Saturday, 4 July 2020

Tell Me I'm Alive

The world of hardcore never ceases to surprise. Here we are in 2020, and a new album has appeared from Downcast. Younger kids (i.e. anyone under 40!) would be excused for not knowing anything about this band, as their last release came out waaaaay back in 1991.

My introduction to Downcast was circa 1993/4. That was the time that I was discovering straight edge hardcore and the more obscure / underground bands and labels of the day. Someone loaned me a small batch of records, one of which was the Downcast 7". I was floored about how angry and heavy it was. To this day I think it is on a par with one of the greatest 7"s of the 90s, the Inside Out 7", except the Downcast is less well know, probably due to not being on Revelation. Anyway, if you have never heard that 7" then do yourself a favour and check it. You're welcome.

The band were extremely political, which was the order of the day, although I heard that they were very anti-dancing at their shows.Like a lot of things in the early-mid 90s, it kinda made sense back then but in the modern day it seems utterly ridiculous. They put out a full length in 1991 as a follow up to the 7", but it wasn't received as warmly. Generally people seem to regard it as a disappointment, which was probably almost inevitable following on from the 7". But it is very much a solid record.

So what would a new Downcast record 29 years after their last recorded output? I was intrigued. I listened to one song online, thought it was pretty terrible, but still bought the record anyway. Sometimes I can't even begin to explain what drives my decision making process.

As you can see, this is pretty dull aesthetically. Unsurprisingly, there was no limited version of this record, with all copies being on black vinyl only in a sleeve with pretty boring artwork.

So how does it sound? Well, first up, you have to give them props for doing it in the first place. Writing new music is always a gamble. But anyone expecting the same sound as either the previous LP or the 7" is going to be disappointed. It's nothing like either of those records. The sound on here is kinda mixed. For me it's a typical story of a band reuniting many years down the track. Basically, you have to get past the band name. You have to not think of it as a Downcast record. If you can do that, it does have some good songs. I've been listening to this a fair bit in recent weeks, but interestingly I have found that I generally reach for this one when I fancy something a bit different. So an ok record, but not exactly a Downcast record.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Always On - 10 Year Anniversary

Following on from the last post, when I was picking up the Gameface 'Every Last Tape' LP I also looked around the label's store and noticed another couple of Gameface and related records. There was the 7" that I included in my last post, and then there was also this solo LP by Jeff Caudill (singer of Gameface).

The LP is titled 'Always On: 10th Anniversary'. It's basically just Jeff playing the entire 'Always On' LP as a solo LP. And what I like about it is the attention to detail. It uses the same artwork as the original Gameface LP but with a few small changes. The first two pictures show the two releases side by side, with the original Gameface LP on the left (blue) and the 10th Anniversary LP on the right (brown).

Looking at the two covers next to each other is like a game of 'spot the difference'.

This is another example of a time when I got slightly carried away. I would have been happy with one copy of this one, but then it turned out there was a special offer with a discount price for buying all 3 versions of the LP. There were 25 triple packs available, containing a signed copy of the LP. Somehow the triple pack was available to buy, even though this record came out in 2011. Crazy.

The 3 copies are black with a signed cover, blue and clear.

The triple LP pack also came with a bonus CD 'Every Last Song', which contains 18 songs, 11 of which are covers. It is designed to look like a small vinyl record, which I actually think is kinda cool.

The CD reminds me of when Bridge 9 made smoe CDs in the early 00s which were supposed to look like colour vinyl records, except they just looked like crappy cheap CDs. Surprising that idea didn't catch on.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Every Last Tape

I've bought and posted a lot of Gameface records on here recently. I guess it's partly because I really like the band, and have recently realised that I just don't seem to get tired of their songs (even though most of them I have had in my life for 20-25 years), and partly because recently I also noticed that I have a lot of rare versions of their records, so I made a conscious decision to try to build a 'complete' collection.

A relatively new release is the 'Every Last Tape' 12". It compiles demos and live versions recorded in late 1998 & early 1999 of the songs that would eventually become released as the 'Every Last Time' LP on Revelation in 1999. It was released by a UK label called Unless You Try Records at the end of last year, and a few months later I finally got around to picking up a copy or four.

