Archive for January, 2018

311 – Greatest Hits ’93 – ’03

Posted: January 30, 2018 in Vinyl
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Around the same time 311 was embarking on their annual Summer Tour in 2017, it was announced that their greatest hits album would be released on vinyl for the first time. The greatest hits album, which has the official title of Greatest Hits ‘93 – ’03, was pressed as a double LP on black vinyl. It comes in a gatefold jacket, with the records housed in anti-static dust sleeves as opposed to the more traditional paper dust sleeves. A download card is also included, which a nice touch for an old compilation album, especially considering major labels like Warner Bros. and Universal are not even including download cards in a lot of their new releases these days.

This greatest hits comp is worth getting for the somewhat exclusive song on it; the Morrissey cover “Love Song,” which was recorded for the movie 50 First Dates. Along with that song, there are two more unreleased (at the time Greatest Hits ‘93 – ’03 was first released in 2004) b-sides on this greatest hits comp; “How Does It Feel” and “First Straw.”

Retail price on this, as with most 311 releases it seems, is around $25. But like with most 311 releases, prices will eventually come down because it doesn’t sell well. I learned my lesson with this the hard way. It took several months, but prices have finally started falling. I was able to snag this for $15 shipped.

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311 – Mosaic

Posted: January 30, 2018 in Vinyl
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311 is still going strong, releasing their 12th studio album in 2017; Mosaic. Mosaic continues on the track of the band’s two previous efforts in Universal Pulse and Stereolithic, but does take it up a notch in terms of quality. It has more of reggae vibe than the metal, alternative and hard rock touches found on their earliest albums. Not that Mosaic doesn’t have any of those elements on it, it’s just not as prevalent as say Grassroots, their self-titled album or even From Chaos. The only thing counting against Mosaic is that it’s just too long of an album. I found my interest starting to wane towards the end of the album both from the length of the songs themselves, and the monotony of them. Those two go hand in hand; because most of the songs are close to if not over four minutes in length. Songs started blending together after a while, and it became tougher to listen intently in order to critique the album.

Mosaic was pressed as a double LP housed in a gatefold jacket, and in an interesting move, the band released several variants for it. Not that 311 albums haven’t had variants in the past, but those that did were licensed out to other labels trying to cash in on the resurgence of vinyl. This album was released by major label BMG/Sony, so it’s even more surprising to see variants. In total there are three variants, with all of them being exclusive to somewhere.

There is a white variant that is exclusive to FYE, a translucent coke bottle clear variant that was exclusively sold on the band’s 2017 Summer tour, and a black variant that is the mass retail exclusive. So if you buy a copy from any retailer other than FYE, you will receive a copy on black vinyl. Each variant has its own unique hype sticker too, which helps you identify the variant. The white FYE exclusive has a white vertical rectangle hype sticker that says “FYE exclusive” and “white vinyl” on it. The FYE hype sticker is slightly larger than the hype stickers found on the rest of the variants, but it has the same basic design. You can even see that it was meant to have the same design and layout as the rest of the hype sticker, but an extra portion was added to the length/height of the sticker to accommodate the “FYE exclusive” text. The tour exclusive on coke bottle clear has a teal hype sticker that says “translucent coke bottle clear variant” and “limited edition” on it. It makes no mention of it being a tour exclusive, but don’t worry, it is. The black variant has a blue hype sticker that is similar in design to the hype sticker on the tour exclusive variant. But it does not mention color.

Pressing info has not been officially released for any of the variants. So don’t believe any numbers you see published anywhere. It’s all pure speculation or even worse, taking the word of an ebay flipper as gold. And if there is one person we all know is trust worthy, it’s someone who is trying to sell something they bought for $25 with the sole intention to resell it for over $100 the very next day.

All copies come with a huge, one sided fold out poster. But this poster is just the album artwork enlarged. What makes this poster a bit more understandable is that the band asked fans to send in photos of themselves in order to include the photos in the cover art. So this enlarged posters allows fans a slightly better chance to find their photo. A download card is also included. The lyrics are printed inside the gatefold. The center labels of each record are different colors; A/B is purple and C/D is light blue.

