Browsing Category Reissues

Stefano Marcucci – Tempo Di Demoni, Papi, Angioli, Incensi E Cilici

Now I’m not sure how your brain works, but for me, there are definitely some trigger words that pop up in descriptions that beg a further look. Staple a phrase like, “bizarre hidden synth-ridden psychedelic concept pop” to “short-run demonic religious performance” and file it under the genre Italian Library Music and I’m all but sold. Now, is this just the beady-eyed crew at Finders Keepers baiting me? Not so! Their reissue of Stefano Marcucci’s lost piece of esoteric psychdedelia warrants a pretty hefty exploration. The record was commissioned for a short-run theatrical project, but after hearing the score composed by beat group member Marcucci, the staff at Flower records saw potential beyond its religious audience.

This being the time period of quasi-religious rock opera of all shades, I honestly don’t blame them. The late ’60s and early ’70s had a predilection for bending the bible to their own Earth-child whims and, why not take a performance of that ilk and funnel it into one more piece of Godspell-gumball machine fodder? Well, the Italian is probably a stopping point for most, but Marcucci has a way around gospel-swung psych-folk. It’s those synths that take it to the next level though. The composer gives the straight pipe organ its place, but peppers in an early version of the Minimoog to the proceedings, giving it a swell of ’70s grandeur that befits his hybrid vision. The band backing up the record is tight and the choral pieces waver between stately and hippie ho-down, making this a perfect combination of time period and talent. It’s got something for the heads, something for the saints (if your Italian is on point) and something for the Library aficionados to ponder over.


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The Blondes – The Blondes

The aughts had its fair share of power pop – from Sloan to Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne to late Apples in Stereo, there was no real shortage of sticky sweet pop that owed a fair amount of debt to the Yellow Pills set and Big Star. Still, the the majority of those bands used the genre as a jumping off point to splash in some ’90s grunge grit and bittersweet songwriting that put them in line with a new indie ethos. For L.A.’s Blondes, the heyday of ’70s power pop, tinged with just the right holdover of glam seemed the golden standard. To be fair, they hit the mark pretty dead on in the end.

Formed as Eagle in 1998, the band claimed members from music and art circles alike, crossing over membership with Eels, Beachwood Sparks and The Lilys. The band also contained indie icon and photographer Autumn De Wilde , who may have had more of a hand in effecting indie rock’s heyday than most of her L.A. compatriots. Of course, on release, the name Eagle drew the attention of classic rocker/general curmudgeon Don Henley and he put the kibosh on that moniker. Hence, they resurfaced as The Blondes.

Their first album was in 2002, following a spot-on cover of Mud’s “Dyna-mite”. By this time, several founding members, including De Wilde had left the group, but the band still captured the flicker-flame perfection of bubblegum-glam and the giddiness of power pop. This retrospective from Burger rounds up most of their key output. There are even some demo versions from the original Eagle lineup included, though sadly, that cover of “Dyna-mite” remains lost from the spools on this one. Burger and HoZac have gone to lengths lately to dig up the corners of all that’s necessary in punk, glam and power pop and this is an essential entry to the canon. A little sad this one’s ended up just on tape, but maybe if we all wish real hard the Burger Bros will press it down to a fitting vinyl tribute.




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KG – Come Closer, We’re Cool

Manufactured Recordings takes on a run of shoegaze rarities that missed their due, including Tempe’s Alison Halo and Santa Cruz’ Bethany Curve. Come Closer, We’re Cool binds up some essential output from French artist Rémy Bux, who’d later use the moniker to work deeper into electronic territory, but here he’s driving squarely in the lane occupied by Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Drop Nineteens and The Lilys. Acting as a compilation of early singles, rather than straight reissue, this release marks the first time much of this has been gathered in one place. The compilation nature of the release allows for some stylistic changes, though Bux mostly keeps his head within the crimson haze of shoegaze’s clutches.

The early work wound up as singles for Lo-Fi Recordings and Orgasm Records. The rest of the release rounds up tracks that were originally slated for release on Slumberland, a move that makes sense when you hear some of the similarities between their mid-nineties roster and the work that KG cycles through. Whatever happened with the album remains unclear, but this release makes a good case for KG as a lost gem of shoegaze for sure. KG remains active and reportedly still returns to shoegaze now and again between heavier electronic work. For the shoegaze stalwarts out there, though, this is a nice treasure trove of bleary-eyed fuzz.




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Jowe Head – Cabinet of Curios

Hardly a household handle here in the US, Jowe Head held down tenures in two UK cult favorites – Swell Maps and Television Personalities. On top of his work with those two outlets Head (better known to his mum as Stephen Bird) released several solo albums that sewed up his bent and fractured pop. Cabinet of Curios collects cuts from his his extensive solo career, culling from 1981’s Pincer Movement, 1986’s Strawberry Deutschmark and 1989’s Personal Organizer. Tracks from that first record stand in stark contrast to the brittle post-punk of Swell Maps, though it seems all solo efforts from that band wound up in verdant and unique pastures, Bird just did it with a certain sense of humor that’s missing from some of his contemporaries.

