Edsel – The Everlasting Belt Company and Detroit Folly (Reissued and Remastered) Edsel – The Everlasting Belt Company and Detroit Folly (Reissued and Remastered)

Ed. Note: Since we’re considering two albums in this review and would prefer to avoid confusion, cover art can (as well as track listing) can be found at the bottom of the page.

Edsel were a criminally undersung component of D.C.’s ‘90s post-punk / indie rock heyday. Granted, the ‘90s were an embarrassment of riches for fans of D.C.’s music scene (a period chronicled here, by me, as it happens), and there were a number of rad bands that kinda got lost in the Fugazi / Jawbox / Unrest shuffle (see also: The Monorchid). Which is a shame, especially when we’re talking about Edsel.

Because Edsel ruled. They weren’t as strident or political as Fugazi, or as pummeling as Jawbox, or as Factory-enamored as Unrest. In fact, Edsel were pretty hard to pigeonhole, which might have been the root of the problem in an era in which labels – in the Dischord, Sub Pop, and 4AD sense, as well as in the grunge, Britpop, and post-rock (groan) sense – were an unfortunately crucial aspect of the sonic landscape. If it couldn’t be easily pitched and packaged, it could get overlooked.

And Edsel – who were, essentially, a straightforward-yet-next-level American guitar pop band – roamed all over the map. There are touches of hardcore and garage, art rock and psych, the Byrds and Mission of Burma. They even covered Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” for the tribute album of the same name, and killed it. Killed it so well, in fact, that Petty himself had this to say about their version in the liner notes to the Heartbreakers’ Playback collection: “The way Edsel did ‘You Got Lucky’ was so strange and good and I never would have hit on that approach in a million years. They were not afraid to completely abandon the structure and there was a tone, an attitude, in the way they sang it that made it a menacing, frightening thing. And much more powerful, I thought, than the way we did it. If I were to play it again, I’d do it like that, because it sounded more real.” True fucking story.

So yeah, Edsel knew what they were doing. No question. Hooks? Check. Endlessly hummable melodies? Yep. Clever-yet-obtuse lyrics? Of course. Whether or not you know it, Edsel were basically one of your favorite bands. So it’s been too bad that for too long most of their four LPs have been tough to find. But the good folks over at Comedy Minus One are doing their part to right these wrongs, reissuing remastered versions of 1993’s The Everlasting Belt Company and 1994’s Detroit Folly for all the nice people. And they sound great.

Each of these LPs is a cornucopia of gritty guitar hijinx, sounding all the better for the behind-the-board renovations of Joe Lambert (Obits, Versus, loads of other – mainly classical – stuff). The Everlasting Belt Company is Edsel’s second LP (1992’s Strange Loop was their debut), and it’s the sound of a band focusing its attack on gems like “Checkering,” “Buckle,” and “Whistle Down,” sprawling, spiking six string opuses, all. Nothing too fancy, nothing too clever, nothing too precious. Nothing not to like.

And Detroit Folly is even better, cutting some of the fat and leaving all the flavor. “Another Go-Ahead” sucks you in with coos and quiet nothings before unleashing some full-bore abrasion; “Draw Down the Moon” flashes the treble like a switchblade, slicing through mediocrity and post-Pearl Jam jock rock; “Preened” rides the ricochet and reins in the ruckus.

So rejoice, all ye ‘90s indie rock revivalists: one of the greats is back and sounding better than ever. If you missed Edsel the first time around, these reissues rob you of any and all excuses. Y’all need to hear what you were missing, which – considering Edsel’s awesomeness – was an awful lot, actually.

Track Listings/Ratings:

The Everlasting Belt Company

1. Pell Confirms
2. Checkering
3. Shaster!
4. Buckle
5. Oh Bliss, Oh Well
6. Proud City
7. Our Drunken Friend
8. The Good Celeste
9. Penaluna
10. Pigeon-Hearted
11. Stane
12. Whistle Down
13. Horn & Feather
14. Bone Tender
15. Narrow
16. 19:00 Hrs at the Apollo

Detroit Folly

1. Wind Key
2. Negative Wintergreen
3. Another Go-Ahead
4. Matchless
5. Plumed
6. Preened
7. Quaintly Drained
8. Draw Down the Moon
9. I’m No Pony
10. Monasterio
11. Omaha Intervenes
12. Switch the Codes
13. JLA Motorcade

One Response about “Edsel – The Everlasting Belt Company and Detroit Folly (Reissued and Remastered)”

  • Check out a podcast review of Detroit Folly by Edsel, along with an interview with lead singer/guitarist Sohrab Habibion, on the Dig Me Out Podcast at digmeoutpodcast.com, a weekly podcast dedicated to revisiting lost and forgotten rock of the 1990s.