In 2015 New Found Glory and Yellowcard embarked on a co-headlining tour. To commemorate the occasion the bands released a tour exclusive 7” featuring each band covering one song off each other’s latest album. So New Found Glory playing a Yellowcard song and Yellowcard playing a New Found Glory song. NFG covers “Illuminate” off Yellowcard’s Lift A Sail and Yellowcard covers “Ready & Willing” off new Found Glory’s Resurrection.

The official title of this split 7” is Fall 2015 VIP Split, which I gathered from what is printed on the download card included with all copies. Pressing info was never released, but the 7” was only pressed on half yellow/half black split. And that is not the only clever touch with this release, as each side of the jacket has its own cover art, which is the artwork from each band’s respective studio album. So the NFG side (a-side) has the cover art for Yellowcard’s Lift A Sail with text saying “New Found Glory” and the song title they’re covering, and the Yellowcard side has the cover art from NFG’s Resurrection with text saying “Yellowcard” and the song they’re covering.

Initially the only way to get this 7” was not to just go to one of the shows, but to buy a VIP package/upgrade where one of the exclusive items was a copy of this 7”. Other items included with the VIP ticket was a tour poster, tour laminate, meet and greet with both bands and early entry into the venue for the actual show. You could either buy a VIP package that included a general admission ticket for $80, or a VIP “upgrade” for $55 that did not include a general admission ticket. I guess the upgrade was for lucky people who go to venues where tickets are cheaper than $25. In December 2017 leftover copies were finally put up for sale online, being sold in NFG’s official web store (newfoundglorystuff.com) for $7 plus shipping.

This record highlights all the bad sides of records as well as the good sides. Say what you will about tour releases, but personally I despise them. I feel this way for two reasons; one being that it excludes lots of people from access to the release (either just the physical release or in some cases being able to just listen to it at all, even with how extensive file sharing via the internet is). The second is it encourages flipping.

Let me touch on the first one. If the tour doesn’t stop anywhere near you odds are you’re not going to be able to buy it. So that immediately eliminates people from places like North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, etc. And that is not even considering people who don’t live in America, where majority of these tour only releases happen. And before you say “well, lots of people in those circumstances drive however far away the nearest tour stop is and get a hotel;” not everyone can afford to do that. So for all these bands that say things like “we want to reward our fans by releasing this special record” should rethink that approach.

The second reason is quite obvious, as when something as inherently hard to come by as a tour exclusive release happens, people inevitably buy it to for the sole reason of flipping it. And that can screw over people who did actually go to the show with the hopes of buying a copy with genuine intentions, as it may sell out before they get to the merch table. I know the later part of this doesn’t apply to this specific tour release, but it still applies to a lot of them.

Now let me get to the positives about this tour release, as New Found Glory eventually put up leftover copies of it online for $7, albeit well over two years after the tour ended. But sadly this still led to people trying to flip the record. It’s quite pathetic and hilarious at the same time, as this tour split 7” was next to impossible to find on the secondary market. But as soon as leftover copies were put up for sale online, the secondary market was flooded with them. Seemingly overnight copies started showing up for $25 on up, when like I said, it cost $7 plus $6 and change shipping in NFG’s merch store.

So I’m glad I waited to buy this tour split instead of paying an arm and a leg to get one of the few and far between copies that popped up on the secondary market. And ultimately I feel like I got the last laugh as I was able to buy this 7” for less than it would’ve cost me to go to one of the shows on the tour and pay for the VIP package, which either cost $55 for the upgrade or $80 for the VIP package. Figure $25 for the actual show ticket, $15 for the tour poster and this 7” cost $40.

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Dustin Kensrue has had a somewhat prolific solo career so far, releasing five solo albums. But only two of them actually contain brand new material. His latest solo effort is not one of those albums, as it’s a covers album. So the only thing left for him to release is a live solo album and we’ll be all set.

Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood was released in April 2016, and has inexplicably gone through two pressings despite the first one never selling out. The first pressing (featured here) was done on 180 gram black vinyl limited to 1,000 copies. The second pressing was released in November 2016 and was pressed on red with black smoke vinyl limited to an unknown amount of copies. Both pressings cost $20 before shipping, and are exclusively sold by Kings Road Merch. When the first pressing was put up for pre-order in February 2016 there was the option to buy the record with an autographed lithograph of the cover art, which cost $30. This bundle along with another one that includes a copy of the second pressing with a copy of the accompanying covers 7” (entitled More Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood)  costing $26, are still available.

