Sunday, 17 June 2018

Pulse of the Maggots

Man, sometimes life gets in the way of doing stuff you really like doing. I barely have time to listen to records these days, let alone find the right lighting to photograph 'em and then write around the topic for a little while. But thankfully on this Sunday morning I've avoided sleeping in and found some time that isn't quite social enough to play records, but it's damn okay enough to write about them.

From this hype sticker I assume you know what you're in for here. This is the UK/Euro press of Slipknot's Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) on Clear 2XLP available on Record Store Day 2014. It also comes with a nice little RSD hype sticker too. 

Now this had been stuck on my want list for a little while now; but at the £80-100 going rate on Discogs currently, I was willing to push it to the background a little. Plus the fact that I bought both previous full lengths for a steal back in the day made this one a little harder to swallow. 

I'm not sure how common this is with this press but mine seems to have a black splodge or two mixed in with this clear wax. I quite like these little anomalies within pressings that just make for a marginally more interesting variant. All of the centre labels are different colours too which is pretty cool. 

Going from the harsh aesthetic or Iowa, it seemed like the band weren't quite as fucked this time around or at least quite as burned out. Although the record itself is a little less harsh on the ears, it seems to be the one I return to most often nowadays. Maybe it's just pretty fresh to my ears again for owning a copy on vinyl now, who knows? 

A lot of people also seemed to find a few issues with the sound quality on this pressing. To my ears it sounds fine; not spectacular or overly dynamic in any way, shape or form. But there are no huge popping or skipping issues? People on Discogs get on a rant about stuff sometimes right? 

Front and back cover. 

I've always preferred the reverse image here. The picture disc press has this as the C or D side and it fits well with the all black die cut sleeve too.

Insert photos are always a bonus as far as I'm concerned, and even more so here as they're super fun to look at. Almost nostalgic in a way. The inserts on Iowa are definitely something memorable too. 

The photo of the band together here is the most obvious image attached to this record. Up until this year, my only copy of this record was the deluxe 2XCD that comes with this image as a slipcase.

Oh, back to my original point on this point. I never wanted to pull the trigger on this while the price kept on going up and up. I actually found this copy in my local record store whilst having a little dig around behind the counter. It was offered up to me for less than the original asking price; and there's no way I wasn't walking out with it. 


Friday, 23 March 2018

Fastened to the Die Hard Points

The self titled (and only widely circulated) Lurker of Chalice release quickly fell into the 'I'll never want to drop that much money on a record' category, and although I'd put a few copies in my want list on Discogs, I never held my breath much on a reasonable copy coming by and half tried to forget about it. 

Fast forward a few long months from there, and Nuclear War Now Productions start dropping a hard hint or two that this record would soon be reissued under their label; alongside an even more faint rumbling that more Lurker recordings would resurface after and see a wider, more official release. 

Lurker Of Chalice - Lurker Of Chalice - Nuclear War Now! Productions - 1st Press - Bronze Vinyl - Die Hard Edition. 

Although I wasn't quick enough to grab the more limited Beer/ Black Marble variant /100; I kind of had my heart set on this copy for the extras anyway. Apparently a 'Die Hard' edition is something of a common occurrence with this label, but as it was my first direct order from NWN! I wasn't 100% sure on what to expect. 

The first thing I noticed about this record upon receiving it was how well shipped it was. Without any doubt the best packing job I have received from any label. A big old box, stuffed with packing peanuts, rolled up jiffy mailers on the corners and a bit of bubble wrap on the extras. NWN offer a really reasonable UK shipping rate too, which has me excited for future orders. 

The 'all out' packing spreads out into all out packaging too. The cover art has a bronze tinge to it, as opposed to the more stark black and stone cover that the Southern Lord press has. This bronze tinge is complemented by the foil pressed Lurker... logo in the top left. 

The record came in a polysleeve with a hype sticker. Wrest is the more associated name for Jef Whitehead when making music under the name of Lurker of Chalice or (the more widely known and prolific) Leviathan.

The back cover has the NWN logo in the bottom left. The main illustration was used as the original cover for the CD release of the album way back in 2005. This illustration was also used by NWN as the test press covers; and was used on a long sleeve shirt design at preorder of the album. The rejected test was /20 copies and featured the design in black and white. The accepted test was /30 copies, with a Bronze cover colour way and White / Red vinyl. Those also appeared in the store if I remember right prior to the preorder of the LP. 

Inside the gatefold has the track listing and a couple more pieces of art, all in the same colour theme. The first track appears as untitled everywhere; but the little logo in place of a name looks like a small rune or maybe even a pitchfork or scythe? 

A quick look at the centre label. They don't differ over the four sides apart from the little logo towards the bottom of the label. The bronze really works well with the cover art and the variant has a bit of texture to it as you can see in the run out groove. 

Every variant of the LP (of which there are three) comes with this A2 poster of the back cover art. Again, it would be tempting to hang but I know I really won't. This isn't what makes up the die hard package, just a nice little extra. 

The extras are a nice high gloss sticker and the die cast metal pin. The sticker is a fun little extra, but the pin is what I was really after. With two pin backs to hold it in place, and one of the most intricate and well translated designs I've seen on a pin, I knew it was worth the extra few dollars. It's pretty hefty too, and sits on a denim jacket way more comfortably than anything else I tend to wear. A pin company called poser gear have also recently released a 'Howl Mockery at the Cross' pin that I'm pretty tempted by. 

There we have it; hopefully churning out only one post in the last few weeks is slightly made up by the fact that it's a pretty long one! 

Monday, 26 February 2018

To Wish Impossible Things

The thought of cracking out another blog post any time soon seemed almost as impossible as grabbing this record for a decent-ish price. Turns out a snowy morning makes for ideal time to dust off the old cobwebs and make a start on writing about wax. I've fallen behind not only on my own blog, but on reading others I tend to follow pretty closely. 

The Cure - Wish - Fiction Records - 1st Press (U.K) - 2 X LP

As far as 'White Whale Wants' go; this one was fairly high up on the list; and I'm not talking about this variant specifically. I would've settled for any copy; and after the 2016 Cure re-issues and the Record Store Day releases I was kind of hoping this / Mood Swings and Bloodflowers were all going to get a reissue. Sadly it doesn't seem to be the case, so I caved. 

This isn't in the greatest condition; but the price is reflecting that honestly. Actually, that's not strictly true. It was listed as VG/VG - and although the records are definitely VG +; but the cover has suffered over the years and it's missing the promo insert. Just your standard single sleeve housing 2 LP's causing edge rubbing etc. It's nothing that's making me want to send it back (especially as this cost around half of the Discogs median selling price) but it's probably not VG. The hype sticker has also been removed, which isn't really a big deal and it's cool that there's no ugly sticker residue on the cover. But more than anything I'm just glad to finally own it. 

The centre labels are great. The font is my favourite Cure typeface and all of the artwork here is pretty captivating; but you see more of that on the inserts. 

Back Cover 

The barcode sticks out like a sore thumb. Personally I would've kept it as far away from the art as possible, but again - what do I know? 

Both LP's come in full colour (well - red and black) inserts. The lyrics are housed on one side - as far as I can see the credits are on the reverse. The sparse illustrations dotted around are great; they remind me of the merch from the time (I wasn't around at the time to be clear - the album is about 6 months older than me) and I always keep an eye out for Wish era tour shirts. However, much the same as record collecting - older band shirts and particularly tour stuff has become a little trend in itself so prices are probably not worth chasing right now. I'm not paying over £100 for a one-size-fits-all super worn Cure shirt for sure. 

My favourite piece of art from this record is the hand print on the lift side insert; even more so than the cover. It suits the weird mood of the record and it makes me really happy to finally own it. 

If this ever gets a reissue along with Bloodflowers and WMS - I would probably let this copy go (depending on how the reissue looks and sounds of course); but as it's 25th anniversary passed last year I'm not really holding my breath. Weirdly enough I always keep an eye out for the coloured reissues of the first 4 Cure LP's too from RSD 2012 (but I'm not indulging The Top) a few years back. It doesn't really make sense to want multiple variants as I still have some massive gaps in my Cure collection. For now though this will definitely keep me going.


Friday, 22 December 2017

I Thought I Believed In Nothing

So this is probably the longest post for this year, and it's also my favourite record of 2017. I understand that the idea of Brand New has been ruined for a lot of people, and whilst I can understand that; I still love this album. My feelings on this album don't really need to be known, and there are far too many photographs to really allow much room for talking. So let's dive in. This is the deluxe edition I ordered some 4 months or so ago. I'm of the opinion that this was well worth the wait, and well worth the additional expense. Some people have been let down by the cover/ packaging, but I'm more than into it. 

The cover is essentially a large envelope that opens from the back, with the cover art glued on the front. As you can see on the bottom right corner there is a fairly visible ding (an email came out to those who preordered stating there would be imperfections in the packaging); but I don't mind too much, and it was shipped in a sturdy box style mailer too, so it's not a problem on my end. 

The back cover apparently takes influence from another release, but it doesn't seem familiar to me. 

The cover opens from the back much the same as an envelope, with some heavy adhesive on the top flap. It took a bit of getting in to; and I assume some people have truly fucked the packaging trying to get in to the contents.

The album is 180 gram from what I can feel. The pressing overall is pretty great, a couple of tracks sound ever so slightly muddy in places though. The deluxe also comes with different centre labels and inner sleeves from the other pressings which is a nice touch. 

If anyone keeps up with this blog, you'll remember the post on the CD that was sent out prior to receiving this. It's a nice touch that I ended up with umber 9/500 when you consider this is PMT009.

The inners contain a set of live photos and what look like blueprints for a car on the A/C sides.

The B/D sides contain all of the credits for the record, and the album title and running time respectively. 

The A/B dust sleeve has some print on the inside too, although the C/D side inner seems to be plain blue.

On to all the bonus stuff that comes with it now! 

First up are these 3 oddities. The top left is a mock up advertisement for records in a can. I'm not sure what this relates o, if anything at all. I'm pretty certain Morning Breath did all the packaging and art/layout etc. It's just another strange addition that gives more questions than answers. Next to it is the download code, and beneath that is a sealed envelope. I'm pretty sure that it contains pressed flowers. I would crack it open to check, but the idea of trying to store them anywhere after the fact is pretty off-putting. Again, from what I've read online, some copies came with loose flowers that got inside the inner sleeves and that just sounds the worst.

Next up is a Pogolith. I assumed much like the others it would contain lyrics and maybe some guitar tabs and doodles. However, it's far more photography based with sparse bits of writing including a small poem of sorts. I was kind of hoping for a lyric book, and indeed a Pogolith for this (hopefully ones for Your Favorite Weapon and Daisy will surface soon too). 

A small excerpt of what lies within. If anyone really wants a more in depth run down of this, I half considered doing a small video. 

The second book contains additional art from Morning Breath. I'm fairly certain that these are exclusive to the bundle. This book looks like it would benefit from 3D glasses (y'know, the old blue and red lens type), and maybe that has some kind of link to the Red/Blue on the cover and the variant that corresponds. 

Both books are pretty hefty in size, I would just be here for way too long to photograph every page. And, plus it leaves a little to the imagination. I've found that over the last decade or so, this band have offered more questions than answers. They're also surely to become more obscure in time too. 

One of two big double sided posters. Anyone with sharp eyes might see Jesse wearing a Monsters Outside enamel pin on his hoodie. This poster is made from matte stock paper of some description. The closest comparison to mind is the free posters that Deathwish Inc. sometimes gives away. There were Touche Amore 'Is Survived By' and a Modern Life Is War 'Fever Hunting' posters in circulation with orders a few years back. It feels kinda similar to that I guess. 

The second poster comes on textured paper and feels a little sturdier. The top image takes up one side, and the other two images take up half of the other side each. If you open it up fully on this side, one image appears upside down. 

Finally, and perhaps the most practical of all the extras is this exclusive slip-mat that I'll definitely never use and it will stay inside the sleeve forever alongside the posters and books. It's a shame because the slip-mat would serve a way better purpose in use; and the art would obviously looks better on a wall instead of folded up in a sleeve. I guess I just can't separate stuff from where it should be. The set would feel incomplete and scattered to me. Maybe one day I'll get over it. 

Finally, this is a less than elegant photo of everything together. There is far more here than you can fit into one shot. Overall I'm incredibly happy with everything here, and it remains firmly my favourite record of 2017. 


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Sweet Jesus

Most of the time I like to assume that I've got a fairly good ear to the ground when it comes to all things hardcore related. However, some releases manage to slip through the cracks as they do with everyone I guess. What I'm struggling to come to grips with here though is how this one managed to pass me by for about two years. That's an age in hardcore. 

