Archive for July, 2016

Blink-182 – California

Posted: July 18, 2016 in Vinyl
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Blink-182 soldiered on after the craziness that was Tom Delonge, who is no longer in the band. Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame replaced Tom on guitar and is featured on Blink’s new album; California. It is weird seeing Blink without Tom. Love him or hate him, he was an integral part of the band. While a noticeable difference, Matt Skiba replaces Tom admirably.

California is not the band’s best work, but it’s far from being a bad album. It’s leans more towards a +44 sound than the Blink sound everyone has grown to love over the years. Personally I loved the +44 album, and I love Alkaline Trio, so I’m really enjoying this new Blink-182 album. Two of Blink’s infamous joke tracks are on this album. And there is a lot of oohhing and whoa oh oh-ing on this record to go along with Blink’s traditional na na na na na’s , so be forewarned.

When pre-orders for the album first went up in April 2016 people went nuts over it. There were plenty of bundles to choose from. Most included the same garbage most bundles have; t-shirts and hoodies, but one bundle had a signed drumhead along with a signed record (on the jacket). That drumhead bundle was rather pricey ($90) and sold out in a matter of hours.

Initially there was only one variant of the record available; purple. Purple sold out in two days and Kings Road Merch (KRM), who handled the pre-orders for this album, almost immediately put up a new variant; white. When white sold out they put up another variant; red. It seemed like never-ending variants for this album, which actually panned out to be pretty accurate.

On top of the purple, white, and red, there is also the standard, widely available black vinyl and a UK exclusive color; silver. And of course $hit Topic had to get into the game as well. Their exclusive color is red with black splatter, and you know they have to charge more than anyone else for their exclusive; $25. All the other U.S. variants cost $22 or under. But because KRM handled pre-orders they charged outlandish shipping prices; $11.15 was the cheapest option because they refuse to offer media mail. So that $22 price immediately turned into over $30 for a single LP. Because they staggered the release of the variants, and with KRM apparently refusing to combine orders for anyone, people who wanted all the variants had to pay that $11.15 shipping charge three separate times.

Pressing info has not been released for any of the variants, and don’t expect it to ever be. So don’t trust any sites that have pressing info listed… cough… Discogs…. cough. The numbers were never posted anywhere official during the pre-order phase or post release date, and if they were, they were immediately suspicious because they got vital info wrong like saying “exclusive” when that particular variant was being sold elsewhere. All colors, except for $hit Topic’s red with black splatter, are pressed on 180 gram vinyl though.

All copies of the record, except the red with black splatter, come with a color coded hype sticker in the top right corner. Whatever color the sticker is indicates what color the record itself is. The red w/ black splatter sticker is all black. All the hype stickers are circle and shape and indicate 180 gram vinyl (except for the red w/ black splatter) along with mentioning the color, just in case the color of the sticker isn’t enough. The vinyl version has exclusive, alternate artwork, but it’s a minor change. Instead of a white background it’s a black background for the vinyl version. The record itself come in a printed dust sleeve. The dust sleeve is printed on thick card stock and has the lyrics printed on one side with the liner notes on the opposite side. A download code for high quality 320 kbps MP3s is included with every copy as well.

So to sum up: six variants all on 180 gram vinyl except for the splatter (purple, white, red, black, red w/ black splatter, silver) with pressing info never released for any of them. Pressed as single LP w/ alternate artwork. Record comes in a printed dust sleeve and a download card included. Retail price is around $20.

 


Usually Daytrotter Sessions are rarely released on vinyl, let alone on any physical format, and when they are its Daytrotter themselves releasing them as on overpriced 12″. Bad Books’ 2013 Daytrotter Session was released on vinyl in 2016 by the band themselves on their own label, Favorite Gentlemen. Yes, I’m aware Kevin Devine is in Bad Books, but I say their own label because its owned and operated by Andy Hull.

Initially the record was only available on Andy Hull and Kevin Devine’s solo co-headlining tour in early 2016. But after the tour concluded leftover copies were put up for sale online. The price was a bit high (including shipping) for a single LP, just under $20, but after you take into account what you’re getting it’s a bit easier to swallow. It’s a single-sided 12″ with a screen print of the cover art on the b-side. The cover art by the way features Nick Day, engineer for a lot of Andy Hull’s projects over the years.

