Indie Basement (6/11): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
This week in the Basement: King Gizzard take their wildest left turn yet (pop music) on Butterfly 3000; Cold Cave release their first album in 10 years; The Scientists release their first album in 35 years (!); Sloan drop a second volume of their B-Sides Win series; and Bertrand Burgalat is living the dream on new album Rêve Capital.
If you need more new album reviews, Andrew tackles Sleater-Kinney and more in Notable Releases. For more Basement-approved struff from this week (it was very busy) there's: Arab Strap released a new version of "Fable of the Urban Fox"; The Goon Sax shared another great song from their upcoming Matador debut; SUUNS announced a new album; and both Bobby Gillespie and Will Sergeant's memoirs are coming out this fall via Third Man. Plus: your favorite band probably announced a tour.
Have a lovely weekend and head below for this week's reviews.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard - Butterfly 3000 (KGLW)
Prolific Aussies make their most surprising left turn yet -- pop music.
Three things come to mind instantly when I think of Australia's King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: they are wildly prolific (2017 saw five albums), they are an incredible, indefatigable live band, and there doesn't seem to be a genre they're afraid to try on for an album. While early records were decidedly Oh Sees-style garage-psych, King Gizzard have dabbled in metal, Eastern microtonal music, shuffling glam and more. Butterfly 3000, which they just dropped without sharing any pre-release music, at first seems to be their biggest left turn yet, driving straight into festival friendly indiepop. Every song is in a major key, guitar riffage takes a backseat to bright synthesizer arpeggiations, tempos slow to optimal mass-arm-waving speeds, and choruses are bigger and more immediate.
The more you listen, though, the more the inner Gizzard-ness of it all starts to emerge across these 10 interconnected tracks with a few recurring musical motifs. The band are still using cyclical riffs and mirroring them with vocal melodies, still driving things with motorik rhythms (just a little slower), and the shouts are still exuberant "Woo!s" that are far from Millennial Whoop territory. You could imagine earworm head-bobbers "Interior People" and "Catching Smoke" working as more traditional KG jammers, but the verdant, electronic production feels more like their natural habitat. King Gizzard are populating a world and Butterfly 3000 is just one of the many subspecies.
The album's artwork, by the way, is one of those old-school 3D images you have to cross your eyes to see. Check that out and the album, below.
Cold Cave - Fate in Seven Lessons (Heartworm Press)
First album in a decade from Cold Cave still finds Wes Eisold cribbing from his heroes (a good thing)
Wes Eisold does not wear his influences on his sleeve; he pins them to the front of his jacket like post-punk badges. Most of those badges are in black and white with a gothic font -- be it the clean lines of Franklin Gothic or, you know, gothy gothic -- featuring bands that got played constantly on KROQ and WLIR in the '80s. But he steals with style, as can be heard on Fate in Seven Lessons, his first Cold Cave album since 2011's Cherish the Light Years. (He's released a number of singles over the last decade, though.) Eisold knows what he's doing, knows these sounds inside and out, and knows how to put them to good use -- be it the magic combo of strummed minor chords on acoustic guitars and synthesizers ("Love is All"), rolling synth bass and canyon-sized drums ("Psalm 23"), or basslines pounded out on the lower end of a piano ("Promised Land"). He's also got one of the great goth voices, low and dripping with melodrama, perfect for bellowing out lines like "In life we love, in death we dance." You could spend the entire time listening to this record just pointing out the obvious influences -- there's a lot of Depeche Mode and New Order this time -- but it's more fun just to go with it, as Wes recontextualizes riffs ripped off from "Strangelove" and "Temptation" into his own gloriously gloomy bangers.
Bertrand Burgalat - Rêve Capital (Tricatel)
Life is a dream on French stylist Bertrand Burgalat's latest elegant soiree.