This album was apparently recorded live, as there is crowd noise (in the form of applause after each song), but this fact was not plainly advertised. It wouldn’t have swayed my interest in buying the record, but it’s a fact that should have been made known. Dustin covers a wide range of artists on Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood, ranging from an early Bruce Springsteen song (off the album Nebraska), to Brand New to Miley Cyrus.

All copies, from both pressings, come with the record in a full color printed dust sleeve. This dust sleeve is on glossy paper, and doesn’t really have much information it. One side has the track listing and the other side has the liner notes. A download card/code is also included, and in a redundant move, you’ll also get a download code emailed to you upon ordering as well.

 


Just when I thought the embarrassing additions to my collection were done with; bam… more Yo Gabba Gabba records. The guy behind ETR started another “label” called Enjoy The Toons, which seems to deal only in soundtracks of various degrees.

Because this Yo Gabba Gabba! Fantastic Voyages record is part of ETR’s stable, it’s severely overpriced; $23 for a single LP on lightweight vinyl in a regular single pocket jacket with no insert. Because this is a ETR associated release, there is a vast amount of variants. There are six variants for this, and all of them are exclusive to some place or another.

ETR has three exclusive variants for this record, and there are three other exclusives out there spread out amongst three different retailers. The ETR web store exclusives are “Yo Gabba Gabba! Logo FunSplosion” limited to 100 copies, “mountain purple” inside clear with pink, yellow and red splatter limited to 150 copies and “Muno red” limited to 200 copies. The “Yo Gabba Gabba! Logo FunSplosion,” which is featured in the photos below, is yellow/orange swirl with blue and pink splatter and the “Muno themed” variant is clear red with solid red splatter. The “Muno” variant also has an exclusive b-side center label, which is Muno’s cyclopes eye.

The other, non-ETR exclusive are a white splatter limited to 250 copies, which is exclusive to Turntable Lab. Next up is clear with red, yellow, blue splatter limited to 500 copies, which is a Books-A-Million (BAM!) exclusive. This BAM! Exlcusive cost $36 before shipping, which is completely absurd considering all the other variants are already overpriced at $23 before shipping. If that $35 price tag was not high enough for you, the last variant cost $40 before shipping. And considering this variant is a UK exclusive of sorts, expect shipping to be expensive. This variant is a Zavvi exclusive, which is a UK based retailer, and it’s on “Plex split” limited to 500 copies. “Plex split” is yellow/silver, which is likely a half and half. Not sure where the dividing line is on this variant considering some of the other “split” variants have the line down the middle or at an angle, because I have not seen a photo of this variant as of posting this.

If you bought both Yo Gabba Gabba! releases (Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey! and Yo Gabba Gabba! Fansttic Voyages) from the ETR web store at the same time/in the same order, you received an exclusive fold out insert. This fold out has four different scenes/backgrounds from the show, which you can also use the “repealable” stickers that came exclusively with Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey! record. Regarding those “repealable” stickers, I don’t think they are actually “repealable.” I tried pealing one off the sticker sheet, and it felt just like a regular sticker with a very tacky back. And if I were to actually use them, it would be rather difficult to get the stickers back on their appropriate space on the sticker sheet, let alone off whatever I stuck them to.

The track listing on this comp is pretty extensive, and features some great bands/artists. Because most of the songs are kept to two minutes or less, way more tracks than you ever thought could fit on a single LP are crammed onto this comp. There are 23 songs in total, 11 on the a-side and 12 on the b-side. I bought this for The Killers song, which is kind of shameful, buying a record for just one song. Especially considering the other ETR Yo Gabba Gabba release had far more songs on it from bands I like and/or collect. Here is the track listing:

Side A
1. Yo Gabba Gabba! Theme
2. Biz Marki – Pancakes & Syrup
3. The Roots – We Have Fun
4. The Roots – Lovely, Love My Family
5. Chromeo – Nice ‘N’ Clean
6. Weird Science – Go Crazy Remix
7. Dataracok – Smile For The Camera
8. The Killers – Spaceship Adventure
9. Cut Copy – Fantastic Voyages
10. Metric –  Everybody Has A Talent
11. The Faint – Teach Me

