One of my most anticipated albums last year was Two Tongue’s sophomore album, aptly titled Two Tongues 2. And boy, was it a huge let down. The first Two Tongues album was great. Not only because it combined lead singers from two of my favorite bands (Saves The Day and Say Anything), but the music was inherently good. But the follow up sounds nothing like its predecessor. It sounds more like recent Say Anything albums, and that should give you an indication of how disappointing this album is.

Two Tongues 2 was pressed as a single LP spread across three colors. Yes you read right, three colors. Equal Vision hid the fact that they pressed a third variant because it was intended to be a tour exclusive, and said tour was abruptly canceled with no reason given. In fact, the label really only advertised one variant and never made mention of the 180 gram black either. But people actually knew the 180 gram black exists because it’s available for sale at some places.

So here are the three colors and pressing info (which is exclusive to this blog); split white/black with purple splatter 180g limited to 500 copies, black 180g limited to 500 copies and white 180g limited to 500 copies. The splatter (which is half white/half black base) was a label/band exclusive via Merchnow, and when it sold out Merchnow started selling black copies. Black is likely a mass retail exclusive though, so if you buy this at your local record store or online anywhere you’ll get black. White is the aforementioned tour exclusive. But since the tour fell through Equal Vision is just sitting on these. They did make same available to a random record store out of Michigan, Revival Records, which now goes by the name Alien Cow Records. When I emailed Equal Vision for the pressing info I was told the white was given to Revival Records, but the store changed their name long ago to Alien Cow Records, which I only discovered via a Google search. This indie record store was given a mere five copies of the white variant, and they sold all five copies on eBay for retail price.

An insert is included along with a download card/code.  Retail price on this is around $20. Something to be aware of with this record is that they were likely not shipped properly somewhere along the way; either from the plant or from distributors. As the copy I was sent that I ordered from a distro had a seam split, and both copies I saw at my local record store had seam splits as well, which is why I didn’t buy a copy from my local store. I would say the distro didn’t pack great, which they didn’t, and they’re notorious for shoddy packaging, but considering my record store had copies with seam splits indicates the problem runs higher up the food chain. It also helps when I told the owner of my store about the seam splits, because the store is usually very good about not putting out damaged copies like that on the sales floor, and he told me “That is how they arrived to us. So we’re kinda stuck with them. Nothing else in that shipment came damaged.”

Fenix TX – CRE.EP

Posted: June 12, 2017 in Vinyl
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Fenix TX surprisingly came back to release their first new studio material in 14 years in 2016, in the form of six song EP entitled CRE.EP (aka CRE-EP) Though there are only four truly new songs on the EP, including a vinyl only bonus track to bring the total up to six songs. The four new songs are tracks 2-5; “Church And State,” “Bending Over Backwards,” “Get Loose” and “I Don’t Know What To Say.” The opening track, “Spooky Action At A Distance,” was released prior to this EP, on the soundtrack to the video game MLB 13: The Show, which came out in 2013. The vinyl exclusive bonus track is an acoustic version of “A Song For Everyone” off Lechuza.

Cyber Tracks released this EP, launching pre-orders in early September 2016 with an expected released date in November (though digital version were released in September). Initially the vinyl version of the EP was only available in ridiculously overpriced, and unnecessary bundles. These bundles ranged in price from $25 on the low end all the way up to $100. Though I will point out you didn’t have to buy the ridiculously expensive bundles in order to get a certain variant or the record in general. You could buy the record in a bundle with a t-shirt, which ranged in price from $25-30 depending on the variant. At first I assumed the price may be indicative of rarity of the given variant, but after obtaining the pressing info from the label I discovered that not to be the case.

The $100 bundle, dubbed the private show bundle, included a private show, an autographed record, autographed CD, digital download and two limited edition t-shirts, with only five bundles available. The next lowest bundle, named the online live show bundle, cost $75 and included an online live show bundle, an autographed record, autographed CD, digital download and two limited edition t-shirts, with 100 of these bundles available. The third most expensive bundle cost $50, which was called a non-show bundle, only included the autographed record, autographed CD, digital download and two limited edition t-shirts. You could get any of the three variants announced at the time of pre-orders in those bundles.

Those three variants are a bit confusing, as the label can’t even get the names of them right in their own web store. They are milky clear/swamp haze, aka bone w/ haze, milky clear/green splatter, aka clear w/ green splatter, and oxblood red. The description/name before the aka is what appears in the drop down menu when going to order any of the variants, and is what the variants were called when the record was only available in bundles. The description/name after the aka started appearing after the variants were made available for purchase outside of the bundle, which happened after the vinyl version of the EP was released in November 2016.

