Bill’s Indie Basement (1/12): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
Do you like supergroups? Me too. This week we've got three of them, including The Green Child which is Mikey Young (Total Control) and Raven Mahon (Grass Widow), plus Seattle's Unlikely Friends (BOAT + Math & Physics Club), and Brooklyn's Drawing Boards (members of Dirty on Purpose, TEEN and more). We've also got a premiere from Australia's Totally Mild who will be at SXSW (and maybe other places) this spring, and the sub-zero dance music of Montreal's Essaie Pas.
If you need more Basement-approved music: The Radio Dept just released their first single for their self-run Just So! label; The Posies are reissuing their three '90s Geffen LPs on vinyl; Cavern of Anti-Matter (featuring Tim Gane of Stereolab) have announced a new album; Insecure Men (Saul of Fat White Family) announced their debut album; and US Girls shared another song from their terrific upcoming album.
Melbourne, Australia's Totally Mild are gearing up to release their second album, Her, on February 23. Centered around the heart-on-sleeve songwriting and gorgeous voice of Elizabeth Mitchell, most of Totally Mild's songs are winsome, jazzy pop that's somewhere between The Cardigans and Alvvays. But on current single "Lucky Stars," it's just Elizabeth and a piano, a delicate, vulnerable "love song to a band." It's delicate, vulnerable and absolutely lovely, with real happy/sad feel to it. We've got the premiere of the official music video, which is a one-take live performance with just a little story to it, too. Elizabeth tells us, "Lucky Stars is an exercise in intimate voyeurism, a momentary glimpse into the world of this woman as she plays a love song and hopes someone will hear it. A live performance shot by Tobias Willis that continues the character arc begun with the 'Today' video." Watch that here:
Totally mild will be in the U.S. for SXSW and will be playing some other shows around the country while here. Stay tuned.
Unlikely Friends, the band formed by Seattle residents D. Crane from BOAT and Charles Bert of Math and Physics Club, are back with their second album, Crooked Numbers. This time, Unlikely Friends incorporates more of both of their bands, making for more of a Pacific Northwest indie rock supergroup than before. Otherwise, not much has changed, which is a good thing. Crane and Bert are well versed with the masters (Pavement, Built to Spill, Superchunk, Death Cab), have hooks for miles, and their styles and voices play well together.
"I'm 40 years old and my hair's going grey / There's a ringing in my ears that won't go away," Crane laments on the album's power-cut, ""Broken Again," which is soon followed by Bert with "I've been dragging around this old suitcase, everywhere that I go, feel so out of place." It typifies their lyrical style, wry but not ironic, a little lost but laughing. And every song's a hit.
Brooklyn's Drawing Boards began as a project between Aaron Pfannebecker (Sisters) and Doug Marvin (Dirty on Purpose) and while both were reared on ’90s indie, they each brought different things to the table. Doug has a real ear for melody and a love of dreampop, while Aaron brings jagged, hyperactive hooks and a smartass attitude. Drawing Boards soon turned into a full group with the addition of Peter Rynsky of Darlings and Jane Herships (Spider, TEEN).
Drawing Boards will release a self-titled tape on March 2 via Gentle Reminder. It collects the five songs from their 2016 digital EP, and adds another seven songs. You can hear echos of Pavement, Flaming Lips, and Sonic Youth in their songs but they're working towards their own sound in these low-fi recordings. We've got the premiere of "Grass Grown Backwards" which is somewhat of a meeting point between Aaron and Doug's styles -- ragged but also shimmering, with a messy guitar solo playing things out.
Drawing Boards play Brooklyns The Gutter on January 18 with Lou Nutting (of Winstons), The Listeners, and Bob, Carol, Ted. They've got a second album coming later this year as well.
More all-star indie collaborations! Mikey Young and Raven Mahon met in 2013 when their bands, Total Control and Grass Widow, played a show together. They began a musical partnership, now known as The Green Child, in 2014 in Australia and have been working on songs, mostly (very) long distance, since. Their self-titled debut album is out today on Upset the Rhythm.
The band's name and some of their lyrical inspiration, comes from Herbert Read's 1935 utopian, communist, anarchist sci-fi novel of the same name, and it may have seeped into the music as well. While there is a little guitar on here, The Green Child is mostly spacey synthesizers and vintage drum machines, and Mahon's fragile vocals fit right into this minimal futuristic world. Am I about to compare them to Broadcast? Well, there's definitely a little of that here, but The Green Child is more playful than clinical. There is, maybe, some Young Marble Giants on songs like "New Year's Eve" but, elsewhere (like the eerie "46 Timelines") it's much more modern, albeit alien. Meanwhile, the album's catchiest song, "Her Majesty II," is a takedown of Donald Trump ("In time you’ll rot with few to replace you"). The Green Child fit right into these surreal times.
Montreal duo Essaie Pas make icy electronic music -- synthy but I'm not sure I'd call it synthpop. It seems situated somewhere between late-'80s Detroit and Berlin by way of Sheffield, England. It's the kind of music that wants you to dance without breaking a sweat. Their second album, New Path, will be out March 16 via DFA and was inspired by Philip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly. "I read the book a long time ago, maybe 15 years ago, and it had a strong impression on me,” says one half of the group, Pierre Guerineau. “In our previous work we always looked to music as inspiration in our lives, but this time we felt the desire to try something different, that’s not based on ourselves but on someone else’s universe."
This kind of music lives or dies on atmosphere, and Essaie Pas have that in spades, with "Futur Parlé" being the kind of slinky techno workout where you'd be disappointed if it didn't feature coolly spoken French vocals. "Complet Brouillé," the other song from the LP they've shared, is funkier and playful (without cracking a smile). Listen:
Essaie Pas will play Brooklyn's Elsewhere on April 4 (tickets).