Senses Fail’s sound has been ever changing over the span of their career. Starting out as the prototypical scene band as a screamo outfit, evolving into hard rock band, morphing into a full fledged hardcore band and now blending the sounds found on all their previous releases into one harmonious sound. Maybe it has finally come full circle for Buddy (Nielsen), but whatever the case, I am glad to see Senses Fail get back to their roots with their latest album; If There Is Light, It Will Find You.

This album marks the band’s second album and fourth total release (two additional EPs) on Pure Noise Records, who tend to go a bit overboard with variants for their releases. The pressing info for  If There Is Light, It Will Find You can even be a bit more complicated when you take into account the fact that the label slapped an unnecessary “second pressing” distinction on one of the variants. The issue with this lies in the fact that this “second pressing” was released at the same time as the “first pressing.” It wasn’t a case of the first pressing selling out and the label putting up an additional pressing for pre-order with it being released a few months later. The so called “first pressing” did indeed sell out before this “second pressing” was put up for sale, but considering the “second pressing” variant was clearly ordered and pressed within the same window based on the fact it started shipping practically immediately after the album’s release date, it’s easy to dispute the “second pressing” claims.

The water gets even muddier when Merch Limited released what has become their traditional exclusive alternate screen printed cover variant for If There Is Light, It Will Find You. When Merch Limited initially put up their pre-order for it, they listed the color of the record as being white, which was listed as part of the variants for the “first pressing.” Without telling anyone who bought one, they switched the color to the “Easter” yellow that is part of the erroneous “second pressing” They inconspicuously changed the wording on the item page to reflect the color change only after it sold out, which happened within a couple hours. The band themselves even advertised this Merch Limited alternate screen printed variant as being on white vinyl on their social media accounts.

So here is the complete pressing info for If There Is Light, It Will Find You. The “first pressing” has four variants; “electric” blue with white & grey splatter limited to 300 copies, baby pink limited to 500 copies, “ultra” clear with baby blue splatter limited to 1,250 copies and white limited to 750 copies. The “electric” blue with white & grey splatter was a label exlcusive only sold on Merch Now, the baby pink was an U.S. indie exclusive (not brick & mortar record stores as Interpunk was selling copie) and the “ultra” clear with baby blue splatter was a band exclusive only available via VIP packages for the band’s current tour. On top of those there is the lone variant for the “second pressing,” which is on “Easter” yellow limited to 1,000 copies.

While there are 1,000 copies on “Easter” yellow, 100 of them were set aside for the aforementioned Merch Limited exclusive alternate screen printed cover variant. So only 900 or so copies were left available for purchase elsewhere.  The Merch Limited screen printed cover is a ¼ fold card stock sleeve that is hand numbered on the back.

Odds are any place you buy this record from as of posting this will have this yellow variant. Some indie record stores may have copies on pink left, but the “electric” blue with white & grey splatter is sold out. The white variant I’m not sure about, but Merch Now is sold out of it. All of the variants come with a hype sticker, but none of them say what color that particular copy is. So if you’re buying this on the secondary market looking to get a specific color, be careful as you can easily be ripped off or be honestly mistakenly sold the wrong color.

All copies come housed in a gatefold jacket with a full color printed dust sleeve. I would much prefer an insert to a printed dust sleeve. The artwork inside the gatefold leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s just a close up of the skull guy from the album cover (actually found all over the packaging for this release). A download card/code is included with all copies as well, which nets you high quality 320 kbps MP3s.

To keep my collection as complete as possible, I held off on pre-ordering this album anticipating that Merch Limited would be doing one of their exclusive alternate screen printed covers (as they did one for  Pull The Thorns From Your Heart), and I bet right. They put it up for pre-order the week before the street date for the album, but it also included an exclusive slip mat to make an unnecessary bundle, which also jacked the price up to $34. Typically Merch Limited’s screen printed covers only cost $25 (with shipping included in that price), but lately they have started doing unnecessary bundles in a likely attempt to make more money. They have always done limited edition clothing and other band merch, something I never saw the point in because frankly who cares if the shirt or hoodie you’re wearing is limited to 100 pieces. Case in point; they recently did an alternate screen printed cover variant for the re-press of Anthony Green’s debut solo album that came with a horrible tie-died  blanket or wall flag thing that drove the price up to $55.

