Archive for May, 2017


So looks like most of my predictions for the 2016/17 English Premier League season were spot on. And no, I didn’t edit, alter, change, tweak or update that blog post at any point. Figured I do an end of year wrap up after the FA Cup final, which officially concluded the season despite almost everything being decided entering Championship Sunday.

I picked the champion, Chelsea. I picked 2/3 of the relegated clubs; Sunderland and Hull City. I picked half the top four spots correct. Arsenal really threw a wrench into my predictions, as I’m sure they did many others as well. I didn’t have them winning the league or even finishing second like they did last year, but I did have them winning their annual fourth place trophy. Where things kind of went off the rails is the rest, especially the top half.

Bournemouth and West Brom overachieving combined with Stoke and West Ham underachieving, and the obvious failure of Middlesbrough to avoid going straight back down to the Championship made a mess of my top and bottom half predictions. I tabbed Burnley for relegation, but they somehow managed to be in the top half of the table for a decent amount of time until late in the season when they likely suffered from the 40 point daze, much like West Brom did. I don’t think anybody expected West Brom to finish as high as they did. And they might have finished higher and even earned a place in Europe had they not seemingly fell into that 40 point daze.

I did alright with Everton, Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Watford. They all finished in their respective halves as I predicted. I threw Palace and Swansea into the relegation mix, but their mid season managerial changes proved vital as Big Sam steered yet another club out of relegation and Swansea turned it on late under Paul Clement to avoid the drop.

I didn’t expect Watford to finish as low as they did; 17th, but with the calamity their season turned into after Christmas it really shouldn’t be that surprising. It will likely be more of the same next year, as they will change managers, yet again. And there will likely be a revolving door of players as well. I had them as a dark horse to finish in the top half based on their capability as a squad, but ultimately it was the completely unnecessary managerial change for this season that did them in.

Turns out I nailed Chelsea. Antonio Conte made a major difference, and combined with their light schedule compared to the rest of the title contenders, made their title aspirations a reality. I picked Manchester United for a top four finish, but their inconsistency spoiled that. When their focus shifted to winning the Europa League in order to guarantee a Champions League spot I knew that pick was in trouble.  Tottenham over performed a bit in my book. Well, I didn’t expect them to be able to maintain the same level of success as last year solely based on how the other big clubs improved their squads. Not so much that they would play worse in any way, just that the competition would surpass them even more.

Now I guess it’s time for me to make some extremely early predictions for next season. So here goes, based on hardly anything seeing as transfers haven’t even really started yet and there could still be managerial changes. I expect Chelsea to win the league again next year. I doubt much will change with their squad despite the persistent rumors of Diego Costa leaving for China. The rest of the top four will remain mostly the same, with the one change being Manchester United jumping in and Liverpool falling out. Unless Liverpool seriously address their problems at the back they won’t be able to skate by relying on Arsenal and United not being there. The one wild card that nobody can predict is how not being at White Hart Lane will affect Tottenham. Will being in a somewhat new stadium have a negative impact like it clearly did with West Ham this year?

I predict Arsenal will finish outside the top four again. Whether that is fifth or even lower remains to be seen. Nothing will change for the positive at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger will almost assuredly be back at the expense of winning anything significant. The Gunners will lose their two best players in the summer in Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, if not more as rumors swirl around Oliver Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin leaving as well. Being in the Europa League next year instead of Champions League will have a negative impact on signings for Arsenal too, further worsening a squad that is already questionable.

West Brom is my dark horse to challenge for a European place. I doubt they will nab it away from Everton, who seem to be back on track under Ronald Koeman. But every prediction has to have a dark horse. I do see the Baggies building on this year’s success though. Southampton, West Ham and Stoke will round out the top half.