Side B
1. The Shins – It’s Okay, Try Again
2. I’m From Barcelona – Just Because It’s Different Doesn’t Mean It’s Scary
3. Of Montreal – Brush Brush Brush
4. CSS – Dinosaur Dinosaur
5. MGMT – Art Is Everywhere
6. The Flaming Lips – I Can Be A Frog
7. Band Of Horses – Out In Nature
8. Belle & Sebastian – You Can Do It If You Try
9. Peter Bjorn & John – I Wish I Was A Spy
10. The Bird And The Bee – Cover Your Mouth
11. Mark Kozelek – Bedtime Lullaby
12. Yo Gabba Gabba! – Closing Time

 


Just when I thought the embarrassing additions to my collection were done with; bam… more Yo Gabba Gabba records. Enjoy The Ride Records (ETR) had a hand in these. The guy behind ETR started another “label” called Enjoy The Toons, which seems to deal only in soundtracks of various degrees.

Because this Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey! record is part of ETR’s stable, it’s severely overpriced; $23 for a single LP in a regular single pocket jacket with a gimmicky “insert” in the form of a sticker sheet on lightweight vinyl. And because this is an ETR associated release, there is a vast amount of variants. There are six variants for this, and all of them are exclusive to some place or another.

ETR has three exclusive variants for this record, and there are three other exclusives out there spread out amongst three different retailers. The ETR web store exclusives are “Yo Gabba Gabba! Logo FunSplosion” limited to 100 copies, “Foofa themed” limited to 150 copies and “Muno themed” limited to 200 copies.  The “Yo Gabba Gabba! Logo FunSplosion,” which is featured in the photos below, is yellow/orange swirl with blue and pink splatter. The “Foofa themed” variant is pink with white circles and the “Muno themed” variant is clear red with solid red splatter. The “Muno” variant also has an exclusive b-side center label, which is Muno’s cyclopes eye. The pink in the “Foofa” variant is baby pink, and the white circles appear around the center label, as if they’re coming out from the label. These “circles” are also more like brush strokes than circles.

The other, non-ETR exclusives are a “Brobee” split limited to 250 copies, which is exclusive to Turntable Lab. “Brobee” split is half clear dark green and half solid mint green, which is split vertically right down the middle. Next up is a solid red/milky clear split limited to 500 copies, which is a Books-A-Million (BAM!) exclusive. This BAM! exclusive cost $35 before shipping, which is completely absurd considering all the other variants are already overpriced at $23 before shipping. If that $35 price tag was not high enough for you, the last variant cost $40 before shipping. And considering this variant is a UK exclusive of sorts, expect shipping to be expensive. This variant is a Zavvi exclusive, which is a UK based retailer, and it’s on “Toodee Blue.” Limite to 500 copies. “Toodee Blue” is a color in color, with the most likely color(s) being blue of some sort.

All copies of Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey! come with a “repealable” (that is how ETR spells “repealable” on his official web store, “repealable” is not actually a word) sticker sheet, consisting of 12 different stickers that range in size. You get a sticker of each of the four characters from the show, along with speaker cabinets and microphones, and  even a sign for the crowd. The stickers are meant to be used to re-create a scene with the characters playing live on stage, which is the cover art for this record. Which brings me to the next facet of these Yo Gabba Gabba records.

If you bought both Yo Gabba Gabba! releases (Yo Gabba Gabba! Hey! and Yo Gabba Gabba! Fantastic Voyages) from the ETR web store in the same order, you received an exclusive fold out insert. This fold out insert has four different scenes/backgrounds from the show, which you can also use the “repealable” stickers with. Regarding those “repealable” stickers, I don’t think they are actually “repealable.” I tried pealing one off the sticker sheet, and it felt just like a regular sticker with a very tacky back. And if I were to actually use them, it would be rather difficult to get the stickers back on their appropriate space on the sticker sheet, let alone getting them off whatever I stuck them to.

The track listing on this comp is pretty extensive, and features some great bands/artists. Because most of the songs are kept to two minutes or less, way more tracks than you ever thought could fit on a single LP are crammed onto this comp. There are 19 songs in total, 10 on the a-side and nine on the b-side. I bought this for the Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance songs. Here is the track listing:

Side A
1. Yo Gabba Gabba! Theme
2. Weezer – All My Friends Are Insects
3. Jimmy Eat World – Beautiful Day With My Best Friend
4. Taking Back Sunday – We All Love Our Pets
5. My Chemical Romance – Every Snowflake Is Different
6. Rocket From The Crypt – He’s A Chef
7. Mariachi El Bronx – Friends Can Make You Smile
8. The Aquabats – Pool Party
9. Gogo13 ft. Alex Desert – Pick It Up
10. DJ Lance Rock – DJ Lance Says

