Indie Basement (1/14): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
And we're back! Welcome to 2022. We're off to a slow start with just four items this week: Molly Nilsson's 10th album; Garcia Peoples' latest (produced by Matt Sweeney); Balkans, the late-'00s band led by Frankie Broyles (Omni, Deerhunter) get their sole album reissued; and Montreal's Elephant Stone have a new EP.
This was an action-packed week for news and announcements, including new albums soon from from Destroyer, Fontaines DC, Aldous Harding, Ride's Andy Bell, Kae Tempest, and Young Prisms. Plus: Pavement finally announced the Terror Twilight deluxe reissue, and Creation Records founder Alan McGee is going on a three-city speaking tour (NYC, LA, SF) that also features bands.
Pick up our exclusive variant of the Fontaines DC album in the shop:
Head below for this week's reviews.
Molly Nilsson - Extreme (Dark Skies Association / Night School)
Swedish singer's 10th album is her most expansive, melodic yet.
The word "extreme" conjures up a lot of things. It's also a relative term that depends on its subject. (That said, my mind turns to Poochie every time.) Swedish-born, Berlin-based singer Molly Nilsson had her style set from her first album: a variety of '80s styles, though predominantly synthpop, with big hooks and and her detached vocal style multi-tracked to sound like a gang. She hasn't strayed too far since but Extreme is probably the furthest she's pushed that sound to date, trying out new shades of grey, and maybe a little blue, on what's previously been a black and white palette. More than anything, Molly is playing off the letter X and all its meanings on Extreme: “X marks the spot, crosses over, literally with a cross," Molly says. "It’s the former, the ex-. The ex-lover known simply as 'an ex.' Ex- is the latin prefix meaning “out”. Exterior, an exit. Extraordinary. Excellent. It’s exciting. Generation X. X-files. X is the unknown. X is Extreme.“
One of the meanings she doesn't mention is the Roman numeral X -- Extreme is her 10th album. And it's very good. Molly is more strident, more anthemic than before, and more fired up, too. "It’s me, vs. the Black hole at the center of the Galaxy," she sings on opening song "Absolute Power," a phrase she uses as a positive and not something that corrupts absolutely, continuing, "Who we are vs. Who we’d like to be / Get ready for the Fight of the Century." There are double kick drums and power chords and you can imagine fireworks going off in the chorus.
From there the album zigs and zags to the point of whiplash.The karaoke country soul of "Take Me to Your Leader" leads straight into the punk assault of "They Will Pay"; "Earth Girls" could be Annie Lennox; "Fearless Like a Child" could be Prefab Sprout"; and "Obnoxiously Talented" could be the Hill Street Blues theme. She's at her best, though, in '80s heartland rock mode, leaning more toward Laura Branigan or Pat Benatar than Springsteen or Mellencamp. But Molly sells all of it with her singular vision and a focused sound (she uses about three synth sounds, total) that, even when she's trying out new genres, is unmistakably her, an army of one.
Garcia Peoples - Dodging Dues (No Quarter)
For a band known for noodling, Garcia People come in lean and tight on their new Matt Sweeney-produced album
While their name takes you straight to Deadhead territory, NJ's Garcia Peoples try on a lot of different hats and are closer to Ryley Walker or Steve Gun than groups regularly associated with the jam world. They throw splashes of Feelies-style indie rock, glam, boogie, twin-lead riff rock, Mountain-style hard rock and more depending on where the day and the song take them. And while there is plenty of noodling, especially at their live shows, they tend to keep their things tight on their albums. Dodging Dues, which was produced by Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Superwolves, Endless Boogie) runs through seven songs in about 30 minutes, with songs flowing through most of those aforementioned styles. The album is bookended with rockers but their strength really lies with the more blissed out material, best represented with a trio of interconnected songs -- "Cold Dice," "Tough Freaks," and "Stray Cats" -- at the center of the album where things are bright and loose but know where they're going.
Balkans - Balkans vinyl reissue (Double Phantom Records)
This late-'00s Atlanta band, led by Frankie Broyles (Omni, Deerhunter), are reissuing their debut album for its 10th anniversary, now with four bonus tracks
Before he joined Deerhunter and co-founded Omni, Frankie Broyles led Altanta's Balkans, a band he formed with childhood friends Woodbury Shortridge, Stanley Vergilis and Brett Miller in 2008. Clearly influenced by early-'00s indie bands like The Strokes and The Libertines, Balkans brought a lot of their own style to the table, especially their innovative guitar playing. The band released their self titled debut album in 2011 and broke up the next year before they really reached their full potential. Ten years on, the album holds up very well, and is loaded with manic, heart-on-sleeve mutant pop earworms like "Troubled and Done," "I Can't Compete," "Zebra Print," and "Dressed in Black."
Original vinyl pressings of Balkans have been selling for around $100 on the secondary market so it's welcome news that the band are releasing a deluxe reissue on April 22. In addition to the album's 10 original songs, the reissue includes three b-sides -- "Bill's Spills," "Oh Dear," "Cave" -- and a demo of "Sarasota." We've got the premiere of the video for "Cave," which was originally the b-side to "Edita V." You can watch that and listen to the original album below:
Elephant Stone - “La fusée du chagrin” (Elephants on Parade Records)
First single from Montreal psych vets' new EP.
Two years ago, just before the pandemic, Montreal's Elephant Stone released Hollow, a Beatlesque concept record about Earth's destruction and repeated histories. The band are back with a new EP, Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune, that picks up where that album, thematically, left off. “I built this storyline about a hermit who is very content in his solitary world, until a world event happens that causes everyone else to stay home as well,” Dhir says. “Sound familiar? He sees this as a mockery of him and his choices, deciding instead to build a rocket ship to the moon to be left alone" but “ultimately realizes he was happier back on imperfect earth with all of its imperfect people.”
The single from the album is "La fusée du chagrin" ("The Rocket of Sorrow") and is one of the most driving, high-energy songs Elephant Stone have ever released, with a relentless motorik beat that would make King Gizzard jealous. “The song is about M. Lonely boarding a rocketship to the moon, so I felt that the music should be high intensity, while also ebbing and flowing with the journey," says Rishi. "I am sci-fi obsessed, so, as in the past with ‘Andromeda,’ I included a snippet of audio from NASA for the intro and the middle section – maybe you can decipher the morse code?”
The EP is out February 18 and you can watch the single's video, directed by Daniel Ross and Vincent Gauthier, here:
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