Browsing Category Reissues

Superette – Tiger

In the wake of Flying Nun second-gen powerhouse Jean-Paul Sartre Experience’s dissolution around ‘93/’94 the band’s Dave Mulcahy and Greta Anderson picked up hometown pal Ben Howe to round out their new trio, Superette. The album, long overlooked stateside, is powered by moody hooks and a thick layer of grunge fuzz. Produced by Nick Roughan, who also worked on JPSE’s The Size of Food, the record finds itself locked into the sparser end of the ‘90s spectrum, shooting for Albini and Kramer vibes, though skewing a tad more traditional than either producer kicked out at the crack of the grunge era. Like the last wave of JPSE’s output the record embraces less of the idiosyncratic Kiwi-rock and more of their American and UK counterparts, but they hold out some bright spots that keep them from falling into obscurity.

Mulcahy and Anderson were in hunkered down in New York at the time their previous outfit called it quits and they no doubt absorbed all that NY’93 had to offer. There are shades of Sonic Youth and Pixies weaving through Tiger, and while they don’t necessarily make as big a footprint as either of those, naturally, they smash through with “Touch Me” and the clanging “I Got It Clean.” Flying Nun has gone the full measure on this one as well, including the band’s debut EP Rosepig alongside recordings from a planned and scrapped second album. I’d wager than most ‘90s nostalgists on this side of the world are unfamiliar with the trio’s melodic crunch, but with this definitive edition, its worth getting acquainted.



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Simon Finn – Pass The Distance

Superior Viaduct has already been handling a ton of great reissues and overlooked essentials, but with the addition of Antarctica Starts here they’re expanding their labyrinth of sublabels to rope in a bit more fun. ASH specifically mines the ‘60s and ‘70s, though they’re not restricting themselves to any particular genre within that time period, which leaves this endeavor pretty open ended. While it seems like opening up the Viaduct brand to older releases could have been easily accomplished without a new logo and name, I’m all in on the SV folks getting into the vast pool of labels scraping from the ‘60s and ‘70s. As it turns out they’ve chosen a crown jewel of psych-folk for one of their inaugural releases, so we’re off to a good start here.

Alongside the wooded weirdness of Fresh Maggots, Relatively Clean Rivers, Pearls Before Swine and The Incredible String Band, Simon Finn’s 1970 LP Pass The Distance stands as a necessary vision of stream of consciousness, cracked-mirror folk. Finn’s sole album was recorded with producer Vic Keary at his Chalk Farm Studios. Keary had helped Finn record an earlier single, “Butterfly” that was met with solemn indifference from UK labels at the time, but the pair sketched out time for a fuller session to follow, hoping for more success with a fuller vision in tow. Finn had just met guitarist David Toop and percussionist Paul Burwell at a local restaurant a few weeks prior and invited them into the sessions. The serendipitous meeting would help to add to the record’s mystique, with Toop’s sleepy guitar curlicues giving Pass The Distance almost as much shape as Finn’s own lyrical loops.

The record was originally issued on Keary’s own Mushroom Records imprint rather than finding a home among the major contenders of the time, but the label suffered quite a few legal setbacks right around the time of release and Pass The Distance was withdrawn almost as soon as it was issued. Finn then faded from music, teaching karate in Canada and focusing on farming with his wife. The ASH edition is not, however, the first reissue of this gem. David Tibet of Current 93 contacted Finn personally to inform him of the record’s cult status among collectors of ephemeral folk and issued it on CD in 2004, even prompting Finn out of retirement for some shows at the time. Little Big Chief followed in 2014 with a short run LP, but this presents the best chance of getting your hands on a vinyl copy these days. Fans of the aforementioned folk outsiders, or keystone touchpoints of the movement like Skip Spence and Syd Barrett would do well to look into Finn’s fevered folk. Its not the most high marquee name in the genre, but it’s a worthwhile listen to be certain.




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Unusual Sounds

I’m a sucker for a couple of things, compendiums of overlooked music and collections of sleeve art throughout the years. Both come to a delightful crest in Dave Hollander’s book for Anthology Editions, Unusual Sounds. In the book the Texan record collector and filmmaker dips into his vast collection of Library music (one of the largest documented such collections around) to shed some light on what he sees as essential cuts and collections. While its an informative k-hole and a visual delight that’s wrapped up in a book jacket by Robert Beatty, one would assume that a book like this either leads to YouTube overload and keyboard cramps or that it might benefit from some sort of companion album, or ideally three or four.

