Manchester Orchestra’s latest album, A Black Mile To The Surface, is their fifth overall. And yes, you’re right, I’m not including Hope because it’s not a true studio album in my mind, nor am I including Nobody Signs Anymore because it was never officially released. In my opinion A Black Mile To The Surface is better than the band’s previous effort, Cope. I’ve enjoyed each of Manchester Orchestra’s albums, but found Cope to be the worst of them. And I will say I think their music has strayed from my tastes more and more as time has gone on, with each album.

The band has always been strong supporters of the vinyl format, and keeping their albums accessible by not letting them go out of print for too long. A re-press is always on the horizon with them. They have also been no strangers to doing deluxe editions or special box set type releases. Their latest album is no different, as it has a special edition that comes in a hard cover book packaging, deemed a photobook by the band. But what is different this go around is that they did variants for what could be called the standard version. Though the band/label differentiate these variants as “deluxe version” and “standard version.”

There are substantial differences between the deluxe version and standard version. The deluxe version, which is featured here, is pressed on 180 gram smoke colored vinyl (clear with black smoke) and comes housed in an exclusive gatefold jacket with an exclusive insert. Yes, you read that right, only the deluxe version comes in a gatefold jacket and with an insert. The standard version comes in a single pocket jacket and is pressed on 130 gram black vinyl. Both versions come with an etching on the d-side.Because the deluxe version is on clear vinyl, it was tough to get a photo (see gallery below) of the etching, but it’s basically the cover art with the tree and person dangling from it. The deluxe version is $10 more than the standard version. It’s an interesting move by the band/label, to offer a cheaper, but no frills option for fans, and I wonder if more bands and/or labels will follow suit.

I mentioned above that the deluxe cost $10 more than the standard version, so let me clarify. Direct from the band and label (Loma Vista Recordings), the deluxe cost $35 before shipping. And it’s pretty much that price everywhere else selling it as well. The standard version cost $25 direct from the band and label. Though prices on the standard version range greatly by online retailer/brick & mortar store. Both versions are available all over the place; they’re not exclusive to anywhere. But some brick & mortar stores are only choosing to carry one of them, typically the deluxe version. Why I don’t know.

These prices kept me from buying a copy of A Black Mile To The Surface because I found them to be ridiculous. I know the days of $10 single LP’s are long over, and $15 for a single LP seems out of reach now too unfortunately, but I still strive to save money first and foremost these days. My target price is under $15 for a single LP and under $20 for a double LP, and for the most part I can meet those goals by taking advantage of price drops long after an album is released combined with discount/coupon/promo codes. I know I like to brag sometimes about how cheap I score a record for, so I’ll do it again here. I bought the deluxe version of this album for less than half of its original retail price. Only catch was the download card was used and it was an opened used copy with the shrink wrap completely torn off (though the seller did tell me he never played it).

I like to have the hype sticker(s) that come with records for completionist sake, so that was one of the concessions I had to make in order to get this record for so cheap. Personally, what I do with gatefold jackets is slit the shrink down the side to get the records out, take the desired photos, then carefully slide the shrink wrap off the jacket and tuck it inside the gatefold jacket. I’ve gotten so good at it that I don’t tear the shrink in the process, so I have no need to rip it off the jacket in order to see what is printed inside the gatefold. For the record, (no pun intended) I leave the shrink wrap on my single LP’s too. I know it’s taboo, but I haven’t seen any damage from the shrink tightening over time, even on records I’ve owned since new for over 10 years. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’ve never encountered it.

The special edition photobook is similar to the Bad Books II and The Early November – In Currents hard cover/photobooks in terms of packaging. Its 32 pages according to the item description, and the records are pressed on gold vinyl. Though the “gold” vinyl looks more like the typical yellow/orange shade that many records advertised as being on “gold” vinyl actually come out looking like. To be clear, this does not look like the first pressing of Fall Out Boy’s From Under The Cork Tree but looks more like the orange/yellow variant of the debut self-titled Bad Books album or the gold variant of Saves The Day’s Anywhere With You 7”.