With that said, as aforementioned certain variants cost more when they were in bundles (the cheaper options). The splatter cost $30, oxblood cost $28 and the haze cost $25 in the bundles with a t-shirt. All had an identical t-shirt. After the variants were available outside of bundles (without being autographed), the price came down drastically to $13 each. But there was still a catch, as shipping remained a ridiculous $9 per record. So if you wanted to buy all three variants, or even just two of them, you had to pay $9 shipping per record. I will point out that the label did fix this issue, because as of writing this they lowered the shipping price to $6 flat rate.

Again, as aforementioned I assumed the different prices for certain variants meant one may be rarer than another. The pressing info spoke volumes though, as each of the colored variants are limited to 100 copies each. At this point I should mention there is another, fourth variant out there, which is black vinyl. Black vinyl is limited to 200 copies, and is only available through retail outlets other than Cyber Tracks. The label is not selling the black variant. But with that said there is a slim chance you could get one of the colored variants if you buy this from say like Amazon, an indie record store or any other online distro.  So 500 total copies pressed for CRE.EP (aka CRE-EP); the cover art has a period in the title, while the label’s official web store has a hyphen. Not sure what is going on there with the title.

I bought a copy of this EP from a conglomerate distro that operates under literally three different names, and sells on both eBay and Discogs using those three names as well, and received a copy on black vinyl, which I didn’t even know existed at the time. This distro is a supplier for many web stores out there, for example Barnes & Noble and F.Y.E., so if you place an order with them that includes records or CD’s your order will ship from this distro’s warehouse in Kentucky.

The price for this EP ranges from $13 directly from the label, up to $20 depending on where else you buy it. The distro mentioned above has a wide array of prices for it depending on from which of the retail hubs you buy from; one site might charge $16 while on eBay they have it listed for $20. Bull Moose has this listed for $16 too. As of posting this none of the colored variants are sold out, despite them all being limited to only 100 copies apiece. So it’s quite obvious they didn’t sell out of that online live bundle. I’d actually be curious to see how well the live show bundles sold.

With those prices laid out, it’s not a justified price. This is simply a standard weight record stuffed into a cheap, thin single pocket jacket. No insert or printed dust sleeve is included, neither is a download card/code. You don’t even get one sent to you via email if you order directly from the label. I stand by this whole heartedly, and I seem to repeat it with every record that falls into the category; these days it is inexcusable for any unlicensed record to not come with a download card/code.

Fenix TX - Cre.ep - Copy

 


Collecting records can lead you down some strange roads. I never thought I would buy the soundtrack to a movie about a guy stranded on a desert island finding a dead body (played by Harry Potter), befriending it ala Tom Hanks with Wilson in Cast Away, and riding it around like a jet ski that is propelled by farts. But here we are, with that record added to my collection and you reading about it.

The soundtrack to the film Swiss Army Man was composed by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell of Manchester Orchestra fame. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) even contributes vocals to some songs. It was released by Iam8bit in conjunction with A24 under license from Lakeshore Records. This is the first Iam8bit release I own, and I have to say I’m impressed. Iam8bit is a niche label that specializes in video game products and has a bit of a cult following like Mondo, Waxwork or Spacelab9.  And following in line with those labels, they overcharge for their releases. This single LP cost $28 before shipping directly from Iam8bit. I was able to buy this from Amoeba for $25 with free shipping, plus I was able to use their monthly 15% off coupon to get it for a little over $21. I always found it ridiculous that some labels charge more than physical record stores and other distros.

The soundtrack may or may not have gone through a second pressing. I know for a fact that the label was sold out of the soundtrack for a brief period, then it was suddenly available for purchase again. Which indicates they had to press more copies. The pressing info has never been released, and as of posting this Iam8bit has never responded to my efforts to find out the pressing info. What I do know is that at the very least, all copies of the first pressing (if there are multiple pressings) were pressed on “ocean” colored 180 gram vinyl. The “ocean” color is simply opaque blue with white marble, which I included a photo of.

Another indication that there may be a second pressing is that Iam8bit’s website used to have “ocean” blue copies for sale, but now they just list it as 180 gram vinyl with no color given. Also, keep in mind mock ups aren’t final and do change, the original mock up Iam8bit released had the color listed as translucent “ocean” colored vinyl. But I doubt they changed the color from translucent to opaque for a re-pressing. For what it’s worth, the hype sticker on my copy (pictured below) simply says 180 gram vinyl; no color is mentioned. I’m still waiting for a response back from the label about this.

