Indie Basement (7/1): the week in classic indie, college rock, and moreBeyond “Blue Monday”: New Order’s Best Deep Cuts

Welcome to July! Holiday weekends are usually not the most exciting time for new releases, but today sees the release of one of my favorite albums of the year so far (Naima Bock's Giant Palm), as well as great new albums from Gwenno and Guided by Voices. Plus: quality Melbourne dolewave punk via Vintage Crop, and the first taste of Swedish band The Mary Onettes' first new album in a decade.

For more of this week's new albums, Andrew checks out Moor Mother, Fresh, and more in Notable Releases.

If you're still catching up, you can also check out the Indie Basement Best Albums & Songs of June 2022. Need more? With half the year gone, we also just posted our list of Our Favorite Albums of 2022 So Far, and our list of the summer's most anticipated albums.

The Indie Basement corner of the BrooklynVegan shop is well stocked with hand-picked vinyl, books and merch, including new albums by Kevin Morby, Belle & Sebastian, Porridge Radio, Spiritualized, Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Yard Act, Aldous Harding, and King Hannah, not to mention classics from Pylon, Sparks, Spoon, Stereolab, Broadcast, LIlys, The Cribs, Goldfrapp, Oasis, Echo & The Bunnymen, Slowdive, Roxy Music, The LIbertines, and more.

Have a nice, hopefully long, weekend. Head below for this week's reviews.

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ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Naima Bock - Giant Palm (Sub Pop / Memorials of Distiction)
This former Goat Girl member delivers on of the year's best albums with her quietly dazzling solo debut

What a genuinely bewitching album.

Naima Bock, formerly of London's Goat Girl, nearly gave up music as a professional pursuit after leaving the band, going back to school to study archeology and working as a gardener. She still wrote songs, but they were just for her, and only occasionally played out. But at one of those shows, her songs caught the ear of Joel Burton of Viewfinder who imagined them becoming bigger, more grand. They began collaborating, and when the pandemic hit they had plenty of time to really explore where Naima's songs could go, and Goat Girl producer Dan Carey offered them his Speedy Wunderground studio as a place to do so.

The album they created, Giant Palm, is quietly dazzling, drawing from a wide range of influences including '70s British folk, jazz, and Tropicalia. Bock was born to a Brazilian father and a Greek mother, but she told The Quietus that people shouldn't read too much into that in regards to this album. “Ultimately, I grew up in England, I don’t want to milk it too much,” adding that while she loves Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny, she sees "this album as distinct from my love and passion for folk music.”

Bock and Burton barely make a misstep on Giant Palm, which feels autumnal and springlike, melancholic and hopeful, all at the same time. "And when the world, crumbles at my feet / I’ll pick it up and pull it tight against my cheek," she sings on the title track which opens the album. "Until the wind, blows it all away / And leaves me here to waste away another day." The song's all gloomy English weather till the chorus, "So I float higher, high above it all." Bock's breathy vocals are in ethereal harmony, and things take gorgeous flight. There are many gossamer moments here: when the rhythm and sax kick in halfway through "Working"; the swirling strings and flutes on "Toll"; and the horn arrangements in "Natural" that sound like a heart breaking in two.

The whole of Giant Palm feels like a breakup, perhaps romantic, perhaps musical. The album's best song and centerpiece is "Campervan," a swaying, wistful waltz where Bock sings "Looking for a camper van / Looking for a different band / In wind and rain I’ll find my birth / And when I can I’ll go alone / In silence I will make my home / Tread lightly now on this great earth." She then pauses before singing "and it hurts" which is followed by the most beautiful instrumental passage, jazzy and sad as any words. The album plays like a giant sunset, the feeling lasting long after the light has disappeared below the horizon.

