Will Oldham's. While those are the album's clear highlights, the rest of the record, especially the gorgeous "until the end," are not too far behind. There's a warm, comfortable, laid back feel to these 11 songs that feel as casual as the lower case titles they're given, making this a perfect autumn album.

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Ecstatic International - EP (Sister Polygon)
Debut EP from DC band featuring members of Priests and Ex Hex

Former Priests guitarist G.L. Jaguar and Ex Hex's Laura Harris formed Ecstatic International during the pandemic, drafting in Nikhil Rao (Bottled Up), Anno Nasty (Olivia Neutron-John), and Jacky Cougar Abok (Des Demonas) to round out the DC-based group. Those familiar with Harris and Jaguar's other projects will not be surprised to learn that here they make nervy, synthy, danceable new wave/post-punk inspired rock, and nor should they be surprised to learn that their debut EP is pretty terrific. The record opens with "High Violence," whose simmering, funky groove is powered by congas, a slithering bassline and a muted disco riff that brings itself to a boil in the chorus. After years of bands being influenced by Gang of Four's Entertainment, here's one for fans of Songs of the Free.

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