From The Desk Of The Van Pelt’s Chris Leo: Le Marche, Newark And Puerto Rico

The Van Pelt‘s Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves (1996) and Sultans Of Sentiment (1997), in hindsight, provided a number of significant indie-rock mile markers. The band was led by Ted’s brother, Chris Leo; Stealing recorded by Alap Momin (ex-Dälek); bassist Toko Yasuda went back and forth between TVP and Blonde Redhead after that record; and both albums saw the light of day via cult label Gern Blandsten. After being out of print since the turn of the century, the original tapes have been mined for reissue treatment by Spain’s La Castanya, allowing listeners to trace the band from its gorgeously melodic and incendiary, post-hardcore beginnings a la the Jazz June and Texas Is The Reason to a more subdued, Slint-like bent with Leo’s increasingly spoken-word vocal style by the time the last notes ring out on Sultans. Leo will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Leo: Le Marche is a region in Italy on the other side of the Apennines from Tuscany. For 600 years they’ve been talking about building a highway direct from Le Marche through the mountains to Tuscany called La Due Mari (The Highway of the Two Seas, since it’d go from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian) that never gets done. Every five years the New York Times travel section runs an article deeming Le Marche the Next Tuscany, but then Croatia comes along, and Le who? Le Marche is where the bulk of damage from those three earthquakes in Italy were last year. Le Marche is where the artist Raphael is from. Le Marche never makes the radar regardless of what goes on there. In the same travel sections of the NYT in the same issues someone is also always deeming Newark the next Brooklyn. Then there’s Puerto Rico with it’s debt crisis making it affordable to all us low rollers, and the colonial architecture of Old San Juan and, what? Castro is dead? Embargo over? No need to fly to Canada first? See where I’m going with this?

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