Hi. We survived Tax Day and 420 and the weather is finally starting to warm up here in Brooklyn, and this week I've got five albums that would make a nice accompaniment to all the new flora and fauna:
Everything But the Girl don't miss a step with their first new album in 25 years; plus jangly UK group Holiday Ghosts, River City Band ( Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo), the softer side of µ-Ziq, and the newest installment of Django Django's upcoming fifth album.
Notable Releases, Andrew reviews new records from redveil, Esther Rose, superviolet, and eight more. There's also more Basement-friendly news from this week: I interviewed Love and Rockets' Daniel Ash about the band's upcoming reunion tour; Johnny Marr has a new book about his guitars; Cornershop are back; Super Furry Animals offshoot Das Koolies announced their debut album; La Femme are making a Hawaii-themed album; and Interpol have launched a cool "Interpolations" series featuring reworks by Makaya McCraven, Daniel Avery and more.
Record Store Day -- what's on your list?
If leaving the house to shop isn't you thing, may I suggest the
Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop? It's packed with vinyl and merch from Primal Scream, Love & Rockets, Caribou, The Raincoats, King Gizzard, Cocteau Twins, Grant Lee Buffalo, The Lemonheads, DEBBY FRIDAY, Sleaford Mods, Belle & Sebastian, New Pornographers, Naima Bock, Stereolab, Protomartyr, Mogwai, The Flaming Lips, Bowie, and lots more.
Head below for this week's reviews.
everything but the girl-FUSE-COVER-3000px
ALBUM OF THE WEEK #1: Everything But the Girl - (Buzzin' Fly / Virgin) FUSE The unexpected return of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt; their first album in 25 years is everything you could want
Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt's first Everything But the Girl album in 25 years is fantastic. I reviewed it elsewhere on the site and here's an excerpt:
...What came out was
FUSE, the duo's first album in 25 years, that is pretty much everything you could want from a EBTG record in 2023. They have covered a lot of musical ground over the last 40 years, from bossa nova to Sophistipop to cutting edge electronic music, but they basically pick up where Temperamental left off. Almost entirely electronic and in line with everything they've done before, the album manages to find new paths to explore without ever falling into "How do you do, fellow kids" territory. Read the whole thing here. Tracey and Ben say they have no interesting in touring, but three years ago they had no interest in another album. We'll see.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK #2: Holiday Ghosts - (FatCat) Absolute Reality Fourth album from this Cornwall. UK band is full of big hooks and ramshackle charm
Holiday Ghosts began life as a DIY bedroom pop project for Samuel Stacpoole while at university in Falmouth, Cornwall, making four-track recordings inspired by The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers, Tronics and Television Personalities. Soon Katja Rackin joined, and these days Holiday Ghosts is a proper four-piece band, but that DIY spirit still runs strong in their music.
Absolute Reality, their fourth album, has a wonderful ramshackle air to it, a hand-crafted mid-fi ambience that really suits jangly, strummy earworms like "Vulture," "Again and Again," and "Favorite Freak" all of which soar with big hooks and Stacpoole and Rackin's co-lead vocal harmonies. At first the album may sound on the naive and unpolished side, but the skill used to create these hooks and melodies soon becomes apparent as they burrow their way into your brain. Absolute Reality is immensely replayable and blossoms with every listen.
rose city band garden party
Rose City Band - (Thrill Jockey) Garden Party Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips' Ripley Johnson unleashes his inner Jerry Garcia on this sunny, noodly and very enjoyable tour-de-force
We're just now getting into spring's warmer weather: the trees in Brooklyn have blossomed, and farmers markets are full of ramps and fiddleheads. I can think of no better soundtrack to nature's rebirth, circa now, than
Garden Party, the new album from Rose City Band. Ostensibly the twangy solo project of Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips frontman Ripley Johnson, whose liquid guitar leads power the group, he smartly surrounds himself here with an amazing group of sidemen, including pedal steel player Barry Walker, and keyboardist Paul Hasenberg whose instruments fill in these simple songs like pastel watercolors. (Moon Duo's Sanae Yamada plays on a few songs as well, and the album was produced by Tortoise's John McEntire.) Garden Party is firmly in Grateful Dead territory, but the mix of Ripley's rippling leads and Hasenberg's swirling organ aren't miles away from Felt on songs like "Slow Burn." As I was listening to this album on a recent sunny afternoon, I thought the use of chirping birds was a perfect touch alongside the interstellar blips and bloops of bucolic album closer "El Rio." It turned out that was actual birds outside my window, but this is the kind of pure sunshine that welcomes everyone to party
Django Django - Off Planet Pt 3
Django Django - (Because Music) Off Planet Pt 3 Jack Penate, Stealing Sheep and more turn up on the third side of Django Django's ambitious new double album
Django Django's fifth album is really shaping up to be their most inventive, and maybe their best, since their 2012 debut. Made with an anything-goes spirit, a crate-digging, genre-hopping zeal, and seemingly no worries for how any of it might be played live, there's an energy here the band haven't had in a while (though I thought 2021's
was terrific). They've been releasing whole sides of this double album every month leading up to the June release date, and they've just dropped the third. Each side is a themed "planet" and this one sizzles with techno, house, and other early-'90s influences. As on the two previous sides, there are a few special guests: Jack Peñate, who has spent the last couple years collaborating behind the scenes with SAULT, sings lead on the warm and jazzy "No Time"; South African singer Toya Delazy enlivens the rolling, acid house grooves of "Galaxy Mood"; and Stealing Sheep steal the show on the dreamy, sultry "Dead Machine." There's also "Dumdum" that owes a little to Adamski's "Killer" and "The Oh Zone" is a wonderful chillout track. One more Glowing in the Dark Planet to go and I can't wait.
µ-Ziq - 1977
µ-Ziq - (Balmat) 1977 Mike Paradinas' fifth µ-Ziq album in two years chills things out considerably
Mike Paradinas has been on a real tear, releasing five albums under his µ-Ziq moniker in the last two years. The fifth,
1977, was released via Balmat Records (run by Albert Salinas and Pitchfork writer Philip Sherburne) and not Paradinas' own Planet Mu label, and is decidedly different than his previous four records. There are almost no slice-and-diced breakbeats, and not really beats of any kind for most of the album. Instead, 1977 is primarily a comedown album full of gorgeous detuned synths, choral voices and gentle, flowing basslines. Even on the title track, which opens with an arpeggiated synth line right out of "I Feel Love," it's all tease with all that gurgling never rising above a low simmer. Only "Houzz 13" and "Mesolithic Jungle," both of which tell you where they're going in the title, come close to working up a sweat but even those are polite head bobbers. This is not a criticism; as usual Paradinas is an expert at creating moods and soundscapes, and with 1977 he's happy just to float.
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