Indie Basement: Best Songs & Albums of September 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 September's best music, highlighting my favorite albums and songs, plus links to relevant features and news, a monthly playlist, and more.
After a typically quiet August, September exploded with an overflowing weekly cornucopia of new music. My Top 10 songs of the month expanded to 12 to accommodate all the stuff I really liked this month, which included at least two things I would never have thought would be here, along with new songs from some of my favorite artists, and some very anticipated ones as well.
Meanwhile, this September had five Fridays, so there was no shortage of great new albums. I kept things to five, but runners-up include records from The Intelligence, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crack Cloud, Preoccupations, Tim Burgess, Unloved, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bjork, and more. Check out all my album and song picks below.
For the overflow, I put together a playlist of all my favorite songs from the month, nearly six hours worth. Listen to that below.
If you need more, inspired by Moonage Daydream, I rounded up 30 Great David Bowie Covers by Indie/Alt artists, and I gathered up just as many indie/alt music videos that feature famous actors (Bowie shows up in that one too, actually).
You can also pick up many of this month's albums on vinyl in the Indie Basement section of the BV shop, along with records by Beach House, Broadcast, Stereolab, Pavement, Wet Leg, Parquet Courts, Belle & Sebastian, Talking Heads, Spoon, Cocteau Twins, Can, Dinosaur Jr and lots, lots more.
INDIE BASEMENT - BEST SONGS OF SEPTEMBER 2022
Northern Boys - "Party Time"
If truth be told, I've watched the video for "Party Time" more than I've listened to any other single song this month. While it's clearly a joke, and unclear whether septuagenarians Patrick and Norman are the ones actually rapping, it doesn't really matter. The mix of a very bleak outlook, the mundane roadside setting of the video, and hilarious, quotable rhymes (if you have a dark streak, of course) elevate this into, dare I say it, art? The kind Chris Morris would approve of, at least. Whoever is rapping they've got real flow and the backing -- sampled from a karaoke version of Estelle's "American Boy" -- is a banger but it really works best with the video, which features crucial third member -- their Bez -- Kevin. This is so perfect, I'm not sure I want there to be any more Northern Boys' songs, but as there are associated acts, this will not be the last we've heard from them.
Alice Boman - "Where to Put the Pain"
I'm a sucker for skittering drumbeats like this which Swedish artist Alice Boman sets to gentle piano, which is a combination that recalls Sebastian Tellier's great 2005 single "La Ritournelle." Alice is in a much more somber mood, though, dealing with grief and overwhelming global bad vibes. Ultimately, though, "Where to Put the Pain" is a touching, danceable love song, seeking trust and comfort in others. "Can I turn to you?”
Decius - "Look Like a Man"
While Fat White Family have been dormant since 2019's excellent Surf's Up, frontman Lias Saoudi has stayed busy with various side project, the most recent of which is Decius, a group that also features fellow deviants Liam & Luke May (founders of Trashmouth Records) and with Warmduscher's Quinn Whalley. They're channeling late-'90s acid house / techno / rave, with gurgling synth arpeggios and a relentless high-hat driven disco beat. Saoudi provides sleaze, sweat and a rather demented falsetto. "Nothing so pure, so essential, so forgiving yet so firm has ever throbbed its way out of an industrial estate in New Malden," the label says, and I'll take their word on that.
Deerhoof - "My Lovely Cat!"
Who better than Deerhoof to pay tribute to the late internet famous feline Lil Bub than Deerhoof? Even it just by accident. "My Lovely Cat" was apparently written before the band had ever heard of him, but after he died the song took on new meaning for them, especially when Bub's human, Mike Bridavsky, ended up producing the track. This is everything you want in a Deerhoof song, with a nagging, skronky riff and crashing drums in the verses that give way to a gorgeous, dreamy chorus and a frenetic middle-eighth, all the while bassist and singer Satomi Matsuzaki is her usual gregarious self with lines like "YOU ARE MY IMMORTAL FRIEND!" It's all in Japanese but that seems all the more appropriate somehow.
Foyer Red - "Pollen City"
We are past the Autumn Equinox, but Brooklyn band Foyer Red have just presented this song about the promise of spring -- and the allergies that come with it. "Pollen City" is riot of color that with singer Elana Riordan's warm clear voice and jazzy instrumentation is somewhere between Swedish bands The Cardigans and Dungen. When things erupt into ebullient noise near the end, it's like a mosh pit in a field of tulips.
Gaz Coombes - "Don't Say It's Over"
Gaz Coombes spent a chunk of 2022 with his old Supergrass mates on their pandemic-delayed reunion tour but those who were hoping it might lead to a new band album appear to be out of luck, as he's gearing up to release new solo album Turn the Car Around in January. That's just fine, as his way with widescreen glammy rock is as sharp as ever on this terrific early taste of the album. "Don't Say It's Over" is absolutely gorgeous stuff, cinematic and soaring, with a dark noir undercurrent. You could almost say this Britpop vet is going trip hop, but it's more like his Bond theme. Maybe he should tour with Arctic Monkeys.
Hollie Cook - Move My Way (Black Science Orchestra Remix)
House music producer Ashley Beedle, under his Black Science Orchestra guise, is behind this wonderful remix of Hollie Cook's ode to Carnival culture, "Move My Way," from this year's great Happy Hour. He strips out everything but Hollie's vocals, the effervescent harmonies and the horns, and then adds an infectious rat-a-tat disco beat and bubbling synthesizers that pull it somewhere between house and acid jazz, a style that not only befits the song's festive vibe but also Hollie's honeyed voice.
