Sunday, 28 June 2009

Coalesce Ox

Coalesce. I imagine everyone reading this will have heard of them. They've been around for a long time. I actually picked up on them from their 1st 7" all those years ago in about 1994. Over the years that have followed, I've continued to buy their records and listen to them frequently. In my opinion, they are a very, very rare thing within the world of music - a band who just get better and better. Every record seems to be a step up from the one before. In my experience, most bands go the opposite way and get worse and worse to the point where they become an embarrassment. But not Coalesce. And even though Coalesce broke up several years ago, they've never really quite been able to bury the band permanently. There have been a couple of reunion shows over the past few years, and a new 7" that came out a couple of years ago. And now, in 2009, they've just put out a new album entitled "Ox". In light of this, they arranged a short European tour, which (for the first time in a LONG time) got me excited enough to actually leave my house. But that's because, in all the time they have been together, they had never actually played outside of the US. So when I went to see them last week, I was pretty damn excited about the prospect of being able to release 15 years of waiting from under my belt.

Prior to the show, I had held out on buying the new LP via mail order simply because I figured the band might have brought some kind of special tour version on the road with them. Unfortunately though, they didn't. The only version they had for sale was the regular black version. So I just figured what the heck and bought one anyway:

The packaging on this is top notch. I'm actually glad to get the black vinyl, because the overriding theme of this album seems to be black. Everything about the packaging is black, even down to the paper dust sleeve. It doesn't show up too well in the photo above, but here's a close up of the cover to show that it has some embossed pattern all over it:

Strangely, even though everything is black, the reverse of the lyric sheet has a couple of random colour photos of country life.

And because there was no tour pressing of the record, I decided to make my own souvenir, so I did what I never, ever do and got my record signed by the band:

My friend Bez thinks I am gay for getting my record signed. I've never done it before. But they way I see it, getting it signed is not about getting signatures. It's not like meeting a footballer and getting him to put his name on a piece of paper that I can wank over, or that I can sell on eBay in a few years. It's about getting a souvenir of the show, and making my LP personal to me. It makes mine different to every other one out there. The best comment was from the guitarist, Jes, who I chatted to for probably an hour and a half, and who was one of the best dudes I have ever met.

Overall, the show was good... but not great. The band were awesome. I guess it was just a bit weird because of the crowd. Being on Relapse, there were a lot of metal types in attendance who have no idea how to dance or behave. As has happened many times in the past, morons put a slight dampener on things. But the band were incredible. It was refreshing to see a band who enjoy playing as much as the crowd enjoy seeing them play. Several times the singer and guitarist jumped into the crowd. Kinda reminded me of being at shows in the early 90s. Here are a couple of photos that Bez took:

To check out Bez's photography go HERE

The other big highlight of the night was meeting Dan Askew, owner of Second Nature Records, who was on tour with the band. I've bought a lot of the stuff he's put out over the years and I used to read his zine back in the mid 90s. He was a cool guy and had a cool sense of humour. I also spent some time trying to convince him to start getting his records pressed in the States again... haha!

Overall... great record, great band, great night.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Jawbreaker 'Busy' 7" on Red

I've been on quite a Jawbreaker kick lately. After picking up one of my biggest wants recently (the blue vinyl pressing of their first LP - HERE) I have been listening to them again for the first time in a few years. This prompted me to pick up another of their rarest records, which I have had on my want list for a LONG time... the 'Busy' 7" on red vinyl:

This is the first press and rarest version of this record. There were 150 copies on red vinyl which were hand numbered (rather fittingly with a red pen):

The guy selling this on eBay got it straight from the collection of the dude who used to own Shredder Records. This copy is in absolutely mint condition, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that it may never have been played. There can't be many copies in such good condition, especially seeing as this record will be 20 years old next month. All things considered, I'm pretty happy. As Ice Cube would say, "Today was a good day".

Monday, 22 June 2009

Black Flag - Who's Got The 10½ on Pink?

