Mae – (m)(a)(e) (“1st” Press)

Posted: June 12, 2017 in Vinyl
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Where do I begin with this fiasco? Guess I’ll start at the beginning. Mae’s trilogy of EPs, entitled Morning, Afternoon and Evening, was confirmed to the public on August 31, 2016, with pre-orders starting on October 5, 2016. The EPs were going to be pressed as a triple LP set, with each EP getting its own 12”, having all three records housed in a tri-fold jacket. Initially advertised as being limited to “only 300 copies,” that insanely low number was very short lived. And when I say very short lived, I mean a matter of minutes.

The band boasted on Twitter about how fast the pressing sold, 12 minutes give or take, and announced they would “make 200 more.” And it didn’t stop there. The band was very greedy with this release, offering up more and more copies as it sold out. Initially advertised as being “limited” to 300 copies, the band announced they would press 200 additional copies to bring the total up to 500 copies. Then after those 200 additional copies sold out, they added even more copies, 250 more copies, to bring the total up to 750, which is where they thankfully stopped. At least for a little while.

The band announced a “second pressing” a few months later in February 2017. But since the first pressing wasn’t even released yet, it’s not actually a second pressing. It’s just one gigantic pressing. This record is the epitome of a dog and pony show. The band lured people in with the extreme rarity (300 copies), then decided to cash in and add more copies to the pressing than what it was originally advertised as being limited to. To illustrate the cash grab motives, the second pressing is still available. It hasn’t sold out more than a month after it started shipping. And it didn’t see a sales surge after people saw how quickly the “first” pressing sold out, nor the post the release date/orders shipping surge either.

I say greedy because it’s one thing to re-press something to meet demand. I’m perfectly fine with that, so long as the second pressing is not announced right on the heels of the first pressing selling out during the pre-order phase. It’s an entirely different thing to blatantly false advertise something as being limited to a certain, small amount, and then decide to increase the amount of copies the release is limited to that same day. And not only more than doubling the total amount for the pressing, but adding more copies to it than it was initially advertised as being limited to? Not ok. Would I have bought this record had it been limited to 750 copies initially and never had more copies added to the pressing? Yes. This is all a matter of principle.

Mae seemed to copy a page out of Anberlin’s book. Anberlin did a practically identical thing with their box set. They (Anberlin) actually fell in between both ships; advertising it as a onetime pressing then decide to re-press it months later under the guise of “meeting demand” when the box set sat around for months and months without selling out. It only sold out a few days before it finally started shipping, not even before its scheduled “release date.” What is it with former Tooth & Nail bands being greedy and unscrupulous? Also no surprise Spartan Records is aboard that ship too.

There was a range of emotions regarding how Mae handled this release. Lots of people were angry and/or upset, myself included. Some people felt ripped off. Some were annoyed. Some didn’t care at all. But the majority was not thrilled about one or more aspects. Many people only bought this record because they felt it would be limited to 300 copies, and felt the hefty $50 before shipping price tag was worth it because only 300 copies were being pressed. Those were the most outspoken individuals, those who felt they were ripped off. With this blog I can appear outspoken, and many times I am. But part of why I write this blog is to highlight all aspects of any given record, any and all pertinent information about it and all the good points along with the bad points regarding it. So it can be a one stop for almost anything you’d want to know about a record. I’m not going to sugar coat anything and I don’t have too many vendettas against certain people, bands or labels. Save for Mightier Than Sword/Academy Fight Song Records and RJ. Who thankfully have seemed to fall off the face of the Earth.

If those issues weren’t enough, the band pulled the dreaded rookie move of launching pre-orders before test pressings were made let alone approved. This became public knowledge once the band posted a picture of the test pressings on their twitter on December 30, 2016. Not that tests were approved, but that they finally received the tests and the project was moving further forward. Again, pre-orders went live October 6, 2016, with an anticipated release date of March 2017.

I fully anticipated this Mae EP triple record set being delayed given all the BS that came about. So I contacted the band in late March, mainly to find out if they were still on target to ship orders in March because the month was quickly ending. So even when I was told they were “expecting the records today” I held my breath. My qualms were realized when someone posted an email he was sent on a message board.

The band apparently sent out emails to customers (not sure how many, if any actually truly got it) saying they oversold the first pressing. Inexcusable considering what they did with this release; consistently adding more and more copies to make as much money as possible. The supposed email (I say supposed and apparent because only one person claimed to receive such an email) asked the customer, who ordered two copies of the first pressing, to switch out one copy of the first pressing for a copy from the second pressing because of the overselling. By coincidence I emailed the band the same day this email was posted on the message board; I emailed hours before it was posted

A few days after I contacted the band and the email was posted on the message board, the band posted on Instagram a picture of Dave Elkins witting out hand written lyric sheets, which would be given to the first 300 orders as a thank you for being patient and being so quick to buy the record. This hand written lyric sheet posed an unseen problem for me, which turned into an ordeal within an ordeal.

