Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 - A Year In Review

Now that 2010 has passed, in the tradition of year-ends and new year starts, it's time to look back at the past twelve months and make a few observations. So welcome to my stupid review of 2010. I've decided to follow a similar format as last year, but with a bit more analysis thrown in. Well, what can I say? I've been off work for a couple of weeks and need to get back into the swing of pissing about with Excel...

To start things off, here's the summary of what I added to my collection this year, by month and format:

Strictly speaking, the monthly analysis is slightly off, since the numbers are from blog posts. And most of the time I have been behind with the blog. So this is more of an analysis of what I blogged about rather than strictly what I acquired in each month.

Here's the same information presented graphically:

As you can see, the total number of records acquired each month follows a relatively static pattern. Most months I acquired somewhere round 17-20 records, although the monthly average was 23 overall due to a couple of months which were way higher. There were four months that vary significantly from the trend:

1. March - only 11 records acquired. I have no idea why March was so sparse to be honest. I can't really explain this.

2. April - the huge spike is driven by one package of 16 LPs I bought from someone. Without that it wouldn't have been such an irregularity.

3. August - this was a month when I moved into my new apartment and after spending a lot of money on useless junk like legal fees and stamp duty I decided that I wanted to buy some records to make me feel better.

4. December - due to me having more money because it's a short month, I bought a few more records than I otherwise would have. Plus a couple of big orders placed ages ago (like my React! order) finally turned up. Oh, and I made a bit of an effort to catch up my blog backlog.

I also threw the format breakdown into a nice pie chart:

Once again (as last year), I ended up acquiring more 7"s than LPs. I find this slightly odd because I have always preferred LPs to 7"s. But I guess it's because 7"s are cheaper and generally more 'collectible' (i.e. there are usually more variations made of 7"s than LPs). And somehow I ended up adding 5 10"s to my collection, even though I HATE 10"s. But three of the five were Integrity records, so at least it's explainable.

Now, speaking of comparisons with last year, I have also shown the number of records acquired by month against the same information from last year. The results are quite interesting:

What this shows is that the two lines roughly follow the same gradient. They are ALMOST two parallel lines. The big anomaly is April last year, which was a day that I went to someone's house to buy a large chunk of their collection, acquiring nearly 90 records in one day. Without that, the two lines would run almost side by side.

The monthly analysis is also interesting. The patterns of both years are the same from July to December. I don't think there's an explanation for this. I think it's just coincidence. But interesting to see.

Anyway, enough analysis. The nerd-o-meter is going off the scale. Now on to the lists of my favourite things from 2010...

(Please note that each of the items in the list is linked to the posts I made. Click the record name to read the post about it. I also added links to all the record label sites in case you want to go buy them yourself)

My Top 5 7"s of 2010

1. Pale Creation 7" (A389 Records). Trust me, this 7" crushes everything else you have ever heard.

2. Times Together 7" (Just Another Day Records). A great record in the style of Uniform Choice by a current UK band. Great stuff!

3. Integrity 'We Are The End' 7" (Magic Bullet Records). The best Integrity jam for a long, long time. And a great looking record to boot!

4. Frontier(s) 7" (No Sleep Records). A late entry, but this band is great if (like me) you loved Falling Forward and the first Elliott 7". Can't wait to see them play in a month's time.

5. Mindset 'Time & Pressure' 7" (React! Records). A great straight edge 7". They don't make them like this anymore (very often).

My Top 5 LPs of 2010

1. Ceremony 'Rohnert Park' LP (Bridge Nine Records). I can't convey how good this LP is in words. Very surprising to say the least. I never rated Ceremony before this record but this record is truly fantastic.

2. Get The Most 'Together' LP (React! Records). I wasn't overly impressed with the 7"s, but like a lot of bands, GTM really came into their own with their debut LP. It still gets better every time I play it.

3. Integrity 'The Blackest Curse' LP (Deathwish Inc). A great album, and one that was the soundtrack for my early morning bike rides to work in Summer.

4. Nails 'Unsilent Death' LP (Six Feet Under Records). I don't even know how to describe this band's sound. Death metal grind? Who cares though. This LP rages from start to finish.

