Archive for the ‘Vinyl’ Category

Circa Survive – The Amulet

Posted: November 29, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: , ,

Circa Survive is back with their sixth studio album, The Amulet. The band’s latest effort is their best since Blue Sky Noise in my opinion. It’s definitely better than Decensus and Violent Waves. I know Blue Sky Noise is a bit of a jumping off point as many fans feel it’s too big a departure from the band’s tried and true, familiar sound. But personally, I loved Blue Sky Noise. Put it this way though, The Amulet sounds more like Juturna than Blue Sky Noise.

The Amulet has its fair share of variants, which has developed into a norm for Circa Survive albums. They’re either re-pressed into oblivion or get a half dozen variants to tide people over.  The Amulet is the band’s first release on Hopeless Records, so you knew they would go overboard with variants. There are 10 variants for this record, with half of them having different covers to make the new/different variant.

Circa Survive is very heavy in VIP packages for their tours; they’ve done it for both their Juturna and On Letting Go anniversary tours, and did it again for their current co-headlining tour with Thrice in support of The Amulet. For their previous VIP packages, the band included an exclusive, alternate screen printed cover, on an exclusive vinyl color, for the latest re-press of each respective album. And The Amulet is no different.

First off let’s tackle one big hurdle. Most of the variants are based on different covers, and some of them even have completely unique jackets. There are actually two different types of gatefold jackets, and what you could call six different cover arts. It sounds confusing, I know, but I will do my best to distinguish between them. To be clear, all variants come in a gatefold jacket. It just depends on the cover art/jacket type that goes along with it.

Let’s tackle the standard artwork first. There is the standard artwork that everyone should be familiar with, which once again was done by the awesome Esao Andrews, who has done the artwork for every Circa Survive release to date. It features the girl with the shell. In total there are six total variants that come with this artwork in some form, which is on the gatefold jacket the record itself is housed in. Only one of these variants is available individually, without a special alternate cover that makes a new, different variant. It’s the “indie record store” exclusive variant, which is on half clear w/ blue splatter/half black, limited to 2500 copies. I say “indie record store” exclusive because Interpunk somehow managed to obtain copies to sell.

The other variants that come in the gatefold jacket with the standard artwork are black (widely available) limited to an unknown amount, a tour exclusive variant on clear w/ blue and black splatter, and a VIP concert ticket exclusive on silver and black swirl limited to 1,000 copies. It’s important to note that all three of these variants also come with alternate covers, which constitute a new/different variant. All the variants with this version of the jacket come with the record housed in the same full color, printed dust sleeve, and the same artwork inside the gatefold. The dust sleeve is black, with a blue and white image of a slug on one side and a bell on the other. The gatefold is an image of a waves, and it has a spot gloss finish with the artwork used for the holographic jackets, which you can read about below.

On top of the standard artwork, there are multiple alternate artworks out there; seven in total. The biggest of these alternate artwork variants though are the two that are completely unique. These two variants come packaged in holographic jackets, with the holographic feature applied everywhere on the jacket. They also feature unique, but not exclusive, artwork. You can tell from the photos below (which needs further explaining – keep reading for complete details) what this alternate artwork entails. There are two different vinyl color variants with these holographic jackets; clear, and white with “transparent” blue swirl, with both limited to 2,500 copies each. I say “transparent” blue swirl because that is what the Hopeless Records web store (hosted by MerchNow) call this variant, but on the actual record the blue is not transparent, it’s opaque/solid.

The holographic jackets were initially exclusive to Merchnow, but later became available via another merch company (keep reading). The record itself is housed in full color, printed dust sleeve. The dust sleeve design is different than the one that comes with standard artwork jackets, so it’s exclusive to these two holographic jacket variants. Instead of being black with blue and white artwork (the snail and bell), it’s white with a blue and black image the slug and a bell. The gatefold artwork features the same wave as the jackets with the standard cover art, only done in the same holographic finish that is one the outside of the jacket.

Each color variant (based on record) also comes with an exclusive letterpress of the alternate cover art featured on the gatefold jacket. The clear variant has a white letterpress and the blue with white swirl has a black letterpress. This letterpress is packaged inside the gatefold jacket, placed inside the front/first pocket of the jacket. The jacket is placed inside the second/back pocket. The holographic jacket variants shipped a bit later than the jackets with the standard artwork for an unknown reason. It was about a week later, which by vinyl standards is not much of a delay to shake your head at.

