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The Books

Thought for Food / The Lemon of Pink / Lost and Safe

(Temporary Residence; US: 2011)

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The Books
Thought for Food / The Lemon of Pink / Lost and Safe


From their chance meeting in their shared apartment building in New York, guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong have gone on to release some of the most intriguing and original American music of the 21st century. Their genre-defying electroacoustic output, described as collage music by Zammuto, earned them fans in Prefuse 73 and Portishead, who themselves were at the forefront of the glitch-hop and trip-hop genres respectively. Originals drawn to originals: that speaks volumes to the caliber of their musicianship and artistic vision, lovingly reconstituting and repurposing obscure speech pulled from self-help VHS tapes and charity shop cassettes to fit with their typically drum-less ethereality. 2010’s The Way Out was the duo’s first album in five years, and first for Temporary Residence. With Zammuto then focusing on forming another band, the time was prime for a re-visitation of their catalogue. All of their albums—2002’s Thought for Food, 2003’s The Lemon of Pink, and 2005’s Lost and Safe—were lovingly remastered, given remixed cover art, and pressed to gloriously colored vinyl. Together, the albums mark a clear trajectory, from their sparser, amateurish roots of discovery to the full development of their sound and A/V presentation today. Alan Ranta


 

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Peter Tosh

Legalize It / Equal Rights (Legacy Editions)

(Columbia/Legacy; US: 21 Jun 2011)

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Peter Tosh
Legalize It / Equal Rights (Legacy Editions)


You can argue over the merits of reissues, especially when they’re packed with bonus material, but you need only look at these two Tosh collections to see how well these things can be done. Nevermind that the two original albums are classics, must-haves for any music fan, but these new editions aren’t about packing all the extras in they can, it’s about telling the stories behind these records. Legalize It is padded with demos and the original Jamaican tapes, and in them we see the struggle Tosh went through to find his artistic vision, to craft his confident and nearly perfect debut album. Equal Rights, the album that followed, was a more wide-open and creative time for him, where new ideas constantly flowed, and the glut of non-album tracks—tracks as strong as anything on the album—show Tosh at his creative peak. It’s an immense collection, but it almost feels like a new, double album, one without a weak link to be found. Meanwhile, Legalize It takes on new energy with the early versions scattered around its periphery. To reissue two of the most important reggae records ever, you’ve got to get it right. It’s got to be about the music, not about digging into our pockets. Here, these reissues focus on the former, and leave it to us to do the latter. Which we will, gladly, to hear these two brilliant stories told. Matthew Fiander


 

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Manic Street Preachers

National Treasures: The Complete Singles

(Columbia; UK: 8 Nov 2011)

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Manic Street Preachers
National Treasures: The Complete Singles


I should’ve known they’d be trouble. They were too perfect. They looked like Duran Duran but sounded, as Fidel Castro (yes that one) once noted, “Louder than War!” Four starved, kohl-eyed waifs born from “rubble and shit”, with a mission impossible and nothing to lose. A mission to mix a Molotov cocktail from the incendiary intellect of Chuck D, the hungry heart of Jack Kerouac and the volatile venom of Johnny Rotten. From the first shot they purposefully polarised opinion; heroes or villains, love or hate. With their manifesto carved (often literally) in blood, they vowed to unleash one all conquering album and then set fire to themselves live on Top of the Pops. The crazy, beautiful bastards. Two decades later and National Treasures tells the unbelievable true story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most charismatic, literate, soulful and gloriously unique bands. A word of caution though, they may just break your heart but hey, love hurts. Matt James


 

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Nick Cave

Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part

(Mute; US: 17 May 2011; UK: 16 May 2011)

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Nick Cave
Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part


Maturity—that dreaded fate of classic rockers and Australian post-punk goth-poets alike—was good to Nick Cave. Between 1993 and 2001, the evocative Bad Seed-in-chief evolved from an aging post-punk veteran still addicted to heroin to an untouchable elder statesmen of the darker side of rock, an internationally respected artist whose songs were just as likely to appear in Dumb and Dumber (“Red Right Hand”) and at Michael Hutchence’s funeral (“Into My Arms”) as in seedy Berlin nightclubs like the one featured in Wings of Desire. Out of this period came two shimmering masterpieces: Let Love In, a fabulously produced tour-de-force of high-drama love songs including a number of outright career classics (“Do You Love Me?”, “Loverman”, “Red Right Hand”, “Lay Me Low”), and The Boatman’s Call, an achingly emotional collection of piano ballads inspired by Cave’s intense affair (and subsequent breakup) with PJ Harvey. Murder Ballads (an apt title if ever Cave has used one) and No More Shall We Part (a musically akin follow-up to Boatman’s Call) were no slackers either, and Mute has given all four the works here: full remastered recordings, 5.1 surround sound mixes on the attached DVD, b-sides, videos, and a short film by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Zach Schonfeld


 

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Sebadoh

Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)

(Sub Pop / Domino; US: 14 Jun 2011; UK: 11 Apr 2011)

Review [15.Jun.2011]

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Sebadoh
Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)


In 1994, Sebadoh finally arrived to the more mainstream indie rock crowd with its brightly polished and immediately accessible fifth album, Bakesale. The album did gangbusters for being on an upstart indie label—it reached the Top 40 of the UK album charts that year, and single “Skull” cracked the UK Top 100—and arguably increased the group’s fan base, even in their American homeland, as it largely eschewed the outré sonic collages and lo-fi acoustic fragments of previous albums. This year’s reissue only solidifies the fact that Bakesale is one of the most vital albums that emerged from the 1990s indie rock boom, complete with remastered takes on Lou Barlow’s relationship comeuppances such as “Rebound”, “Magnet’s Coil” and “Together or Alone” to name a few. Meanwhile, the added bonus material shows Sebadoh at their most unvarnished, allowing their more experimental tendencies to come to the fore. For those of us who came of age with this album, Bakesale is a generation’s security blanket: always worth revisiting and worth holding onto. As tightly as possible. Zachary Houle


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