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Gwenno - Tresor (Heavenly)
Third album from the former Pipette continues her wonderful, unique path

Pairing nicely with the Naima Bock album this week is the third album from Gwenno Saunders. She's had such a distinctive solo career it's hard to imagine she was once part of the '00s-era neo-girl group The Pipettes. Her debut was a sci-fi concept album in Welsh, while her second, Le Kov, was a tribute to her Cornwall home and helped shine a light on the little-spoken Cornish tongue (which actually prompted a resurgence in the language). The music she makes is also equal parts organic and alien, ethereal and earthy, with striking swoops of strings, groovy '60s basslines, krautrock drumming, and marimba backing her high, heavenly voice. Like Le Kov, Tresor is also sung almost entirely in Cornish but there are no grand concepts this time; instead, she turns inward, examining love, desire, femininity, motherhood and more. Most of the world will have to take her word on that, but for those not fluent in Cornish, the beguiling, otherworldly music -- part Broadcast, part Cocteau Twins, part fantastical dream -- speaks volumes. As the album title translates to English, Tresor is a treasure.

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guided by voices - Tremblers And Goggles By Rank

Guided by Voices - Tremblers And Goggles By Rank (GBV Inc)
Guided by Voices make a confident bid for arena rock status on their second album of 2022

Robert Pollard seems to be on a four month schedule these days, popping out an album -- be it Guided by Voices, solo or side project -- three times a year or so. Not to sound like a broken record, but his combined stats of prolificacy to batting average are continually impressive. Tremblers And Goggles By Rank, another great GBV word salad title btw, is the band's second album of 2022 and follows along a similar high-fi rock path as Crystal Nuns Cathedral, except...this one's ever better? The hit count here is especially high, the current lineup of the band (Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr., Mark Shue, Kevin March) are now a well-oiled rock machine, and the high caliber production by Travis Harrison (who has worked on the last few albums) elevates everything.

Pollard went through a similar high-fi phase when the band were signed to TVT around the turn of millennium, for better (The Isolation Drills) or worse (Do the Collapse) but Crystal Nuns and Tremblers are much more natural realizations of Pollard's big rock Who's Next dreams. Just listen to opening cut "Lizard on a Red Brick Wall": the bass is distorted to bulldozer levels, the drums are almost '80s-sized and the guitars roar with the might of 1000 Marshal stacks, while Bob cries "The lizard is on a reign!" At the right volume this could demolish buildings. It also kicks off one of the most satisfying opening trio of songs in recent memory, with the soaring Big Star tribute "Alex Bell" and the snarling "Unproductive Funk." The rest of the album is nearly as good, with lengthier, twistier songs counterbalanced by short, punchy rockers. Everything has a magisterial quality to it. Guided by Voices may never play arenas but listening to this makes it sound within their grasp.

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Vintage Crop - Kibitzer (Upset the Rhythm)
Rabble-rousing fourth album by Vintage Crop should fill your Melbourne punk quota for the quarter

It's been a while since we featured some Melbourne "dolewave" punk in Indie Basement, so thankfully Vintage Crop are here with their fourth album. These guys sound like a barfight waiting to happen, with cheap instruments played with maximum volume and attitude, and you can feel the shouty sneer coming even before frontman Jack Cherry opens his mouth and his heavily accented sprechgesang spews forth. “I feel like a lot of our lyrics over the years have been our unsolicited opinions on other people’s situations, the very definition of the word Kibitzer," says Cherry. "So for this record we wanted to lean into that tendency by acknowledging it and even go as far as stamping it on the album cover.” Kibitzer is up in your business whether you like it or not.

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mary onettes - what i feel in some places

The Mary Onettes - What I Feel In Some Places EP (Westside Music Sweden)
Eighties-loving Swedes offer up the first taste of their first album in eight years.

It's been a while since we've heard from Sweden's The Mary Onettes -- their last album was 2014's Portico -- but they're finally gearing up to release their fifth album. Details are still scant but they've shared the first single, "What I Feel in Some Place," which picks up right where they left off, mixing tropical '80s synthpop and mopey postpunk. Did they invent Beach Goth? Is this the sound of Robert Smith on vacation in Aruba? No, but it's a delicious Dark & Stormy served with an umbrella.

The single is backed with two other tracks: the dreamy "Mind on Fire" (which probably should've been titled "Beats on Fire" which is what I think Philip Ekström is singing in the chorus), and a truly lovely instrumental, "Palace." Welcome back, Mary Onettes!

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Beyond “Blue Monday”: New Order’s Best Deep Cuts