Posts Tagged ‘Portugal. The Man’

Well, if you wanted Portugal. The Man to inexplicably become a hip-hop band, you got your wish. With their latest train wreck of an album, Woodstock, they’re appealing to the lowest common denominator. Somehow the lead single “Feel It Still” went gold, which just proves how bad America’s taste in music actually is. They make jokes about selling out and sell t-shirts saying “I Like Portugal. The Man Before They Sold Out;” but that is exactly what they did. They even have hype men, yes, men, not one lone hype man, perform on stage with them. All they do is flail their arms around trying to get the crowd to put their arms in the arm, but maybe 10 people actually do it. The rest just stand there. These hype men also double as background dancers. Fall Out Boy doesn’t even have choreography. That speaks volumes of what Portugal. The Man has become. They barely get any applause after songs now. I would say it’s sad, but they brought this upon themselves.

You could see their sound start to shift on their last album, Evil Friends, but I don’t think anybody saw Woodstock coming. I really enjoyed Evil Friends, but I find Woodstock a complete disgrace. The band has resorted to making memes poking fun at how bad Woodstock is. But hey, they landed another big national commercial spot with one of their songs, so who cares right?

To make matters worse, the vinyl version of Woodstock was delayed, with the deluxe box set delayed even longer than the standard vinyl version. To make up for this the band and/or their label, Atlantic Records, decided to send everyone who pre-ordered the deluxe wooden box set a special gift to make up for the long wait. This special gift was a “no vinyl” version of the album. This “no vinyl” version is literally an empty jacket. The jacket is about a plain as you can get too; plain white with a white embossing of Atlantic’s logo in the center, and a hype sticker in the top left corner explaining the “no vinyl” version. On the back are fake excuses as to why the vinyl version of Woodstock is delayed, and mixed into it are quasi political statements. Also included with the “no vinyl” version is an exclusive poster and download card.

Because the deluxe box set was delayed even further, the band and/or label decided to further apologize for it by sending everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the standard vinyl version free of charge. They supposedly sent out emails to everyone who pre-ordered the deluxe box set explaining this, but I never got one. Which resulted in me having to email customer service asking what was going on with order to finally receive my free copy of the standard version. This standard version comes in a gatefold jacket that has the traditional album art on it.

I finally received my copy of the deluxe box set on October 10, 2017, after a yet another delay. Initially, the deluxe box set was suppose to come be released on September 29, but it got pushed to the next week and didn’t started shipping till October 5. And let me say, the deluxe box set was not worth the wait. It’s a severe disappointment. The price tag for the deluxe box set was $40 plus shipping, which was an additional $9 for me.

The mock up given with the deluxe box set in the band’s official web store was 95% accurate, and it was listed as soon as pre-orders went live at the end of May 2017. No idea why it took so long to be released. Here is what comes with the deluxe box set: the record on 180 gram black vinyl packaged in an exclusive printed inner sleeve, “Feel It Still” 7” featuring alternate takes of “Feel It Still” with perforated blotter paper insert, a 24” x 36” fold out poster, six 8” x 10” band photos, a button, a slipmat, three sticky passes, a Bumper Sticker and a download card. All that stuff comes packaged in a hard cover slip lid box, which has the artwork from the standard vinyl version on it. The cover art and artwork on the back of the jacket are replicated on the box set. Even the artwork from inside the gatefold jacket with the standard version is replicated on the box set, as it’s printed inside the lid.

I mentioned above that the mock up in the band’s official web store was 95% accurate; here is where it differs. The mock up shows the “Feel It Still” 7” being on black vinyl when in fact it’s on maroon or ox blood colored vinyl. The 7” features four different alternate takes of “Feel It Still.” The album version of the song is not found on the 7”. Here is the track listing for the 7”:

A1 – Feel It Still (Alt-Structure Pre-Final)

A2 – Feel It Still (Day One)

B1 – Feel It Still (Structure Rework)

B2 –  Feel It Still (So Young Placeholder)

The 7” also comes with a blotter paper insert. It really has nothing to do with the record itself; while it somewhat relates to the band, it’s a completely random and unnecessary thing to include with a record. If you don’t know what blotter paper is, at least in the context it’s meant to be in for this instance, it’s most commonly used for dropping acid. Doses of LSD are most commonly distributed on little square sections of blotter paper, and the insert with this 7” has the perforations to divide it up by these tiny squares.