There were 1,000 copies pressed, all on black vinyl with the same screen printing on the b-side. There are no different colors for the screen printing or different images, like some labels have done with various releases over the year to create variants. A download card is included as well as a double sided insert. The insert is pretty pointless however, as it’s just cartoon head shots of all the band members with coffee rings and stains strewn about both sides. The insert is so thin you can see through it, the images on the opposite side are easily visible.

Since Manchester Orchestra’s official web store is hosted by Big Cartel, people were being asshats and holding the entire stock of this 12″ in their carts so nobody could buy it. This immature nonsense went on for close to two hours before copies were finally freed up. I bought a copy nobody within the first minute the record went live, but it was slow going due to traffic volume. I wanted to check and see approximately how many copies were put up for sale online, but I couldn’t because of people holding the entire stock in their cart. Don’t worry, I’m never one of those people who bogarts items so nobody else can buy it, I simply add more copies than the entire pressing is out off to see how many copies are left or were available, then immediately clear my cart.

I bought this within the first couple minutes of it going live (something I rarely do for any release these days) expecting it to sell out pretty quick. But turns out I didn’t have to, because as of posting this there are 49 copies left for sale. Surprising considering it’s been over a month since this record was made available, and typically anything Manchester Orchestra and/or Kevin Devine related sells very strongly and quickly.

 

 


Yet another band to go on hiatus in recent years, Thrice, came back to life with a new album in 2016. The album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, is the band’s first new album in five years. Thrice has very finicky fans, some of the hardest to please I think. And they can be split into three basic camps; those who feel they can do no wrong, those who hate anything that doesn’t sound like their early, harder albums, and those who prefer their later, less edgy sound. Whatever camp you fall in there is no doubt Thrice fans have very high expectations, which only sets up most of them to be let down. At this stage in their career it’s unrealistic for them to make an album that harkens back to the First Impressions or Identity Crisis era. But that doesn’t stop the hate anything that doesn’t sound like their early, harder albums camp from making their disgust known.

Some people actually felt like Thrice just churned out a “dad rock” album after hearing To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’s first single, “Blood On The Sand.” Which couldn’t be further from the truth. And I’m not even going to go into how unfair it is to judge an album by one song, especially its first single before the album is even released. Yes, this latest Thrice album is far from First Impressions and Identity Crisis, but it’s by no means a bad album. It follows in the vein of their more recent work.

The vinyl version of the album sold out of its first pressing pretty quickly, but it was still slow by Thrice standards. When pre-orders first went up on March 24, 2016 only one variant was available; “smoke” 180 gram limited to 1,000 copies. This variant was only available through Thrice’s official pre-order hosted by Music Today/Delivery Agent, a relatively unknown store host. By all accounts that merchant is terrible. The smoke variant cost $20 before shipping

The smoke variant sold out in less than one day, and almost immediately after it sold out another variant was put up for sale; black 180 gram, also limited to 1,000 copies. There is some debate on how many black copies actually exist. When the black pre-rder first went up it said “limited to 1,000 copies,” but that was later removed. The band themselves also advertised the black 180 gram as being limited to1,000 copies. Seeing as how quickly black disappeared I think it’s safe to it actually is limited to 1,000 copies. Sales immediately slowed after the black copies went up, as other online retailers started putting up cheaper pre-orders. You have to admit, it’s a clever sales tactic; release the variants one at a time without ever announcing how many variants there will be, all increase sales by making people think there will be only one variant.

Eventually the black copies sold out online too, but a big part in that was some black copies were sent out to indie record stores. I don’t think any online distros received copies, as it was impossible to find online. Amazon had a pre-order for it, but I don’t think they were able to fulfill anyone’s orders, they just kept people waiting for something that it sold out and will be on back-order for a long time. A severely limited amount was sent to physical stores though, as they’re all sold out and did so in a matter of days, I doubt any stores had copies last for a week.

When pre-orders started shipping many people were disappointed with how the “smoke” turned out. The smoke variant is basically grey marble. Other bands/labels have released smoke variants in the past, and they’re generally clear with various shade of grey and black swirled in. This “smoke” variant is very far from that.

