Ninety seconds into this excavation of the deceptively named late-'70s proto-riot grrrls the Neo Boys, the band flubs a part, stops, and starts the song over, as a live crowd hoots encouragement. That's punk rock for you, and the first part of Sooner or Later gets its charge from the anything-goes freedom punk afforded five teenagers from Portland with little musical experience. Why not try out a halting, out-of-tune, mangled blues number? A talent show-level cover of the Stones' "I'm Free"? Go for it! But the greatest thing about this overview, compiled by Calvin Johnson and containing the totality of the band's five-year recorded history, is tracking the group as it comes into its own: The bracing "Give Me the Message" and "Time May Tell" aren't just interesting artifacts but genuine lost classics of the era. By disc two, the Neo Boys have evolved into a sort of revved-up Young Marble Giants, spinning spatial minimalism into a buoyant attack, and singer Kim Kincaid leveling feminist screeds combining Patti Smith's literacy with the force of the Avengers' Penelope Houston. An essential collection.
HEAR IT: The album is out Tuesday, Oct. 15.