Sunday, 29 November 2020

Closer Still

One of this year's most anticipated and celebrated releases is the debut LP album from Change, a straight edge band from Seattle featuring a couple of members of Champion. 'Closer Still' was released in September on React! Records and the first press sold out pretty damn quick. Given that the last couple of React! releases were pressed on the Euro vinyl that I hate so much, it actually put me off ordering one right away. The most limited colour, clear pink, sold out in one day, so when I finally got around to placing an order a couple of days later, I was left with a choice of either a purple copy (out of 300) or the Revelation exclusive yellow vinyl (out of 200). And given there was something else that I wanted from Rev, it seemed like an easy choice.

Of course, when people started to receive their records and post pictures, it became apparent that I had made the wrong choice. I could see immediately that this record was pressed on finest quality US vinyl, and the colours that I didn't order of course ended up looking way nicer than the one I chose. Ah well.

The purple vinyl especially looked so rad that I was kicking myself for not ordering one when I had the chance. I tried to track one down to no avail, as it was sold out everywhere. But then last week, two days after the second press was put up for order, a UK distro that I use sometimes received a couple of copies, so I grabbed one quicksmart. I guess the slow postal system played to my advantage for once.

Aesthetically this record is rad. The cover looks great, as do the vinyl colours. It's definitely had a lot of thought gone into the layout, and it shows. As I've always said, the look of a record is every bit as important as the sounds, because it is the cover that draws people in.

The only thing I feel slightly confused about is whether this is a permanent new band, or whether this record is just a one off project to pay tribute to Uniform Choice. I mean, clearly this LP is heavily inspired by Uniform Choice. The tree graphic and the band logo from the front cover of this record is a tribute to an old UC shirt graphic. I found a version of it on the internet so you can see for yourself:

In keeping with the UC references, the record labels are also clearly a nod (rip off) of the labels on the 'Screaming For Change' LP. And then there's a spoken poem at the end of the record, which at first seemed kinda corny but on balance I now think I am ok with.

Musically this band reminds me of several other bands all at once without really reminding me of any one in particular. Having a couple of members of Champion, it does remind me of Champion in places, but it's a lot more varied. No doubt time will tell whether this band will hang around and do more, but even if they do just leave it here I actually think that there would be nothing wrong with that. This is a solid hardcore record from a modern straight edge band and no doubt one of the better releases of the year.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Red Arcade

So it feels more and more these days that getting a bargain online is harder and harder to do. Every man and his dog seems to be collecting records these days (which I actually think is a good thing as it keeps the format alive), but it means that there is generally more competition. If anything is prices reasonably on discogs then generally it will sell before I know it's for sale, and if I spot some hot item on eBay then you can guarantee that a bunch of other people will spot it too.

Having said all that, there are still rare opportunities. Like, for example, if a seller mentions in the title of an item that it is on red vinyl, but there are no pictures of the actual record, then perhaps other people wouldn't notice or be confident enough to bid. Like, for example, this copy of the Hüsker Dü 'Zen Arcade' LP:

It's now 8 years since I casually started collecting Hüsker Dü records. I think there's something about early 90s SST colour pressings that just make them fun to collect. I mean, they're relatively plentiful and a lot made it over to the UK, so they pop up for sale relatively often, and sometimes can go for a good price. So every now and again I seem to chance across another one and scoop it up. And all of a sudden I have 3 copies of this double LP.

I wasn't sure how many other versions of this one are out there. The information on discogs seems slightly confused as there is a gold vinyl copy listed, but the pictures of it look red. So I checked old ebay listings via popsike, as well as instagram, and I think there could be 2 more I don't have - a version with one orange record and one red record, and one which is orange-ish with black swirls. Although they might actually be the same. It's hard to tell.But whichever, there are still more I don't have, and as ever, it seems that the ones I don't have seem to be the most visually interesting.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Green Alert

Dischord Records recently pressed up more copies of the S.O.A. demo 7". I think it had been 3 years since the last one. When it was announced I knew I would pick one up, but I wasn't in a hurry. I figured there would be a lot of them, and I would wait for some to make their way to a UK distro. Well, it finally showed up in a UK distro last week and just in time too, as Dischord and the rest of the world seem to have sold out. I'm not sure if they made fewer copies of this one than the previous pressings, but just before it showed up in the UK distro it came to my attention that it's sold out and not available anywhere. So I was glad to be able to get it for new release price and not have to resort to discogs.

