Indie Basement: Best Albums & Songs of February 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 February's best music, highlighting my favorite albums and tracks, plus links to relevant features and news, a monthly playlist, and more.
The shortest month of the year zoomed by and included a lot of records that I have a feeling will end up on my Best of 2022 list, including one that could top it. I sorted through all of February's releases to pick the five best, and also picked my 10 favorite songs from the month and wrote about each. Head below for that, as well as a playlist featuring all my favorite songs from February.
In other Basement-related news from the month: I looked back at Johnny Marr's many post-Smiths collaborations, including The The, Talking Heads, Electronic, Modest Mouse, The Cribs and Billie Eilish.
If you're in NYC, there are two very Indie Basement-friendly shows featuring UK bands making their first trips to North America and bost are co-presented by BrooklynVegan: Snapped Ankles play Baby's All Right on Wednesday, March 9 (tickets) and King Hannah play Union Pool on Thursday, March 10 (tickets). Hope to see you there!
The Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop is well stocked with hand-picked records, including Fontaines DC's upcoming Skinty Fia on exclusive, limited edition translucent red vinyl, and albums by YARD ACT, Stereolab, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Aldous Harding, Cate Le Bon, Spoon, Wet Leg, and more.
INDIE BASEMENT: BEST TRACKS OF FEBRUARY 2022
audiobooks - "Tryna Tryna Take Control"
Makers of my favorite album of 2021 return with this cracker of a new single. Is it possible to combine Sade and The Fall? Just try to stop them.
Bodega - "Statuette on the Console"
Bodega deconstruct faith and ideology, while suggesting that screens may be our true god, while daring us not to dance. This punky new wave ripper comes available in 10 languages, French being the best 'cause then it really sounds like Plastic Bertrand.
Destroyer - "Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread"
"It's insane in here, it's a lunacy out there / And everything you just said was better left unsaid," sums up the last two years about as well as anything I've heard. Except for "Ruff Ruff says the beagle to the terrier." Both lines are in this existential disco jam that could only come from Dan Bejar.
Dot Allison - "Love Died in Our Arms" (Lee 'Scratch" Perry remix)
According to Lee Perry's widow, this remix was the last thing Scratch completed before he died. If so, he went out on a high (of course he did), dropping Dot Alison's original down the echo chamber and out to a white sandy beach next to a bucket of Red Stripes on ice.
Fontaines D.C. - "I Love You"
Obsessive love song? It sure seems like it till Grian Chatten begins ranting "But this island's run by sharks with children's bones stuck in their jaws / Now the morning's filled with cokeys tryna talk you through it all." It's 20 years of conflicted feelings about his birthplace (Ireland) splayed out in taut, slow-burn post-punk. "Every Breath You Take" this is not.
You can preorder our exclusive translucent red vinyl variant now.
Jeanines - "Any Day Now"
I keep hearing there's a twee revival but I would argue it never went away. Cardigans have been in my wardrobe rotation since the early '90s. But let's hope Jeanines -- whose confident brand of jangly, reverby pop is the best kind of twee -- benefit from this. "Any Day Now," like all their songs, is a cute but competent, winsome but not wimpy, and a hook delivery device.
Just Mustard - "Still"
Between Just Mustard and King Hannah, it feels like a trip hop revival is imminent. And if it's anything like "Still," that's a good thing. Atmospheric, dark, and danceable. And modern. No John Barry samples needed.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - "The Way it Shatters"
Does a band need three singer/guitarists? Not usually but Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever consistently make a case for it, mixing big hooks with just enough noodling -- "The Way it Shatters" is perfectly al dente pop pasta.
Snapped Ankles - "Barbeque in Brazil"
Easily the best song about a barbeque in Brazil I've ever heard. It's possible someone like Os Mutantes also have a song about a barbeque in Brazil that's better but I don't know Portuguese so it's gone over my head. It's certainly the best song about a Barbeque in Brazil made by a bunch of pasty Brits who pretend they're forest folk who live in trees.
Wet Leg - "Angelica"
You may be expecting the cracks to show with the UK buzz band but Wet Leg are five for five. "Angelica" is another instant earworm, this time with some serious Dinosaur Jr / My Bloody Valentine shredding. It's another great self-directed video, too, especially for fans of Hester Chambers' enthusiastic background dancing.
