This week in Indie Basement: Hot Chip's eighth album is one of their most sublime creations to date; Aussie punks The Chats deliver pure snotty attitude on their second album; Brooklyn experimentalists Oneida play it straight on Success; New Zealand DIY cult legends Tall Dwarfs get a new four-LP compilation; Royksopp return with a second volume of Profound Mysteries; and Matmos' Drew Daniel covers Coil on The Soft Pink Truth's new EP.

These are not the only new records out today, of course. You can also read about Cass McCombs, SRSQ, and more in Notable Releases.

Need more? I look back on Spoon's Kill the Moonlight and Interpol's debut album, both of which turn 20 this weekend.

Also: two twangy artists who made the Indie Basement Best LPs of 2020 list, Dougie Poole and Honey Harper, are back.

If you're in NYC currently and are looking for something free to do, you still have time to visit The Birth of Punk exhibit at the Seaport.

Q Lazzarus, rest in peace.

Over in the Indie Basement basement of the BrooklynVegan shop, the virtual shelves are stocked with records by  Cocteau Twins, The Beths, Aldous Harding, The Cure, Can, Neu!, Stereolab, Broadcast, Mazzy Star, Beach House, Wet Leg, Kevin Morby, Yard Act, Mazzy Star, Talking Heads, Just Mustard, Midlake, Pixies, Sparks, Liars, The Kinks, The Zombies, The Monkees, and lots more.

Head below for this week's reviews.

hot chip Freakout:Release

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Hot Chip - Freakout/Release (Domino)
Eighth album from long-running indie dance vets delivers thoughtful contemplation without sacrificing the banger quotient

it's hard to believe Hot Chip, the quirky, nerdy, hipstery indie dance group, have been together for more than 20 years. Their 2004 debut album was called Coming on Strong and I'm happy to report that their new and eighth album, Freakout/Release, could've been titled Still Going Strong. While the winking, tongue-in-cheek humour that enlivened nu-rave era tracks like "Crap Kraft Dinner," "Down WIth Prince," and "Over and Over" has waned, they've replaced it with gentle, genuine compassion, all without losing sight of the dancefloor. Hot Chip have become masters of the bittersweet banger and Freakout/Release is full of them.

Freakout/Release feels particularly inspired, and part of that might be due to the circumstances of its creation. As opposed to their previous albums which were made primarily by main songwriters Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, this is their first to involve the whole band right from the start. It was also the first album made at their new Relax & Enjoy Studio in East London that bandmember Al Doyle put together before and during the first year of Covid. With no one looking at the clock, and the studio's "everything's always on" setup, random moments of inspiration that may have been previously lost were automatically captured, allowing for, Goddard says, "creation in a natural way, without too much discussion or a grand plan.”

If nothing hits you over the head the way "Over & Over" or "Ready for the Floor" did, Freakout/Release features some of Hot Chip's most sublime creations, holding your attention across 11 songs, most of which deliver those happy/sad vibes and good grooves. Chief among them is "Eleanor," an anthemic and joyful house track about the warm feelings that remain after a relationship ends: "If you choose to remember me / Hold me gently as you fall asleep / Even if you believe that there’s nothing more / I feel heaven knocking at our door." There's also the swaying, yearning "Broken"; the skipping "Time" that is musically akin to "I Feel Better" but hangs heavy with lines like "And they say time will heal you / Do they know what you’ve been through?"; and the soulful, motorik closer "Out of My Depth" that plays like a slow fade hymn into the sunset.

Hot Chip have not lost their playful side, though. "Down" samples Universal Togetherness Band’s “More Than Enough," making for a fun, bang-start to the album; "Hard to Be Funky" features old friend Lou Hayter and tips its hat to a group they used to get compared to a lot, Laid Back; and the rambunctious title track which was co-produced by Soulwax, inspired by "Seven Nation Army," and sounds especially good at full volume. More than some other genres, dance music can be a young person's game and it's heartening to find a group, two decades into their career, still finding new things to say, and new ways to say them while retaining that spark that made you like them in the first place.


attachment-the chats get fucked

The Chats: Get Fucked (Bargain Bin Records)
Aussie punks' second album is 28 minutes of pure flip-the-bird attitude

Young, loud, snotty. Sometimes that's all you need, that and some thick Aussie accents. You know what you're getting with Get Fucked, the new album from Sunshine Coast punks The Chats, before even hearing a note. The album title, the cover art with all three members flipping you the bird -- you're in or you're out. Five years since "Smoko" was a viral hit, the band are still pretty much operating in the same mode and for the most part it's still working -- short, sharp blasts of pure attitude with brash humor and hooky riffs. The best Chats songs, like "Smoko," find inspiration and angst in everyday situations and that holds true on Get Fucked: bending the rules of public transportation ("Ticket Inspector"); taking financial frustrations out on an ATM ("Paid Late"); car aficionados ("6L GTR"); surf culture ("Emperor of the Beach"); and beer ("I've Been Drunk in Every Pub in Brisbane"). They've even got a sequel of sorts to their biggest hit ("The Price of Smokes"). While clocking in at a swift 28 minutes, Get Fucked might be a longer chat than you need but in single servings, nearly all of these songs are a blast.



