Browsing Category Reissues

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.


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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.



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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.




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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.

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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.


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The Pooh Sticks – Pooh Sticks 7″ Box Set

Even though I’ve run down my favorite reissues of the year that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some worthy contenders finding their way back out into the world. Sometimes the UK releases don’t get their due in the US and this 5×7” collection from The Pooh Sticks definitely falls into that category. Though its pricey, for the indie pop aligned this is a pretty nice pickup. The Pooh Sticks served as a sort of bubblegum vision of jangle-pop, and while their works were tightly wound, catchy as hell, and hard to ignore, the band probably wasn’t given their due in the pantheon poppers that cropped up around them. The whole affair was largely shepherded by their manager Steve Gregory who wrote the songs and mocked up their covers that featured Archies-styled cartoon visions of the band behind anonymous pseudonyms. Largely out of fashion at the time, this kind of setup seems at odds with the DIY aesthetics of jangle-pop and the carefully crafted images of Creation pop bands at the time. However, the whole thing ends as a nice mirror / sendup of the genre without coming off totally camp.

The songs stand up, even if they do take some liberties with lyrics, titles, and concept. The box set reissues a set of one-sided singles that were originally issued in 1988 on Fierce Recordings. The originals had etched b-sides, but here they’re each given a new flip that contains a previously unavailable song. The only exception is “Hard On Love,” which was on a super-hard to get flexi. While the set might be a bit of a shell-out for the uninitiated, the songs are worth checking into if you’re a power pop, jangle-pop, or indie-pop head. Pure sugar bliss in small format fineness. Its hard to snag in the US, but discogs should have you covered.




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Willie Lane – A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth

Starting in 2009 guitarist Willie Lane issued a run of albums on his own Cord-Art label, ranging from fingerpicked folk to ragged blues. The albums, Known Quantity, Guitar Army of One and A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth all seeped out quietly and went out of print quickly. Thankfully Feeding Tube have sought to correct the scarcity of the originals with a run of reissues over the last couple years and they’re now drawing that to a close with a new version of Pine Tree, which might be the best of the bunch. The LP is far more electric than the other two in the trilogy, leaning in heavily to the ragged blues and experimental feel of the series. The record isn’t tied to genre or feeling, but explores a shifting sense of sound that’s as rooted in the Takoma take on folk as it is in the dirt-caked Philly scene that would surface years later. Lane acts as a bridge between eras and does so without any whiff of overthinking. The pieces on A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth flow with a loose ramble that weaves between the roots of the now snow-soaked Pioneer Valley.

Lane has been an integral part of the latest wave of psych-folk froth, not to mention the one before it, having collaborated with Elkhorn, Matt Valentine, Meg Baird, Samara Lubelski, Specrte Folk, and Espers over the years. Having this trilogy of releases back in print is a vital link between where Lane has been and where he’s headed. There’s word that another LP is on the way, so perhaps this last reissue will be preamble to the next node of his songwriting. Personally, I’m quite interested in what’s next, though 2019 itself is packed with Lane hallmarks. Besides this reissue, you can hear him on Elkhorn’s Sun Cycle/Elk Jam and Valentine’s Preserves album. If you’re just starting in on his works, I’d recommend beginning with this one and then diving backwards.



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Zann – Strange Ways / Inside Jungle

I may have mentioned its been a pretty great year for reissues. Not only have some essentials found their way back to fold, but some of the off-grid oddities have gotten a second life via diggers with far better noses than I. Case in point, Isle of Jura, an Adelaide Australia label has been digging into the experimental, disco, dub, and electronic bins for releases I didn’t even know I needed. They’ve brought new life to a private press odditiy from German band Zann. The band grew out of live experiments as a 7-piece, under the direction of ex-Konec member Udo Winkler. Winkler was looking to push further from the boundaries of post-punk and with Zann he’d done just that. The record embraces many of the same ideals as post-punk proper – a highly attuned sense of rhythm, dub textures, and instrumentation that might not fit within the rock ideals. It ditches for the most part, however, traditional song structure and floats into bouts of airy woodwinds and the LED blink of synth lights on many tracks. Zann in many ways bridges the divide between the worlds of Krautrok, Prog, and post-punk, finding itself at home in none of them, but tangential to all.

The record was laid down in a home studio with Winkler’s pal Hjalmer Karthaus and due to having not legitimate commercial concerns with the album, the pair saw no reason to pen themselves in stylistically. Though the initial live experiments that would touch off Zann began as far back as 1982, recording didn’t progress until 1988 and completion would find the band far out of fashion with the sounds of 1990 when it was finally finished. They’d pressed it themselves and sold it direct to fans interested in oddities at record fairs, but now thanks to Isle of Jura this record is back in the arms of a wider audience again. The record meanders, as might befit the kind of sessions that don’t seek approval or editing, but when the pair hit on Kosmiche Nirvana, it’s a beautiful thing.



