Down the Elements; If I Could See Dallas; Sleepy Strange reissues

The members of Japancakes perpetually walk with light bulbs poised above their hairlines. Though some critics felt 2007’s reworking of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless should have been shipped with the alternative title, Alpo 1: Music for Supermarkets, one can’t deny the ingenuity that went into re-creating MBV’s masterstroke. With a string of Japancakes’ reissues out courtesy of Darla Records (Down the Elements, If I Could See Dallas and Sleepy Strange), the Athens, Ga., group’s penchant for discernible ideas is on display once again. Take the latter album, which finds Japancakes stepping outside post-rock’s parameters and eschewing standard soft/loud dynamics. “The Waiting” floats with a spiritual vibrancy thanks to Neff’s steel pedal work. On debut If I Could See Dallas, ringleader Eric Berg gives his drone-pop compositions the length and space to develop organically. The vibrato-worked synths opening “Elephants” massage your scalp, but as the track unfolds, all psychedelic stimuli are buried under layers of soothing cello and pedal steel. Berg doesn’t want to screw with your head—just soothe it with gorgeous textures.