There were even a few copies of this that Henry Rollins himself sold. He signed them, and they sold out in about 5 seconds flat. Not that I'm into signed things, but this one would have been cool I think.

The previous pressings of this one have been on red, blue and yellow vinyl. I think there may have also been a black one, but who really cares about that? But even though this new one is the fifth pressing, clear green seems to make the most sense as it compliments the colour of the S.O.A. 'No Policy' 7" (Dischord number 2), which was also on clear green vinyl... albeit a slightly darker shade. So of course, I had to pull the two things out and photograph them together.

Also, as I had a rare day off of work today, I couldn't resist the temptation to get the previous colour pressings out for an updated pic. There's something satisfying about laying multiple copies of a record out... although, once it gets beyond about 6 records it goes the other way and becomes a pain in the ass. Thenkafully there are only 4 of these.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Annihilation Time

There have been a couple of examples that have come to light in the last couple of years where I realised that I took bad advice in the past. The first was when a friend told me to never listen to any Black Sabbath albums after the first six, which I found to be wrong a couple of years ago after discovering 'Heaven & Hell' for the first time in 2018. The other bad advice I took was to ignore the first Annihilation Time LP. This was from a friend who recommended their second LP to me, which I absolutely loved at the time, so I had no reason to doubt the advice back then. But back in May this year, when Fred Hammer advertised a limited colour vinyl repress of the first Annihilation Time LP, I figured I'd check it out for the first time. And within seconds I was loving it, and kicking myself for having missed out on it for the last 15 years or so. I guess today's lesson is... 'never trust your friends'.

Well anyway, I ordered a copy quickly, and I'm glad that I did because the 100 colour copies sold out in only a couple of days, which surprised me as I had no idea that this was a band that people were still interested in. And after a few months wait, I finally got my hands on the record recently, which made me even more stoked that I picked up a copy because this thing is one of the most incredible packages I have ever seen.

I took quite a few photos of this package as there is a lot to take in. But the rest of this post is mainly photos. I don't have too much to say about it.

So this is how it arrived, in a poly bag with stickers on the front:

When I flipped it over, I realised that the record was actually sealed inside the poly bag by means of a sticker across the flap on the back. Given that I wanted to access the inside, I had no choice but to somehow remove the sticker. I tried to peel it off, but it didn't work, so I had no choice but to slice through it with a sharp knife.

Sadly it wasn't quite as straight a cut as I hoped, but it did the job:

Once I got it out of the bag, it turned out that the obi-strip was more of a 'bent around the side' one, rather than the kind that wraps around the sleeve completely.

The inner sleeve is one of the best I have ever seen. It has the band's name printed all over it in some cool looking silver ink:

The LP itself comes on a clear orange vinyl. It looks slightly lighter in real life, but not much more.

What's really cool is that this colour vinyl version has special labels, which are different labels to the black vinyl version.

The record is just the start of this package. There was also a whole pile of extras bundled in with this:

Rather than take a photo of each item, and make this the longest post ever, I laid everything out all together so that you can see exactly what is in here:

Included in this photo is: A huge double side poster, a 28 page photo book, 3 x 12" double sided inserts contaning lyrics and writings, 3 stickers, a CD of the album, a guitar pick, a pair of labels from the other (black vinyl) version, and a patch.

I also then put the record itself on top of this stuff to give some scale.