When Mosaic was first released retail price on it as on the high side; $25. The tour exclusive was $30 at shows. But like with most 311 releases, prices will eventually come down because it doesn’t sell well. I learned my lesson with this the hard way. It took several months, but prices have drastically fallen. You can buy Mosaic on black vinyl for $15 or even less as of posting this.  I bought my copy for $10 shipped, and that was after losing out on a copy by a mere 49 cents a week earlier. But I got the last laugh there because I was able to snag the next copy the ebay seller listed for $9.99 with free shipping. Because the white and coke bottle clear variants are “limited” they are still fetching more on the secondary market, but prices are not crazy, even for the tour variant which is now unavailable from a retail perspective. The highest a tour variant has sold for is $150, but that was after the first few dates of the tour. Prices have steadily declined ever since that initial sale on the secondary market; dropping all the way down to the original price of $30.


Foo Fighters are back with their latest album Concrete And Gold, the band’s ninth studio album. Concrete And Gold is much better than Sonic Highways. Can we just forget that album ever happened and have this be the deserved followed up to Wasted Light?

There are elements of math rock, and lots of syncopation on Concrete And Gold. Some songs are very technical with lots of dynamics; a lost art in today’s era of overproduced, auto tuned garbage. It’s like they went back to the basics of music composition to shore up the foundation that was weakening beneath them. But with that said, there are hints of the producer, Greg Kurstin, taking a song to another level. Not so much overproduction, but what a producer used to be before the days of garage band and pro tools turning anyone with a computer and a guitar bought at a big box store into a “musician.”

In order to grasp the scope of this record, you need to watch the mini documentary Dave Grohl released about the recording process of Concrete And Gold. When I say mini, it’s roughly six minutes in length, and it’s animated. One of the reasons I loved Wasted Light was because of how that album was recorded. While Concrete And Gold strays away from those roots, it’s a far more coherent album than Sonic Highways. The one running theme carrying between all three of these albums though is guest musicians/vocalists. Concrete And Gold has its fair share of guests, ranging from Justin Timberlake to Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men to Sir Paul McCartney (on drums no less. what can’t he play?). Drummer Taylor Hawkins even gets lead vocal duties on one song; “Sunday Rain.” Which led to Grohl joking in a tv interview that it’s always been his dream to get Taylor to sing more, so he could quite the band and go to one of their shows to watch them.

Another thing that carried over from Sonic Highways is variants for the vinyl version of the album. If you remember, Sonic Highways had several different covers, one for each city a song was recorded in, along with a composite cover featuring the complete artwork. Concrete And Gold thankfully does not have as many variants; only two. But both are based on the cover art/packaging. There is the main, widely available variant, which has the main album artwork, the one we’re all familiar with. Then there is the quasi Spotify exclusive cover/packaging that was exclusively sold by merch company Merchbar, dubbed the “Black-on-Black Edition.”  The link wasn’t intended to be made publicly available, but as soon as someone found it or was given access to it, of course it was posted all over the internet. This was intended to be a “reward” for people who listened to a lot of Foo Fighters songs on Spotify, as initially only links were given to them, but you didn’t have to put in a code or anything like that to buy it. So in reality anyone could buy this if they followed the link.

The “Black-on-Black Edition” has the same basic artwork, with the Concrete And Gold logo on it, but it’s all black. The Concrete And Gold logo is embossed on the “Black-on-Black Edition,” which is exclusive to this variant. If you ordered the black-on-black- edition variant online, a free sticker o the Concrete And Gold log was included (see photo of it below). This variant was advertised as being limited edition, but without pressing info listed. It took a few weeks for it to sell out, despite what many flippers would like you to believe. Initially the “Black-on-Black Edition” was only available online. Retail price on it was $20 before shipping, which is about the same price the standard variant is being sold for.

As expected, this “Black-on-Black Edition” was flipped extensively. It seems like at least 60% of copies bought were bought just to flip, with one person buying at least eight copies to flip. Ebay was littered with copies in the days after it shipped, with flippers not even bothering to take the record out of the box in order to photograph it. They listed it with photos of the record sitting inside the opened box it originally shipped in. Initially prices were out of control for it, selling for over $100 at auction, with majority of flippers listing them as a BIN with prices over $100. But in the month or so since the album was released, prices have fallen drastically, with copies routinely selling for closer to $50.

