(Ed. Note: This is a project, much like the other comps & collections we’ve been involved in, that has been percolating in our collective brains for nearly 11 years; since that fateful first meeting with June in my mom’s kitchen back in 1996 where he dropped off his collected works, we were saddled with the dream of making it all available. Since then, its been “all about timing.” And what better way to indulge our 11th year as a label as well as our 11th year working with June then releasing a collection from the early years of one of pop’s most seriously under-appreciated geniuses? And so we give you, Songs From Purgatory.)
June Panic spent six years during the early 1990s crafting 14 lyrically disturbed and sonically self-mutilated albums that would make him the closest thing to an underground rock songwriting celebrity that the Dakotas would bear during this era otherwise obsessed with grunge. While scratching an itch for Dylan that could not be alleviated, June willed his bedroom songs into musical nuggets that find tonal residence between the hazy fog of Ween and Sebadoh, the great white isolationism of Eric’s Trip, and the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production style of ’80s-era Prince.
The material embodied on Songs From Purgatory was recorded in vans, dank basements and tiny apartments in Grand Forks & Fargo, North Dakota using crappy microphones on an even crappier 4-track machine. This body of work showcases a songwriting and producing talent that perhaps was only commercially held back by its medium – one which he initially embraced as a matter of necessity, but eventually grew to deliberately embrace with the zeal of a lo-fi revolutionary. According to June, “Over time, I came to appreciate the sounds I was getting, and it dawned on me that recording in an expensive studio is not somehow inherently superior to ‘lo-fi’ recordings – it is simply a different medium.”
Originally released as cassette-only albums on his own label 3 Out Of 4 Records, June’s master tapes were almost destroyed in the Great Flood of 1997 that consumed Grand Forks. Over 200 master tapes sat submerged under the murky Red River water for several days in his parents’ basement until saved through a painstaking cleansing process that is hilariously documented in the liner notes to this collection. Brought into this world by June, taken out by the Flood, then brought back by June, these songs have been re-mastered by the able hands of the iconic KRAMER
MP3 for “Sundowner” from “Songs >From Purgatory”
MP3 for “Birthday Present” from “Songs From Purgatory”
MP3 for “That Parade” from “Songs From Purgatory”