All copies also come housed in a gatefold jacket with a printed dust sleeve and an insert of sorts. This insert is comprised of cut out/punch out paper doll characters and props that are meant to be used on the diorama, with the diorama being what I’m assuming is the inside of the gatefold jacket. The artwork was done by Mark Englert. No download card/code is included with physical copies, but if you order directly from Iam8bit they will email you a download code. Ridiculous that a label charging $28 for a single LP can’t pay for download cards.

Regarding the price of this record, some people have foolishly paid over $50 for it on the secondary market. Don’t be one of those idiots. As aforementioned, the label is selling these for $28 plus $5 shipping. Save yourself money.

 


I was finally able to track down a copy of the bonus 7” that was included with pre-orders for Dine Alone Records’ bundles released last year. It took over a year, but I managed to get one for $12 shipped. Factoring in what the bundle cost and everything in it that I didn’t want which I would’ve wasted money on, I came out ahead I think. Especially considering this 7” wasn’t even announced at the time pre-orders for the bundles went live. Plans for this 7” were only made public as way to thank customers/fans who pre-ordered a bundle for being so patient with Dine Alone. You see, pre-orders for those bundles and the records in them took nearly one year to ship due to numerous delays.

The single sided 7” features “Pleasantly Saying The Most Terrible Things,” a b-side from the Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? sessions that was previously only released on a Vagrant Records comp entitled Another Year On The Streets Vol. 3. It has a screen printed b-side. The screen printing is of the butterflies that are found on the cover art for the band’s album Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?, and they circle around the entire circumference of the record. Only the a-side of the record has a center label. There were 200 copies of this bonus 7” pressed, and they were only given out to the first 200 customers who pre-ordered any of the Moneen records or any of the bundles.

Quite a few have made their way onto the secondary market due to what I’m guessing are Alexisonfire fans who have no desire for a Moneen 7”. Quite understandable, but still no reason to try to and flip them on ebay for $40 like some of them tried. The highest any of these 7”s have sold for is $29, with most selling for around $15. I think that $29 sale was the first one to pop up on eBay, which is likely the reason for the higher price. Plenty of these are currently up for sale for around $15, but of course none of that stops clowns from listing copies for $35.


With the popularity of vinyl you get some surprising releases. One such release is the Mitch Hedberg box set. His entire discography, even though it’s only three albums, is found in the box set, along with a “36 page” book and a USB drive containing both audio and video files that span his entire career.

Strategic Grill Locations, Mitch All Together and Do You Believe In Gosh are the three albums in the box set, which the title of is The Complete Vinyl Collection. They all feature alternate artwork than their respective original CD releases. Strategic Grill Locations is the only album in the box to be a double LP, and the only one to come in a gatefold jacket as well. The jackets for each record is very thick, probably the thickest in my collection and that I have ever seen. All the albums are on standard weight black vinyl, and none come with an insert. Which is not surprising because these are comedy albums, so what exactly would they put on an insert? Transcripts of the set?

The box itself is a slip case, which is made well. It’s sturdy and fits the records and book perfectly. There is little room for the records to jostle around, which is good because otherwise there is a risk of damaging the jackets. But after seeing the superior quality of the jackets, I think they could be put in the dryer and come out with no seam splits. I think the printing of the jackets is done reverse board style, but I’m not 100% sure. There is a long, vertical hype sticker on the front of the box, which almost stretches from top to bottom. And the spines of each jacket match, which brings a clean look to the box set as they face outward.

The book is on the large size, 13”x13”, but it’s not actually 36 pages. Unless of course you count the front and back covers, which are not actually pages. There are only 34 pages of actual content. It features full color photos, writings from Lynn Shawcroft, Mitch’s widow, and “essays” from fellow comics Mike Birbiglia, Margaret Cho and Doug Stanhope. I say “essays” because they’re literally a couple paragraphs long. This blog post is longer than those “essays.” Both the front and back covers are designed to look like one of Mitch’s notebooks, with the front being the front and the back being the back of the notebook.