 

 

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Manchester Orchestra have been no strangers to giving their fans what they want, especially when it comes to releasing their material on vinyl. They have been keeping their back catalog in print for quite a while now, and after years of cries from fans they finally pressed You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, But Brilliance Needs A Good Editor on vinyl for the first time. The band is also very hands on and DIY when it comes to merchandise. They run their own web store and ship all orders from a band’s member’s house (I believe mainly Andy Hull’s). And if you email their web store you typically get a response directly from one of the band members; not an employee, friend, label rep, management etc.

So when it came time to tour in support of their latest album in 2017, the band wanted to do something special for their fans, and it came in the form of an exclusive 7” with brand new material. This 7” was not your typical tour exclusive release however; it was part of a VIP upgrade that a lot of bands are starting to offer now. Personally I despise tour exclusive releases for a number of reasons, and this latest trend of VIP ticket packages is even more infuriating. Bands view them as a way of treating their most dedicated or diehard fans to something special; but since you have to pay a decent chunk of money for them in many cases, it’s not really a reward at that point. Want to do something for your fans? Go out before the show and talk to some of the people waiting in line (yes I’m aware this still happens. I just think bands shouldn’t charge money to meet them). Pose for photos, sign some stuff or just chit chat. The people at the front of that line ARE your most dedicated and diehard fans. Not only the ones who pay extra to meet you.

Now getting a bit back on track here, Manchester Orchestra did put leftover copies of this tour/VIP package exclusive 7” up for sale online long after said tour concluded. Along with the 7”, the bundle (varied in price depending on venue/date but came out around $50 plus the cost of a GA ticket) included a tote bag, laminate, signed tour poster (specific to the show you attended) and priority entry into the venue. The band was selling the leftover copies in their web store for $10 plus shipping (which varied widely, and I amazingly paid on $1.42 for shipping). Pressing info was never release for the 7”, nor was the amount of VIP tickets available per tour date. So you can’t even ballpark how many copies there are of this 7”.

As mentioned earlier, the 7” includes two never before released songs. But it’s not all as it seems, as the songs are the same as the second track is a demo version. So you’re really only getting one new song. Odds are this is a b-side left off A Black Mile To The Surface, but nothing official regarding that has been announced by the band. The song is “How I Waited.” Pressing info for this 7″ has not been officially released.

Manchester Orchestra - How I Waited - Copy


Another record I’ve been looking to cross of my want list for a long time and finally got around to buying was Gatsbys American Dream’s EP In The Land Of Lost Monsters. It was released by Overdue Collection Agency, who released the two other early Gatsbys releases, and did a great job with them. The pressing for In The Land Of Lost Monsters is no different, as Overdue Collection Agency turned it up a notch with this release. It’s a shame none of the variants have sold out so far.

Let’s start off with the most obvious thing; the alternate artwork used for the vinyl release. It was created by label owner Michael Lopez, with inspiration from the title and original cover art. The jacket, which has a matte finish and printed in the reverse board style, came out looking very nice with this new artwork. One variant in particular has an additional feature revolving around the cover art in the form of an ob-strip.

From there the other notable difference with the vinyl version is the insert, which is a fold out insert printed on newspaper print. Some might call it cheap, but it was intentionally printed this way to replicate old zines, and it came out great. It’s full of substantial content, the best of which is an interview with – The lyrics are also printed on the isert, which is laid out and designed like a newspaper.

One often overlooked, but important aspect with this record is that it was mastered at 45 rpm. Which yield optimal sound quality. He could’ve opted for the easier, cheaper or quicker route that so many labels do these days, but he went for quality. With that said the record sounds great, and even the digital files you get with the digital download included with this record sound substantially better than the original master.

In The Land Of Lost Monsters was pressed on three variants, but only two different colors. It’s a slightly odd scenario, but easily explained. There were 550 copies on half clear/half glow in the dark vinyl and 550 copies pressed on black vinyl. The third variant comes in with the black vinyl, as 200 out of the 550 copies on black vinyl come with an obi-strip, which was briefly mentioned earlier.  So the full pressing info is 550 copies on half clear/half glow in the dark vinyl, 200 copies on black vinyl with an ob-strip and 350 copies pressed on black vinyl without an obi-strip. All variants are pressed on 180 gram vinyl.

