Bill’s Indie Basement (4/27): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
This week in the basement we've got some long-overdue Teenage Fanclub vinyl reissues, the return of Australian post-punk/proto-grunge band The Scientists, a new EP from Melbourne's Fall-esque The Shifters, a great new EP from UK band Ulrika Spacek (who will tour North America this fall), plus Montreal's very fun Anemone, and a great new Amber Arcades single. What more could you need? Read and listen below.
Despite having spent too much money at Record Store Day last weekend, I'm looking forward to the WFMU Record Fair this weekend -- we have a coupon for $2 off daily admission and you should go on Sunday if just to watch The Beaver Trilogy-- and hit the Numero Group Pop-Up on the way.
Five of Teenage Fanclub's most-lauded albums are getting vinyl reissues in August: 1991’s Bandwagonesque (SPIN’s #1 of the year), 1993’s Thirteen, 1995’s Grand Prix, 1997’s Songs from Northern Britain, and 2000’s Howdy!. All five albums were remastered from the original tapes at Abbey Road studios with the band’s involvement, and each one comes with a bonus 7” single featuring b-sides that were never released on vinyl (this was really the era of CD singles). If you are not that familiar, you can stream all five on Spotify (or the platform of your choice) and you should really check out Songs from Northern Britain which has all three songwriters (Norman Blake, Gerry Love, Raymond McGinley) firing on all melodic cylinders.
Of the five, only Thirteen isn’t what I’d call essential (though I like it), with Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain (my favorite) being the must-owns, though Bandwagonesque has the hits, and Howdy! is super-underrated and barely got released in the U.S. (Their first album, A Catholic Education, was released on Fire and rights are apparently tied up in red tape.) Pre-orders are available now and you can watch a promo video for the reissues below.
If you can't wait till August for these band-approved reissues, Plain Recordings just reissued Grand Prix.
To coincide with the reissues, Teenage Fanclub are going on a UK tour they’re calling “Songs from the Creation Years” where they’ll play three nights each in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London with the first night focused on ‘91-’93, night 2 being ‘94-’97 and night 3 for ‘98-’00. Dates and tickets are here.
Australian punk/postpunk/garage cult icons The Scientists, whose sound was an influence on both '80s NYC punk and '90s grunge, have reformed with their 1985 lineup of Kim Salmon, Tony Thewlis, Boris Sujdovic, and Leanne Cowie. They will be touring the UK in May with plans for the U.S. -- which will be their first ever shows here -- this fall. In the meantime they've also gone into the studio to record some tracks that will released as two separate 7” vinyl singles on In The Red later this year. The first of those is "Brain Dead (Resuscitated)" which reworks a mid-'80s track and actually revs things up compared to the more swampy original. That song premieres in this post and you can stream it right here:
Melbourne band The Shifters are described by their record label with this question: "Ever wonder what it would sound like if Mark E. Smith played in a Flying Nun band?" Which is to say The Shifters basically just sound like 1982-era The Fall when they were scrappy, first flirting with rockabilly and country, and constantly teetering on the edge of collapse. Country Teasers are another obvious comparison, too, so maybe they're the Australian Fat White Family but with scratchy violin, and more focused songwriting and less debauchery. That said, The Shifters sound like the kind of folks who hang out in places where I'd realize I'm in the wrong place two seconds after entering, and someone shouts "stay off the moors!" as I hightail it out the door. Like fellow Aussies EXEK, there is some menace to their music, albeit in a much different way.
The Shifters' 2015 self-titled tape exemplifies all this, with tales of Irish paramilitary kneecap punishment and other sordid topics. French label Future Folklore recently gave it its first vinyl pressing and you can order that here and listen below. The Shifters also have a brand-new four-song 7" EP, titled Just Sat Down, which is out May 8 via Digital Regress, and you can check out the very Fall-esque "Melbourne & Monash Youth League" from it below.
Out of all the things I bought on Record Store Day last weekend -- including a repress of a 1966 single Jerry Mathers' band Beaver & The Trappers that I just couldn't resist -- the one I've listened to the most is the Suggestive Listening EP by UK band Ulrika Spacek. This wasn't even one of my RSD18 picks, but I dug the cover art, and liked their two previous albums albums, so I added to my pile, and it's instantly become my favorite release by the band and has been in regular rotation all week.
Where 2016's The Album Paranoia and last year's Modern English Decoration are more clearly in the dark "psych" realm, this new EP offers a cleaner, effects-free, and prettier version of Ulrika Spacek. You can still compare them to Deerhunter, Television, and Pavement, but the melodies really pop on "No. 1 Hum" and the loping "Black Mould," and the interplay between the three guitarists really shines. You can pick up flipped copies of the vinyl online (for not too much markup), but it's also available digitally and you can stream it right here:
Chloé Soldevila named her musical project Anemone after a Brian Jonestown Massacre song (one of their best), but don't expect drugged-out, Stonesy psych. Her description of Anemone -- "A way to capture the feeling of driving endlessly on a sunny day with a lover, the feeling of dancing and forgetting about everything while feeling high on life" -- is much more accurate. You can hear elements of Stereolab, Broadcast, Saint Etienne and even The Tom Tom Club on Anemone's new EP, Baby Only You & I, which is out today. This is fun, danceable pop whose psychedelic elements pull from 1967 Beatles.
"Laying in the Sun," which opens the record, is perfectly titled, and the EP's title track begins hazily before dropping into a bouncing groove that sets the course for the second half of the record. "Bout de Toi" is sitar-powered, breezy and irresistible, and then we get "Party Theme" which is driven by some funky agogô and organ. Then we get the best bit of all as "Party Theme" segues into "Party Theme (Bout de Toi remix)" which brilliantly mashes the two songs together, and not in a Pro-Tools way. There are a few more remixes on the record, including the DNB remix of "Laying in the Sun" that drops an amen break beat all over it. With warm weather finally here, might I suggest this as a soundtrack?
Anemone has dates in the spring and summer, though nothing in NYC right now. All dates are listed here.
Amber Arcades will release her new album, European Heartbreak, on September 28 via Heavenly. Having made her first album in NYC with members of Real Estate and Quilt, this time out she recorded in Los Angeles with former Deerhoofer Chris Cohen, and then headed to Richmond, Virginia for string arrangements with Spacebomb's Trey Pollard. The first single is "Simple Song," which is pretty complex, actually, and the aforementioned strings and horns take Amber into new territory. The horns blend in with the strings as warm waves, reminiscent of Dots & Loops-era Stereolab, but this is a much more direct style of pop. I am definitely anxious to hear what the rest of the record sounds like. You can watch its '60s-ish video right here: