Posts Tagged ‘RX Bandits’

Matt Embree – Macaracuay

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Vinyl
Tags: ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Embree - Macaracuay - Copy

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And thus ends one of the longest pre-orders I’ve ever foolishly bought into (more details later). Paper + Plastick Records (P + P) partnered up with Obi Fernandez (Westbound Train) to form Rare Breed Recording Company and subsequently release a flexi series. The Rare Breed Flexi Series features one artist per release, usually the lead singer of an established band. They even did a subscription where all the flexis would come in a box set. Thankfully that box set/subscription was sold out before this Matt Embree flexi was announced. Not that I would’ve been stupid enough to go for any subscription series, but the temptation wasn’t there with the subscription sold out already.

There are two variants for the Matt Embree Rare Breed flexi; white limited to 250 copies and black limited to 135. White is a subscription exclusive and black is the ala carte variant. The flexi comes in a ply sleeve with a white square sticker affixed to top right corner of the poly sleeve indicating artist and track listing. Earlier flexis in the series apparently use to come with the artist and track listing printed on the actual flexi. The flexi cost $5 plus $3 shipping.

The two songs on the Matt Embree flexi are a cover of an Ellie Goulding song entitled “Guns And Horses” and an original song entitled “Dehumanizer Dub.” Both songs have a reggae vibe to them, which is the theme/vibe for this flexi series, which is right in Matt’s wheelhouse. If you didn’t know it you’d think these two songs were RX Bandits songs and not Matt solo.

Now as promised, here is more details about the insanely long pre-order for this flexi. P+ P launched pre-orders for the ala carte Matt Embree flexi in December 2015 without announcing a release date. That should have been the second red flag to not pre-order this. The first should’ve been P + P. The label is notorious for atrocious customer service and length pre-orders that border on ridiculous. The label also seemed to branch out into other, non music related ventures, like making plastic toys and comics. And it seems like they’re focusing on those things because they churn out a new plastic skull every month is seems without shipping delays.

I got a bit off track there. So let’s try that again. From past experiences I should have known not to pre-order, let alone buy anything, from P + P. But I bite the bullet because of the limited nature of the Matt Embree flexi, fearing it would sell out before it actually started shipping. That fear turned out to be no concern, as this flexi is still available. I contacted P +P back in March 2016 asking if there was at least an anticipated release/ship date and was to my surprise received a response two days later saying “they have a couple weeks left on them.” Fast forward to the end of July 2016 when I contacted P + P again asking about this flexi because it was well past “a couple weeks” and was told “we’re trying to get an updated ETA, as last I heard they should be on their way to us.” You should see a common theme developing here; no concrete answers or any sort of actual information being provided.

About a month after my previous email I was shocked to see an unsolicited email from P + P in my inbox, and it said “just got word we are receiving this next week!” That exclamation point was put in there by them, I didn’t add it for sarcasm. That email was sent on August 24, 2016, and it apparently went out to everyone who pre-ordered or subscribed to the flexi series as I wasn’t the only one to receive it, as several people chimed in on a message board to say they got the same email. Needless to say I wasn’t holding my breath to see if that timeframe would hold up. And wouldn’t you know it, P + P was full of crap again.

I waited a little over one month to contact P + P again about this flexi because it obviously did not ship. I never received a reply to that email. On October 25 everyone who pre-ordered or subscribed to the flexi series received an email saying their flexi shipped along with a download link for the digital version of the flexi. Despite getting that email my flexi didn’t actually ship until November 5. Unbeknownst to most customers, P + P shipped out the subscriber flexis first, then waited about a week to ship the ala carte ones. Not the end of the world considering I already waited 11 months for the flexi, so another week was nothing, and it’s fair to ship out the subscriber’s copies first. But you should never send out a shipping notice without actually shipping the order. It a big pet peeve of mine, along with many others. I never even received a tracking number either. I only know when it shipped after checking the ship date on the mailer once it got here.

matt-embree-rare-breed-flexi-copy


For the 10th anniversary of their album, The Resignation, RX Bandits went on tour where they played the entire album start to finish (plus an encore of some of their other songs). The band offered up a VIP ticket bundle, which included an exclusive 7” flexi disc comprised of three cover songs. The track listing for the flexi is a cover of The Police’s “Can’t Stand Losing You,” Weezer’s “Surf Wax America” and Blonde Redhead’s “Falling Man.” The flexi is red and is limited to 600 copies. Each copy of the flexi is numbered /600, but it is not individually numbered.

