Archive for August, 2014

After a brief breakup RX Bandits are back with their sixth studio album, titled Gemini, Her Majesty. In my opinion it’s a far better album than their previous effort, Mandala, with the sound going back towards what can be heard on …And The Battle Begun. This album shows RX Bandits can make a seamless transition to a horn-less band. Yes, I know Mandala was their first album with a horn section, but on this latest album the band perfects their sound without horns.

Gemini, Her Majesty was pressed on orange vinyl as a double 10”. There are some marbling effects in the vinyl as well. It comes housed in a gatefold jacket with no substantial liner notes or lyrics printed inside. An insert is not included, so those hoping there would be lyric sheet somewhere will be disappointed, but that by no means should discourage anyone from buying this album. The biggest incentive to buy the album on vinyl is that it was properly mixed and mastered for vinyl. This record was properly down and sounds fantastic. It’s not a CD master, or even worse, straight up digital files, thrown on a record. The record also comes with a download card, but it’s for terrible quality 192 kbps MP3’s. It’s a shame, and utterly pathetic, that the proper download you get with a record is lesser quality than what you can get through illegal download channels. I blame INgrooves, the distributor for the digital portion, for this MP3 quality issue. I have another INgrooves distributed title, and it comes with the same terrible 192 kbps MP3’s with the download card.

No word on pressing info, but expect this to quietly go OOP like all of the band’s previous albums. If you don’t want to pay around $100 for this album on vinyl, buy it now before it’s too late.

The band did a Pledge Music campaign for their pre-orders of the album. Unfortunately you would have paid more for the album had you pledged than you would have if you bought the album anywhere else. Pledgers did not receive anything significant or exclusive (exclusive variant) if they pledged to the campaign. Some people complained about the price difference and the fact there were no exclusives. If you pledged it was sort of a kick to the gut or slap to the face, whichever you prefer. Unless you feel happy about helping the band record and release the album, funding they may or may not have actually needed. I’m one of the biggest RX Bandits fans out there, and I have some qualms with the pricing structure; it’s a $10 difference between the pledge amount and what it would cost if you buy it elsewhere. Apparently the pledge stuff was also late going out



311 – Stereolithic

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Vinyl

311’s latest album is the same old 311 you’ve grown to expect. Does that make it bad? Not necessarily. If you enjoy making the music, why experiment. If your fans enjoy the music why change it. If you enjoy listening to the music why make excuses or try to rationalize it. Music is a personal thing and at the same time is a group experience. Does hype influence people; to a certain extent yes, and it should. Hype is a great way to discover new bands, or a style of music you’ve never heard before. But on the other hand you shouldn’t listen to something you don’t truly enjoy just because everybody loves the band. And at the same time you shouldn’t not listen to something you enjoy because everybody else pans it.

With that out of the way, because for whatever reason people love to leave comments on all my 311 posts saying the band sucks and I suck for liking them, and/or listening to them and buying their music; I’ll get down to the finer details of this record. By the way, all those comments, they get deleted and marked as spam, so all future comments from said people I never have to read again.

This is the first self released 311 album after they made it big. Stereolithic was released on 311 Records. It’s more than double the length of their last album, Universal Pulse. The lengthy album is no coincidence to their notoriously lengthy album Transistor; as they went back and used the same producer for this latest album. The mixture of those three factors attributes to one of the better 311 albums in recent memory.

Stereolithic was pressed as a double LP on 180 gram black vinyl. The records come housed in a gatefold jacket, which is nice and thick. There it a lot to be desired however, as there are no liner notes to speak of. Pretty much nothing is printed inside the gatefold, as you can see from the photo below. Lyrics are nowhere to be found. The records themselves come in poly dust sleeves instead of paper, which is becoming the norm unfortunately. I personally can’t stand poly dust sleeves, but many people love them and think they’re better. The dust sleeves with this record are thicker than the average ply dust sleeve. I’m convinced the used the outer protective sleeves that many records come in or you can buy to place over your records The download code that comes with the record might as well be useless, as it leads you to horrible 192 kbps MP3’s. Again, I blame INgrooves, the digital distributor, for this nonsense. It’s unacceptable that when you buy an album you have the “privilege” to download lower quality MP3’s than you could through illegal download channels. Pressing info has not been announced, and since it’s 311 I expect there to be a couple thousand pressed, even the album is self released.

This record is on the very pricey side all things considered. Most places are selling it for around $30 when it was first released. Anticipating a price drop or waiting for sales to hit because the record wasn’t selling, I waited until many months after its release to buy it. I bought it for basically half price, $17 shipped.

To add further insult to injury to the pricing aspect, the band opted to do a Pledge Music campaign for absolutely no legitimate, understandable reason that I can see. These types of crowd sourcing fundraising sites are meant for entities that can’t financially get their project off the ground. A band like 311 should not be allowed to use any crowd sourcing site. These guys can easily finance every aspect of releasing an album. At one point Nick Hexum owned his own private island in the Florida Keys… And to add even further insult to injury, the band was charging more for the vinyl version of this album, $35 before shipping, than it cost if you buy it upon release from any retailer.

