Welcome to the fall! September has been nonstop from the jump, and this week doesn't let up. I review eight new albums this week: Beth Orton's gorgeous Weather Alive; Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré's tribute to Ali Farka Touré; Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess' sprawling, messy but terrific double album Typical Music; onetime Muncie Girls leader Lande Hekt's second solo album; The Casual Dots' first new album in 18 years; Justin Broadrick's first Pale Sketcher album in nearly a decade; The Soft Moon's expansive Exister; and a 50th Anniversary tribute to Neu! featuring IDLES, The National, members of New Order and Hot Chip, and more.

It's another big week in Notable Releases too as Andrew reviews new albums from The Comet Is Coming, Protoje, Nikki Lane, Makaya McCraven, Chris Canterbury and more.

If you need more Basement-approved stuff from the week, there is lots: The Lightning Seeds' first album in 13 years features songs co-written with Terry Hall and The Coral's James Skelly; µ-Ziq is gearing up to release his third record of 2022; members of REM, Posies and dB's are teaming up with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens to play #1 Record on tour; Spoon are releasing a dub version of Lucifer on the Sofa made with On-U Sound's Adrian Sherwood; and Montreal duo Lesser Evil have finally announced their debut album.

I also looked back on my favorite Stereolab album by a mile, Dots and Loops, for its 25th anniversary, and you can read my reviews of Beak> and Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul shows I caught this week.

Speaking of shows, if you live in NYC there are too many great options but our daily What's Going On? list can help you sort through it. Seriously look at this Friday night in New York City we've got here.

Rest in peace, Anton Fier.

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

Head below.


ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Beth Orton - Weather Alive (Partisan)
Working with an ace band of improvisers, Beth Orton makes one of the most distinctive albums of her 25+ year career

Having gotten her start in the early '90s working with William Orbit, Red Snapper and The Chemical Brothers, Beth Orton was adding electronics to folk music before "folktronica" became a term no one wanted to be associated with. She was also more subtle at it than most, using production techniques and synthesizers to add atmosphere, not as a spotlight element. Her debut album, Trailer Park, is a classic and she rode that same easy groove for a long time before making a big left turn with 2016's Kidsticks that paired her with Andrew Hung of Fuck Buttons and put synths way up front. Six years later, Orton has made another left turn with Weather Alive that puts her finally, fully behind the wheel and steering into gorgeous sunset territory.

Weather Alive gives Orton sole producer's credit for the first time in her career, and for it she gathered a formidable band to help her realize her vision: drummer Tom Skinner (The Smile, Sons of Kemet), multi instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and bassist Tom Herbert (The Invisible), along with contributions from jazz poet Alabaster dePlume, her old Red Snapper collaborator Ali Friend and A Winged Victory for the Sullen's Dustin O'Halloran.

Beth says most songs were conceived with only piano backing, but with this group of players they've grown much bigger, with jazzy arrangements that somehow sound both spare and as big as the sky. Anyone who's heard Trailer Park or Central Reservation knows Beth's voice and melodies sound especially good with lots of space and here she's given herself ample headroom. Beth really stretches out for some of her most personal, vulnerable work yet and her voice, emotive and fragile, holds the center.

Skinner, Ismaily and Herbert are all skilled improvisers, and these songs feel loose and free, with saxophone floating in quietly, and vibraphone lightly coloring much of the album. Orton's piano is there too, circling around in the ether, and Weather Alive compares easily to Talk Talk's final two albums, in vibe at least. There is great care in these songs that can feel formless and flowing, in a way you're happy to let carry you. As Orton said in the press materials, "It’s not a finished masterpiece, it is a collaboration with time, of someone struggling to make sense. And in that struggle, something beautiful got made.”

Pick up Weather Alive on Clear vinyl



Khruangbin & Vieux Farka Touré - Ali (Dead Oceans)
The Texas groovemeisters join forces with Vieux Farka Touré to bring new life to songs by his father, Ali, for a best of both worlds album

This is a real Reese's Cup record, two great tastes that taste great together: Vieux Farka Touré performing the songs of his late father, Ali Farka Touré, backed by Texas trio Khruangbin. Vieux is no slouch on guitar, just like his dad, and he fits right in with Khruangbin's chill, groovy vibe. Khruangbin, meanwhile, clearly owe much sonic debt to Ali Farka Touré, so it's a nice opportunity to both pay it forward and, as the band say, "enlighten more people to Ali's musical legacy."

