It's another week of excellent new records in the Basement: Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens makes his most personal, moving records to date; Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall team as The WAEVE; Memphis' Ibex Clone make wonderful, emotive post-punk on their debut album; The Go! Team deliver more sunshine mashup pop on The Get Up Sequences Pt 2; and The Brian Jonestown Massacre learns The Future is Your Past.

For more reviews of this week's new albums, Andrew reviews Parannoul, Young Fathers and more in Notable Releases.

Other Basement-related stuff from this week: Five former members of The Fall, including some from the most-famous lineups, have formed a new group House of All; Pernice Brothers are giving Overcome by Happiness its first-ever vinyl pressing; Lilys will soon be on their first East Coast tour in six years; Bailter Space will be touring tooScissor Sisters' Jake Shears and Girl Ray are helping make sure 2023 has plenty of disco; and I looked back on My Bloody Valentine's m b v which just turned 10. Plus: Ride and The Charlatans are on tour now and you should go.

Welcome to February! Check out the Indie Basement Best Songs and Albums of January 2023.

The Indie Basement corner of the BV shop is stocked upcoming releases/reissues from Ivy, Sleaford Mods, Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach, and New Pornographers, plus vinyl from New Order, Love and Rockets, Sparks, The The, Beach House, Crime & The City Solution, Protomartyr, Naima Bock and more.

Head below for this week's reviews.

robert forster the candle and the flame

Robert Forster - The Candle and the Flame (Tapete)
The former Go-Betweens co-founder's new solo album is his most personal, moving record yet

Robert Forster has never shied away from using his own life as the basis for songs, be it with The Go-Betweens or his solo career. But The Candle and the Flame is the most deeply personal record of his 40+ year career. It was recorded after his wife, Karin Bäumler, was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and features his whole family, including son Louis (formerly of The Good Sax) and daughter Loretta. The Candle and The Flame became a way for the family to cope and for Karin to fight. "One night, when sitting cross-legged on the couch," Robert said, "after we had played a song, Karin looked up from her xylophone and said, ‘When we play music, is the only time I forget I have cancer.’ That was a big moment."

While some of the songs were written prior to Karin's diagnosis, others clearly were after. Opening track "She's A Fighter," recorded with the entire family playing and singing together in a circle, is powerful using only two chords and two lines ("She's a fighter / fighting for good"); while "It's Only Poison" is a beautiful chemotherapy love song with Karin's backing vocals providing wonderful lift as Forster sings "It’s only poison, taste it and you’ll know / It’s only poison let it go."

The rest of the songs on The Candle & The Flame feel like they were meant to accompany those two, with Robert reflecting on love ("The Tender Years," "Always"), life and mortality ("I Don't Do Drugs I Do Time," "Roads"), sometimes all at the same time ("There's a Reason to Live."). It's all delivered in his usual eloquent, half-spoken, half-sung style that is literate, witty, playful and deeply felt. Robert co-produced the album with Karin and Louis, with help from regular collaborator/engineer Victor Van Vugt and you can feel that every second, every note counts. No song is overly adorned but the care given to them is apparent. The circumstances around it could not be more difficult and personal, but the result is effortless and universal.

This profile on Forster and the new album in the Sydney Morning Herald is terrific and well worth reading.


ibex clone all channels clear

ALBUM OF THE WEEK #2: Ibex Clone - All Channels Clear (Goner)
Spectacular guitarwork highlights the debut album from this Memphis trio

Ibex Clone are born out of Memphis' garage punk scene, and the trio includes members of Ex-Cult and NOTS. Their debut album is out via Goner, home to lots of garage rock, but Ibex Clone don't sound like what you might expect given all that. All three members were in angsty post-punk group Hash Redactor, but with guitar wiz George Williford leading things here, Ibex Clone make soaring, anthemic rock that feels inspired by a whole swath of mid-'80s underground/alternative groups. There is the nervy jangle of early R.E.M., The Feelies and The dB's, the shimmer of The Sound and The Chameleons, and they would've fit right in on Bruce Lischer's Independent Projects label (For Against, Savage Republic, etc).  There is growl and tension, but there is also real beauty, and some seriously impressive guitarwork. All Channels Clear opens with "Nothing Ever Changes," a strummy, taut number you could imagine coming from Bob Mould at the start of his solo career. As the song builds, you notice more effects on his slashing guitar chords and then, right after the chorus, he rips of a dazzling solo that sounds like a collage of bottle rockets, sparklers and rainbows. He's a player like Peter Buck, Robyn Hitchcock or Doug Martsch who is capable of sounding like he's playing rhythm and lead at the same time, and his fretwork across the album is consistently thrilling. With a trio there can be no weak link and the rhythm section is excellent: bassist Alec McIntyre fluidly drives the melody while drummer Meredith Lones powers the whole thing. It would all just be beautiful wallpaper without good songs, and All Channels Clear is loaded with them, and Williford's vocals, powerful with just a little gravel, is perfect for the job. A seriously impressive, unexpected debut.



