Posts Tagged ‘Mae’

Mae – (m)(a)(e) (“1st” Press)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Mae – Destination: B-sides

Posted: August 20, 2015 in Vinyl
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The final piece to Mae’s Tooth & Nail Records discography puzzle was finally added when Spartan Records released Destination: B-sides on vinyl in January 2015 (pre-orders launched late November 2014). In typical Spartan fashion this was overpriced, coming in at $20 for a single LP. And in typical Spartan fashion they went overboard with variants, pressing six of them. I’m hedging my bets now that when the first pressing sells out they will quickly put up pre-orders for another pressing. I’m sure they had all the finer point details for a second pressing decided on at the same time as the first pressing.

All that aside, this release was not met without more serious problems, as they cut off portions of one song, and they didn’t tell anyone until someone complained to them about it after the records started shipping out to people. The song in question is “Sun (acoustic).” There is a silent gap at the end of that song, which is placed at the end of Side A. Spartan’s response to this was ridiculous, as they refused to accept responsibility, essentially shifting blame to the pressing plant. Here is their response:

“There is a one second silence that occurs during the end “Sun” (Acoustic) on Side A of the record. This was not on the test pressing that we approved and we are looking into its cause with our manufacturer.”

I’m calling BS on that explanation/excuse. However, despite the problem that they claim was not their fault, Spartan made good on it. They did accept returns-refunds for anyone not satisfied, but you had to contact them in order to do so. Spartan never bothered to fix the problem with the records though, however. They never had more records pressed to correct the problem. They just kept quiet about it and let the subject get buried and eventually die. I haven’t heard any chatter about it (until writing and posting this) since a few days after the news broke.

Another controversial subject was the changing of the original track listing, removing two songs from the original album in order to include two new songs for no apparent reason. I’m all for including bonus tracks on vinyl releases, but the original album needs to be kept completely intact. At least Spartan announced that difference when pre-orders went live. Here is the announcement they made:

“The vinyl version of this release has a new 10 song track listing, including two brand new recordings, “Skyline Drive 3.0” and “Where The Falls Begin 2.0.” To accommodate these new songs, two songs from the original release were omitted. The accompanying digital download includes all of the original tracks plus the two newly recorded songs.”

The two new songs are “Skyline Drive 3.0” slotted in as track #2 and “Where The Falls Begin 2.0” is track #5 (last track on Side A). They replace “This Time Is The Last Time (live)” and the hidden bonus track, “Going to School.”

Some variants (4) from the first pressing were was only sold by Spartan Records, all come housed in a Spartan exclusive gatefold jacket. The other portion of the first pressing (3 variants) does not come in a gatefold jacket, and none of those variants were sold directly by Spartan. The pressing info for all variants only sold by Spartan is as follows: 100 copies on milky clear/black pinwheel, 150 copies on white with rainbow splatter, 250 copies on white with black splatter and 250 copies on black with white splatter. The pressing info for the copies not sold by Spartan is an unknown amount on cyan blue, which was a Hot Topic exclusive that they sold for $24.50, an unknown amount on clear with rainbow splatter that was a tour exclusive (apparently only on The Everglow 2015 Tour) and 500 copies on black and white swirl, which was a Record Store Day 2015 exclusive (received the typical huge RSD markup, costing $25). The Hot Topic and RSD exclusives were announced in March 2015, even though a picture of them from a spread of all the variants was posted by Pirates Press. It should be noted that the tour exclusive may be limited to 500 copies, but that info comes via a message board post via the merch guy, and we all know how reliable message board comments can be and how often merch guys/girls are clueless. Pressing info for the tour and Hot Topic exclusives have not been officially released.

All copies come sealed and also come with a hype sticker on the cover. The hype sticker is the same for all variants regardless of pressing. However, the RSD 2015 exclusive has two additional hype stickers, one denoting it’s an RSD exclusive and one denoting “limited edition colored vinyl.” I’ve included a picture of the RSD variant hype stickers below.

At the end of June Spartan posted on social media that they had four copies of an error pressing the plant gave them, and were selling them. This error pressing was for the pinwheel variant of the first pressing, which has the colors reversed from what they were supposed to be. Instead of being mostly black with milky clear stripes/bars, the error copies are mostly clear with black stripes/bars. I’m including a picture of the error copies of the pinwheel variant that Spartan posted on social media. I contacted Spartan about buying one just to see if they were flipping them, and they were not. They wanted the same price for them that you could buy any of the non-error copies in their store, $25 ppd.


Schematic is the new band of Dave Elkins, formerly of Mae. If you liked Mae you will like Schematic. Dave started his own label, Schematic Records, which has released a few Schematic release plus some stuff from other bands. Schematic’s debut full length, Color (n.) Inside The Lines was picked up by Spartan Records to release on vinyl. And in typical Spartan fashion they charged way too much for the record, even if it’s a double LP. There is no need to charge $25 for a double LP when other labels can do it for $16. Not even mentioning they charge $5 for shipping via media mail, which is a bit high too. Fortunately I took advantage of a flash sale and got it for a fairer price, since I know Spartan will never lower the price on this album at any point down the road. It took a while, but flash sales have now swept into the music/vinyl/indie label marketplace.

There are four variants for this record with 1250 total copies pressed. There are three variants limited to 250 copies each; half & half (A/B half blue/half red, C/D half yellow/half green), A/B on red and C/D on Yellow, and both records on blue. There is one variant limited to 500 copies that is an indie record store exclusive, which is both records on red. This indie store variant was not announced when the album first went up for pre-order, it was announced to coincide with 2013 Black Friday Record Store Day. On RSD I asked my local store if they had it or would be getting it in, and the owner told me the wholesale price on it was too much and they would never be able to sell them in store due to how much they would have to charge for them.

