Indie Basement (11/25): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! I hope you are spending this Black Friday lounging on the couch, eating mounds of leftovers and watching a music documentary (we have suggestions). It's not much of a day for new releases but there are a few things and I review: Belgian-American duo Fievel is Glauque's jazzy, stylish debut; the 6-disc, 100-song 20th anniversary box set of The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; the third album from Swedish motorik psych groovers Les Big Bird; the new 20th anniversary reissue of 2manyDJs' mash-up classic As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt 2; a career-spanning box set for underrated '80s/'90s band That Petrol Emotion; and a new EP from Parisian artist Halo Maud.
Don't forget about the Indie Basement section of the BV shop where the virtual shelves are stocked high and wide with vinyl, books, and merch from Love & Rockets, The The, Mogwai, The Flaming Lips, King Gizzard, Pavement, Wet Leg, Mo Troper, Arctic Monkeys, Beach House, Broadcast, Stereolab, Belle & Sebastian, Talking Heads, Spoon, Lilys, Cocteau Twins, Can, Dinosaur Jr and more.
Head below for this week's reviews.
Fievel Is Glauque - Flaming Swords (MATH)
Belgian-American duo is a jazzy, stylish treat that isn't as light as it first may seem
Zach Phillips and Ma Clément met by happenstance in Belgium in 2018; Ma had studied nursing and was called by a friend to examine Phillips, an American who had accidentally knocked himself out with a whack to the head. He was okay, but they became friends and collaborators as jazzy duo Fievel is Glauque. Having released God's Trashmen Sent to Right the Mess, a compilation of low-fi DIY recordings, in 2021, they're now back with their proper debut studio album. While Phillips still lives in NYC, they made the album in Belgium, basically live to tape after a day of intense rehearsals as a septet that also included guitarist/bassist Anatole Damien, bassist/guitarist Raphaël Desmarets, alto saxophonist Johannes Eimermacher, drummer Gaspard Sicx, and pedal steel player Kinny. If you saw Stereolab's recent North American tour, you may have seen Fievel is Glauque as their very simpatico openers, and just that association gives you an idea of what to expect. Flaming Swords is a stylish mix of Tropicalia, jazz, '70s laid-back grooves, skronky prog, movie samples and just a little punk, almost entirely played as tight little vignettes. (All but one of the album's 18 songs hovers around the two-minute mark.) This is a very charming record that seems to go down easy but has a few jagged barbs that may occasionally play havoc with your innards. In a good way.
Read about the influences behind Flaming Swords.
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots 25th Anniversary Edition (Warner Bros)
Oklahoma psych greats' biggest hit gets the massive box set treatment for its 20th anniversary
Nearly 20 years into their career, The Flaming Lips made their masterpiece, 1999's The Soft Bulletin, but the album that followed was their biggest hit. Picking up sonically and psychically where The Soft Bulletin left off, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was another examination of the inner workings of the heart and mind, our place in the universe, love and mortality, elation and despair, all set to some very catchy widescreen psych-pop. (If you're unsure, this one has "Do You Realize?") For the album's 20th anniversary, The Flaming Lips have given Yoshimi the deluxe box set treatment, with a 6-CD set that's out now and a five-LP vinyl set due out in April, with the remainder of the stuff that didn't fit coming out on vinyl later in 2023 (for Record Store Day if I had to guess).
The 100 songs on the Yoshimi CD box is an overwhelming amount of content, including the original album, the Fight Test and Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell EPs, b-sides, demos, remixes, radio sessions, live songs and more, much of which has never seen the light of day before. It's also got lots of new artwork by frontman Wayne Coyne, a booklet with new interviews with the band and producer Dave Fridmann, rare photos and the like.
There is a lot of amazing non-LP stuff rounded up for this thing, including collaborations with Sparklehorse and The Chemical Brothers, covers of songs by Radiohead, The White Stripes, Kylie Minogue and more, and a 25-minute demo version of "Are You a Hypnotist?" The most glaring omission is the album's 2003 5.1 surround mix, but Wayne says there will be a Dolby Atmos mix "in the not too distant future."
Les Big Byrd - Eternal Light Brigade (Chimp Limbs)
Third album from this Swedish psych supergroup mixes morose lyrics with groovy tunes
Swedish psych supergroup Les Big Byrd, which includes members of Caesars, Viagra Boys and Teddybears, are back with their third album and first since 2018's terrific Iran, Iraq, IKEA. Three years in the making. the album was primarily recorded on the island of Gotland off the Southeast coast in the Baltic Sea and between the pandemic and the solemnity of the locations, Eternal Light Brigade features some Ingmar Bergman level heavy ponderosity. The album opens with these lines from frontman Joakim Åhlund: "Earth's already gone but my ghost keeps lingering on / sunshine turns to dust but gravity pulls me back." That's from the song "Eyes Like Dead Stars," and other fun titles include "I Used to Be Lost But Now I'm Just Gone," "Falling And Never Hitting The Bottom," and "Desolation Raga." Says Åhlund, "I am an old man after all, I can’t write about topics like 'mom and dad are so stupid' or falling in love or being high for the first time. Dying, ageing and the meaninglessness of it all, that’s what occupies my mind. I try not to just whine and moan about it all the time, but those are the things I think about.” Luckily, Les Big Byrd set such morose topics to some very catchy motorik psych that will have you grooving out to "Feels Like Wasting My Life Is Taking Forever."
