Bill’s Indie Basement (3/23): the week in classic indie, college rock, and more
It's a bumper crop in the Basement this week. Wire are reissuing their classic first three albums, as well as releasing a Record Store Day 7" box of their early singles, plus the return of UK band The Bees (but under a different name), new music from Columbus, OH indie rock stalwarts Connections (who'll be on tour with Kurt Vile), plus new Italians Do It Better signee Tess Roby, and and some ramshackle guitar pop from Glasgow.
Wire's first three albums are stone-cold, unfuckwithable classics and it's pretty amazing to think how far the band progressed in just three years, from their 1977 minimal punk debut Pink Flag, to 1978's angular, perfect Chairs Missing, to 1979's the synth-embracing and at times Eno-esque 154. All three should be in your collection, and now they're being reissued and remastered in new deluxe editions that Wire are releasing themselves, due out May 22 as CD box sets and then June 22 as single-disc CDs and vinyl LPs.
The boxes contain demos, radio sessions, live recordings, b-sides, alternate versions and more, not to mentions booklets containing new liner notes from the band, introductions by Jon Savage and rare photos that haven't been seen for 40 years.. Pink Flag is a two disc set while Chairs Missing and 154 are three-disc sets.The bonus tracks will be exclusive to physical editions (aka no Spotify, etc). Preorder and check out tracklists via Wire's website.
Meanwhile Wire are releasing a singles box set for Record Store Day titled Nine Sevens. It features Wire's six singles that were originally released on the Harvest label, one released on Rough Trade (1981's non-LP "Our Swimmer"), and one single recorded in 1980 that was never released on 7". There's also the rare EP that came with initial copies of 154.
Both the album reissues are the singles box are all remastered from the original analogue source tapes with replicas of the original artwork. Check out the remaster of Wire's often-covered "Outdoor Miner" (a single and on Chairs Missing):
UK group The Bees (Bees!?!?) formed in 2001 and lived quaintly on the tiny Isle of Wight in the English Channel making decidedly retro-sounding records which they recorded with actual vintage gear. Their albums were charming, witty, tuneful, soulful, genre-hopping and generally smile-inducing. In America they were known as A Band of Bees because there was already a band called The Bees (who were also retro sounding and ended up changing their name to The Silver Seas). I liked them a lot and 2006's Octopus is my favorite if you're wondering.
The Bees haven't made a record since 2010's Every Step's a Yes, but core members Aaron Fletcher & Tim Parkin are now back under the name 77:78 and will release Jellies on July 6 via Heavenly. They pretty much pick up where The Bees left off judging from first single "Love Said (let's Go)," a lightly jazzy pop number akin to Classics IV's "Spooky" that's resplendent in horns and melotrons. As always, Fletcher and Parkin are masters at getting these records to sound just right. I love it. Check out the song's colorfully psychedelic video:
Columbus, OH quartet and 2014 BV SXSW Day Party alumni, Connections, will release their fifth album, Foreign Affairs, on May 11 via the reliable Trouble in Mind Records. These guys are classicists, having studied the greats both local (Pollard, Deal) and world wide (Westerberg, Malkmus), and though their songs come off tossed-off and slack (motherfucker), there is real skill in their approach and execution. For example: "Low Low Low" is the kind of riff-rocking, Tall Boy-chugging anthem that sounds like Friday night at a neighborhood bar and you can almost feel the peanut shells crunching under your shoes as you listen.
Connections are gonna be playing a few dates with Kurt Vile & The Violators in June, including their shows in New Haven, CT and Jersey City.
Next up: Vital Idles who are from Glasgow and whose members include Ruari MacLean who was in Golden Grrrls, as well as Jessica Higgins, Matthew Walkerdine, and Nick Lynch who are all part of Glasgow DIY publishing institution Good Press. Following a couple 7"s they've signed with quality indie Upset the Rhythm for their debut album, Left Hand, which is out June 1.
"A Premise" is the first song to be released from the album and splits the difference between Veronica Falls' moody jangle and The Pastels' detuned charm. Check it out:
Vital Idles will be on tour soon, including UK dates with No Age and Jeffrey Lewis. All dates are here.
I caught Montreal musician and photographer Tess Roby at the 2017 edition of M for Montreal where I was taken with her unique brand of synthpop. At the time she only only had a couple singles out, including her first 12" for Italians Do it Better, the very lovely "Ballad 5." She's now announced her debut album, Beacon, which is out April 20 via Italians Do it Better. Given her label, the obvious comparison might be Chromatics, but Tess' music is more tangible, more human. There's also more drama in her voice and a bit of baroque in the arrangements that is is somewhere between Austra and Molly Nilsson by way of Steve Reich's percolating repetition. Check out the video for the album's gossamer first single, "Catalyst":