Both variants come in a gatefold jacket, with the artwork inside the gatefold being the same for both. Both variants also come pressed on standard weight black vinyl, with the same etching on the d-side. The phrasing on the web store selling the “Black-on-Black Edition” claims “audiophile grade 140 gram vinyl,” but don’t believe that hype. It’s just a buzz word used to drive up sales. All copies come with a download card, which gains you access to high quality 320 kbps MP3s. Only the regular jacket variant comes with a hype sticker.

Getting back to the etching, it’s rather bland as at first it appears to just be text for a random website. But when you go to the website it leads you to a song book with sheet music for every song on the album, which can be downloaded for free as a PDF file. You have the option to download the sheet music for each song individually, or download the entire book. It’s an interesting addition, especially when you consider song books are one of the new trendy things bands are printing up and selling to their fans for 20 bucks a pop.

Retail price on the standard variant is around $20. Of course some retailers may sell it for a little more, or even a little less. I bought a copy for around $15 shipped. Considering this is a double LP, I don’t see many places discounting this record any less than that price. I mentioned above that the “Black-on-Black Edition” retailed for $20 (before shipping) online via MerchBar, but once the band’s headlining tour in support of Concrete And Gold kicked off, they were selling copies of it at the shows, but for $25. Considering shipping cost around $5 from Merchbar, it’s essentially the same price.

Because of my stance on refraining from pre-ordering records, I missed the boat on the “Black-on-Black Edition.” I planned on buying it, but held off after seeing it sell so slowly. Like I said above, it was available for weeks. In a cruel twist of fate, when I finally convinced myself to go and pre-order it because it was getting close to release date, it was sold out. It was still available the day before. Even with this strike out, it’s one of only a few records/variants I missed out on through my somewhat diligent no pre-ordering policy these days. But the game went into extra innings and I got another chance to buy the “Black-on-Black Edition” for retail price via the official Foo Fighters store, as more copies of it would put up for sale online there.

 

 

 

 

Foo Fighters – Big Me 7″

Posted: January 25, 2018 in Vinyl
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One of the last few records needed to complete my Foo Fighters collection; the “Big Me” 7” was not so much hard to find as it was finding for a decent price. This 7” pops up for sale on a regular basis, but usually winds up selling for more than I’m willing to spend for a multitude of factors. It’s not as expensive at their most expensive record, the “Everlong” 7”, which can sell for over $100, but the “Big Me” 7” is a UK release, and very few of them were imported to the U.S.. And that makes it inherently more expensive to buy for Americans. The song being the band’s breakout hit doesn’t help much either.

Copies of this 7” routinely sell for $20, but when you consider majority of them have to be imported from somewhere in Europe, that price immediately jumps up at least another $10. So when I saw a U.S. based seller selling one on ebay not too long ago, I jumped on it. I wound up spending a tad more than I would’ve liked, but I bit the bullet in order to check this off my want list. It was sitting on that list for literally over a decade. Which brings me to the next hurdle in trying to snag this 7”; condition.

Seeing as the “Big Me” 7” was released back in 1996, lots of copies have not aged well. Many were cut up in order to fit into jukeboxes. Others have damaged jackets simply due to age because they weren’t printed on the best material to begin with. Some have random price tags stuck onto the cover that would be impossible to get off. Circling back to the damage I just mentioned, considering most copies being sold had to be shipped overseas, the damage risk went up even more.

All copies of the “Big Me” 7” were pressed on white marble, with some copies having slight marbling to them. There is a black circle hype sticker on the cover of all copies as well, which says “Special Edition White Vinyl.” The record has a small hole, not a large hole. Don’t be fooled by people selling copies with a large hole saying that is how the record was originally released. That person is selling a copy that was cut in order to be used in a jukebox. The jacket is made of weird card stock type material, but it’s not the thick modern card stock most of us are familiar with. It’s somewhere between a paper sleeve and a traditional 7” jacket. The track listing has “Big Me” on the a-side along with “Floaty (BBC Evening Session Recording)” and “Gas Chamber” (BBC Evening Session Recording)” as the lone track on the b-side.