It’s important to note that depending on how you view things; the box set 7” may in fact be the second pressing of the single/release, as it was pressed as a 5” flexi post card for Record Store Day (RSD) that was only available from Music Millennium, an indie record store in Portland, Oregon, the band’s defacto hometown. It was mainly a gimmicky promo item and was used to gain entry into the band’s instore performance at Music Millennium on RSD. The store did put remaining copies of the flexi post card up for sale online for $5 plus shipping. Some people who bought copies online said they arrived bent, which isn’t surprising. I held off on buying the flexi post card once the deluxe box set was announced because I’d rather have an actual record than a flexi if given the choice. I do collect flexis though.

The other inaccuracy is not so much an inaccuracy but an omission. There was no mock up given for the slip mat. As you can tell from the photo below, it’s classic Portugal. The Man artwork, which was likely done by The Fantastic The, or better known as John Gourley, front man of Portugal. The Man. Those two things are the only things different from the mock up.

The sticky passes are a bit of a disappointment. They were advertised as being similar to VIP or Backstage Passes distributed at shows, and they’re very small. Most passes I’ve seen and been issued at shows/festivals are far bigger. A slight mix up with the sticky passes included in this box set is that they have “All Access Photo” printed on them, so they’re technically not VIP or Backstage Passes; they’re press/media pass replicas.

The poster, while on the large side, is a bit of a disappointment too. Especially when compared to the poster that was included with the “no vinyl” version. Instead of artwork, one side is a terrible live photo of just John (not worth mentioning the roadie in the background) while the reverse side has the lyrics printed on it. So if you were only to buy this deluxe box set of Woodstock, the only way to read the lyrics as you listen to the album is to awkwardly deal with this huge fold out poster.

The six 8” x 10” band photos are black and white promo photos of each band member. Most of them are horrible photos, either silhouettes or literally a shot of their backs as they walk on stage. Look at the photos of them below and judge for yourself. The button is on the large side, the item listing on the band’s web store says it’s 2.5”, and I believe it. It’s a bland button though, black background with white lettering reading Wood Stock on two lines. Same with the bumper sticker. It’s all black with white lettering, having lyrics from “Feel It Still” printed in large font. The bumper sticker is actually two separate stickers. One large one with the lyrics printed on it and a much smaller one with the band’s logo and ‘1966’ and ‘1986.’

When pre-orders for Woodstock went live, the listing for the deluxe box set made it clear the record would not come in any sort of jacket, especially not the gatefold jacket the standard vinyl version came in. That it would come in a “printed inner sleeve.” Well, that is part true. The box set does come with a printed inner sleeve, it’s just that the record does not actually come in it. I know I’m splitting hairs, but it’s worth mention because the record comes in a plain black paper dust sleeve. This printed inner sleeve is exclusive to the box set. It’s different than the one that comes with the standard vinyl version. But it’s not much to speak of however. It’s all black with white font that just has ‘1966’ printed on one side and ‘1986’ printed on the other side.

I already touched on the “no vinyl” version, and the deluxe box set version, now it’s time to delve into the standard vinyl version. It comes housed in a gatefold jacket, with the record coming in a very thin printed dust sleeve on glossy paper. Standard printer paper is actually thicker than the paper used for this dust sleeve. For what might be the first pressing, the record is pressed on 180 gram black vinyl, just like the record that comes with the deluxe box set. A download card is included. The artwork inside the gatefold jacket is liner notes. It’s a lame move, as liner notes typically go on the dust sleeve or insert.  The printed dust sleeve with the standard vinyl version does have the lyrics printed on it, with the corresponding lyrics printed on its respective side. It appears the a-side is dubbed “1966” and the b-side is dubbed “1986,” which is taken from the now gold status single, “Feel It Still.”

For what might be the second pressing of the standard vinyl version, which was announced in August 2017, is on pink vinyl. It’s part of the “Ten Bands One Cause” campaign, which has the funds from sale go to Gilda’s Club NYC, an organization that provides community support for both those diagnosed with cancer and their caretakers. It is named after comedian Gilda Radner, who passed away from cancer at the age of 43 in 1989. No word on pressing info for this second pressing, but Discogs says it’s limited to 3,000 copies. Don’t believe that number because pressing info was no officially released for this record. That is the cute thng about Discogs, anyone with an account can edit any release, entering in incorrect info for whatever reason. The pink variant/pressing costs the same as the 180 gram black variant from first pressing; around $18.

