Archive for June, 2011

Antithetic Records is a relatively new label run by a good friend. They just put up pre-orders for the vinyl version of Kayo Dot‘s Stained Glass EP. The EP was originally released by Hydra Head Records, and now it’s getting a licensed vinyl release.

Antithetic is making the EP available in 3 limited colors and all on 180gram vinyl. To pump up even more excitement for the release, the label is holding a contest in which a lucky winner will not only get a test press of the release but also the original hand-painted artwork by Kayo Dot head honcho Toby Driver.

Kayo Dot’s 2010 EP – Stained Glass. 20 minutes of beautiful, synth heavy avant experimentalism. Here are the details:

-500 copies on 180 gram vinyl
-Full color jacket printed on reverse board
-Insert on uncoated stock w/ lyrics and album details
-11×17 full color poster on 100# uncoated text with additional artwork by Toby Driver exclusive to this release
-B side will contain a super stripped down remix featuring the track as it was originally composed, as a rhodes-vibes-guitar trio. Remix is exclusive to this release.

Pressing Info:
200 on Purple
200 on Teal
100 on Black – Hand Numbered

Preorder Giveaway details:
Two lucky people who preorder the album will win one of the following prizes:

Grand Prize:
-The ORIGINAL cover art for the poster, hand painted by Toby Driver
-One test pressing of the album (#5/15)

Runner Up:
-One test pressing of the album (#6/15)

If you preorder multiple copies (if you are a collector and like to get more than one color), you will get multiple entries into the drawing. This is our way of saying thank you for your support!!!

To pre-order head on over here. Tell ’em I sent you. Ha!

 

Drag the River is one of those bands you either love or hate at this point; the people who love them, love them because of the music – or the lyrics – or whatever it is that makes the tunes they produce appeal to their ears. The people who don’t love them hate them because they’re not ALL or one of the old punk bands the members of the band used to be in. But whatever…that’s there prerogative I suppose. I happen to fall on the love side of the equation and that’s why we’re here today.

Jon Snodgrass has one of the most distinct voices of the alt-country/country rock/punk country/whatever you want to call it movement. Personally, I put the distinction of his voice up there with Ben Nichols. Meaning that if you hear a song and he’s singing it you KNOW it’s a Drag The River or Jon Snodgrass solo song, just like you KNOW a song is a Lucero or Ben Nichols solo song.

This particular album, released by Paper+Plastik, features a slew of folks you’ve heard of (the ‘Friends’ part of the title obviously) including Chris Wollard of Hot Water Music fame, and musically is pretty straight ahead stuff. Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering but it is still a very solid release. If you’re into that kind of thing (the punk country, alt-country, whatever you want to call it) I highly recommend you check it out. Plus, it can be had for a song at only $5. The release itself is very straight and simple, but still very well done. No overly ornate or over the top artwork or packaging, but still a very nice looking release. The actual vinyl itself caught me off guard when I took it out of the sleeve the first time; very heavy duty stuff. Like, I’d swear this was a 180 gram release. I don’t recall having any other 7 inches in my collection that are nearly as sturdy as this particular release. So good on you, Paper+Plastik, for getting this pressed on such sturdy vinyl.


Finally, for those of you that are interested, there were 523 of these pressed on this one. 239 on clear, 189 on white and 95 on white/red. If you want to order it head over to the Paper+Plastik webstore and snag one, but you better hurry – they’re down to just the clear ones as of this posting.

Whirl – Distressor 12” EP

Posted: June 27, 2011 by Juan D. in Record Nerds
Tags: , ,

Every once in a while a new band will come along that blows my mind with their music to a level that I obsess about them non-stop. It’s rare, but it does happen. And I listen to their record(s) ad nauseum and dissect the music and try to just drown in their sound. It has happened again now with Whirl. I honestly have no solid idea how exactly I stumbled upon the group and their music. It’s definitely through the band’s connection with Deafheaven. It turns out that Nick Bassett of Deafheaven was and still is in Whirl prior to him joining Deafheaven. This connection is more than likely what prompted me to check out Whirl. As soon as I got through listening to the Distressor EP stream on their bancamp page, I was hooked. Whirl (now going by the name Whirr due to some legal tanglings), play straight-up shoegaze indie pop that is in the same style and feel as the bands of that genre back in the 90s. And it’s awesome.

The band put out a very limited cassette of Distressor and as expected it quickly went out of print. A second run of it is available from Bridgetown Records. But of course finding the vinyl version of this is what matters most. At least to all the nerds involved on this hobby.

The vinyl was done by The Sounds of Sweet Nothing out of the UK. At the time of looking into it, I did not know you could order directly from the label. So after seeing it posted on Whirl’s Facebook page, I ordered it from Rough Trade in the UK.