The VIP exclusive variant is limited to 1,000 copies on silver and black swirl, with the aforementioned exclusive alternate screen printed cover. The artwork for the alternate screened cover is taken from the tour poster for the band’s current co-headlining tour with Thrice. It’s a quarter fold sleeve printed on card stock, that is meant to slide over the traditional jacket of the record. The back fold of the sleeve says “FALL 2017VIP EDITION” in gold/yellow text with a line below that text, and below that line it reads “THE AMULET” in grey text with the band’s safe camp logo further below that done in the same gold/yellow ink.

On top of the exclusive variant and alternate cover, the VIP package also included a general admission ticket to the regular show, an “intimate” three song VIP ticket holder exclusive performance, meet and greet with the band, a photo opportunity, a signed setlist from the show you attended and digital files for a yet to be determined live performance from the current tour. VIP ticket prices varied depending on the venue, but they were all close to $100.

If that VIP tour exclusive screen printed cover wasn’t enough, the band partnered again with Merch Limited, a company that specializes in small run, limited edition merch, to release four exclusive variants featuring four different screen printed cover designs. The band, and Anthony Green for that matter, have worked with Merch Limited in the past to release various limited edition merch over the years; ranging from shirts and hoodies, to wall flags and blankets. These four alternate screened covers were each limited to 100 copies, with a discounted bundle for all four offered that was limited to 50 units.

These alternate screened covers are quarter fold sleeves printed on card stock, just like the VIP exclusive covers, that are meant to slide over the traditional jacket of the record. They feature cover art inspired by or taken from the imagery used for The Amulet. Two of them are on black card stock, and the other two are on are white card stock. Two of them, one on each color, is the artwork used for the letterpress included with all copies with the holographic covers. The remaining two covers, one on each color, use the image on each side the center labels. So one cover per center label image. All copies are hand numbered, in silver ink, which is done of the back fold of the sleeve. In the photo gallery below, the covers go in order as per Merch Limited’s numbering system for them. So Cover #1, followed y Cover #2, and so on.

Each of the Merch Limited alternate screen cover variants slides over one of the gatefold jackets that houses the record. Cover # 1 has the record on black vinyl with the standard artwork gatefold jacket, Cover #2 has the tour variant of the record on clear with blue and black splatter in the standard artwork gatefold jacket, Cover # 3 has the holographic jacket variant with the clear record and Cover # 4 has the holographic jacket variant with the white with blue swirl record.

I was fortunate enough to be checking a message board within minutes of these Merch Limited exclusive covers/variants being announced and put up for sale, so I was able to grab a bundle for all four covers. Had I not seen it I likely would have missed out, or at the very least been forced to spend an additional $15 buying each of the four covers individually, because bundle sold out in about one hour.

As expected particular cover designs were more popular than others, and they sold out faster. Cover #2 seemed to be the most popular and it was the first cover to sell out on its own, which happened later in the night the day the pre-orders went live. It took roughly two days for the rest of the covers to sell out, which was surprising considering how limited these variants are and how rabid Circa’s fan base is. My best guess as to why it took so long for a Circa Survive variants limited to 100 copies a piece to sell out; lots of people were burnt out on variants by this point.

These Merch Limited pre-orders went live the same day as the album’s release date; September 22, 2017. But pre-orders for the album had been up since July 10. On top of that, these variants weren’t exactly on the cheap side. They cost $25 each or $85 for the bundle for all four covers. So on top of likely already having pre-ordered or received a copy of the record, or as many of the variants as they wanted by this point, people probably were tapped out financially considering the two holographic cover variants cost $25 each before shipping and the standard cover variants cost around $20 each before shipping. So you do the math; $50 plus shipping for the two holographic jackets, around $40 for the two standard cover variants (more for shipping if you bought online) and roughly $100 for the VIP ticket, then at least another $85 for these four Merch Limited variants a few months after you already spent close to if not more than $200 on this album.

Once the Merch Limited exclusive variants started shipping, at the end of October like they were scheduled to, there was a major problem. Someone at Merch Limited screwed up royally, as many of the alternate covers were folded incorrectly. They were folded smack dab in the middle of the artwork that is supposed to be the cover art. And what is supposed to be the back portion of the sleeve, the small ¼ fold portion, where the numbering is done, is folded so it is part of the front cover.  This seemed to affect random orders, both those that were for the bundle and individual covers. But this hasn’t stopped flippers from trying to flip these for more than three times original cost, as there is someone right now trying to sell the bundle with all four cover variants for $300; and it’s for covers that are folded wrong.

