This is the last week of new releases for 2021, for the most part (at least for stuff covered in this column), so this may be the last regular Indie Basement of the year, with list-o-mania -- shout out Phoenix, shout out Franz Liszt, shout out Roger Daltrey -- still to come, of course. But until then, this week I look at new albums from Bill Callahan & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Deep Throat Choir, plus new vinyl reissues from The New Pornographers and The Long Blondes.

It's a busier week in Notable Releases, though, with Andrew giving his two cents on new albums from Aeon Station (Kevin Whelan of The Wrens) Neil Young, Tierra Whack and more. Though there are not that many releases this week, it was a busy news week and Indie Basement adjacents stories include: King Hannah are playing Brooklyn before SXSW and BrooklynVegan is presenting the show;  Beach House released four more trippy tracks from Once Twice Melody; Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson turned up in Olivia Colman's new HBO series, Landscapers; Superchunk announced a new album; plus so many tour announcements (Hot Chip, Tame Impala, The Cure, Bjork, Helado NegroThe Lilys). Also: I went to Wet Leg's first U.S. show and they were great!

What else? I'll remind you that there is an Indie Basement section in the BrooklynVegan shop that is full of vinyl and books, all hand-picked by me, and we've also got an end-of-year  Indie Basement Vinyl Bundle featuring four great records at a discounted price. You get: My Bloody Valentine's repress of 2013's mbvSpiritualized's new reissue of Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in spaceJarvis Cocker's Chansons d'Ennui Tip Top (his French covers album companion to Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch), and our exclusive amber vinyl variant of A Certain Ratio's ACR:EPR (only 250 made worldwide). It's $124 worth of records for $109, grab yours today!

Ok that's it for now. Head below for this week's reviews.

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Bill Callahan & Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Blind Date Party (Drag City)

The Bills' collaborative covers series, featuring a lot of cool artists, gets a physical release.

For about six months during the pandemic, Bill Callahan and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy were releasing a collaborative cover every week, and each one of them featured a third collaborator from the Drag City family who produced and created the backing track. They covered everything from John Prine. Leonard Cohen and Silver Jews to Iggy Pop, Steely Dan and Billie Eilish, and they worked with David Pajo, Sir Richard Bishop, Meg Baird, Wand's Cory Hanson, High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan, Bill MacKay, Matt Sweeney, and more. If you wished all these covers would all be released as one big album in physical formats, well, here you go. The 19 covers here range from good to great and while the style varies from track to track, thanks to the wide variety of collaborators involved, Blind Date Party holds together as an album thanks to Callahan and Oldham's voices.

Some highlights: a delicate acoustic take on Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" featuring Bill MacKay; Mick Turner's swaggering assist on Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song"; the sax-and-synth weirdness of Ty Segall's production on Johnnie Frierson’s outsider Memphis gospel track "Miracles"; Air Supply's "Lost in Love" turned into minimal folk with Emmett Kelly; a gorgeous, twangy read on Jerry Jeff Walker's "The Night Rider's Lament" with Cory Hanson; an all-electronic version of Oldham's "Arise, Therefore" with Six Organs of Admittance; Cooper Crain (Bitchin Bajas)'s electronic dub pop direction on Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Go to the Beach"; and a wonderful version of Silver Jews' "The Wild Kindness" that becomes a Drag City tribute to the late David Berman featuring Cassie Berman, David Pajo, Matt Sweeney, Meg Baird, and more.

My favorite, though, is their version of Billie Eilish's "Wish You Were Gay" which was produced by The High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan who turns the song into a glitchy, fizzy tropicalia duet. It's so good I wish O'Hagan, Callahan and Oldham would make an album together. While I also wish Covid had never happened, going through it was a little easier thanks to these unexpected weekly drops from the Bills.

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Deep Throat Choir - In Order to Know You (Bella Union)
UK female and non-binary vocal collective expand their sound wonderfully on their second album

If the idea of a vocal chorus, even an indie one, with over a dozen members stirs up cringey moments from high school or college, Deep Throat Choir are here to implant new memories. (Not that you should cringe from memories of high school chorus but, you know.) The UK female and non-binary vocal collective led by Landshapes' Luisa Gerstein began life as a strictly live project, with 20+ voices (including members of Stealing Sheep and Peggy Sue) and mainly playing UK festivals like Green Man and End of the Road where they were often the highlight of the day. DTC's particularly diaphanous combination of voices turned out to be perfect for dance music and they were soon drafted for collaborations with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Horse Meat Disco, and Simian Mobile Disco who made a whole album with them. Deep Throat Choir also released their own album, 2017's Be OK, that featured their unique interpretations of songs by Bjork, Electrelane and more along with a few promising originals that relied only on voice and percussion

Three years since their Simian Mobile Disco collab, Deep Throat Choir are back with their second album, In Order to Know You, that features all original songs. “Having been singing together for five-plus years, and having released an album of mostly covers, it felt like the logical next step to make our own music together,” says Gerstein. “Sonically, I wanted to move beyond just voices and percussion, to see what richness could be brought with instruments and electronics, and to transition from a choir that does covers to a band with loads of vocalists.” Gerstein collaborated on songs with Tanya Auclair, Liv Stones, Holly Holden, Elly Condron, Miryam Solomon, Fikir Assefa, Maddie Rix, Rosa Slade, Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, and Fran Lobo, who at times take lead vocals on the songs.