Despite legal issues, the band known as United Nations soldiers on. The band released their second album of sorts. It’s a mixture of some older material and some newer stuff, with the older songs not seeing a widespread, legit release until now. The Next Four Years was released by Temporary Residence Recordings, who have some past times with Geoff Rickley. Rather than go the traditional route, which both Temporary Residence and United Nations are known for; taking the road less traveled, The Next Four Years was released as a box set limited to 1000 copies featuring three different formats inside for the same album.

The album is split amongst three four separate items; a 10” record, two 7” records and one cassette. It starts off on the first 7”, moves its way to the second 7”, then to the cassette and wraps up on the 10”. The first 7” features two songs, one on each side; “Serious Business” and “Meanwhile On Main Street.” The second 7” features four song, two on each side; with “Revolutions at Varying Speeds” and “False Flags” on the a-side (which in the grand scheme of things is the c-side) and “United Nations Finds God” and “Between Two Mirrors” on the b-side (which in the grand scheme of things is the d-side). The cassette features three songs, which repeat on both sides, which is a great touch because you don’t ever have to rewind the tape. I’m sure quite a few people who read this blog have no idea how tapes work, but those of us growing up prior to the late 90s should know. My first car had a tape player and every car I rode in growing up had a tape player too. You kids these days make play lists, we used to make mix tapes. Anyway, the cassette has “F*ck The Future,” ‘Stole The Past” and United Nations vs. United Nations.” Lastly, the 10” features two songs, one on each side; “F#A#$” and “Music For Changing Parties.” One interesting fact about some of the records in the box set; the second 7” was recorded to be played at either 33 rpm or 45 rpm and the b-side of the 10” has concentric grooves, which play different versions of the song depending on where the needle starts on the record. So every time you play the record you get a different listening experience.

The Next Four Years is the best release so far this year (That I have. I have yet to buy the deluxe Led Zeppelin re-presses yet, but I suspect those will top this United Nations album). The aforementioned legal issues are one of the highlights of this box set. The cassette comes wrapped in a copy of the actual cease-and-desist letter THE United Nations, you know, the political organization that basically oversees the entire world, sent the band trying to get them to spot using everything associated with their image (name, logo, etc.) On the reverse side of the C&D letter is the band’s apparent “response” to the UN, which one can only assume is not real and was never actually sent in response or published formally anywhere.

The art layout of the box is meant to replicate old New York Times newspapers. It’s a die-cut box that closes like an envelope, similar in style to the Circa Survive b-sides 7” and The Horrible Crowes – Elsie 7”. The faux newspaper features loads of full-length articles that are obviously fictitious and meant to raise eyebrows. Each box is also hand numbered (again, /1000), which is done inside the box itself; once you open it to slide out the audio formats you will see the numbering. And as if the three different formats and four different items weren’t enough oddity for you, the album comes in an LP sized box despite an LP not being utilized for this album.

The 7″s and 10″ features exclusive artwork by an acclaimed group of fine artists and designers, including STEAK MTN (second 7”), Victoria Burge (10”), MrThe (first 7”), and Jeremy deVine (first 7”). The 10” comes with an insert and the two 7” records are half fold sleeves, which have the lyrics printed on the inside. The packaging is great but unfortunately there is a glaring error with this box set, as there is a pressing error with the first 7”. The first 7” has the a-side of the second 7”, so the song “Serious Business” does not appear on any of the physical formats found in the box set. It’s a pressing error that should have been caught somewhere. Temporary Residence should have played some of the final copies that came into their office before sending all of them out. It would have been a minor hassle to wait longer in order to have the proper release, it would have been much better than sending out a botched record that results in people not getting to listen to the full album. The plant or Temporary Residence will be sending out corrected Serious Business 7”s to everyone who ordered. There is no timetable on when the correct 7”s will start being sent out. ***EDIT –  On August 21 I received my corrected 7″. I did not receive any notification that the replacement was sent out, and neither did anyone else. I did not contact Temporary Residence about a corrected 7″, it just showed up on my doorstep. Other people report the same situation.***

In mid August 2014 it became known that a standard LP version of The Next Four Years will be pressed, which is slated to be released in late October 2014. There are three variants for the standard single LP pressing, 418 copies on half white/half black, either 481, 491 or 500 copies on blood red with black oil splatter and an unknown amount on black. Temporary Residence will like keep this record in print on black vinyl for a while if not do a re-pressing on new colors at some point down the road. They do a good job of keeping their albums in print.

The blood red with black is an indie record store exclusive, and some stores also included a free bonus 7″ while their supply of said free 7″ lasted. I said above this variant was limited to either 481, 491 or 500 because I have seen both of those numbers used but have not heard official numbers from Temporary Residence. I saw some record stores advertise the variant as being /500, and saw some internet chatter that the number is actually lower than 500, hence the /448. The bonus 7″ included with some record store purchases is practically the same in every way as the one replacement”Serious Business” 7″ that was given to everyone who bought the box set. Except for needing a 45 adaptor to play it, so a large center hole record, it has the same track listing, same center labels and comes in just a plain white paper dust sleeve. No jacket/sleeve is included with the free bonus 7″, and every indie record store in the country did not give them away. I know the ones that did either had it taped to the LP’s that were in the racks at the store, or had it behind the counter and you would get it when you checked out. As far as my knowledge goes, this free bonus 7″ was a U.S. exclusive and wasn’t done overseas.