People with these incorrectly folded contacted Merch Limited and received varied responses to sort out the problem. Initially it took a while for Merch Limited to respond. Once they did, it seems quite a few people received a response from Merch Limited saying they didn’t have any extra/additional covers around so they couldn’t send replacements. Instead offering free merch from other artists they’ve worked with to make up for the issue. I, on the other hand, was able to receive replacement covers. I have no idea how it worked out in my favor. I sent them a polite, but stern email expressing my disappointment, and asked for replacement covers as a way to resolve the problem. Maybe the key was I replied to an already existing customer service inquiry. Because the identical email I sent to through via their ‘contact us’ form on their web site never received a reply.

Another minor complaint by comparison, that people had was that they received numbered covers that didn’t match. So for example, people who order a bundle for all four covers, or placed an order for multiple copies but a copy of differing covers, received Cover #1 numbered 10, but received a copy of Cover #2 that was numbered 11. Another combination I heard was having two or three of the covers numbered the same, but having one or two of them with a different number. What happened here was that Merch Limited screwed up again obviously. There is no excuse for this mistake either. As they should have set aside 50 of each cover and numbered them sequentially 1-50. Then numbered the rest 51-100. There should have been two separate piles of covers so people who ordered the bundles didn’t receive various numbers.

But the likely reason for the mismatched numbers is that say the first order was a person ordering only one of the covers, then the second order was for a bundle. If Merch Limited was making (by making I mean folding), or even just numbering the covers as they packaged orders, and assuming they packaged orders in the order they were received, that first order received a cover with number 1. So the rest of covers fell out of sequence until there was an order that evened things out again. But fulfilling orders like that is a rabbit hole because all it takes to go back out of sequence is someone not ordering a bundle. Personally, I received covers that all had the same number, and a relatively low one; 19.

All variants come with specific hype stickers on the gatefold jacket cover (one that houses the record), which denotes the color of the record found inside the jacket. The variants with the standard artwork all have large, clear rectangle stickers placed towards the top right corner that say what the variant is; “black vinyl,” “tour vinyl,” “VIP vinyl” or “indie exclusive splatter vinyl.” The variants with the holographic jackets have a small black circle sticker placed in the top right corner that say what the color is, along with what the variant is limited to. All copies, regardless of variant, also come with a download card. But this download card leads you to terrible 160 kbps MP3s. It’s a lame move on Hopeless’ part. Considering all the variants they churned out for this release, you think they least they could do is include high quality MP3 files with the download card.

For the photo gallery below, here is the order of the photos: Pics 1-4 are the Merch Limited Cover #1, pics 5-8 are the Merch Limited Cover #2, pics 9-12 are the Merch Limited Cover #3, pics 13-16 are the Merch Limited Cover #4, pics 18-33 include everything with both variants in/with the holographic jackets, pics 34-43 include everything with both variants in/with the standard jackets and pics 44-48 are examples of how the Merch Limited incorrectly folded covers arrived to everyone who received them (not just me).

If anyone wants to buy or trade for the incorrectly folded covers leave a comment with your email address and we can work out a deal via email (I won’t approve the comment so your email address won’t be made public. But I will still be able to read it) Thinking somewhere along the lines of $10 per cover plus shipping; only selling all 4 covers together, I won’t sell any covers individually or in a bundle/lot less than 4. These covers are folded incorrectly, as some have a crease/fold going through the cover artwork, and some are folded backwards so the back flap is part of the cover instead of being on the back. Willing to negotiate a price or trade for other records. I can send photos of the damaged/incorrectly folded covers, though some are included in the photo gallery below to illustrate how poor of a job Merch Limited did folding these coves.

 

Advertisements

Matt Embree – Macaracuay

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: ,

Completely out of the blue, Matt Embree released his first true solo album, entitled Macaracuay on August 9, 2017. Yes, I’m aware he released solo stuff under the Love You Moon moniker, which is why I tab the Macaracuay album as his first true solo album, because it’s the first released under his own name.

Matt posted on his Instagram that the album was available for pre-order on August 9, but it actually started shipping immediately. My order shipped the same day, as did many others’. However, at some point something changed and a later ship date was posted on the web store (hosted by Hello Merch).

I’m not quite sure on the pressing info for this record. Matt said only 300 copies were available, and there are two variants for Macaracuay. There is no word on exactly how many copies were pressed on each color, so you can’t assume it’s an even split, or if it’s 300 copies per color. I got the impression that Matt meant there were 300 copies total available, but even that is not concrete. To add another monkey wrench into the pressing info, it seems the first batch of records sold out, and another batch was put up for sale.