One of the inserts contains a price breakdown of this record. Putting this package together was clearly a labour of love for Fred, and he clearly spent a lot of money to make it happen. On this insert is says (quote) I wanted the individual who bought it to go, "WOW!!!", which I absolutely did. I don't think I have ever seen a record with quite so much money and effort poured into it. With a total cost of $6240, this means that the manufacturing cost for each record was $12.48. Yet all I had to pay for this was $15 postpaid (to within the US). Which means that all of this work probably yielded Fred approximately zero profit. Crazy.

I've been listening to this LP a lot in recent months. The band's second LP, which featured a completely different lineup to this one, was a great mix of 70s rock and hardcore and I was way into it when it came out, but this one is pretty much straight up Black Flag worship, right down to the Raymond Pettibon artwork. OK, so it's pretty much a different band, but it's way more of a punk record. And whilst I'm annoyed at myself for not giving it a chance before, I'm glad that I have it in my life now.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Rated X

Back at the end of August Painkiller Records put up a couple of new records for order. I hadn't picked up too many new records this year, but was really interested as it felt like one of these records was potentially going to be the hot new thing in straight edge hardcore - the debut LP from Rated X, 'United Front'. For once, I made sure to place an order as soon as the orders went live to make sure I could get one of the limited orange vinyl copies. For a second, I wondered whether I should let any of my friends know that this was available, but I assumed none of them would be interested as these days they seem to be mainly into splatter vinyl death metal records I've never heard or, or Japanese copies of Rod Stewart singles, so instead I just went to bed feeling pretty happy that I'd secured myself a colour vinyl copy.

For those unaware, Rated X is the new straight edge band / record by one man straight edge army Tom Pimlott, the guy who invented Violent Reaction. I saw a post where he said that this was the straight edge hardcore record he'd always wanted to make. A big statement, but I have to say, I get it.

This record is relentless. The first song has a 40 second intro / build up, and then after that everything moves at 100mph. There are 12 songs and it's over in 15 minutes. It probably reminds me of No Tolerance more than any other straight edge band I can think of. Fast, hard and pissed, this is the perfect musical 'fuck you' response to all the shit that's gone down in 2020.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Secret People

Some records just stick in your brain for some reason. When I stumbled across a clear vinyl Secret People 7" on eBay a few weeks ago, I knew instantly that I wanted to buy it, because somewhere in the deptsh of my brain I remembered seeing the cover on some blog years ago and thinking it looked kinda cool.

It probably sounds dumb, but I thought that this cover with the various colourful masks looked rad and a really interesting idea, but for whatever reason it took me nine years to pick one up. I was pretty happy to get one of the 150 clear vinyl copies, and stoked that this was another 2020 lockdown bargain. I think the postage may have cost more than the record.

The eBay listing said that this band contained members of other well known bands, but they were secret, hence the name of the band. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but it sure sounds good.

I actually have a split 7" with this band on that I was sent back in 2013. I have zero memory of it, although at the time the other band were more of a point of interest for me. Well, I have listened to this quite a bit in the past couple of weeks, and it's really good. It reminds me of one of the best current hardcore bands (that I have bothered to listen to), Restraining Order. Even though I'm listening to this years after it came out, I'm kinda bummed the band didn't stick around longer and put out more material, because this is great.

As I said before, picking up bargain records is nearly as satisfying as picking up super rare, expensive ones sometimes.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Oakland Intervention

About a month or so ago, I was talking with some old blogger friends about some guilty pleasures that we had been listening to lately, and eventually the conversation turned to newer hardcore bands. When asked to name any relatively new hardcore band that gets us excited like the good old days, it was only Mike who really had anything positive to say. For what it's worth, my view is that there are some good bands out there and there are some great records, but that no matter how good a band may be, it's just not possible to get as excited to the same extent as when we were 20-30 years younger. But just because it has been a long time since I have felt that a band or record could actually change my life, I still love listening to new music.

Well anyway, a few weeks before that conversation I had decided to check out a band called Ex-Youth for some reason or other, and I found that I kept going back to the 7" again and again. This is a great example of a hardcore 7", with 6 songs that are blasted through in about 8 minutes.