The ob-strip is hand numbered, but it’s not like most ob-strips as it doesn’t wrap around the entire jacket. It just lays over the front of the jacket. I have seen some obi-strips that wrap around the entire jacket, which is the traditional way, while others are like the one found on this record and only lay over the top of the cover (whether it be a CD or LP).

If you remember there were some issues with Overdue Collection Agency’s other Gatsbys releases, but he seemed to rectify all of them and did not duplicate any past mistakes. There was no pre-order so the records shipped almost immediately after ordering, and the price point was better at $14 (before shipping, which was around $5) for In The Land Of Lost Monsters. Another nice thing the label does is donate all the profits to charity, so for this particular record about 52% of the sale price goes to the charity water.org.

I mentioned above that I waited to buy this record. Part of it was hoping for a sale, not because this record was overpriced, but because I don’t like paying full price for anything anymore. Which stems from being burned countless times by buying records for full price either through pre-orders or around release date, only to see the record not sell out months or even years later, when I could’ve waited and used a coupon/discount/promo code to get them cheaper or by just waiting for a price drop. The vinyl version of In The Land Of Lost Monsters was released in 2014, and I didn’t buy it until 2018.


The greatest sporting event is upon us once again. Yes, it’s a World Cup year, and yes you should care about it. Even if the U.S. are not taking part. Though it will be one of the oddest tournaments in recent memory, if not ever. As many traditional powerhouse nations like Italy and the Netherlands missed out on qualifying. Other countries most tabbed as sure qualifiers like Chile and the aforementioned Americans will not be taking part. But there will be World Cup debutants like Iceland and Panama, along with countries breaking long qualifying droughts like Egypt and Peru. One thing is for certain, for the next month or so the vast majority of the world will be on the edge of their seat watching the beautiful game.

I will try to be as brief as possible with my predictions, going group by group. With 32 teams it will still be wordy, so be forewarned. I will give a brief rundown of every team, staring with the group winner and working down the table. Serious Contenders: Germany, Brazil, Spain, France. Dark Horse pick: Croatia.

Group A

This is by far the easiest group, possibly in World Cup history. Three joke teams with one talented team. But even that talented team still won’t be serious contenders to win the tournament. As hosts Russia automatically get slotted in to Group A, and with no other European team drawn into the group (each group can have at max 2 Europeans nations), you wind up with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay all in a group together. Once you see the other groups it will become obvious why this group is a joke. And it also lends credence to conspiracy theorists and FIFA haters that Russia somehow finagled things.

Uruguay

Without doubt the best team in this group, they should take all 9 points with ease. Their only stumbling block will be Egypt, who I wouldn’t be surprised to see steal a point by earning a draw. They’re a technically gifted team but also play a physical (and arguably dirty) game, the latter of which can lead to disaster later in the tournament.

Egypt

The pharaohs have a bonafide star in Mohammed Salah, but after him there is literally nobody. It will take more than one star player to lift the trophy at the end. And if Egypt were in any other group I doubt I would have them advancing to the knockout rounds.

Russia

Even being drawn into this group won’t help Russia save face. The only point(s) they will be able to claim will be against Saudi Arabia. I have them beating the Saudis, but I could see them playing out an ugly draw. Which is where goal differential comes into play, and seeing as the Russians have a more experienced and downright talented squad, I see them conceding fewer goals that the Saudis. It also help that in Saudi Arabia’s last three appearances in the World Cup they’ve scored a total of four goals while conceding 26, thanks in large part to an 8-0 shellacking at the hands of the Germans 8-0 back in 2002.

Saudi Arabia

Without a doubt one of the worst teams in the tournament. They qualified thanks in large part to being in one of the weaker confederations; Asia. And further benefit from oil money being pumped into their program. They have no star players, and none that play anywhere in Europe let alone any of the top five leagues.  It’s no wonder they’re the lowest ranked team in the tournament (by FIFA rankings).

 

Group B

This is where the tournament actually starts to take shape. It has arguably the best matchup in the entire tournament, and possibly the best group stage fixture of all time. The group features Spain, reigning European champions Portugal, Morocco and Iran.

