Bill’s Indie Basement (7/13): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
Friday the 13th is unlucky for some but not you, gentle readers of Indie Basement. No, today good fortune is with you in the form of new records by mutant punks The Intelligence, Melbourne, Australia's Terry, a new EP from Jorge Elbrecht (Violens, Lansing-Dreiden), Jane Church (aka Matt Stevenson who used to be in Spires), and a reissue of the sole album from Ben Stiller's high school post-punk band (not a joke).
If you need more Basement-approved tunes: Ian Svenonius' new Escape-ism single is pretty killer; another Melbourne band, School Damage, have a new LP on the way; and Gulp (which includes Super Furry Animals' Guto Pryce) are back with their second album;
And now, a little shameless plugging: UK group Girl Ray, whose debut LP came in at #3 on the Indie Basement Best of 2017 list, are playing Union Pool's Summer Thunder series on Saturday (7/14) and I'll be the DJ for the afternoon. I'll start spinning at 2 PM and the party, which includes a performance by Talullah Ruff, runs till 6 PM. It's free, Girl Ray are great, and I dug through my boxes of 45s for some gems.
While The Intelligence sound pretty good anywhere (even Terminal 5), their creeping rot garage rock tends to fit best in dingy DIY venues. Lars Finberg's fiery, angular guitar hooks -- not to mention the general sardonic worldview expressed in his lyrics -- are aural black mold, in a good way, and always go well with the cheapest beer possible.
Now you can experience a down-and-dirty Intelligence live show from the comfort of your own spotless home (and a couch you aren't scared to sit on) on The Intelligence - Live in San Francisco, which will be out September 14 via John Dwyer's Castle Face Records. It was recorded March 10, 2016 in a subterranean space below vintage clothes shop Vacation. Lars and co sound particularly on fire here, playing all the hits (as Dwyer asked them to, see below), including "Whip My Valet," "They Found Me in the Back of the Galaxy," "Evil is Easy," and the song which premieres in this post, "Dating Cops."
"I was watching a good friend of mine's awful band play a terrible song with a lot of changes and too many lyrics, out of desperation, and wondered if you could write a song with one chord and one sentence," says Lars. "You can - and now it’s our dumbest and catchiest song." The police siren "wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-oohs" sound particularly spirited here:
With this album you also get lots of good Lars banter, always a key part of any The Intelligence show. You can also catch The Intelligence live this month: tonight (7/13) in Seattle at Clock Out Lounge; Saturday (7/14) in Portland at Mississippi Studios; and July 20 in SF at Light Rail Studios.
Meanwhile...the press release for the live album was written by Castle Face label head (and head Oh See) John Dwyer and it's pretty entertaining, so here it is in full:
Lars Finberg: a name synonymous with artisanal hand-crafted, locally brewed, and organically-farmed song lasers.
Hilarious, fast, tour-tight and ballsy
The band has all these perks in pocket
And all that on borrowed gear!
I’ve watched this band go through many variations over the years and in their own right all of them have been marvelous
This particular version of the line up is constructed entirely of road-dogs
These guys don’t fuck around (or maybe they only fuck around, who can tell anymore?)
They drink, they get bawdy, they shred
and when we asked Lars if the band would be into doing a small show in a basement in the Tenderloin in SF for a live LP, he asked “What should we play?” and I replied “nothing but the hits”
and they did exactly that
The Intelligence and Lars himself are masters at the penning of hits
Hit after hit after hit
And with a soft shoed tippity-tap of crowd work and banter
You can really smell the basement on this one and feel the cobwebs grazing the top of your head as you go deaf in one ear from the eye level PA pointed directly at your soul hole
If you love this band then this is a great live LP of them scorching the hits and talking trash
If you don’t know this band (shame on you) then this is a good place to start
Did you know Ben Stiller used to be in a band? I don't mean The Grungies. This was when Ben was in high school in NYC, and the "ridiculously weird band" he and his buddies formed were called Capital Punishment. "We were listening to a lot of Bowie and Eno," Ben told Howard Stern a few years ago. "we recorded an album. It’s not great but some songs were okay."
If you dig Eno and Bowie and Sparks and Oingo Boingo, you might actually think it's more than okay, and the weirdness has aged pretty well. (Ben also called it "post-punk, neo-goth experimental" which is pretty on the money.) Captured Tracks acquired the rights to the record a few years ago and now, finally, Capital Punishment's only album, 1982's self-released Roadkill, is getting reissued on September 14. (Preorder.) You can get a taste via "Muzak Anonymous" which owes a little to Beefheart, Zappa, Eno, and Gang of Four, and is pretty great. Listen:
As for the other members of Capital Punishment, one is now a Supreme Court Justice for Arizona, another is a Professor of Slavic Studies, and another is a musician and documentarian... so one of them kept with it.
Matt Stevenson used to front Brooklyn band Spires, a group who I liked a lot that pulled from '60s psych, '70s glam and pre-Britpop UK groups like The Stone Roses and The Las. Spires called it quits before making a full LP and Matt now makes music as Jane Church. The group's debut 7" will be out later this month via Greenway Records, with a full-length due later this year. We've got the premiere of the single's A-side, "This Here City," which finds him working in similar territory as Spires -- smart, melodic guitar pop with a nice dose of attitude in his vocal delivery that gives it a little Lou Reed flair. You can check it out via the its video (directed by occasional BV contributor Jono Bernstein) which has Stevenson in disheveled lounge singer karaoke mode. Watch:
You may know enigmatic multi-talent Jorge Elbrecht as the man behind Lansing-Dreiden, Violens, or Presentable Corpse. You may know him from his production work which includes No Joy, Tamaryn, the new Gang Gang Dance album, and upcoming records from Wild Nothing and Sky Ferreira. (You may also know him from this column.) He released his first album under his own name earlier this year, and has just announced a new EP, Happiness, that will be out August 7.
Jorge is mercurial -- you can hear everything from Prefab Sprout to Scandinavian black metal in his music -- but '80s sounds are definitely his specialty, blending New Romantic pop with shoegaze and goth. The lead single off the new EP, "Down in Flames," is like Spandau Ballet on LSD -- dreamy and ethereal with a crooner's heart and penchant for melodrama. Elbrecht really is a master at this sort of stuff, have a listen:
Happiness is available for preorder, including an option that comes with a limited edition pin. Jorge will be on tour in Europe in August, including dates with Ariel Pink (Jorge was a Haunted Graffiti member) and a couple UK shows with Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.
I almost called Terry a supergroup in this post, but then I realized you could call half of the bands in the incestuous Melbourne garage/postpunk/jangle scene a supergroup. All these musicians play in a lot of bands, most of whom either include someone who is in Total Control or is just once removed from them. Anyway, Terry includes Al Montfort and Zephyr Pavey who are both in Total Control, plus Amy Hill and Xanthe Waite who aren't, but are in plenty of other bands. All four members write and sing, and they are fond of cowboy hats, yet Terry don't really twang so much as tilt at angles. They are more pop than Total Control but not quite as pop as Dick Diver, and are quite good.
Terry set to release their third album, titled I'm Terry, on August 31 via Upset the Rhythm and the first single is "The Whip" -- a driving, shambolic pop song that you could imagine being released by Rough Trade in 1980 alongside The Fall, Swell Maps and LiLiPUT.