Rosy Overdrive’s Favorite Reissues and Compilations of 2021

To wrap up 2021, Rosy Overdrive is looking back at some of its favorite reissues, compilations, and archival releases of the year. I’ve chosen sixteen to highlight here (as well as a few honorable mentions at the end); a few entries cover several albums’ worth of music. Because of the wide variety among these selections, this list (unlike 2021’s albums and EP lists) is unranked.

2nd Grade – Wish You Were Here Tour Revisited

Release date: June 25th
Record label: Double Double Whammy
Genre: Power pop
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, digital

The majority of Wish You Were Here Tour Revisited was originally released in 2018, so I’m counting it under the “reissue” category for year-end purposes. Three years ago, when the original fourteen-song version of Wish You Were Here Tour came out, 2nd Grade was essentially just Peter Gill. Now a five-piece band, …Revisited beefs up eight of these songs, with tracks like “Favorite Song” and the title track growing from quiet guitar-and-vocals tunes to power pop stompers. The new versions are a treat, but the originals (Wish You Were Here Tour from 2018 is here in its entirety) have plenty to commend them as well, and some of the record’s strongest songs (“There’s Something I Should Tell You”, “Bad Idea”) only appear as Gill solo recordings.

The Antelopes (and The Class of ’76)  – Breaking News

Release date: November 5th
Record label: Floating Mill
Genre: Post-punk, dance punk
Formats: Cassette, CD, vinyl (single only), digital

London’s The Antelopes originally lasted for a single six-song recording session in 1981, and only two of those songs initially saw release. November’s Breaking News collects all the band’s recorded material, as well as a few bonus tracks from an Antelopes offshoot called The Class of ‘76. While their lone single painted the band as practitioners of dark, moody post-punk, the previously unreleased songs dabble in psychedelia, country, and groove-rock, and the inclusion of three songs from the Funkadelic-inspired rhythmic agitprop of The Class of ’76 is even further out of left field. Whether they sound more like Joy Division or Chic, though, The Antelopes and The Class of ’76 remain compelling. (Read more)


Release date: August 20th
Record label: Convulse
Genre: Power pop, fuzz rock
Formats: Cassette, digital

Dazy is the solo project of Richmond musician James Goodson, which regularly transmitted singles and EPs of short, sweet, revved up power pop songs underneath a healthy amount of distortion from late 2020 to the first half of 2021. The two most substantial of those releases, The Crowded Mind and Revolving Door, caught Rosy Overdrive’s attention in April—they’re included in MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD, as well as all the other singles and some previously unreleased tunes. Nearly every one of these songs has a killer hook, and Goodson stakes out a familiar yet unique sound that’s a combination of Britpop and lo-fi, or somewhere between Green Day and Madchester.

Willie Dunn – Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology

Release date: March 19th
Record label: Light in the Attic
Genre: Folk, singer-songwriter
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Light in the Attic Records is no stranger to bringing Indigenous Canadian music to the spotlight, having reissued Willie Thrasher’s superb Spirit Child in 2015. Their work this year in making the work of the late Mi’kmaq folk singer Willie Dunn more accessible has been particularly rewarding. Several of his records became available digitally for the first time in 2021, and the crown jewel was the career-spanning Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies compilation. The intense, ten-minute “The Ballad of Crowfoot” that opens the anthology is one of the finest folk songs ever conceived, and the rest of the record only further proves that Dunn’s songbook rivals that of folk’s household names.

Kittyhawk – Mikey’s Favorite Songs (2012-2016)

Release date: February 26th
Record label: Count Your Lucky Stars
Genre: Indie emo rock
Formats: Cassette, digital

Chicago’s Kittyhawk amassed a collection of songs over their initial four-year ride that rivals that of their proper LP output, and the Mikey’s Favorite Songs cassette helpfully compiles all of these in one place. Kittyhawk features members of several notable bands, but the compilation reveals a group with its own unique footprint, anchored by the voice of lead singer Kate Grube and an interest in classic pop songcraft. The five songs from their 2012 debut EP hangs together well, and the non-album tracks find the group stretching out a bit more to rewarding results. (Read more)