INDIE BASEMENT TOP 5 ALBUMS OF FEBRUARY 2022
Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Sub Pop)
Of everything released in 2022 so far this is my Album of the Year contender, a hallucinatory trip for the senses that continues to swirl around my head. From my review:
The layering of sounds is intoxicating, with a few sonic motifs recurring throughout the record. There are oceans of arpeggiated synthesizers, be it the pulsating ABBA kind that can drive a song, or the swirling, dream sequence variety that mimic a harp (and is quite possibly an Omnichord). There are also choral samples all over the album -- think the low "Ahhhhs" in New Order's "Blue Monday" -- that provide a through-line to Beach House's early cathedral sound, but here send it in to the cosmos. The strings add gorgeous ballast.
You can pick up Once Twice Melody on vinyl and cassette in the BV shop.
Cate Le Bon - Pompeii (Mexican Summer)
Cate Le Bon mutates with every album but two things stay constant: she only ever sounds like herself, and the records are great. From my review:
There are more synthesizers here than on any previous Le Bon record, and the guitars, bass, and saxophones are all given a thermoplastic coating that is both transparent but distorting. It's also both arresting and compelling and yet another entirely unique entry in Le Bon's discography where no two records sound alike but all are clearly birthed from the same creative spirit. Highlights include the hazy, shoegazy "French Boys," and the title track which flies in low and at odd angles. Pompeii also includes three wonderful pop songs: "Moderation," "Harbour" and the skronky "Remembering Me," all of which highlight Black and Hinshelwood's terrific saxophones which, at times like whale songs, seem to melt into Cate's "ahhhs."
Pick up Pompeii on vinyl in the BV shop.
King Hannah - I'm Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me (City Slang)
Do you like the '90s? Specifically, the dark fuzzy '90s full of guitars and sometimes "beats"? King Hannah do too and they're amazing at it. From my review:
The touchstones here are entirely, unapologetically '90s -- PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, Portishead, Morphine, Radiohead, Smog -- but they do it with such confidence and style that you don't so much think about the specific reference points as much as you think how cool this style can still sound. Well, ok, "Foolius Caesar," may be a little too "Sour Times" for its own good but even that works. The arrangements and production give everything lots of headroom -- even when it's just an acoustic guitar and Merrick's voice, mic'd close, it sounds like it was recorded in the Grand Canyon. Like 2019's Tell Me Your Mind and I'll Tell You Mine mini-LP, this is quiet music meant to be played loud, better to hear all the deft little touches.
Spoon - Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador)
Are Spoon the most consistently excellent band of the last 25 years? They're up there. From my review:
This is not a return to the Spoon of Girls Can Tell or Kill the Moonlight, records that were so spare you could pick out every instrument on every song. Spoon sound BIG here -- it's a modern studio album -- but these 10 songs crackle with electricity. "The Hardest Cut," a snarling number with clear roots in ZZ Top, is pure Texas boogie but also pure Spoon. You can hear the curl on Daniel's lip in his delivery. "The Devil & Mr Jones" is another track that plays with traditional rock tropes -- Stonesy riff, Santana-y leads, deals with Satan -- but does so with such style and palpable energy (and nicely subtle sax), that they make it their own.
Pick up Lucifer on the Sofa on vinyl in the BV shop.
Andy Bell - Flicker (Sonic Cathedral)
Ride singer-guitarist Andy Bell reworks unfinished songs from throughout his career for a brilliant double album. From my review:
What a treat Flicker is. The songs have a youthful energy, with a melodic style that feels very '90s but Bell has brought maturity to them, as well as the blissed out sound heard on 2020's The View from Half Way Down to them as well. It's the best of both worlds: an 18-track double album that breezes by, full of jangly Britpop ("World of Echo," "Love is the Frequency"), groovy psychedelia ("Riverside," "Jenny Holzer B. Goode," "Sidewinder"), ethereal melodies ("It Gets Easier," "The Looking Glass," "The Sky Without You"), contemplative folk pop ("Gyre And Gimble," "We All Fall Down"), and more. There's also "Something Like Love" that sounds like a first cousin to Ride's "Vapour Trail" that takes an entirely different, dreamy orchestral path. On it, Andy sings, "Lost in a reverie of future days," a phrase that's also a good description of this album.
And finally, here's a Tidal playlist with all my favorite songs from February that, in addition to everything mentioned above, also includes songs by Superchunk, Kurt Vile, The Jazz Butcher, The Beths, Orville Peck, Metronomy, Sea Power, Jon Spencer, Loop, Sondre Lerche, Hercules & Love Affair, Bambara, Porridge Radio and more.
Also on Spotify:
Looking for more? Browse the Indie Basement archives.
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