500 copies pressed in black vinyl. Simple jacket and artwork. The images adoring the record are vague and allow for the music to speak for itself. Which is what really matters here. Especially with the music Whirl creates.

Now here’s where I am annoyed to no end.

First. There must be some sort of cardboard shortage in the UK. Do they not have normal LP mailers like we do here in the U.S. I always seem to get records shipped in these flimsy envelope mailers that will guarantee the records to get all jacked up.

Second. I know and understand that Rough Trade is a label and a store. Why in the hell is there a price/info label sticker affixed to the jacket itself?!?! Talk about taking away from the simplicity of the cover art with this thing. I’ll have to figure out a way to safely take it off without damaging the jacket. Any suggestions?

Third. I should have waited until Deathwish got these in their distro and have a better chance of un-jacked and un-stickered jackets. Hopefully.

Oh the risks and adventures of mail ordering. Never ceases to amaze me.

Oh yeah…I wrote a pretty damn good review of the actual EP over at The 1st Five…check it out here…Boo-yah!

If there is one Hydra Head release this year that I have been looking forward to most it’s Helms Alee’s Weatherhead. As soon as the announcement was made that the band would be release a new full-length after their “Lionize”/”Truly” 7” I was stoked. Helms Alee is one of those bands that to me truly defy a solid category. They’re all over the place musically. Metal, noise, shoegaze, pop…all mixed up in what anyone would think is a wall of cacophony but it works to be beautiful and jarring music.

Weatherhead is awesome. It shows a much-more solid band sharpening their knife on the stone of whatever style of music they want to make. The record leaves the listener guessing as to what will come next with each song.

Hydra Head, as expected did a nice job with this release. Nice full and glossy jackets. Vinyl thick. Three colors: green, pink, and black. I only picked up the green on a whim when the pre-orders were first posted. Turns out that the green is the Vacation Vinyl / Hydra Head exclusive color our of 100 pressed. Score!

One nice touch to the artwork and design is that they took all the label and song listings and instead of putting them on the back of the jacket, they’re on the spine. Different and inventive.

Now…I may be a Hydra Head fanboy and all, and there’s no contesting that…but the one criticism I do have of the release is the jacket itself. This is a 2xLP. It would have been a better use of the artwork to have this is in a gatefold jacket. The artwork could have been expanded in a sturdier jacket. The single jacket for a 2xLP is a bit flimsy (surprisingly unlike prior HH releases that are in thick Stoughtn tip-on jackets) and takes away from the overall presentation. Not to mention that if it had been in a gatefold jacket it would have made it much more worth the price. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not savyy in the record-releasing business so I do not know what it all entails in deciding/factoring in how a release gets produced and all its logistics in package design and whatnot.

But all of that set aside…Weatherhead kicks ass. Safe to say that it is Helms Alee strongest outing. I am now looking forward even more so to hearing the songs performed live when I catch Helms Alee playing with Torche and Big Business in mid-July.

And oh yeah..another awesome thing about Weatherhead…possessed cats all over the artwork. Meow!

“Scary cats since 1995”

I was a little worried about this record as I really disliked the last Against Me! full length. It had some stuff on it I liked, but the production killed me and there were a couple of songs that were really terrible. Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feeling with that,  but I just couldn’t do it at all.

I’ve always really liked Against Me! so I felt like I owed it to myself to give this one a spin and it didn’t let me down. Two brilliantly written and recorded songs. The A) side is Russian Spies which had me instantly hooked. Great lyrics, great hook. The B) side is Occult Enemies which is fucking fantastic too. Both songs have this anthemic quality to them all while being fairly lo-fi. At first I thought the pitch on the record player was fucked up cause the vocals sounded off. After a couple of spins it started sounding normal to me.

This seven inch was put out by Sabot Productions. The record is on very thin vinyl and has the pop out middle. The copy I got is of the sold out pressing of Yellow Vinyl Limited to 504. It’s got a cool jacket that’s printed on the inside as well as the outside.

Here it is. Cave In‘s White Silence. Their first full-length record since 2005’s Perfect Pitch Black.

What does it sound like? I can easily answer that by saying “AWESOME”! but it’d be giving people who give two rat’s asses about this blog a disservice. Let’s just say that it’s typical Cave In but not really. The heavy songs are heavier than ever. So bottom-heavy and loud that they will rattle the walls. And they already do at my  house when I blast this record. Then there are a few songs that are very un-Cave In but have that spark of melodic and space-yness (is that even a word? Ha!) from albums like Antenna and Jupiter. Overall it’s a great record with a few surprises for fans. I definitely see it as a strong contender for a “Top Album of 2011” list. At least of the few new records I have listened to so far this year.