5. Pelican 'What We All Come To Need' 2xLP (Southern Lord). This was the other soundtrack for my summer bike rides to and from work. A great opening and a really strange yet beautiful ending too.

My Top 5 Scores of 2010

(i.e. good stuff I got in 2010 that came out before 2010)

1. Reason To Believe 7" on Green - I traded this one with Tru Pray. I can't describe how much I love this record, and to score a copy numbered out of 50 was like a nerd's dream come true.

2. Uniform Choice 'Screaming For Change' LP on colour vinyl x 2 I bought these with money from a big sale. This had been on my wants list since at least 1996.

3. Coalesce lot - I bought a couple of Coalesce records on eBay and then the seller offered me three more, all at a very reasonable price. Plus Sean Ingram from Coalesce commented. Cool.

4. Isis LP Trade - I traded a couple of Isis LPs from a member of the band. We exchanged a few emails and it was overall a cool and memorable experience.

5. Bane Give Blood LP Test - I bought this on eBay and spent a tonne of cash on it. More money than I have ever spent before. Worth it though. Outside of the band, I don't know anyone else who has one. Not even Tre.

Closing Comments
Overall, 2010 was an interesting year. However, in putting together this review I have realised that I bought pitifully few new releases this year. I don't think I could have even stretched myself to a top 10 if I had wanted to. So my resolution is to buy more new stuff. I don't want to be old and totally out of touch. I mean, I can't help the old bit, but the out of touch bit I can certainly work on. So come on, 2011... let's see what you've got!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Frontier(s) LP & 7"

As usual I'm a little slow on new releases, but at least this one came out in 2010 so I'm not THAT far behind! Anyway, the band is called FRONTIER(S). The main reason I was interested in picking these records up is that this band features some dude called Chris Higdon, who used to be in two bands from 10-15 years ago, called ELLIOTT and FALLING FORWARD. Both were great bands, although I have to admit that Elliott lost their way a little with their third album. Anyway, I have no idea what this dude has been doing for the past few years since Elliott called it a day, but I guess it doesn't matter. The point is that he is back and playing music again. Frontier(s) features Chris's trademark vocal over music that I would say is the exact midpoint between Falling Forward and Elliott. It's faster and noisier than Elliott, but the guitars aren't as 'hard' as some of the heavier Falling Forward moments. A crap description I know. But this is good. If you ever heard or liked either of those two bands then you'll like this for sure.

I picked up both of their releases recently, which is a little late since both came out in the summer of 2010. First up, their LP, entitled 'There Will Be No Miracles Here'. I got one of the white vinyl copies. Always nice when the vinyl colour goes nicely with the artwork:

The second record is a 7" entitled 'The Plains'. This features two songs, neither of which are on the LP. The packaging is very nice on this one. It's not often I have seen a shrink wrapped 7". But this one was:

The sleeve is a tri-fold affair, with all the text 'pressed' (the opposite of embossed) into the card. Must have cost quite a bit to make these things! Also, the dust sleeve glued into the sleeve, and is made of brown paper, which is slightly different and therefore cool. The only sucky thing is that I ordered a white one and got sent a back one in error.

I've only owned these records for a little over a week, but I can't stop playing them. This is really good stuff, especially since I haven't listened to anything of this style for a long time. This might even make my best of 2010 list if I do one...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Negative Appraoch 2010 7"s

If, like me, you still didn't manage to get around to acquiring a Negative Approach 7" yet, then Touch & Go Records have come to the rescue with a 2010 reissue. What I like about this is that the cover has been updated / altered, so that it now shows a cartoon version of the original. Some people thought this was a horrible idea when it was first announced a few months ago, but I think it's really cool. I mean, it's the same yet different. A new twist on an old classic. The labels haven't been updated though, and are the same as the original release, although are now printed in blue ink rather than black (or red).

Not sure if the the insert is the same or not though, since I don't own an original to compare it to.

Also, Taang! Records have also just released a Negative Approach 7", entitled 'Friends Of No One'. This features another cartoon sleeve, and contains six songs that were recorded in 1984 but only discovered on a tape in a basement in 2010.

