Archive for September, 2011

Foo Fighters

Posted: September 27, 2011 by They Still Press Vinyl in Record Nerds
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When we get to the end of the year, and I start discussing with Nick and Juan our favorite records of the year I’m pretty much sure that ‘Wasting Light’ will be at the top of the heap on my list.  So, needless to say, I was pretty happy to pick it up on vinyl recently.

For one reason or another I kept putting off buying this particular record. Yeah, I’d bought the CD…and downloaded the album…and listened to it numerous times in the prior 5 months or so…but for whatever reason I kept putting off buxing it on wax. Luckily I finally stopped messing around and added it to my collection.

The record comes on two heavy duty pieces of wax – it’s honestly one of the most sturdy records I own – in a really nice gatefold packaging. As all three of us (Nick, Juan, and myself) have expressed on more than one occasion, double lps in a single flap jacket sucks. So it’s always nice when a label does it right and gives a double record the proper packaging.

The record also comes with the standard download code and card. What makes this one stand apart is that this particular digital download is ‘specifically cut from the original vinyl recordings.’ Maybe that’s common practice (I really don’t know) but I know that’s the first time I’ve seen it promoted on a download card I’ve gotten with a record. I guess for the real audiophiles that matters.

In the fall of 2002, I was working at a small record store. Every once in a while myself and some of the employees would put together an order from Lumberjack Distro for ourselves (there wasn’t a lot of demand for that kind of stuff in southern West Virginia at the time)  and this is how I got my hands on some of the more awesome early 21st century releases. One of my friends/co-workers suggested I check out Harkonen – a band I had not even remotely heard of at that time – one day while looking over the latest distro catalog. So, with the next order we made I put myself down for a CD copy of ‘Shake Harder Boy’ and, once it came in and I got the chance to listen to it, I immediately fell in love. Now, almost 10 years later, the fine folks at Brutal Panda have given me something I had feared I’d never get to see; ‘Shake Harder Boy’ on vinyl.

 

If you haven’t heard Harkonen, you really need to get into it. Terms like ‘post-hardcore’ get thrown around a lot, but it works here. Just crushing stuff all around. The vinyl itself delivers those crushing riffs and looks damn good to boot. Brutal Panda kept the total press run really low with this one; only 300 total. 100 of them on clear, 200 on ‘ocean blue.’

We discussed the pre-order for this record HERE and, of this posting, there were still some of the ocean blue left. So if you haven’t already picked one up you ABSOLUTELY need to. It’s easily one of the absolute best albums of the 21 st century and this initial vinyl release of the album is awesome; with a full color packaging and sturdy vinyl you absolutely will not be disappointed.

Every once in a while, a band or a label gets ahold of us  and asks us to check out their band/their release/etc. That’s how I came across Sharks Come Cruisin. From Providence, RI this is a band that delivers some awesome ‘pub rock’ that, if that’s you kinda thing, you absolutely have to check out. To put it a little better, lets let the bands website take over for a second;

“Sharks Come Cruisin’ plays an energetic mix of original and traditional sing-along songs, keeping the themes of audience participation and celebration at the center of their music and live performances. SCC has played several festivals up and down the Eastcoast, from Florida to Maine, and had the opportunity to play with Dropkick Murphys, The Loved Ones (Fat Wreck Chords), and Lemuria (Bridge Nine Records). They have been compared to Flogging Molly, The Pogues, and Against Me!, and have been described as sea shanty punk, Irish punk, and folk punk.”

So, with that outta the way lets get into the record itself shall we?  Pressed on 180 gram wax by the fine folks at Pirate Press, this is a high quality release on some really heavy duty vinyl. The overall packaging (vinyl color & design, packaging, etc) really comes together nicely. When you factor in that the band completely funded this pressing (both the vinyl and CD versions) on their own by raising money through a Kickstarter account you can walk away impressed or at the very least respecting the hell outta their dedication to getting this record pressed in a high quality (and surely expensive) way while not having an ounce of ‘label support’ to offset costs.