Khruangbin are really proving themselves to be master collaborators; their records with Leon Bridges are among the most entertaining either have done, and now Ali is another high point. (They are less successful at their own attempts to sing on records.) Vieux's voice, Ali's songs, and the in-the-pocket slink of Khruangbin's style is hard to resist. “I want this album to convey love," adds Vieux. "It is about the love that Ali brought into the world. It is about the love that I have for him and that Khruangbin has for his music. It is about pouring your love into something old to make it new again.” Mission accomplished.

Pick up a copy on green vinyl.


NEU - 50

NEU! - NEU! Tribute Album (Grönland)
Members of The National, Hot Chip, New Order Factory Floor and more remix, rework and cover Neu! songs as a bonus album for the komische icons' 50th anniversary box set

German band Neu!'s influence on post-punk/alt-rock/prog/metal/indie/electronica is hard to overstate. The motorik grooves that former Kraftwerk members Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother created on their three '70s albums have been so copied and incorporated into "popular" music, they might not seem quiet as innovative now as they did in the early '70s, but suffice to say Radiohead, Stereolab, New Order, Tame Impala, and any band who ever played ATP or other psych festivals would probably not sound the way they do without them.

To celebrate Neu!'s 50th anniversary, Grönland Records have released a box set with the band's original three albums -- NEU!, NEU! 2!, and NEU! 75 -- which speak for themselves, along with NEU! Tribute Album that features The National, IDLES, Man Man, Mogwai, Guerilla Toss, Alexis Taylor, Yann Tiersen, They Hate Change, and more either remixing, reworking or covering classic Neu! songs. Chances are if you like Neu! or some of the artists appearing on this tribute, you are going to dig this, but both the curation and tracks presented here are impressive and varied (while staying within the realm of what you might expect).

The National take the ambient "Im Glück" (from Neu!'s 1972 debut album) and add a motorik beat to it, turning it into more of a cinematic -- and more characteristically Neu! -- piece; Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor slows "Wave Mother" (from Neu! '86 which is not part of this box) to a crawl and turns it into a new mournful ballad, "4+1=5"; both Mogwai and Man Man put new and totally different spins on "Super"; IDLES rip "Negativland" to shreds; New Order's Stephen Morris and Factory Floor's Gabe Gurnsey send classic "Hallogallo" to the club; and Guerilla Toss write an entirely new song inspired by Neu!, the glittering spacerock number "Zum Herz." Even if NEU! Tribute Album is a lot to listen to as an album, theses artists all channel Dinger and Rother's creative spirit in inspired ways.

Pre-order the entire box set on vinyl.



Tim Burgess - Typical Music (Bella Union)
The Charlatans' frontman luxuriates is messiness with this dizzying and often great double album

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans kept busy during the pandemic with his Twitter Listening Parties, where people around the world hit "play" at the same time on classic albums while those who made those albums shared anecdotes via tweets. A side effect of that positive connectivity he helped create: it reignited Burgess' own creative spirit and found him wanting to really explore Tim Burgess the solo artist. Mind you, Typical Music is his sixth album outside the confines of The Charlatans, so he's been exploring it for a while, but you can feel a difference here. Having written dozens of songs during lockdown, he went to Wales' famed Rockfield Studios (where The Charlatans made 1997's Tellin' Stories) with regular collaborators Daniel O’Sullivan and the great Thighpaulsandra (Julian Cope, Coil, Spiritualized) and set to recording them. Instead of pairing things down to a 10-track album, Burgess decided to put them all out as a 22-track, 90-minute double album.

"I wanted to give people everything that I’d done," Tim says. "Every idea was treated as if it was the best thing and had to be treated with extreme care. I wanted to give everything of myself. That was it." It's a lot, but Typical Music is a joy, even if it's stylistic swerves are dizzying. The album opens with "Here Comes the Weekend," which is organ-fueled twee indiepop and from there he bounces around styles with giddy abandon, from folky Tropicalia, to dancepop, spaghetti western psych, winsome piano-forward pop, soaring synth-rock, freaky wig-outs and more. Typical Music may be best digested in side-long chunks but I wouldn't want to lose a thing. Sometimes indulgence is good, and Burgess is clearly having a great time. Who are we to tell him to stop.


the casual dots sanguine truth

The Casual Dots - Sanguine Truth (Ixor Stix)
First album in 18 years from DC trio featuring members of Bikini Kill and Slant-6 was worth the wait