The VIP ticket, which cost $40, was limited to 30 per show, and along with the exclusive flexi it also included a meet and greet with the band, a private show (which took place prior to the public performance), CD copy of the Covers EP and exclusive tour poster. The CD version features all the songs found on the flexi plus two more songs; Fugazi’s “Cashout” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Those two song are exclusive to the CD version, which was also a tour exclusive. One interesting note is that despite practically identical track listings, the CD and flexi’s titles are different. The CD’s title is Covers EP while the flexi’s title is V.I.P.E.P.

Prices for this vary, and since not many copies have popped up on  the secondary market it’s tough to gauge an average. I have seen copies go for as low as $15 (what I bought it for) on up to $71. Considering the fact there were no tour dates near me, and the cost of a ticket had I been able to go to a show, I am very happy to score this flexi for what I did and think I got a great deal all things considered.RX Bandits - Covers - Copy


In 2014 the first The Sounds Of Animals Fighting releases were pressed. Yes I’m aware of the 7” single released, but that does not really county as a release in this case. In this case I can’t say albums because The Tiger And The Duke is an EP, so release covers both EP’s and albums. Equal Vision Records released The Tiger And The Duke and The Ocean And The Sun on vinyl at the same time, which was nice so people who wanted both could save on shipping.

The version of The Ocean And The Sun has alternate artwork, which apparently upset a lot of people. I will get into those people later on after laying out the details of this release. There are three variants for this record; 300 copies on black 180 gram vinyl, 700 copies on white and 1500 copies on clear, which is a Hot Topic exclusive. The Hot Topic exclusives did not come out till well after the record shipped to people who bought it from Equal Visions, let alone after it went up for pre-order. The Ocean And The Sun comes in a gatefold jacket, which has a spot gloss finish in some parts. The spot gloss is minor in terms of how much it covers on the jacket. It’s only on the on the lines that appear on the front and back. It is next to impossible to capture the spot gloss in a photograph and have it be obvious that the photo is of The Ocean And The Sun jacket, otherwise it could be of any jacket. There is no insert and no download code is included despite the fact this is an Equal Vision release and is not licensed out. A download card/code would have been a nice touch.

The black 180g and white copies each cost $20 before shipping, however, the Hot Topic exclusive clear cost $26 before shipping. The black 180g copies lasted a few days, while the green copies lasted a few weeks. I opted not to pre-order this record because I fully expected Equal Vision/Merchnow to put up more copies after the record was released, which I was spot on with expecting, it just took a lot longer than I expected. In September 2014 Merchnow put up more copies of both colors. So about three months after the records shipped.

Along with offering up the two colors (black 180g and white), Equal Vision also had a test press bundle, which included a test press, obviously, and your choice of color. There was some issues with the test pressings though, as there were more than the advertised 20 copies pressed. Either Equal Vision flat out lied about how many tests they had, or it was simple miscommunication in that they were only selling 20 tests out of however many they had made. With The Ocean And The Sun, some people also didn’t get a complete set. They either got two A/B sides of two C/D sides.

As stated earlier there was also a Hot Topic exclusive color for The Tiger And The Duke (clear /1500). Why there were so many pressed is beyond more, it’s almost double the rest of the pressing. Apparently this is now sold out online (as of writing this), but don’t expect that to be true. Hot Topic is notorious for using every kid of sales/marketing tactics to drive up sales and maximize profit. They limit the flow of product, mark things up ridiculously high and exclude from sales promotions just to name a few. I fully expect there to be more copies put back up online at some point, and since there were so many copies pressed, expect these to wind up on clearance at some point. I was banking on that until I saw more black copies were put back up, which would up being cheaper than what it would be sold for on clearance at $hit Topic.