Bertrand Burgalat got his start in the early '90s as an arranger, getting his first big break working with Mick Harvey on the Serge Gainsbourg tribute album Intoxicated Man, and soon found himself working with everyone from Nick Cave to Toby Dammit to Ladytron and Air. He started his own label, Tricatel, and put out records by April March, Etienne Charry, Eggstone, The High Llamas and, more recently, Chassol, as well as his own albums. His finely tuned aesthetic -- suave, sophisticated, pop -- can be felt on everything he's involved in and, in the case of his own music, add to that a very French touch informed by everything from Gainsbourg to Space to Stereolab, not to mention the '90s Paris resurgence of which he was a part. Rêve Capital is Bertrand's sixth proper studio album (he has many collaborations and soundtracks as well) and is another invitation to a chic soiree where attendees are dressed for a yacht but the festivities rumble with with a subversive, anarchic spirit. (There is also plenty of funky fromage at this party.) Like everything Bertrand is a part of, the album sounds immaculate and amazing -- big, groovy basslines, trippy analogue synths, sweeping strings, disco guitar, "bah bah bah" choruses that you don't need a French phrasebook to understand. Get down politely on tracks like "Du haut du 33e étage," "Parallèles," and "L'homme idéal," while "Spectacle du monde," "L'attente," and the dreamy title track luxuriate in a sonic bath that will take you further than epsom salts ever could. If you need to up the party vibes a little, there are a bunch of bonus tracks, including two killer remixes of "L'homme idéal" by Yuksek and a cover of "Du haut du 33e étage" by Charles Dollé. Perfect for your next fondue party. Ascot required.
In addition to the new album, Tricatel is also reissuing Bertrand's fantastic 2000 debut, The Sssound of Mmmusic, on vinyl. You can pick them both up for one special price that also comes with the 244 page Tricatel Universalis book. Shipping from France might hurt, though.
The Scientists’ - Negativity (In the Red)
First album in 35 years from these Aussie garage punk legends is a blast
Australian punk and proto-grunge cult heroes The Scientists, who formed back in 1978 and broke up in 1987, got back together in 2007 and have been going ever since with charismatic frontman Kim Salmon still leading the charge. The band played their first-ever US shows in 2018, put out an EP in 2019 and are now back with their first new album in 35 years. It's a blast. With a lineup that includes lead guitarist Tony Thewlis and bassist Boris Sujdovic, who were all in The Scientists' 1981-85 incarnation, and drummer Leanne Cowie, who joined for their 1986 release Weird Love, The Scientists have basically picked up where they left off. Kim Salmon's voice has gotten deeper and more gruff in the last 35 years and The Scientists make the most of it and lean into their snarling garagey side even more, with rave-ups like "Safe" and the hilarious, braggadocious "The Science of Suave" ("How did I ever get so fucking suave?," Kim asks). The members were already far-flung across the globe, so they were pandemic ready when it came to recording remotely, and yet Negativity sounds as shambolic and freewheelin' as if it had been made in a bar after a long day of partying. The Scientists are rough but ready and still oozing boozy swagger.
Sloan - B Sides Win Vol.2 (1998-2001) (Murderecords)
The second volume of Sloan's b-sides compilation series covers the millenium era that gave us 'Navy Blues,' 'Between the Bridges,' and 'Pretty Together'
Last November, Canadian rock greats and Indie Basement Hall of Famers Sloan released B Sides Win Vol 1, which collected single b-sides from 1992 to 1997. They're now back with Vol 2 which features b-sides from 1998 to 2001, covering the era of the band that gave us albums Navy Blues, Between the Bridges and Pretty Together. You can order it now and there are only 1200 copies pressed worldwide.
Jay Ferguson notes, "the non-LP status should not be a gauge of quality. Even 'Revolution' by the Beatles and 'You Can’t Always Get What You Want' by the Rolling Stones were on the b-side! Now, I’m not saying 'At The Edge of The Scene' will be automatically granted heavy rotation status on classic rock stations in the year 2045, but I like to think that there are still many quality tracks amongst our non-LP songs that encourage second listens."
There are indeed some heavy rotation worth songs here, including Chris Murphy's great "Summer is My Season," Patrick Pentland's riffy "Glad to Be Here," Andrew Scott's "Helen" and the multi-part "At the Edge of the Scene." There's also a couple radio sessions and Russian Futurists' ambient version of Jay Ferguson's Pretty Together ballad "Are You Giving Me Back My Love?" The album is housed in a heavy-duty tip-on jacket, with lyrics and commentary on the inner sleeve and has been pressed on purple translucent vinyl. This won't be on streaming services, either, but you can check out "Summer is My Season":
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