That humor separates the solo work from his longtime run with Television Personalities as well. Though he’d add a touch of experimentation to their catalog, his solo recordings push the needle much further into DIY eccentricities. While sparse bedroom hijinks feel almost pat at this point Jowe Head held down his own territory in the ’80s spanning ground between the shaved and shorn pop of Chris Knox and the clattertrap psychedelics of Deep Freeze Mice. The collection doesn’t limit itself just to early works, however. It cherry picks from bits of his bands The Househunters and Palookas as well, both bands capturing the nervy essence of Jowe Head’s songwriting.

In 2008 Bird started up Jowe Head and the Demi-Monde and continues the project to this day. In fact a good deal of the collection cherry picks the band’s CD-rs and limited releases then throws in a cache of unreleased tracks as gravy. Its unlikely that you’ll find a more complete picture of Jowe Head’s ecstatic world view outside of the 1994 comp Unhinged. For the casual fan of Television Personalities or Swell Maps this might only come as the title might infer, a curio and nothing more. For the true diggers of post-punk oddments and DIY roots, this is a gem with plenty to offer. Every RSD there’s one that slips through the cracks and this year, Jowe Head takes the prize.


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The Dancing Cigarettes – Dance Dogs Dance

Been meaning to write this one up for a while, but it’s still readily available and while that speaks to the relative shame that the general populace continues to ignore the unsung twitching of this Indiana band, its a good opportunity for you, the lucky listener. The band came together around ’79 and grew in popularity in their hometown of Bloomington, IN and surrounding Midwestern touring routes, though they made their way East from time to time. The band never recorded an album proper at the time, releasing an EP on Gulcher and some compilation tracks, though they were extremely prolific and had plenty of material to fill out a proper release. In the wake of their demise there have actually been a couple of retrospectives, but this LP contains material that eludes both, and serves as a pretty excellent introduction.

Sadly, they began to lose members along the way, though they persisted in some form for almost four years. The recordings here date just post their Gulcher EP and round up unreleased cuts from both studio and live settings in excellent quality and inspired energy. Dance Dogs Dance is a kindred soul to fellow Midwestern jitter-punks Pere Ubu, The Girls and Dow Jones and the Industrials. For anyone looking to up their quotient of chewed aluminum punk, then this is an absolute necessity. It reaches fingers into post-punk, punk and the no wave corners of the late ’70s / early ’80s, but the anxious energy resonates with a resounding pull even today. Get on this one before they’re truly gone.




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Look Blue Go Purple – Still Bewitched

In putting together a comp of great jangle-pop last month I was sad to see that female voices, as with many genres, often went underrepresented. One of the brightest stars, and subsequently most often overlooked came in the form of Dunedin group Look Blue Go Purple. The band arrived as part of the Flying Nun stable’s second wave, beginning a run of great EPs from 1985 through 1987. The EPs – Bewitched, LBGPEP2 and This is This – all make their way onto this compilation along with a cache of live tracks spanning from their formation in 1983 to their dissolution in ’87.

The band perfected that distinctive New Zealand jangle, but augmented it superbly with woven vocals, melancholy keys and spectral flute. They worked their way into the canon of culture in their homeland, but unlike contemporaries in The Chills and The Bats, they didn’t find a foothold outside of the country at the time, making them more of a secret handshake between Flying Nun and jangle lovers. The band sprang out of a desire to create music with other women, and though they took inspiration from The Raincoats and The Slits, they were adamant in not presenting themselves as a purely feminist well-spring. Sadly, their status as one of the singular female bands rising in Dunedin lead them to endless questions about gender in regard to their music.

The focus away from the music is criminal, as Look Blue Go Purple remains one of the more nuanced jangle-pop bands to come out of the area. They, like The Beach Boys before them, knew the power of layering vocals in valleys of harmony. Adding to this is the power trio at the core of their songwriting – Denise Roughan, Kathy Bull, and Norma O’Malley. The latter provided the distinctive key swells and enchanted flute parts that truly separate the group from the pack, while Roughan and Bull kept the jangles knotted and the bounce elastic. Flying Nun has done a service getting these EPs bound up on 2xLP, and though the historical inclusion of the live tracks gives this a strong perspective, the fact that it creates a whole new release from their 1991 compilation means that they forgo putting this amazing cover on the gatefold. All in all, this falls heavily in the essential pile.




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John Wonderling – Day Breaks

A long kept secret of lost classics, John Wonderling’s debut LP was ill fated from the start, despite boasting a deep bench of session players. Wonderling made his mark as the writer of “Midway Down,” a song made famous by The Creation. Though, The Creation don’t always find themselves in constant conversation these days either (see their much needed retrospective on Numero this year) they raised Wonderling’s profile at the time and he released a single version of “Midway Down” backed with “Man Of Straw”. What truly halted Wonderling’s momentum was taking the next five years to craft Day Breaks, an album of subtle beauty, but slightly faded psychedelic pop for its release in 1973.