The label initially pressed two colours - 100 on yellow vinyl, which was in theory a Revelation records exclusive.

I say 'in theory' because I think that Rev took charge of distributing it, not selling it themselves. So other shops or distros that buy stock from Rev also had / have it for sale. By the time I got around to actually buying a copy, Rev had sold out, so I picked one up from a distro in Germany.

The second colour is referred to by the label as 'eco-mix'. I'm not sure what that means exactly. But it appears to be a maroonish brown type colour.

Interestingly, by the time I got around to realising that I needed to buy these, the label had put together a second pressing of 100 copies on 'tie dye' vinyl. There were 100 of these made, and each one is different to the others. The label put a picture on their site showing 36 copies, and I thought they looked really cool. So I decided to buy two, and asked the label to please send me two copies that were very different to each other. This is what I got:

I'm not usually a fan of splatter type records, although that's mainly the splatter vinyl that comes out of one particular pressing plant in Europe, which to me looks and feels like cheap plastic. But these records were pressed in the States, which is probably why they look kinda cool.

I'm not sure that this record really needed to exist to be honest. These songs are slightly more raw versions of the songs that appeared on the final 'Every Last Time' LP, but they're not so different that it's hugely obvious.

Well, I'd never bought anything from this label before, but they also had another Gameface record that I added to my cart, whic was the 'Regular Size' 7" from 2014. This version is on pink vinyl and numbered out of 100 copies, exclusive to Unless You Try Records.

Kinda funny that I missed this 7" completely when it came out, but in recent weeks I have managed to pick up 2 of the 4 different versions. Obviously this means that I now need the other two...

Thursday, 25 June 2020

On The Lam

I think that years ago I was a lot more open-minded with music. I used to buy stuff regularly from a certain group of record labels, and it opened me up to a lot of bands I would otherwise not have heard. The 90s was a time of variety and 'hardcore' was an incredibly wide range of sounds and styles. As time went on, the different sounds became their own scenes, and most labels seemed to narrow whatever they put out. But I kinda miss the days when you could buy records from labels you trusted and get something completely unexpected.

I first heard Cavity when I bought one of their 7"s from Rhetoric Records, a label which seemed to release either pop punk or doom/sludge type bands. Cavity were firmly in the latter camp. I mean, as a young straight edge enthusiast, I'm not sure exactly why I was drawn to Cavity. I guess the riffs. But I collected a few of their records over the years. This one was a very cheap test press of their 'final' LP, 'On The Lam', which was released by Hydrahead Records back in 2001.

The test press comes in a regular 'sleeve', which is basically a small red folded piece of card.

On the flip side, it says 'Test Pressing' and is numbered out of 25.

What I like about this one is that it is a test press of an LP that was only ever released as a picture disc. So it's the only form of limited pressing of this one. There were probably 1000 picture discs made, and as everyone knows, picture discs suck. I mean, which one would you rather own?

Monday, 22 June 2020

Live! On The James

2020 has been pretty crazy so far. First up the Corona virus took over and forced us all to stay at home and avoid all human contact, and next came been a wave of protests against racism that has felt like a social revolution. Hardcore and punk were always driven and heavily influenced by politics and even though at times that side of things got too much, I'm still grateful to be part of a scene where people are predominantly have a conscience and strive to do good. So it was good and bad news when bands and labels atarted to auction or raffle off rare records to help raise money for a good cause. Good news because it made some rare items available and raised some good money, but bad (for collectors) because most of the auctioned items were selling for more than double what they usually would. And with raffles it's a bit too much like gambling, and easy to spend money you don't have and then ultimately end up with nothing. In the end I decided to take part in two raffles run by Edgewood Records for which the prizes were Down To Nothing test pressings... and lo and behold I won one of them!

Down To Nothing's 'Live! On The James' LP was released in 2017. I'm not a big fan of live records as they are generally pretty pointless, and the cynic in me thinks that they are often put out to fulfill legal obligations with labels. But I'll gladly take a test press of a live album on Rev for my collection.

As with pretty much all Rev tests, it's just a black vinyl record in a plain white paper sleeve. Not overly exciting to look at.

There are a few records for which I own a test press only, but I didn't want this to be one. So I got straight onto picking up a pink vinyl copy of the LP too.

