The Vaselines
Enter the Vaselines
Sub Pop

The Vaselines, the Glasgow band led by Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, released only two EPS and one full-length album before disbanding in the late ’80s. Gone but not forgotten, thanks to fanboy Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s covers of “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam” garnered the band post–break-up attention. This expanded reissue includes all of the 1992 The Way of the Vaselines compilation’s 19 tracks, as well as live recordings and demos. It’s evidence that the Vaselines were just as amazing as Cobain said they were, as did their recent reunion shows, done in tandem with the album’s release earlier this year. JR

Various Artists
Daptone Gold

A huge chunk of rarities, classics and unreleased tracks in a big garish package, this comp from the Daptone crew simultaneously confronts everything that is wrong with big studio production in the digital age and comforts sound snobs with two fat platters of amazing modern throwback soul. If you can get past the music sounding like it should have been released 40 years ago and wrap your mind around the fact that most of it is from the past five years, it’s a little easier to swallow the other fact that the Daptone folks have figured out how to make every other contemporary producer sound like children who never bothered to figure out how to use their expensive toys. I wonder if Daptone will inadvertently shame other producers into actually paying attention to the drum sound. Flagship act Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings stand out with “How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?” among other tracks, but this comp is all-killer and no-filler. It’s probably best to just put this on at every party you ever have. MPO

Bleach: Deluxe Edition
Sub Pop

The term “Deluxe Edition” doesn’t quite fit with Nirvana’s raw debut that many first heard on a mixtape or received from a cooler, in-the-know friend after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” broke in 1991. But it has been 20 years since Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and drummers Chad Channing and the Melvins’ Dale Crover recorded the album for $606.17, and this reissue gives listeners a look at the band in retrospect, with the future knowledge that this was history (and grunge) in the making. There’s also a live 1990 recording—and besides, who has a cassette player to listen to that old tape? JR

Something That Would Never Do
Violet Times

While these tracks have appeared in CD form on a variety of iterations, their recompilation here for the first time on vinyl has re-introduced this essential mid-70s Cleveland proto-punk outfit to a new generation. Jamie Klimek and comapny were among the devoted few who literally sat at the feet of Lou Reed at Cleveland’s La Cave, so it’s fitting that these songs bridge the gap between the Velvet Underground and the brewing avant-garage/punk storm. No one has sounded quite like Mirrors before or since, and this disc does well in making sure that we will never forget it. RW

The Jesus Lizard
Pure, Head, Goat, Liar and Down
Touch and Go

Sadly, these reissues from the Jesus Lizard catalog may be the last “new” releases put out by Touch and Go, as the label and one-time distributor went through some dramatic downsizing this past year. Nevertheless, it would somehow be fitting if they were, as the briefly reunited band’s noisy sound was the epitome of the T&G aesthetic during its green years. With each of the four albums and one EP that the band recorded for the imprint remastered by Bob Weston and expanded to include outtakes, live tracks and demos, as well as new extensive liner notes, the Jesus Lizard’s caustic oeuvre sounds just as fierce today as it did the first time David Yow twisted his nuts around a mic stand. SS

Spiritual Singers

Though Mississippi Records has quickly become synonymous with excavating lost curios from the spheres of blues and folk, they are relatively furtive when it comes to revealing their sources—or even giving up basic liner notes and background information. Perhaps that’s what makes the Spiritual Singers album all the more intriguing. What we do know is that the Singers were a Congolese teen gospel group and their lone record, Ntsamina, was recorded sometime in the late ’70s. What we don’t know is how exactly they arrived at a sound that is fortified in funk guitars, but not influenced in the slightest by the Highlife movement. It’s scuzzed up in rickety production, but not lacking in emotional weight. The songs resonate with a loner-blues shuffle, but eventually expand into the group’s gospel framework—everyone singing along, simultaneously arriving at an apex that is mind-numbingly bizarre and wholly familiar in hues of dub, reggae, fuzzy psych, and Thai pop. KJE

The Feelies
Crazy Rhythms and The Good Earth

Of all the recent reunions, one of the most welcomed was the return of the Feelies. As they proved repeatedly over the year, playing two-hour shows on their own, this band’s staying power is matched only by the effervescent energy of their music. Thankfully, their long out-of-print first two albums, Crazy Rhythms and The Good Earth were put back in circulation, with improved sound—and downloadable bonus tracks—to help prove the point. Originally released six years apart, both nonetheless are driven by the same propulsive criss-crossing of Glenn Mercer and Bill Million’s guitars. On Crazy Rhythms, this flurry comes across as nervous and jittery, while on The Good Earth, it’s expansive and linear. In both cases, though, the sound the band makes is of the highest distinction—one never matched in the decades passing since their first issuance. SS

13th Chime
The Singles 1981–1983
Sacred Bones

The 13th Chime was an obscure post-punk band from Haverhill in Suffolk, England that self-released three singles before disappearing into obscurity. The band’s sound and look might be called goth—they wore all black and had coffin-shaped speaker cabinets and macabre lyrics—but while their vocals and guitar sound are comparable to that of Bauhaus, their rhythm section is more akin to Gang of Four. Compiling both sides of all three singles with three unreleased demos and a beautiful booklet of photos and information on the band, this Sacred Bones collection is an essential reissue for fans of death-rock of any stripe. TB

Big Star
Keep an Eye On the Sky

Rhino’s four-disc Keep an Eye On the Sky is that rare boxed set that pulls in both old fans and new, expanding on the band’s established genius with remastered versions of their three classic albums, plus a bevy of demos and alternate takes, with a rarely heard live set included for good measure. Studio experiments left on Big Star’s cutting room floor, especially those from the Radio City and Third sessions, would be on the top shelf of any other group’s repertoire, and their intimate quality—a result of the band’s unlimited access to legendary Ardent Studios—reveal a true love for their craft. Keep an Eye On the Sky further removes Big Star from the chaff of their era and should squash any notion that these Memphis pioneers were ever a mere cult band. DE

...For the Whole World to See
Drag City

A breath of fresh air from the past. Every since rock music “came back” a few years ago, everybody’s been waiting for the Roots or Mos Def or Cody Chesnutt or all of the above (see relevant collaborations) to bring serious soul to some straightahead Detroit-city rock. Turns out this long-lost, imperfect gem is exactly what we’ve been looking for: seven tracks of raw power and a surprising amount of experimentation from some brothers (the three Hackeys) who soon ditched rock & roll to experiment with gospel and reggae. ...For the Whole World to See, like the best reissues, brings to light an unheard, but no less essential, treasure. MS