The half white/half black copies were exclusive to Temporary Residence mail-order, and took  a surprising amount of time to sell out. I know there were quite a number of people holding out for a standard LP pressing of this album, but since it took a while for it to actually be announced, some of those people could have caved and bought the box set version out of fear of not being able to buy this record on vinyl at all. Odds are out of the 1,000 or so people who bought the box set, a majority of them did not buy the standard LP pressing, otherwise it would have sold out almost immediately, or at least a lot faster than the month or so it did actually take for it to sell out.

The standard LP comes with a download code just like the box set pressing, but that is where the similarities end, obviously. An insert is include with the standard LP, which is different from anything included with the box set. This insert is small in size for an LP, and in reality it’s a 7″ insert, as in one that would be used for 7″ records. It’s a double-sided insert, with a bit of liner notes on one side and an image on the reverse side. The album art for the single LP is inspired by the Black Flag album The First Four Years.

For the photo gallery below, everything before the LP is included with the box set pressing, and everything from the LP and after is part of the standard LP pressing.

Finch – Say Hello To Sunshine

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Vinyl

After years of waiting, Finch’s second album, Say Hello To Sunshine, was finally pressed on vinyl in 2014. Prior to its pressing it seemed to be one of the few albums a good chunk of people wanted on vinyl, with plenty of people clamoring for it whenever a discussion about what album(s) do you want pressed took place.

Say Hello To Sunshine was released on vinyl by Shit Radio Cast, and to my utter shock and disbelief did not see a delay, in fact they shipped ahead of the release date. In my take on things, $hit Radio Cast, sensing not many people were buying their releases directly from them, sent a large portion of the pressing to other distributors. It was a well hidden secret for about a year, that you could in fact not directly support such a terrible company. Places like Amazon now carry a good chunk of SRCvinyl titles. My local record store is now able to carry some of their titles too. There is, unfortunately, a drawback to not buying SRCvinyl stuff directly from SRC; the prices from other distros is usually higher than directly from SRC. That used to not be the case, but again in my take on things, SRC realized they weren’t making money on their releases because they simply weren’t selling, so they jacked up the wholesale price to try to recoup as much as they could. On top of the already ridiculously high prices SRC themselves charge to take advantage of the vinyl craze, other distributors now need to charge more themselves. I used to be able to buy SRCvinyl releases from other distros for the same price as buying directly from SRC, without using a discount code.

The album was pressed on two colors, yellow limited to 500 copies and blue limited to 1000 copies. Yellow is exclusive to SRC, and it has yet to sell out. The blue copies, which came out more grey than blue, are available from everywhere selling this, including SRC. SRC is charging $30 for this double LP album before shipping.

The album comes in a gatefold jacket with a matte finish. Also included is a fold out insert with the lyrics printed on one side. The artwork inside the gatefold and the insert itself are duplicated from the CD booklet. Two bonus tracks are included on the vinyl version, which were originally overseas release exclusives. The UK exclusive bonus track “Gak 2” and Japanese exclusive bonus track “Spanish Fly” are tacked on to the end of the U.S. release album. Those two bonus tracks are the last two tracks on Side D. The album also received SRC’s “HiFi” treatment, indicated by a sticker on the poly sleeve the album comes in. All that means is that the album was re-mastered for vinyl instead of just using the CD master to press the records.

Finch – What It Is To Burn X Live

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Vinyl

In 2013/2014 Finch jumped on two bandwagons; going on tour for an album’s 10th anniversary and releasing a live album. For the band’s first album, What It Is To Burn, the at the time defunct band did a lengthy 10th anniversary tour with stops all over the country. Shortly after those shows it was announced a live version of the album would be released, which was recorded at one of or a combination of shows from the band four appearances at The Glasshouse in Pomona, CA. The album was delayed for a few months, with the vinyl version being delayed even longer than its CD/DVD counterpart.

The pre-order for What It Is To Burn X Live (yes that is the title) was launched in October 2013 with the record slated to come out in January 2014, but they did not start shipping until March 2014 (CD/DVD was pushed back to the end of February 2014). There was also some confusion about the details of the pressing. It was originally listed as a single LP but somewhere along the line the geniuses behind the release realized it was impossible for the album to fit on a single LP, so it was hastily changed to be a double LP. I say hastily because there are glaring errors with the pressing, revolving around the track listing.

First off, the jackets clearly have the layout for a single LP track listing, as there are only Side A and Side B listed. The break down for each side of the double LP set is not listed out on the back of the jacket. It is however listed out, but improperly, on the center label of each LP. I say improperly because the song “Worms Of The Earth” is listed as the first track on Side D, but the song “New Kid” is the first track. The order of those two songs, “Worms Of The Earth” and “New Kid” is reversed. This error appears on the back of the jacket as well/

Pressing info was never released. To date the live album has only been pressed on white vinyl, with the total amount unknown. A download code is not included with the album, which is pathetic in this day and age.