The Casual Dots formed in 2002 and featured a formidable lineup of DC scene mainstays: singer-guitarist Christina Billotte (Autoclave/Slant 6/ Quix*o*tic), guitarist Kathi Wilcox (Bikini Kill, Frumpies) and drummer Steve Dore (Deep Lust). The trio mixed '60s pop and garage with '90s indie and DIY punk for a style that was fun and danceable with lots of attitude and released their self-titled album in 2004 on Kill Rock Stars. They went dormant not long after, but The Casual Dots never exactly broke up, and started playing shows again in the mid-2010s. They were also working on new songs, too, much in the same manner as their debut -- recording at DC's famed (and now closed) Inner Ear Studios with Fugazi's Guy Picciotto producing and Don Zientara engineering. Musically they pick right up like no time has passed, too, jumping out of the gate with "Frequency of Fear," that is nervy, danceable and hooky with a strident, driving beat. There are more songs in this post-punk style -- "Gypsum Mortar," "High Speed Chase," and "The Setting Sunrise" all slash and burn -- but they also shift gears into quieter territory, like lo-fi Brill Building ballad "Live for Yourself" and the spare "Descending." Whether you've been waiting 18 years for this or are completely new to the group, Sanguine Truth is terrific. Just don't wait till 2040 to make another.


Lande Hekt - House Without a View

Lande Hekt - House Without A View (Get Better Records / Prize Sunflower Records)
Former Muncie Girls leader shines with great songs and harmonies on her second solo album

Sometimes with artists you just need the right entry point. Exeter indie punks Muncie Girls passed me by; likewise with singer/bassist Lande Hekt's 2021 solo debut (other BV team members were fans of it, but I missed it). But when Lande, now based out of Brighton, released a fantastic cover of  The Wedding Present's Seamonsters' standout "Octopussy" earlier this year, she had my attention. House Without A View follows in much the path as Going to Hell, full of expertly crafted, jangly indiepop that really showcases what a wonderful songwriter she is. Also, what a voice. Her crystal clear pipes cut through Muncie Girls' fuzzy punk with ease but it's more of a natural fit here where her lilt is given more nuanced backing on these 11 songs that range from acoustic folk-rock to glistening shoegazy numbers to strummy, snarling guitar pop. Her lyrics are vulnerable -- “I’m not someone who works at lightning speed/ I’m not even someone who knows what I need,” she sings on on the jaunty "Backstreet Snow" -- but there is strength in her delivery that makes it clear she's working things out, thank you very much.  Listening to House Without a View, I keep thinking of the late Kirsty MacColl who made similarly smart, tuneful pop 35 years earlier and who also had a way with ethereal harmonies that can lift you six inches off the ground.

Pick up both of her albums on color vinyl.


pale sketcher golden skin

Pale Sketcher - Golden Skin (GIVE/TAKE)
Justin Broadrick revives his trip-hop/jungle/IDM inspired moniker for the first Pale Sketcher release in nearly a decade

Justin Broadrick, who you may know from Godflesh, Jesu, JK Flesh, and many many other projects, also dabbles in trip hop, jungle, and IDM as Pale Sketcher. He hasn't released anything under that moniker since 2013 and Golden Skin is not exactly "new." All the tracks were recorded primarily between 2009-2013 and were originally intended for release on Aphex Twin's Rephlex Records. The label closed shop before the music was finished and the tracks sat on a hard drive for a decade. During lockdown he pulled them out and finished them up and here we are. As you might expect given Broadrick's many interests, the album travels between harsh realms and ethereal netherworlds via slice-and-diced breakbeats and other samples that are sometimes shot at your head like racquetballs. Like all of Broadrick's music, this is meant to be played as loud as possible when those amen breaks and atmospheric drones become more visceral but it also works at slighter lower volumes. The more blunted selections -- like "Heartbeat" and "Hymn for Light" -- are more to my taste than the more manic "braindance" numbers but in a time when trip hop is coming back in style, Golden Skin is a welcome surprise.



The Soft Moon - Exister (Sacred Bones)
Luis Vasquez looks past the confines of previous albums for The Soft Moon's most expansive statement to date

Exister is Luis Vasquez's first Soft Moon album in four years and while he's still working under the gothy dance music umbrella, this is a different record than he's ever made before. Having moved back to California after living in Berlin, Vasquez wrote and recorded the album in Joshua Tree during the pandemic. “I always complained that I never had enough freedom to do everything I wanted,” he says. “This time I literally had everything at my disposal. The whole point of this record was to share every emotion that I feel. No two songs are the same. It’s about existing in the world as a human being and experiencing many emotions and experiences throughout life.” Where previous Soft Moon albums fell into a very rigid style -- driving motorik rhythms, vocals that were like shouted whispers, ghostly effects -- Exister is much bigger sounding, more melodic and, most notably, finds him full-on singing. He really belts it out here on tracks that lean from '90s industrial alt rock to a few that seem like he's been listening to Tears for Fears' The Hurting and lots of Disintegration. Within this diverse set of compelling songs, Vasquez has found his voice and it will be interesting to see which direction he'll continue to head.


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