Seems that Anthology agrees and they’ve rounded up twenty tracks from releases highlighted in the book. The collection spans all the best Library hallmarks, from the gameshow funk of Keith Mansfield to the creamy soul of John Cameron, it’s as much a feast for the ears as the book is for the eyes and mind. The haunted psychedelia twofer from Brainticket founder Joel Vandroogenbroeck is a particularly nice touch as is the creeping synth work of Nagara drummer Klaus Weiss. Library music has always been a genre that requires a studious collector and, in that regard, it’s nice to have Hollander take some of the encyclopedic work off of our plates. For those looking to get into some excellent examples of the film archives, funk collectors and soul savants this is a prime collection of genre gems that aren’t likely on over-dug compilations previously existing. Highly recommended!

The double set is, naturally, also wrapped in a Beatty-designed sleeve that gives it a touch of classic age.



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Fapardokly – Fapardokly

California songwriter Merrell Fankkhauser touched down in severally ‘60s groups, beginning with the surf-bent Impacts before forming the psych group Merrell & The Exiles in 1964. The Exiles would eventually shuck that name to become Fapardokly. The thorny name was the result of combining letters from each of the members’ names, something that probably seemed a better idea at the time. The band held down a residency at the Pismo Beach venue The Cove while laying down songs over a number of years at Glenn Records’ founder Glen F MacArthur’s nearby studio. One of the tracks the band recorded, “Tomorrow’s Girl,” found its way onto Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, which helped turn their hodgepodge of studio tracks into an album for the hometown label.

Since it was recorded over several years, the style on the record evolves alongside the trends that transpired between ’64 and ’67. There are straightforward janglers, baroque ruminations and psych standouts peppered all over their eponymous LP. The record has found its way out before, but rarely in an authorized version. Sundazed worked out a CD a few years back, but this marks the return to vinyl and even boasts some archival photos and liner notes from Fankhauser himself. Its also returns the album’s original cover art, which had been degraded to lesser versions among bootleg issues of the record.

Though it would comprise his most essential recordings, Fapardokly didn’t mark the end for Fankhauser. He’d go on to have some nominal psych success with H.M.S. Bounty, a band that shared much common ground with later period Fapardokly. He’d wander towards a fractured blues in the ‘70s with MU, which saw him reconnect with Beefheart band member Jeff Cotton. Notably, Cotton was also briefly in Merrell & the Exiles, but wouldn’t become a member of Fapardokly proper. Nice to see this little gem back in print. Its probably not the most essential piece of the puzzle from the ‘60s but Fankhauser’s talent deserves a bit of a showcase. Well worth the time for Nuggets aficionados.



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Groundhogs – Blues Obituary

I’m all in for getting the Groundhogs’ catalog back on the shelf and it seems that Fire are rushing to the rescue these days. The UK label digs into the band’s ‘69 release, Blues Obituary. The album provides an essential bridge between the hogs’ early blues covers and the, wilder, freer works of their later albums. Scratching The Surface is populated by standards and classics. Its proof the band can play and deserves to be lifted up among the upper echelons of British Blues. With Blues Obituary, however, The Groundhogs propose that they’re something else – provocateurs, alchemists – rather than journeymen. The songs are still rooted in the groove of blues, but TS McPhee and the boys bury the old notions, as the title might attest, and dive further into freakout and burnt psychedelia than they’d ever dared before.

Though they’d certainly push further in the future. The album precedes their doubled down classics Thank Christ For The Bomb and Split, which could use the reissue treatment as well. If the stars align and Fire’s got it in them, hopefully they’ll see new light as well. Apparently, the shift from the blues was spurred on by good ol’ John Peel, which just makes Blues Obituary that much sweeter in retrospect. Any rec from John is a shove in the right direction. This is McPhee just finding his freakish muse, and, while there are definitely more essential albums both in their catalog and from the same year, this is a perfect fit for heads into Canned Heat, Yardbirds and John Mayall. The label does the release proud with a die cut sleeve and limited color, making this likely the definitive issue of the LP.