Spain

Up until they finally won the World Cup back in 2010, they were one of the perennial disappointments in international football. You could pretty much set your watch to it; Spain will not lift the trophy at the end despite having one of the most talented squads in the world. La Roja has reloaded in recent years, getting younger in the process while still retaining an important veteran presence. They will easily lift make it out of the group, and their math against Portugal will be a key early test for them to keep them honest and on their toes. And winning this group is important, because it sets you up on the more favorable side of the bracket for the knockout rounds should the tournament go as expected.

Portugal

The Portuguese are the prototype for relying on one star player and the pitfalls and windfalls in can bring. As Cristiano Ronaldo gets older, the Portuguese National Team has had to change tactics, playing a more defensive game with a potent counter attack. Notice how I said potent instead of deadly? For whatever reason the Portuguese either click or don’t click while wearing their national team kit. It’s either a beautiful display of attacking prowess or a total disaster. Their goalkeeping has also left a lot to be desired. And it’s for these reasons I have them finishing second in the group.

Morocco

Having a stout defense can only take you so far in this game. Playing the likes of Spain, they will eventually break you down. It’s impressive that Morocco did not concede a single goal during qualifying, but on the other hand they lack the offensive firepower to advance to the knockout round.

Iran

Iran is a similar side to Morocco, but their defense is not as well organized nor capable. While they rely on their defense to keep them in games as a last resort, playing for a draw; Morocco’s defense is their strength. And that ultimately will be the difference maker. It also helps that Morocco has slightly better attacking threats and options than Iran.

 

Group C

Another of the weaker groups, but not as big a joke as Group A, Group C features France, Australia, Peru and Denmark. There are two potential trap games here for both France and Denmark, as they each have their eyes on their head to head matchup on the final math day for their group.

France

France should win this group, but it won’t be as easy as everyone thinks. Denmark poses a threat, as does Peru. I don’t think Peru will beat France, but they may give them a run for their money. And in France has one of their typical bad days that they are prone to, Peru might be able to steal a point.

Denmark

The Danes have solid goalkeeping, a star attacking player in Christian Ericksen and a strong leader in the back line in Simon Kjaer. This should be enough to see them through to the knockout round. Aside from France, Peru will be their toughest test, and it will be a good benchmark game have to face them in their opening game.

Peru

One of the surprise qualifiers for this edition of the World Cup, Peru will be one of the teams just happy to be here. They ended a 36 year drought, thanks in large part to a topsy turvy CONMEBOL qualifying cycle. They have a good mix of veteran and young talent, but it won’t be enough to get past either France nor Denmark in the end.

Australia

The socceroos switched allegiances to the Asian Federation from Oceania to have an easier and more direct route to qualifying for the World Cup. But you wouldn’t know it by this qualifying cycle. They had to go through not one, but two, two-legged home-away playoffs just to qualify for the World Cup. A squad with enough talent to avoid this arduous path to the World Cup, saying the Aussies are underachieving right now is an understatement. The best Australia can hope for in this tournament is being a thorn in everyone else’s sides.

 

Group D

What I feel is the toughest group in the tournament; it features four teams that could all legitimately advance to the knockout round. Argentina are perennial favorites to win the tournament, Croatia is loaded with talent but has underlying turmoil as a potential distraction,  Iceland is capable of shocking the world, again, and Nigeria can claim a few scalps is you rest on your laurels.

Argentina

As the tournament draws closer, I’ve been shocked to see more than one person make the bold predict that Argentina will not make it out of the group stage. They had a shaky qualification, but with Lionel Messi you can never be counted out. It also doesn’t hurt to have Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala,

Croatia

I went back and forth as to who finishes second in this group, pretty much a tossup between Croatia and Iceland. I knew Iceland would have a strong performance in the Euros two summers ago, but I don’t think anyone thought they would make it to the quarterfinal. While Iceland does every well, Croatia is capable of jaw dropping greatness. And that will be the difference in this group. Croatia star players, and there are many of them, will take over games. My only doubt is whether or not the political and social turmoil that reared its ugly head at the most recent Euros will make another appearance.

Iceland

Sadly I don’t think Iceland will be able to duplicate the magic from two years ago. Their squad is older (and some were already old at the Euros), they face stiffer competition in the group stage this go round and they won’t be able to take anyone by surprise anymore. Though if I were to pick one dark horse, it would be Iceland. If every player and every national team put in as much effort and dedication  while playing for their respective national teams as the Icelandic players do, the sport would be far better for it.