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The Springfields – Singles 1986-1991

Its absolutely fitting that The Springfields compilation should come out on Slumberland. The label had long attempted to release a single from the band, but their tenure ended before the connection could ever come to fruition. With Slumberland as the epicenter of a sound that long looked to the indiepop wave across the sea, The Springfields would have proven their quintessential band. They were American indiepop rooted deep in English sounds — not a common commodity in the timeframe of 1987-1991 as documented here. he Springfields were the first U.S. act to snag a single on that hub of UK pop activity, Sarah Records, with 1988’s “Sunflower.” They’d follow it up with releases on short-lived US levels Picture Book and Seminal Twang, but despite reaching out to UK fans and even Australia with a Sumershine release, they didn’t become part of the Slumberland family until now. Essentially, its just nice to see two American conduits of jangled joy coming together after all these years.

To some the band is also the polar half of Choo Choo Train, which served as the training grounds for much of Matthew Sweet’s circle of collaborators. Choo Choo Train was home to songwriters Paul Chastain and Rick Menck, but most of the same band members in CCT would come to release music withThe Springfields. The idea was that in Choo Choo Train the songwriting fall mostly to Chastain (and occasionally Sweet) and the The Springfields would become Menck’s banner, chasing the same influences that drove his favorite UK pop bands. Sweet rears his head again in The Springfields, documented here on the b-side “Are We Gonna Be Alright?” Mostly, though, this is a celebration of Menck’s output before the core would crumble and he’d go on to work under Sweet and Chastain would form Velvet Crush. In that regard, this is the flashpoint for so many power pop and indie pop points of origin. That alone makes it absolutely amazing to have these singles back in print and collected for the masses that haven’t heard them (of which, there are undoubtedly many).

The collection also winds up as a bit of a love letter to quite a few other bands that didn’t get their due on the first pass in The States, with quite a few of the b-sides winding up covers of bands that Menck enjoyed. The collection here contains covers of an unreleased Primal Scream track, (“Tomorrow Ends Today”), The Clouds (“Tranquil”), and The Pastels (“Million Tears”). Menck does each one justice and hopefully send listeners scrambling into the arms of those bands as well. There’s a Hollies cover thrown in as well, but they didn’t necessarily need the push the others did. There are hundreds of reissues sliding down the belts these days, but this one’s ranking pretty high on the necessary scale. Any jangle pop fan should have pushed ‘purchase’ around that first paragraph.



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Curt Boettcher – Looking For The Sun

I’d mostly become familiar with the name Curt Boettcher a bit backwards He was a conduit for lush, sunshine pop from the 1960s — namely under The Sagittarius and Millennium headings along with Gary Usher — but those checking the production notes on any assorted dozen sunshine-psych tracks are likely to find his name among the studio set. He’s credited with a good swath of hits by The Association, and contributed recognizable work to Gene Clark, The Beach Boys, Tommy Roe, Elton John, Eternity’s Children, Emmitt Rhodes, and Paul Revere & The Raiders catalogs. In this role Boettecher shone as a producer who could use every tool in the rack to bring a pillowy softness to his songs. There’s an invisible thread among productions touched Curt’s hand, they share a sense of melancholy, wonder, and a telltale swooning sensibility that could only have come from the mind of Curt. Looking For The Sun highlights the singles that Boettcher produced that may have gotten lost between the cracks, the artists that weren’t as marquee as those previously mentioned, but songs that standout just the same.

There are twenty-one tracks from Cindy Malone , Sandy Salisbury , Gordon Alexander , Keith Colley, Summer’s Children, Jonathan Moore , Ray Whitley , Eddie Hodges , The Bootiques , Action Unlimited on this comp that highlight the man behind the boards. Though they’re brought together from different backgrounds, they all ease into the clouds that Curt cultivated and dig in the sunshine that he spread. There’s a track from Sagittarius included as well, a band that has long been storied for its inclusion of an ace backing band made up of members of The Music Machine, The Ballroom and Crabby Appleton. Not included in this set, but also of note is Curt’s ace solo LP. He dropped one ’T’ out of his name and released one solo gem that, despite Elektra backing, may have gone even more unnoticed some of these. Along with a handful of singles it remains the only one under his name.

For any fan of sunshine psych, this will likely prove an indispensable collection tied together by the watchful production that Boettcher brought to all his endeavors. The songs are all sourced from the original master tapes and have been presented in a clarity that does them justice. The reissue font has been overflowing this year and there’s still time to squeeze in a few more essentials.



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