Best Reissues/Comps. of 2010
A Frames – 333 3xLP- (S.S. Records)
Super-deluxe reissue treatment of this Seattle band’s recordings from their first single through their second LP. Being one of the most interesting bands in the last decade, it’s an impressive body of work that somehow reduced angular postpunk to it’s most mechanical and rigid form without becoming dull or tedious. There’s a lot of heart in the A Frames discography and 3 LPs worth of it have been beautifully archived here.
Attitude Adjustment – The Collection CD (Taang!)
Like the no-frills collections of early Poison Idea and Battalion of Saints, Taang! offers up another essential disc full of great ’80s hardcore/thrash, this time from Bay Area legends Attitude Adjustment. Starting with their punky and hard-to-find Pusmort debut LP American Paranoia, to their even more-rare and heavier No More Mr. Nice Guy LP and the crossover metal of the Out of Hand LP, it’s great to see that these killer tracks are finally getting their due. I’ve often considered the rough and tumble No More Mr. Nice Guy album as one of the best crossover punk/metal records ever alongside Poison Idea’s War All The Time and Corrosion of Conformity’s Animosity LP.
Christie Front Drive – Christie Front Drive LP+DVD (Magic Bullet)
It’s hard to remember what emo meant before the term was perverted to describe the bizarre melodramatic genre of Hot Topic mallpunks in eyeliner, but there really were some great ideas found in the earnest beginnings of “emo” as found in bands like Boys Life, Braid, The Promise Ring, and of course Rites of Spring. Denver’s Christie Front Drive fit into this equation with one of the more interesting takes on the genre, with a masterfully-controlled, majestic sound that completely sweeps you away. While many emo bands used a transparent formula of quiet/loud dynamics, Christie Front Drive were able to seamlessly shape this technique into a slowly building arc that absolutely pulls you in and floors you. Originally released on Nebraska’s Caulfield Records in 1999, this record was CFD’s swan song and one of the best examples of what emo could be, before the term became a 2-dimensional joke. Watch for another reissue from Magic Bullet of the rest of their discography this year.
Grind Madness at the BBC: The Earache Peel Sessions – Various Artists 3xCD (Earache)
A roaring collection of extreme metal that sounds as radical today as it did when it was recorded in the mid-to-late ’80s, including Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Godflesh, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror, Heresy, Intense Degree, and Unseen Terror. This package captures the birth of the grind genre with liner notes from some of the UK scene’s luminaries and 118 bursts of throat-shredding, blast beats, and breakneck riffage. I’ve always been a fan of Peel sessions. They often capture recordings that have an atmosphere that’s a bit more raw and closer to a live sound than a band’s studio material, and these tracks in particular capture these young bands giving it their all. Mick Harris’ (Napalm Death) account of stressing out the BBC’s studio engineer in the liner notes is not only funny, it really sets the scene for just how radical and noteworthy these recordings were and still are today.
The New Hope - Various Artists LP (Smog Veil)
Most regional compilations tend to be weighed down by a few bands/songs that aren’t as full-on as the rest, but this reissue of an early ’80s Cleveland release has an unbelievably great mix of 1-2-1-2 hardcore and wastoid art damage that elevates this city’s already legendary punk status even further. This extended collection of primo tracks from classic punk bands like Starvation Army and Zero Defex (Drop the A-Bomb on Meeeeeeee!) to lesser-known weirdos like Spike In Vain, P.P.G, and The Guns begs one to scream “This is Cleveland, Fuck LA! And Boston! And DC! And NYC! And Texas! And…”
The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace LP (Beggars Banquet)
With an absurd amount of LPs spanning over 4 decades, it’s a challenge to definitively call out a favorite Fall record. There are so many incarnations of Mark E. Smith’s postpunk juggernaut that range from the scrappy and brash late-1970s sound to the electronics-drenched LPs of the mid-1990s to the last couple of punchy LPs of the 2000s, that there’s too many versions of the trademark Fall sound to find a single release to hold onto the most. And while most Fall faithful would point to one of the early LPs as being the most essesntial, I’d probably go with this 1985 masterwork, which tethered their sound to bombastic beats and bleary-eyed off-the-cuff cool that captures the best elements of The Fall sound song after song. For a concrete example, just check out “I Am Kamo Suzuki” about the singer of the German krautrock band Can (how cool is that?) where Smith’s meta rambling cleverly diffuses the shock of huge drums bursting into an otherwise tranced-out, drifting song. Total genius and endlessly listenable.
Man Or Astroman? - Is It… Man or Astroman? (Estrus)
I kinda took for granted how great this band was, and didn’t even realize that their debut LP had gone out of print. Throughout the 1990s you could count on seeing beautiful new Man Or Astroman releases with regularity, and most used shops of any value will have at least some of their catalog ready for you to explore. Here is where it all began and after listening to it again (I haven’t heard the repress yet) it’s clear that despite their relative popularity with the indie rock scene, this Auburn, Alabama quartet was the absolute best of the surf rock explosion of the 1990s. Glad to see it’s not been forgotten.
Steel Pole Bath Tub – Unlistenable LP (Permanent Records)
The tuned-in noisemongers at Chicago’s Permanent Records not only have one of the finest shops in the country, they also run one of the more discerning labels going in the post-MP3 age. The excellent decision to reissue this little-heard beast on vinyl is all the proof you need. Read more about this sludgy monster here.
John Wayne - Texas Funeral LP (Third Man Records)
I still have the dubbed cassette a record store friend of mine gave me when this oddity was first released in 1985. At the time it was a total WTF moment to hear this countrified freakout. It remained a novelty for years; an oddball pleasure that slowly worked itself from random listens into steady rotation. This spoof of a down-and-out country legend complete with studio banter and drunken rambling is not to be missed.