Browsing Category Reissues

Vietnam

Vietnam-Re-released

Not to be confused with the constantly entertaining Social Registry stalwarts from the early aughts, this incarnation under the heading Vietnam reared its head in ’85 on New Zealand’s Jayrem records. The short release falls center square into the hearts of Joy Division and Cure fans. It’s got the moody makeup of the best kind of dark, yet oddly poppy post-punk (see: The Sound, The Names, The Comsat Angels) and knows its way around a smudged eyeliner hook. Pairing a set of damp, reedy vocals with the kind of pessimism that plays well with the goth table, these would have killed had they had wide distribution at the time. Alas, Jayrem was more of a localized label that filled out the needs of the NZ scene at the time, without expanding the way that, say, something like Flying Nun did.

The reissue culls the existing and previously released studio recordings along with a couple of unreleased cuts that round out the picture but pale a bit in comparison with the heavier hitters on the LP. The details are scant on what happened to the band post release of the original, but it’s a nice piece of Kiwi-pop history and a decent addition to any post-punk playlists that might need a bit of an outlier to liven things up. The reissue comes courtesy of the diggers over at Spain’s B.F.E. records, who for their part, are always scrounging the fringes of the ’70s and ’80s for oddities. The only real problem is that the release sounds a bit like a needle drop in terms of quality, but beggars can’t always be choosers. Perhaps the original tapes were long gone. The music remains though, and it’s a worthwhile dig to be sure.





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Harmonium –
Si on Avait Besoin d’une Cinquième Saison

Harmonium-Re-released

In deference to most overlooked acts from the past, Harmonium doesn’t even have the sob story of poor distribution and in fighting to topple them from their horse. In fact, if you’re from Canada the band may even be a household name. Elsewhere though, its not necessarily on your parents’ shelf, due in large part to the Quebecois band’s delivery in their native French. The band had three very worthwhile albums to their name, the most intriguing of which is their sophomore LP, Si on Avait Besoin D’une Cinquième Saison, translating to “If We Needed A Fifth Season.” The album wraps a suite of songs around the transition of the seasons and adds a fifth, epic closer for their imaginary “fifth” season.

The band began as a small guitar trio and hit early on with their song “Por Un Instant” in Canada. They migrate towards a much more progressive sound on this second LP, adding in swells of strings and stretching the lengths of songs to ambitious lengths over the course of the album’s five tracks. They’d go on to record a follow-up which fully embraced the prog aesthetic, growing into a true rock band and finally adding in drums. The absence of drums makes this one all the more interesting, though. It’s steeped in acoustic guitar, mellotron and flute; a true pastoral prog album if there ever was one.

After their third album, L’Heptad, with even core member Michel Normandeau bowing out during its recording, they decided that they’d said all they needed to say and went their separate ways, with minimal animosity. They even played on each others’ solo albums in the coming years. This one though, stands as a gorgeous bit of soft psych and prog for those who want to indulge in the hazy Canadian sunshine. Sadly its not been reissued on vinyl proper, but its pretty easy to find a second hand copy, so maybe its for the best. There are, however CD and digital versions that capture the band’s romp through the mellow meadow.


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Monopol – Monopol

Monopool-Re-released

Original copies of Monopol’s sole album will set you back a piece, but thankfully Medical is here to get you in on the cheap. The German band’s 1982 LP was steeped in a collision of Krautrock propulsion and synth textures that speak to a love of Kraftwerk, Cluster and Klaus Schulze, cementing a crystallization of German progressive influences gone pop. They also dig into the same mechanical menagerie of sounds that popped up in Lunapark and The Units, echoing their robotik fun park vibes, tough it’s less likely that those seeped into Monopol’s sound so much as came up concurrently from the same wellsprings. The band was purely a studio concoction, never playing live gigs, save for a few television performances around the album’s release, but they used the studio to its fullest extent as a laboratory for synth.

As is all too common, this would end up being the band’s only outing due to a rift and breakup shortly after its release. While the members didn’t go on to contribute to other musical projects, they stayed on in the music industry in other capacities. The record is a playgound of textures and remains a pretty admirable showcase for the state of electronic music at the time of its release. The band seemed to have a collection of every synth available, pushing them to work to their capacity. It winds up more than just a historical oddity though, as the songs have a beating heart that will capture the imagination of Krautrock fans and early dance music enthusiasts alike. Medical has gussied up the reissue in a nice package and pressed down to 180. Not too shabby.



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The Telescopes – The Telescopes

Telescopes-Re-released

Straddling a few blurred lines between shoegaze and Britpop, The Telescopes’ second and, arguably, definitive record finds some distinct subtleties in both genres. Their debut went in heavy for the distortion obsessed brand of shoegaze that beget Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and their disciples on down. They certainly had all the hallmarks, from a debut split single with fellow noise sculptors Loop, to the blurred and obscured cover art on their debut. However, they broke with the sound leading into their second album, starting with a string of EPs that saw them signed on to Alan McGee’s growing powerhouse at Creation. Following the “Celeste” EP, which found their sound balancing between the spacey acoustic shuffle of Spacemen 3 and the yearning plateaus of Ride, they issued their Eponymous LP, which sold them into the hearts of shoegaze collector’s wholesale.