I saw might be first/might be second because all vinyl versions of Woodstock were delayed for so long it’s impossible to tell if the label went back and pressed the pink copies after the black copies. Originally slated for a June release, the standard vinyl version did not ship till early August, and the deluxe box set version did not ship till early October. It wouldn’t surprise me if they delayed releasing the standard vinyl version to not take away sales of the breast cancer pink variant/pressing. The pink variant/pressing was announced in late August with a release date in early October.

It’s worth noting that even with all the delays, this record sound terrible. It’s not just the music on it that is awful, the sound quality of the pressing itself is bad. It’s mixed too low, it’s muddy and just downright terrible in terms of sound quality. This means they likely used not just an MP3/digital master, but a low quality one at that. Lots of people are reporting in that this record sounds awful, so it appears to be a widespread problem regardless of people’s setups. I don’t often discourage people from buying a record(s), but given how bad this album is in general, combined with the poor sound quality of this pressing, I would not recommend anything waste their money on the vinyl version of Woodstock.

Just for reference, here is the order of the photos below: “no vinyl” version and all associated items photos 1-3. Standard vinyl version photos 4-7. Deluxe box set and all associated items photos 8 to the end.




Spacelab9 released both The Walking Dead Soundtracks (Volumes 1 and 2) in quick succession. The soundtracks were first released on CD and digitally (2014), then Spacelab9 licensed them out to be pressed on vinyl. Another soundtrack specialty label, Spacelab9 seems to do good work with their releases. This is the first Spacelab 9 release I’ve bought, so I can’t speak to quality on a mass scale. But my only complaint is their releases tend to be on the pricier side.

For Vol. 1 of The Walking Dead Soundtrack, Spacelab9 had a handful of variants and did a second pressing. They even printed up individually numbered certificates of authenticity for some of the variants from the first pressing. Clearly a gimmick that I’m not sure actually drove up sales or not. A fold out poster was even included. None of that stuff is included with Volume 2 though.

Vol. 2 of the soundtrack is just a record crammed into a standard single pocket jacket with a pointless insert advertising/promoting an irrelevant season premier of the show (season 6). No poster, no certificate of authenticity; in other words no frills. That didn’t stop Spacelab9 from charging $20 for it though. It even has the same artwork as Volume 1 save for the minute difference of swapping out a 1 for a 2 in the title. Granted the artwork for the initial CD/digital release of both soundtracks was the same. But at least Spacelab cut down on the variants for the Volume 2.

The first pressing of Vol. 2 was a Record Store Day 2015 exclusive pressed as a picture disc limited to 1,800 copies. I missed out on the RSD release of this soundtrack thanks to the re-press of Brand New’s Deja Entendu where it seemed like everyone came out of the woodwork to wait eight plus hours in line for it at my local record store. But in the grand scheme of things it was not the end of the world. The RSD picture disc was overpriced, and it was a picture disc. Plus, I was hedging my bets that Spacelab9 would eventually re-press it in a standard jacket on traditional, non-picture disc record. And my patience and bets paid off as they did just that in the fall of 2016. But I knew the standard release was coming as I emailed Spacelab9 way back in January (2016) asking about a non-picture disc release and was told yes. So I knew to hold off on buying a RSD picture disc, despite prices of it falling down to $15 (from the original $25 on RSD) on the secondary market.

The second pressing of Vol. 2 was pressed on only three variants; black limited 600 copies, half black/half orange limited to 200 copies and splatter limited to 200 copies. The splatter color is pink/red with black splatter and was a New York Comic Con (NYCC) exclusive (though leftover copies were sold online via Spacelab 9’s web store). The NYCC variant was made available for purchase at the event before the record’s official release date of October 23, 2016. The splatter was initially called “brains on blacktop” splatter then later changed to “splatter brains.” Half black/half orange was a Spacelab 9 web store exclusive and black is a mass retail exclusive (Amazon, other online distros, indie record stores, etc.). This pressing info is exclusive to this blog and is the first place it’s appearing anywhere. At least until Spacelab9 gets around to updating their discography page.