Going back to how terrible the merchant hosting Thrice’s pre-order is, there were some major problems. Many people received the wrong variant, some who ordered smoke received a black copy. And their customer service was hit or miss. They sent some people out the proper smoke variant they ordered without having the customer return the black copy, they took a long time to respond to some people about an exchange, they told some people to return the black copy in order to receive the correct smoke copy. The wrong variant problem eventually got so bad the merchant ran out of smoke copies to give to people who ordered them in the first place. Those people were basically SOL, as they didn’t offer refunds for people who wanted to return it.

And if all that wasn’t enough a third variant was announced well after the smoke 180 gram and black 180 gram sold out; Thrice would be selling a tour variant on their summer tour. The tour exclusive is on teal 180 gram. Pressing info for the tour variant was never released, and so far the band has had copies on all the stops. However, there was some miscommunication about the tour variant being sold out, as Dustin apparently announced at the Orlando date it was sold out, but that was obviously wrong as they were still selling copies at dates after the Orlando show. Why he would say something blatantly wrong is beyond me, but maybe he meant they sold out of their allotted copies for that specific show. That is the most likely explanation, but there is a problem with that theory as well, as they weren’t limiting how many copies a person could buy at any stops on the tour prior to the Orlando date. Many people posted online, with one person even admitting to it, that people were walking around venues with five copies of the tour variant.

As expected, many tour variants wound up on ebay, where they sold for over $80. The smoke variant was also ebay gold, as they sold for over $70. Many people even bid up black copies to over $40 after the realization sunk in that the album may be sold out and OOP. Because I purposely held off on pre-ordering/buying this album with the expectation of buying a black copy for well below retail price at a gem of a site I found that routinely has great discount codes on records already listed below retail price, I too had to resort to ebay to buy this album. But I only spent $20 including shipping on it, which is less than I would’ve spent had I pre-ordered it from Thrice’s official pre-order. Sadly it’s not the $13 I would’ve spent had that online distro been able to get copies, but I still came out ahead.

All copies come with an insanely nice booklet along with a download card. The booklet is 22 pages long and is as big as it can get (size wise), likely 11″x 11″ (I’m not going to measure it). Because of the booklet the record jacket is oversized. It comes in one of those overzied double LP jackets, you know the ones, the ones where the label is too cheap/greedy to spring for a gatefold jacket but still wants to overcharge for the release. The booklet has the lyrics, with each song getting its own page. Other imagery is found inside the booklet too, typical Thrice artistic randomness, as you can see in the photos below. Christopher King of This Will Destroy You was responsible for the art direction of the album. Instead of traditional binding the booklet it actually sewn together, with the stitching showing on the cover and back cover. It’s also important to note that the colored and black variants each have their own respective hype sticker. The hyper sticker on the colored variants (smoke and teal marble) say “limited colored vinyl” while the black variant makes no mention of color or being limited.


Vinnie Caruana’s debut solo album, Survivor’s Guilt, was released by Equal Vision Records in the U.S. and distributed by Big Scary Monsters in the UK. The album was pressed on a handful of variants. There are a whopping six variants in total, three for the U.S. and three for the UK.

The three U.S. variants are baby blue limited to 300 copies, opaque light yellow limited to 500 copies and grey with white splatter limited to 700 copies. The baby blue is a tour exclusive and the pressing info is per a sign at his merch table, so that number may or may not be accurate. The yellow is a retail exclusive and the grey with white splatter is exclusive to Equal Vision web store hosted by MerchNow.

The UK variants are pink limited to 100 copies, grey with white splatter limited to 300 copies and black limited to 300 copies. The pink is a UK tour exclusive, but Vinnie only did five UK shows the pink variant was available at. It’s more of a baby pink that a hot pink. The grey with white splatter is only available from big Scary Monsters online as far as I can tell, and the black is available online from Big Scary Monsters and UK indie record stores like Banquet Records. I’m also not sure if there are any difference between the UK splatter and U.S. splatter, but the mock ups for each look completely different. The UK splatter mock up looks like an actual picture of the completed record while the U.S. splatter mock up still looks like a computer rendering, even after the record was released.

