The Van Pelt 'Sultans Of Sentiment' LP
Recorded in 1996, the second album from this NYC quartet featured a new line up & sound. Clean, warm, spacious guitars paired with repetitive, hypnotic songs showcased the band reaching a new peak. Beloved by those initiated, it continues to find new devotees.
90s NYC indie heroes The Van Pelt have had a lasting power far greater than so many of the other once bigger bands of that era have had. The sort of interest that has neither waxed nor waned over the decades since they disbanded, yet just mysteriously continues on despite their discography being out of print since the end of the last millennium. So what is it that sets them apart? Too soft to have ran with the AmRep or Touch and Go crowds, not hip enough to have made sense on Matador or Merge, ernest yet not histrionic enough to make it onto the “best emo bands” lists, not weird enough to be on bills with Arto Lindsay and Thurston Moore, etc. In a sense, their outsider status comes not from the wings, but from the dead center eye of the storm. The 90s were happening all around them, they were witnesses thereof, yet they emerged transcendent of it all. You Follow? Maybe it’s worth having a listen to see what I mean.
Barcelona’s La Castanya records is treating us with the first ever rerelease of the two Van Pelt albums to mark the 20th anniversary of Sultans of Sentiment, their benchmark album. They teased us in 2014 that this might be on the docket with the release of Imaginary Third, a collection of singles and unreleased Van Pelt tracks which were originally intended to have been the components of their third album, including the alt-famous “Speeding Train”. Now we’ll finally have access to their entire discography. The first album, Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves is an explosion of anthems belted out as if the war was already lost yet they were hoisting that tattered banner anyhow until there wasn’t a shred to salvage. The momentum coming out of that album had every major label in the States salivating at the possibility of turning them into the next Nirvana. Instead, The Van Pelt followed it up by pulling the van into the garage, leaving the engine running, funneling the exhaust into their lungs, and blissfully deciding to bow out of the race with the epic Sultans of Sentiment. Of course as the story goes, their intended financial flop was the exact opus that jettisoned them into the history books. Buy both albums. You’ll need them both.
Neil O’Brien: drums
Brian Maryansky: guitar
Chris Leo: guitar, vocals
Sean P. Greene: bass
Additional musicians: Ida Pearle, Elaine Ahn, Danny Leo, Amy Leo, Ali Clarke.
Recorded Fall 1996 at the Showplace & Sweetwood Sound Co. by Alap Momin. Assisted by Keith De Blasi & Gary Gannon.
Mixed at Showplace & Sweetwood Sound Co. by Alap and the band.
Remastered from original tapes by Tom Ruff at Asbury Media.
Cover painting by Sean P. Greene.
Polaroids by the band and friends.
Design by Glenn Maryansky.
1. Nanzen Kills a Cat
2. The Good, The Bad, and The Blind
3. Yamato (Where People Really Die)
4. My Bouts with Pouncing
5. Don’t Make Me Walk My Own Log
6. The Young Alchemists
7. We Are the Heathens
8. Pockets of Pricks
9. Let’s Make a List
10. Do the Lovers Still Meet at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial?
Catalogue number: LC50LP
Label: La Castanya