The WAEVE - The WAEVE (Transgressive)
Blur's Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall team for a record unlike either have made before

The musical pairing of Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and former Pipette (and Baxter Dury and Mark Ronson collaborator) Rose Elinor Dougall is unexpected, as is the music they make together as The WAEVE, which doesn't sound quite like anything either have done before. The two had known each other since the early 2000s but it wasn't till they met at a lockdown benefit show in 2020 that they thought about working together. “There’s quite a lot of common ground in our musical influences and tastes,” Dougall told NME. “Graham was playing some Bert Jansch and John Martyn covers at the show we did, which is a real foundation of the music I’ve always loved. We realised that was in the bag, but then we started to talk about all these other weird things like Van der Graaf Generator and other bits.”

Prog and British folk does feel like the bedrock of The WAEVE's self titled debut album, though for a duo that includes one of the most innovative indie guitarists of the last 30 years it is not a "guitar record." Graham Coxon's weapon of choice here is actually saxophone, the first instrument he learned, which he plays all over the album. There's some skronky sax, a little '80s-style sax, and a whole lot of moody, atmospheric sax that colours the background of lush, swoony creations like "Sleepwalking," "Drowning" and "Can I Call You." Drumming tends to be motorik, with bass lines pulsing up and down the scale in arpeggiated precision. More often than not Coxon and Dougall share lead vocals and it's peanut butter cup alchemy, with the clear, pure qualities of Dougall's voice a perfect foil for Coxon's more ragged style. Working with producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine), the album sounds fantastic -- graceful but never glossy. And though the record was born out of lockdown and has "one-off" written all over it, they're already talking about the next record. Some things were just meant to be.


The Go! Team- Get Up Sequences Part Two

The Go! Team - Get Up Sequences Part Two (Memphis Industries)
The long-running UK group's signature style of mashup sunshine pop casts a long shadow

The Go! Team have been making basically the same kind of sunny music since Ian Parton formed the group nearly 23 years ago -- a bright blur of '60s sunshine pop and girl groups, early-'70s Sesame Street (when it was psychedelic and funky), '80s double dutch, and early-'90s hip hop production. It was a sound that fit in perfectly in the early 2000s, as Big Beat (Fatboy Slim, Bentley Rhythm Ace) faded,  mash-ups grew popular and disco returned to indie. The Go! Team's style has had surprisingly long legs; being nostalgic for multiple eras and genres at once feels timeless. The Get Up Sequences Pt. 2 is even more inspired than 2021's Pt 1 and is fun, vibrant, and groovy (great basslines, lots of flutes). Memorable songs abound, from the pure pop of "But We Keep On Trying," to the cinematic "Look Away, Look Away," the electropop of "Going Nowhere," the very Jackson 5-ish "Getting To Know (All The Ways We're Wrong For Each Other)," and "Whammy-O" featuring rapper Nitty Scott. The album also features Africa's All Star Feminine Band, Indian Bollywood playback singer Neha Hatwar, Kokubo Chisato from J-Pop indie band Lucie Too, Detroit rapper IndigoYaj, and former Apples in Stereo member Hilarie Bratset, but the blender production remains the star.


the brian jonestown massacre the future is your past

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - The Future Is Your Past (A Recordings)
Anton Newcombe finds inspiration in lockdown -- and from his son -- on the BJM's 20th album

Note: 'The Future is Your Past' is out 2/10

Thirty-two years into The Brian Jonestown's existence, many things remain the same while others are very different. Anton Newcombe still leads the band -- and often IS the band -- drawing inspiration from the same murky stew of psych, krautrock and shoegaze (as always, a lot of the Stones) that fueled their 1995 debut, Methadrone. He's still a rabble rouser and shit talker (follow his Twitter?), though he's cleaned up his act a lot since the era chronicled in documentary DiG!. The band's music has gotten a lot better since the post-DiG!-days, too, and the last 10 years have produced the best BJM records since the mid-'90s.

That continues with The Future is Your Past, The Brian Jonestown Massacre's 20th album which, like last year's Fire Doesn't Grow on Trees, came out of an intense prolific streak during the height of covid when Newcombe wrote and recorded a song a day for 70 days straight. While the title sounds like classic BJM wordplay, it actually came from Anton's son, Wolfgang, who has been a big source of inspiration lately. “My son Wolfgang is very different to me, thank god, but we have so many things in common; dancing, making up songs, and vocalizing strange combinations of words and ideas that make us laugh, or make sense to us in some meaningful way," Anton says. "At a certain point, I started writing down these words and random ideas to use as titles."

Like Fire Doesn't Grow on Trees, these 10 songs are often angry but also positive -- empowering fist-pumpers and arm-swayers with sweep and lots of groove. While not that different than the previous 19 BJM records -- The Future is Your Past could've been the title of any of them -- Newcombe is clearly energized and that comes through loud and clear.

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