The band offered a special bundle for the photobook that included an exclusive t-shirt and “The Sunnshine” music box. I’m assuming the music box plays the song “The Sunshine.” This bundle cost $80 before shipping, and according to what some people said on message boards, shipping was around $30. This bundle was initially the only way to get the photobook, and it sold out relatively quickly. But the label did put up copies of the photobook individually, without the shirt or music box, at some point after the bundle sold out.

There was some shadiness on Loma Vista’s part with this photobook version though, as initially they were selling it for $50, but than inexplicably they jacked up the price to $60. This price jump corresponded to the album’s release date though, as it increased after it was released. But I don’t think the label’s web store said the $50 price was a limited time offer or special pre-sale/pre-order price. It’s the reason why I haven’t bought it yet.

After reading this you may be surprised to see Manchester Orchestra associated with a label other than their own; Favorite Gentlemen. While Favorite Gentlemen is still associated with this, and one side of the record has their familiar stock center labels, the band did partner with Loma Vista for this album. I’m not sure why, and can’t find any press release about the band signing with them.

Because I do not have the two stickers placed on the shrink wrap of the deluxe version, I’ve included photos I found of them elsewhere online (hence no watermarks) in the gallery below. The bar code sticker does list the variant color, and the hype sticker says it’s the deluxe version and that it’s on 180 gram vinyl. The hype sticker found on the standard version makes no mention of standard or deluxe, but does say 130 gram vinyl on if as if that is something worthwhile (it isn’t).

 

 

Advertisements

Bush – Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition

Posted: March 5, 2018 in Vinyl
Tags:

In keeping with releasing anniversary editions of old albums, Bush released a “20th Anniversary” edition, albeit in 2017, of their sophomore album Razorblade Suitcase. Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition is the album’s official title, and the band made it worth purchasing even if you already own a copy of the album on any format. It comes packaging in a high quality gatefold jacket, with alternate artwork, and most importantly it comes with some good b-sides. In total Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition has four b-sides that were left off all previous releases of the studio album on vinyl (or any format for that matter), with one of them being unreleased until now.

These four b-sides are (in order of appearance) “Old,” “’Sleeper,” “Broken TV” and “Bubbles.” The lone never before released song out of those is “Sleeper. “Bubbles” was previously released on the soundtrack to the classic Kevin Smith film Mallrats, and prior to the release of Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition, the song was exclusive to the soundtrack. “Old” was previously released on the “Greedy Fly” CD single, “Broken TV” was previously released on the “Swallowed” CD single. My only complaint with the track listing of this anniversary release is that they omitted one b-side; “In A Lonely Place,” which was released on the “Bone Driven” CD single. But this was likely due to time restraints, as the D-side (where all the b-sides are located) of the Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition clocks in at over 20 minutes in length, and “In A Lonely Place” is a six minute song. So without re-arranging the track listing of the original studio album, “In A Lonely Place” was left on the cutting room floor, for a second time.

I mentioned above alternate artwork; it’s not as alternate as you’d think. It’s the original Razorblade Suitcase cover art, only with a pearlescent/metallic finish to it. Each record in the double LP set comes in a full color dust. A huge foldout poster is also included, which has the lyrics for every song printed on it. There is a download card for high quality 320 kbps MP3s of all the songs on the record, including all the b-sides.

Pressing info was never released, and I doubt it ever will be. But all copies were pressed on black/white swirl. Razorblade Suitcase: In Addition was released by Round Hill Records, who seem to specialize in anniversary re-presses as they also did the 20th Anniversary edition of The Offspring’s Ixnay on The Hombre released in the later part of 2017. This record was also released in conjunction with Gavin Rossdale’s own label, Zuma Rock Records.

When this record was first released it was overpriced; $30 was the retail price. But prices have started to come down, but only slightly. Instead of buying this for $30, you can now easily find this for the heavily discounted price of $25! My advice, wait longer for it to inevitably further drop in price, because these things are not selling well. Or use a smartly timed discount/coupon/promo code in order to save more money on it if you’re getting tire of waiting for this to drop to a reasonable price. Which is what I did to bring the price down to $18 shipped.


At some point Isotopes Punk Rock Baseball Club changed their name to simply Isotopes. It’s the same band, save for a few member changes. 1994 World Series Champions, released in 2017, is the band’s newest release and second full length album. It’s also their second release under their new moniker as well as on Stomp Records. The band/label has seemed to learn from their previous release; Nuclear Strikezone.