Oneida - Success (Joyful Noise)
Experimental vets Oneida show they can make 'straight ahead' rock like the best of them

Oneida have been doing it themselves longer than most people realize there's been a Brooklyn DIY scene. They have always had one foot in the experimental / improvisational world, but on Success they want to remind people that they can rock as well as be weird. “We honestly did not try to make something more straight ahead but it came out that way," says drummer Kid Millions. You may have forgotten they can even do "straight ahead," but these seven roaring rippers make it abundantly clear. They are still weirder and noisier than your average indie rock band, but tracks like "I Wanna Hold Your Electric Hand" have discernable verses, choruses and hooks, even if the next line in the song is "between my teeth."



Tall Dwarfs - Unravelled: 1981–2002 (Merge)
Influential Kiwi DIY indie icons' sprawling discography is condensed into a slightly less sprawling but still huge four-LP compilation

Like The Fall, Half Japanese, and Cleaners from Venus, New Zealand's Tall Dwarfs are widely influential on some of your favorite indie rock groups but have the kind of massive catalogue, full of albums, singles, EPs, flexis, etc that can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Formed in 1981 by Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate, the duo made their own kind of  weirdo folk punk, banging on cardboard boxes, strumming an omnichord synth, overdubbing vocals on a hissy cassette Portastudio, leaving warts and all. Pavement, Superchunk, Neutral Milk Hotel (and the entire Elephant 6 collective), The Mountain Goats, and Bill Callahan are among those who count themselves as fans. This new four-LP (2 CD) compilation on Merge (a label that owes a huge debt to Tall Dwarfs and their label, Flying Nun) was compiled by Bathgate and is more of a deep dive than a 101 class, but does do a great job of condensing a sprawling discography into a (comparatively) more manageable three-hour, 55 song set that still keeps things appropriately shaggy. Or as Jeff Mangum says, "This box set will bless you with some of the catchiest and most intelligent songwriting ever conceived. Acoustic outsider poetry punk, mixed with a ‘studio as instrument’ artfulness. what more could you want?”


soft pink truth - was it ever real ep

The Soft Pink Truth - Was It Ever Real? (Thrill Jockey)
Matmos' Drew Daniel covers Coil on this companion EP to his upcoming disco/house-inspired album

The Soft Pink Truth, aka Matmos' Drew Daniel, is gearing up to release new album Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This? which was inspired by Arthur Russell and Paradise Garage disco and house. Before that, he's dropped this companion EP as a limited edition CD/cassette featuring four non-LP cuts. The standouts come sandwiched in the middle, most notably a cover of Coil's 1986 queer classic "The Anal Staircase," that turns the post-industrial original into lush, thumping disco, making it in some ways even more subversive. Also great: the slinky "You Don't Know (The Full Rose of Dawn)" that may or may not be tipping its sequined hat at Godley & Creme's "Cry" before exploding into a seductive, piano-laden house groove. There's also the "Dark Room" mix of "Is It Gonna Get Any Deeper Than This?" (which doesn't appear on the album of the same name), and the sultry title track that features snaking guitar from Acetone's Mark Lightcap. Was it Ever Real? works both as a companion piece to what looks to be a fascinating album, and as a own standalone record.

R yksopp - Profound Mysteries II

Röyksopp - Profound Mysteries II (Dog Triumph)
Norwegian duo offer up a second volume of their collaborative series, this time featuring Susanne Sundfør, Pixx and more

Long-running Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp released Profound Mysteries -- a multidisciplinary "project" (aka: album) that featured commissioned visual art for every song -- and now they're back with a second volume. Like the first, this one features a lot of guest vocalists including Susanne Sundfør (who was on the first), 4AD artist Pixx, and Karen Harding. Volume II feels even more ready for the party than the first, dabbling in early-'90s house ("Unity" ft Harding) and slick Europop ("Oh, Lover" ft Sundfør), not to mention the sort of effervescent grooves that got them noticed initially ("Let’s Get It Right" ft Astrid S could've been on their 2001 debut). The best songs this time, though, might be the ones with no vocalists at all. "Control" and "Denimclad Baboons" pull you onto the dancefloor with beats and synthy basslines alone.

Looking for more? Browse the Indie Basement archives.

And check out what's new in our shop.


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