separate cellaris a weekly column on BrooklynVegan that focuses on classic indie and alternative artists, "college rock," and new and current acts following a similar path. There are reviews of new albums, reissues, box sets, books, and sometimes movies and TV shows. I've rounded up the best music from May, featuring my favorite songs and albums, plus links to relevant features and news, a monthly playlist, and more.
How was your mayonnaise? Mine was pretty good as you can see. I kept my album picks at five, but one of the finalists is Kevin Morby'sBut photos, Mega Bog'sthe end of everything, BC Camplight'sThe last revolution of the earth, Margarita'sgreat big open airand modern cosmologyWhat should you grow now?
This has been a particularly good month for songs, but I managed to keep my list of the best songs of the month down to just under 10, but as usual, the Indie Basement Best of May playlist includes these songs, songs from my album selections. , plus 40 more. Listen below.
Some indie basement related stuff from May -- I was looking back on a new orderfor his 40th birthday; Andsiouxsie sioux,Sisters of grace,,Pulp,Veil,speed girl, jDiapersthey are all back.
did you visitIndependent corner of the basement of the BV store? It's true, and it's full of great records, handpicked by yours truly, inclusiveour exclusive limited edition color vinyl version of Alvvay's debut album, our exclusive,limited edition spiral vinyl van Thee Oh Sees'Live at Levitation, Insingle signature of Don Letts, jmuch more.
Go below for song reviews and my favorite albums from May.
Melena's - "Bang"
"Bang" is a marvel of deliberate song construction and arrangement. A two-note synth hook immediately draws you in, but as Melenas adds layers of sound - motor percussion, guitars locked into a drony jingle - the track goes the other way. When the "Bang Bang Bang" chorus and multi-harmonics kick in, you realize that this band from Pamplona, Spain has taken you through the back door into pop song territory.
Activity - "Watch out, let's go to sleep"
Brooklyn Activity are masters of eerie vibes, and there's an otherworldly doppelgänger vibe to "Careful Let's Sleepwalk" that's as creepy as it is compelling. Creepy whispers? Account. Spooky choirs? Account. Guitar effects sounding backwards? Account. It's a waking nightmare you don't want to get rid of.
Blur - "The Narcissist"
Damon Albarn seems to be a permanent resident of Melancholy Hill these days, with a gloomy gray sky looming over everything he does. The very somber "The Narcissist" probably could have been a solo track, but when backing vocals from Graham Coxon and Alex James kick in, we're firmly in Blur Territory. Coxon manages to let go of his indie guitar hero towards the end and dives further into his separate world. He is a grower and so he ages gracefully. His moves, Jarvis and the Gallaghers.
Cut Worms - "Ballad of the King of Texas"
Max Clarke of Cut Worms is a time traveler who plays music that could have been popular in the '50s, '60s or '70s. Yet he doesn't live in the past and brings a thoughtful curiosity to the world today, and in "Ballad of the Texas King" his younger self visits to calm him down and teach him how to handle blows, ready for a moment. earworm melody. .
Girl Ray - "Ovenpa"
Girl Rays tredje album,Prestige, is a perfect summer album, filled with great disco pop moments reminiscent of early 80s acts like Bananarama, Orange Juice and General Public. It seems like a crime that the album won't be out until summer is almost over, but at least they keep putting out great songs like this and I keep putting them in Songs of the Month. We may have heard most of it by the time the album comes out.
Grian Chatten (from Fontaines DC) - "Fairies"
In Fontaine's DC, Grian Chatten is known for his intense, barking tone, but he shows the softer side in his songs.upcoming solo debutthey use your voice just as well. He's clearly inspired too, saying most of the album has come out of him fully formed, and his sheer exuberance shines through even in the quieter moments.
Kong Hannah - "Like a Prayer"
“We really wanted this Madonna song to breathe with lots of space and sparse instrumentation that builds slowly and subtly,” says King Hannah of the smoldering version of “Like a Prayer.” "We wanted to take a song from such an iconic artist and bring it into the world of King Hannah." Mission accomplished, even if it doesn't sound like anything they've done before, with just pulsating synths and Hannah Merrick's smoking pipes. The extended version, the only version you need to listen to, unleashes Craig Whittle's glorious knurled guitar.
Courtyard - "Outside"
I assumed the Brooklyn Backyard band fell victim to the pandemic and launched theirsa great debut albumin 2019 and was never heard from again. I'm very glad I'm wrong, this first taste of what is the long awaited follow up to that record, it's excellent. "En Plein Air" was produced by Nate Amos of Water From Your Eyes, bringing a freshness not always present in his own group's music. This is party time too, with just a hint of disco added to the ringing, post-punk-inspired sound. . Welcome back.