I got a Taang! flyer, which is interesting because it suggests that some classic records are going to be reissued in the near future:

Yes, that's right - a Negative Approach box set is on the cards. Maybe if I'm lucky each one will come with an original 7" inside. If only!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Hoover LP on Green

Some records remind me of Christmas. This is one such example. The first Hoover LP, 'The Lurid Traversal Of Route 7'. The only reason that this reminds me of Christmas is because I bought this album over the holiday period in 1993. I even remember where I bought it from - some little record store in an indoor market type place in Southend on sea.

Anyway, 16 or so years later this thing has been reissued as part of Dischord's reissue series. I think there are 300 on green vinyl. The perfect colour to match the cover:

Monday, 27 December 2010

Pelican Wooden Box

Question - how stoked would you be if your girlfriend bought you a Pelican box set for Christmas? Probably nearly as stoked as I was I imagine.

This thing was put together by Viva Hate Records to mark Pelican's ten year anniversary. For the hefty price tag, you get one wooden (!) box containing all of Pelican's records to date, and an exclusive Florian Bertmer t-shirt:

The box itself is made of wood. As you can see, it has the band name debossed into the top.

Inside is literally every record that Pelican have released over the past ten years.

The record titles are carved into the inside of the box lid:

Each box is also numbered out of 500. The first 150 are on white vinyl, with the remaining 350 sets being on black vinyl.

What I like about this is the sense of neatness and order. All the records have similar layouts. Like the spines, for example:

Also, all the records have had all the text removed from the covers. So each cover is a picture only. And each is a different colour and has the same border size around the picture. It's little touches like this that makes it seem like a set. As an example, here's a picture of the box set version (left) next to the regular version of the last album:

Take that idea and repeat it seven times and this is what you get:

I got one of the white ones. Given that three of the albums are double LPs, there's a total of ten records in the box:

The back of each sleeve is also laid out in a similar way, adding to the feel of consistency:

Also, each LP sleeve has a coloured inside. And each one is a different colour. Here's what I mean:

Overall, this is a really beautiful piece of art. The only slight problem is that it gives me a dilemma - where the hell am I going to keep this thing?

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Movielife LP on White

Did I ever by any chance mention that I collect Revelation Records vinyl? No? Really? Well, I do. I remember when I was poor back in about 2000 and they announced that they were going to be repressing some of their older records on colour vinyl, and I was like "Noooooooo!!!!" because I knew it was going to cost money. These days I'm not so poor, but i still don't like it when they repress something because it just makes me feel like they are taking a step closer to becoming one of those labels that ends up with 50 colours of every single release, making their records (and my whole collection) worthless and undesirable in the process.

The latest repress is the Movielife LP that came out in about 2000. What was weird about this originally was that there was a boat load of colour vinyl copies. Most Revelation releases had a colour vinyl limited to 200-300 or so copies at the time, but the Movielife LP came on blue and there were a whopping 750 of those suckers pressed. But now, here we are ten years later and there's two new colours available. The first repress out of the gates a white vinyl version which is limited to 309 copies:

The second colour is red and is out of 503 copies. I'd like to be able to show you what it looks like, but unfortunately I can't because I don't have one. This is because, even though Revelation made this thing, they don't have any to sell. The reason being that the red vinyl was made as an exclusive for Hot Topic , so all the red copies got sent there. "What's Hot Topic?" you may ask. Well, I wasn't sure of that either until I went to their website a couple of days ago. In their own words; "Hot Topic specializes in music and pop culture based fashion". That probably gives you a flavour of what they are about, but I don't think I can even begin to explain how bad this operation looks, so I'll just advise you have a look yourself. What I don't get though is why Revelation would pander to these people. Why make an exclusive version of one of your releases for a joke company like this to sell? Very disappointing. Even worse, after having someone convincing Revelation to make an exclusive red vinyl Movielife LP for them, Hot Topic don't even advertise that the red vinyl they have is exclusive to them. Fucking amateurs. Anyway, I'm gonna have to find one on eBay I guess. I'm not giving my money and support to this shite. Or maybe if I'm lucky some other Revelation nut like Geoff has had the sense to hoard a couple of spare red ones and they'll just send me one over :o)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Past Present Comp LP