At this point the web store posted that there were 250 copies available for each, meaning each color. That information was not posted in the web store when I placed my order during the first batch on August 10. So the pressing info is completely up in the air. How can there only be 300 copies available when the web store now states 250 copies per each color. One is left to assume that Matt meant that only 300 copies were initially available, and that more copies would be available at some later date and ship later, without explicitly stating that.

I mentioned it a few times already, but here are the two colors; bone and blue/violet splatter, and clear and violet splatter. What is pictured below is the clear and violet splatter. The web store actually lists the colors with a ‘+’ instead of an and, when it should really be called ‘with.’

When I placed my order, one of the variants was sold out (the bone and blue violet splatter). Which is why I placed my order when I did, as I feared the pressing was selling very quickly. But it turns out that I rushed for no reason, because as of posting this on November 7, 2017, there are still copies available. The misleading advertising saying 300 copies definitely led to people rushing to buy the record, which is why it sold out initially. Another reason I planned on holding off on buying this is the price.

This single LP, without a download card nor an insert or printed dust sleeve, cost $25 before shipping. After tacking on shipping, the total came out to $31. That is a ridiculous price for most records, be it a single LP or double LP. The records are pressed on 180 gram colored vinyl, but that is the only thing that would drive up the cost. Other than that, it’s just a single LP stuffed into a thin single pocket jacket.

There are 10 songs on Macaracuay,  with only one of them being a new, original song. The rest are all covers or RX Bandits songs, which are borderline covers in and of themselves. The album is also an acoustic album. Matt does cover some classic songs though, like Jimi Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Marry” and “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson. The album was recorded in Venezuela, and was released on Matt’s own label; MDB Records. The original song is “Morning Sun,” and the RX Bandits songs are “My Lonesome Only Friend” and “March Of The Caterpillar.”

If you want to hear this album you have to buy this record. It’s not streaming anywhere and it’s not available for digital download or as a CD anymore. I say anymore because Matt was selling copies of the full album on CD on one of his solo tours and one off shows here and there a few years ago. Matt said on Instagram that the entire recording session lasted four hours, and as we all know only so much music can fit on a LP, and even CD for that matter. He also said that there are a possible five or six different songs found on the vinyl version that weren’t on the CD.

Matt Embree - Macaracuay - Copy


Say what you will about Green Day selling out, but Billie Joe Armstrong never forgets where he came from. He formed yet another side project, called Armstrongs, which released their first material in the Summer of 2017 in the form of a flexi disc. The sole song on it, entitled “If There Was Ever A Time,” is a good blend of Green Day and Rancid, the later of which rounds out the rest of Armstrongs lineup. If you haven’t guessed by now the group features Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame, along with Billie Joe’s son (Joey) on drums and Tim’s nephew Rey Armstrong.

Initially the flexi was limited to 1,000 copies, with all proceeds going to 924 Gilman, the legendary non-profit venue in East Bay. This pressing/variant of the flexi was released by Pirates Press Records. At some point later, New Noise Magazine featured the song on their own pressing/variant of the flexi as part of their “subscriber exclusive” issues of the zine. Though I’m not a subscriber and was easily able to buy a copy of the zine (issue #33) with this flexi (along with another issue with The Falcon flexi) ala carte directly from New Noise Magazine.

Here is a little more details about each pressing/variant. The initial run released by Pirates Press cost $9.24 (odd price, I know, but considering it’s identical to 924 Gilman, it makes sense) plus an additional $6 for shipping. In the fine print they were describing the flexi as a “donation” so they were obviously getting a tax write off for this release. The New Noise pressing/variant cost $5 for the magazine plus an additional $2.50 for shipping. That total is almost less than the shipping for the Pirates Press pressing/variant. Which is the main reason why I opted to go with the New Noise pressing/variant.

Now, I’m not against charity, especially ones revolving around music. But I’m not a fan of being ripped off. $15 is a decent price for a single LP album, not a single song flexi disc of all things. If I wanted to donate $15 (or any amount for that matter) to a charity, I would donate it directly to them. Not buy something where those responsible for manufacturing it would recoup their costs, and then donate the remaining money to said charity. So even though you spent over $15 for a charity flexi disc, the charity did not actually get $15.

There is one key difference between the Pirates Press and New Noise Magazine pressings/variants. The center labels are different. The Pirates Press release has unique artwork, while the New Noise Magazine release has New Noise stampings on it; like a stock center label. That is aside from the glaringly obvious fact that the New Noise Magazine release comes with a magazine. Both pressings/variants are on black vinyl. What is featured in the photos below is the New Noise pressing/variant. The artwork on the cover of the magazine was done by Richie Bucher, who drew the artwork for Green Day’s Dookie.