Nigeria

No strangers to conflict, the Super Eagles played the previous World Cup under protest with their own Federation over a pay dispute. They’re one of the better African sides in the tournament but that won’t pay dividends in the end. Nigeria frankly does not put in consistent enough performances to be a real threat of advancing to the knockout round.

 

Group E

One of the more intriguing groups in this edition of the World Cup, Group E features Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. A well balanced group, it should provide for some great games. It has a perennial powerhouse, perennial overrated underachiever, surprise underdog and a wild card.

Brazil

Brazil is already dangerous enough without a chip on their shoulder, and now they have something to prove after their humiliating defeat at home against Germany in the last World Cup. They seem to have somewhat corrected their one area of weakness; their defensive third. But with that said it’s still not a world class defense. So the Brazilians are still vulnerable, but won’t be dethroned from this group.

Switzerland

The Swiss are one of the teams in world football that are seemingly always ranked higher than most feel they should be. They did have an impressive qualifying campaign, where they didn’t lose a single game but still somehow didn’t win their group and clinch automatic qualification. But they don’t do any one thing great, and they’re not disciplined, but they still manage to get results. It’s a formula that could catch up to them, but not in this group. Had Switzerland been drawn into a different group in this World Cup, things might be different for them.

Serbia

Serbia qualified directly for the World Cup after winning a wild European group. They have a venerable defense, potent midfield and more than capable strikers who all add up to a well rounded team. And that is key. A team. It’s one of the things that has made the Germans so successful. My only area of concerns for the Serbs is their goalkeepers.

Costa Rica

After the Costa Ricans’ head turning performance in the last World Cup, many people have them as their dark horse to advance past the group stage. I just don’t see it happening. I think the stars aligned for Los Ticos last time and it will be a struggle for them in 2018.

 

Group F

Pegged as the group of death by the American media, it is in actuality far from it. The American media loves to look for drama even if there isn’t any. And with the U.S. not in the tournament, their defacto story line is Mexico. Germany is a shoe in to advance to the knockout round. But after that it is anyone’s guess. I could see any of Mexico, Sweden or South Korea advancing should things go just right for the any of the trio.

Germany

Die Mannschaft has only lost one game in group stage play in their entire history at the World Cup. And even that was not as it seems, as if not for a late missed penalty from Lukas Podolski the Germans would have come back to earn a draw with Serbia instead of a bitter defeat. They are the most well rounded team in the entire tournament, and arguably their few areas of weakness;  a lack of strikers and who will replace veteran right back Philip Lahm after his retirement from international football were both addressed with relative ease with young stars in the making Timo Werner and Joshua Kimmich.

Mexico

I’m going with Mexico to finish second in Group F frankly because Sweden and South Korea and not good enough. It’s not that Mexico is a particularly talented side; they’re just the least rotten of the eggs in the fridge.

Sweden

Let me put it this way; without Zlatan there is no Sweden. They were literally lucky just to qualify for the tournament, beating Italy in the two-legged playoffs due to an own goal. But thanks to a squad full of European based players, they will edge out South Korea to not finish dead last in the group

South Korea

They just lack the caliber of players needed to be serious contenders in a tournament of this stature.

 

Group G

Yet another group that offers no real competition, at least on paper. Any group that features England can be turned on its head. But with Belgium, it shouldn’t go too awry. The likes of Panama and Tunisia should make things easy though. Again, at least on paper.

Belgium

Blessed with yet another golden generation (how you can have more than one is beyond me), the Belgians are poised to make another deep run in the tournament. They have arguably the most talented squad top to bottom, position to position in the entire tournament. The only issue is will they be able to gel and put egos aside for the greater good.

England

If not for the three lions’ history of underachieving I wouldn’t be going out on a limb here. But given the teams in this group, I feel comfortable, not confident, that England will advance past the group stage. They have loads of talent at their disposal, it’s just a matter of focusing all that talent together. In a way is sort of destiny that Belgium and England be placed in a group together; the two nations synonymous of late with lots of great individuals that just can’t seem to mesh into a great team.

Tunisia

Tunisia would finish in last place in this group if Panama did not get drawn in as well. Tunisia has just enough talent, and they play well as a team, to finish ahead of Panama. I can see them causing England fits, and beating Panama, but other than that they won’t amount to much

Panama

Undoubtedly the biggest benefactor of the U.S. falling flat on their face, Panama makes their World Cup debut. But that is all they will get. They will be lucky to score a goal.