A download code is not included with the record if you buy it from Spartan, but they do email you  a download link. The record is housed in a gatefold jacket and features different artwork than what is used for the CD version of the album released by Schematic Records.

Mae – Destination: Beautiful (1st Press)

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Vinyl
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Mae’s debut album, Destination: Beautiful, was pressed and released on vinyl by Spartan Records. I believe Spartan Records is run by a guy with close ties to both Tooth & Nail Records and Mae. The prices they charged for the record were on the high side and was also dependent on what variant you ordered, something I do not agree with at all.

The record was pressed on three colors; 180 gram black, white and navy blue with white swirl. The 180 gram copies cost $5 more than the two non-180 gram variants. And even those two variants were overpriced at $20 before shipping. For those who either can’t or are two lazy to do the math, the 180 gram copies cost $25 before shipping. To further push the cost issue, shipping was $5 for one record, and $3 per additional record should you have chosen to buy all three variants as no package option was available. Which is also a tad higher than it should be. As anyone who has bought and sold records knows, a single LP record can be sent for under $3 (actual cost, not including a proper mailer) coast to coast. The norm has become a $4 max to ship a record.

Because of the price I held off on pre-ordering this record all together, and down right refused to buy the 180 gram. I was hoping not enough people would buy it and copies would be around for months, prompting a drop in price or a discount code or a distro stepping in and selling some copies. Basically anything that would result in a lower price. Unfortunately people are sheep, especially some of the newer people getting into vinyl, and people snatched up these records at a much faster rate than expected. By the second day post pre-order launch, two variants were sold out (180 gram black and navy blue with white swirl). The 180 gram black copies actually sold out in less than two days. So unfortunately my hand was forced, as I had to buy the record for the asinine price or not get a copy at all. Judging by ebay prices and how quickly the first press sold out, I can’t see the label selling another pressing cheaper than $20. Sadly it’s the nature of the beast and sadly can’t be changed. It’s either pay up now or pay even more later on down the road. The only way labels are going to start charging less is if people don’t buy the records, but to date it has yet to happen and probably never will. The most frustrating thing is that the type of people who blindly shell out these ridiculous prices for records and ruin in for the rest are the ones who never listen to the record.

After getting the record in hand, did anything stand out about it quality wise to warrant the $25 price? Absolutely not. It doesn’t sound horrible and it doesn’t sound jaw droppingly awesome. It doesn’t come housed in a gatefold jacket or feature any special artwork touches like embossing, gold foil, spot gloss, reverse board printing or thick card stock. The jacket is not cheap and flimsy, but barely so. It’s just a regular, run of the mill release that usually sells for $15 or less. The price is even more ridiculous when you consider The Everglow cost $16 before shipping, was a double LP, in a gatefold jacket with an insert, both of which featured extensive, full color artwork. Regardless of licensing fees for this album, there was no reason it should have cost $25 or $30.

Mae – The Everglow (1st Press)

Posted: May 4, 2012 in Vinyl
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The hardest Record Store Day (RSD) release for me to get this year was Mae’s The Everglow. In the five years Record Store Day has been held, this was the first time my local store did not get in a single copy of a release I wanted. I asked them to get it, was told they would order it, but come to find out the day of they never ordered it. Which is odd because they did order the two other Tooth & Nail RSD releases. There were 1,000 copies pressed as a double LP on black vinyl. The records come housed in a gatefold jacket, which has some of the nicest artwork I’ve ever seen. The gatefold artwork may come from the CD booklet, but I do not own the CD version of the album so I do not know for sure.

It turned out this was a highly sought after release, as I expected from the get go but not to the extent it was. Of course copies popped up on ebay minutes after RSD kicked off, and prices on this record sky rocketed up over $100 by the time the sun went down that same day. The prices this record was fetching on ebay compelled even more people to put their copy on ebay, those who were on the fence about flipping it or not, and probably some people who actually wanted to keep the album but could not pass up a $100 profit. To add to the scarcity of the records, many people who bought a copy from their local store on RSD did so for the sole intent of using it as trade bait. With those people having lofty and unrealistic trade goals and refusing to budge from their want list. Those people are slightly better than downright flippers, but not by much in my opinion. Just let people who actually want to listen to the record and add it to their collection have the records instead of dragging on some frustrating dog and pony show.

As many people expected and counted on, Tooth & Nail (T&N) held back a good chunk of copies to sell online in their webstore, telling people on Twitter and Facebook to “check back next week.” Next week happened to be around 8 am on Monday April 23, which was when T&N/Merchdirect put up the first batch of records. They sold out in a matter of minutes, which prompted people to flood both T&N and Mae’s Facebook with comments complaining or begging for more copies to be sold. The later had their wishes fulfilled as T&N released several batches of the records throughout the day to meet demand and give people a fair crack at buying the record. A big catch was that either T&N or Merchdirect automatically added a free rubber bracelet to everyone’s order, which eliminated media mail shipping (the cheapest option) and tacked on an additonal three odd dollars in shipping charges on to the order total as a result. Not really a rip off or cash grab since you are getting a bracelet they sell for $3 for free, but many people perceived it to be a questionable move.

The record is now out of print, and people are back to paying big bucks for this on ebay or through other means. Although not as high as $100, but still at least double the $16 or so price tag these originally retailed for. Odds are T&N will not re-press this any time soon, if at all.

Mae/Modern Dance – Split 7″

Posted: September 6, 2010 in Vinyl
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This is the Mae/Modern Dance split 7″ on red marble limited to 2800 copies. There were also 200 copies pressed on black vinyl. Pretty sure this is the only Mae material to pressed released on vinyl to date.