Bill’s Indie Basement (8/3): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
Ciao! This week in Indie Basement: Cornershop channel Prince on their new single; British comedian Matt Berry unironically covers '70s TV themes; plus LA DIY punks Traps PS, new UK band Value Void, and a little chillout music for these hot August nights.
Welcome back Cornershop, who we haven't heard from in about three years. They call "Double Denim Nights" a celebration of summer and Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres are also the first to admit there's a little early Prince in this lovely bit of funky, verrrrrry laid back disco. The track is consciously spare with a bare-bones vintage drum machine keeping the beat, a very funky bassline, and little else. Guitar and samples ping in and out of the mix while Tjinder drops deadpan lines like "jean on jean...it's allright." This is a real grower and sounds best booming out of loud speakers. It's also dying for some French-touch remixes. The flipside is a cover of The Archies bubblegum classic "Sugar Sugar" which they do in a straight-up manner but is fun. Check 'em both out here:
Matt Berry is best known as a comic actor with a sonorous speaking voice in such UK shows as The IT Crowd, Snuff Box, The Toast of London, and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, but he's also a seriously talented musician too. His own music tends to be a kitschy mix of Swinging London grooviness and mushroom tea psychedelia (he wrote and sang the theme for Snuff Box), and has released a whole bunch of terrific albums over the last few years which are worth checking out.
His new album is a high concept covers album where he faithfully recreates some of his favorite British TV themes from the '60s, '70s and '80s, many of which were never available on a soundtrack. Chances are this will not appeal much to Americans, but as someone who watched a lot of British shows on PBS growing up, and just digging this sort of groovy jazzy music in general, not to mention being a big fan off Berry's, I'm pretty excited for this record. Here's what Matt has to say:
It’s a covers album, just an appreciation of a time when the signature tune and title sequence were both important elements within the overall theme, atmosphere and tone of a television show. I’ve always loved these now lost, rare and in some cases forgotten themes so, as with everything I do artistically, I set out to please myself and capture these gems as best as I could and make them available on vinyl, some possibly for the first time?
Matt's shared his version of the theme to long-running show Are You Being Served? which is pretty great, keeping that cash register rhythm, and you can check that out here:
Matt and his band also cover Dr. Who, Top of the Pops, and a whole bunch of shows I've never heard of but will probably enjoy their themes anyway. Television Themes is out October 5 via Acid Jazz Records.
Long part of LA's DIY scene that congregates around The Smell and Pehrspace, Traps PS are known for tense, explosive live shows that are sometimes in unexpected places ( oil fields, river banks). The band are set to release their new album, New Chants, on August 17 on Innovative Leisure. The band are in the same short, sharp, less-is-more punk vein of Minutemen, Wire and Gang of Four, and their songs spin out like an overwound toy. We've got the premiere of the video for "Tradition," shot in stark black and white. They perform in an abandoned lot to no one, yet you can still feel the electricity. Watch:
Traps PS are on tour with fellow LA band De Lux as we speak that has them on a rare visit to the East Coast, including a Brooklyn show at Elsewhere Zone One on August 10 (tickets). All dates are here.
London-based trio Value Void are made up of songwriting team Paz Maddio and Marta Zabala, who grew up together in the small Buenos Aires town of Azul, and bassist Luke Tristram. The group formed in 2017 and settled on a minimal guitar/bass/drums sound somewhere between spidery early-'80s postpunk (Raincoats, Young Marble Giants) and '90s indie rock (Breeders, Blake Babies). The band's debut album, Sentimental, was recorded by Euan Hinshelwood of Younghusband and will be out October 26 via Tough Love. What makes Value Void stand out from the pack are both the terrific songs and Paz's clear, expressive voice which fits so well with the jangle arrangements. "Babeland," which is one of two songs you can listen to now, is a great example of the low-key magic Value Void conjure, while "By Your Side" is more angular but no less bewitching. Listen:
Shook is the musical pseudonym of Holland-based producer Jasper Wijnands who makes chillout music that, to my ears avoids cheese but is still whimsical and fanciful. He garnered some attention when his single "Milestones" was used memorably in the series premiere of Better Call Saul, and he's gone on to make a whole bunch of records since.
His new album is Bicycle Ride and Jasper cites Studio Ghibli soundtracks and 70s Japanese synthpop as influences here. This is just a very very pleasant album to listen to and if you like Todd Terje, early Royksopp (I'm thinking of "Eple" in particular), Air and Zero 7, chances are you will dig the sounds Shook is weaving on this record. It's the kind of record you can let repeat for hours and be fine letting it do so. (Well, I can.) This isn't just background music, though, as Wijnands has all sorts of great little magical touches and the old analog synths he's using just sound great. There's a pop song here, too, "I Will Be There," with vocals by Juliet Klaar that pulls things into The Bird & The Bee territory.