Side B
1. Metric – Everybody Has A Talent
2. Hot Hot Heat – Time To Go Outdoors

3. Devo – Watch Us Work It
4. Money Mark – Robo Dancing
5. The Apples In Stereo – That’s My Family
6. George Clinton ft. Madame Mims – Atomic Frog
7. Weird Al Yankovic – Circus Parade
8. Yo Gabba Gabba! featuring Jack Black – Goodbye Song
9. Biz Markie – Biz’s Beat Of The Day #1

 

 

Home Alone Soundtrack (1st Mondo Pressing)

Posted: December 18, 2017 in Vinyl
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Mondo is a label I have a love hate relationship with. Not that they have wronged me in any way, it’s more that they don’t release a lot of stuff I like, but the few and far between releases I want are overpriced and there is no way around it really. You see, I have been on a huge kick of not paying full retail price for 99% of the records I buy over the past couple years. And Mondo rarely holds sales, and even if you’re lucky enough to come across one whatever you wanted likely sold out months ago.

Most of Mondo’s releases are on the pricey side; typically $25 for a single LP and $35 for a double LP, both before shipping. And if you ever thought to yourself “eh, I’ll wait and buy it somewhere else. Maybe it’ll be cheaper” you’d find yourself in an unwinnable battle because it’s impossible to buy it cheaper. Whenever Mondo releases get distributed, they’re easily $10 more expensive. For example, their Back To The Future scores typically sell for over $45 via distributors. So it’s either fork it over to Mondo now or have the pressing sell out without getting one. Something I’m positive Mondo is well aware of, and is why they use the price points they do.

This brings me to the main subject of this post; the Home Alone Soundtrack. I decided to skip buying it when it was first released in 2015, mainly because of the price and the fact that I felt it wouldn’t be something I would listen to much. But as time passed, I started to regret my decision. Chalk it up to three years of Home Alone relentlessly playing on tv during the holiday season and remembering just how good both the movie and soundtrack is. Thankfully, in December 2017 Mondo put up more copies of the Home Alone Soundtrack in their web store, for original retail price (copies routinely sell for over $100 on the secondary market), something that seems to be an annual tradition for them during the holiday shopping season, which is when I was fortunate enough to buy one before it sold out again.

I just mentioned it above, but in 2015 Mondo re-pressed it (yes, this was pressed before; in 1991, and only in South Korea) giving it their typical new, unique artwork spin by one of their stable of artists. In this case the updated artwork was done by Andrew Kolb. Say what you will about Mondo, but they usually hit it out of the park with their releases. And the Home Alone Soundtrack is no exception.

The double LP release comes housed in a die-cut gatefold jacket with printed dust sleeves and an insert. An obi-strip is also included, which is something I view with the ‘take it or leave it’ mindset. The artwork on the front and back of the jacket is the iconic McCallister house, with only the front being die-cut. It should go without saying, but the front of the jacket is the front of the house, and the back of the jacket is the back of the house.

The printed dust sleeves show through the die-cut portions of the jacket, which are the windows of the house, replicating either the house all lit up for Kevin’s elaborate set up to make the house look occupied at night, or you can flip the sleeve over to have the house appear dark. One side of each dust sleeve has unique artwork for the lit up house, while the back of each sleeve has the same dark house artwork.

The gatefold artwork shows the inside of the house, with all of Kevin’s traps waiting to be sprung. Think of it like a dollhouse; the gatefold artwork is a cross section of the house. The insert has the liner notes.

I own a few Mondo releases, and this is by far the nicest packaging for any of them. While I might not like the artwork itself as much as the Jurassic Park variants, it’s still nice. The attention to detail is pretty good (minus a typo of two in the liner notes); things like having the statue in front of the house that repeatedly gets knocked over on the back of the insert and obi-strip, the Little Nero’s Pizza box in the garbage can on the back of the jacket, all of Kevin’s traps laying in wait, the use of the dust sleeves for the die-cut on the cover of the jacket and the jacket itself being the McCallister house.

As usual Mondo did two variants for this, with on being more “limited.” The two variants are “cheese pizza” and green/red. The “cheese pizza” variant is white/cream with red and yellow splatter, and it is the more “limited” variant. The green/red variant has the first LP on translucent green vinyl and the second LP on translucent red vinyl. Both variants are pressed on 180 gram vinyl. To the best of my knowledge Mondo never released pressing info for the Home Alone Soundtrack. But because the “cheese pizza” variant was the more “limited” one it sold out first, and it did so rather quickly. During the aforementioned re-stock of this release, Mondo only put up copies of the green/red variant.