Hydra Head has done a great job in the overall packaging and appearance of the record. Thick jackets with full color glossy art, 180gram vinyl (not that it means anything to me since I am not and never professed to be some snobby audiophile with a super-duper awesome sound system), a few colors to choose from, and overall a nice presentation.

The label broke down the colors available for people’s choosing as: White, Grey, Clear Gold, and Black. Don’t ask pressing numbers as you will not get that info from Hydra Head. And even those closest to the label are sworn to secrecy with a blood oath to never reveal pressing info lest they wish to suffer a slow and painful death at the hands of Sugar Bear.

BUT! And there is a big one…it is known that the White copies are limited to 100 as they were deemed the HH / Vacation Vinyl exclusive color. So at least we know that. So if you have to have every single variant out there for this record, then start looking. I guess. I ended up with a White one by sheer…something. When pre-orders first went up on Hydra Head’s BCD webstore, I ordered the white and grey. It made sense to me to get the white since the record is titled White Silence after all. Silly rationale I’m sure…feel free to hate on and comment and criticize…but hey…I got a white one didn’t I? Ha!

(Don’t worry…I took the shrinkwrap off after taking the pics. I’m sure all the snobby elitist holier-than-thou record collectors would be up in arms about something like that!)

It’s funny that after a few repeated listens to this record I have changed my mind and initial thoughts on what I wrote in the album review I did for the other music site. I mean, the review is still positive and makes it clear that this is a great record, but I keep finding more and more things I really dig about this. As I said already…it’s a great record and definitely one of Cave In‘s best.

One thing that has a lot of people bitching and moaning recently regarding Hydra Head releases is their pricing. A typical HH single LP has averaged between $17 to $22 usually depending on what the release is. 2xLPs go anywhere from $20 to $28. Again, depending on what it is. Which come to think of it, I have no idea why band or release itself would have any impact on the end pricing of the record itself. Then again, I don’t know the inner workings of a record label and all that is involved in putting a record out. If anyone who runs a label wants to illuminate me on this, by all means go for it.

To be brutally honest, I am a bit biased being the Hydra Head Über-Fanboy that I am, so their pricing doesn’t bother me much. Call me jaded or blind (and I’m sure you assholes will), but I have yet to be let down with all the releases they put out so I tend to be confident in knowing that I am getting top-notch quality release for my money. Sure, it can hurt the wallet at times but then again when it all comes down to it, buying a shit-ton of records can get expensive anyways. Be it 10 different releases or 10 variants of the same release…and that is a heated discussion with highly-opinionated people for another time.

I have no idea what my point is supposed to be. I’m just typing away wasting my time and yours. No apologies though. At the end of the day, if you support the label and its releases, you’ll continue to buy. No matter how expensive it may get. Some people will grit their teeth, some won’t care much. But sometimes it’s better off to pay that price from the label and just get your damn record. And to put it into a bit of perspective: Cave In‘s Anomalies Vol. 1 LP is $17.00 on Hydra Head’s webstore. I stopped by my local record store yesterday and noticed the same record for $20.00. Sure a $3 difference but still…just sayin’…

“Struggling to make a point since 1995”

Descendents

Posted: June 4, 2011 by Nick_J in Record Nerds
Tags: , , , ,

I think it was 1988 and I was a typical skate kid of my generation. I ate,  slept and breathed skateboarding. Little did I know that this would be a trend I would follow for over 20 years. For me and my crew, skateboarding was more than riding every day. When we weren’t riding, we read every magazine, watched every video and hung at the local skate shop all day every day. During this time my musical intake was pretty much hair metal and whatever was played on the radio and Mtv. I don’t know what it was but all the sudden I started paying attention to ads in skate magazines for bands and record labels. I’m sure this is the story of a zillion of punk and hardcore kids around the world but that’s the way it happened. Noticing these ads was a profound experience in my life because the music I discovered there genuinely shaped me into the person I am today.

Of all those bands, the one that instantly became my favorite was the Descendents. I remember walking into the local record shop, which amazingly had tons of punk stuff and that was it. There were posters for the Descendents on every wall but I remember one being for Hallraker and saying….damn I need that. I bought that and Black FlagEverything Went Black the next day. I loved both, but the Descendents records made an incredible impact on me. To this day if someone asks me my favorite band they always seem to struggle with the fact that its a punk band that sings about girls if they even know them at all.

I remember reading the liner notes of that Hallraker tape every day until I memorized the entire history of the band. Strange looking back that I was falling in love with a band that had just broken up. That fact I didn’t discover for some time later as I worked my way through their catalog.

Hallraker has a very special place in my mind to this day, so as I’m just now starting to but all their stuff on vinyl, Hallraker is the one I start with. Fantastic album that sounds perfect and has some of their best songs. Pep Talk on this record may even be my favorite Descendents song ever.