Foo Fighters - Big Me - Copy

At The Drive-In – Diamanté 10″

Posted: January 22, 2018 in Vinyl
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I wanted two things for Record Store Day (RSD) Black Friday this year, and as per usual I didn’t have to venture out and deal with the madness that is Black Friday; I was able to easily order both releases I wanted online for pretty much the same price had I went to my local store. Not that my particular store gets a crazy long line or unruly people for RSD Black Friday, it’s dealing with all the traffic and nut jobs on the roads around me on Black Friday. My local record store is literally sandwiched roughly two blocks between two separate malls, on a major highway littered with smaller strip malls and stand alone stores that along with the two malls, are frequented on Black Friday. So all the traffic and people driving like idiots can turn what usually is a painless 15 minute drive at most, into around an hour of headaches and frustration.

This At The Drive-In release, a 10” EP with three new songs, is one of the aforementioned releases. The EP is entitled Diamanté, and it was pressed on two variants (as of now – keep reading). This release was advertised as being limited to 3,000 total copies but there is a catch. Some time after the official RSD Black Friday list was released, the band and Rise Records (who released this EP) announced that there would be 100 copies on a randomly inserted variant on black/”doublemint” vinyl. Which meant that the main variant on coke bottle green with bone splatter, is actually limited to 2,900 copies. Eventually the official RSD web site was updated with this information, but the list in .pdf form makes no mention of the different variants, just “3,000 copies.”

All copies come with the same hype sticker on cover, which does not denote color. If they did that it would pretty much eliminate the secret/hidden variant wouldn’t it. The bar codes are the same, so there is no way to tell what the variant is without opening the record. All copies also come with a download card, but it nets you awful 160 kbps MP3s. The band announced that the Diamanté EP would be released via all digital outlets on January 26, 2018 , so at least maybe then higher quality MP3s will become available. Either way, it’s a lame move on Rise’s part to include such low quality MP3 files with the vinyl version of this release.

This release is pretty bare bones too. Aside from it being on colored vinyl, it’s just a record stuffed into a thin single pocket jacket. Combined with the low quality MP3s via the download card, I would typically say this release is overpriced. But since this 10” is on the cheap side, around $10, it’s not so bad. I’m actually astonished that not only a 10” is so cheap, but an RSD release is so cheap.

An interesting thing with this RSD Black Friday list, as it’s under the “RSD First” banner. Which may mean it will see a wide release at some point after RSD Black Friday.  The hype sticker on the RSD copies does say “limited edition first pressing” so odds are Rise will re-press this. But given how badly they overestimated the demand for At The Drive-In’s latest album, it’s not a certainty that Rise will actually re-press the Diamanté EP. It’s pretty easy to find on the secondary market for retail price, and even larger indie record stores like Amoeba and Bull Moose had copies leftover (my local store however, which is a popular/highly trafficked store, did not have copies leftover) to sell online.

At The Drive-In - Diamante - Copy

 

 


In 2015 New Found Glory and Yellowcard embarked on a co-headlining tour. To commemorate the occasion the bands released a tour exclusive 7” featuring each band covering one song off each other’s latest album. So New Found Glory playing a Yellowcard song and Yellowcard playing a New Found Glory song. NFG covers “Illuminate” off Yellowcard’s Lift A Sail and Yellowcard covers “Ready & Willing” off new Found Glory’s Resurrection.

The official title of this split 7” is Fall 2015 VIP Split, which I gathered from what is printed on the download card included with all copies. Pressing info was never released, but the 7” was only pressed on half yellow/half black split. And that is not the only clever touch with this release, as each side of the jacket has its own cover art, which is the artwork from each band’s respective studio album. So the NFG side (a-side) has the cover art for Yellowcard’s Lift A Sail with text saying “New Found Glory” and the song title they’re covering, and the Yellowcard side has the cover art from NFG’s Resurrection with text saying “Yellowcard” and the song they’re covering.