 

Group H

The final group does offer some intrigue. Will Poland amount to anything? Can Sadio Mane propel Senegal into the knockout round? Can Colombia repeat or even improve upon their 2014 performance?

Colombia

I’m going with Colombia to top the group mainly because they have an even better squad than they did in 2014. A less so because I just can’t trust Poland. They gained the system in order to get an easier draw in both qualifying and the World Cup itself. Plus they had high hopes for the Euros with pretty much the same squad and struggled where they shouldn’t have. Having Radamel Falcao at their disposal will be a difference maker for Colombia.

Poland

Poland again is their own worst enemy. They have one of the best strikers in the world, a capable keeper, decent midfield but a questionable defense with the absence of injured Kamil Glik. Another example of a team that can rely too heavily on one key player (Robert Lewandowski), it’s a matter of can the rest of the team reliably perform in order to take enough pressure off Lewandowski so he can contribute rather than be marked so heavily he’s almost nonexistent. A second place finish in this group puts the Poles on the tougher side of the bracket, where they wil flounder.

Senegal

With one of the more well rounded squads of all the African teams, they would be poised for a relatively deep run; had they not been drawn into this group. Ultimately they don’t have the talent in enough spots on the pitch in order to compete with the likes of Colombia and Poland.

Japan

Japan has made strides at the domestic level in terms of technical ability, IQ and organization. But they’re still lacking that key ingredient to succeed on the international stage. They’re a nation that is grooming their youth players the right way, but for the current generation it’s too little too late. Japan just lacks the talent in all areas to be able to compete in this group.

 

Knockout Rounds – Round of 16

Uruguay (1A) vs. Portugal (2B)

I’m tabbing Uruguay to get past Portugal, as Portugal is too one dimensional to go any further. Take away Ronaldo and you beat Portugal. And I don’t think Portugal’s recent mentality shift of circling the wagons in an attempt to outlast their opponents when facing stiffer competition will work against Uruguay.

France (1C) vs. Croatia (2D)

This is primed for one of the best matches in the entire tournament. It will be France’s first real test, and hopefully for Le Bleu they will have everything figured out by now and will be firing on all cylinders. Because if not Croatia will have a field day. But as it stands I have France beating Croatia by 1 goal, 3-2.

Brazil (1E) vs. Mexico (2F)

This will be a rough and tumble game. Whoever scores first will be pummeled either until the end of the game or whenever the trailing teams scores; whichever comes first. It’s also interesting to see two teams with a physical style clash, but it’s not entertaining. Brazil should win this game by multiple goals, but will come out worse for wear on the other end.

Belgium (1G vs. Poland (2H)

The Belgians will win this game on the simple fact that they are more well rounded. Poland is just too overmatched. They won’t be able to penetrate Belgium’s defense, will grow frustrated by it and change tactics prematurely to their further detriment. Belgium will win 4-1 or by some margin of 3.

Spain 1B vs. Egypt (2A)

Egypt is in for real trouble here. They won’t be able to hang with Spain. So it’s just a matter of if Spain goes full throttle from the opening whistle to see how bad the score line is. At some point they should take their foot off the gas, but by that point it could already be a three goal deficit for Egypt to overcome. I could see Mo Salah sneaking one past David De Gea as a consolation for the Egyptians.

Argentina (1D) vs. Denmark (2C)

This is where Denmark becomes overmatched. Though it will be more competitive than people think, mainly because Argentina won’t capitalize on all their chances, not because of anything Denmark does. It will be a one goal difference in the end, with Argentina coming out victors.

Germany (1F) vs. Switzerland (2E)

The Germans will make quick work of the Swiss, exploiting their midfield (in particular Granit Xhaka) to open a relatively early lead that will have the Swiss on their heels the rest of the match. To the point where they will be forced to come at the Germans in attack, which will only further the Germans stranglehold on the match by leaving even larger holes for them pick apart.

Colombia (1H) vs. England (2G)

This is a tricky pick. Colombia will try to play a physical game, but it won’t work against the English as the bulk of them play in the Premier League; a fast paced and physical league. When in attack the Colombians will take too long on the ball, which also plays into England’s hands. This will either be a high scoring affair or a dramatic one goal win for whoever is victorious. With all that said, I am going with England to win because too many things play into their favor. My gut also says England is the pick to make.

