Browsing Category Reissues

White Heaven – Out

I wrote about this one a little while back, but it bears another mention since this is the first time that this essential LP has been readily available. White Heaven’s proper debut may stand as one of the greatest psychedelic records of the ‘90s and argument goes to push it well up the all time list as well. The record brought together a formidable collection of musicians, lead by the talents of You Ishihara and Michio Kurihara. The former would go on to form The Stars and the latter would helm Ghost, but while they were together for a short time, they stood at the epicenter of a Japanese psychedelic bloom that can still be fell flowering today. Later, the band would bring Shimura Koji (Mainliner, Acid Mothers Temple) into the fold, but here, even though they were just beginning, their sound had already begun to form the exploratory blues pyrotechnics that cemented them as a primordial force in Japanese rock.

Prior to this album, the band released a live tape that documented their early shows, but the studio lit the light of some fertile collaborations. Kurihara’s guitars singe and demur over the course of the album, especially the epic centerpiece “Mandrax Town.” Following this album both Michio and drummer Ken Ishihara exited, but this was a document of the band at their most vital and elemental. The band would finally call it quits around the release of 1997’s Levitation and Kurihara would take Ghost on to be one of the premiere exports from the scene, but this moment of inception and incubation proves where much of his sound got its start. Black Editions has restored this LP to its proper position as a centerpiece in any psychedelic bin. Necessary by all measures.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Bardo Pond – Adrop / Circuit VIII

Oof, almost too late with this one, despite the LP having been released just last Friday, but there’s still time as long as good outlets hold out. Pretty sure if you’re landing on the shores of Raven Sings the Blues that familiarity with Bardo Pond is a given, but I’m not one for assumptions. Philadelphia’s reigning noise wranglers have fallen under many banners from psych to space to noise and experimental – each assessment is 100% correct and can’t be divorced from the other. The band is a force of nature and that force is on full display over this two-record reissue of their ‘06/’08 releases for Three Lobed — Adrop and Circuit VIII. Both records were part of CD series that the label put together in these respective years. Adrop was only available as part of the “Modern Containment” collection that included Hush Arbors, Kinski, Mirror/Dash, Mouthus, Sun City Girls, Sunburned Hand of the Man, MV & EE with the Bummer Road, and Wooden Wand and the Omen Bones Band. I believe it was that last one that brought me into the TRL awareness in the first place, but the set also opened up a world of post-Matador Bardo Pond to me that was more sinister and more visceral than they’d ever been on the mini-major.

Adrop works in movements and they push a cloud of static through the heart of a dying sun. The record saws at the consciousness and proves that the Pond is not an average psych band by any means, defying any usual metrics at the time. The following set, Circuit VIII is equally scorched and unsettled, having found its way into the label’s next series “Oscillations III.” This series found them alongside fellow travelers Bark Haze, Tom Carter, GHQ, Howlin’ Rain, Magik Markers, The Michael Flower Band, Lee Ranaldo, Vanishing Voice, and Jack Rose. Eschewing movements, but operating in much the same way as Adrop, Circuit VIII is one longform piece that travels from deep, volcanic growls to tender acoustic tears. It’s a record that, much like its predecessor, defies convention or categorization, but as any Bardo collector might surmise, also elevates the form of mining cosmic vibrations beyond what many of their peers were doing at the time. Side note: that “Oscillations III” box contains one of the very earliest Robert Beatty covers and is worth nabbing a CD copy for this as well. Nice to see the label pack these two back together and set them aloft on vinyl as well. Both of these CD series were pretty formative in terms of how RSTB came about, so its got a special place in my heart.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Happy End – Happy End

Its been a long time coming, but many of the essential Japanese albums from the psychedelic era are now coming back to the reissue circuit. While most were represented in the CD-heavy aughts boom, the trickle back to vinyl has been slow for some, and even then it’s been limited to imports in many cases. With the reissue of the Hosono catalog through Light in the Attic, the artist’s other pre-Yellow Magic Orchestra work is now creeping out from the corners. Last year Survival Research reissued Hosono’s early band Apryl Fool, a band that would stand at the beginning of his journey into the modern musical heart, and now they’re continuing with the band he skipped onto next, Happy End. While the band’s sophomore LP is probably the most widely known, their debut hardly anything to dismiss offhand. Alongside Eiichi Ohtaki, Shigeru Suzuki, and Takashi Matsumoto, the latter also of Apryl Fool, they began move away from the blues that held sway of the Fool and into the strains of country rock, folk and lightly flecked psychedelia that would prove pervasive in their American counterparts. The difference here is that the band made the insistence on keeping the lyrics in their native Japanese, possibly alienating Western audiences at the time, but endearing them to their local crowds.

