Winter Hours Winter Hours (Collector's Edition)

Of all the bands that kick-started the late '80s Americana movement, none have been as forgotten as New Jersey's Winter Hours. Led by charismatic singer Joseph Marques, the quintet leaned heavily on the '60s folk rock resurgence of the time, although their proximity to the Big Apple added just the right dash of punk swagger to keep them in line with peers like the Feelies. This deluxe reissue of the band's only album (originally released on Chrysalis in 1989) certainly captures that sonic combination well, and thanks to sympathetic production from Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, it holds up surprisingly well. On the other hand, it's easy to hear why Winter Hours was roundly ignored the first time around. The group often let their earnest intentions get the best of them, something groups like the Jayhawks would soon figure out how to manage. That's not to disparage the album at all; its sudden reappearance is another glimpse of how fertile the '80s Americana scene actually was. Sadly, Marques's 2003 overdose death has ensured that furthering Winter Hours' legacy will be left to aficionados. But the overdue re-release of this album is a big step in asserting their contribution to a crucial period of American rock. (Arena Rock)