Sweet Jesus - You Destroy Yourself - Atomic Action Records - 1st Press - White /100 

Back Cover // B-Side 

10 tracks of pretty furious Dischord / Swiz worship that honestly hasn't really left my turntable since I picked it up about a week and a half ago. The dead stock black and white colour scheme is a nice touch here too. 

The label incorrectly states the speed of 33 1/3 as opposed to the 45rpm it plays at. 

Insert contains more artwork from Brendon Simmons along with live photos taken by Angela Owens on the other side. The lyrics are printed here too as are all the recording credits and personnel. This album was recorded by J. Robbins of Jawbox/ Burning Airlines fame. 

And here is the other side of the insert with the aforementioned live photos. Altogether this is a pretty incredible LP that remains aesthetically pleasing. I didn't know until buying it that dudes from Have Heart, Verse and Soul Control were involved in Sweet Jesus too. 

From the same seller listed in the same bid was the preorder flexi too. This contains two covers; one from Void and one from The Faith. The cover art alone can tell you that though right? 

The colour of the flexi here is a lot more true to it's actual colour; and it sounds remarkably heavy considering the format. Apparently this was given away as part of the preorder with the White variant of the LP. Pressing numbers aren't on Discogs so I'm not too sure how many were made, but there's a safe bet that it's at least /100 too.

I'd heard the name thrown away after the 'Box' 7'' had come out on Triple B; but I just never went past hearing the name until I saw this on eBay. On the upside, the waiting game seems like a good choice on this occasion as I picked both of these up for a really good price. 

I'll try to get another couple of posts in before the year's out!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Either // Or

It seems that around this time of year, I'll take a dive into an artist that I've heard of but never taken the chance to listen to. I'll also dive in by blind buying one of their LP's and taking it from there. Last year I bought Pink Moon by Nick Drake and absolutely obsessed over it for weeks. This year I went with Either / Or by Elliott Smith. Normally a mass reissue of an LP wouldn't be much to sing over, but I managed to pick up the expanded edition for cheap from that crazy All Your Music sale in August. It was listed as used, it came brand new and sealed. It was a great come up, and I bought a few more from that sale too. 

This new expanded edition comes as a double 180 gram deal and released by Universal; quite a long way up when you consider that it's initial release came from Kill Rock Stars in the US and Domino records in the UK. 
First up, this record came with a cool obi strip which you don't see too often nowadays.

The back of the obi advertises some of Elliott Smiths other recordings. Since buying this a couple of months ago, I've also picked up Roman Candle, the Self Titled LP and XO. However, they are just Back to Black reissues so I'll likely not post about them.

A close up of the front obi shows the explains of the record, including some great photographs and an essay by Larry Crane on the time surrounding the recording and release of this record. Even as a complete newcomer and layman to Elliott Smith, this was a great read and the bonus stuff was just as enjoyable a listen as the studio LP. 

As I said, the record comes on plain black double 180 gram in printed jackets. I believe there were a couple of variants for this release too. An indies only copy, and a mail-order exclusive too on Buttercream Splatter. I wasn't bothered about a colour copy at the time, but the Kill Rock Stars store won't allow orders to the UK anyway. 

One side of the jackets contain all the lyrics... 

The other side contains some credits and some archive photographs. The photographs all seem to be credited to a Felice Ecker; who I gather was his publicist. Initially I assumed it would be his then partner, but a quick read online told me otherwise. 

The inside gatefold contains more photographs and the essay by Larry Crane. Larry Crane I gather was a friend/ producer/ archiver and Jackpot! Recording Studio owner. From what I understand, a bunch of these recordings were made on 4-track or 8-track. Certainly the albums prior to this were. The essay is pretty in depth about the time of this recording, and Smith's distance from Heatmiser too. 

Finally, the download code comes as a postcard. I assume they're reels or VHS  tapes cased in those boxes. It's a cool piece of history that won't really come around again. 

I was always fascinated by the life and death of Elliott Smith, and for years was aware of his music without diving in. However, I'm doing my best to make up for lost time and grabbing as much as I can. I'm still worried about listening to Figure 8 and the posthumous recordings, as Figure 8 sounds like a big departure in sound. I'm sure I'll get into them at some stage, but for now I've got a decent amount to go on.