An important note about the New Noise flexi variant/pressing is that it comes glued inside the magazine (see last pic in gallery below). The ind of glue that is easy to peel off without destroying anything or leaving a residue. You can literally roll it up and slowly peel it off. Apparently the reason the zine is now gluing the flexi inside the magazine is that lots of copies of previous flexis arrived damaged. The aforementioned copy of The Falcon flexi I have was not glued inside the magazine, but it also did not come damaged. New Noise also offers different shipping options, ranging in price and packaging. The cheapest option is just the magazine shipped inside a flat envelope, while the more expensive options offers more protective packaging. All copies of the zine with the flexi also come shrink wrapped in the typical plastic bag type wrapping that many magazines come in.

Despite the prices I mentioned above, flippers are making good money on the secondary market off this flexi. Fools are paying upwards of $55 (before shipping) for the Pirates Press release and idiots are paying an average of $15 (before shipping) for the New Noise Magazine release. Bear in the mind you can still buy the issue of New Noise Magazine with this flexi directly from them online for $7.50 shipped.

The song featured on this flexi is also part of the soundtrack for the upcoming documentary Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk. Nationwide screenings of it started in late May 2017 and ran through late October.

 


I’ve been on the hunt for this bootleg for years. It wasn’t exactly hard to find, it was hard to find at a good price. As with most things, it’s not that you can’t find it; it’s that the person selling it wants way too much for it. And like most sensible people, I want the best deal possible. Copies of this bootleg 7” are all over eBay and Discogs, but for $10 plus shipping. Someone even foolishly spent over $50 on it, but granted that was about 12 years ago.

This bootleg, entitled Pick A Winner 1994 UK Radio Session, has likely gone through multiple pressings. But like with all boots, it’s almost impossible to tell for sure. There typically aren’t any identifying marks, they’re not advertised or promoted because they’re illegal, and you’d be hard pressed to find any source material for them like a label’s website. I’m basing the multiple pressings on the fact that there are at least three different variants out there, along with the fact that this was released at the very latest July 2005 as that is when a copy sold. Obviously no label is given for this release, and even if a label was given, it’s a bogus “label” that the person producing this bootleg dreamed up. But with that said, there are some notorious bootleg “labels” out there like The Amazing Kornyphone Rebirth Label and The Swingin’ Pig.

One pressing, an early one, is on green vinyl. Later pressings are on black vinyl, and within those black vinyl pressings is likely another pressing. As the copy I bought, which is on black vinyl, does not have “promo only not for sale”’ printed on the center labels. It just has blank white center labels. The cover is also slightly different between the green pressing and black pressings, with the green pressing being lighter/brighter. It’s the same basic design and layout though.

Another difference is track listing, as earlier ones have four tracks, and later ones only have three. The additional fourth track on earlier pressings is a live version of “She.” Technically all these tracks are live versions because they were performed live at a radio session that was broadcast live over the air. I don’t have a copy from the green pressing, so I can’t say exactly what this extra version of “She” is.

No radio station or show is given for this bootleg. The other tracks on this 7” are “Basket Case” and “2,000 Light Years Away” on the a-side with “She” on the b-side. The extra version of “She” is the second track on the b-side of the green pressing. I mentioned it above, but prices for this 7” range widely, but you can pick up a copy for around $15 shipped. I bought a copy from my local record store on Record Store Day for $10.

Green Day - Pick A Winner - Copy

Mae – Our Love Is A Painted Picture 7″

Posted: November 1, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags:

A few months after announcing the release of their triple EP set on vinyl, Mae released a brand new song entitled “Our Love Is A Painted Picture,” and announced it would be featured on an upcoming 7” slated to be released later in the year (2017). This is that 7”, which also features another new song on the b-side; “Light.”

To further reiterate my stance of Mae, and many former Tooth & Nail bands, being greedy, The band is charging $10 for a 7”. I know the days of $5 7”s are over, but anything over $7 is overpriced in my mind. I purposely waited to buy this till I was able to buy it for a more reasonable price. Amazingly Spartan Records, who received some copies to sell (I’m pretty confident Spartan is helping Mae with shipping all their merchandise), was running a 40% off sale on their entire web store. Spartan was also charging $10 before shipping for the 7”, but the 40% off code reduced the price to a little over $6 before shipping. I figured that was a good time to buy it, because other than a discount/coupon/promo code, the price of this 7” would never be marked down.

In another move out of the greed book, the band is charging more for the rarer variant. As if $10 wasn’t already too much for a 7”, the band felt that charging $12 for the rarer variant was acceptable. I’m sure some people bought copies of the rarer variant for whatever reason, but I’m not biting on that.