I’ve got to say, this is a fine addition to the shelf/turntable. The music itself is great, and the quality of this pressing is top notch. If you’re into some of the bands mentioned above in the intro you really need to add this to your collection. You can do that by going HERE

Chuck Ragan

Posted: September 13, 2011 by They Still Press Vinyl in Record Nerds
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I haven’t been buying a whole lot of stuff lately, a couple of things here and there if the mood strikes, but a new Chuck Ragan album is always going to be a must buy. As a long time fan of Hot Water Music, I like Chuck’s solo stuff almost by default. Yeah the ‘punk rocker with an acoustic guitar’ thing has spread like wildfire, but Chuck (along with Tim Barry) is one of the absolute best at the style and continues to get better with each release.

This particular album, released via Side One Dummy, finds Chuck at the top of musical game. Front to back it’s probably the most solid release he’s had yet. And the total package of the vinyl is on par with the quality of the release.


There’s a few things of note here, but first the record itself. They put these in a sturdy gatefold that really compliment the record. There were a couple versions of these available on different colored wax, but I went with the ‘off white’ version that No Idea was selling. Nothing against Side One Dummy or any of the other places that were or are selling these, but No Idea Records is one of the most absolute class act labels going right now. So, I always try to support them when I can.

Also inside the gatefold is a poster that acts as the albums liner notes. One side has been designed to look like an old newspaper from the early 20th century and it formats the lyrics and info in columns as if they were stories in a newspaper

The other side features a black and white photo of Chuck and a couple of the musicians who played on the album

Finally, there’s the download card. Now at this point anybody who’s ordered or bought an album has run across this constant item. Generally, you get a slip of paper with a URL and a jumble of letters/numbers to use as your download code, giving you a digital copy of the album for your iPod, laptop, etc.  With “Covering Ground” the download card game has been stepped up with something that is more akin to a gift card, or your ATM card, than the standard fare.


One thing worth noting;  the card that came with my copy of this record is number 4202 out of 5000 (which you can see in the photo above), not sure why they’re numbered like that (except to say that there are apparently 5000 total copies of this record being pressed) but I’m sure, eventually, you’ll see someone put this record on eBay trying to sell it at a premium because their download card is number 2 out of 5000 or some other really low number that someone will convince themselves makes that particular copy MORE worthy of owning than another copy of the record on the same colored wax because it has a number in the 3000’s or something.

Anyway, this is a GREAT album and a GREAT overall package. You can add it to your shelf/turntable by going HERE

Initially this was going to be a pretty upbeat and positive post about the reissue of Chamberlain‘s The Moon My Saddle 2xLP. It’s a great a record and showed a severe departure from the band’s original emotional hardcore sound into a more alt-country indie style. It polarized their fanbase for sure. Fans who had known the band while they still went by Split Lip and loved their For The Love of the Wounded and Fate’s Got A Driver records were somewhat turned off by The Moon My Saddle. It was a different sound from a more grown-up and weary band.

The original record was released by Doghouse Records and it went out of print fairly quick. The label probably lost interest in repressing it as they started to focus on more indie bands that eventually broke into the mainstream (All-American Rejects). So it went without repressing until now with Topshelf Records. It seems that Topshelf licensed to have it not only reissued, but as a 2xLP with additional tracks.

The reissue comes in three colors: Marble Pink out of 100, White out of 125, and Translucent Gold out of 275.

    

    

The artwork and labels were kept close if not identical to the original Doghouse pressings. (I’m too lazy to go digging for my OG copy to take pictures and compare). They even included the same poster that came with the original as well.

Overall it’s a nice reissue. The colors are well done and it sounds pretty great.

But as I said opening this post…this was going to be a completely upbeat post and here’s where it goes off the rails and becomes a trainwreck.

I have always had major issues and criticism when 2xLP releases get housed in a single-record jacket. And exactly just that happened here. It wouldn’t have been so bad though if the jackets were not flimsy as they are here. And due to this flimsiness, all three jackets I received had split seams and crimped/bent corners. Big shame, as this had the potential to be a very great reissue.

    

   

And don’t get me started on the A/B disc of the marble pink being warped.

Sturdier, gatefold jackets would have been a better approach. And shipping the records themselves outside the jackets would have prevented the split seams. Not much you can do about crimped/bent corners when shipped via Medial Mail…that’s all on the USPS right there.

I’m not going to get cheesy and give this release a grade or numbered scale score. None of that nonsense. It’s a good release right out of the gate…but fell short reaching the finish line due to receiving all three jackets damaged as such.

