Archive for April, 2012

How do I even begin this post? I can just dive in and discuss the RSD releases that Hydra Head put out. Or I can become venomous and express by now distaste for Record Store Day.

Let’s see how it can start.

For this year’s RSD, Hydra Head put out three new releases. Two being represses/reissues.

First and foremost, and to the adulation of fanboys everywhere, there’s the 12” reissue of Botch’s An Anthology of Dead Ends. Originally released as a 10” back in 2003, and much like the rest of Botch’s back catalog, it’s been out of print and fetching decently high prices in the aftermarket. So a reissue was needed. And HH stepped up and delivered. Although I don’t own an OG press, it is nice to see the release as a 12”…bigger is better. And it sounds just as amazing.

I snagged the clear online when a few copies were made available via Hydra Head’s webstore on BCD. Also available were Gold, Red, and Black.

Thank Cthulhu too. Because when I did roll in to my local record store on that Saturday for RSD, the damn thing was overpriced. I fail to comprehend why stores feel the need to gouge people and increase prices to the point where it basically turns away people from buying. It did to me. I left the store empty-handed.

  

Next up on the HH RSD list is Circle’s Manner 12”. Now…Circle are an interesting group. They’re from Finland and seem to have been around for ages. It’s really hard to categorize their music as it is all over the place. They don’t stick to one specific style on a consistent basis with any of their releases. I guess you could pin them down to Experimental Rock. And that they are indeed. And it’s a nice fit in the Hydra Head roster.

Manner is their first release with HH and so far it’s a solid effort. It’s a bit electro-rock a la Krautrock maybe? It’s good any way I try to describe it. For the release I had “Eye”, “Black Eye”, and “Red Eye” colors to choose from. I went with the “Red Eye”. The LP is housed in a DJ-style jacket but printed to go with the eyeball center labels. It’s pretty damn neat.

As an insert, a music scale sheet was included. I don’t know how to read music so hopefully someone who picked this up does and is able to play it. Maybe?

The third and last RSD release from HH was a reissue of Pelican’s Australasia 2xLP. I skipped on this. I may be a Hydra Head Diehard Fanatico Fantastico but not made of money. My store had this on hand but I can’t recall how much it was in order to bitch about it. Hopefully I’ll pick up at some point down the line.

And now this is where I get into my disdain for RSD.

Previous Record Store Days have been fun. The day is a great boost for independent record stores and also places a focus on releases and some special items just for the day to celebrate it. What has me turned off now form it, is what it has become. Not only are the amount of releases getting more and more but also the sheer limitedness factor has crossed into ridiculous and asinine.

People line up at their store even the night before just to get in first to secure that one release they really want and the store only got one of. This, along with other things I am surely forgetting, creates not only a bomb-rush mentality, but also increases the pretentiousness quotient among all these damn record nerds. Myself included sure.

I don’t really care that major labels jump in on the RSD wagon and peddle their releases to the nerd masses. What bothers me the most is…shit…I don’t even know anymore what bothers me about RSD.

This year I said “Fuck It!” to showing up at the local store early. I hung out with friends the night before and had a dangerous amount of beers. Saturday arrived and I was slammed into consciousness with a mondo hangover. I picked myself up and dragged my carcass over to the record store by 11am. Two whole hours after they had opened. I was met with a mob of people and I could barely walk through any of the aisles. I spent a few minutes chatting with the store owned and then forced my way over to where all the RSD released were at. Anything and everything I was looking for was surely long gone…if the store even got any of them. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me was seeing the prices. Especially on the Botch 12”. As I said, I left the store empty-handed after 15 minutes or so of being there.

Thankfully…I have cemented a few friendships via message boards and Twitter and Facebook, so a couple of e-friends were able to hook me up with the RSD releases I wanted. Thanks guys…you know who you are. Wait…do you even read this blog to know I am thanking you?!?!

So at this point I no longer care about RSD. I’m not bothering to go to the local store on that day of madness and veiled greed. If I can’t get the release online or via anyone kind enough to hook me, I will be shit outta luck. Oh well. I’m not going to get bent out of shape if I don’t get that 7” of the two bands covering each other’s song in the uber-limited die-cut sleeve with the guitarist’s brother’s art designer blood mixed in with the ink. Fuck that. Too much hassle for a 7” that will end up sucking anyways. And go for a helluva lot less on eBay in a few months. Just like all previous RSD releases.

It all began with Endpoint.

Funny that a band whose name signifies the final outcome of an effort or a goal, is where it all started for me. With Endpoint it was my introduction to a great world and scene of hardcore and punk. Not to mention my obsession as a completist vinyl collector asshole.