All the U.S. variants come with a hype sticker indicating the color of the record. All U.S. copies come with a download card for high quality 320 kbps MP3s. An insert ins included with U.S. copies as well, which has the lyrics printed on both sides along with the liner notes taking up a portion of one side as well. I can’t speak to any details like this for the UK pressing as I don’t own a copy.

Prices for the U.S. pressing range from $20 before shipping from MerchNow, between $19 to $23 at indie record stores to around $20 at online distros. But if you shop around and be patient you can get a great deal on this record. I bought it for $14 shipped taking advantage of coupon codes and already lower prices at one distro. Odds are though that this record will sit around for a while and it will get marked down. If it hasn’t sold out at this point it likely won’t for a long time, and considering his earlier EP, A City By The Sea hasn’t sold out after almost two years, Survivor’s Guilt will likely fall into the same boat.


Say Anything’s latest album, I Don’t Think It Is, is not their best work, but it’s far better than their previous album, Hebrews. This album actually has instrumentation on it, so that immediately gives it a leg up on Hebrews. One of the down sides is that a lot of the songs sound alike, so they all wind up blending together. But other than that I Don’t Think It Is sounds more like the Say Anything their fans have grown to love over the years, but it is still a big enough departure from that …Is A Real Boy sound to turn off many of their fans.

When you buy this record, whether it’s at your local record store, at a show or online, the first thing you’ll notice is the album art. It’s atrocious. And if you thought it looked bad looking at a picture of it in iTunes or a small jpeg online, it’s even worse scaled up to LP format. There is no escaping it. I don’t know what Max Bemis was thinking.

I Don’t Think It Is was pressed as a single LP spread across three variants; opaque sea blue limited to 1,00 copies, opaque light blue limited to 500 copies and transparent caramel limited to 500 copies.

The opaque sea blue was exclusively sold online in the Equal Vision Records web store hosted by MerchNow. When I obtained the pressing info from Equal Vision they also made mention this color is being sold on tour as well. Another interesting note is that they call this color opaque dark blue, despite that the hype sticker on the record and the item description on MerchNow says opaque sea blue.

The opaque light blue is a $hit Topic exclusive color. I obtained that number from Equal Vision. I needed confirmation on that number even though a $hit Topic rep said it was limited to 500 copies, because I don’t trust anything that comes out of $hit Topic’s mouth after all the crap they’ve pulled over the years, and they continue to add new BS to their repertoire. The latest example is refusing to offer refunds or exchanges on records bought online that are damaged during shipping when they ship records in oversized plastic bags with no cardboard or bubble wrap. They use to accept returns/exchanges, but now all of a sudden they don’t. All their BS over the years with records likely stems from them hemorrhaging money on them.

The transparent caramel is a retail exclusive color. So if you buy this anywhere other than Merchnow or $hit Topic you will get this color. Equal Vision call is transparent brown despite the hype sticker saying transparent caramel. If you haven’t guessed it yet, all the variants come with a hype sticker denoting the color of the record, and also advertise the fact they’re part of a “limited pressing” along with the exclusive bonus tracks found on the download card.

All copies come with a download card that yields four exclusive bonus tracks. The bonus tracks are (in order of appearance) “Slip,” “Slit,” “Slick” and “Spit.” These bonus tracks don’t appear on the actual record, they’re digital only. An insert is included as well, which has the lyrics printed on one side and the liner notes on the opposite side.

Prices on this range widely. MerchNow charged $20 before shipping. $hit Topic charges $22.90 before tax and shipping (if applicable). Prices in indie records stores range from $20 to $23, with many online distros charging similar prices. But if you shop around and be patient you can get a great deal on this record. I bought it for $13 shipped taking advantage of coupon codes and already lower prices at one distro. Odds are though that this record will sit around for a while. If it hasn’t sold out by now, three months after release date, it won’t sell out for a long time. I’m also basing this on Hebrews not selling out after two years, and these two albums are on par musically and popularity wise.


Panic! At The Disco’s latest album, Death Of A Bachelor, is much better than their previous album. I anticipated the worst, but if you can get past the fact that they, well he, has turned into a full fledge pop act the album is enjoyable. Yes, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, not that Panic! At The Disco ever was, but the type of music he plays is a far departure from the earlier albums.