So here is the pressing info. There are 500 copies on glow in the dark vinyl, and 1,000 copies on clear with gold splatter. In this case the gold is what most people would think of when they hear gold. It’s not that weird orange or yellow color. I was quite impressed with how the splatter variant turned out. And it actually matches the mock ups released.

A nice touch with this release is unique center labels that correspond with the different sides of the jacket. Each side of the jacket has what amounts to different cover art for each song on the 7”. There is the typical cover art on the front (which corresponds with the lead single found on the a-side), but when you flip it over the b-side track has its own cover art. I’ve included photos of both sides of the jacket with their respective center labels matched up.

All copies also come with an insert, but the insert only has the lyrics for one of the songs; “Our Love Is A Painted Picture.” Not a big deal because the b-side track is an instrumental song. All copies also come shrink wrapped, with no hype sticker(s) of any kind. For the price, you also don’t get a download card/code. That is unless you buy this directly from the band. Physical copies of this 7” do not come with a download card/code. The only way to get a digital download if you buy the physical release of this single is via email after you buy directly from the band.

 

 


This record epitomizes everything wrong with Record Store Day (RSD). Not this particular record single-handedly, this is just a great example for a case study. Similar things happen with many RSD releases every year. And therein lies the bigger problem.

As RSD expanded to include a Black Friday Record Store Day, the already watered down “holiday” for record collectors and music enthusiasts that was initially intended to save and support independent record stores, became oversaturated. Black Friday RSD typically is not of the scale as the main RSD held in April, and the affects or not just limited to less releases by volume, but also by quality. Not as many desirable releases or big titles come out on Black Friday as do on the main RSD in April. Combine that with people out shopping for bigger ticket items like big screen televisions, computers, video game systems and video games, and Black Friday RSD suffers even more.

Every year on Black Friday RSD I never have to go out and line up in front of my local store waiting for them open because I could go way later in the day or even the next day, and the release(s) I wanted are still there because they didn’t sell out. And my store is one of the more popular/frequented stores in the country, not just the area. And there lies the dirty little secret of RSD; many stores are stuck with RSD releases long after the event. We’re not talking about one week, one month or even one year. Some stores still have RSD releases from 2013 that they simply cannot get rid of.

Now comes how this particular record can be used to illustrate the unsellable RSD phenomenon. Dustin Kensrue is the lead singer of a very popular band, Thrice, and his solo stuff is also popular. To accompany his solo covers album, Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood, Vagrant released a 7” with two additional cover songs left off the full length album on Black Friday RSD 2016. Initial retail price on it was around $8.

I watched a copy of this 7” on eBay that was being sold by an indie record store. They initially had it listed for that $8 price with $2.95 shipping. But as time went on they offered more and more flash sale type deals on it, where it was 10% off for a limited time. It still didn’t sell. As things continued to get worse, they marked it down to $4 plus $2.95 shipping, not a limited time sale on it; that was the permanent Buy It Now price. It still didn’t sell. Fast forward a few more months to the end of July 2017, and they marked it down to $3.60 with free shipping, which is when I bought it.

So this store took a big loss on this RSD title just to clear it from their inventory. And they didn’t drastically mark down just this Dustin Kensrue RSD release, they did it with all their leftover RSD stock. Marking LP’s down to $7 and change, and some 7” releases even further than this Dustin Kensrue release, to $2.80. There were easily over a dozen different titles listed, and there could have been more actual items because they might have multiple copies of one or more of the individual titles. I didn’t check to see if that was the case. It was just a cursory glance through their items for sale to see if this store was offering any other insane deals.

So the question begs to be asked; how long can a store that is teetering on the brink keep losing money on RSD titles, keep their doors open? Sure, RSD saved a lot of brick & mortar independently owned businesses from going under, but in the long run they might be doing just as much harm as good. A store’s entire earnings from RSD could be erased by having to take titles they can’t sell and needing to mark them down by over 50% just to get rid of them. Granted selling an $8 7” for $3.60 isn’t that big of a hit, but selling a $25 single LP for $7 and change is.

I’ll be honest; I could have bought this Dustin Kensrue RSD release from my local store, as they still had copies left after the morning rush the day of. But I was purposely waiting to buy it bundled with Dustin’s covers album. Because you see, Vagrant pretty much sabotaged their own RSD release by announcing there would be a non-RSD variant for sale online. And they offered it bundled with the full length covers album, which has yet to sell out (but that didn’t stop them from re-pressing it on a fancy color) at a discounted rated where you’d save $1 on each record.