The USB drive, meant to replicate a credit card, can be found inside one of the jacket pockets of Strategic Grill Locations. Apparently some people had some trouble finding it. How I don’t know. Maybe they expected it to be loose inside the box. It wouldn’t surprise me if these people don’t actually play their records. But had they actually explored the contents of the box completely the USB drive would’ve been easily found. I had more trouble figuring out how to open the drive. It looks like it might slide or pull out from the plastic, but it folds open. It’s an odd and flimsy design, and I strongly advise having something underneath it to support it when you go to plug it into your computer. Otherwise it might actually break off.

Along with MP3 files of the three albums in the box set, the USB drive features MP3 files of an additional performance, Opening For The Neville Brothers. This Neville Brothers set is actually two performances from 1995, an early and late show. It’s not broken down into separate tracks, just one long audio file for each set. Two video files are also included on the drive, Premium Blend from 1998 and Mitch’s 1999 Comedy Central Special. There are lots of complaints about the playback quality of the videos, ranging from lag, random artifacts during playback and that they never worked at all. One person chimed in saying he copied the video files to his desktop and they played fine. Other people tried that method, with one saying it worked while another said it didn’t solve the problem.

I tried both methods, playing them directly off the USB drive and copying them to my hard drive. First off, both videos do in fact work, not matter where you play them from. The first video, Premium Blend, has artifacts in the form of green bars and blobs, which only happens at the beginning of the video. That is the only place they appear. This happens whether you play them directly off the USB or off your hard drive. The second video, the Comedy Central Special, has no problems, no matter where you play the file from. Both videos are a bit grainy though, but it’s not out of the ordinary as these aren’t in HD. They weren’t filmed in HD and they were upscaled for this box set either. I suggest using VLC Player for playing videos, as it’s able to not only play a wide range of video file types (MP4, MPEG, etc.) but other files such as audio files as well.

The box set is advertised as “limited edition,” but the exact number of copies pressed has never been officially released. Discogs has a number, which I won’t post here because everything on there is not only user submitted, but edited as well. So any info found on there may not be accurate. Like I said, an official number has never been made public. I only post pressing info when I can substantiate it, as in from an official source like the label or band/artist.

Retail price when this box set first came out in November 2016 was $100. As time went on the price has dropped, but not by much. Amazon, the apparent official retailer of the box set based on the press release Comedy Central Records sent out, is now selling copies for $90, which is pretty much the cheapest you’ll find this. Most places selling this are between $90-100. I was able to nab this for $73 shipped after taking advantage of a $15 off coupon on ebay.


Despite Record Store Day (RSD) growing in size and notoriety, some releases don’t get on the official list for whatever reason. Yes, RSD does reject releases. And yes, RSD does prevent many an album from getting pressed in a timely manner. Often times those releases end up coming out on RSD despite those hurdles, they’re just no on the official list. One of those releases from 2015 was Kyle Kinane’s I Liked His Old Stuff Better. This record was not on the official list, in any of the subcategories. But with that said not every store got in copies for whatever reason, but it had nothing to do with RSD allotments.  My store did not get copies in, but it wasn’t limited to certain parts of the country, it was available at stores all  over the country.

I Liked His Old Stuff Better was pressed as double LP on clear vinyl, housed in a gatefold jacket. The jacket has a matte finish and its nice quality. The gatefold has an old photo of Kyle Kinane on one panel with liner notes on the other panel. There are unique center labels for each side of the record, though they are just different shades of the same color. Sides A/B are green an sides C/D are red. The records themselves are in thin glossy paper dust sleeves; they’re almost like wax paper. I’ve never seen any dust sleeves like this before.

All copies come with a download card too. There is a vinyl exclusive bonus track, “Sold Out, Suck It,” which is the only track on the d-side. Not sure if it’s available on the download card though, because when I entered the code I got an “expired code” error message. Apparently Drop Card codes expire after two years, which is an absurd policy. There is no expiration date printed on this Kyle Kinane download card (nor any Drop Card code for that matter), I only found out the expiration date by clicking on the help button on the download website. So buyer beware if you’re buying records that are two or more years old, as the download codes may not work. I’ve never had this problem before, no matter the download card host. And I’ve only ever actuallly seen an expiration date printed on one download card for a record I own, out of the thousands I own.

I did some digging and couldn’t find pressing info for this record. Had this been an official RSD release the amount would be published. When this originally came out the price was around $20. Prices have started to come down a bit, I got this for $15 shipped, but they’re not the easiest record to find. Though more and more copies have started popping up on eBay, that used to not be the case. Discogs has a handful of copies though. At this point you’d be hard pressed to find a brick and mortar store with copies.

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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