Archive for March, 2015


In a surprising move, Taking Back Sunday released a box set on Hopeless Records entitled Happiness Is: The Complete Recordings. As the title suggests, the box set, comprised of eight 7″ records, is the entire Happiness Is studio album plus six b-sides from the album’s recording session. It’s important to note the preface is not included in this box set, so this box set should be titled Happiness Is: The “Complete” Recordings or Happiness Is: The Somewhat Complete Recordings. The box set is limited to 1,000 copies, with all the records in the set being pressing on white with turquoise splatter.

The box set was put up for pre-order in late November 2014 and was released in late February 2015. There were three bundle options available along with the box set on its own. One bundle included a t-shirt and cost $58, with another other bundle including a mug coming out to $52. The last bundle option included both the aforementioned t-shirt and mug and cost $70. The box set on its own cost $40.

After finding a new copy on ebay for less than what Hopeless was selling them for, even after shipping, I was very pleased. The box itself has a slip lid, it’s not the type where the records slide into what amounts to a case. Inside the box the records sit in order of the track list, with each 7″ getting its own jacket with unique artwork. Each song also gets its own cover art, so the art is a-side/b-side dependent. Sitting on top of the records is an autographed “album cover card,” which is essentially an insert. It has the cover art of the box set on one side, with liner notes on the reverse side. An important note is that the cover art for the “Flicker, Fade” side of the 7″ is the same as the pressing of the 7″ that was released on gold vinyl last year. All copies come with a download card for high quality MP3s. My only gripe with this box set is that there is a lot of space in the box for the records to slide around, which led to the start of seam splits on a few, but not all of the eight records. The records also don’t come in a dust sleeve inside the jacket, so they slide around inside the jacket, which also contributed to the seam splits forming, not to mention a few scuffs on some of the records as well. Fortunately the scuffs did not affect play.

Themes and imagery and carried over throughout the box set. A panther is found somewhere on the cover art for all eight records/16 sides. All the center labels match, but they are as plain as you can get being solid white with black lettering. All the center labels have the band’s panther logo printed on them as well. Some of the artwork is carried over between records as well, just having a different the color scheme. The best examples of this are the “Better Homes And Gardens” and “Better Homes And Gardens (acoustic)” and the “Like You Do” and “Like You Do (acoustic)” artwork, as you can below see in the photos of the entire box set and all its fine details. Some of the jackets even make join together to make one full image when combined, which can be found on the “Stood A Chance” and “Stood A Chance (acoustic)” singles.

All four sides of the lid and bottom of the box have different things printed on it, ranging from simple title text to logos. Inside the lip of both the lid and bottom of the box lyrics from various songs on the album are printed . It’s something that can be easily missed and/or overlooked, but it caught my eye when going to put the records back in the box set.

There are six b-sides found at the end of the series of 7″s, which starts on the sixth record running on through to the eighth and final record. The b-sides are all contained on their own 7″s and so are the studio tracks. So they are no b-side songs on the b-side of any of the studio song singles. Some people may only consider three of the songs as “true b-sides”, as the final three songs are acoustic versions of album tracks, but since they are all not on the studio album, they are b-sides and should be classified as such. The b-sides in order are as follows (starting with Record 6, two songs per record): “How I Met Your Mother,” “This Is Happening,” “Can You Feel That (Here I Am),” “Stood A Chance (acoustic),” “Better Homes And Gardens (acoustic)” and “Like You Do (acoustic).” Since “How I Met Your Mother” was the b-side track on the stand alone “Flicker, Fade” 7″ on gold vinyl released last year, there are only five previously unreleased songs found in this box set, which are also exclusive to this box set. There are two songs per 7″ in this box set, so the track listing and what songs appear on what number record in the box set and what songs appear together on the same record should be easy to figure out doing simple math.

When this Taking Back Sunday box set was first announced, some people immediately denounced it. I call them the usual suspects; people on a message board who poo-poo everything and have nothing positive to say about anything, injecting themselves in threads for records they have no intention of buying and bands they don’t like. They deemed it unnecessary and overpriced. While the first may hold some water, the overpriced bit cannot be further from the truth. The box set cost $40 before shipping, considering there are eight 7″ records in the box, that is a measly $5 per 7″. And that is not even taking into account the box itself and the autographed insert; even if you take away the autographed part, last I checked there is still an insert underneath the signatures. Taking everything into account, I think if you buy this box set you won’t be disappointed. However, they did not sell well.

