Album Review: Basement Apartment – Basement Apartment

Published by JB on October 26, 2014

Release date: October 28, 2014


Eponymous third LP from the best-kept secret in Minneapolis fulfills their decade-long trifecta of lo-fi pop and rock

It’s rather fitting that Vince Caro and Basement Apartment have self-titled their third full-length album.  After an agonizing 7-year wait since 2007’s Pine Tree Hill, the Caro’s and bandmates complete the pyramid that began with Transistor!the best unheard indie record of 2004.   That fantastic lo-fi pop gem snuck in the backdoor of far too few indie pop stations.   During the time of an internet radio boom, Transistor! seemed like the kind of record that got stuck in the dusty back row of the old-school record stores (even though it had no actual physical vinyl release).  What few knew back then was that Transistor! was the best Cat Stevens and Gordon Lightfoot indie album of the new millennium.  Tracks such as ‘Desert Sky’ and ‘Empty Skies’ were glimpses of bleeding pop brilliance.   During an era (2004-ish) dominated by bands like Death Cab For Cutie, we had this hidden gem sitting in the back shelves at a tiny record company called Mpls, LTD.

Ten years later their new self-titled album stretches the band out with two tracks clocking in at more than 7 and a half minutes.  Beautiful harmonies glisten the sound waves between Caro, Janey Winterbauer and his wife Kristina while the new songs bounce back and forth between the beautiful pop of Transistor! and 60’s psychedelia.   At times it’s like listening to a 2014 version of early Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett-style) – long before the Floyd started singing about brain damage, pigs, dogs and walls.  Where Caro and team raise the bar against their competition is their ability to bring in co-lead, female vocals – and make it work.  No band has done it this well since the stellar Earlimart records from the past decade.  The male/female duo on the record is the thread that connects the dots between all three Basement Apartment records.

Just as the 2014 Basement Apartment is about to stretch its wings into previously uncharted areas (‘Backyard Blues’) they reign it back in cleverly with songs like ‘I’ll Hold the C’ and ‘Buildings’ – the latter two being the most reminiscent reminders of Pine Tree Hill and Transistor!.  New tracks like the epic ‘Armagosa’ and ‘Field Chemical’ give way to Caro’s guitar and the volume control on his bandmate’s amps.   This is a rock record.   It’s also an eclectic mix of 10 tracks that begs for multiple listenings.   In era where we tear apart albums for a 99-cent song, Basement Apartment provides us with the LP that completes the puzzle that began in 2004.    They just completed their 10-year triple LP and it’s the best comeback record of 2014.   Sorry U2.



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