The record would, sadly, also prove to be their undoing. Shortly after they recorded and released it, the band also contributed to a tribute compilation dedicated to The Who and that would be the last recording they’d issue, citing creative differences, with members going their separate ways. The band would resurface years later mostly under the direction of singer/guitarist Stephen Lawrie, with some original members popping in and out, though mostly he’d gather a new group of players each time the name was resurrected. In as much, this remains the last true Telescopes album and an essential piece of psych, shoegaze and British rock in general. The first American issues to pop up on Bomp in the early ’00s used an alternate cover workup, that traded in the joyously messy, and to be honest tellingly ’90s, cover artwork for a more austere setup. Thankfully this new issue on Radiation rights those wrongs and brings back the original art alongside the stellar sound. If this one isn’t in your collection, the time is now.

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Cromwell – At The Gallop

Cromwell-Re-released

Ireland’s heavy rock scene has always been predominantly dominated by Thin Lizzy. The band broke out to such success that they’ve all but defined the country’s output during the ’70s. That’s not to say that the rest of the country suffered in silence while they rose to prominence. Lesser known entities like Taste broke way for other homegrown heroes, but unless you’ve been hanging in collector’s circles, Cromwell may well have flown outside of your frame of view until now. The record was self-released in 1975 and, while packed with some decent cuts, never really broke out to the kind of larger audience the band deserved.

The bulk of the record is packed with a polished brand of rock that swings with just the touch of twang and a gritty swagger that (rightly so) has earned some comparisons to Flamingo-era Flaming Groovies. They’ve got that same, Stones-indebted sneer, that never blossoms into a stadium-sized sound but still hooks the small club crowds into a feeling of rock n’ roll salvation. Despite finding themselves miles from a ranch of any sort, they’ve got a way of rolling in the wide open skies that seems like they may have had a copy of Let It Bleed on rotation for a fair amount of time during the recording of these songs. The new issue adds three bonus cuts which rise far above cutting room floor outtake quality. Always seems like there can’t be a wealth of rarities left out there, but On The Gallop, while not housing a soaring single, stands as an example of classic album rock.


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José Mauro – Obnoxius

Mauro-Re-released

José Mauro’s masterpiece Obnoxius is a deep cut of Brazilian psych and melancholia that’s long been sought out in collector’s circles. Bolstered by mystery and an imposed mythic status due to the artist’s untimely death and/or disappearance shortly after the recording, the album itself was shelved until years after it was recorded. The record has loose ties to some of the other top tier Brazilian songwriters (Marcos Valle, Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto) but one listen through the singularly lush Obnoxius reveals the artist had his own way of capturing the heartstung glow of sadness that transcended those influences. The record is swimming in orchestration, subtly saturated voices and just a twinge of psychedelia.

Mauro emerged as one of the voices of dissent in Brazil during the military leadership of the ’60s, and his protest songs no doubt drew the ear of the government, adding another layer of mystery to his story. Unlike many of his peers, Mauro chose to stay in Brazil rather than emigrate during the time of artistic oppression in his country, and details remain scant as to whether a car crash did him in or he met more sinister ends. However tragic his personal details, this album stands as a promise of what might have been and what he left behind. Far-Out have put the long lost masterpiece back into circulation for those who don’t have the means to stumble onto a pricey original.

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Kleenex/LiLiPUT – First Songs

Kleenex-Re-released

There have been few punk bands whose catalog remains in as much demand for reissue as Swiss group Kleenex (later: LiLiPUT). The originals go for high marks on the secondary market and the box set that Mississippi put out back in 2011 is long gone. Kill Rock Stars packs up the first two discs of the box in a nice set that’s undoubtedly going to sprint off of shelves as quickly as people hear about it. There’s always a new generation of kids just learning about Kleenex/LiLiPUT and it seems that each one is no less rapt than the last. The band was formed by Marlene Marder after a poor experience as part of a predominantly male punk band. After leaving she connected with friends Lislot Hafner, Regula Sing, and Klaudia Schifferle to form their own band that owed less to the sound of punk but plenty to the spirit of it. They adopted the form’s stripped down style but injected a bit of bite and bounce to their two minute pop songs. The results pair better with the post-punk generation, finding common ground with Wire, The Raincoats, The Slits or The Au Pairs.

The band’s confusing name swap comes from the the group achieving just enough fame in their time to attract the attention of Kimberly-Clark, manufacturer of the Kleenex brand, who shut them down and threatened to sue. The band shifted to the name LiLiPUT in reference to the Gulliver’s Travels setting. Following the name change the band signed to Rough Trade, where they issued their two coveted albums. This collection, however, focuses on the earlier singles that saw them through 1980’s Eisiger Wind which appeared on Off Course Records. The collection wraps up some of the band’s most vital tracks, bouncing with life and bursting at the seams. They have a way of cracking a smile on the most dour listeners. Its cacophonous, boisterous and essential. The group disbanded in 1983 and, sadly, Marder passed away earlier this year. This set is a great start to getting the band’s works back into regular rotation, though. Hoping that this sparks Rough Trade to put their two albums back into reissue as well, since I (and probably most people) haven’t got $70-$100 lying around for originals.