Leo Nocentelli – Another Side

Release date: November 19th
Record label: Light in the Attic
Genre: Folk, soul
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, CD, digital

Another Side has a cinematic history. Recorded by Leo Nocentelli, he of the genre-defining funk act The Meters, in New Orleans in 1971, shelved for years and believed destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, rediscovered by chance and finally seeing release a half-century later. That’s all well and good, but what’s more remarkable is how fresh and great these ten songs sound, long-lost or no. It’s a folk record from a funk guitarist, and probably succeeds more because of this than in spite of it; the groove of “Riverfront” and the soulfulness of “You’ve Become a Habit to Me” add even more dimension to the album. It reminds me above anything else of those two big Bill Withers records (recorded at the virtually the same time as this album), and I don’t see why Another Side couldn’t have taken a place alongside those.

Pere Ubu – Pennsylvania / St. Arkansas

Release date: September 10th
Record label: Fire
Genre: Post-punk, art rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

The “Dark Americana” period of Pere Ubu is the band’s most underappreciated era, and the eternal all-night diners and endless highway expanses of Pennsylvania and St. Arkansas that emerged around the turn of the century are as good as anything else David Thomas and crew have cooked up over their long careers. These two records (along with the just-as-excellent Raygun Suitcase and some bonus material) were reissued as part of the Drive, He Said box set not too long ago, and I can’t necessarily recommend these over that package, but the new remixes and remasters do change things up, and are worth a listen even if you already know these songs well. St. Arkansas in particular ups the bass and the vocals, resulting in a claustrophobic, up-close listening experience.

R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi (25th Anniversary Edition)

Release date: October 29th
Record label: Craft
Genre: Alternative rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

R.E.M.’s best album should come from the early 1980s—that is, after all, when they were the most consistently great. But they had to go and make a massive, bloated masterpiece that looms over everything else in the second half of the 90s. New Adventures in Hi-Fi does everything, blowing the band up to levels not previously attained but still seeming quiet and intimate when it wants to be. The bonus content was always destined to be a little disappointing compared to past R.E.M. reissues—since it was recorded during the Monster tour, there weren’t going to be many record-specific shows or B-sides from which to pull, but their cover of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Wall of Death” and the creepy carnival organ live version of “Binky the Doormat” are worth it on their own.

Seam – Headsparks

Release date: September 24th
Record label: Numero Group
Genre: Shoegaze, slowcore
Formats: Vinyl, digital

The debut record from Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Seam might be the group’s noisiest album, but there’s still plenty of traces of the band that would go on to make some of the most beautiful Loud Indie Rock of the 1990s. Guitarist/vocalist Sooyoung Park may have still been shaking off his work with his previous band, the unfortunately-named Bitch Magnet, and soon-to-depart drummer Mac McCaughan (yes, that one) recalls his contributions derisively, but the trio (also featuring bassist Lexi Mitchell) put together some undeniable songs, such as the takeoff of “Pins & Needles”, confident mid-tempo numbers like “Decatur” and “King Rice”, and “New Year’s”, which their friends in Codeine have made something of an indie rock standard.

Snowhore – Everything Tastes Bad

Release date: March 29th
Record label: Devil Town Tapes
Genre: lo-fi indie rock, bedroom indie folk
Formats: Cassette, digital

Everything Tastes Bad, the debut EP from Philadelphia’s Snowhore, initially received a limited, Bandcamp-only release in 2018, but a cassette reissue from Devil Town Tapes earlier this year saw these songs reach a wider platform. Most of these tracks are blink-and-you’ll-miss it, two-minute-or-less snapshots of singer-songwriter and bandleader Veronica Isley’s writing style, but are no less effective because of this. The reissue’s two sparse, acoustic bonus tracks are appealing in an American Weekend-era Waxahatchee way, but the rest of Everything Tastes Bad shows Snowhore can similarly translate their weight to full-band settings. (Read more)

The Stick Figures – Archeology

Release date: September 3rd
Record label: Floating Mill
Genre: Post-punk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital

