Best Reissues of 2015
While reissues are, primarily, a huge cash grab for collectors like myself, they can be a fun way to get into an album you may have missed the first time around. I usually purchase a fair share of reissues during the course of any given year, and 2015 was no exception. Here is a list of my five favorite reissues from the year, three of which were things I wrote reviews on when they were released, and two of which were new to the list.
Based on the music/content alone, Nick Cave’s 2001 effort, And No More Shall We Part is what I’d consider to be my favorite reissue of the year. Apparently part of a massive campaign of putting all of Cave’s albums out on vinyl, musically this was much more interesting and evocative than just about anything else on this list—meaning, stuff I already owned on CD and was just buying again because of peak vinyl—that I happened to pick up, seemingly on a whim, after decided I needed more Nick Cave in my life right now.
Juxtaposing both restrain and an unhinged sound, Cave and The Bad Seeds power their way through this lush set of songs: beautiful pieces like “Love Letter,” haunting songs like “Hallelujah,” and borderline aggressive tracks like “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” show why Cave could be considered one of the most consistent, and consistently underrated, songwriters of this generation.
Presumably (and hopefully) mastered with 180 gram vinyl in mind, it sounds flawless—never getting crunchy or crispy the way some albums can; every guitar chord snarls, every violin bow mourns, ever piano key sounds rich and warm, and Cave’s unique voice rumbles.
However, based on packaging alone, this would not be the best reissue of the year—due to the errors in the album’s liner notes. The lyrics, reprinted on one of the record sleeves, do not match up with the proper song titles printed above them, leading to a slight moment of confusion when trying to read along.
Despite this oversight, And No More Shall We Part may be viewed as a bit of a minor release in Cave’s canon, but it is, without a doubt, a major listen.
Much like Marvin Gaye following his spiritual transformation, during the recording of A Love Supreme, Coltrane believed that God was speaking through him and through his music. It’s an interesting conceit to know going into the deluxe reissue of his seminal A Love Supreme record; and it’s an interesting thing to note as someone who is a non-believer, having this spiritual weight factor into the listening experience.
An evocative, dissonant, cacophonic, and moving four-part piece, this deluxe reissue arrives in handsome packaging with comprehensive liner notes, as well as its fair share of bonus material, including a recording of the one and only time A Love Supreme was performed live in its entirety, along with various isolated overdubs, mono reference masters, and alternate takes of the album’s first section, “Acknowledgement.”
Straddling a thin line between difficult and accessible, the album was, and still can be seen as Coltrane’s definitive artistic statement. It’s the kind of record that you can listen to over a stereo, but its intricacies and power are the kind of thing that reveal themselves to you in a more intimate setting, making A Love Supreme a true “headphone record.”
Because nostalgia. Because somewhere in my house, I still have my cassette single featuring three Polaris songs that I earned by eating a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats during the summer of 1995. Because even as dated and 90s sounding as some of this soundtrack is (check the heavy chorus tone on the guitars), this album and its content are timeless. It perfectly captures the bittersweet feelings of youthful memories, the awfulness of looking ahead to adulthood, and all the confusion in between.
The blueprint for all the emo records to follow in the very late 90s, early 2000s boom for the genre, but back in 1999, when I first discovered this record, two years after its release, I thought it was just jangly indie rock. The most powerful of power pop, Nothing Feels Good has aged into adulthood gracefully—a classic, simple, engaging album treated to the rich warmth and depth that accompanies on this vinyl reissue.
From the opening, mournful keyboard notes of “Vaka,” to the final cacophonic and chaotic double shot of the “Death Song” and the “Pop Song,” the parenthesis album reaches peak Sigur Ros—their artistic zenith, combining slight accessibility and maximum artistry. The songs are long, emotionally draining, and sung in a partially made up language called ‘Hopelandic.’ Reproduced in its original vinyl packaging—complete with a die-cut cover—and pressed onto clear vinyl (and already out of print from the band themselves) the album nearly succeeds in continuing to sound flawless, even after 13 years, save for a few crispy moments when the music becomes just too powerful for the format.