The answer is, of course, me. Stuff like this is why I love record collecting. I only picked this record up on purple a couple of months ago (see HERE). I knew it existed on purple because I used to own it about 17 years ago. But I'd never seen it on any other colour. Then, a couple of weeks after I picked up the purple copy, I saw it for sale on ebay on pink vinyl. However, the starting bid was £25. I figured this too much. So, not being in a hurry, I waited. I guess the record collecting gods must be smiling on me because another one popped up only last week. And being a selfish asshole I knew I had to have it, so I bid and was lucky enough to bag it for only £10, which I consider to be a very fair price.

So now I'm one step closer. And once again I'll say what I always say... if anyone has any idea of exactly what Black Flag color vinyl is out there that I don't own, let me know. The only things I know I don't have are "My War" on blue and also on red, and "Damaged" on clear purple. And the 7"s (which I am far less bothered about). Oh yeah, and I'm not interested in any 10"s. I hate 10"s.Don't talk to me about 10"s. Ever. Let's just pretend like they don't exist, ok?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Pelican 4th Pressing

I've always bought stuff from Hydrahead Records. I used to phone up Aaron Turner back when the label was young circa 1997 and ask him what was coming out & how much money I needed to send. One time he told me there were going to be 6 different versions of the first Cave In 12", so I sent money for six and then he only made two versions... haha. Anyway, I always dug the label and the stuff they put out. So back in 2003 (or maybe 2004) when they put out a Pelican double LP ('Australasia') I thought nothing of ordering it, even though I had never heard of Pelican and had no clue about what they sounded like. When the record arrived, my first observation was that it had weird artwork with no words anywhere. I played the record and it seemed kinda weird. No vocals. Just long instrumental "songs" that were kinda heavy but also kinda not. At first I didn't get it. But I soon got into it. It seemed the perfect soundtrack to driving home from work in the long, light evenings. I then went through a phase where I sought out other bands that didn't have vocals. I kinda got to this point where I had decided that most vocals ruined the music, and decided that vocals were pointless and distracting. Pelican suddenly seemed like the perfect band. Then a year or so later they brought out a new album and they blew up. I saw them live in 2005 and they were amazing.

Anyway, I just picked up the fourth (and final) pressing of 'Australasia'. This version comes on silver and gold (or, rather, grey and dirty yellow) vinyl, in a screen-printed gatefold hand numbered sleeve. Its nice. Although what's weird is that I'm not sure what label actually released this. Does anyone know?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Pair Of Iron Boots

Sometimes I find that I don't consciously collect records. I just somehow end up with them. As stupid as this sounds, there just seem to be some bands whose records I just seem to slowly amass and then suddenly I end up with a few and it seems like I collect them. This seems to have happened with Iron Boots. It's not like I think they're the best band ever. They're alright, like. But not amazing. They released three 7"s in total in their short existence. So how many do I have? Eight. What a dumbass! The latest couple rocked up this week...

First, the gold vinyl repress of the demo 7". This is cool because it has a sleeve with gold lettering to match the vinyl (whereas the black vinyl has black ink... cool huh?):

The second Iron Boots 7" of this week is the final 7" on white. I think there are only 100 of these things.

Now that I have realised I have most of their records, I figure I might as well try to get the ones I haven't got... although, in order to do that, I'd need to get at least 5 more. Christ.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The First Step - What We Know Sessions

A new First Step 7" came out recently. It may be a new release, but it contains old recordings. It was put out by Bottled Up records. Somehow I missed seeing that it was coming out, so only found out when other bloggers put pictures of theirs up online... which meant that the most limited versions were long gone. So I fired off a late order and got two different coloured copies:

My first thought was "man, the cover is crap, what the hell is it supposed to be?". Standing back though, it becomes obvious, and kinda (but not THAT) cool:

I know the rarest version of this one is black, hand-numbered vinyl. No idea what the crack is with these two colours though.

So what's the record like? Well, this contains older recordings of songs that were on the "What We Know" LP. The sound quality isn't as good and the songs are definitely rough versions. Sometimes rough, demo versions of songs are better then the final, released versions. But in my opinion, that's not the case here. The LP, in my opinion, is great. This 7", unfortunately, is not. I'd advise only diehard TFS fans pick this up really... although, that said, they probably already have!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Promises... Kept!