Now back to the people who were upset with the choice of artwork for this. They were so upset that someone decided to capitalize off them. It started out as making jackets for the test presses, something that is not a new practice, but something I view as a complete waste of money. It then snowballed into making jackets for people who just wanted the original release artwork to go along with their copy of the record. The guy charged $15 for a regular jacket and $20 for a gatefold jacket, the same price if not more than the record (plus a jacket) itself. So quite a few people wound up spending about double on one record, for no reason really. This custom jacket operation then continued to snowball, as the guy began to make jackets for any and all records anyone requested, even stealing artwork from reputable and legitimate artists in the process. There was some backlash towards him for attempting to/considering doing it, rightfully so, and of course with the typical side taking and bickering that always happens on the internet. The person making the jackets, and making a profit doing so, saw nothing wrong with what he was doing, and neither did countless other people. Lots of people defended him and what he was doing, and lots of people complained towards the people pointing out what he was doing was illegal. In the end the guy decided not to steal a legit artists’ art, which was the right decision.


In 2014 the first The Sounds Of Animals Fighting releases were pressed. Yes I’m aware of the 7” single released, but that does not really county as a release in this case. In this case I can’t say albums because The Tiger And The Duke is an EP, so release covers both EP’s and albums. Equal Vision Records released The Tiger And The Duke and The Ocean And The Sun on vinyl at the same time, which was nice so people who wanted both could save on shipping.

The version of The Ocean And The Sun has alternate artwork, which apparently upset a lot of people. I will get into those people later on after laying out the details of this release. There are three variants for this record; 300 copies on black 180 gram vinyl, 700 copies on green and 1800 copies on red, which is a Hot Topic exclusive. The Hot Topic exclusives did not come out till well after the record shipped to people who bought it from Equal Visions, let alone after it went up for pre-order. The Tiger And The Duke comes in a gatefold jacket, which has a passage/story entitled “Charlemagne And Penelope” written by Chris Haynie printed inside.

The black and green copies each cost $15 before shipping, however, the Hot Topic exclusive cost $21 before shipping. The black 180g copies lasted a few days, while the green copies lasted a few weeks. I opted not to pre-order this record because I fully expected Equal Vision/Merchnow to put up more copies after the record was released, which I was spot on with expecting, it just took a lot longer than I expected. In September 2014 Merchnow put up more copies of both colors. So about three months after the records shipped.

Along with offering up the two colors (black 180g and green), Equal Vision also had a test press bundle, which included a test press, obviously, and your choice of color. There was some issues with the test pressings though, as there were more than the advertised 20 copies pressed. Either Equal Vision flat out lied about how many tests they had, or it was simple miscommunication in that they were only selling 20 tests out of however many they had made. With The Ocean And The Sun, some people also didn’t get a complete set. They either got two A/B sides of two C/D sides.

As stated earlier there was also a Hot Topic exclusive color for The Tiger And The Duke (red /1800). Why there were so many pressed is beyond more, it’s almost double the rest of the pressing. Apparently this is now sold out online (as of writing this), but don’t expect that to be true. Hot Topic is notorious for using every kid of sales/marketing tactics to drive up sales and maximize profit. They limit the flow of product, mark things up ridiculously high and exclude from sales promotions just to name a few. I fully expect there to be more copies put back up online at some point, and since there were so many copies pressed, expect these to wind up on clearance at some point. I was banking on that until I saw more black copies were put back up, which would up being cheaper than what it would be sold for on clearance at $hit Topic.