I had move to Louisville, KY in 1988 when I first heard of Endpoint. Or was it ’89?…Either way, I was in 9th grade and I became friends with this guy named Matt S. At the time I was listening to whatever may have been on the radio and what some friends had turned me on to. I was into a few bands whose videos were played on Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes. One day, Matt S. asked me if I was into any of the bands in the local scene. I had no idea what he was talking about. Instead of ridiculing me for not being “in touch”, he lent me a tape to listen to. It was Endpoint’s If The Spirits Are Willing on local label Slamdek. From the moment I heard the opening riff of “Thought You Were” and well into the rest of the tape…both sides…I was hooked. I didn’t know what to make of it…a completely different sound from anything I had ever heard before in my limited music knowledge. And I loved each and every song on that damn tape.

It all really came together for me when Matt S. asked if I wanted to go with him to see Endpoint play at a laser-tag place that doubled as a show venue of some weekend nights. If I recall correctly, it was called The Maze (and later became CD Graffitis). It was at that show, seeing Endpoint live, that it all made sense and I found a place and people I could relate to. From then on, I went to as many shows as possible and immersed myself in the local scene and all the music and bands. And that became a gateway for getting into other hardcore and punk bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, and countless others. Not to mention other local bands like Kinghorse, Sunspring, Undermine, and Spot.

In the years that traversed until I moved from the great Bluegrass State in ’92, Endpoint released many more records and 7”s on Conversion Records, Slamdek (again), and Doghouse Records. Back then, Doghouse was small label dedicated to releasing albums by a few Midwest hardcore and not-so-hardcore (Split Lip / Chamberlain) bands at the time.

Endpoint’s first proper full-length is considered to their release with Conversion, In A Time Of Hate. Released in 1990(?), the record not only exposed the band to a larger audience within the hardcore/punk scenes but also afforded them to head out on tour and spread their unique brand of hardcore. Endpoint’s style was deeply-rooted in hardcore and some metal even, but it always had a sincerity and emotion that was unlike anything at the time. At least to me it wasn’t. And this was largely due to Rob Pennington’s lyrics and vocal delivery.

Fast forward to now…after a few more releases, the band’s break-up in 1994, and a few reunion shows in 2011…In A Time Of Hate has been reissued by Simba Records. There a few things that make this reissue stand out from any typical reissue. The artwork has been completely redone. The cover was re-designed and on silk-screened covers and the album itself has been remastered. So now it sounds a bit crisper and less bottom-heavy than the original release. Although I have to admit that the gritty and muddled sound of the Conversion release gave the album some character. It sounded more raw and mean. But this reissue sounds like listening to this album for the first time again. It’s fresh and so fuckin’ good.

Simba Records definitely did a great job with this reissue. Red vinyl. It definitely feels heavyweight…180gram perhaps? I’m not too picky about those things, but I always appreciate getting a record in the mail that is thick enough to not be warped in the FloriDUH! heat.

The labels are a bit simple. And that is OK. I’d rather have simplicity in packaging and presentation and let the music speak for itself. Which this reissue does overall. This reissue is limited to 500 numbered copies.

I really don’t know how much further to go with this…gushing and otherwise. Released in time for Record Store Day, In A Time Of Hate is the one release that got me at full attention and excited. Due to its limited distribution by Revelation Records, there was no guarantee that my local store would get it. So thankfully, Simba offered up a few copies online for us schlubs who wanted it bad enough. And it all worked out.

Just for shits and giggles, I’ll post below pics of the original Conversion pressings. Doghouse were supposed to reissue it at some point while EP were active, but it never happened. But when it comes the Conversion release:

First pressing: “Red” cover – Blue Marble vinyl out of 500. Black, who knows.

Second pressing: “Blue” cover – Black vinyl…who knows.

I don’t think Conversion was very forthcoming with pressing numbers back then. But then again, I wasn’t 100% hardcore…pun intended…into their catalog so don’t have the proper full-on research and knowledge.

When I get asked what some of my favorite bands are, I always, without fail, will include ENDPOINT. Hardcore may be an abrassive style and genre of music to some and maybe most, but those of us who grew deep-seeded in the 90’s HxC scene, we know there is much more than that. In that scene and those bands, there may have been a level of anger and aggression and desperation…and frustration at how we perceived the world at the time…but deep down, there were heart and emotion. And that is what I was able to find and relate to in Endpoint‘s music. Rob Pennington and Duncan Barlow…the core of EP…and honestly two of my most admired musicians and artists even to this day (thank Cthulhu they’re still involved in music)…those two guys gave me music that I could relate to, and allowed me to find a release to all my anger and frustrations and sense of a lost kid out there.

I know it may cheesy to come out and say things like “OMG! This band and their music changed my life!”…yeah, I feel it is a bit cheesy and somewhat over-dramatic…but if you’re passionate enough of a band’s music, it can feel like that. As if ther music was a complete life-changer. I’m a cynic through and through…but when it comes to music, I turn very serious. There are a few bands that helped shape who I have become and allowed me to be open to things…all kinds of things…points of views, emotions, whatever…and ENDPOINT was one of those bands. To this day I hold them close to my heart. Their music means the world to me. And if that means being cheesy, then call me Velveeta.

“Being cheesy…and not ashamed…since 1995”