The price point came down, and an insert is included. If you read the entry for Nuclear Strikezone; that record was priced closer to $20 and it didn’t have an insert. 1994 World Series Champions can be bought directly from the band for two different prices. If you buy it from the band’s Bandcamp page, it costs either $17 and change or $15 and change depending on the variant (plus nearly $12 shipping for one record), but if you buy it from the band’s official website/store, it costs $15 (plus $3.50 shipping). The likely reason for the Bandcamp store to cost more is to cover whatever fees Bandcamp charges. Another factor is that since the band is from and based in Canada, so their Bandcamp page not only charges in Canadian Dollars, they also ship orders from Canada, which is the reason for the drastically higher shipping charges.

1994 World Series Champions was pressed as a single LP on two different colors; “tar” black and “bubblegum” pink, with both colors limited to 100 copies a piece. And as mentioned above, all copies come with an insert, but they don’t come with a download card. This is a moot point if you bought it via their Bandcamp page, because you’re granted access to MP3 files of the album as part of your purchase. Since this is such a small run, only 200 total copies, the above mentioned different prices for each variant of the record on Bandcamp make a bit more sense. The higher price is for the pink variant, and the cheaper price is for the black variant.

While Nuclear Strikezone appears to close to going OOP, 1994 World Series Champions is still readily available from the band and some online distros. Despite is being far more limited; less than half the run of Nuclear Strikezone. But like Nuclear Strikezone, this album also has clever baseball themed touches; as the album’s title refers to the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian team to ever win a World Series. And for a baseball themed band from Canada, that historical fact is significant.


At some point Isotopes Punk Rock Baseball Club changed their name to simply Isotopes. It’s the same band, save for a few member changes. Nuclear Strikezone was released in 2015 and is not only the band’s first release under their new moniker, it’s their first full length studio album. Up until now the band has only released EPs. Nuclear Strikezone is also the band’s first release on an actual label; Stomp Records. All but one of their previous releases were self released on the band’s own label; 643 Records. That should come across as a clever name for a baseball themed band as 6-4-3 is the scoring for a common double play. The way the album title is printed on the cover is also a clever touch in line with their baseball theme; as the ‘k’ in Stikezone is pritnted backwards; which is the scoring for a strikeout where the batter did so looking (without swinging at the pitch).

Nuclear Strikezone was pressed as s single LP on two colors; white and “nuclear” yellow, both limited to 250 copies apiece. All copies come with a download card, but it’s for crummy 192 kbps MP3s. Aside for the download card, it’s just a record stuffed into a single pocket jacket. Considering this record was on the expensive side; around $20, it’s a bit of a let down. The band is sold out of copies, but some online distros have copies left. Nuclear Strikezone is getting tougher to find, so if you want a copy you better buy one sooner rather than later.

Isotopes - Nuclear Strike Zone - Copy

Gogol Bordello – Seekers And Finders

Posted: February 27, 2018 in Vinyl
Tags:

Gogol Bordello released a new album, Seekers And Finders, in 2017, their seventh overall. I had high hopes for it because Gogol Bordello is one of my favorite bands and their previous album, Pura Viva Conspiracy, was great. But unfortunately Seekers And Finders pales in comparison to Pura Viva Conspiracy. A lot of the songs sound the same, and there is an evident lack of energy that is typically find on Gogol Bordello albums. It’s a boring album by any standard, and if not for the accordion and violin, you would never know it was a Gogol Bordello album.

There are four variants for Seekers And Finders, with all of them coming in a gatefold jacket with a full color printed dust sleeve. Despite what the appearance of the cover art suggests, the color of the cover is silver, not white. Some online images have the cover art with a white background, but all copies of the vinyl version of the album come with a silver jacket. One clever touch is the center labels, with the a-side being is labeled the “Seekers” side and the b-side labeled the “Finders” side. Pressing info was never officially released for any of the variants, but here are the colors; black, splatter , blue/white marble and translucent blue.