If you’re unfamiliar with this soundtrack, it’s a mixture of original composition by the legendary John Williams and various versions of classic Christmas Songs like “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Please Come Home For Christmas.” Here is the track listing:

Side A
01. Home Alone Main Title (“Somewhere In My Memory”) (4:53)
02. Holiday Flight (0:59)
03.The House (2:27)
04. Star Of Bethlehem (Orchestral Version) (2:51)
05. Man Of The House (4:33)

Side B
06. White Christmas (2:40) – Performed by The Drifters
07. Scammed By A Kindergartner (3:55)
08. Please Come Home For Christmas (2:41) – Performed by Southside Johnny Lyon
09. Follow That Kid! (2:03)
10. Making The Plane (0:52)
11. O Holy Night (2:48)

Side C
12. Carol Of The Bells  (1:25)
13. Star Of Bethlehem (2:59)
14. Setting The Trap (2:16)
15. Somewhere In My Memory (With Chorus & Orchestra) (1:04)
16. The Attack On The House (6:53)

Side D
17. Mom Returns And Finale (4:19)
18. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (3:05) – Performed by Mel Torme
19. We Wish You A Merry Chrismas/ End Title (4:15)

Apparently this was released to coincide with the film’s 25th Anniversary, but other than the press release and item description released by Mondo, nothing on the actual record makes any mention of it. As of posting this Mondo is once again sold out of the Home Alone Soundtrack. But don’t fear, Mondo re-pressed their version of the soundtrack, which so far only appears to be a Newbury Comics exclusive. But there is a big catch. While Mondo charged $35 (plus shipping) for their initial run, Newbury Comics is charging $50 for it. The Newbury Comics exclusive variant from the second pressing of the Mondo version and third overall pressing, is limited to 300 copies on “Christmas Snow” clear with white splatter. It appears to have the same packaging as the first pressing minus the obi-strip.

 

 

Circa Survive – The Amulet

Posted: November 29, 2017 in Vinyl
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Circa Survive is back with their sixth studio album, The Amulet. The band’s latest effort is their best since Blue Sky Noise in my opinion. It’s definitely better than Decensus and Violent Waves. I know Blue Sky Noise is a bit of a jumping off point as many fans feel it’s too big a departure from the band’s tried and true, familiar sound. But personally, I loved Blue Sky Noise. Put it this way though, The Amulet sounds more like Juturna than Blue Sky Noise.

The Amulet has its fair share of variants, which has developed into a norm for Circa Survive albums. They’re either re-pressed into oblivion or get a half dozen variants to tide people over.  The Amulet is the band’s first release on Hopeless Records, so you knew they would go overboard with variants. There are 10 variants for this record, with half of them having different covers to make the new/different variant.

Circa Survive is very heavy in VIP packages for their tours; they’ve done it for both their Juturna and On Letting Go anniversary tours, and did it again for their current co-headlining tour with Thrice in support of The Amulet. For their previous VIP packages, the band included an exclusive, alternate screen printed cover, on an exclusive vinyl color, for the latest re-press of each respective album. And The Amulet is no different.

First off let’s tackle one big hurdle. Most of the variants are based on different covers, and some of them even have completely unique jackets. There are actually two different types of gatefold jackets, and what you could call six different cover arts. It sounds confusing, I know, but I will do my best to distinguish between them. To be clear, all variants come in a gatefold jacket. It just depends on the cover art/jacket type that goes along with it.

Let’s tackle the standard artwork first. There is the standard artwork that everyone should be familiar with, which once again was done by the awesome Esao Andrews, who has done the artwork for every Circa Survive release to date. It features the girl with the shell. In total there are six total variants that come with this artwork in some form, which is on the gatefold jacket the record itself is housed in. Only one of these variants is available individually, without a special alternate cover that makes a new, different variant. It’s the “indie record store” exclusive variant, which is on half clear w/ blue splatter/half black, limited to 2500 copies. I say “indie record store” exclusive because Interpunk somehow managed to obtain copies to sell.