When I was 18 or so and pretty new to the world of hardcore and punk rock, compilations were pretty useful things to have around. Back before the internet was switched on, the only way to hear bands was on records or tapes, but even finding places that sold such things was not easy. So finding a compilation with loads of bands I had never heard, or heard of, was a great way of trying new bands out and finding new favourites whose records I could then go and explore later. However, that was the early 90s. In 2010 I would argue that things are different. People can listen to any band they want at any time thanks to the internerd. So what point do compilations serve?

The only answer I can come up with is "fun". Compilations nowadays seem to be more about grouping together bands to play on a record linked together by some kind of common theme. A semi-recentish trend is 'the tribute record', where different bands cover an older band's songs. And Revelation Records have just added to this genre with the third in their series of dodgy compilations to mark another 50 releases. If you recall, Rev 50 was some pointless CD compilation, Rev 100 was a pointless double LP compilation, and now we have Rev 150, a compilation LP of current (at least, they were a couple of years ago) bands slaughtering some early Revelation classics.

First up, I have to say, before listening to this thing, I actually really like the cover. As you can see, the cover is a 'live' shot of a CBGB matinee show. Well, that's what it's meant to look like. It's actually a mock up (really?) using GI Joe figures. As you probably know (and if not, please go boil your head) Revelation used to trade rare records for GI Joe stuff in the late 80s. So this cover does seem a fitting tribute to the label's early days in more ways than one.

But what about the record itself? Is it worth buying? Well, yes and no. As a fun, themed record (and of course, being on Revelation), then it's a must have. But as a valid LP in it's own right, unfortunately, it seems pretty pointless. Trust me, you're not going to listen to it more than twice. Once out of curiosity to see how each song sounds, and then a second time to confirm that listening to it any further would be a waste of time.

The problem for me is that most of the covers are pretty close to the originals. I used to think that covers were only good if they sounded really close to the original. These days my opinion is the opposite. If a cover sounds like the original, then it serves no point. I mean, as an example, Down To Nothing do a pretty good cover of the Judge song 'Where It Went'. Musically it's absolutely spot on. The vocal isn't quite Mike Judge. But it's still as good a Judge cover as you're going to get. But my point is this - why would I choose to listen to Down To Nothing covering Judge when I could just as easily listen to Judge? The same goes for loads of the songs on here - they're too close to the originals to be interesting. That said though, it remains interesting once or twice to listen to these songs but have some subtle differences thrown in. But I just don't think the differences are significant enough in most cases to make the songs notable and interesting.

The most interesting songs for me are the ones that are in some way different to the original songs, which makes them individual songs in their own right. Ignite do an interesting cover of Youth Of Today's 'Disengage', and Walter Schreifels does an acoustic Sick Of It All medley. There's also some band called The Twilight Transmission who do an alright Quicksand cover.

To be fair, even though this LP isn't exactly great, it's not bad either. There's only one stand out awful song, which is a Texas Is The Reason cover by some band called Mikoto. Every other of the 23 songs is a cover of a hardcore song, and these clowns ruin the tempo and mood by cranking out some mid-paced emo jive. Bad choice and definitely should have been rejected from the final version. Shame on you, Mikoto... whoever you are/were.

You probably shouldn't listen to me though. I'm still annoyed that I got sent a black one instead of the yellow one I ordered.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

React! Records Catch Up

Back in late July I was MOVING HOUSE and when Doug & Mike were posting up about their latest React! Records scores, I felt left out. It seemed that those dudes were picking up some great records whilst my React! collection was starting to feel like it was lacking. I was even thinking about giving up. But I had other things on my mind at the time. Carrying your record collection down the stairs and buying a wooden floor are serious matters!