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The Apples in Stereo – Science Faire

Apples-Re-released

This one is too good not to mention. Basically the impetus, the spark of life of the Elephant 6 rests in this release. E6-001 is The Apples’ (as they were known then) first EP, Tidal Wave (though really its just an eponymous EP). This is the seed that built an empire without walls. E6, for those that couldn’t get enough resurgent psychedelia in the ’90s, brought back a homegrown and humming version of the chiming, fuzzed, chatchy-as-hell and slightly freaked out version of the ’60s that we never got to experience. Robert Schneider’s adhoc collective, that would become a label/not label began here and would eventually sprout the Olivia Tremor Controls, Neutral Milk Hotels and Circulatory Systems that would burn just as bright as that first EP, if not brighter. But his is where it started. I grabbed this, now sorely out of print CD in the late ’90s and it was one of the introductions to the family of Elephants, that begat a longtime obsession.

Science Faire culled together the eponymous Apples EP, The Hypnotic Suggestion EP on Bus Stop Records, a split with OTC on Small-Fi, a split with Sportsguitar, and a split with The Heartworms. All of these are restored into a 7″ box that replicates the original art and tactile feel of the originals on their intended short form format. There are a ton of other inserts reproduced from the original runs here, as would befit any product produced by Chunklet. The label has been instrumental in getting some of the early and seminal E6 material back into print and its clear that the original members trust Owings with their legacy. This box is full of Apples gems that speak to the long run that Schneider and co. had, perfecting the jangly, fuzzed nugget for all it was worth. There are a lot of reissues in any given year, but few have this kind of attention to detail and connection to the source material. This one’s on the essential list, for sure.




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Nudity – Is God’s Creation

Nudity-Re-released

I wrote briefly yesterday about Portland psych flayers Nudity, and as luck would have it, there is a much needed retrospective of their work out now. Though, its already becoming as scarce as the source material. Nonetheless, this is a vital document of a band that’s been tearing the doors off of the Northwest for sometime. The band culls members of much loved, but short-lived garage band Tight Bros. From Way Back When (Dave Harvey and Dave Quitner), picking up some of the napalm guitar fallout of their output and injecting a heavy dose of Brian Jonestown style quiver n’ quake with a dash of sitar psych thrown in for good measure. The band knows how to work both the octane streaked psych-punk side of things while navigating some more languid moments of drop-out headspace as well, both of which find their space across this well packed retrospective.

The collection pulls together songs from the band’s 2006 eponymous, self-released CD-r plus tracks from the 2005 CD-r Winter In Red. Additional tracks are picked up from a 12″ on Discourage and a comp for Iron Lung, add in a few live unreleased gems, and this is one of the most complete documents of the band available anywhere. Though not recorded as a full length in scope, the record does a pretty good job of feeling like a full release, showing the band’s heavy power, aptitude for covers (Hawkwind’s “Hurry on Sundown” and Flower Travellin’ Band’s “Make-Up”) and shaggier Eastern influences without feeling cobbled together. Likely Nudity is a band that most are unfamiliar with, but at least there exists a document that they came, conquered a swath of psych and burned unbearably bright for a short amount of time.


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The Garbage & The Flowers – The Deep Niche

GATF-Re-released

Prior to the current wave of scrambling, digging and tape dusting to find unreleased material, the ’90s embraced a wave of accessibility with the CD boom, allowing plenty of unheard gems to grasp some light at last. In ’97 Bo’Weavil Records released Eyes Rind as if Beggars, a compilation of mostly lost to time recordings by New Zealand group The Garbage & The Flowers. For many, it was a release that sparked a deeper interest in the island’s fertile scene and gave influence to many who would embrace a folk sound that found equal footing in gentle strokes and noisy outbursts. The original compilation culled together home recordings, 7″s and live tracks that summed up their time after Torben Tilly’s addition. The Deep Niche captures a time even earlier than Eyes Rind, and surprisingly still finds plenty of quality moments that the “definitive” comp missed.

The core trio here is Helen Johnstone, Yuri Frusin, and Paul Yates with Tilly adding some drums and eventually keys on some tracks. It captures as raw and as vital a sound as its predecessor, swinging from the John Cale touches of Johnstone’s viola scratch, to a tender twee that would feel right at home with some Sarah Records releases, and the breakdown clatter of centerpiece “29 years.” The album finds the band in their infancy, but still lets Frusin’s songwriting shine through. There’s a nerve that’s touched throughout these tracks, and even with their meager means and scratchy quality, they’re full of enough power to uphold the legend that the band has built over the last couple of decades. Grapefruit gratefully presents this album for those looking to delve even deeper into the band’s history.





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