But in all fairness I will say this…the guy who runs Topshelf contacted me upon hearing about my dissatisfaction with the records received. He was very gracious about my “plight” and offered to replace the damaged jackets. As for the bent record itself…we will see if it can be flattened a bit. I’m sure that replacing the vinyl itself is a bit more costly than jackets. Especially given the limited run of that particular color. Not to mention Topshelf being a smaller label than say, Revelation, who recently offered to replace the Mouthpiece LP that was bent to shit. Worse than this Chamberlain.

I have learned that labels don’t have to be obligated to replace damaged records received by their customers. A while back, I received a very stern email from a good friend who runs a solid label in which he “scolded” me on my bitching and moaning about holding another label responsible for a damaged record I received. And posted about it here on this very blog. I felt bad, I gotta admit for being so bitchy about it. But what drove me over the edge with the Chamberlain 2xLP is that all three jackets were damaged and one record was bent. Add to that the last few records I have received fucked up from other labels and a few trades done, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

But I will admit that I am happy to see that Topshelf Records care about their releases and the people who buy them. They care to the point that they want to make sure that the buyer is completely satisfied and happy with the records. And they have shown just that in their gesture and offer to fix the problem. And that is truly appreciated.

So I guess this post wasn’t all doom and gloom as I initially set it out to be.

“Improperly centering pictures since 1995”

Brutal Panda Records has stepped to the plate and is finally giving this criminally underrated album a long overdue vinyl release. Easily one of the best albums of the 2000’s (at least in my opinion) this is a release that has been a long time coming.

It’s a very limited release, only 300 total pressed. The first 100 on clear are already sold out, so, if you’re wanting to pick this up you better hurry. They pressed the remaining 200 on ‘Ocean Blue.’ So get moving and pick this monster up right now.

BUY IT HERE

Samiam

Posted: September 6, 2011 by Nick_J in Record Nerds
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Holy shit! So when Samiam is one of your all time favorite bands and after years of hiatus come back with a full length it’s time for full on emotional breakdown.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past, Samiam were that punk band that transformed the direction of my listening habits. The lyrics and the style of that bands songs just transcended anything I was listening to at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I was almost immediately introduced to other bands in the same emotional realm but Samiam were the band that led me down that path. Soar was fucking earth shattering to me when I heard it and really changed my whole punk rock vocabulary. Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of people who listened to Samiam but the people I did know were usually pretty rad people.

The album is called Trips and I’ve only spun it a couple times but so far I love it. Early word is that most people are really digging it. It doesn’t suffer from the terrible production issues that crippled their last album. The production is tight and clean just like you would expect from any classic Samiam record. I haven’t worked through all the lyrics but these guys usually have at least one song per album that tears me up inside.

I really like the jacket and art on this record. Great layout and color scheme. I got a White (which has some black swirling) vinyl  limited to 300 and still available HERE. There is also a full stream of this album on Samiam‘s website HERE.

I plan on burning this thing up in the near future.

It all started with the bass player’s brother.

At least my awareness of A New Found Glory. At the time NFG started here in South Florida…Coral Springs to be most specific…they were just a side-band for Shai Hulud‘s vocalist at the time, Chad Gilbert. I came across them from Ian Grushka’s brother, Jarret (sp?). I was attending college at the time, and Jarret and I shared some classes together as we both had the same major studies. One day in one of the classes…I can’t recall which one, may have been Underwater Basket Weaving for all I know…Jarret approached me and asked if I would play his brother’s band’s CD on my radio show at the school station. My radio show at the time was a mess as I didn’t have a set format. I pretty much played anything and whatever I wanted. From hardcore to punk to ska to pop to electronica. It was Thunderdome on that show!

So Jarret gave me a copy of the A New Found Glory‘s It’s All About The Girls EP that had just then come out on local label Fiddler Records. I listened to the CD and was instantly hooked. It was pop-punk at its finest…which I had no idea at the time that it was pop-punk. I was so knee-deep into hardcore and the local scene that I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on musically anywhere else. I played the CD on my show and my listeners…all five of them…liked it. Or at least I’d like to think so since no one ever called in to the show. A few weeks (or maybe months) later I went to a warehouse show to see Shai Hulud and A New Found Glory and Where Fear And Weapons Meet were also there. NFG blew me away. They were all over the place and had an energy that rivaled and was out of place from the local hardcore scene. But yet they were from and about the hardcore scene.

