XV: Basement Tapes LP (self-released, 2020/reissued by Half a Million, 2022)

April 9, 2022 at 11:09 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

XV: Basement Tapes LP

Free punk trio XV’s 2019 debut became somewhat of a sub-underground sensation, quickly selling out of its initial 100-copy pressing, with Discogs priced surprisingly going through the roof before a second pressing appeared last year. This album was originally released on cassette by the band in 2020, and it’s just now making its way to vinyl. Like their debut, this is a set of short, raw songs which alternately stare you in the face and try to play games with you. The second part of “Starting Over/Please Stop Talking” is actually a spoken game where the members try to say “Please stop walking” in the spaces that the others aren’t speaking. “Lights in the Woods” is a more melodic tune with a repeated exclamation of “Purple!”, as well as an accelerating rush. After a brief a cappella rendition of “Into the Groove”, “Mark E. Moon” pays tribute to both The Fall and Television, reminding me of Palberta’s half-remembered covers. This has a bit of King Uszniewicz-like saxophone and some furious drum bashing. “Shut Up I’m Bald” actually reminds me more of The Fall, at least until its spaced-out coda, and “We Begin Again” has a similar sort of hobble. Lots of intimate conversations are captured throughout the album, particularly on “Goodnight”, a whispered interaction that touches on self care and hygiene methods. XV’s music thrives in these small, intimate spaces, not only basements but also bedrooms, house venues, UFO Factory. It can be loud and insistent but it doesn’t demand attention and still sounds like something you have to discover or stumble across, or be recommended by a friend.

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