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Kicking Giant – “This Being the Ballad of Kicking Giant, Halo: NYC/Olympia 1989 – 1993”

Without invoking to much of a pun, I’m kicking myself for missing this when it first found its way back to press. Not to worry, though as this rather essential reissue from Drawing Room Records remains in print. For the unfamiliar, Kicking Giant formed in 1989 in NYC while mems Tae Won Yu and Rachel Carns were in art school. During their time in the city the band issued a run of tapes, one a year, until their eventual move to Olympia, WA. Those tapes – January, Boyfriend Girlfriend, Secret Teenage Summer, and Present – would all be bound into a CD-only collection called Halo in 1993. Its this collection that is now coming to vinyl at last. Their early works were raw, and saw the band work through a range of styles, picking at punk, shoegaze, riot grrrl, abstract pop and indie. While this was a release meant to exploit the large capacity of CDs, its great to see Drawing Room work this out into a gorgeous vinyl package. It was meant as a mixtape for the uninitiated and its still stands as the best primer to the band’s eclectic sound.

The band signed to K Records in 1994, issuing one proper single and an album for the label. Though they’d also contribute to a number of compilations that pretty much summed up their run. Carns joined the similarly overlooked, but no less intriguing band The Need and issued four albums. Yu would instead transition back to visual art, most notably drawing covers for Built To Spill albums. For fans of lo-fi pop and the wild west indie days of the early ‘90s, this collection can’t come with a higher recommendation.




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Goblin – Profondo Rosso

Waxworks continues their expansive exploration of the scores to Dario Argento films. The last one to appear here was the Tenebrae soundtrack, produced as Goblin shifted from a 4-piece down to a 3-piece. Now it’s back to where the collaborations all began, with Argento and Goblin first working together on 1975’s Profondo Rosso (Deep Red). The Italian horror-thriller was the first to get a heaping helping of progressive psych and jazz work from Goblin and it still stands among their best collaborations with the composer. The score is littered with creeping menace and that odd twist of funk that gives Goblin their hook. They don’t go in for simply working through synth sweeps, Goblin’s charm lies in the hard-knuckled nature of their scores and an ability to keep things constantly in motion. The company has given this the most complete treatment to date, expanding the collection out to a 3xLP in triple gatefold.

What’s been most striking about the Waxworks editions is not only the expanded music but the extensive design, making the soundtracks more art pieces than merely musical accompaniment. Standing alongside editions from Mondo and Death Waltz, the new class of horror soundtracks are becoming curios for ardent collectors. Aside from the essential pickups of Profondo Rosso and Tenebrae in this series, the label has also put forth editions of the Phenomoena score, which while not a Goblin vehicle is worth checking into and boasts the first instance of the film’s completed score on LP. Plus, the artwork on this may be the best of the bunch.

Rounding out the collection is the score to Inferno, which moved away from Argento’s work with Goblin, but kept things in the prog family, partnering instead with ELP’s Keith Emerson. Again, this is wrapped up in deluxe packaging and limited color vinyl. If you’ve been exploring the deep bench of horror soundtracks, these three are a good start outside of your normal Carpenter canon.




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Velvet Crush – In The Presence of Greatness

There just aren’t that many classic power pop tales that begin with, “straight outta Rhode Island,” but the clam neck state offered up Velvet Crush in 1989 and they’d work their way into one of the decade’s oft overlooked gems. To be fair the band actually got it together in Southern Illinois college towns, where the band’s Paul Chastain was helping care out a sound running the Picture Book label. The band picked up roots and headed to Providence, but nabbed some help from friend and fellow power-pop impresario Matthew Sweet. Sweet would record In The Presence of Greatness as well as play guitar on the LP. The band share’s a considerable crossover with his love of The Raspberries and Big Star, showcasing a similar love for the jangled, classic version of the genre on their debut.

The album gained some traction in college rock circles but wound up making the most impression oversees, where the band would wind up distributed by Creation. Problem there was in 1989 Creation was moving from jangles to shoegaze and while the band might have fit in with a longview of the label, at the time they were passé for a lot of British fans. Be that as it may, the record is a solid sender of jangle-pop, power pop and college rock. Its incredibly indebted to the old guard of power pop that preceded it by a decade, but they’re pulling it off as good as most.