Leicester will be on the fringe of the top half and bottom half. Nothing will surprise me with them other than finishing in a European place. I see them losing some of their better players, like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy during the summer, which will hurt them. But it won’t be quite the roller coaster year next year for the Foxes. Burnley just doesn’t have the budget to do anything but further consolidate their place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are battling to avoid relegation. Bournemouth might lose their manager, and I just don’t see them finishing any higher than they did this year. I don’t see them being relegated, but it’s not a desirable destination for top talent, aside from the obvious fact that they wouldn’t be able to afford them anyway.

Newcastle should be able to avoid the drop back down. Rafa Benitez seems to have righted the ship, and they blazed through the Championship to immediately bounce back up to the Premiership after being relegated in 2015/16. Palace should be safe for another season, and if they bring in more attacking power, which I know is not Big Sam’s forte, I would feel more comfortable with their place in the league. Swansea played like a different team under Paul Clement, and if they keep that up and manage to hold on to Gylfi Sigurdsson, along with getting one more clinical finisher they’ll be safe again.

In these early stages I’m tabbing Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town for relegation. Huddersfield Town will likely be a repeat performance of Middlesbrough this season; a team who struggles to score and gets badly exposed defensively when going forward. Somehow Huddersfield managed to get promoted from the Championship despite a negative goal difference. And unless there is a sudden influx of cash, they won’t be able to bring in enough players of the quality needed to be competitive in the top flight.

Brighton will likely be in the same boat as Huddersfield. Though I see them having an easier time of it. Let’s not forget that their manager, Chris Hughton, led Norwich City to relegation back in 2013/14. Unless something drastic changes at Watford, they’re in major trouble. There seemed to be a mutiny taking place in the later stages of the season. Walter Mazzarri is gone, but whoever they bring in will likely change the system for the umpteenth time and not bring any stability. The club is on their eighth manager since the Pozzo family bought the club in 2012, who run it more like a corporation than a sporting club. Players brought in won’t fit the system and if they lose players like Troy Deeney, the heart and soul of the club, they’re in even bigger trouble.

 

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Kyle Kinane – Whiskey Icarus

Posted: May 19, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: ,

Kyle Kinane’s albums have steadily been released on vinyl, and his second album, Whiskey Icarus, was released on vinyl in 2014. The album was pressed as a double LP, and to my knowledge only comes on one variant; black with yellow splatter. I was surprised to see this come on colored vinyl. I fully expected it to be on black vinyl, especially since no color was mentioned anywhere. And I mean anywhere. No stores selling this, not the label releasing it (Comedy Central Records), not Discogs. Plus, I’ve never seen photos of this record prior to buying it. Since I wasn’t even aware it would come on colored vinyl, it should be no surprise that I don’t know how many copies were pressed.

All copies come in a gatefold jacket, and a download card/code is included as well. The gatefold is rather bland and pointless in terms of artwork/creative packaging. It’s a tiny picture of Kyle Kinane on each panel, set against an all black background. Rather than traditional paper dust sleeves, each record comes in card stock dust sleeves. And is there anything even printed on these more expensive dust sleeves? Nope. They’re completely blank. All they do is drive up the price of this release. Not that this record is expensive (around $20 retail), it just could have been cheaper. And should have without having the unnecessary gatefold jacket and cardstock dust sleeves. You’re not really getting a good bang for your buck here. Had there been nice artwork, or really anything better than what is actually printed inside the gatefold, and the same goes for the dust sleeves, the price would be more justified.


Kyle Kinane’s albums have steadily been released on vinyl, even releasing a split 7″ with a band. Which may seem like an odd pairing until you consider the standup comic was briefly in Masked Intruders. The split, part of the Under The Table series (#2 in series), was done with The Slow Death, was released by Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club and Rad Girlfriend Records in 2014, and has already gone through a second pressing. What is featured here is the first pressing.

The first pressing was pressed on three variants; “black death” limited to 220 copies and “skunk-piss” yellow limited to 330 copies. If it’s not obvious enough, “black death” is simply black vinyl, and “skunk-piss” yellow is yellow. Translucent yellow actually, in a golden hue. Didn’t know skunks pissed in that particular shade of yellow. But it’s good knowledge to have. Especially when those trivia nights at the bar come around and every other table is stumped when the “what shade of yellow is skunk piss” question comes up.