2ManyDJs - As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 (DEEWEE)
An Indie Sleaze era club classic from Soulwax's mashup alter egos gets a 20th anniversary reissue. It's still a lot of fun.
David & Stephen Dewaele formed Soulwax in 1995 but by 2000 were becoming more well known for their 2manyDJs alter ego that cleverly mixed together a lot of disparate music in fun, crowd-pleasing ways. The early-'00s mashup era, where europop, Top 40 and dance culture intersected with what is now known pejoratively as Indie Sleaze gave us some classics, like Kylie vs New Order and The Strokes vs Christina Aguilera, and was a lot of fun for those who were there and barely remember. Few records document the time as well as 2ManyDJs' As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2. Originally released in August 2002, the 67-minute continuous mix gleefully blends Emerson Lake & Palmer with Basement Jaxx, Destiny's Child with 10cc, Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away" with The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man," Dolly Parton and Royksopp, and throws in everything from The Cramps and The Residents to New Order, Lords of Acid, Sly & the Family Stone, Skee-lo and more along the way.
For the album's 20th anniversary, the Dewaeles have reissued the album on vinyl via their own DEEWEE label, and have put it on streaming services for the first time ever. (Music rights and copyright clearances for this could not have been cheap!) Two decades on, this mix remains a blast, and you still listen and wonder how they came up with all this, all while reveling in its brilliance and sheer enjoyability.
The ideal way to consume As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt 2 that doesn't involve being out of your mind on the dancefloor might be this visual that animates the cover art of the records they're mashing up in fun and saucy ways.
The Dewaeles are also throwing a one-night-only party at London's O2 Brixton Academy on December 17 featuring 2manydjs live, Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul live, Kittin, and "special guests." Sure to be a good time if you're in the area.
That Petrol Emotion - Every Beginning Has A Future: An Anthology 1984-1994 (Edsel / Demon)
Pretty much everything this underrated '80s/'90s UK band, started by The Undertones' Damien & John O'Neil, is in the excellent CD-only box set
When The Undertones broke up in 1983, frontman Feargal Sharkey went solo (after a brief but successful single with Vince Clarke as The Assembly), while brothers Damien and John O'Neill formed That Petrol Emotion with guitarist Raymond Gorman, drummer Ciaran McLaughlin, and American singer Steve Mack. Where The Undertones were fizzy, punky powerpop, TPE explored a wider, weirder range of sounds, morphing many times over their original 10-year run, incorporating edgy post-punk, synthesizers and dance music, prog, industrial and more, all while taking a decidedly more political lyrical stance. (They regularly worked with members of Swans and The Young Gods as producers, which was miles away from the O'Neils' "Teenage Kicks" days.) Nearly everyone in the band wrote songs, which made records like their fiery second album, Babble, all over the place stylistically, and also surely hurt them commercially. Unlike UK chart mainstays The Undertones, TPE never really had a hit -- but those who loved them tended to be rabid fans. Curated by the band, Every Beginning Has a Future collects nearly everything TPE did. In addition to their five excellent studio albums - 1986's Manic Pop Thrill, 1987's Babble, 1988's End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues, 1990's Chemicrazy, and 1994's Fireproof -- it also includes their non-LP singles (like 1987's "Genius Move," one of their best-ever songs), b-sides, remixes, live cuts, Peel Sessions and more. On the remix front, for Chemicrazy (the closest they ever came to Undertones-style guitar pop), the band didn't want to entirely abandon dance music and got some of the UK's best DJs, including Hacienda regulars Andy Weatherall and Terry Farley, to turn the tracks into great Manchester-style baggy anthems. That Petrol Emotion were one of the most challenging, interesting bands of the '80s and this box set (CD only) is a great excuse for revisiting and reevaluation.
Halo Maud - Pesnopoïka (Heavenly)
Parisian psych artist with considerable guitar chops and powerful pipes is back with her first new music in four years
Parisian psych-pop artist Halo Maud's debut album, Je Suis Une île, was one of my favorite albums of 2018 and five years later she'll finally release its follow-up. Details are still scant beyond TBA 2023, but as a taster she's released this new EP, Pesnopoïka, which has her taking inspiration from traditional Bulgarian music. "While doing some research on the subject I came across the word pesnopoïka, which I thought sounded beautifully and strangely familiar," Maud said in a statement about the title. I learned that in traditional weddings the vocal part of the music is almost exclusively performed by the women in groups. Except during the most festive moments when a particularly good singer is recognized as pesnopoïka and sings solo accompanied by musicians. Pesnopoïka is clearly a declaration of love. But I did not want to write a desperate love song, not a woman longing for an absent man. I wanted it to be risky and organic, with a touch of humour. Pesnopoïka is a dance in circles around the feeling of love."
The Inspiration may be Bulgarian, but "Pesnopoïka" is pure Halo Maud, with a massively groovy rhythm section, layers upon layers of harmonies and a pretty wild/amazing guitar solo that I thought was a penny whistle at first before my ears acclimated. Maud's voice is as spellbinding as ever -- she can sound a little like Bjork at times, in the best possible way -- and that really takes this one into the stratosphere. I assume "Pesnopoïka" is destined for the album -- the other three songs here are almost literal extensions of it -- and have me very excited to hear more.
Looking for more? Browse the Indie Basement archives.
And check out what's new in our shop.