Journey through time and space in this latest edition of our best new reissues column as we pick over a batch of releases that span multiple genres, eras, and continents.
Everyone Asked About You
Paper Airplanes, Paper Hearts
2 x Vinyl LP, Cassette
Everyone Asked About You sprouted from Little Rock, Arkansas’s busy ’90s DIY scene—the same scene that produced cult punk disruptors like Soophie Nun Squad, Trusty, Chino Horde, Hatful Day, and The Big Cats. Paper Airplanes, Paper Hearts gathers and remasters the band’s entire catalog, including their only album Let’s Be Enemies. Everyone Asked About You’s punky power-pop sound invokes feelings of high school romance and insecurity in equal parts. The title to “It’s Days Like This That Make Me Wish The Summer Would Last Forever”—from their raw debut four-song self-titled release—just affirms a song that belongs in a low-budget coming-of-age team dramedy. This mood is perhaps born out of a relationship formed in high school— band members Collins Kilgore, Chris Sheppard, and Lee Buford would jam at Buford’s family home, when they weren’t playing N64. Add in vocalist Hannah Vogan’s dovelike performance, which teases juvenile emotions over guitar lines as comfortable as an old parka.
Hold Your Horse Is
Hella’s debut album begins with beeps and blips that could have been lifted from an antique arcade game. It’s a a red herring. From there, the band display their tight razor wire sound of frenetic drums and angular guitar patterns. Over two decades since its release, Hold Your House Is has come to exemplify math rock, a form of guitar music with unusual drum patterns and avant-garde improvisation that can feel like the inside of algebraist’s brain as they work out a complex equation, and further popularized by bands like Battles. Hella unleash their convulsive rhythms in great, cascading barrages. See how “Republic of Rough and Ready” begins with a melodic motif with guitars and drums—the only two instruments heard throughout the LP—in perfect order, before spiraling into a storm of complex fret play, like a free jazz composition. This new deluxe edition dusts off demos of three of the original nine tracks, allowing listeners to hear compositions that can sound like an explosion of off-the-cuff creativity in their embryonic state.
Scappo Per Canatare
Giuliano Sorgini was a prolific composer of Italian soundtracks and library music, with a body of work that has proved appealing to reissue labels interested in the 1960s to the early 1980s era of low-budget Italian films and TV shows. Scappo Per Canatare is a 1971 made-for-TV musical comedy, for which Sorgini penned quaint, gorgeous jazz-pop such as “Scogliere” and “Con Amore” that exemplify Italian soundtrack work of the era, while “Desolazione” utilizes Morricone-style whistles, but in a spooky sci-fi way to resurrect Ed Wood.
Paying My Bills
2 x Vinyl LP, T-Shirt/Shirt,
Revered South African trumpet player Dennis Mpale had three wonderful decades of recording to his name when he went into the studio to lay down this unusual concoction of horn play over Kwaito, a style of local house music. The title Paying My Bills is almost derisory, as though Mpale wants you to know he does not apologize for jumping on popular sounds. Indeed, the occasional melodic vocal harmonies, like on “Make it For You,” mirror Eurodance chart hits. But who cares? His trumpet play is soothing over the repeating synth lines, electric bass, and drum machines, and the album is a shouldn’t-work-but-does classic.
1986: Keeps Me Wild
Das Damon’s debut album, originally self-titled, reemerges with a new name and 11 bonus recordings, making this a pretty definitive origin story for an often overlooked band that so impressed Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore that he permitted them to use the name of his imprint Ecstatic Peace! despite it not being involved with the production. The rough post-punk arrangements of 1986: Keeps Me Wild are complemented by the interlocking vocal harmonies of Das Damen’s guitarists Jim Walters and Alex Totino. Among the bonus tracks, there are a few guest appearances. Gary Lee Connor of The Screaming Trees brings a ripple of ’60s psych as his guitar screeches hard on an alternate version of “Trick Question.”
Sons of Kemet
2 x Vinyl LP
One year after Sons of Kemet’s dissolution, the British jazz band’s first album gets a tenth-anniversary re-release and remaster, capturing the era before they signed to Impulse and hit their apex of critical appeal. Though Burn is less overtly political than the group’s later work (every track on Your Queen Is a Reptile, from 2018, was dedicated to a different Black woman, most of which were politically engaged), their sound still stomps with righteous demands. Nine of its ten songs were written by saxophonist/clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, whose performances evoke a sense of drama and narrative; on “The Godfather,” he calls for the ancestors over an indestructible beat provided by duel drummers Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford, augmented further by Oren Marshall’s assertive tuba and occasional electronic flourishes. Sons of Kemet would go on to enjoy more attention internationally, but they arrived fully formed.
This new release of songs by Guinean singer and guitarist Leon Keïta was compiled by Analog Africa’s Samy Ben Redjeb, who was able to find the albums it draws from during a visit to Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso. “Within a week,” he claimed, “I was able to find most of Leon Keïta’s output.” Leon Keïta features songs recorded in Mali in the late 1970s that blend elements of funk, highlife, jazz, and Mandingue, a style of music indigenous to the Mande people of Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. Keïta’s highlife guitar codas and breezy but upbeat vocal performances lead brisk, skipping rhythms, often complimented by melodic flutes and knotty drum patterns.
Viva el Sábado: Hits de Disco Pop Peruano (1978-1989)
From Lima-based label Buh Records comes a compilation of 10 cuts of Peruvian music billed as “disco:” a deceptive framing, given the wide, intricate web of sounds and grooves on display here. Tracks like “Amo a Susana” by Grupo Améric contrast, and ultimately reconcile, the time-tested, organic swing of live instrumentation with the structural precision of electronica; Santodomingo Kid’s “Caminito” leverages that same friction even more boldly, its sweeping harmonies besieged by pinging synth stabs throughout. This isn’t an abbreviated history lesson, either: Viva el Sábado: Hits de Disco Pop Peruano‘s timeline runs through 1989, well beyond traditional disco music’s purview, and together with the diverse stylistic offerings on display here (see the ’80s pop and R&B of Annie’s “Jungla de Cemento”), it provides an essential point of context that brings the wider view into focus.