Despite the band assuring me orders would start shipping the same week I emailed them (3rd full week of March), they inevitably didn’t. I waited two weeks to contact them again, asking what was going on with my order because people started posting on message boards saying they received their orders in early April. I was told they were waiting for the lyric sheets, as Dave was still finishing them up. I already knew I was in the first 300 orders because I ordered as soon as the pre-order went live and got an order in before the first “sell out.” But it was nice to get confirmation from the band I would be getting the hand written lyric sheet.

Two more weeks go by so I contact the band again to see what is taking so long, and was told they haven’t received any more of the lyric sheets. Implying Dave was sending them in small batches from Tennessee (he lives in Nashville) to Seattle (where orders shipped from). They went on to say they expected to have all of them by now (end of April) but Dave is incredibly busy. I follow Dave on Instagram, and “busy” meant painting a painting, lounging on his couch with his cat and watching the NBA playoffs on tv. That is what Dave was doing when he was working on the lyric sheets. I didn’t expect him to finish in a day or two, or even a week, but a month to write a mere nine lines 300 times? Absurd. I worked in a minor league baseball clubhouse for two years and those guys can sign 1,000 baseballs in about an hour, all before a game. And about the lyric sheets, they’re for a song that is not even on any of the EPs in this vinyl set; they’re for a brand new song that appears on a 7” Mae is charging $10 for, before shipping. And they’re written on cheap notebook paper.

You might think I’m one of those crazy people who email bands/labels/distros in an unreasonable time frame asking why my order hasn’t shipped after one day, but I’m not. I’m incredibly patient. But I felt I had to stay on top of the band about shipping my order because it was well past the point I could file a Paypal claim to get my money back, even with Paypal’s new extended 180 day window. Given everything that transpired with this release I was a little concerned about losing my money.

I finally received my record the second week of May 2017, over a month after they were supposed to ship, after having already waited since October 2016.

So now that all that nonsense is out of the way, here are the finer points of this record. As aforementioned the three EPs were pressed as a triple 12” set, with each EP getting its own 12” and unique color of vinyl. There are two variants for the set, one for the “first” pressing and another for the “second pressing.” I don’t consider there to be two separate pressings, it’s just one bulk pressing because they shipped at the same exact time and were very likely pressed at the same time too. There were first 300 copies, then 500 copies, then finally settling on 750 copies on transparent yellow, transparent orange, and aqua blue. Morning is on yellow, Afternoon is on orange and Evening is on aqua blue. The other variant, which some call the “second pressing” is limited to 500 copies on yellow smoke, orange smoke, and aqua blue smoke. Morning is on yellow smoke, Afternoon is on orange smoke and Evening is on aqua blue smoke. The base color for the smokes is clear. The first mock ups released had the records appearing more of a opaque base color (yellow, orange, or blue) with darker base color smoke. Later, the mock ups were adjusted to reflect what the records actually turned out to be.

The fine details of this release are great. For the most part, each record comes in a color corresponding dust sleeve, all of them except the yellow one. Why or how the band couldn’t find a yellow dust sleeve is beyond me. I know they exist and can be easily bought online in bulk. They found an orange one and a blue one (which the yellow record stupidly comes in) but not a yellow one. Even on of those manila envelope colored dust sleeve would’ve worked better than a black dust sleeve.

While on the cheap, flimsy side, each panel of the tri-fold jacket has the lyrics for each respective EP printed on it. So the pocket that holds the Morning EP has the Morning EP lyrics printed on it. The inner panel (the one that faces the back when the open the jacket all the way) has liner notes from the band printed on it along with a picture of the band after one of their shows, facing the crowd taking a bow of sorts. The cover is also embossed, but it’s poorly done as it’s a bit off center. Each of the letters; m, a and e are done in the respective colors that match the color of the record, and each of those letters are embossed. Only the embossing is off as it’s slightly to the right of the actual letter. I took photos of the cover at an angle to illustrate how it’s off.

Download cards/codes are not physically included with any of the records, but after you ordered the record the band sent you a download via email. The download was sent upon purchase, and was made available long before the records shipped. The audio on the vinyl version, and what is on the download from the vinyl version, is a re-mixed and re-mastered version than what was originally released from the EP’s original releases back in 2009-2010. There is not a drastic difference in the re-mix/master; it has a more whimsical feel.

 

 

 

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