 

Quarterfinals

Uruguay vs. France

France is the far superior team in the matchup. Uruguay coasted up until now, but their luck runs out here.

Brazil vs. Belgium

This is where Belgium woes catch up to them. Brazil will toy with them and frustrate them into making mistakes. And for good measure Brazil will be physical off the ball, forcing Belgium to lose possession. Which will only further frustrate the Belgians, and have them fall further down the slippery slope. Brazil wins by two goals.

Spain vs. Argentina

What will likely be the most anticipated and watch game in the entire tournament should this play out as I predict, Spain will sneak by Argentina by one goal. Messi will score in what will in all likelihood be his swan song with the national team, but it won’t be enough to keep Spain from advancing as they will carve open the Argentine defense late in the game to take back the lead.

Germany vs. England

In one of the classic matchups in international football, Germany will give England a clinic on how to operate as a team with their eyes on the prize. Germany will once again exploit holes, this time in England’s back line; playing balls in from the wing, long balls over the top and one two combinations that carve a path through England’s center backs. England will hang in there, but ultimately won’t have enough to get past the reigning World Champs.

 

Semi-finals

Brazil vs. France

I have an inkling this game might go to a shootout. France’s defense and most importantly; their goalkeepers Hugo Lloris, whill frustrate the Brazilians. It will get to the point where Brazil will commit too many men forward and France will execute a deadly counter attack to score. This may happen more than once throughout the course of the match. But ultimately Brazil will settle down, and depending on how things go figure things out at half time to assert their dominance on the game, take it by the horns and win.

Germany vs. Spain

An interesting matchup, it will feature youth and cunning vs. discipline and efficiency. Ultimately Germany will win, beating Spain at their own game (or at least from a few years ago). The Germans are deadly in all facets of the game; they can press, they can counter attack, they play a patient possession game and they’re organized in defense. They’re also flexible and have the versatility to play multiple formations throughout the course of a single game. In the end all this will overwhelm the younger players in Spain’s squad, and all it takes is one weak link and the Germans will not only find it, but exploit it.

 

Third Place Game

France vs. Spain

Spain will win what both team will feel is a consolation medal. Neither wants to play this game, but taking into account Spain has more younger players who might be driven to put in a strong performance in order to secure their spot going forward, they will edge out the French. Who at this point have turned off.

 

Final

Brazil vs. Germany

For anyone expecting a repeat performance from 2014, think again. Brazil will be more organized in defense, and won’t concede five goals before half time. They will ultimately lose though, as the Germans tend to get better as tournaments go on. And the fact they that faced tougher and tougher competition as it went on does not bode well for the Brazilians. Germany will win by two goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vagrant Records snuck in some final releases into their 20th Anniversary pressings towards the tail end of 2017, and boy was one of them a doozy. One of the only outstanding Saves The Day releases to not be released on vinyl was their b-sides album, and Vagrant finally decided to press it as part of their aforementioned 20th Anniversary celebration.

Ups & Downs: Early Recordings And B-Sides was pressed on only one color; 180 gram black limited to 900 copies. An insert is included with the record, which has the liner notes printed on both sides. The liner notes for this album are pretty good, as the band gives a brief but detailed history of each and every song on the album. Along with these descriptions are photos of the band whilst on the road touring as well as shots of them performing live. So ignore what Discogs says about the insert as it’s wrong; there are no lyrics printed anywhere on it. All copies come with two hype stickers; one advertising that this release is part of Vagrant’s 20th Anniversary celebration and another saying the record is on 180 gram vinyl.

The only place to buy this record is via Vagrant’s official web store, which is hosted by Kings Road Merch (KRM). Retail price on it is $20, and because Vagrant and KRM rarely run sales, at least on anything worthwhile, I wouldn’t wait to buy this hoping to get it cheaper. Case in point, I waited almost two years for the Dustin Kensrue covers album to go on sale or for a coupon code to use on it, but KRM never did either. While Ups & Downs: Early Recordings And B-Sides has not sold out in the seven or so months it’s been available, there really is no reason to wait and buy it if you have the money to afford it now.


The All-American Rejects released their first new material in five years in the form of a two song EP. The two songs are “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes.” The only physical release for the EP is vinyl, which comes as a 7”.