But even with that discounted bundle option, it was still overpriced for my liking. So I was waiting for a sale or coupon/discount code to apply to my order for the bundle. That never happened, even after multiple holidays passed. Then this indie record store marked a copy of the 7” down to he aforementioned $3.60 price tag with free shipping on eBay, which is cheaper than it would cost in the bundle from Vagrant.

More Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood  was pressed on two variants, with only one of them having pressing info released. The RSD exclusive variant, which is on red vinyl, is limited to 1,200 copies. The Vagrant/Dustin Kensrue exclusive, only available from his/the label’s official web store hosted by Kings Road Merch, is on red/black vinyl. This red/black (which is what the color is called in the web store) is red with black swirl/haze/smoke. Pressing info for it has not been released.

One obvious difference between the variants that will help you tell them apart if you’re looking for a particular variant, is that the RSD exclusive has a thin rectangle RSD sticker in the top right corner. The red/black Vagrant/Dustin exclusive does not have any hype stickers. The jacket for this record is very thin, basically one step above a picture sleeve found with 45 rpm singles from the 70s and 80s.

The two songs on the 7” are an Imogen Heap cover, “Hide & Seek,” and a Mumford & Sons cover, “Sigh No More.”  A download card is included with all copies.

Dustin Kensrue - More Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood - Copy

Brand New – Science Fiction

Posted: October 24, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags:

Leave it to Brand New to do something unusual. The band dropped their fifth studio album completely out of left field, without any sort of announcement. Pre-orders went live in the middle of August and the album began streaming two days later. The band that seems to purposely shroud themselves in mystery for the sake of confusing, misleading and agitating their fan base added new chapters to their already infamous book with the release of Science Fiction.

As is typical with anything Brand New related, people went nuts when word spread about the new album being released. People snatched up the pre-order for the vinyl version of Science Fiction without hesitation. To the point where it sold out within a matter of minutes, only to be restocked and sell out again in nearly the same amount of time. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone at this point; pre-orders routinely sell out in minutes these days. What is insane about this particular pre-order, regardless of it being a Brand New album, is that people literally blindly threw money at them.

This wasn’t your typical $20 or even $25 record. Science Fiction cost $45 before shipping. And many people said their total came out to over $50 when all was said and done. There were no details regarding this release either; no pressing info, no release date/ship date, no title… not even cover art. The only imagery associated with the pre-order was a white square with black text saying “Brand New Fifth Album  Vinyl / Very Limited. Ships in October.” See photo below, it was saved directly from the pre-order page. The download link given to those who pre-ordered also said release of June 5th, with nothing available to download. Yet another hilarious touch by the band.

Due to all the excitement once word spread about the pre-order, the website for Brand New’s label, Procrastinate Music Traitors! (PMT), pretty much shit the bed. The site was extremely slow within the first 10 minutes, and wouldn’t even load after about 30 minutes. But again, this didn’t deter people from pre-ordering. It was a hailstorm of angry comments all over the internet. Message boards, social media and reddit all bore the brunt of disgruntled, desperate and amused Brand New fans, along with trolls because it was a feeding frenzy for them. The trolling was intense with this record in the first few weeks. Yes, that is how long it lasted.

I loved how one particular message board complained incessantly about how “typical Brand New” this was, and how they seemed to purposely be as vague as possible with this pre-order and provide little to no info about it; yet they essentially trolled themselves by posting nonsense, making it next to impossible for anyone interested, or not in the know at the time, to find any sort of useful information. The same handful of idiots on that message board cluttered up the thread for this record so much that it ballooned out to 12 pages in one day, with 9 of those pages being what they felt was clever, insightful and/or hilarious conversation when in fact it was all complete BS that wastes everyone’s time. Especially anyone looking for real information. Sad, because this message board never used to be like this. It was a great resource 7-8 years ago.

The trolling only got worse when people who pre-ordered the “Very Limited” $45 vinyl option, started receiving unexpected packages from PMT, with the contents being a limited to 500 CD copy of the new album. This CD is only one track, making it tougher to rip and spread on the internet. It came packaged in… you guessed it, a paper bag! All copies are numbered out of 500, which unfortunately is the only way to legitimately know how many copies of the CD were made due to not just trolling, but people who routinely spread incorrect information based purely of speculation or some other means that can’t be corroborated let alone confirmed. The label shipped all 500 CDs via one-day priority mail.