Now back to the people who were upset with the choice of artwork for this. They were so upset that someone decided to capitalize off them. It started out as making jackets for the test presses, something that is not a new practice, but something I view as a complete waste of money. It then snowballed into making jackets for people who just wanted the original release artwork to go along with their copy of the record. The guy charged $15 for a regular jacket and $20 for agatefold jacket, the same price if not more than the record (plus a jacket) itself. So quite a few people wound up spending double if not more on one record, for no reason really. This custom jacket operation then continued to snowball, as the guy began to make jackets for any and all records anyone requested, even stealing artwork from reputable and legitimate artists in the process. There was some backlash towards him for attempting to/considering doing it, rightfully so, and of course with the typical side taking and bickering that always happens on the internet. The person making the jackets, and making a profit doing so, saw nothing wrong with what he was doing, and neither did countless other people. Lots of people defended him and what he was doing, and lots of people complained towards the people pointing out what he was doing was illegal. In the end the guy decided not to steal a legit artists’ art, which was the right decision.


After a brief breakup RX Bandits are back with their sixth studio album, titled Gemini, Her Majesty. In my opinion it’s a far better album than their previous effort, Mandala, with the sound going back towards what can be heard on …And The Battle Begun. This album shows RX Bandits can make a seamless transition to a horn-less band. Yes, I know Mandala was their first album with a horn section, but on this latest album the band perfects their sound without horns.

Gemini, Her Majesty was pressed on orange vinyl as a double 10”. There are some marbling effects in the vinyl as well. It comes housed in a gatefold jacket with no substantial liner notes or lyrics printed inside. An insert is not included, so those hoping there would be lyric sheet somewhere will be disappointed, but that by no means should discourage anyone from buying this album. The biggest incentive to buy the album on vinyl is that it was properly mixed and mastered for vinyl. This record was properly down and sounds fantastic. It’s not a CD master, or even worse, straight up digital files, thrown on a record. The record also comes with a download card, but it’s for terrible quality 192 kbps MP3’s. It’s a shame, and utterly pathetic, that the proper download you get with a record is lesser quality than what you can get through illegal download channels. I blame INgrooves, the distributor for the digital portion, for this MP3 quality issue. I have another INgrooves distributed title, and it comes with the same terrible 192 kbps MP3’s with the download card.

No word on pressing info, but expect this to quietly go OOP like all of the band’s previous albums. If you don’t want to pay around $100 for this album on vinyl, buy it now before it’s too late.

The band did a Pledge Music campaign for their pre-orders of the album. Unfortunately you would have paid more for the album had you pledged than you would have if you bought the album anywhere else. Pledgers did not receive anything significant or exclusive (exclusive variant) if they pledged to the campaign. Some people complained about the price difference and the fact there were no exclusives. If you pledged it was sort of a kick to the gut or slap to the face, whichever you prefer. Unless you feel happy about helping the band record and release the album, funding they may or may not have actually needed. I’m one of the biggest RX Bandits fans out there, and I have some qualms with the pricing structure; it’s a $10 difference between the pledge amount and what it would cost if you buy it elsewhere. Apparently the pledge stuff was also late going out

 


Biceratops is two piece bands featuring Matt Embree and Chris Tsagakis from RX Bandits. Their self-titled debut album is seven tracks of pure instrumental awesomeness. The record was released by embree’s own label Mash Down Babylon (MDB) Records. Along with Embree and C-Gak, Juan Alderete of At The Drive-In also plays on three songs on the album.

Pressing info is not known despite my best efforts at reaching out to Embree to find out. The only thing I could get out of him was “we pressed a little more than 100 on a different color.” With that known, the record was pressed on  two different colors, both being 180 gram, clear with blue splatter and blue with white swirl. There was a pre-order bundle limited to 60 copies, which I believe the clear with blue splatter copies were reserved for. As expected the pre-order bundle sold out, but the band was selling copies at the handful of shows they did in southern California in late winter. From what I’ve heard everyone who bought copies at shows received a copy on blue with white splatter. After the band wrapped up their live dates, they sold the remaining copies in their web store. I bought one this way and received a copy on blue with white splatter. All copies come with a download code. Biceratops - st - Copy