Initially the only way to get this 7” was not to just go to one of the shows, but to buy a VIP package/upgrade where one of the exclusive items was a copy of this 7”. Other items included with the VIP ticket was a tour poster, tour laminate, meet and greet with both bands and early entry into the venue for the actual show. You could either buy a VIP package that included a general admission ticket for $80, or a VIP “upgrade” for $55 that did not include a general admission ticket. I guess the upgrade was for lucky people who go to venues where tickets are cheaper than $25. In December 2017 leftover copies were finally put up for sale online, being sold in NFG’s official web store (newfoundglorystuff.com) for $7 plus shipping.

This record highlights all the bad sides of records as well as the good sides. Say what you will about tour releases, but personally I despise them. I feel this way for two reasons; one being that it excludes lots of people from access to the release (either just the physical release or in some cases being able to just listen to it at all, even with how extensive file sharing via the internet is). The second is it encourages flipping.

Let me touch on the first one. If the tour doesn’t stop anywhere near you odds are you’re not going to be able to buy it. So that immediately eliminates people from places like North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, etc. And that is not even considering people who don’t live in America, where majority of these tour only releases happen. And before you say “well, lots of people in those circumstances drive however far away the nearest tour stop is and get a hotel;” not everyone can afford to do that. So for all these bands that say things like “we want to reward our fans by releasing this special record” should rethink that approach.

The second reason is quite obvious, as when something as inherently hard to come by as a tour exclusive release happens, people inevitably buy it to for the sole reason of flipping it. And that can screw over people who did actually go to the show with the hopes of buying a copy with genuine intentions, as it may sell out before they get to the merch table. I know the later part of this doesn’t apply to this specific tour release, but it still applies to a lot of them.

Now let me get to the positives about this tour release, as New Found Glory eventually put up leftover copies of it online for $7, albeit well over two years after the tour ended. But sadly this still led to people trying to flip the record. It’s quite pathetic and hilarious at the same time, as this tour split 7” was next to impossible to find on the secondary market. But as soon as leftover copies were put up for sale online, the secondary market was flooded with them. Seemingly overnight copies started showing up for $25 on up, when like I said, it cost $7 plus $6 and change shipping in NFG’s merch store.

So I’m glad I waited to buy this tour split instead of paying an arm and a leg to get one of the few and far between copies that popped up on the secondary market. And ultimately I feel like I got the last laugh as I was able to buy this 7” for less than it would’ve cost me to go to one of the shows on the tour and pay for the VIP package, which either cost $55 for the upgrade or $80 for the VIP package. Figure $25 for the actual show ticket, $15 for the tour poster and this 7” cost $40.


Dustin Kensrue has had a somewhat prolific solo career so far, releasing five solo albums. But only two of them actually contain brand new material. His latest solo effort is not one of those albums, as it’s a covers album. So the only thing left for him to release is a live solo album and we’ll be all set.

Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood was released in April 2016, and has inexplicably gone through two pressings despite the first one never selling out. The first pressing (featured here) was done on 180 gram black vinyl limited to 1,000 copies. The second pressing was released in November 2016 and was pressed on red with black smoke vinyl limited to an unknown amount of copies. Both pressings cost $20 before shipping, and are exclusively sold by Kings Road Merch. When the first pressing was put up for pre-order in February 2016 there was the option to buy the record with an autographed lithograph of the cover art, which cost $30. This bundle along with another one that includes a copy of the second pressing with a copy of the accompanying covers 7” (entitled More Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood)  costing $26, are still available.

This album was apparently recorded live, as there is crowd noise (in the form of applause after each song), but this fact was not plainly advertised. It wouldn’t have swayed my interest in buying the record, but it’s a fact that should have been made known. Dustin covers a wide range of artists on Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood, ranging from an early Bruce Springsteen song (off the album Nebraska), to Brand New to Miley Cyrus.

All copies, from both pressings, come with the record in a full color printed dust sleeve. This dust sleeve is on glossy paper, and doesn’t really have much information it. One side has the track listing and the other side has the liner notes. A download card/code is also included, and in a redundant move, you’ll also get a download code emailed to you upon ordering as well.