I started ordering from Bridge Nine records back in 2000 or so. When Bane stayed at my house on their first euro tour in 2000, Bedard told me about some band called American Nightmare. Said it was the best hardcore record of the year. So I ordered one direct. Bridge Nine was a young and fresh label with some interesting records coming out. I quickly realised this and, from that point on, started ordering everything that B9 released. This went on until 2004, when two incidents put me off the label. First up was the Terror pre-order. I can't remember the time-frame exactly, but I remember placing an order and waiting MONTHS before the record turned up. It seemed to me that this was a sketchy practice. The second incident was when I ordered the Champion LP. I ordered two copies, and received one. Nevermind, I thought. Mistakes happen. I'll just get in touch with the label and sort it out. And this is where it went wrong. I think I sent three or four emails over a few weeks to ask the label to fix their mistake, but I got no response to any of them. Not a word. So I decided that they couldn't be trusted, and I decided that I would never order from Bridge Nine again. And to this day, I haven't.

I guess that this decision has cost me over the years. I mean, I have still bought some (not all) Bridge Nine releases, but I have bought them from distros, which of course means that I never get the most limited versions. But the way I saw it, better to get some regular version rather than risk getting ripped off and not receiving anything.

So anyway, imagine my surprise when, last week, I got an email from Chris Wrenn (owner of Bridge Nine) completely out of the blue asking what the problem was that I experienced five years ago with his label. Turns out he had been reading my blog, and had read THIS POST which makes some pretty strong accusations about his label. Thankfully, he wasn't aggressive or abusive. Just genuinely curious as to what exactly had happened, and wondering if he could put it right. We exchanged a couple of emails. I explained what had happened. He agreed that the B9 mailorder department wasn't exactly efficient five years ago, but also wanted to assure me that things have improved and mailorder is now efficient, and that also customer service has made significant leaps forward. He was also pretty insistent on making up for the mistake in 2004. So at his request, I sent him my want list. And today, a package turned up. I had no idea what was going to be inside. I opened it & found this note:

Then, when I moved the note, I found one of my most wanted records laying underneath:

Yup, it's the most limited pressing of the Champion "Promises Kept" LP. There were 150 of these on white with this special record release cover:

It also has this 'special' lyric sheet explaining how this version of the LP came to be:

I've bid on this a few times on eBay over the years since it came out, so I know how much this is worth. Which makes this seem like an extremely generous way of making up for what was probably a $15 mistake.

As I told Chris, I now feel slightly bad about what I wrote. I guess I need to learn to give people second chances. Basing my opinion of a mailorder service on one experience 5 years ago is probably a bit unfair. The fact that the guy who owns the label got in touch personally to try to rectify a small mistake that happened long ago probably says it all. He could have easily done nothing, since the opinion of one insignificant moron in the UK probably doesn't make the slightest difference to anything. But he went out of his way to apologise and restore my faith in his label... which I have to admit, he has done. It's things like this that set B9 apart from labels like, say, Victory :o)

Believe me, Chris, I am extremely grateful for this. THANKS!

Monday, 1 June 2009

F Bargains

Picked up a cheap Fastbreak 7" recently. Grabbed this for $3. No idea on the pressing info of this to be honest. I have one on red and one on clear, but they both have different colour sleeves. This one looks better if you ask me. Anyone know the pressing info for this record?

I had a member of Fastbreak stay at my house once. Luke Garro. He was in Piebald at the time. Nice guy. Shame the rest of them were miserable humourless bastards.. well, except the one who likes like Adam from Cave In, but he slept in the van.

I also grabbed an LP from the same seller that was going cheap from another band whose name begins with an "F"... Fall Silent. This is their first LP (I think) called "Superstructure". I have a couple of 7"s by this band that I picked up about '97 that I like, but I never got around to listening to anything else. Given that this was only $6 I figured I would give it a chance. It comes with one of the worst covers of all time:

Not sure I ever realised, but this band ended up on Revelation. Weird. I guess they probably got signed when Converge were blowing up, seeing as they have that kinda sound. I don't listen to stuff like this these days. Although, that said, I found myself enjoying this. Shame the cover's so awful. I can't wait to file this one away.