Pressing info was never released, but this 7” is being advertised as being “limited edition.” All copies are pressed on black vinyl, and come in a traditional jacket instead of a paper sleeve. And yes, that parental advisory notation is printed into the artwork. It’s not a sticker on the jacket or the shrink wrap.

Retail price on this is a bit higher than it should be; $8 before shipping. Considering this is actually a tough record to find anywhere other than directly from the band’s web store, you’re pretty much forced to pay shipping. My local store, which gets pretty much everything, didn’t even have copies of it. And when they don’t carry something they take special orders, but they couldn’t even special order it for me either, which I found strange as some indie record stores were able to somehow get copies. And it’s not like my local store is some hole in the wall store in a Podunk town.

Shipping was an additional $6 directly from the band. But I was able to find one on ebay for a bit cheaper thanks to lower shipping charges (plus my ebucks code). This 7” was released in August 2017, and hasn’t seen a sale or price drop. Plus taking into consideration the limited buying options mentioned above, I figured now was a good time to buy it. Especially since my ebucks code was going to expire the next day.

If you needed another reason to hate major labels, here is one more; Interscope Records, who released this 7”, along with a handful of other major labels, are starting to not put download cards in physical releases anymore. Instead, they are opting to only issue them to those who order the record from either the label’s or band’s official online store. The digital downloads are either delivered via e-mail or are redeemable after placing your order through a link on your order form/receipt. It’s yet another shady marketing strategy aimed to get people to buy records for a higher price in the form of full retail price if not for a mark up on it, and directly from the label/band so they make even more money by not having to pay middle man like a distributor to get copies out to say Amazon, Best Buy, indie record stores or other online distros. I know Interscope Records, which is owned Universal Music Group as well, and Reprise Records, which is owned by Warner Music Group, employ this no download card strategy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if every label under those respective umbrellas do the same.

The All-American Rejects - Sweat - Copy

 


This is a record I’ve spent years trying to track down. It might not seem like a record that people are clamoring over, and it doesn’t sell for ridiculous prices. At this point in my record collecting it’s more about price than anything. I have a strict budget I stick to. Not an overall monthly budget or anything like that, but a certain price I want I don’t want to go over based on the record. Typically $15 for a single LP, $18 for a double LP, and under $10 for a 7”, all with shipping included. Sure there are a few exceptions here and there, but for the most part I’ve done very well sticking to that budget the last couple years.

Hellogoodbye wasn’t even a band I was heavily into or liked all that much. It’s one of those cases where when a pre-order is announced or a new album is released you sometimes go and listen to that band, or in the case of Hellogoodbye go back and listen them again, which leads to re-discovering them. Like most people, I was familiar with Hellogoodbye from their Drive-Thru Records days, which led me to their latest album, the self released Would It Kill You?, which I think is an underrated and fantastic album. That led me to want to collect them, which was somewhat easy considering they’ve only released three records to that point, which shortly increased to four total with the releases of their debut self-titled EP on vinyl. I eventually got around to buying all of their vinyl releases except for one; this picture disc 7” for Here (In Your Arms).

Since this is a UK release, it was rather hard to find in the U.S., and it eventually swelled into just finding a copy at all. Copies rarely popped up on ebay, and if they did, it was a UK seller with a Buy It Now (BIN) that lasted a month, and then when it didn’t sell they would just re-list it for the same price until it sold. But since I lived in the U.S., I would be hampered by not only the exchange rate, but international shipping, the latter of which sometimes cost more than the record itself. It took a long time, but I finally found someone, well stumbled upon someone in the U.S. selling a copy of this 7”. And to sweeten the deal they were selling it for only $5. I bought a few other things from this seller, which helped on shipping costs, so I wound up buying this 7” for $8 when all was said and done.

Pressing info was never released for this 7”, but all copies were done as a picture disc. The artwork is pretty much the same on both sides of the record; a photo of the Southern California band frolicking on the beach. All copies come in a less traditional picture disc sleeve, as it has crimping running from top to bottom on the left and right hand sides. And considering most picture discs just come by themselves in picture disc sleeves, this particular picture disc has a backing board, which serves as an insert. It’s on very thin paper, and one side is blank, but it’s better than nothing. The only info printed on is it the track listing, which is the single on the a-side and a live version of “Baby, It’s Fact” on the b-side.