Many new albums these days are being released on vinyl, for at least limited runs. Meanwhile, there's also been a major resurgence of reissue LPs hitting the racks, along with archival material being released for the first time. Frankly, there's so many it would take one heck of a budget to keep up with everything right now. Here's a trio of recent resurrections of note.
Richard Buckner: Bloomed
All I can say here is, "Yay!" There are quite a few 1990s and early 2000s albums which have still never appeared on vinyl, and Richard Buckner's debut was very high on my personal want list. Though I'm usually decades behind the times on discovering music, Buckner was a slight exception ... Bloomed was only about five years old when I first heard it, thanks to Rykodisc's early reissue. I was instantly hooked from the arresting lead off track, "Blue and Wonder," and it remains one of my favorite songs of the '90s.
It's hard to believe, but this album is now two decades old, and Merge Records is commemorating that time coming to the rescue of vinyl lovers with a top-notch LP. Buckner's songs on Bloomed have lost none of their uniquely intense spine-chilling effect, and Lloyd Maines' careful Americana production touches never get in the way. The LP comes with both a download card and a CD with 11 bonus tracks, six more than the old Ryko disc. Buckner returns to Madison for a sold-out show at Kiki's House of Righteous Music on Thursday, April 17. (Merge MRG355, 2014)
The Greenhornes: Live at Shake It Records Fall 2001
The Greenhornes were one of the most exciting garage bands to see live during the early 2000s, and this set at a Cincinnati record store comes from that favorite period for the band. The store previously issued a pair of tracks on their in-house label from (presumably) the same set back in 2002, as a limited tour-only 45; neither of those tracks are included on this similarly-limited LP, available only from Shake It Records. The sleeve says it's mono, but if it is, they did some weird processing in the mastering, and there's also an extra track not listed on the jacket slick. Both of these details go well with the concept of making this look like an old Trade Mark of Quality bootleg LP.
Musically, the set is drawn from the band's first three LPs -- including a healthy dose from the then-unreleased, instant classic Dual Mono -- and a few intriguing covers of the 13th Floor Elevators, The Birds and The In Crowd. This one emerged last year for Record Store Day, so I wouldn't recommend waiting too much longer to pick it up. Now, if someone would just do an LP reissue of their first album... (Shake It Records shake 1269, 2013)
Beachwood Sparks: Desert Skies
Another recently unearthed discovery: It turns out Beachwood Sparks' self-titled debut on Sub Pop (with vinyl via Bomp Records) wasn't really their first album. Beachwood Sparks was a perfect distillation of California's late 1960s-early '70s cosmic cowboy sound, from the era before the Eagles removed the psych touches and started minting money. Beachwood Sparks initially started playing gigs as a six-piece and made some recordings with that lineup, intended for release on bassist Brent Rademaker's label, but these were eventually abandoned.
Desert Skies reveals the band already had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to do early on, but compared to Beachwood Sparks, this sounds more like a '90s indie rock band with some '60s influences rather than a lost '60s recording -- which was my reaction on initially hearing their debut back in 2000. That's not a knock, though ... this is a really good album in its own right, and it's a treat to hear such a completely realized recording by the band's original lineup. A few songs from these recordings were held over and re-made for the 2000 album; "Desert Skies" in particular appears here in a very different incarnation. Alive Records, 2013)