The splatter variant is exclusive to the band’s web store, and it’s clear with blue splatter. The blue/white marble is not actually an “indie record store exclusive,” like the name typically suggests. It’s a literal meaning, as in it’s available from any independent retailer, as evidenced by Interpunk selling copies of it. And it’s a light blue base with white marbling. I’m not sure what shade of blue the translucent blue variant is because I’ve never seen photos of it.

All of the color variants come with a hype sticker indicating the color. Only the black variant does not come with a hype sticker, which indicates that particular copy is on black vinyl. There are some sites that suggest there are separate U.S. and Euro variants/pressings, but they’re identical in every way. It’s just that some copies of the splatter variant were set aside for European distribution.

Retail price on Seekers And Finders is absurdly high; around $25 for a single LP. And if you wanted one of the colored variants you would have to spend a few bucks more compared to the black variant. If you’re smart just wait till prices inevitably drop, because they will as this record still hasn’t sold out when it was released over six months ago (August 25, 2017), and was put up for pre-order the first week of June. I bought this from Target of all places, which is selling this for below MSRP at $19.39 (they have since raised the price a bit), which combined with a 20% off code and free shipping, I bought this for within my acceptable range for a single LP; under $16.


In a rare move, Green Day released a second Greatest Hits album. An odd move for a band that is still active, especially considering they released six albums since the release of their first Greatest Hits album, but songs are only taken from four of those albums (Dos! and Tre! are not represented). As far as I know only two bands to date have released multiple Greatest Hits albums; Queen and the Eagles. And leave it to Green Day to come up with creative names for their Greatest Hits albums; with the first one titled International Superhits! and this new one titled Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band.

Say what you will about the cash grab that is a Greatest Hits albums, but Green Day has at least released new songs with each of theirs. International Superhits! had two brand new songs on it, but the band was slacking with Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band as there is only one true new song on it. There are technically two new songs on Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band, but one of them is a re-worked song off their latest studio album Revolution Radio. “Ordinary World” is that song, and it’s a sort of duet with Billie Joe Armstrong and Miranda Lambert. The other new song, which is the truly new song, is entitled “Back In The USA.” The new songs are tacked on to the end of Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band.

If the name of Green Day’s new Greatest Hits album was not enough to rile certain people up, the cover art certainly was. The cover art depicts all three main band members dressed as priests set against a stained glass window you’d typically find in a church. One nice touch with the artwork, front and back, is that the cover art for every studio album, or at least the key image (the heart grenade from American Idiot and the man with a sticker over his face from Nimrod for example) from each is depicted on it in a segment of the stained glass window.

All copies of Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band were pressed as a double LP on black vinyl, which comes in a gatefold jacket along with an insert. The insert has the lyrics from every song printed on it, which takes up both sides of the insert. It does not come with a download card though. You see, Reprise Records, along with a handful of other major labels, are starting to not put download cards in physical releases anymore. Instead, they are opting to only issue them to those who order the record from either the label’s or band’s official online store. The digital downloads are either delivered via e-mail or are redeemable after placing your order through a link on your order form/receipt. It’s yet another shady marketing strategy aimed to get people to buy records for a higher price in the form of full retail price if not for a mark up on it, and directly from the label/band so they make even more money by not having to pay middle man like a distributor to get copies out to say Amazon, Best Buy, indie record stores or other online distros. I know Reprise Records, which is owned Warner Music Group, along with Island Records and Interscope Records, which are owned by Universal Music Group, employ this no download card strategy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if every label under those respective umbrellas do the same.

Retail price on Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band is $25. But expect prices on it to eventually drop as I doubt this will sell well considering this might be the third time people are buying many of these songs. I bought this for $15 on sale during the frenzy that is the holiday shopping season.

 


After a lengthy break, the longest break in-between albums of their career, The Killers released their latest album, Wonderful Wonderful, in late September 2017. If you’re expecting another Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town or even Day & Age you’ll be disappointed with this new album. And I think you’ll be disappointed with all future Killers albums as well because this is most likely the direction the band will take from here on out. Wonderful Wonderful continues in the vein of Battle Born, but I think it’s a better album than Battle Born.

