Are you ready for the summer? it's here, officially, and we've got a big week of releases, including new albums from Hollie Cook, Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Seattle indie rock stalwarts BOAT, LA minimal wave trio Automatic, Tim Heidecker (ft Kurt Vile, Eric D Johnson, more), Air's JB Dunckel, Young Guv (former Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook), Art D'Ecco, Stealing Sheep, and a collection of late-'70s Wire demos. Eleven albums in all, the biggest week in the basement so far this year.
It's just as big a week in Notable Releases with Andrew reviewing new albums from Soccer Mommy, Zola Jesus, Joan Shelley and more. If you need more Basement-related stuff: Stereolab announced a fifth (and possible final) volume of their Switched On series and Thor Harris has made a dub reggae album.
You should also check out out the Indie Basement corner of the BV shop, which is stocked to the gills with hand-picked vinyl, books and merch featuring such artists as Pavement, Wet Leg, Beach House, Stereolab, The Clash, Fontaines DC, Horsegirl, My Bloody Valentine, Aldous Harding, Nada Surf, Parquet Courts, The Cribs, Lilys, Cocteau Twins, Broadcast and lots more.
Head below for all of this week's many, many album reviews.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK #1: Hollie Cook - Happy Hour (Merge)
Hollie Cook comes into her own on her easy, breezy beautiful fourth album
Hollie Cook's 2018 album Vessel of Love was her first for Merge and also her first not produced by Prince Fatty. While still within her particular blend of lovers rock, the album was a stylistic turn for Cook, who left behind the lush strings of her first two albums in favor of a more horn-centric sound. Any record with Hollie's angelic vocals and harmonies (and songs) at the center is going to be good, but the arrangements 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.
Happy Hour is the first album Hollie's made with her live band, and there's a warm sense of comfort throughout these nine breezy tracks, not to mention confidence. “I used to definitely lean on my producers (Prince Fatty and Youth), but my vision was always to write and produce with my band,” Hollie says. “We are a circle of trust.” There's a little more bounce, too, like on "Move My Way" which adds Soca rhythms to the mix, and the steel drum-inflected "Kush Kween" that features vocals from Jah9. Meanwhile, "Gold Girl" has the orchestral sweep of a great Bond theme, and "Full Moon Baby" and "Unkind Love" are terrific showcases for her pop songwriting skills. 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.