But in all seriousness, the name for the yellow variant is inspired by the lone track/joke Kyle Kinane contributes to this split; “Skunk.” The third variant is a 2014 Awesome Fest exclusive, with the only difference making it a separate variant is that is comes with a different cover. The covers are apparently black and yellow, and those covers came with random colors of vinyl. I’ve never seen a photo of this Awesome Fest exclusive, so I have no idea what those exclusive covers look like. I’m just going on info posted on Discogs, which can be a double edged sword.

An insert is also included with all copies from the first pressing. I’m not sure about the second pressing. The second pressing was done on only one variant, “skunk stink” green, limited to 500 copies. The green is translucent.

If you’re looking to buy a copy of the split after reading this, you’ll likely get a copy from the second pressing. But with that said, I bought a copy from a distro about one month after the second pressing was released (I bought this a long time ago, June 2016, but just got around to posting this now) and got a copy on black vinyl from the first pressing. Needless to say I was shocked. I didn’t care what color and/or pressing I got, because I was able to buy this for $5 shipped.


Patton Oswalt’s new album, Talking For Clapping, flew under a lot of people’s radar, but not the Recording Academy as at it won the 2017 Grammy for Best Comedy Album. This album is classic Patton Oswalt and anyone, from his diehard fans to the casual observer will enjoy this album full of new material. Standup comedy seems to be gaining in popularity again, thanks in part to Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts and Roast Battle, their latest venture into standup, which Patton coincidentally happened to judge.

Talking For Clapping was pressed on three different variants for the first pressing; 100 copies on blue splatter, 400 copies on white and 1,000 copies on black. I’m not sure of the pressing info for the second pressing, but all copies appear to be on “Halloween” orange. The splatter copies came autographed by Patton and cost $30 before shipping, double the cost of the other variants. But all proceeds went 826LA, a non-profit supporting students ages 6–18 with their creative and expository writing skills and helping teachers inspire their students to write. That is a cause near and dear to my heart. I will always support the arts, especially music and writing, as they were and still are an integral part of my life. This blog itself is an endeavor into writing. And I took many writing classes in college on my way to a journalism and public relations degree.

All the other variants cost $15, with white (along with the blue splatter) being exclusive to the label, Aspecialthing Records. Black was only available from distros and possibly indie record stores, it was not available via Aspecialthing’s web store. With the general retail price already being stated, I bought this from a distro for just $11 shipped.

All copies come with a download code, which is nice because I couldn’t find MP3’s of this album/special anywhere. Oh, with that being said, Talking For Clapping was originally a Netflix special recorded in San Francisco at the Fillmore Theater in 2015. Other than the download card, it’s just a record stuffed into a single pocket jacket.

Patton Oswalt - Talking For Clapping - Copy


Dane Cook went from being one of the most popular comics to falling into oblivion seemingly overnight. He burst onto the scene then just as quickly faded away. He has his fair share of critics, and he always had detractors who thought he was a Louis C.K. rip-off in more ways than one. Personally, I enjoy some of his earlier specials, albums and bits more than his latest efforts. But I will add that as I grow older and go back through his material I find it less funny.

With that said, when I saw the vinyl version of Harmful If Swallowed at my record store by the counter on Record Store Day with a sign that said ‘Please rid us of this plague – $1 OBO’ my interest was piqued. I’m in the store several times a month and never saw this record or the sign before. I asked what the deal was and the guy behind the counter said they bought a collection from a kid trying to get money for college like two or three years ago. It was mostly garbage (not the band) that we knew we would struggle selling but the kid was desperate and agreed to $100 for like 300 records. But this Dane Cook record never sold, and it was the last piece of that collection. He went on to say they even tried selling it on eBay several times with a 99 cent starting bid and there were no takers. They just wanted this record gone.