Eventually variants started being announced for Science Fiction, which again, led to chaos. In all three variants were completely confirmed, with a fourth being available but with no concrete info about it, and a speculated fifth in the “very limited,” which was just discussed. The first variant announced was oddly an Australian exclusive, which is on white vinyl limited to an unknown amount, but has the standard “indefinite pressing quantity” statement in the details of the variant. This Australian variant was being sold by Artist First, and cost $2 more than the “standard” variant (assumed to be black) from the same vendor. I say assumed because you can never assume anything when it comes to Brand New, despite the mock up for the “standard” variant depicting black vinyl. Somehow there are no pictures of a black variant anywhere online. The Australian variant cost 45 Australian Dollars, before shipping.

Next up was an indie store variant, which is on red/blue vinyl (which matches the jacket and skirt of the girls on the cover), limited to a whopping 5,000 copies. But that rather large number didn’t stop people from going nuts trying to track down a copy. With people paying over $100 for the indie store exclusive variant on ebay after stores started cutting off pre-orders for it. Keep in mind it cost $28 (before shipping) from pretty much every store. The mock ups for the indie store variant had the records being transparent, but they’re actually marbled. The first record is on red, and the second record is on blue. The blue is a light blue; not quite a sky blue or baby blue, somewhere darker than sky blue. It’s a rather unique blue. All copies of the indie store variant have a hype sticker that indicates color. What may be the “standard” black vinyl has a hype sticker that does not indicate color.

I will say I didn’t bother with any of this hype, for any of the variants. I anticipated my local store getting plenty of copies in, and they did, and I was able to easily buy a copy on release day; October 20, 2017. My store was even one of the stores to do online pre-orders that brought so much traffic to their web site it basically shut it down. I even got $10 off as my store has a loyalty program, where you get $10 off for every $200 you spend, which can accumulate over time; it doesn’t have to be all in one purchase.

So I had zero stress and aggravation getting a copy of this record, and I got it for pretty cheap all things considered because I don’t see theses ever going on sale to the point where I’ll save $10 on it or the equivalent price I wound up paying. With the “indefinite pressing quantity” pinned to this release by the label, they will just keep pressing more to meet demand. The “I Am A Nightmare” 12”, “Mene” 7” and the demos 10” they released a few years ago hasn’t ever gone on sale, anywhere, nor have they gone out of print.

The last variant announced was an Urban Outfitters (UO) exclusive, on clear vinyl limited to 5,000 copies. The UP variant also cost $28 before shipping and/or tax. By this point lots of people were worn out, either financially or mentally, maybe even both. Nobody went nuts of the UO variant. It never sold out. But after release day people who pre-ordered said their orders haven’t shipped. UO still hasn’t learned how to deal with pre-orders/highly anticipated releases effectively in terms of shipping orders. Not that they ship online orders in a timely manner to being with.

All copies of Science Fiction come in a gatefold jacket, which is very thick. Probably one of the thicker jackets in my collection, gatefold or not. There are nice elements of gold foil stamping inside the gatefold jacket and on the back of the jacket where the track listing is printed. Each record in the double LP set comes in a printed dust sleeve, but these are somewhat thin paper and can suffer seam splits rather easily. One of the sleeves of the copy I bought in person from a brick & mortar store had a seam split along with side. Also included is a huge double-sided fold out poster. There is a download card through Bandcamp, so you can choose any format of mp3s you want, which is nice. The artwork on the download card is random and really doesn’t make much sense in regards to the album. If you order directly from the label you will get PMT release stickers, which they typically send out with all orders. In the case of Science Fiction, it’s catalog number 009, so the sticker will reflect that.

One important note with the record is that all copies come in sealed, but they’re placed inside a poly sleeve. This poly sleeve is where the hype stickers are located. There are two hype stickers; one is a small pink circle PMT release sticker and the other advertises this specific release. It says the band’s name and the album title, and for the indie variant, says “red/blue vinyl, limited.” There are no stickers affixed to the jacket itself, nor the shrink wrap directly on the jacket.

As of posting this the only variants released/shipped are the indie store exclusive, UO exclusive and the “standard” variant. Not sure about the Australian exclusive, I haven’t even seen pics of it yet. For all the fuss made over the potential “very limited” variant, it has not shipped yet. The label refuses to give a release date for it, and the answer they give anyone who asks about it is “it’s still a pre-order item.” Personallly, I find it hilarious that people who blindly spent over $50 on something still don’t have it, when people like me, who didn’t partake in any of the pre-ordering nonsense, already have a copy in hand; for less than half the price of the “very limited” variant, if that even exists at all. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brand New pulls another fast one on their fans and the “very limited” variant is exactly the same as the rest of the variants, just on a different color. And the extra money charged for it was to cover the CD sent to people and the one day shipping costs.