Friday, October 2, 2015

Audio Antihero, Reissues & The Passing of Time

'There is Nothing More Frightening Than the Passing of Time', the title of the short-but-brilliant album that The Superman Revenge Squad Band gave the world back in 2013, may well be the truest ten words ever to grace my iTunes library. There really isn't anything more frightening than the passing of time - it happens so damn quickly (I can't believe, for example, that it's been almost two years since I reviewed There is Nothing More Frightening Than the Passing of Time), and once it's happened, there's no way to make it un-happen.

The music industry, mind you, LOVES the passing of time. It gives them an excuse to recycle their old stock, to make more money on the same old product by adding nothing more than a smattering of crap bonus tracks (boo, hiss!) and telling everyone to re-buy something they already own simply because it's a particular number of years old now.

Even Audio Antihero, the self-professed "specialists in commercial suicide" who released There is Nothing More Frightening Than the Passing of Time back in 2013, have decided to get in on the reissue game; to be fair to 'em, though, they're playing it a lot cooler than most.

Today, Audio Antihero are reissuing Frog, a lo-fi, seven-track mini-album from the New York band of the same name. You remember Kind of Blah, Frog's full-length debut, released earlier this year? Well, that album went down so well that Audio Antihero decided to dig up the set of recordings that preceded it and rehash it on their own label so as to ride the Frog wave that little bit further.

However, this isn't your usual, cynical reissue. You see, the new version of Frog has exactly the same tracklist as the original; AA haven't added any extra bonus tracks to whet the appetite of potential consumers, and while some folk might have liked to hear a little extra something after the end of Nowhere Band, I actually admire the label's decision here. It shows that the target audience for this release is new fans who had never heard of Frog before Kind of Blah came out in May, and this sets it apart from all those big-name reissues that were clearly conceived as an easy means of getting yet more money out of people who were already familiar with the material being reissued.

But Frog isn't the only release I want to talk about today. Later this month (the 16th of October, to be precise), Audio Antihero will be revisiting the past once more and reissuing We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise by Nosferatu D2. This is the record for whose release Audio Antihero was initially founded, so clearly it's a crucial part of the label's history, one that's well worth revisiting if - like me - you only discovered this wonderfully odd enterprise within the last couple of years.

Now, the Nosferatu D2 re-release (I love that band name) does come with some bonus tracks - more specifically, the reissue is to be accompanied by an EP-length collection of 'non-LP recordings' (presumably outtakes and offcuts from the original album sessions).

But! I'm willing to let Audio Antihero off the hook and spare them my reissue-sceptic wrath once again for one simple reason: the bonus EP, entitled Older, Wiser, Sadder, is to be completely separate from the album itself. People who already own We're Gonna Walk... can ignore the album reissue and grab the non-LP recordings without having to pay for anything they've already got; conversely, newcomers can buy both releases, or just the album, or just the EP if they want to sample the nervous, jittery joys of Nosferatu D2 before splashing out on an entire album.

This is an approach to reissues that I can really get behind: nobody is being duped or enticed into spending money on songs that are already on their iPods, and it's clear that AA's primary motives for re-releasing Frog and We're Gonna Walk... are a love of the music in question and a desire to share it with as many people as possible (as opposed to the usual motives for re-issuing old albums, which can basically be summed up by three dollar signs in a row). Other labels could learn a thing a two from the Audio Antihero crew!

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