Indie Basement: Best Albums & Songs of June 2022
Indie Basement is a weekly column on BrooklynVegan focusing on classic indie and alternative artists, "college 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 June's best music, highlighting my favorite albums and tracks, plus links to relevant features and news, a monthly playlist, and more.
June was a very busy month, with a couple weeks splitting at the seams from all the releases. I've narrowed it down here to my Top 5 but there are lots of runners up, including Flasher's Love is Yours, Hercules & Love Affair's In Amber, Shearwater's The Great Awakening, Automatic's Excess, and Art D'Ecco's After the Headrush.
As always, there were loads of songs I loved from this month and I picked my Top 10 and wrote about those below. But there's also a 50-song playlist with all my favorite June songs. LIsten to that via Spotify or Tidal below.
The Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop is well stocked with hand-picked vinyl, books and merch, including new albums by Kevin Morby, Belle & Sebastian, Porridge Radio, Spiritualized, Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Yard Act, Aldous Harding, and King Hannah, not to mention classics from Pylon, Sparks, Spoon, Stereolab, Broadcast, LIlys, The Cribs, Goldfrapp, Slowdive, Roxy Music, The LIbertines, and more.
How is half the year gone already? Head below for the Indie Basement June wrap-up.
INDIE BASEMENT - TOP 10 SONGS OF JUNE 2022 (ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
Belief - "WOT"
Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and producer Boom Bip met a decade ago and bonded over a shared love of '90s techno and house. They do the genres proud on their their debut album as Belief which is out in a couple weeks. Most of it is on the chill/fun side but "WOT" is an absolute stormer, the kind you could imagine Jon Hopkins dropping in the middle of a festival set. The surreal video is unsettlingly terrific.
Belle & Sebastian - "A Bit of Previous"
Belle & Sebastian have a history of releasing some of their best songs on EPs or as non-LP singles, from "Dog on Wheels" and "Waking Up to Us" to "Legal Man" and "Your Cover's Blown." Still it seems especially contrarian to leave the title track off your just-released album of the same name. Especially when it's this good. If "A Bit of Previous" had been on A Bit of Previous, it would've been one of the strongest songs on an already great record. This one sparkles with the kind of jangly guitar that might have you wondering "Did Johnny Marr play on this?"
The Beths - "Silence is Golden"
Liz Stokes, singer, guitarist and songwriter for The Beths, says "Silence is Golden" is about "stress and anxiety manifesting as an intolerance to noise, where each new sound makes you more and more stressed." Noise is cathartic, too, though and right after singing "I’d burn the city to the ground to turn it down," she and the rest of the band really let it rip. This one's worth annoying your neighbors at full volume.
Preorder The Beths' upcoming Expert in a Dying Field on canary yellow vinyl.
Daniel Avery - "Bliss"
"I’ve had the idea of making a shoegaze rave record for a while," says Daniel Avery of this wall-of-sound banger, "and this, especially as part of the live show, goes some way to satisfying that urge." Avery plays around with a few different styles on "Bliss," from the hard beat that you could imagine being in a Prodigy song, to a synth hook that's not a mile away from Robin S, to the ethereal soundscape atmosphere that really helps this live up to its title.
Dry Cleaning - "Don't Press Me"
"You are always fighting me." Dry Cleaning's Florence Shaw is talking about her own brain on "Don't Press Me," the first taste of the band's second album. Her bone dry delivery and wit are still as arid as ever, but she adds just a touch of welcome melody here which makes things just a little more approachable and is a step in the right direction. Plus: whistling! Delightful.
Preorder Dry Cleaning's new album Stumpwork on white vinyl.
Dummy - "Pepsi Vacuum"
L.A. band Dummy released a 7" via the Sub Pop Single Club and it's a bit of a concept piece with both sides using some of the same musical ideas in very different ways While the a-side, "Mono Retriever," is right in the pocket of their drone-and-groove style. "Pepsi Vacuum" is the real treat -- five minutes of pure atmosphere, with synthesizers that sound like mist rising off a lake at dawn, ethereal harmonies and a chill, inviting beat that lulls you into bliss before taking you over the top with crescendos of noise.
Fresh Pepper - "Seahorse Tranquilizer" ft Dan Bejar
Inspired by their love of jazzy, '70s soft rock and their experiences in restaurants and the service industry, Andre Ethier (The Deadly Snakes) and in-demand saxophonist Joseph Shabason's debut album as Fresh Pepper is a tasty treat. The most memorable course is "Seahorse Tranquilizer" which features Destroyer's Dan Bejar as a spaced-out diner who spouts surreal Bejar-esque nonsequiteurs like "guitars floating down the river, they just want to be free." What's he on about? Who cares as long as he pays the bill.