College graduation came and went and I lost a bit of contact from a lot of the key players in the local scene. I happened to go to Uncle Sam’s Music, a local record store in the mean streets of Pompano Beach, and at the time Oliver Chapoy from Shai Hulud was working there and mentioned that NFG had put out a full-length CD, Nothing Gold Can Stay, on another local label, Eulogy Recordings. I got the CD…no discount…thanks Oliver!  It was more pop-punk greatness. And at that point it’s pretty much history. NFG got noticed and picked up by Drive-Thru Records. Nothing Gold Can Stay was reissued and a vinyl version was also done. For some reason, I never picked up that vinyl version. And then the band blew up and now they’re one of the bands mentioned as innovators of the pop-punk genre.

The original vinyl version of Nothing Gold Can Stay goes for buku money nowadays. Pop-punk fans are a strange lot. They’re pretty hardcore (no pun intended) when it comes to their devotion for their favorite bands. So the record has been out of print for quite some time now…and to be expected when there are only 1,000 done. A reissue was due and along comes a new label, Company Ink Records, that has provided just that.

For one I am glad that they kept the “A” in the band’s name. It brings back that local band legitimacy of the SFL scene. I dig that. The vinyl color of the reissue is a gold marble which closely resembles but is still discernible from the original gold color of the Drive-Thru version.

The front of the jacket has a bigger cut-out window for the girl photo to show through and the sleeve itself is a collage of band photos. The back of the jacket has the cherubs from the Drive-Thru CD tray art that also peek through the jacket window if you feel so inclined to flip the sleeve.

The jacket spine is adorned with the stars that are also present in the DTR CD version. So this reissue/repress is a combo of the original Eulogy Recordings CD and the DTR CD in its overall presentation.

Soundwise the album sounds crisper and meatier. Remastered maybe? I’ve been reading on various message boards and discussions that this reissue sounds better than the DTR original. I don’t have an original DTR version so can’t compare. Maybe so.

Oh yeah…this gold marble version is limited to 1,500. It’s a Hot Topic exclusive so you can get it either at the physical stores (unless someone has cleaned them out and flipping them on eBay already) or on their webstore. The guy who runs Company Ink mentioned that there is forthcoming version in Faded Gold that will be available to and only at indie retail stores. Hopefully your local store gets one. It sounds though that if you live in some podunk town with no record stores anywhere nearby you’re pretty much screwed. But fear not, I made the suggestion that because of that very reason a few copies should be distro’ed online. Hopefully that will happen.

“Coral Springs Easycore since 1997”

CONVERGE‘s Jane Doe turns 10 today. Released just seven days before the 9/11 attacks, it can be argued that it was a bittersweet release. Not only did it mark a pinnacle in the aggressive music genre, but it’s closely remembered to the terrorist attacks solely due to the proximity of the release date.

Jane Doe has become a de facto benchmark and measuring gauge on what a band can do within the hardcore punk & metal scenes. With this album Converge veered away from the conventional hardcore of previous releases and created a sonically pummeling experiment. I’ll be the first one to admit that when I first listened to the record I didn’t know quite what to make of it. It was jarring, cacophonous, noisy, and terrifying. But there was something about it that kept me coming back to repeated listens until, in an unexpected moment, it clicked. I was able to understand it within the music and lyrics. And it was glorious!

No, there’s not a 10th anniversary reissue. No fancy reissue with bonus tracks and demos and all that nonsense. The 2xLP reissue from Deathwish Inc. already happened. That’s enough. Jane Doe is perfect the way it is. No need to take away from the mystery and wonder of it.

So go celebrate by listening to it cranked up to 11. And enjoy some pretty pretty pictures of it here:

Yes…I am fully aware that the Root Beer and Black versions of the O.G. pressing are not pictured…

Oh well.

Ask any vinyl nerd what aspect of the whole hobby/game/lifestyle/obsession of collecting they enjoy most and a few are more likely to answer that they like finding and getting rarer versions or pressings. Whether it’s a record-release pressing, or something limited to 10 copies, or even friends pressing given out to random people who  commit lewd acts in front of the band or send in nudes…ya know, crazy shit like that.