These sets were/are still around well after release date. I don’t really know what to think of that; I wouldn’t be surprised if the box sets sold out during the pre-order phase considering Taking Back Sunday is a popular band, but on the other hand I am not surprised they did not sell out. The box sets not selling well led to a bit of shady moves in my mind.

To set the table for this, I try to avoid pre-ordering things, and if I do I wait as long as I can before doing so. I used to pre-order nearly every record I bought the day pre-orders went up, but lately, after seeing most things not sell out like they used to, I no longer see a need to pre-order. Plus since things don’t sell out like they used to, I can usually wait and buy the record on sale after it gets released. With the way many web stores are, you can monitor the stock of items, so it’s easy to see/know when something is about to sell out. I monitored the stock of this box set, and saw it sitting at over 100 copies for weeks on end, so I felt no need to buy it just yet.

Then all of a sudden, after the box set was released, they were mysteriously sold out. Earlier that day, around lunch time I checked the stock, with it still telling me over 100 copies were available. I checked again before going out to dinner to see it still read over 100 copies. When I get back from dinner, under two hours later, the box sets were now “sold out.” The bundles were still available though, but I was never going to buy one of them just to get the box set. At first I thought it was a glitch, but then the items containing the box set were completely removed from Hopeless’ web store and the t-shirt and mug were available on their own.

I thought it was suspicious that they sold over 100 copies of the box set in a matter of hours when they couldn’t move anywhere close to 1,000 copies in over a three-month span. As of writing this there are 60 shirts left, plus 25 mugs (mugs have since been removed as of writing this) immediately after seeing that the box sets were mysteriously removed from Hopeless’ web store. So that means on top of the at least 100 box sets being sold on their own outside of the bundles, there were at least an additional 85 unsold box sets. I’m being generous with those numbers, because there were over 100 box sets available, I just don’t remember the exact number so I’m being fair, and more shirts could have been sold between the time the bundles were broken up and pieced out and when I wrote this blog post.

So I contacted Hopeless to see what was going on, and was told they were sold out but some were sent to record stores across the country. So I checked some record stores’ websites; places like Amoeba, Bull Moose and my local store to see that they did have copies in stock, but for $60. I then checked Amazon and some other distros and they too had copies up for sale, also for $60. So it’s pretty obvious I was lied to and this is what happened; Hopeless couldn’t sell all 1,000 copies themselves so they dumped them on their distributor, who then solicited orders for them from the places mentioned above. Those places bought some and had to jack up the price from what Hopeless couldn’t sell them for in order to make a profit from the wholesale price they paid the distributor. But I had the last laugh. As I mentioned above, I bought this on ebay for $35 shipped. So I beat Hopeless at their own game, which I love.

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2014 marked the 20th Anniversary of Bloodshot Records, a Chicago based label known for releasing indie rock and alt country, who released a compilation album to celebrate the occasion. The comp was released on CD, digitally and on vinyl as a triple LP.

While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years Of Bloodshot Records, features 38 artists, including some Bloodshot alumni and other well-known artists. All songs are covers of past Bloodshot artists from albums released on the label. The comp features the likes of Chris Shiflett And The Dead Peasants (guitarist of Foo Fighters side project), Chuck Ragan, Ben Kweller, Tim Kasher, Andrew Bird, Frank Turner, Limbeck, Into It. Over It. and Ted Leo, just to name a few.

The triple LP was pressed on two different colors; red and black. Red is a “deluxe edition” exclusive to Bloodshot Records’ web store and is limited to 500 copies. Black is available everywhere else and is limited to 2,000 copies. Bloodshot is charging $10 more ($40) for the red variant, solely because it’s rarer. They labeled it a “deluxe edition” solely because it’s on colored vinyl; there is absolutely nothing special or different about it other than that. The red and black copies are identical in every way except for the color of vinyl. So in other words, the red variant is a complete rip-off. Intelligently I bought a copy on black vinyl for $20 shipped during a distro’s amazing sale.