However, once I got into my new place, I realised that my last React! order had gone a bit wrong and despite paying for three copies of the Get The Most LP, I had only been sent two. So I emailed the label and they admitted a minor mailorder mistake. They asked for my address so they could send another one out. I then found myself in a familiar situation. A single record being mailed overseas seemed like a wasted opportunity. I mean, if you're going to send me a box, you might as well fill it the fuck up, right? So I went straight to the label's CEO, Mr Arslanian, with my negotiating hat on and I bargained HARD. In the end he agreed to help my React! collection get back to an almost respectable level. Unfortunately though I forgot to negotiate delivery times. This stuff took a good couple of months to arrive... although, to be fair, I think that was something to do with problems with one of the new releases. Goddamn pressing plants.

The first thing I ordered, albeit later than the rest of the world, was the new Betrayed 7". I have to admit, I have no idea what is going on with Betrayed. Their first 7" was on Bridge 9 and was amazing, their LP was on Rivalry and was amazing, and I kinda forgot but they also got signed to Equal Vision. They were poised to take over the world. And then they broke up. But then a year or two later they seemed to start playing out again every so often. And now they have new songs out on a 7" on React! and (even more surprising) Todd Jones seems to be still in the band despite doing rather well with his other band Nails. So at this point I don't know whether Betrayed is a full time band or a part time band or if they are together or broken up or what. But what I do know is that their latest 7" is very good and I have three shiny copies of it.

The second new release I pre-ordered late was the Give 7". Something about this band has me psyched. For those who do not know, Give are basically the Swiz of 2010. No more and no less. They also seem to have some kind of fixation with flowers. I don't get it at all, but I have to admit that the flower logo looks cool and the band rocks pretty hard If you like Swiz you cannot fail to like this... unless of course you are a dickhead.

Give have other records that I still didn't get around to picking up but I badly want to after listening to these two songs. I also badly want the 7" on Deranged Records on purple vinyl, but I don't fancy paying the $200 shipping that the label seem to want to charge, so if anyone out there has one and wants to let it go then please get in touch!

And finally, the third of my late pre-orders was for the Common Cause 12". As I understand it, this is actually a repress of a 7" on some dodgy Euro label with demo tracks on the flipside. This is really good hardcore. Dudes in this band used to be in other quality hardcore bands like Damage Control and Insurance Risk, so it's no surprise that this is good. Not sure it is good enough to warrant me buying four copies, but I guess that's the game I'm in these days.

Once I had caught up with the pre-orders and was then kind of up to date, I tried to fill some holes in the back catalogue. The rest of the package was therefore stuff that had either sold out or that I didn't know about, and seems to be mainly stuff that was limited to 100 copies or so. Here' a quick run-down:

The orange vinyl of the Damages 7". This one was limited to 100 copies and comes with a patch that you can sew on to your backpack as you read HeartattaCk zine through your thick rimmed specs and attempt to time warp back to 1995:

Next is the pink vinyl of the Praise 7". This one was also limited to 100.

And here's the blue Get The Most LP that was accidentally left out of my previous order:

I also got jealous of Doug & Mike for getting the green vinyl release show pressing, so I had to get one of those too. Limited to a strange 133 copies (is there a significance to this number that I am missing?):

Thing is, Mike & Doug are going to be jealous of the number I got sent. They were both stoked with the numbers they got, but clearly my number trumps them both. I mean, everyone knows the significance of 44, right?

I probably sound like some 18 year old fag who has never heard any bands from before 2008 at this point, but goddamn I love this LP. I wasn't overly impressed with it when it first came out, but like most great records, it's a bit of a sleeper. It takes time to appreciate, but the more you listen to it, the more it grows on you. This has slowly worked it's way into my top releases of 2010 for sure.

Next, the Gone But Not Forgotten 7" with alternate cover on red vinyl. There were 100 of these things. I think this cover looks way better than the regular cover. I also think that this may be the most under-rated React! release. Not that I have a clue what the kids rate and don't rate though you understand.

And finally, the Mindset 2nd 7" record release show version. Again, 100 of these suckas exist.

As you may have guessed, I was pretty stoked on this package. It's nice to be up to date on both the blog and React! releases for the first time in 2010. Mind you, I say that, and at this time there are three other pre-orders that have been up for a few weeks that I have ignored. So technically I suppose I am behind after all. No change there then...