Pulling a dirty trick out of the past, Island Records released two different versions for   Wonderful Wonderful; first the standard edition followed a few months later by the deluxe edition. There are many differences between the two versions, and enough of them that will get people like me to buy both of them. Islands Records intentionally delayed the release of the deluxe edition to sucker people into buying the standard edition. It’s an old school marketing strategy that I hoped would stay in the past. But that is not the only dirty trick Island Records (along with a handful of other major labels) are pulling these days.

Aside from any visual and format differences between the standard and deluxe editions, unarguably the biggest, and worst difference is that the standard version does not come with a download card, while the deluxe edition does, at least in some form. You see, Island Records, along with a handful of other major labels, are starting to not put download cards in physical releases anymore. Instead, they are opting to only issue them to those who order the record from either the label’s or band’s official online store. The digital downloads are either delivered via e-mail or are redeemable after placing your order through a link on your order form/receipt. It’s yet another shady marketing strategy aimed to get people to buy records for a higher price in the form of full retail price, if not for a mark up on it, and directly from the label/band so they make even more money by not having to pay middle man like a distributor to get copies out to say Amazon, Best Buy, indie record stores or other online distros. I know Island Records and Interscope Records, which are owned Universal Music Group, and Reprise Records, which is owned by Warner Music Group, employ this no download card strategy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if every label under those respective umbrellas do the same.

Now that my rant is out of the way, here are the differences between the standard and deluxe editions of Wonderful Wonderful, which is what most of you are likely interested in. The standard edition, released on September 22, 2017, is pressed as a single LP (with variants) in gatefold jacket. It has the standard 10 song track listing, actually split evenly with five tracks per side. The deluxe edition, released on November 22, 2017, is pressed as a double LP (with no variants) housed in a gatefold jacket. It has three exclusive bonus tracks; “Money On Straight,” “The Man (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)” and “The Man (Duke Dumont Remix”, which are placed at the end of the standard studio album, placing these tracks all by themselves on the d-side. And because the deluxe edition is a double LP, it allows for better spacing of the tracks, so the track listing/order is a bit different, with only three track on the a-side, three tracks on the b-side and four tracks on the c-side. Not sure of any sound quality differences, but I would assume the deluxe edition sounds better simply because of this better spacing due to it being double LP instead of cramming the same album onto single LP.

Which brings me to why I bought a copy of the standard edition and plan on buying a copy of the deluxe edition as well; the cover art. Each edition has its own, unique and exclusive cover art. While they’re similar and share similar inspiration, they are different. The standard edition has a person holding up a conch shell on the cover, while the deluxe edition has a conch shell resting on the ground (what appears to be a dried up lake bed). I’m not sure if the gatefold artwork is the same between the standard and deluxe editions though, as I’ve never seen photos of the deluxe edition.

It appears as if not all copies of the standard edition come with a hype sticker, as the copy I bought from Target (yes Target sells records now) did not have a hype sticker on it. The hype stickers are all basically the same (you can see a photo of the U.S. pressing of the standard edition below); a vertical black rectangle with white and pink text. This text is basically shared between all the stickers as well, advertising all the singles and the fact it’s the Killers’ new album. The sticker on the UK exclusive pink copies are slightly different, as they say “Limited Edition Coloured Vinyl” and the deluxe edition sticker is slightly different as well with it saying “Deluxe Edition… + 3 Exclusive Bonus Tracks.”

I mentioned above variants for the standard edition, and there are only two. Unfortunately the U.S. did not get the colored vinyl variant, which made it even more expensive to obtain. The UK got Wonderful Wonderful on exclusive pink vinyl, which cost around 25 GBP before shipping. And with the exchange rate Americans’ wallets were hit a bit harder. The UK exclusive variant was flipper gold, with lots of copies selling for double retail price on the secondary market, despite pressing info never being released. It did sell out though, but there could still be 5,000 copies of it. Pressing info has not been released for any variant or edition. Aside from the pink UK exclusive, all copies for both editions are on standard weight black vinyl.

Price was just discussed a bit, but even retail price within the U.S. for this album was on the high side. The standard version cost around $25. Prices on it have started to come down though. The deluxe edition, which is exclusively available from the Killers’ official web store, costs $35 before shipping. Copies of the deluxe edition  have not started showing up on places like ebay, but the only reason for that is because they’re not flippable at $35 straight from the band, aside from them still being readily available.