5 out of 5
Label: Auris Apothecary, XRA Records
Produced by: Tim Bushong (mixed by, mastered by)
A collection of Annabel;Lee’s you-probably-had-to-live-in-Indianapolis-to-have-been-lucky-enough-to-own-one debut album and followup EP. …And then also, digitally, demos, and a DVD of seven live shows. …And liner notes made as an old-school, gunky B&W zine by Auris Apothecary, masters of packaging madness.
Given that this is likely the only way most of us are going to hear this stuff, and that – for screamo fans – this is surely as influential as the press blurb on it would claim it as, considering how solid it still sounds nearly 20 years on, this is very much worth it. It’s interesting that Auris pressed the album on a 12″ and the EP on a 7″, given that I suspect they would’ve both fit on one LP, but it’s also a testament to the “accuracy” of the approach of this package, delivering something that feels very true to the self-released / small-released originals, which are given some detailing in that zine. The bonus of everything else on the DVD is exactly that: a bonus; you’re already getting a solid set of tracks on the mainline releases, and then you get easily transportable versions of all of that plus the archival demo stuff, plus some shows to further drive home what you missed by not being a cool rocker kid in Indiana. The sound quality on the LP / 7″ is great, as mixed and mastered by Tim Bushong – I’d actually be interested to hear the original releases to see what the discrepancy is, ’cause I have to imagine Bushong did quite a cleanup job.
Anyhow, I generally don’t look forward to collections of groups of which I’ve never heard – why would I? – and almost especially when I’m told They Were A Big Deal, because, y’know, expectations and rose-tinted glasses, and often you had to be there. This time, though, the material is grabbing, and was definitely deserving of this rerelease.