Indie Basement: Best Albums & Songs of April 2022
Indie Basement is a weekly column on BrooklynVegan focusing on classic indie and alternative artists, "collage rock," and new and current acts who follow a similar path. There are reviews of new albums, reissues, box sets, books and sometimes movies and television shows. I've rounded up April's best music, highlighting my favorite albums and tracks, plus links to relevant features and news, a monthly playlist, and more.
April is going to be a tough month to beat this year for sheer amount of great albums. You can check out my five favorite this month below but runners-up included Melody's Echo Chamber's Emotional Eternal, Astrel K's Flickering i, Jane Inc's Faster Than I Can Take, Mick Trouble's It's Mick Trouble's Second Album, and Papercuts' Past Life Regression.
It was also a great month for songs, and I run down my Top 10 favorites from April below as well. There is lots more, too, in the Indie Basement Best of April 2022 Playlist which you can listen to on Spotify or Tidal, below.
Other Indie Basement-related content from April: we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted with anecdotes from fellow artists (including Dan Bejar and Nada Surf's Matthew Caws) and rounded up some very cool covers of Pavement songs from the last 30 years. Plus: a review of the Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal box set.
The Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop is well stocked with hand-picked vinyl, books and merch, including Fontaines DC's Skinty Fia on exclusive, limited edition translucent red vinyl, and albums by Spiritualized, Wet Leg, YARD ACT, Stereolab, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Aldous Harding, King Hannah, Sparks, Cate Le Bon, Spoon, Goldfrapp, Slowdive, Roxy Music, and more.
Head below for the Indie Basement April roundup.
INDIE BASEMENT - TOP 10 SINGLES OF APRIL 2022
In alphabetical order...
Besnard Lakes - "She's an Icicle"
Like Spiritualized, Montreal's Besnard Lakes make variations of the same record over and over -- and you don't want them to do anything else. Also like Spiritualized, they work on a big canvas. "She's an Icicle" is no different, methodical in its approach, taking a full two minutes of ethereal runway taxiing before lifting off into the stratosphere. Glorious.
Billy Nomates - "Blue Bones"
"You just don't turn me on like you used to." Tor Maries tracks the end of a relationship on this new single that's her first new music in over a year. With clubby beats percolating under twangy guitars, it's a little bit country, a little bit pop and 100% Billy Nomates.
Bolis Pupul - "Neon Buddha"
While best known for making music with his partner, Charlotte Adigéry, Bolis Pupul puts out his own playful technopop that's in the same bleepy bloopy orbit as Topical Dancer. "Neon Buddha" is a perfectly titled track, bright and wonky, big and blobby. I'm not exactly sure what a neon buddha is but this is definitely what one sounds like.
Helado Negro - "Ya no estoy aqui"
Roberto Carlos Lange follows up last year's ambitious, masterful Far In with this lush, moving new single he says is "'about loneliness and alienation." You feel it too. Elegiac, cathartic sadness seeps in from all directions: the shuffling beat and gentle waves of sound (keyboards? guitars? it is unclear) to Lange's plaintive delivery.
Hot Chip - "Down"
When you hit play on Hot Chip's excellent new single "Down," you might think you've hit the wrong button. A funky loop from Universal Togetherness Band’s “More Than Enough" blares out and it's a full 30 seconds before Hot Chip kick in to make it their own. This is new territory for them and is, even with the prominent sample, the most "live" they've ever sounded. The read drums give it real oomph, and Hot Chip really sound like they're having fun -- not something you can take for granted with a band that's (somehow) been around for 20 years.
Kelley Stoltz - "You're Name Escapes Me"
San Francisco DIY king Kelley Stoltz has a seemingly unending well of pop songs at his disposal, not to mention an ability to add new styles to his repertoire along the way. This song dabbles in the wobbly palette of current pop psychedelia -- think Tame Impala or Mild High Club -- which fits his fond, if fuzzy, memories of a short-lived romance. "Your name escapes me, but those days I can't forget."
Martin Courtney - "Corncob"
There's something inherently nostalgic in Martin Courtney's vibe, be it with Real Estate or solo, that radiates like the September sun. In this case it's very intentional, a song about teenage years spent "smoking weed and driving around the surrounding area with your friends to get as completely lost as possible." Pedal steel is an especially nice touch here, pulling on your heartstrings with its warm glow.
Sun's Signature - "Golden Air"
Elizabeth Fraser's voice is one of the true natural wonders of Planet Earth and it has remained diaphanous even if she rarely uses it in public anymore. "Golden Air" is her first music as a primary artist in 13 years, part of an EP with her partner (and Massive Attack drummer) Damon Reece that's due out this summer. Its existence alone is cause for celebration, but its vivid, baroque psychedelia is a perfect vessel for Fraser's talents.