So I figured what the hell. For $1 I’ll buy a Dane Cook record with no regrets. I’ll add that this was brand new, still factory sealed. That kid who apparently took pennies on the dollar for his collection never even opened this record. At the time Harmful If Swallowed was first released back in 2013 retail price was $20. I remember that price because people on message boards were making fun of not just the fact this album was getting pressed on vinyl, but the price of it too. I wound up buying this for like what, like 95% off?

After doing some digging on this record, I discovered that there is in fact pressing info for it. There were 1,000 copies pressed, most likely all on black vinyl. There may be variants for this, but I highly doubt it. Alternate artwork is used for the vinyl version, but it’s tweaked ever so slightly. Instead of a white background like the CD version, the vinyl version has a black background meant to mimic a flag. There is also a 10th Anniversary logo slapped on the cover, because this was pressed for the album’s 10th Anniversary. Comedy Central Records wrote up a lengthy sell sheet/press release for this record too.

Dane Cook - Harumful If Swallowed - Copy

 


The second of Louis C.K.’s albums to get the vinyl treatment, Live At Madison Square Garden was released by Louis’ own company; Pig Newton, Inc., in conjunction with Comedy Dynamics. This record was only pressed as a picture disc, and it comes in a picture disc sleeve. A download card is included. The audio is taken from the last of three shows Louis C.K. did at Madison Square Garden in 2015. Pressing info has not been released, and likely never will be. Discogs erroneously has this listed as an Amazon exclusive, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost every distro has, or had copies for sale at one point, and many indie record stores got copies too. Even Wal-Mart and Target have copies for sale.

When this record first came out in late 2015 the retail price for it was on the expensive side; $25. I waited over a year to buy this, and got it on sale for $15. There was no way I was going to pay $25 for a single LP picture disc comedy album. The price is a bit more ridiculous when you consider Louis C.K. has been a staunch supporter of the ‘pay what you want’ model, and cornered the market on his material by exclusively offering up both audio and video on his website utilizing the pay what you want model. His suggested price for only the MP3 files of this audio from this album is $5. So let’s just go ahead and charge 5x that price for the physical version and maybe no one will notice! I understand a physical release will cost more than $5, but charging this much for a single LP is not the right approach either. Especially when the b-side of the picture disc is shamelessly your company’s logo.

Louis C.K. – Oh My God

Posted: May 19, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: ,

Louis C.K. had his sixth comedy album, Oh My God, released on vinyl in 2014. It’s the first of his albums to be pressed on vinyl. Vagrant Records, yes that Vagrant Records, released Oh My God on vinyl. Not sure how that partnership came about considering Louis C.K. has his own production company he uses for most of his stuff now, and there are currently only four comedy labels in the game; Comedy Central Records and Stand Up Records.

All copies were pressed as a double LP on black vinyl, with pressing info never being released. There is no insert included nor are the records housed in a gatefold jacket considering the release is a double LP. This is about as no frills a release as you can get; standard weight black vinyl with album artwork that is almost nonexistent pasted onto a white background along with the center labels, with no additional add ins like an insert, download card, printed dust sleeves, etc.

Many people may question the choice of buying a comedy album on vinyl, especially this one because of the hefty price tag, around $25 from most places before shipping. Granted I scored this album for $15 shipped; buying comedy albums comes down to personal preference more than any of form of audio released on vinyl. Many people don’t see a point to comedy albums in general because of the lack of visuals that are needed to get many jokes or bits, let alone a comedy album on vinyl. They would prefer a video of some kind of the performance. Personally I buy comedy albums for the experience you get from listening to them. Using a stereo, especially a surround sound system hooked up to the same receiver as your turntable, you feel like you’re there, watching the performance in person. There is also the aspect of supporting your favorite comics.

Louis C.K. - Oh My God - Copy