Pip Blom - "Is It Love?" with Alex Kapranos
Formerly known as a jangly indie band, Amsterdam based Pip Blom has embraced synths and drum machines on their forthcoming third album, and given the power of the songs heard so far, it's working. "This is Love?" you'd get mid-2000s comparisons without the presence of Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, but his sweeping vocal style propels him straight into "Take Me Out" territory. The video is great too:
Sweeping Promises - "Gum"
Sweeping Promises debut album came out of nowhere in the summer of 2020, the kind of danceable rock record reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney, Kleenex/Liliput and Bikini Kill, and far surpassed those comparisons. Now signed to Sub Pop, the band still sounds charmingly lo-fi on "Eraser," another hit. There wasn't much dancing in 2020, but Sweeping Promises sounds ready for a sweaty time.
cash Italy -Traceys-denim(matador)
Like its visual cues, bar italia music doesn't follow normal conventions. Nina Cristante, Jezmi Tarik Fehmi and Sam Fenton are all equal players, varying voices with almost no interest in things like verses or choruses. The songs feel built with Exquisite Corpse: one member starts off with a riff and melody, then passes it off to another who does what he wants, and so on. Sometimes it meanders with an intertwined vocal interplay, while other times, like on "Punkt!", it's three separate vignettes using the same setup in one song. But none of these dark trends are stopping Bar Italia from making great music that's easy to enjoy. There is no shortage of hooks and Cristante, Jezmi and Sam are different vocalists who sound great together. (full review)
Mandy, Indiana -I've seen a way(fire talk)
Music from Mandy, Indiana also feels like a place: haunting, otherworldly, magnetic, dangerous, thrilling, elusive. It is a guitar band that does not play chords, an electronic band that only wants to make you dance now and then, but who create a lively image with their often captivating and confrontational music.I've seen a way, their debut album, contains the soundtrack of a post-apocalyptic hellscape full of abandoned factories and dilapidated government housing. Some songs sound like they're being played on the other side of an endless warehouse where industrial noise echoes through the air. Elsewhere it's all pitched, with record-scorching white noise and singer Valentine Caufield, who has a background in opera, screaming, wailing and whispering, all in her native French, but her performance needs no translation. (full review)
sparks -The girl cries into her latte(Island)
Has any group maintained an image, sound and quality like Sparks for 50 years? Rare geniuses from the start, Ron and Russell Mael have seen the ebb and flow of popular culture surrounding their signature operatic rock, never attempting to create music based on what was out there at the time. The band has been in the spotlight again in recent years, with the most attention since the mid-1970s, thanks to two films: the beautiful documentary by Edgar Wright.The Sparks BrothersjAnnette, his rock-opera collaboration with director Leos Carax, and are reunited with Island Records, the label that released his two 1974 classics,Kimono my housejPropaganda, among other things. His 26th album,The girl cries into her lattefind Ron and Russell, 77 and 74 respectively, sounding as good as ever, mixing synthpop, glam and vintage elements into tales of modern boredom, filtered through their twisted sense of humor and love of the cinema. (full review)
Alison Goldfrapp:the invention of love(naked)
Since the year 2000, Alison Goldfrapphas has been largely synonymous with the duo that bears her name, and you'd be forgiven for thinking they're one and the same. (They are, but they're not.) What would a Goldfrapp solo album sound like? Not much different, no surprise, from his debut.the invention of lovePart of that is due to their vocal and harmonic style that automatically puts everything in its path, and the album isn't a huge musical departure from the glamorous electro-pop they've been known for since 2003.black cherry. Alison also brings her impeccable taste and a stellar array of electronic music collaborators to the table, making for a sleek and sophisticated electronic disco album. (full review)
MEMORIAL-Isic voor Cinema: Women Against the Bomb + Homeless!(state51 conspiracy)
Verity Susman and Matthew Simms have known each other since the mid-2000s, when their respective bands, Electrelane and It Hugs Back, took similar paths. They are now teaming up as MEMORIALS and have just released their debut album, which is actually two documentaries:women against the bombjWanderers!(That's your exclamation mark, not mine.) I haven't seen any movies, but the music they've made for it is pretty good and will instantly appeal to fans of their other groups (Simms has also been playing with Wire since 2010). Since these songs were written for movies, they're necessarily a bit all over the place stylistically, but you can also pick an album's worth of songs between the two for a very, very strong record.
Here's the Indie Basement Best of May playlist for Spotify and Tidal:
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