The other variants that come in the gatefold jacket with the standard artwork are black (widely available) limited to an unknown amount, a tour exclusive variant on clear w/ blue and black splatter, and a VIP concert ticket exclusive on silver and black swirl limited to 1,000 copies. It’s important to note that all three of these variants also come with alternate covers, which constitute a new/different variant. All the variants with this version of the jacket come with the record housed in the same full color, printed dust sleeve, and the same artwork inside the gatefold. The dust sleeve is black, with a blue and white image of a slug on one side and a bell on the other. The gatefold is an image of a waves, and it has a spot gloss finish with the artwork used for the holographic jackets, which you can read about below.

On top of the standard artwork, there are multiple alternate artworks out there; seven in total. The biggest of these alternate artwork variants though are the two that are completely unique. These two variants come packaged in holographic jackets, with the holographic feature applied everywhere on the jacket. They also feature unique, but not exclusive, artwork. You can tell from the photos below (which needs further explaining – keep reading for complete details) what this alternate artwork entails. There are two different vinyl color variants with these holographic jackets; clear, and white with “transparent” blue swirl, with both limited to 2,500 copies each. I say “transparent” blue swirl because that is what the Hopeless Records web store (hosted by MerchNow) call this variant, but on the actual record the blue is not transparent, it’s opaque/solid.

The holographic jackets were initially exclusive to Merchnow, but later became available via another merch company (keep reading). The record itself is housed in full color, printed dust sleeve. The dust sleeve design is different than the one that comes with standard artwork jackets, so it’s exclusive to these two holographic jacket variants. Instead of being black with blue and white artwork (the snail and bell), it’s white with a blue and black image the slug and a bell. The gatefold artwork features the same wave as the jackets with the standard cover art, only done in the same holographic finish that is one the outside of the jacket.

Each color variant (based on record) also comes with an exclusive letterpress of the alternate cover art featured on the gatefold jacket. The clear variant has a white letterpress and the blue with white swirl has a black letterpress. This letterpress is packaged inside the gatefold jacket, placed inside the front/first pocket of the jacket. The jacket is placed inside the second/back pocket. The holographic jacket variants shipped a bit later than the jackets with the standard artwork for an unknown reason. It was about a week later, which by vinyl standards is not much of a delay to shake your head at.

The VIP exclusive variant is limited to 1,000 copies on silver and black swirl, with the aforementioned exclusive alternate screen printed cover. The artwork for the alternate screened cover is taken from the tour poster for the band’s current co-headlining tour with Thrice. It’s a quarter fold sleeve printed on card stock, that is meant to slide over the traditional jacket of the record. The back fold of the sleeve says “FALL 2017VIP EDITION” in gold/yellow text with a line below that text, and below that line it reads “THE AMULET” in grey text with the band’s safe camp logo further below that done in the same gold/yellow ink.

On top of the exclusive variant and alternate cover, the VIP package also included a general admission ticket to the regular show, an “intimate” three song VIP ticket holder exclusive performance, meet and greet with the band, a photo opportunity, a signed setlist from the show you attended and digital files for a yet to be determined live performance from the current tour. VIP ticket prices varied depending on the venue, but they were all close to $100.

If that VIP tour exclusive screen printed cover wasn’t enough, the band partnered again with Merch Limited, a company that specializes in small run, limited edition merch, to release four exclusive variants featuring four different screen printed cover designs. The band, and Anthony Green for that matter, have worked with Merch Limited in the past to release various limited edition merch over the years; ranging from shirts and hoodies, to wall flags and blankets. These four alternate screened covers were each limited to 100 copies, with a discounted bundle for all four offered that was limited to 50 units.

These alternate screened covers are quarter fold sleeves printed on card stock, just like the VIP exclusive covers, that are meant to slide over the traditional jacket of the record. They feature cover art inspired by or taken from the imagery used for The Amulet. Two of them are on black card stock, and the other two are on are white card stock. Two of them, one on each color, is the artwork used for the letterpress included with all copies with the holographic covers. The remaining two covers, one on each color, use the image on each side the center labels. So one cover per center label image. All copies are hand numbered, in silver ink, which is done of the back fold of the sleeve. In the photo gallery below, the covers go in order as per Merch Limited’s numbering system for them. So Cover #1, followed y Cover #2, and so on.

Each of the Merch Limited alternate screen cover variants slides over one of the gatefold jackets that houses the record. Cover # 1 has the record on black vinyl with the standard artwork gatefold jacket, Cover #2 has the tour variant of the record on clear with blue and black splatter in the standard artwork gatefold jacket, Cover # 3 has the holographic jacket variant with the clear record and Cover # 4 has the holographic jacket variant with the white with blue swirl record.