All copies come housed in a gatefold jacket, with the first LP in the left pocket and the second and third LP’s sandwiched together in the right pocket. The jacket is one of the flimsiest and thinnest jackets, gatefold or not, that I have ever come across. With it being a gatefold jacket, the quality of it is a joke. The spine can barely support itself, so it’s bent in with creases all over the place, and seam splits seam (no pun intended) to be unavoidable. A download code is included with every copy as well as digital trading cards for every artist featured on the comp, which can be found once you unzip the digital download.

If you order this comp online be prepared for massive splits; I had to go through three copies in order to get a perfect copy. Now I’m not a stickler for condition, I’m not a “punisher” as many people like to label people. I’ve rarely sent back records due to jacket/sleeve damage like seam splits, corner dings/bends, etc, but with this record I had to draw a line as two of the three records were actually poking through the jacket of the first copy I got the seam splits were so bad. And the first replacement the distro sent came packaged in a ridiculously inappropriate corrugated cardboard wrapping/”mailer” leading to more seam splits.


XL Recordings: Pay Close Attention is a four LP box set compilation paying tribute to everything that has contributed to XL Recordings getting to where they are today. It’s also the sixth and latest release in a commercial series of compilations that highlight their roster. The Comp features 34 songs from artists ranging from Vampire Weekend to The Prodigy to M.I.A. to Radiohead to The White Stripes to Adele. Also accompanying this four LP box set is a DVD featuring music videos and live performances.

The vinyl version of this comp was released in both the U.S. and UK, with no difference in pressings. All four records in the set are pressed on black vinyl and are housed in stock XL Recordings glossy paper dust sleeves, which are die-cut only in the front. The front of the dust sleeves has an X printed on it while the back has an L, which when joined together (obviously need to use two of the four sleeves) form the XL logo. This combination theme continues with the lid of the box set and the box itself, as the lid has an X on it and the back/bottom of the box has an L on it. The box is a slip lid box make of sturdy cardboard. On the inside of the box the liner notes are printed. The sleeve for the DVD has info about each of the videos appearing on it written by label founder Richard Russell. Along with the aforementioned DVD, the box set also comes with a huge double-sided fold out poster.

When XL Recordings: Pay Close Attention first came out in late August 2014, it was very pricey, coming in at over $50 directly from XL Recordings; even more if you bought it from a record store or distro, around $65 if you were lucky. A release like this is the perfect example of having patience. Fast forward over six months from release date and these box sets are popping up on ebay, brand new, for half the original price. Which is when I bought it. I paid $23 shipped for this box set, which is less than the price some scrupulous labels are now charging for single LP releases.

Track listing:

A1 SL2 DJs Take Control
A2 The Prodigy Out Of Space
A3 Awesome 3 Don’t Go (Kicks Like A Mule Mix)

 

A4 Liquid Sweet Harmony
B1 Jonny L Piper
B2 Roy Davis Jr. Gabriel (Live Garage Version)

 

B3 Dem 2 Destiny
C1 Nu-Birth Anytime
C2 Basement Jaxx Jump N Shout
C3 Dizzee Rascal I Luv U
C4 Wiley Igloo
D1 Various Production Hater
D2 Giggs Talkin The Hardest
D3 Sbtrkt Wildfire (Ft. Little Dragon)

 

D4 Jamie XX All Under One Roof Raving
E1 The Prodigy Firestarter
E2 Peaches Fuck The Pain Away
E3 The White Stripes Seven Nation Army
E4 Devendra Banhart I Feel Just Like A Child
E5 Badly Drawn Boy Once Around The Block
F1 Ratatat Seventeen Years
F2 M.I.A. Paper Planes
F3 Thom Yorke The Eraser
F4 Gil Scott-Heron New York Is Killing Me
G1 Radiohead Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
G2 Tyler, The Creator Yonkers
G3 Horrors, The Sea Within A Sea
G4 Jai Paul BTSTU (Edit)
H1 Bobby Womack Please Forgive My Heart
H2 The XX Angels
H3 Sampha Too Much
H4 Vampire Weekend Step

 