I would like to point out that some distros ran with the pressing info of Vol. 2 being limited to 1,000 copies during the pre-order phase, without being more specific than that. Ultimately that info panned out to be correct as there are 1,000 total copies for the second pressing. But I want to stress you can’t always trust what online distors say when they say a record is “limited to xxxx copies” because sometimes they are provided inaccurate info or simply lie about it to drum up business. Case and point, the distro I found that said “limited to 1,000 copies” also made the claim of “makes its official vinyl debut” despite the fact what they were selling was a re-pressing.

The track listing for Vol. 2 features an exclusive, brand new song from Portugal. The Man, which is why I wanted the soundtrack. The song is entitled “Heavy Games” and was featured in the trailer for season 4, it never actually played during the show. The soundtrack also features songs from Sharon Van Etten, Lee DeWyze, A.C. Newman and Ben Nichols.

To be perfectly clear I was not drawn to this soundtrack because I’m a diehard Walking Dead fan. I do watch the show as a casual fan, but I did not follow it from the beginning nor have I ever read the comics. I binge watched it when AMC was doing a marathon where they replayed every episode in order leading up to a season premiere, I think it was either season 4 or 5. I’m not heavily invested in the show, and to be honest I fast forward through 95% of every episode at this point because I can’t stand the soap opera nonsense anymore. The fast forwarding has gone up and up with every episode. I haven’t truly enjoyed the show since they left the prison, and season 2 on Herschel’s farm was my favorite. That season was what drew me in to the show. I caught bits and pieces of a few episodes from season 2 when they originally aired, but even then my interest was fleeting because there were soap opera elements that far back. And dramas are not my favorite entertainment genre. But the show has gotten so bad I don’t even care if I miss an episode, and I’m on the verge of cancelling it from my DVR recordings.

The soundtrack for Dallas Buyers Club is the first Music On Vinyl release I have bought, and it’s one of the nicest releases I have bought this year. In terms of quality it’s top notch, and for the price of their releases it better be. Granted it’s an import for the U.S. market, their releases are still on the pricey side.

There were 1000 copies pressed of this soundtrack, with LP 1 on 180 gram gold vinyl and LP 2 on 180 gram blue vinyl. It comes housed in agatefold jacket with an insert. The jacket is very thick and has a glossy finish. Each copy is individually numbered in gold foil stamping on the back of the jacket. A download card is not included. The record also does not come sealed, it comes in a resealable flap poly bag, which has a sticker on the front in the top right corner mentioning some of the highlights of the release. The main reason I bought this soundtrack was for the Manchester Orchestra and Portugal. The Man songs featured on it.

In 2013 Rise Records continued going through their back catalog with the pressing of Anatomy Of A Ghost’s one and only album, Evanesce. Initially there was only one variant for the record, which was pretty limited by most people’s standards at 200 copies. This variant, which was blue, was only available through Rise Records’ webstore. It was on the expensive side after factoring in shipping, even for a double LP, coming in at over $25. I held off on buying the record waiting to place a big order to try to spread out the shipping costs over multiple records since Rise’s store is hosted by Merchnow. I forgot to buy this album when I made an order around Christmas. As luck would have it I would get a better deal on the album.

A few months after Rise announced the album was getting pressed and put it up for pre-order, they announced an additional variant. It was a surprise but not a total shocker, as limited a pressing to only 200 total copies almost never happens. It’s a round number but not a friendly round number in terms of manufacturing cost. This new variant, which is white vinyl, is a Hot topic exclusive. If you read this blog enough and follow me on twitter you know my disdain for Hot Topic after all the shady crap they have pulled, and continue to pull, with vinyl. And as a result of that I refrain from buying anything from Hot Topic unless there is no other choice. In this case, I was able to buy this record cheaper from Hot Topic, and in my book cost overrides 99.9% of my predilections. I took advantage of their $1 shipping for orders over $30, the only sale/discount/promotion/code/coupon that still applies to vinyl from Hot Topic, and bought this record and another record that could only (not a Hot Topic exclusive variant, but entirely only available at Hot Topic) be bought from Hot Topic.