I love solid pink vinyl. It's quite possibly my favourite colour. So inappropriate for hardcore records, yet looks so right. This is also the rarer of the two colours made, being out of 327 copies.

One touch that I do like is that the insert is a copy of the flyer for the show. I imagine that owning one of these LPs would be a pretty cool souvenir if you had been present that night.

Fun fact - it was a little less than a year ago that I won a Curl Up And Die test press in a competition. So that's 2 Rev tests that I have now won, which is pretty cool achievement I hope you'll agree.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

To Die For 12" Version

Another Integrity record for the collection, and this one is another reissue of an older release. 'To Die For' was originally released on CD only on Deathwish Inc. back in 2003 on CD. At the time I was incredibly disappointed, as it was pretty much the first Integrity release to not get pressed to vinyl. It was then finally put out on vinyl by A389 Recordings in 2010, on 10" format and with alternate artwork. And then for some reason, last year another different label reissued it on the more popular 12" vinyl format, with different artwork again. Obviously I needed to pick it up for my Integrity collection, and of course there were multiple versions, all of which I needed for my shelf.

I actually picked these up last year when this was released, but failed time and time again to take photos that were remotely usable. Finally I have managed to capture these colours accurately.

There were 100 copies on mint green vinyl. It doesn't exactly suit the artwork, but it's a nice colour nonetheless.

There were also another 100 copies made on a messy yellow colour. Same as the mint, this colour isn't exactly suitable, but it looks nice.

The common colour was the red vinyl, out of 300 copies. This is by far the most appropriate colour, although for some reason I find it the most boring. I guess I'm a big fan of solid colours rather then clear.

So that was it for the options available. But of course, there was a test press. I managed to get one from Dwid, which came with the usual handmade sleeve.

I actually have no idea who's mug that is on the front cover. I probably should know, but I don't. The back cover is plain, but the labels on the flipside are stamped.

This is one of my favourite of these tests. Most don't say the name of the release, so it makes a nice change to have the title written on the front cover.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Beautiful Reasons

A few weeks ago someone in my instagram feed posted a picture of a record that had me intrigued. The band is called The Cry and the record is titled 'Beautiful Reasons'.

This album is a bit of an underground classic. The band is probably best known for two songs that appeared on an old H-Street skateboard video, 'Hokus Pokus'. The song 'Alone' is used as the soundtrack to the Euro tour section of the video. When I used to watch skateboard videos a lot, I would often find that I would watch them for the skateboarding at the start, and then as time went on I would want to watch them for the music. And frustratingly, back then, most of the music on the H-Street videos was by local Californian bands who didn't have any actual music out. Not that I would have known where to get it back then even if they did have records out, as there was no internet and few shops in the UK that sold US hardcore type stuff.

This album was originally released on cassette only, way back in 1990. The band was from San Diego, but sounds more like they were from Manchester in the UK. The singer sounds so much like Morrissey in one song that even the most diehard Smiths fan would be forgiven for thinking that this was a rare, unreleased Smiths track.

It seems that the reason that this album has been pressed to wax nearly 30 years after its initial release is kinda cool. Back in 2016, another skate video used the song 'Alone' in homage to the old H-Street video. At the time, the band had their songs up on something called 'Spotify' and noticed that their streaming numbers increased, which helped them realise that there were still people interested in their band, resulting in them setting up an instagram account, and then the interest culminated in this album being put out on vinyl all these years later. The first pressing is 500 copies on blue vinyl, and it's apparently almost sold out.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Pursuance & Virulence

I mentioned in my last post that I picked up two items from the Rise Records for $21 each. The first was the War Generation test, and the second is the one I'm featuring today, which is an LP from Only Crime LP titled 'Pursuance'.

Only Crime was / is (not sure if they ever technically broke up) a hardcore 'supergroup' of sorts, featuring Russ Rankin (Good Riddance) on vocals, Aaron Dalbec (Bane) on guitar, Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) on drums, and some other dudes I don't know. 'Pursuance' came out in 2014 and is the band's third full length.

