My favorite reissues of this past year were a combination of old favorites and albums I had not previously heard. It’s hard to tap a favorite given my history with some of the records. So here’s the list in no particular order:
Coachwhips – Hands on the Controls. Coachwhips is sort of an early incarnation of Thee Oh Sees. Probably the best known among the previous bands fronted by John Dwyer, Coachwhips is a more hyper version of Oh Sees’ ragged garage rock sound.
Microphones – Glow Pt. 2. This is Phil Elverum’s masterpiece. He’s made many fine albums as Microphones and Mount Eerie but this album (now more than a dozen years old) is the one that really got things going. It’s one of five Microphones albums reissued last year.
Songs Ohia – The Magnolia Electric Co. In March, Jason Molina died, leaving an impressive body of work behind him recorded as Songs Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. After his death, this Songs Ohia album was reissued with extra tracks. Molina was known for his hard-luck stories told in an incredibly mournful voice.
King Tuff – Was Dead. There are some weird, rocking gems on this one, like Sun Medallion. I almost consider this a new album because, frankly, not that many people heard Was Dead when it was released in 2008.
Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas. I was a little late discovering Mountain Goats, so it was great to hear All Hail West Texas. With this super lo-fi album (recorded on a boombox), you really appreciate both the quirkiness and brilliance of John Darnielle.
Traditional Fools – ST / Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin – Reverse Shark Attack. These two early releases from Ty Segall and friends (including the great Mikal Cronin) are a lot of fun. Cerebral? No. But they’re a blast.
Thee Oh Sees – Singles Collection Vol. 3. John Dwyer is not only a prolific recorder of albums, he also has a lot of singles up his sleeve.
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat. It’s one of the greatest albums ever made. My only hesitation with the reissue is that the deluxe versions seem like overkill. Then I listen to a more than 19-minute live version of Sister Ray, and think, “yeah, someone is going to buy this.” If you don’t have the album’s original six songs, buy them now.
Nirvana – In Utero. This was the follow-up and superior album to Nevermind produced by Chicago’s own Steve Albini. It’s a great album, indeed. Again, like White Light/White Heat, how many versions of these songs do we need? You can buy just the original album remastered.
Jawbreaker – Bivouac. I hadn’t listened to this early ’90s punk treasure for years. This is one of the only emo bands I’ve ever liked.