I was fortunate enough to be checking a message board within minutes of these Merch Limited exclusive covers/variants being announced and put up for sale, so I was able to grab a bundle for all four covers. Had I not seen it I likely would have missed out, or at the very least been forced to spend an additional $15 buying each of the four covers individually, because bundle sold out in about one hour.

As expected particular cover designs were more popular than others, and they sold out faster. Cover #2 seemed to be the most popular and it was the first cover to sell out on its own, which happened later in the night the day the pre-orders went live. It took roughly two days for the rest of the covers to sell out, which was surprising considering how limited these variants are and how rabid Circa’s fan base is. My best guess as to why it took so long for a Circa Survive variants limited to 100 copies a piece to sell out; lots of people were burnt out on variants by this point.

These Merch Limited pre-orders went live the same day as the album’s release date; September 22, 2017. But pre-orders for the album had been up since July 10. On top of that, these variants weren’t exactly on the cheap side. They cost $25 each or $85 for the bundle for all four covers. So on top of likely already having pre-ordered or received a copy of the record, or as many of the variants as they wanted by this point, people probably were tapped out financially considering the two holographic cover variants cost $25 each before shipping and the standard cover variants cost around $20 each before shipping. So you do the math; $50 plus shipping for the two holographic jackets, around $40 for the two standard cover variants (more for shipping if you bought online) and roughly $100 for the VIP ticket, then at least another $85 for these four Merch Limited variants a few months after you already spent close to if not more than $200 on this album.

Once the Merch Limited exclusive variants started shipping, at the end of October like they were scheduled to, there was a major problem. Someone at Merch Limited screwed up royally, as many of the alternate covers were folded incorrectly. They were folded smack dab in the middle of the artwork that is supposed to be the cover art. And what is supposed to be the back portion of the sleeve, the small ¼ fold portion, where the numbering is done, is folded so it is part of the front cover.  This seemed to affect random orders, both those that were for the bundle and individual covers. But this hasn’t stopped flippers from trying to flip these for more than three times original cost, as there is someone right now trying to sell the bundle with all four cover variants for $300; and it’s for covers that are folded wrong.

People with these incorrectly folded contacted Merch Limited and received varied responses to sort out the problem. Initially it took a while for Merch Limited to respond. Once they did, it seems quite a few people received a response from Merch Limited saying they didn’t have any extra/additional covers around so they couldn’t send replacements. Instead offering free merch from other artists they’ve worked with to make up for the issue. I, on the other hand, was able to receive replacement covers. I have no idea how it worked out in my favor. I sent them a polite, but stern email expressing my disappointment, and asked for replacement covers as a way to resolve the problem. Maybe the key was I replied to an already existing customer service inquiry. Because the identical email I sent to through via their ‘contact us’ form on their web site never received a reply.

Another minor complaint by comparison, that people had was that they received numbered covers that didn’t match. So for example, people who order a bundle for all four covers, or placed an order for multiple copies but a copy of differing covers, received Cover #1 numbered 10, but received a copy of Cover #2 that was numbered 11. Another combination I heard was having two or three of the covers numbered the same, but having one or two of them with a different number. What happened here was that Merch Limited screwed up again obviously. There is no excuse for this mistake either. As they should have set aside 50 of each cover and numbered them sequentially 1-50. Then numbered the rest 51-100. There should have been two separate piles of covers so people who ordered the bundles didn’t receive various numbers.

But the likely reason for the mismatched numbers is that say the first order was a person ordering only one of the covers, then the second order was for a bundle. If Merch Limited was making (by making I mean folding), or even just numbering the covers as they packaged orders, and assuming they packaged orders in the order they were received, that first order received a cover with number 1. So the rest of covers fell out of sequence until there was an order that evened things out again. But fulfilling orders like that is a rabbit hole because all it takes to go back out of sequence is someone not ordering a bundle. Personally, I received covers that all had the same number, and a relatively low one; 19.

All variants come with specific hype stickers on the gatefold jacket cover (one that houses the record), which denotes the color of the record found inside the jacket. The variants with the standard artwork all have large, clear rectangle stickers placed towards the top right corner that say what the variant is; “black vinyl,” “tour vinyl,” “VIP vinyl” or “indie exclusive splatter vinyl.” The variants with the holographic jackets have a small black circle sticker placed in the top right corner that say what the color is, along with what the variant is limited to. All copies, regardless of variant, also come with a download card. But this download card leads you to terrible 160 kbps MP3s. It’s a lame move on Hopeless’ part. Considering all the variants they churned out for this release, you think they least they could do is include high quality MP3 files with the download card.

