Ghosts of the 20th century 

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While a few vanished bands like Psychedelic Furs and X are making full-throated reunions, others leave ethereal traces of the 20th century. The late Scott Miller is becoming the indie-rock equivalent of Tupac Shakur, as compositions are continuously unearthed. Miller’s work in 1990s band The Loud Family is self-contained, but the catalog of its 1980s predecessor, Game Theory, is now up to eight albums. In the last five years, Omnivore Recordings has reissued the first six Game Theory albums with bonus tracks, and now offers Across the Barrier of Sound, chronicling the band’s 1988-90 work with Michael Quercio of The Three O’Clock. When Omnivore calls this Game Theory’s last album, it’s not true chronologically. Before his 2013 death, Miller reassembled his old band for the ultra-rare 2017 album Supercalifragile.

The 24-track Barrier of Sound, however, is a more fitting conclusion to the 1980s cloister of Game Theory musicians. Sure, it’s padded with home recordings of covers such as “All My Loving,” but Miller’s three-minute pop wonders like “Inverness” represent the best of Game Theory.

We can also hunt for ghosts in the ruins of Early Day Miners, a turn-of-the-century Bloomington band bridging the world of shoegazer and roots jams. The band’s 2000 album Placer Found has been remixed and reissued on double vinyl by Secretly Canadian, and the band hopes to tour as soon as live tours return. Meanwhile, a late 1960s obscure baroque-pop band, The Choir, reunited and recorded a Sept. 2019 live set released as Last Call: Live at the Music Box (Omnivore), in which the band reinvents their own hits while covering Procol Harum and Jimmy Webb.

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Car Seat Headrest, Making a Door Less Open (Matador) – Give Will Toledo credit for never wanting to attach his brilliant lyricism to one musical style. His band perfected 21st-century anthemic guitar rock, integrating cover tunes and counter-vocal harmonies in stunning ways. But his new electronica-heavy album once again breaks boundaries. In songs like “Weightlifters” and “Headlines (Hostile)” droning synthesizers are put to optimal use. If other tracks are puzzling, Toledo will have us convinced as soon as we understand his goal.


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