Just like the War Generation test, this comes with a piece of paper as a front cover, and is numbered on the labels via stamps

Around the same time that I won this one, a test press of the second Only Crime LP 'Virulence' went up for sale on eBay, which was being sold by the label that released it, Fat Wreck. I placed a bid and didn't win, but then a couple of days later I was sent a second chance offer. Not sure if this was because the winner flaked, or because they just decided to sell an extra copy. Either way, it doesn't matter.

I'm not really a big fan of much on Fat Wreck, but I have to hand it to them, they have a pretty cool standard sleeve for their test presses.

Inside the standard cover is a plain white LP jacket with the date and catalog number stamped in the top right corner.

Fun fact - this was pressed at a Californian plant called Record Technology Incorporated, which now presses for Revelation after Rainbo closed its doors a few months ago.

The back of the Fat sleeve is also pretty cool and entertaining:

Not sure if you can read the text in the photo, so this is what it says:

Hey, this test press is real. We got it back in 2006 and it's been sitting in our offices until now, when you, Only Crime super fan, paid way too much for it.

It's then signed by both Fat Mike and Erin Burkett (the label owners). I have to say, it's clearly partly a joke, but it's also pretty cool at the same time.

I was pretty happy to pick up tests for 2 of the 3 Only Crime LPs, but the downside is that it just makes me want the test for the 1st one now so I can have the full set. However, that seems unlikely unless Fat auction one, in which case there will likely be a thousand bidders, because Fat Wreck collectors are almost as insane as Revelation collectors don't ya know.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Never Surrender

AN album titled 'Start Somewhere, Never Surrender' sneaked into my top 5 releases of the year back in 2013. It was released by a band called War Generation, which was a relatively short lived band that featured Jon Bunch on vocals, whose work I have been a big fan of for many years.

A few months ago, Rise Records (the label that released the record) sold some test pressings on eBay. I watched a couple of them, and was surprised that none of them seemed to attract too many bids. I watched a couple, and threw in some last minute bids, and I was even more surprised to win both records for only $21 each. Kind of a funny price considering both had a starting price of $20, because this must mean that someone else bid the opening price of $20 and just left it there. The way I see it, that's either really confident or really lazy bidding, I'm just not sure which.

As you can see, this is numbered 06/20 via stamps on the label. There's also a cover of sorts, which is just a piece of folded paper. Not overly exciting, but better than nothing.

As ever, I struggle to believe how much time has passed since this came out. Somehow it was nearly 7 years ago. If I had guessed, I would have said 5. Also, despite making my top 5 releases for 2013, I have barely played this since, but this test press was a good reminder to play this one again. Jon's vocal was always very distinct, so in a way it's easy to listen to this and think that you're listening to another Sensefield album.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

P&T

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I picked up a couple of items from the Youngblood 50% off sale, and the second one is vaguely related to the first.

Police & Thieves was a band from DC formed after the demise of Worn Thin by singer Carlos and some other dude. They ended up having a similar run to Worn Thin, releasing two 7"s and a 12", and also a split 7" (with Remission). They split up circa 2011 or 2012. Like Worn Thin, each release showed good progression since the previous.

This is a test press for the 'Amor Y Guerra' 7" that Youngblood put out back in 2008. It comes in a red paper sleeve with a silver 'P&T' in the corner.

As you can see, I got number 21. Presumably this is 21 out of 24 copies made.

I almost got one of these from Carlos a few years ago, but in the end he sold it to my rival instead. So it's good to finally find another, albeit 6 or 7 years later.

So of course I decided to dig out my other copies of this one for a group photo:

Just like the Worn Thin 7", I am missing one version of this one, being the regular black vinyl copy. But, just like with the Worn Thin 7", I'm not to fussed. I'm happy with this little collection as it is.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

What Could Have Been

A couple of months ago, Youngblood Records had a sale with 50% off of everything in the store. I bought something, but that will feature on here at some point in the future. But this was not the first time that Youngblood had run a 50% off sale. There was also one last year, and I bought two records which seemed like a good deal with half off.

Worn Thin was a DC band that existed circa 2000-2005. They released two 7"s and a full length before calling it quits. They were always one of my favourite Youngblood bands and I always felt that they were underrated compared to other bands of the time. Well anyway, I picked up a test press of their second 7", 'Remnants Of What Could Have Been'. It comes in a great Teen Idles rip off sleeve:

I got number 9/24. For some reason it seems that there are 24 copies of most Youngblood tests, and to this day I have no idea why. I'm curious as to whether the number contains any kind of significance.