Viagra Boys - "Ain't No Thief"
In addition to the general debauchery on display, Viagra Boys' live shows have presented the band in a more new wave tilt than their punk-leaning studio album. Those worlds appear to be merging with their new album, Cave World, as first single "Ain't No Thief" hammers out a manic disco beat and relentless, dirty synth bassline that propels them into a lurid, technopunk futureworld.
Weird Nightmare - "Wrecked" ft Bully
Toronto's METZ occasionally let some pop melodies sneak into their tinnitus-inducing brand of noise-punk, but singer-guitarist Alex Edkins is putting them front and center on his solo debut as Weird Nightmare that's due out May 20 on Sub Pop. A duet with Bully's Alicia Bognanno, "Wrecked" is all hooks but still has plenty of fuzzed-out guitars. The video, meanwhile, is the best bit of Canadian indie dog content since Caribou's "You Can Do It."
INDIE BASEMENT TOP 5 ALBUMS OF APRIL 2022
Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful (Fat Possum)
Jason Pierce's has made his best record since Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space. From my review:
Everything Was Beautiful is one of the brilliant ones. The album boldly evokes Spiritualized's 1997 masterwork Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space, from its prescription meds artwork to its recording (using studios all over the world with dozens of musicians), to the way it opens with a female voice whispering the album's title, sounding like a transmission from the third ring of Saturn. (In this case it's his daughter, Poppy.) In doing so, you get the sense he knew how good this one was, and it more than holds up to the comparison.
Wet Leg - Wet Leg (Domino)
UK duo Wet Leg are easily the most hyped UK band since the mid-'00s days of Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, and their debut album actually lives up to the attention. From my review:
Wet Leg plays like a snapshot of your mid-to-late-20s, when hangovers start to get worse but don't stop you from going out all the time, and you start looking for more serious relationships while still wanting to shag everything that moves, and questioning the direction your life is heading -- all set to ridiculously catchy indie rock. Songs are peppered with memorable, saucy lines -- "Baby do you want to come home with me? / I've got Buffalo 66 on DVD," "I hope you choke on your girlfriend," "I got the big D" -- but Wet Leg know the value of a "la la la" or "ah-eeh-ah" chorus, too.
Pick up Wet Leg on yellow vinyl, and pick up the "Chaise Longue" 7" too in the BV shop.
Fontaines DC - Skinty Fia (Partisan)
Fontaines D.C. may be wrestling with their sense of Irish identity on their third album, but their desire not to do the same thing twice is so far serving them well. From the review:
Even if you aren't aware of the specific lyrical genesis of Skinty Fia, the sense of unease is palpable. The shouty punk rippers that epitomized their debut, Dogrel, have given way to dark, textured guitars more akin to early-'80s postpunk (The Sound, The Chameleons) filtered through late-'90s UK alt-rock and dance music, with chunky basslines and increasingly adventurous drumming, making for music that is both expansive and claustrophobic.
Pick up Skinty Fia on limited edition translucent red vinyl that's exclusive to our store.
The Aluminum Group - The Aluminum Group (self-released)
Frank and John Navin return with their first album in 14 years and their elegant jazzy pop is as sharp as ever. From my review:
The Navins haven't lost a step, and have delivered another exquisite, lush album that finds magic in the mundane details of life and love. The album opens with "Drag Yourself," "Color My Lips Hot Pink," and "Rock," three songs as good as any in their catalogue, full of pop hooks, vivid orchestral arrangements and insightful observations. "Drag queens, as a rule, are worse than children," they sing on "Color My Lips Hot Pink" against a sweeping disco backing. "Getting dressed for school...matinees? Times by two. All a mess, then fabulous." As on Plano, Dave Trumfio tempers the Navins' esoteric flights of fancy with an emphasis on pop hooks and rhythms, making for a best of both worlds environment and a most welcome return.
Sondre Lerche - Avatars Of Love (PLZ / InGrooves)
Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche's sprawling new album is also one of his best. Maybe the best. From the Indie Basement review:
Avatars of Love is unlike anything he has made to date but is also very clearly a Sondre Lerche album. He still favors jazzy chords and warm, swelling melodies but these songs stretch out in unexpected directions. He swings for the fences with every song and connects more often than not, with the kind of grand, orchestral gestures that Father John Misty wishes he could pull off with such elan.
Here's a 57-song, nearly four-hour playlist of all my favorite songs from April:
Looking for more? Browse the Indie Basement archives.
And check out what's new in our shop.