V/A The Buntingford Long Playing Record LP reissue

The late ’70s/early ’80s UK DIY scene turned the locals-only comp into an art form, committing countless one-and-done regional obscurities to wax and priming the pump that the Messthetics series would return to again and again in the subsequent century. Buntingford is never going to be mentioned in the same breath as Manchester or Leeds when recounting the era’s post-punk boom, but it still fostered enough of a scene to produce the seven bands immortalized on this 1981 LP collection; for a tiny market town of a couple thousand people, Buntingford was apparently punching above its weight by measure of bands per capita (although as in most small, close-knit music communities, some overlapping personnel between projects was definitely going on). There’s relatively straight rock’n’roll with a smudge of the UNDERTONES (the OTHERS) and vaguely CLASH-inspired post-pub-rock sounds (the RUN) in the mix, but the more off-center and unpolished contributions are the undisputed winners of The Buntingford Long Playing Album—the INFINITE LOTS do warbling retrofuturist synth punk like the SOUND re-envisioned as a Subterranean Records act, the nihilistic clatter of “Sheltered Life” by RIVERSIDE ROCKY sketches out the sort of (SWELL) maps that the SUBURBAN HOMES would unfold three decades later, the DEBUTANTES charm with two scrappy twee-punk songs in a DOLLY MIXTURE/GIRLS AT OUR BEST fashion, with airy teenage femme vocals straining at the upper register limits that make it all the better, and the CHOKE offers up a pair of totally ace, TELEVISION PERSONALITIES-esque naive mod-pop numbers (the lopsidedly catchy “Top Man” could be their own “Jackanory Stories”), although the completely collapsing drum beats of “Concrete Buildings” carry them into an echelon of shamble far beyond the Dan Treacy realm; I’m here for it.