While it seems only natural that Japanese bands might sing in Japanese, at the time the Western influence was so strong that it was seen as almost a given that English language was the only path to prominence. This led to the Nihongo Rokku Ronsō or Japanese Language Controversy, a debate that the success of this album and the subsequent Kazemachi Roman helped to settle. It’s easy to see how this album catapulted the band to success — with a combination of soulful songwriting, adept musicianship that easily incorporates and melds their various genres, and hooks that should have transcended any language barrier — the only true curiosity is that the album didn’t crossover beyond their country’s bounds at the time. There are elements of CSNY, Moby Grape, and Quicksilver Messenger Service at play, especially in the three-part harmonies working their way through the folk forms, but the leads on Happy End tend to push further than most US/UK bands ever let themselves wander. In every sense this is a killer album that outstrips similar fodder that ruled international charts at the time. Very glad to see this back in print and hoping that this is the beginning of a run of the rest of Happy End’s catalog for US audiences.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Tapiman – S/T

Always good to see some of the crucial reissues I picked up 15-20 years ago making a new round for those that still can’t find those originals anywhere below scandalous prices. This ’72 LP from Spanish trio Tapiman is one of those rediscoveries from the early ‘00s that still resonates today. Lit on the savage burn of guitar by Max Sunyer, the album trades heavy, powerful riffing (that woulda made the Sabbath crowd proud) with nimble prog touches pushing the album beyond mere proto metal curio. Pinned to a rhythm section that keeps Sunyer’s guitars from floating into the bilious clouds of smoke, the band’s songs were a masterclass in heavy-bottomed yet smart runs.

They fill the second half out with spaced organ and and a stab at Thin Lizzy frizzle meets post-Canturbury noodling from later period Soft Machine. As a whole, the record rounds itself out to embrace a wider palette than the average thunder cruncher from the time period. The band could embrace softness, power, and prog flights of fantasy. The Spanish scene often gets shorted at the time, but this along with Truck and Storm always feel like lost classics to me. Plus, that cover is a damned selling point if you ask me. The pink skull is definitely one of the reasons it founds its way into my hands in the first place. New issue has expanded liners and pics.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Kedama – The Complete Collection

Castleface jumps into the reissue game with a damn treasure-trove of music from Swiss-German prog vets Kedama. They issue their ‘live in the studio” record, the aptly titled Live At Sunrise Studios alongside a wealth of material that never made it to wax. The debut was released in ’76, originally on the Sunrise label, which would notably release early recordings by Kleenex just a couple of years later. The debut was, rather admirably, recorded live in the studio with a binaural microphone and the band passed between different instruments in silence in an attempt to flesh out the record to a huge sound. The technique at the time was always a bit of a gimmick that only really takes shape in headphones (don’t tell Lou Reed), but having pulled it off as long takes its an impressive move.

The multi-movement “Finale” sees the band work their way from dense, smoke-thick riffs to concert-hall piano workouts. They find footing in the rhythm-heavy progressive textures that would befit their German roots coupled with a guitar flash and willingness to add technical piano in an era when most of their peers were leaning into early synth work (there are synths though as well). They up the stakes on this 3xLP set with the addition of live and studio tracks that fall outside of the previously released LP, stretching as far back as ’72 and into the end of ’76. The extra material, while naturally less cohesive than the Sunrise cuts, show a band with a head for experimentation that should light the coals of any fan of Tangerine Dream, Gong (or Steve Hillage’s solo work for that matter), and Manuel Göttsching happy. Nice set from Castle Face and hoping that this leads to some more from the deep record shelves of Dwyer.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

East Village – Hotrod Hotel

Slumberland has been crushing it with the reissues lately, bringing back the lost singles of The Springfields, issuing a complete compendium of Wolfhounds John Peel sessions, and now they’re shining a light on East Village, another band worthy of adoration. The band got some light around here when James Hoare featured them in a Hidden Gems piece a few years back, and his recommendation still stands. The band, as proves too often the case, suffered from a series of setbacks that would derail them permanently. The band began under the name Episode 4 before swapping to East Village. Their sound touched on a strain of jangle-pop that was slightly out of form with the time, but they found contemporaries in bands like McCarthy, and even toured with House of Love for a bit. They’d released singles on the short-lived Sub Aqua label in 1988, but the label folded before they could finance a proper full-length.

This would lead to a string of labels that would pick up singles (Caff Corporation, Heavenly, Sumershine) before Heavenly would eventually put out their sole EP Drop Out in 1993. That same year they’d break up onstage at a London show, effectively ending their career just as it began to take off. The following year Summershine wrangled up many of those singles and b-sides for this compilation, Hotrod Hotel, only issuing it on CD. Now Slumberland has given the comp its due with a gorgeous new issue on LP with packed liners on the band. If they’ve managed to evade your ears for this whole time, this is a fine chance to add this one on the shelf next to yer Loft, Jasmine Minks, and Weather Prophets records.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

UT – In Gut’s House

The gaps in the No Wave nuggets have been closing in for the last couple of years with vital reissues from the likes of Maximum Joy and Kleenex among others. Though there’s been a definite deficit when it comes to contributions from NY trio UT. The band hung their sound on considerably less groove than many of their peers, perhaps finding a split ground between Au Pairs’ stark realities and the burgeoning noise-dirge deluge from Sonic Youth. The band leaned into atonal, scraping passages, but they landed them with an edge that drew blood and their influence could be felt reverberating through the tail of the ‘80s and into the more fraut threads of pre-grunge. Oddly the band didn’t find much of an audience in the States at the time of and would achieve a slightly wider audience and acceptance in the UK. They released a few recordings on their own Out Records before signing with Blast First for their debut.