When it comes to fests and special shows, some bands and labels take the route of creating something special and unique to have for sale at their merch tables. This is awesome as it makes the release more special and specific for that event and performance. But sometimes it can be a downer since some fans can’t make it to the show or fest when they’re far and away from their hometown. But much thanks to the internet age, it’s gotten a bit easier for someone to get Band X’s first album repressed with special cover covered in the singer’s blood only sold at the band’s final show in their Podunk hometown. Again…some crazy shit like that. But yeah…now thanks to message boards, Twitter, and Facebook, Fan Numero Fanatico Fantastico can beg and plead to friends and people attending the show to hook them up with a copy of that one record they want. Some get lucky and do get hooked…while others who tend to be overzealous and annoying in their pleas go unnoticed and ignored.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of that mess. But sometimes waiting can also work out as if there are any leftover merch, including those rare pressings, they become available online via the band or the label’s webstores.

In the case of this year’s This Is Hardcore, I lucked out in both fronts: having someone who went help me secure a couple of releases and also waiting for some to be available online afterwards.

Thanks to a good lad over at Dead Format, I was hooked up with Strife‘s My Fire Burns On 7″ and Moutpiece‘s Can’t Kill What’s Inside LP.

Strife was one of the first sXe hardore bands I got into way back when. Even though I am far from sXe they still hit home with their message and the music was great to mosh to. Ha! For TIH they repressed their My Fire Burns On 7″ and did a special silkscreened cover that folds out into a mini-print of sorts. Limited to 50 hand-numbered copies it’s on a grey marble puke messy color.

Mouthpiece is another sXe band I got into early. I believe it was last year…or maybe in 2009…Revelation Records compiled all of their recordings and put out the Can’t Kill What’s Inside LP. The band reunited and has been playing shows. For TIH, they took the second pressing of the discography LP of green vinyl and made a special cover for it limited to just 50. They got creative with this one using the G.I. Joe figure from the early 1960s on the cover. If you know your Revelation Records history, then you know how the “connection” with G.I. Joe and how this cover is an homage to that.

And now we have Deathwish Inc. They took the leftovers from TIH and posted them on their webstore thus giving fans a chance to get their grubby hands on these.

For TIH, DW took three records that they had vinyl for but no jackets and made special silkscreened covers. As it tends to surely happen, labels probably get an overrun of vinyl or jackets for some of their releases and these just sit in their warehouse or storage as they can’t really be released. So with these three, Deathwish went ahead and made something special for TIH.

Cold WorldDedicated To Babies Who Came Feet First. Black vinyl…unknown number on this pressing. Maybe a “reissue” for sorts to keep it in print. It feels weightier so 180gram perhaps? The TIH silkscreened cover is out of 110.

Killing The DreamFractures. Transparent Ice Blue (Coke Bottle) w/ White Splatter. The vinyl itself is the second pressing out of 200. With the silkscreened cover out of 150. So does that mean that only 50 copies of the second pressing had real jackets? Hmmmmm… This is probably my favorite of the TIH releases DW did. The cover is like a mini print of J. Bannon’s artwork and design. Which is also an actual art print he did a year or so back. And it goes perfect with the vinyl color.

Blacklisted…And The Beat Goes On. Black vinyl. No pressing info that known. I do get the sneaking suspicion that this the vinyl from a recent repress on 180gram. I say that because over at Six Feet Under Records’ webstore (and email newsletter) they mention a 180gram black vinyl reissue. Yet another Hmmmm. But this is out of 180 with the silkscreened cover. And it sold like hot cakes! Understandibly so as it is a great record.

Deathwish did a bang-up job on these for sure. Much like the ConvergeYou Fail Me leftover vinyl w/ silkscreened covers from a couple of years back, these are special and pretty overall awesome.

Pretty cool isn’t it?

And by the way…if anyone has an extra or willing to trade/sell a copy of the YFM red w/ black stripe w/ the silkscreened cover get at me. I’m down for a trade or purchase. juantspv@gmail.com

So that basically wraps up the TIH releases I got my hands on.

Surely there will be plenty of more fests and shows with special releases and pressings and variants that I will want to get my hands on. But only those bands I’m into. And labels I continually support and consistently put out great music. Like Deathwish Inc.

“Shamelessly brown-nosing since 1995”