For the photo gallery below, here is the order of the photos: Pics 1-4 are the Merch Limited Cover #1, pics 5-8 are the Merch Limited Cover #2, pics 9-12 are the Merch Limited Cover #3, pics 13-16 are the Merch Limited Cover #4, pics 18-33 include everything with both variants in/with the holographic jackets, pics 34-43 include everything with both variants in/with the standard jackets and pics 44-48 are examples of how the Merch Limited incorrectly folded covers arrived to everyone who received them (not just me).

If anyone wants to buy or trade for the incorrectly folded covers leave a comment with your email address and we can work out a deal via email (I won’t approve the comment so your email address won’t be made public. But I will still be able to read it) Thinking somewhere along the lines of $10 per cover plus shipping; only selling all 4 covers together, I won’t sell any covers individually or in a bundle/lot less than 4. These covers are folded incorrectly, as some have a crease/fold going through the cover artwork, and some are folded backwards so the back flap is part of the cover instead of being on the back. Willing to negotiate a price or trade for other records. I can send photos of the damaged/incorrectly folded covers, though some are included in the photo gallery below to illustrate how poor of a job Merch Limited did folding these coves.

 

Matt Embree – Macaracuay

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: ,

Completely out of the blue, Matt Embree released his first true solo album, entitled Macaracuay on August 9, 2017. Yes, I’m aware he released solo stuff under the Love You Moon moniker, which is why I tab the Macaracuay album as his first true solo album, because it’s the first released under his own name.

Matt posted on his Instagram that the album was available for pre-order on August 9, but it actually started shipping immediately. My order shipped the same day, as did many others’. However, at some point something changed and a later ship date was posted on the web store (hosted by Hello Merch).

I’m not quite sure on the pressing info for this record. Matt said only 300 copies were available, and there are two variants for Macaracuay. There is no word on exactly how many copies were pressed on each color, so you can’t assume it’s an even split, or if it’s 300 copies per color. I got the impression that Matt meant there were 300 copies total available, but even that is not concrete. To add another monkey wrench into the pressing info, it seems the first batch of records sold out, and another batch was put up for sale.

At this point the web store posted that there were 250 copies available for each, meaning each color. That information was not posted in the web store when I placed my order during the first batch on August 10. So the pressing info is completely up in the air. How can there only be 300 copies available when the web store now states 250 copies per each color. One is left to assume that Matt meant that only 300 copies were initially available, and that more copies would be available at some later date and ship later, without explicitly stating that.

I mentioned it a few times already, but here are the two colors; bone and blue/violet splatter, and clear and violet splatter. What is pictured below is the clear and violet splatter. The web store actually lists the colors with a ‘+’ instead of an and, when it should really be called ‘with.’

When I placed my order, one of the variants was sold out (the bone and blue violet splatter). Which is why I placed my order when I did, as I feared the pressing was selling very quickly. But it turns out that I rushed for no reason, because as of posting this on November 7, 2017, there are still copies available. The misleading advertising saying 300 copies definitely led to people rushing to buy the record, which is why it sold out initially. Another reason I planned on holding off on buying this is the price.

This single LP, without a download card nor an insert or printed dust sleeve, cost $25 before shipping. After tacking on shipping, the total came out to $31. That is a ridiculous price for most records, be it a single LP or double LP. The records are pressed on 180 gram colored vinyl, but that is the only thing that would drive up the cost. Other than that, it’s just a single LP stuffed into a thin single pocket jacket.

There are 10 songs on Macaracuay,  with only one of them being a new, original song. The rest are all covers or RX Bandits songs, which are borderline covers in and of themselves. The album is also an acoustic album. Matt does cover some classic songs though, like Jimi Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Marry” and “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson. The album was recorded in Venezuela, and was released on Matt’s own label; MDB Records. The original song is “Morning Sun,” and the RX Bandits songs are “My Lonesome Only Friend” and “March Of The Caterpillar.”

If you want to hear this album you have to buy this record. It’s not streaming anywhere and it’s not available for digital download or as a CD anymore. I say anymore because Matt was selling copies of the full album on CD on one of his solo tours and one off shows here and there a few years ago. Matt said on Instagram that the entire recording session lasted four hours, and as we all know only so much music can fit on a LP, and even CD for that matter. He also said that there are a possible five or six different songs found on the vinyl version that weren’t on the CD.

Matt Embree - Macaracuay - Copy