I'd been putting off posting this one as I wanted to take a collection photo, but those things always take a bit of time, so I had put it off for a while. In the end it didn't actually take that long as I only had 4 other copies. So here it is:

In the photo is the test & the record release version on the top row, and the white vinyl tour press and regular red vinyl and clear vinyl copies on the second row. When I pulled these out, I realised I am missing the white vinyl non-tour press version, but since the only difference to the one I have is the lack of stamp on the paper inner sleeve, I figure I'll live without it. So this collection is now considered complete. Only took 17 years too.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Crossed Keys

I somehow picked up on this newish band called Crossed Keys. They're from Philadelphia and feature a bunch of dudes who have been in a bunch of bands, most of which I have heard of, with the exception of the drummer's old bands (Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black, Good Riddance & Lifetime). I downloaded their latest EP and have been really enjoying it, and when I saw it for sale at a UK distro I figured I'd buy one, because it looks pretty damn cool.

'Saviors' is a 7 song EP, and is pressed as a one sided 12". I got one of the blue vinyl copies, which is actually the most common colour (out of 200 copies).

The flipside is a screen-printed affair, and is pretty tastefully done.

This band plays a melodic style of hardcore which is probably best described as catchy. That's about as far as I can go with that one. But there's a to to like here, and this one has been my 'go to' record these last couple of weeks when we have had incredible hot weather for a change. Definitely one of my records of this summer.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

High Vis

Today's post is a recent-ish release that I've been listening to quite a lot lately. And, as usual, I'm slightly later than the cool kids...

The band is called High Vis and this is their debut LP, 'No Sense No Feeling'. The singer of this band used to be in a hardcore band called Dirty Money, but aside from his voice, this new band sounds nothing like the old band at all.

This bright yellow cover and vinyl combo is the perfect choice for a band called High Vis.

I'm not good at descriptions, but this sounds kinda like a slightly more modern and aggro version of Joy Division. I'm not really a big fan of that kind of stuff, but I gave it a chance just out of wanting to listen to something a bit different, and (a bit like the Chubby & The Gang LP from a couple of months ago), I found that I enjoyed it and kept coming back to it. So I bought a copy for the shelf. Funny how the most recent interesting records out of the UK are a big throwback to 1980 huh?

There are only 300 copies of this in total, and there are still some available for anyone who is interested HERE.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Bus Vol.I

Here's another compilation 7" I just sourced, and I would guess that a lot of people won't have heard of this one. This one is titled 'Bus Vol.1', and was released by a label called Jester Records way back in 1990. This one absolutely made my day / week. Carry on reading out find out why...

Jester Records is probably most well known for releasing a Headfirst 7". This compilation also features Headfirst, as well as Smile (who also had a 7" on Jester) and a band called Ice (which features Popeye from Farside).

I've actually owned a black vinyl copy of this 7" for many years. But I literally only found out that the clear vinyl existed about three weeks ago. For some reason or other, I started looking at my compilation 7"s and trying to figure out which ones I needed to 'upgrade' (i.e. find more limited, or additional copies of) and I decided to check whether this 7" existed on colour. I always suspected that it did, because I have two other releases on Jester Records (the Headfirst 7" and the Smile 7") and both come on limited coloured vinyl. The coloured vinyl copies are actually quite difficult to find, to the point where most people didn't know they came on colour at all, although that will have now changed with them being listed on discogs).

This was a pretty cool find. I checked on discogs at how many copies of this one were for sale. There were about 15 copies for sale, but one of them stated 'clear vinyl'. I messaged the seller and asked them to confirm that the record was indeed clear vinyl, but got no response. So I just took a chance and bought it anyway. It was only £2.50 + postage, and was being sold in the UK, so it arrived in about 3 days and I was pretty happy. And the picture above confirms what I always suspected, that the label made a limited colour vinyl of each of their releases.

This is the joy of record collecting summed up right here. Finding a 30 year old record you didn't know existed that nobody else cares about, and getting it for super cheap at the same time.