Jockstrap - "Glasgow"
UK duo Jockstrap -- Taylor Skye and Black Country, New Road's Georgia Ellery -- are not concerned with genre in the slightest as they gleefully put everything that suits their fancy into the blender, from techno and R&B to folk, rock, etc etc. "Glasgow," the new single from their upcoming debut album, is their friendliest creation to date, chopping up strummy acoustic guitars and layering in sweeping strings overtop an instantly hummable melody. If more current "indie" sounded like this, or at least brought this kind of anything-goes spirit to their music, we'd be in a better place.
Preorder I Love You Jennifer B, on green vinyl.
The Legends - "For Love"
As The Legends, Swedish musician and Labrador Records founder Johan Angergård has dabbled in just about every kind of "indie" music to varying degrees of success. After experiments with autotune slow jams and synthpop, "For Love" finds him back in the janglepop world of the earliest Legends records and it's a winner. While it's good to play around with new sounds it's also good to come home occasionally.
Naima Bock - "Campervan"
Former Goat Girl member Naima Bock went solo last year, and releases her debut album via Sub Pop this week. Born in Glastonbury to a Brazilian father and a Greek mother, Naima's music pulls influence from all over, as you can hear on the magical, transfixing "Campervan," which matches her breathy vocals to pastoral strings and woodwinds. Spoiler alert: the whole record is this good.
INDIE BASEMENT - TOP 5 ALBUMS OF JUNE 2022
Hollie Cook - Happy Hour (Merge)
I think Hollie's 2014 album Twice is still my favorite, but Happy Hour is pretty close. From the Indie Basement review:
Any record with Hollie's angelic vocals and harmonies (and songs) at the center is going to be good, but the arrangements on 2018's Vessel of Love brought things a little closer to earth. Not so with Happy Hour, which reintroduces the string section but also keeps the horns around, making for a very happy medium...This is a perfect summer album and Hollie's honeyed harmonies remain the star, but Happy Hour is the sound of Cook truly finding her own voice, and cheers to that.
Horsegirl - Versions of Modern Performance (Matador)
Chicago trio Horsegirl bring fresh eyes and ears to traditional indie rock and make it their own. From my review:
On their debut album, Versions of Modern Performance, Horsegirl seem to have absorbed the whole of '80s and '90s indie, post punk and "songs that no one else knows" and created their own version of it. You can feel Pavement and Pixies, lots of Sonic Youth and the rosters of well-curated labels like Flying Nun, Rough Trade and Matador (to which they're signed), but their songs are expertly constructed, often complex and always full of hooks and melodies that draw you in.
Kelley Stoltz - The Stylist (Agitated)
Kelley Stoltz is one of my favorite artists of the last 20 years and his albums are always worth hearing. The Stylist is no different. From the Indie Basement review:
Twenty years and nearly as many records into his career, you might think Kelley Stoltz has dabbled in all the genres he's likely to, but his 17th album finds him trying on some new looks. For the most part The Stylist leaves post-punk, folk and '60s psych on the shelf in favor of the kind of pastel-colored rock and pop that was all over the radio in the early-'80s, by way of the melted modern dreampop currently found on "chill" Spotify playlists. He's always got the tunes, but The Stylist may catch you off guard when his reference points are Loverboy ("In the Night") and Steve Miller Band ("Change") instead of Echo & the Bunnymen and XTC. Of course, Kelley works at a very high level and knows how to turn cheesy synth sounds into velvety sonic fondue.
Fresh Pepper - Fresh Pepper (Telephone Explosion)
Andre Ethier and Joel Shabason are two great tastes that taste great together on this jazzy concept album about restaurants. Dan Bejar's on this (see track review above) and here's a small slice of my review:
If you ever wanted Steely Dan to make a concept album about the daily grind of kitchen staff and waiters, it might go a little something like this. Across eight jazzy, groovy songs, Ethier and Shabason lay out a day in the life, from prep cooks who find themselves in the weeds and faced with new ways to chop onions, to post work partying, late, late night meals in Chinatown, and the infuriating sound of the alarm that always comes too soon. Sultry sax and flute and twinkling piano guild the lily like truffles and first-cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. It's delicious bite after delicious bite -- never say no to an offer of Fresh Pepper.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Fire Doesn't Grow On Trees (A Recordings)
Anton Newcombe delivers one of his most satisfying and concise BJM records in years. Plus: that artwork! (Made by Anton's son.) From my review:
Thirty-two years into the group, Anton Newcombe has few peers when it comes to this style of fuzzed-out psychedelia. This is an especially groovy album, with maracas-heavy drumming, very frug-able basslines and that combination of acoustic rhythm guitar and fuzzed out leads that never doesn't sound great. Anton has always known what he wants, sonically, and he really nails it here. Beyond the sound, Fire Doesn't Grow on Trees has some of his most memorable songs in a while, including "It's About Being Free Really," the gently swaying "What's In A Name?," the wonderfully defiant "Silenced," and the awesomely named "Ineffable Mindfuck."
Here's the Indie Basement Best of June playlist in Spotify and Tidal forms:
Looking for more? Browse the Indie Basement archives.
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