DVD track listing

1 The Prodigy Firestarter
2 Basement Jaxx Where’s Your Head At
3 The White Stripes Fell In Love With A Girl
4 Dizzee Rascal Fix Up, Look Sharp
5 M.I.A. Birdflu
6 Vampire Weekend A-Punk
7 Radiohead Lotus Flower
8 Gil Scott-Heron I’m New Here
9 Tyler, The Creator Yonkers
10 Adele Someone Like You [live from The Brits (British Award Show) TV appearance]

 

Some notes about some of the videos on the DVD. All of them except for the Adele video are music videos. Adele’s video is the only live performance video on the DVD, which is taken from her Brits TV appearance. The Brit Awards is a British award show akin to The Grammy’s. The video for The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” is actually the second take of the video. They scraped the first version and went back to re-do it because “it wasn’t right.” For The White Stripes video, XL apparently thought LEGO would pay to make it, and a quote from the DVD sleeve regarding it; “We thought LEGO would pay for this video but they didn’t want anything to do with it.”


2014 was quite the year for post My Chemical Romance projects, as Frank Iero and Gerard Way each released albums with their new projects. Frank Iero had his debut solo release, a 7″ entitled For Jamia re-pressed and a full length album with his new band Frnkiero And The Cellabration entitled .Stomachaches. in late September 2014. To be honest I never bought the 7″ because I didn’t like the music, but after listening to Frnkiero And The Cellabration, I enjoyed the album and decided to buy that. Whether or not I ever buy the 7″ to keep/start a collection is relying entirely on if I can buy one very cheap. There was a 2014 Record Store Day re-press of the 7″, but it cost $10, if not more depending on the store. It was very limited compared to other RSD releases, pressed at 400 copies for the RSD pressing, combined with it was a regional release that did not see nationwide distribution; next to no copies were left after RSD to be sold online or sit on store shelves for ages. Yes, I’m aware I may spell the band’s name and album title wrong, but it’s for easy search engine results.

.Stomachaches. is similar sounding to My Chemical Romance, especially Danger Days: True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. The first pressing was done on four different colors; yellow limited to 500 copies, blue limited to 500 copies, pink limited to 1,000 copies and an unknown amount on grey vinyl. Yellow is an indie store exclusive, blue was a Hot Topic exclusive, pink was a band exclusive only sold online through their own and the label’s webstore. Grey is a Euro exclusive sold only through Hassle Records (UK indie store). The yellow variant is translucent yellow. I’m not sure if the pink or blue are translucent or opaque; the pics I’ve seen of them make them appear as both translucent and opaque, and it can’t be both. Some even show the pink having some marbling in them, something never advertised. Either way the pics that the label (Staple Records/Workhouse Music) released at various points for all the U.S variants look nothing like how they turned out. All the variants have a hype sticker on the bottom fright of the cover saying “limited edition colored vinyl” but make no mention of the color.

One thing of note with the first pressing, is that one pressing info database site has a UK tour exclusive variant listed as clear w/ glitter limited to 100 copies. This is the only place I have seen it mentioned, and it’s a user submitted database where no source or proof is required to get put on the website. I haven’t seen pics of it or heard of it anywhere else. To make the info even less credible, the site has no mention of the yellow variant anywhere, yet I own a copy of, it was promoted by the label and there are pics of it floating around other than this blog Also, the band has not yet toured the UK at all yet. Since the first pressing sold so well, a second pressing in the works that is currently (as of writing/posting this) up for pre-order in the band’s webstore. The second pressing is on clear with red splatter, which is limited to an unknown amount as the info has not been released, and likely never will.

The label seems to release pressing info sparingly, as I had to email them to find out the complete info regarding the yellow and blue variants. I had no idea there was even a yellow indie store exclusive variant before I emailed them. And Hot Topic pretty much refuses to release pressing info for any of their exclusive now as a sales tactic. The label did however, advertise the pink being limited to 1,000 copies while the variant was being sold.

As of writing/posting this the only variants from the first pressing not sold out/OOP are the indie store exclusive yellow and Euro exclusive grey. The label was briefly selling copies of the yellow online, but they have since sold out. Some stores may still be carrying the yellow; so if you find it locally or buy it online from an indie record store you will likely get the yellow variant. Once the second pressing comes out though, it may be impossible to know what color you will get unless they put a sticker on the cover denoting the color/pressing.