The aptly-titled Archeology is an expanded reissue of Tampa, Florida’s The Stick Figures only official release, a self-titled 1981 EP. All four of those songs are here, as well as unreleased studio and live recordings that combine to create a record’s worth of solid, inspired American first-wave post-punk. The Stick Figures incorporate the Pylon/B-52’s-esque dance-punk that was happening one state away in Athens, Georgia, as well as a straight-up funk rock influence as well, and run the gamut from clean college rock to scuzzy noise-punk. (Read more)

Tar – Jackson

Release date: September 1st
Record label: Chunklet
Genre: Noise rock, post-hardcore
Formats: Vinyl (as part of box set and separately), digital

Chicago’s Tar were essential noise rockers of the genre’s explosive era—from 1989 to 1995, they put out six records (four LPs, two EPs) on Touch and Go and Amphetamine Reptile Records, arguably the two most important noise rock labels. Their Touch and Go albums have been available (at least digitally), but a box set for Chunklet Industries has made Tar’s first two albums and debut EP (as well as a bonus live album) available both physically and on streaming. Among these is 1991’s Jackson, the group’s sophomore album and quite possibly their career peak: their lean, punky version of noisy indie rock sounds incredible and energetic across all its eleven tracks.

Various – Cameroon Garage Funk

Release date: September 3rd
Record label: Analog Africa
Genre: Funk rock, Afrobeat, Afro-funk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital

Analog Africa’s most recent compilation is presented as a document of the vibrant 1970s music scene around the city of Yaoundé, the capital of the central-Atlantic African country of Cameroon. Most of Cameroon Garage Funk was supposedly recorded by one engineer using one microphone in a local church—however it was made, it sounds great for a fifty-year-old archival release from any country. There is, unsurprisingly, plenty of variety on Cameroon Garage Funk, but there are a few hallmarks of most of these songs: Afrobeat horns, rock and blues-y guitar solos, spirited vocals falling anywhere between “a smooth croon” and “delightfully ragged”, and above anything else, completely locked-in rhythm sections.

Winterhawk – Electric Warriors

Release date: October 22nd
Record label: Don Giovanni
Genre: Hard rock, heavy metal, rock and roll
Formats: CD, digital

Some four decades or so later, reissues from Don Giovanni Records put a spotlight on the two albums from Native American rock group Winterhawk, 1979’s Electric Warriors and 1980’s Dog Soldier. They’re both worth a listen, but it’s the former that lands Winterhawk on this list and hopefully takes its place among the other canonical hard rock/heavy metal albums of its original era. Smooth tracks like “Dark Skin Lady” and “Restaurant” rival nearly anything of the sort Thin Lizzy put to tape, while “Black Whiskey” and “Prayer” display powerful emotional centers. Best of all is “Custer’s Dyin’”, a stomping number worth the price of admission alone.

Neil Young – Archives Vol. II (1972-1976)

Release date: March 5th
Record label: Reprise
Genre: Folk rock, country rock
Formats: CD, digital

It’d be a fool’s errand to try to adequately explain Archives II in a couple of sentences. The 10-CD box set, which was technically released in a limited fashion at the end of 2020 but made available to the rest of us earlier this year, encompasses the four years that many (myself included) view as Neil Young’s most successful period. These recordings come from the aftermath of Harvest, when Young made his (in)famous Ditch Trilogy, the underrated Zuma, and the recently-unearthed Homegrown. If you’re streaming it, I recommend having the tracklist pulled up to see where one disc ends and another begins—buried in here are more full-album statements than most will make in a lifetime.

Thalia Zedek – Been Here and Gone

Release date: March 20th
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre: Indie rock, slowcore
Formats: Vinyl, digital

Repressed and remastered for its 20th anniversary, 2001’s Been Here and Gone is a key point in Thalia Zedek’s music career. The ragged rock group she co-led for most of the 90s, Come (who also just reissued their second album, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) had come to an end, and the singer-songwriter and ace guitarist responded by putting together a singular record that nevertheless ended up guiding what was to come in her future recordings. Been Here and Gone is a dense record, but a stately one as well, with the prominent use of David Michael Curry’s cello helping these songs roar and flow dramatically.

Honorable mentions:

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