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Mark Hollis

Mark Hollis

(Ba Da Bing; US: 11 Oct 2011)

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Mark Hollis
Mark Hollis


Talk Talk were one of the more restless bands of the ‘80s, and after the seminal Spirit of Eden and still-jagged Laughing Stock albums, it’s impossible to say what direction they would have gone in if Mark Hollis and company had kept going. It’s hard to imagine them sounding like Mark Hollis, though. Recorded in 1998 to fulfill the end of a contract with Polydor, it sees Hollis pulling roughly the same trick Slowdive did with Pygmalion. But while that opaque, often glacially removed album was the result of focusing on the sparest, smallest parts of what was essentially a rock band, here Hollis does the same thing with two of the greatest, most unclassifiable records ever made. If the final Talk Talk records are the equivalent of gorgeous, impressionistic paintings of great beauty and occasional terror, Mark Hollis is the same thing rendered in the lightest, smallest strokes. You can hear other people playing on this record, but few works of music are this strikingly, gorgeously solitary. Ian Mathers


 

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R.E.M.

Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)

(Capitol; US: 12 Jul 2011; UK: 12 Jul 2011)

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R.E.M.
Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)


Even if you weren’t in college when R.E.M.‘s Lifes Rich Pageant originally dropped, it sure felt like you were when Michael Stipe’s esoteric balderdash spilled out of your speakers. “Fall on Me” and a cover of the Clique’s “Superman” were the lone singles pulled from the collection, though the propulsive “These Days”, uncharacteristically straightforward “Cuyahoga” and oddly romantic “Swan Swan H” were among the many standouts. The reissue’s second disc is a treasure trove of demos recorded in Athens, Georgia before the band moved on to Indiana to record the album proper. While some of the music is already fully formed (“Fall on Me”), Stipe is often heard finding his way through melody and lyric. The demos are a fascinating look at a group on the precipice of stardom; they couldn’t possibly know what was waiting around the corner, but they sound ready, bristling with energy. Crispin Kott


 

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Nirvana

Nevermind: Deluxe Edition

(Universal/DGC; US: 27 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

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Nirvana
Nevermind: Deluxe Edition


It was only a matter of time until Nirvana’s Nevermind got the proper reissue treatment, and one can assume that this is only going to end up being the first in a long line of future commemorative Nevermind packages. But unlike many of the countless re-releases the music industry continues to force down consumers’ throats, this is a record that actually deserves the treatment. Case in point: The boom box version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” here that highlights lead man Kurt Cobain’s angst in a way that the end product simply couldn’t convey. The recording is so raw, his pain leaps directly out of the speakers and into any listener’s conscious, bad recording quality be damned. It’s not just touching. It’s scary. And that’s why this reissue was warranted and will continue to be warranted whenever the 25th, 30th and 50th anniversaries roll around. Nevermind is a timeless piece of art that completely changed the landscape of popular music. In an age when records are nearly extinct and rock music is in as much of a recession as the world’s economy, Nirvana could very well go down as the last rock and roll band ever to be considered a game-changer. One listen to this reissue and you’ll be reminded of exactly how hopeless the future can look.
Colin McGuire


 

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Miles Davis

LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

(Columbia/Legacy; US: 20 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

Review [22.Sep.2011]

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Miles Davis
LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1


If jazz stands as a sign of the times, no better work encapsulates the turbulence of 1967 better than The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1: Live in Europe. With his second great quartet, Miles Davis further blurred the line between traditionalist fundamentals and experimental individualism. Davis, the master bandleader, moved toward injecting the “free style” made popular by John Coltrane (who died that year,) into his group aesthetic. The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 represents the result of that experiment. Each of the five concerts included in the set sounds uniquely different, despite sharing many of the same songs. The performance stage is sparse, but the performances are not. Davis pushes each band member creatively, and in turn, is pushed back himself. While the second quintet wouldn’t release a marquee Davis album a la Bitches Brew or Birth of the Cool their improvisational prowess is capture perfectly here, in, as the title suggests, the first of many Miles Davis bootleg releases. Jeb Inge


 

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Archers of Loaf

Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)

(Merge; US: 2 Aug 2011; UK: 5 Sep 2011)

Review [19.Aug.2011]

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Archers of Loaf
Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)


Icky Mettle, the 1993 debut from Archers of Loaf, still stands as one of the top albums from the ‘90s indie-rock scene. The aggressive guitars and unpredictable songs pair with lyrics that swerve from abstract and inexplicable to precise and direct. The album fit its time but hasn’t grown old. The new reissue adds a second disc of material nearly as strong. The band’s follow-up EP Vs the Greatest of All Time makes up the first five tracks of the bonus disc and is just as good as the album. The additional material mostly comes from early singles that reveal a group already finding its sound. Even if these cuts of “Web in Front” and “Wrong” don’t quite hit as hard as the album versions do, the band was nearly there, unresolved, but knowing how to be hooky and grating and uncertain and brash all at once. Justin Cober-Lake


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