This pressing is not the greatest, but not terrible, which is par for the course for a Rise release. The album comes in agatefold jacket with the two records in cardstock dust sleeves. So the rundown on this record;gatefold jacket with lyrics printed inside, no download code/card, 500 total copies spread across two variants; blue limited to 200 copies and white limited to 300 copies.

To commemorate their 200th release, Rise Records released a vinyl box set (a CD version was also released) featuring songs spanning their entire history. A song from every album in their entire catalog is not featured however, as only 50 songs are on the compilation. The 5-LP box set comes in a slip lid box, with each record being housed in a card stock dust sleeve. All of the dust sleeves are exactly the same and feature the logo artwork used on the box set lid on both side of the sleeve. An insert is included as well, which also features the Rise Records logo on one side with the compilation’s track listing on the other side.

There were two variants for this, clear vinyl limited to 200 copies and black vinyl limited to 800 copies. Rise was charging $50 before shipping, (shipping was expensive) for the box set, but you could get it for as little as $35 from other outlets if you were smart and bought it during holiday (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, etc.) sales or used a coupon code. All in all this was an all around cheap and lazily put together release. If it wasn’t for the completist in me I would have skipped over it. At the time of release it was also the only way to get Anatomy Of A Ghost music on vinyl, even if it was only one song. Compared to Rise’s Dance Gavin Dance box set, this Rise 200 box set looks like utter crap.

Evil Friends is Portugal. The Man’s second album on a major label, Atlantic Records. Since then variants and pressing info have gone the wayside. Whatever your opinion on that stuff, their music has not suffered the dreaded drop off after singing to a major label. Evil Friends is their best album in a while, and that’s saying something. Danger Mouse was the producer for this album, and he made a big difference.

The record was pressed on 180 gram black vinyl and has the stock Atlantic center labels which match the artwork, being half yellow and half black. The marketing campaign the band did over social networking services with the different faces is fully utilized in the artwork for the record. The vinyl version of the album features alternate artwork for starters. Inside the gatefold are two different faces, a third face is on the back of the jacket and a fourth face is on the insert, all with the various symbols or pieces of artwork plastered over them. Instead of a download code a CD is included with the record.

For a band that tends to release everything on vinyl and appreciates the format, The Majestic Majesty took about 3 years to get pressed. There were 1500 copies of the record pressed on black vinyl. The record has no center labels but has “Majestic” etched on the a-side and “Majesty” etched on the b-side. There is also no insert to speak of really, only a CD booklet size piece of paper that has the liner notes printed on one side while the other side is blank.

The stripped down acoustic version of Portugal. The Man’s 2009 album The Satanic Satanist, The Majestic Majesty was never physically released prior to this. Some people attribute that fact to a very big issue with this record, sound quality.

Usually when I hear rumblings about poor sound or records skipping I brush it off as people’s poor set ups, either using cheap/horrible turntables, speakers, pre-amps or any combination of those. Usually there are only a few people who whine about the sound quality and the majority quickly squash their gripes. But the general consensus with this record is that it sounds terrible, while others have no complaints. And after listening to my copy I tend to agree with them.

When I first heard the complaints I expected the worst. People made it out to be not worth picking it up, even for free. When I listened to it I was not pleased with the sound quality, but the people grabbing their pitchforks and torches are way off base. Yes the record does not sound great but it does not sound terrible either, at least my copy. Which stacks up with other people’s opinions of this record, some think it’s unlistenable and some think it’s fine. This seems to be a pressing with more bad apples than good, which is unusual.  The glaring issue is the mastering, as it’s quite obvious this was not mastered for vinyl. The levels are way off which results in distortions in some places along with some fuzziness on both sides. It’s like the person behind the board decided to randomly adjust everything up and down with no discretion.

The band eventually caught wind of these complaints and looked into the situation. The band listened to their personal copies and had the same result, a mixture of terrible copies and good copies. They are in the process of trying to figure out a solution to the problem and have yet to announce anything regarding it.

In March 2013 the issue was finally addressed as Equal Vision pressed more copies of the record. They offered replacements to anyone who bought copies from the first pressing and were not satisfied. This new pressing, which is the second overal, has center labels but is still pressed on black vinyl. From what a few people who went for a replacement have sad, the sound quality issues have been fixed.