Where the first record had a definite, albeit very listentable, novelty factor, In Order to Know You integrates their voices into the lush arrangements that are full of horns, strings, piano and keyboards. It's gorgeous stuff, like the "oooohs" on "Patience" that mingle with electric piano and pizzicato strings; the heavily electronic "Camile" that swoops and ascends on spine-tingling harmonies; or the swooning title track that leans toward '70s soul. Even though it's right there in their name it might take you a few songs to realize the whole "choir" part, but by then you're entranced.

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The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic 20th Anniversary Edition (Matador)
Carl Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bajar's first album together gets a nice new vinyl pressing, complete with a bonus 7"

The New Pornographers' debut album, Mass Romantic came out in Canada in 2000 but it didn't get a U.S. release till Matador put it out in 2002. Splitting the difference between release dates, Matador just gave the album a 20th anniversary edition as part of its Revisionist History series. Here's my write-up of the album from the Indie Basement Best of 2000 list:

They may be the Carl Newman Show these days, but The New Pornographers started off as a true collaborative supergroup, with Newman (previously of Zumpano), Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Neko Case all writing songs, often together, played with a band that also included members of Limblifter and Nardwuar's band, The Evaporators. "How could we lose," Newman told Pitchfork on their formation. "You could just take some interesting elements and put them together. Even taking myself out of the picture, when I looked at the band I just thought, 'This band's got to be great.'" He was definitely right, and their debut album, recorded over a three-year period, is a modern guitar pop classic where every song is a potential single.

The new edition comes on red vinyl to match the cover art, and also comes with a bonus 7" single featuring album standout "Letter from an Occupant" plus two rare b-sides: Carl Newman's “The End of Medicine” and a cover of “When I Was a Baby,” by Sam Coombs' '80s band The Donner Party, as b-sides. Get a copy here.

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The Long Blondes - Someone To Drive You Home 15th Anniversary Edition (Rough Trade)
The Sheffield band's underappreciated 2006 debut gets a great vinyl reissue, complete with a second LP's worth of b-sides.

The year 2006 was a big year for Sheffield music. The Arctic Monkeys released their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, Jarvis Cocker went solo with The Jarvis Cocker Album, and The Long Blondes finally released their first album. It was a long time coming for The Long Blondes, too, who formed in 2003 and seemed to absorb the previous 15 years of post-punk and scrappy indie to create their own shabby chic strain that was indebted to the cinema and especially their hometown scene, from Pulp to Cabaret Voltaire to ABC. It was clear that frontwoman Kate Jackson had studied her idols but was an original and magnetic frontperson of her own creation.

The Long Blondes really threw their hat in the ring with 2004's "Giddy Stratospheres" that was among the best from a year that was filthy with indie disco bangers*. The band dripped out other great singles -- "Appropriation (By Any Other Name)," "Separated by Motorways" -- then signed to Rough Trade, and finally got down to making their debut album with Pulp's Steve Mackey as producer. (Jarvis, though a clear inspiration on Jackson, was not so much a fan.) Nearly three years after their first EP, The Long Blondes dropped Someone To Drive You Home at the end of 2006. It was worth the wait. Mackey and the band didn't mess up the previous singles with the new recordings, and the album featured a whole bunch of other great tracks, including "Only Lovers Left Alive," "A Weekend Without Makeup," "Lust in the Movies," "In the Company of Women," and "Once and Never Again." While the production was great, spitting the difference between scrappy and shiny, the real star was Jackson, who manages to sound commanding, defiant and vulnerable on the band's vivid vignettes of romantic angst, boredom, ennui and the silver screen.

For the album's 15th anniversary, Rough Trade have reissued it as a double LP set, with the original album, remastered, on the first disc and 11 b-sides on the second disc. Some of those -- "Fulwood Babylon," "Five Ways to End It," "Never to Be Repeated" -- were a little more adventurous than the album tracks, dabbling more explicitly in disco and synthesizers and are as good if not better than some of the songs on the album. I think it actually works as its own album and it's great to have these all in one place.

The Long Blondes made one more album, 2008's Couples, but dissolved later than year when guitarist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke just after finishing a tour. He nearly joined the 27 Club, but fought hard to recover and has now lived to tell the tale, literally -- his memoir, I Heard The Strokes Before You: Notes from the unremembered '00s Indie scene, is due next year.

*Some of the other 2004 contenders: Art Brut's "Formed a Band," Johnny Boy's "You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve," Futureheads' "Decent Days and Nights," Bloc Party's "Banquet," Interpol's "Slow Hands," Les Savy Fav's "The Sweat Descends," Soulwax's "NY Excuse," The Walkmen's "The Rat," and LCD Soundsystem's "Yeah." I could go on, what a year!

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And check out what's new in our shop (including the new Indie Basement Vinyl Bundle).

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Indie Basement: 20 Favorite Albums of the Year 2000 (Alphabetical Order)