Death Of A Bachelor was pressed on two variants; red and black. Black is not exclusive to anywhere, it’s available everywhere aside from $hit Topic and will likely be kept in print for the foreseeable future. So no pressing numbers on the black variant. Red is a $hit Topic exclusive, and pressing info for it will likely never be released because they use it as a sales tactic. They simply advertise things as “limited” even though they may not really be limited in the grand scheme of things. $hit Topic has gotten so bad with their overpricing and other terrible business practices that they’re finally beginning to phase out vinyl from their retail stores. Vinyl will be online only, and it won’t be too long before they’re out of the game completely. Odds are their exclusive variants will be slowly phased out over time as well, if they haven’t already begun to do that. And I couldn’t be happier.

Just to further illustrate their terrible business practices, just with this exclusive variant they admitted they oversell things and hold back stock to sell at a later point to drive up sales; sending people into a false panic (no pun intended) because it “sold out” so quick. So once it becomes available for purchase again everyone races to buy it before it “sells out” “again.” A $hit Topic rep came out and said on a public message board that “there is a chance this could sell out before the balance of copies shows up.” That “balance of copies” line is complete BS, it’s their exclusive variant. They don’t have to re-order it and the label/plant is not going to spend more money to send multiple shipments for the same order.

And if that wasn’t enough the same $hit Topic rep assured people the red variant would be put online on release date (for the vinyl version; April 1, 2016) for months (reassuring almost every week after his initial statement in February 2016, whenever anyone asked about it) ahead of the release, and wouldn’t you guess it, it wasn’t. Copies went up for sale on $hit Topic’s website on April 2, yes it’s only a one day delay, but it’s another in a long string of BS from $hit Topic with no end in sight. It’s the same BS over and over. One false advertisement after another. To further illustrate that the same rep also falsely stated that there would be another color variant that would be exclusive to the band, which never panned out. He never corrected, amended or admitted he was wrong, even after it was brought to his attention numerous times. He just ignored it. You can still read his post on the message board, over three months after he said it.

Now to get a back on track, the record comes in a standard single pocket jacket with an insert and download card. The insert has the lyrics, although printed in tiny print, on one side with the reverse side having the credits along with imagery from the cover art. Instead of a dust sleeve on white paper, it’s black paper. There is a light blue hype sticker on the bottom left corner of the cover, with the $hit Topic variant having the color of the record indicated on the hype sticker. The black variant has no color mentioned on the hype sicker. And again, pressing info for either variant has not been released and likely never will be. The download code yields high quality 320 kbps MP3s.


At first this record may seem like a cash grab, that is until you realize the circumstances Streetlight Manifesto and Tomas Kalnoky (Toh Kay) have been through during their career. The band and Kalnoky himself have been through the ringer with Victory Records, with lawsuits brought against them and the band and Kalnoky have been screwed out of who knows how much money. So when you see Streetlight Manifesto release a 12″ of their first demo from way back in 2002 on Kalnoky’s own label Pentimento Music Company you should be a bit forgiving.

This demo release came out left field. There were no pre-orders, the band simply promoted it on social media and the records shipped right away. The record is fairly cheap too, especially if you buy it in a bundle with the Bandits Of The Acoustic Revolution – A Call To Arms 12″, which was released at the same time as the Streetlight demo. If you bought the Demo alone it cost $10 (BOTAR 12″ cost the same) before shipping, but if you bought it in the bundle, which cost $16, you obviously save $2. Shipping however, is where the affordable/cheap factor is immediately erased. The cheapeast shipping option The Risc Store (merchant hosted Streetlight Manifesto/Pentimento Music’s web store) is priority mail, which costs just under $9 for a single record or a little over $13 for the bundle.

No idea on the pressing info as it was never released, but all copies of the Demo are pressed on black vinyl. I was fully expecting just the record slid into a standard jacket because of how cheap this release it, but when I opened it up I was pleasantly surprised to discover there is a printed dust sleeve. The dust sleeve is single sided, as one side is blank with the other side having the liner notes in the form of a lengthy note from the band detailing the history of every song.