The band would go on to get further attention around their sophomore LP, Teenage Symphonies To God, produced by ‘90s studio savant Mitch Easter (R.E.M., The dB’s), but the band would wind up stretching a bit outside of their comfort zone. The debut is a great genre dig for those who love the crossover of power pop and Creation. While maybe not the most essential of either of those camps, it’s a great curio from the era that was left to linger for far too long.



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Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes – Box Set

Anthology is going above and beyond with a massive reissue of early ’70s albums from French progressive artist Catherine Ribeiro. The singular vocalist had an uncompromising vision of psychedelic folk that saw her progress over this three album arc from baroque, yet semi-grounded folk to a wildly experimental set that would send most Krautrock heads spinning. The artist began her trajectory on film, appearing in Spaghetti Westerns and, notably, netting a part in Jean Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers. Acting put her in contact with creatives that started her down a musical path and by 1969 she was carving out a space with the help of Patrice Moullet, who backed her first record with his band 2Bis. By the time her follow up rolls around the band had morphed to become Les Alpes, and thus began this period of fruitful collaboration.

Ribeiro’s voice is truly the star of her albums, strong and unyielding, its a true force of nature. She’s often been compared to Brigitte Fontaine and shares similarities with Nico and Buffy St. Marie. Her work over the course of N°2, Ame Debout, and Paix wound darker and more complex with each year. N°2 is mostly just Moullet and Denis Cohen (percussion, organ) backing her up. With each ablum, as they gain confidence in their vision, Les Alpes begins to take on bigger and more varied forms, though. Ame Debout picks up some motorik steam, locking rhythms to anguished violin and wild flights of ambient sound. The band gets more of a role here, even taking on a couple of instrumental tracks that aren’t dominated by Ribeiro’s powerful sway. The album is the most in flux, shedding Ribeiro’s beginnings, but not fully in command of what would come next.

By the time the band rolls into ’73’s Paix they’ve left the normal constraints of folk behind, working into 15 minute lengths and pushing the idea of song further from the digestible single than ever before. Paix is truly the band’s Zenith, tough its remarkable to see how they built towards this exploratory sound over the past two albums. As a box set the trio works to dissect how Ribeiro and Moullet worked off of one another and pushed each other to get outside of the mindset of French pop music entirely. If you have the time for the deep dive, then all three are worth a visit, but if you must cut to the core, Paix is where Ribeiro makes her mark for the ages. This is an excellent collection of an artist truly deserving of a retrospective.



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The Wolfhounds – Hands In The Till

As with many, I might imagine, my introduction to The Wolfhounds came at the hand of the C86 compilation. Though the comp is rather cohesive in its rounding up of the UK janglepop picture at the time there are a few outliers that stick out simply because they’re not as gentle as the majority of the fodder on the fabled collection. Chief among these aberrations are Half Man Half Biscuit, The Shrubs and The Wolfhounds. The latter actually lands close to the scope of many of the band’s but there’s a danger present in their sound that begs closer inspection. The band followed their excellent ’86 material with the biting “Anti-Midas Touch” EP starting off a noise-pop journey that’s still going.

As could only be expected of a quality UK band, they were participants in John Peel Sessions, leaving behind four sessions worth of incredible performances that sound surprisingly smooth all lined up. Given that the band was torn apart and reformed a few times over the span of the sessions, that’s no small feat. The comp covers a lot of ground and is notable for stringing together quite a bit of non-album singles material, touching on cuts from the Me, Cruelty, and Happy Shopper 7″s. The band have always remained admirable for swaying from the easy road, they’d captured their jangly beginnings in Unseen Ripples from a Pebble and the subsequent singles but turned around and drove the noise to the forefront with Blown Away, which likely dropped a few fair weather fans. This comp, sitting in the context of their excellent catalog proves that, like their peers in The Fall, McCarthy and The Wedding Present, they were an essential band carving out their own unique take on England’s rose. This is an excellent primer for the unfamiliar and an essential pickup for the ardent fan.



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