The single was the last independent release on Loma Records, which was then absorbed into Warner Brothers. His album would wind up on Paramount. The shift to major label should have seemed like a blessing, but the label simply didn’t know what to do with Wonderling. He’d languish and most of the records printed would disappear, with as few as 10 copies being reportedly making their way to distribution. As such this has become a pricey collector’s property. The record shouldn’t have been as hard a sell as it’s often described. Though songs like “Man Of Straw” seem a bit past the mark, the rest of the album delves into the kind of wistful ballads that wound up making legends (albeit not always in their time) of artists from Nick Drake to Gene Clark.

Wonderling, too should be higher up the ranks of lost songwriters and it seems that this reissue from Flashback is aiming to make that so. Though only on CD for now, the new issue rounds up the entirety of Day Breaks along with the A and B-side versions of “Midway Down” and “Man Of Straw” with a couple of unreleased demos. This is an all too brief, but truly wonderful album finding a new life.




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V/A – Follow The Sun

While the new crop of Australian indie is being etched and codified presently, US archive house Anthology has been doing their best to begin to dig into the independent ’60s and ’70s past of the country, mapping out some of the Nuggets-era fodder that’s been long overshadowed. The label has explored bands that mapped the country’s surf culture through reissues of Tamam Shud and Tully and now they’re teaming up with Aussie luminary in his own right Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, mastering on every essential new Oz release) to scour the bins for a collection that encapsulates not just a sound, but the sound of Australia in the ’70s.

The collection, like Lenny Kaye’s now iconic roundup of garage, cherry picks gems that were consigned to local fan culture rather than world shaking hits or hints of things to come from artists in their infancy. Unlike Nuggets’ ranks though, they twist the dial from loner folk to psychedelic fizz, prog-jazz glints to lush singer-songwriter territory. The only real consistency seems to be that each track feels like an instantly necessary addition to your life. It’s full of faded sun melancholy and a feeling that inside the bubble of Australian pop, the outsider could be king.

The double LP set is a perfect companion to the relatively recent Down Under Nuggets release, which scratches a much shallower surface of the ’60s and gives the overview of acts that found their way out (see: The Bee Gees, The Easybeats) alongside some gems that would stretch the pocket book. In a way, using the ’70s as their touchstone lends itself to much less homogeny and much more experimentation. Follow The Sun winds up a dream classic rock station set to sink into the sea. It’s getting harder these days to do these kind of comps right, but this is hitting all the marks.



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Piri – Vocês Querem Mate?

Far-Out Records digs up another gem in their series focusing on the catalog of Brazilian label, Quartin. The first recording of songwriter Piry Reis is a long lost psych-folk gem that flirts with Tropicalia, but winds up in much dreamier territory, touching into the Bossa Lounge vibes of Sergio Mendes dipped in a rosy pink glow. Heavy on flutes that roll out pastoral and languid, the album can’t help but conjure up humid summer afternoons and a gauzy vision of romance.

Though the artist achieved some amount of notoriety in Brazil, along with a majority of the Quartin catalog, his albums have fallen out of print and fetch a hefty bounty on the secondary market. The first of four albums that would explore the lush side of MPB (Música popular brasileira), Vocês Querem Mate? is one of those lost artifacts that’s more than just excessive crate digging. Fans of library funk grooves will have plenty to love here, as well as any post-Bossa collector’s looking to fill a hole in their collection. Absolutely loving these issues from Far-Out, worth keeping an eye on the entire series.


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Manikins – From Broadway To Blazes

While Australia’s premiere punk darlings The Scientists have enjoyed some much deserved reissue treatment from Numero in the last couple of years, another of the country’s punk forefathers has remained criminally undersung. Manufactured Recordings attempts to right this with an anthology of all known tracks from Manikins. The band, like The Scientists, was built from a former member of Aussie punk germinators The Cheap Nasties. Neil Fernandes built up his own orbit of tough-edged power pop, though the band would spawn considerably less material than their more well-known compatriots.

The anthology includes their first three 7″s, which have become power pop collector’s items in their own right, stretching into high dollar brackets on the secondary market. For those with shallower pockets, it’s nice to have these tracks included here and all dusted off for digital. Fernandes’ songs hit just right in the crux of punk and garage, though they certainly get a bit more polished on later cuts. He’s ably found a foil in vocalist Robert Porritt, who gives Manikins a boyish sneer that’s prerequisite for the best power pop. All in all, this is for the diggers, the nerd set. It’s the kind of deep cut release that appeals to genre completists, but that’s not to say that the average ’70s mixtape couldn’t stand a bump from any of these gems. Any fan of Aussie punk history or power pop in general would do well to tuck into this one.




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