There's an unwritten rule about music that if an album exists, it will eventually be reissued. Too many albums to mention in the past 50 years or more have been reissued, reissued and repackaged, to paraphrase a famous song by The Smiths. And that goes for albums by Morrissey himself—his own underwhelming 2014 release World Peace Is None of Your Business is already on the docket for re-release, for some reason. I'm a little surprised that Rocket from the Crypt, the band that more or less put San Diego on the mainstream alt-rock map, hasn't seen all of their albums go the deluxe reissue route. Yet Red Dye No. 5, another band from the '90s San Diego indie landscape, never ended up having their only recorded album heard the first time around. So it's not quite right to call Silver Girl Records' release of Fort Apache Sessions as a reissue. It's a second chance.
Red Dye No. 5 existed for only a couple years, signed to major label Flip Records and then broke up shortly after recording their debut album at Fort Apache Studios in Massachusetts. With the band no longer active to promote the album, and a quickly strained relationship between band and label, it ended up remaining on a shelf for 20 years. Local label Silver Girl, however, eventually ended up getting access to the tapes and has pressed the sessions onto vinyl two decades after they were recorded.
That the material on Fort Apache Sessions got stuck on a shelf until now is too bad, given that this is a pretty fun record. It'll strike a familiar chord to those who listened to college rock in the '90s. On various songs it recalls certain favorites of the first half of the '90s: Belly, Throwing Muses, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr. It's fuzzy, jangly, dreamy and spunky in equal measure, and not at all hard to see why a major label would take interest in the band.
"Hope" kicks off the record on a jangly note, while "Supro" showcases the band at their most dynamic, with juxtaposed male and female vocals and some of the most interesting instrumental work. And "Sugar Time" proves that Red Dye No. 5 can do shoegaze with the best of them. Were Red Dye No. 5 to have stuck it out, it's hard to say what their legacy would be now, but they would have had at least one excellent album under their belts. And now, finally, they still do.