The band picked up some heavy fans, though, including John Peel who recorded the band for a session and Steve Albini who would record the follow-up to In Gut’s House, Griller. This record acts as a vital transition period for the band, moving away from their earlier live recordings that had appeared on their Out tapes and on their Blast First debut. The album is a driven, unforgiving record that doesn’t lean into melody as a crutch. It opens with the rather infectious “Evangelist,” but the track works as a red herring as they’d almost never return to the sprightly bounce of that track and instead scrape the soul with a darker, leaner, tension-torqued set of metallic bile that’s as bracing as any record that hit the stands in ’88. It nabbed attention and praise from NME that year and picked up steam in The Village Voice, but in general the hometown crowd wasn’t biting on UT’s sound. They’d record the follow-up with Albini before disbanding shortly after. It’s high time that this one grabbed the praise its due as a vital link in the noise, post-punk and No Wave chains, drawing them all together for a record that still draws blood like it did the day it was released. Now, Out is looking to revitalize the band’s catalog for a new age and these recordings sound as fresh and ferocious as ever.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Miquela – I A De Sers

I can always count on Finders Keepers to dig through the offbeat foreign language bins and scoop out the records that need re-examining. Prior to this review I could honestly not have told you that there exists a dialect native to Southern France, Northern Italy and parts of Spain called Occitan. I could certainly not have told you that a record label (Ventadorn) that was dedicated to solely releasing records in the dialect in the ‘70s, but this gem was sprouted from the Venn Diagram of these circumstances. The record is the sole album recorded by Miquela, though it was preceded by a single and she’d go on to work with a folk-rock combo called Lei Chapacans latter on. The record was recorded in a classroom studio, but sounds like it was given over to much more monied locales than this. The austere setup belies the fact that its threaded with strings, brass, accordions, and lush orchestration – jazz and folk touches that bump against the quietude of hidden harbors.

The record, quite properly, feels like a secret. The folk songs, indecipherable to those who aren’t versed in Occitan, seem like a scripture from a long-lost enclave. Miquela’s vocals hang in the air like cold fog, weighted with sadness and sorrow. The supporting cast is no less impressive, having picked up collaborators from her surround Occitan musicians, giving this less the air of a commissioned document (which it was) and more of a treasured gem (which it also is). The record has been long out of print, but with this reissue the movement of Occitan folk and Miquela’s contribution are reignited for a new generation.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Mighty Baby – At A Point Between Fate and Destiny

I’ve talked about UK garage-soul band The Action and their fairly essential slab Rolled Gold here before, but up until now there haven’t been a lot of movements in the reissue of post-Action material by the always entrancing and sorely overlooked Mighty Baby. Sundazed has some fairly straight-forward issues of their two LPs and there have been a couple of live boots and unofficial runs here and there, but this attempt by Cherry Red to gather the complete recordings may well be the most ambitious yet, not in the least because it finally gives a fair look into the band’s scrapped third album Day of the Soup, which would see the band move even further from pop song structure and into the kind of live-driven, fluid psychedelia that loomed large on the American West Coast. They may be the most accomplished British band hooked into the style and they’ve long been overlooked by fans of the genre.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

The Motorcycle Boy – Scarlet

Yet another UK release that I barely heard about here, but one well deserving of second life in the physical format. The Motorcycle Boy are most notable for their connection to The Shop Assistants, having been the band that Alex Taylor fronted following the dissolution of the Shops. The band grew out of the rather terribly/brilliantly named Meat Whiplash, which featured the same lineup minus Taylor. Meat Whiplash put out one single on Creation and one would have assumed that this would have led to an easy in for the band’s ascension. The answer is yes and no. With the addition of Taylor the band recorded “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” released on Rough Trade, which rose the ranks of the independent charts at the time. The band was scheduled to release a Flood-produced follow-up, but it was set aside in favor of focus on an album. That album was set to be Scarlet. The record was scheduled to be released on Chrysalis, but as usual setbacks and bad luck struck down another band in their prime.

Promo cassettes of the slated version of Scarlet exist, but finished copies were never produced. The band had issues with live shows prior to the album and eventually the discord broke them apart. Chrysalis issued singles of “Trying To Be Kind” and “You And Me Against The World” but without the band’s involvement the rest kinda fell apart. Thankfully this year, Forgotten Astronaut brings the full spectrum of Scarlet to pass and it just make the pain of having to wait this long harder. The album is packed with great songs and should have given the band a good foothold. Such is life and loss in music. The reissue is lovely and contains that aforementioned Flood single along with another bonus track. Definitely in need of a listen.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments