In the world of film and DVD, the Criterion Collection is the king of digging up deserving films and offering them to the public. Each of their releases gets the deluxe treatment, filled with extras that highlight why the movie is worthy of such royal massaging. For music buffs, there are a few notable labels which offer up the same sort of special attention, and one of them is the Numero Group, out of Chicago.
This music-geek dream label is already worthy of our attention, thanks to its ongoing series of releases that showcase obscure soul, funk and folk music. Numero has recently released insanely Christmas-list-worthy collections from indie-icons such as hardcore heroes Hüsker Dü and slowcore legends Codeine. And now Dallas luminaries Bedhead are getting the same treatment.
Numero has announced that on November 11, a mammoth, mouth-watering box set for the slowcore pioneers will be made available to the public. According to a press release, Bedhead: 1992 - 1998 will be a comprehensive retrospective comprised of each of the Matt and Bubba Kadane-led group's studio records, as well as 14 singles, B-sides and extras. It's safe to say that this release will give the three Bedhead studio albums WhatFunLifeWas, Beheaded and Transaction De Novo a new life and deserved introduction to new ears.
It's rare to read anything about Bedhead, or the Kadane brothers for that matter, without seeing the term "pioneering" somewhere nearby. Indeed, the band was a pioneering act in the so-called slowcore scene which also featured revered acts such as Low, Galaxie 500 and the aforementioned Codeine. Will Johnson of Centro-matic was an active member of the Deep Ellum music scene when Bedhead was initially plying its new, moody craft. Since then, he's produced music for the Kadane's New Year project and teamed up with them on last year's Overseas album with David Bazan. He remembers what made them special clearly, as well as why they're considered a pioneering act.
"I remember I felt like that pioneering element was already showing raw signs of itself when I first saw Orange Schubert, just before they [Matt and Bubba Kadane] got Bedhead going," Johnson says. "There was something to what Matt and Bubba were doing that was all their own to my ears. They were already initiating an instrumental language with an interplay and delivery that wasn't like anything I'd heard before."
Another notable indie authority, Steve Albini, who produced the group's 1998 record, Transaction De Novo, is quoted on the press release, praising the group for creating sounds that other bands simply weren't attempting at the time.
"I met them in full flower, in the depths of their mania, pursuing contemplative music with the kind of intensity normally found in psychopaths. No detail was too small to sweat, no crack in the veneer not worth gluing and clamping. We built a common language, equal parts philosophy, rock music, and disdain for the dullness around us."
Mining his own history with the Brothers Kadane, Johnson also experienced the "mania" that Albini detailed. Indeed, Bedhead brought a new sound to not only Deep Ellum, but helped take it well beyond. Musical pioneers can come from Dallas, after all.
"They respected and exercised the art of restraint and ultimately release, better than just about any band I had heard anywhere up to that point," Johnson says.
Here's the tracklist for Bedhead: 1992 - 1998:
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Disc 1: WhatFunLifeWas 1. Liferaft 2. Haywire 3. Bedside Table 4. The Unpredictable Landlord 5. Crushing 6. Unfinished 7. Powder 8. Foaming Love 9. To The Ground 10. Living Well 11. Wind Down
Disc 2: Beheaded 1. Beheaded 2. The Rest Of The Day 3. Left Behind 4. What's Missing 5. Smoke 6. Burned Out 7. Roman Candle 8. Withdraw 9. Felo De Se 10. Lares and Penates 11. Losing Memories
Disc 3: Transaction De Novo 1. Exhume 2. More Than Ever 3. Parade 4. Half-Thought 5. Extramundane 6. Forgetting 7. Lepidoptera 8. Psychosomatica 9. The Present
Disc 4: Singles/B-Sides/Etc. 1. Heizahobit 2. Dead Language 3. What I'm Here For 4. Disorder 5. The Dark Ages 6. Inhume 7. Any Life 8. Bedside Table (7" version) 9. Living Well (7" version) 10. The Rest Of The Day (7" version) 11. I'm Not Here 12. Intents and Purposes 13. Golden Brown 14. Leper