LCD Soundsystem - "New Body Rhumba"
This is more like it. I do not begrudge LCD for "coming back" after playing a "final show" at Madison Square Garden -- or for playing a zillion bro-filled shows at Brooklyn Steel, though that Bored Ape NFT show was maybe not the best look -- and am a fan of their "comeback" album American Dream, but this is the band that had us dancing in the '00s. Powered by an instantly catchy, very angular postpunk riff, "New Body Rhumba" treads the uniquely LCD line between funky and world weary, and also has all the stuff you want: cowbell, James Murphy falsetto and, most crucially, lots of Nancy Whang shouting.
The Orielles - "The Room"
Having moved from Liverpool to Manchester during the pandemic, UK group The Orielles are further exploring the intersection of indie and dance music on their upcoming fourth album Tableau. "The Room" is a stunner, powered by a driving beat that sounds like it could go full jungle at any second with light, swooping strings and vibraphone dotting the rich arrangement while Esmé Hand-Halford whispers lines like "The moon is the room." The band cite Art of Noise and Portishead as influences here but this one more than anything recalls their Heavenly Recordings labelmates Saint Etienne. Can't wait to hear the whole album, which is out October 7.
Paramore - "This is Why"
Paramore in Indie Basement? No you haven't accidentally clicked to some other post. I have never been a fan of Paramore in the past but this is custom-designed to make an indie snob like myself give them another shot, with a komische rhythm section right out of Cologne 1973 (it's very Can) and some seriously angular guitars. By the time the more typical Paramore-isms come into play, you're hooked. Well I was. "This is Why"? This is how you get me.
The WAEVE - "Can I Call You"
Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and former Pipette member Rose Elinor Dougall are clearly approaching this collaboration for the love of the music and not as some kind of indie supergroup, as the excellent, unusual opening track on The WAEVE's debut album shows. "Can I Call You" plays off the unique qualities of the duo, starting off gently -- owing just a little to Vangelis' Chariots of Fire theme -- before picking up steam and turning more into a motorik postpunk jam, with both Coxon and Dougall singing. It's a little weird but definitely wonderful. Oh, and Coxon plays sax all over this. Who knew?
Weyes Blood - "It's Not Just Me, It's Everybody"
"Fragile in the morning, can't hold on to much of anything with this hole in my hand," Natalie Mering laments, noting the distancing effect technology has had on our lives. "We've all become strangers, even to ourselves." Can we still disconnect? Mering grapples with the idea on this gorgeous first taste of her long-awaited follow-up to this site's #1 album of 2019. Even if you're listening on your phone, the swooning melodies -- aided greatly by Mary Lattimore's harp -- will make you feel a little better about the world. And for the more cynical among us, Weyes Blood offers up a demented vision of the future, somewhere between Gene Kelly and The Omega Man, in the song's video.
INDIE BASEMENT - BEST ALBUMS OF SEPTEMBER 2022
Beth Orton - Weather Alive (Partisan)
Having mixed folk and electronics long before someone regrettably coined the term "folktronica," Beth Orton has seen what she does go in and out of style a few times, but with Weather Alive she is finally, fully behind the wheel and steering into gorgeous sunset territory. Working with The Smile's Tom Skinner, The Invisible's Tom Herbert and Shahzad Ismaily, these songs feel loose and free and Weather Alive compares easily to Talk Talk's final two albums, in vibe at least. There is great care in these songs that can feel formless and flowing, in a way you're happy to let carry you. [Full review]
Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B (Rough Trade)
The debut album from UK duo Jockstrap is the sound of total freedom. You have no idea where Ellery and Taylor Skye will take you next, but you can't wait to find out. No genre is uncool or verboten, whether it's country, house, smooth R&B, Disney soundtrack balladry, hip hop production new and old, '80s new wave and electro; you name it, it's here, smushed up against something else you wouldn't think could possibly go together, but they make it seem like the most natural thing. Georgia Ellery's voice is as elastic as Taylor Skye's inventive production and really ties the whole album together, from the gentle, harp-plucked lullaby "Angst" to chopped-up numbers like the title track. I Love You Jennifer B is a trip without roads or rules but with Jockstrap's boundless creativity you never feel lost. [Full review]
The Beths - Expert in a Dying Field (Carpark)
The title of New Zealand band The Beths' third album is a reference to matters of the heart -- "Love is learned over time," frontwoman Liz Stokes sings, "‘till you’re an expert in a dying field" -- but it could also apply to the style of buzzing, expertly crafted, effortlessly hooky indie rock the band make. This sort of guitar pop, that's both jangly and crunchy, used to be a staple of college radio and Modern Rock charts that all but died out in mid-'00s. I'm happy to report that The Beths are winning this particular battle, as they continue to play to bigger and bigger audiences, and Expert in a Dying Field is their most satisfying record yet. [Full review]
Lambchop - The Bible (Merge)
The Bible is unlike any other Lambchop album and yet it's like every Lambchop album all at once, the kind of fucked-up country / gospel / disco / jazz / torch song record that could only be made in Minneapolis by a Nashvillian with access to vocoders and a throat singer. It's dark and often sad, but also joyous, moving, contemplative and inspiring. [Full review]
2nd Grade - Easy Listening (Double Double Whammy)
If you like classic power pop -- the kind born in the mid-'70s with The Raspberries, Big Star and Cheap Trick, featuring a mix of jangly and fuzzy guitars, sugar-sweet melodies and harmonies, and endless crushes -- Philadelphia's 2nd Grade are one of the best new bands in the field. Traditionalists who have studied the masters, the band pack in maximum hooks and feeling into their two-and-a-half minute earworms on their second album. Come for the soaring choruses, perfect middle-eighths that glide into tight solos, and raging hormones, and then stay for the nods to Bergman and Seinfeld. [Full review]
Here's the Indie Basement Best of September 2022 Playlist in Spotify & TIDAL forms: