Nikki Sudden / Swell Maps The Truth Doesn't Matter / Wastrels and Whippersnappers

Sadly passing away this past March unexpectedly at the age of 49, Nikki Sudden was a legend in his own right that was still making relevant music up until his death. With a catalogue of nearly 30 studio albums under his belt with the Swell Maps, the Jacobites and solo, Sudden was never short of inspiration, as these two releases prove. Wastrels and Whippersnappers is yet another chapter in the story of the Swell Maps, the band he began in the early ’70s as a teenager with his brother Epic Soundtracks. Highly influential to acts such as Pavement, Blur and Sonic Youth, their ramshackle and experimental take on glam, Krautrock, punk and even ambient, struck a note loud enough to make them eternal cult favourites. W&W is hardly a good example of their importance, but label Overground Records has uncovered a rare batch of unheard music that will no doubt be of interest to fans. The quality is as lo-fi as Swell Maps recordings get, and as far as coherence goes, its devoid of it, but little jewels like the quirky "Ratbag and Goblin” (a deranged cover of the Batman theme) and nutty sound collage "Gramofonica” make it worthwhile. The Truth Doesn’t Matter is Sudden’s final album, which he finished the month of his death, and oddly enough, a significant moment in his songwriting career. Truth finds Sudden in the zone, both as a songwriter and a vocalist, heard best on the gorgeous "The Ballad of Johnny and Marianne.” A standout not just for its glorious, Spector-esque production, but also because of its foretelling subject matter, Sudden closed his career and life on a high note, as this record demonstrates. (Secretly Canadian / Overground)