I was going to grab a purple copy but I was beaten to it by a rival, so instead I picked up a white vinyl copy (/150) from within the UK.

This 7" actually came out a couple of years ago, but I'm still considering it 'new' because all they have out is this 7". The band has the guitarist of Ceremony on vocals, and I have to say that he does a great job. The songs are full of anger and rage, and it totally reminds me of something that could have come out on Bridge 9 in 2001.

Who says there are no good newer hardcore bands?

Monday, 16 November 2020

Re-enter The Dragon

Last year I picked up the latest Sick Of It All full length 'Wake The Sleeping Dragon' (which had actually come out the year before). As with a lot of modern records, there were about 10 different versions made for various places, but I picked up the US pressing on Fat Wreck, which to me seemed a better one to own than one of the many versions on Century Media. But then in time I noticed another Fat Wreck version floating about, which was one that was made only for sale at their store in San Francisco. It looked like an interesting looking record, so I figured that I would keep my eyes peeled for a copy if I could get one for a good price... which I eventually did.

This is officially known as 'clear with copper splatter' vinyl, and there were only 145 made. I don't think I have ever seen another record that looks like this before. It actually does look like it has lumps of stuff inside it. I took one photo with the white paper background and one without, as each looked very different, but neither really make this look as interesting as it is in real life.

Kinda funny that I ended up buying two versions of a modern SOIA LP, but I guess that's how it goes sometimes. Things just happen.

Saturday, 14 November 2020


In case you hadn't worked it out by now, I'm a sucker for 90s hardcore. It really was my era, and I still think it was the best era for music due to certain styles and sounds being new and exciting. The 90s was such a great time for musical variety within the worlds of hardcore, punk, alternative etc. Just think of how many essential or influential records have recently turned 20 or 25 years old in recent times. It's almost as if the 90s was three separate decades in one, such was the change and evolution in sounds and fashions, and it's fascinating to look back at those times and realise the impact that they have had on everything that has followed.

Being a self confessed 90s hardcore fanatic, I was pretty excited when an old, unreleased 7" by a Californian band called Palefire was put up for sale earlier this year. The band had a song on an old Indecision Records compilation ('Guilty By Association') that was released in smack bang in the middle of the 90s, and for me it was one of the more interesting songs on that comp. They were one of a few bands from the era who blended a female vocal over a typical 90s hardcore sound that ranged from chugging hardcore to 'emo', which was a sound I always liked. The band released a 5 song CDEP in 1996 on Ammunition Records, but that was it. Although it now turns out that 3 of those songs were pressed onto vinyl in 1996 but for some reason never actually released. I don't know how, but a few months ago they were unearthed and put up for sale at RevHQ.

It's not clear how many of these were made, but it doesn't really matter. I'm intrigued as to exactly where these things were sitting for the last 23 years or so. It also got me looking on discogs for other releases on the same label, Ammunition Records, and I was surprised to see that there were 5 other releases that never got beyond the test pressing stage. Seems crazy that a label would get test pressings made of 5 releases and never get around to releasing any of them.

Anyway, given that it is unlikely that many people reading this will have heard this band, I thought I would provide this handy shortcut to allow you to listen to my favourite of their songs. If there is a more 90s hardcore sounding song than this, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Blood Days

Back in 2016 I lost a parcel with a lot of records inside. It's pretty much the worst thing that ever happened to anyone (record related at least), but I got over it and life returned to normal. I barely think about it anymore, but now and again something reminds me of it... like when I pick up a copy of a record that was in that parcel.

Blood Days was a band made up of older dudes who were previously in a whole bunch of big Southern Californian hardcore bands. Gavin Oglesby (No For An Answer, 411), Joe D. Foster (Unity, Ignite), Jae Hansel (Outspoken), Casey Jones (No For An Answer, Ignite). The band formed in 2014 and put out a 12" EP ('Last Day On Earth') in 2015, which was a split release between Irish Voodoo Records and Coretex Records. The band's name is obviously a reference to the Unity LP frmo 1989, and this band sounds pretty similar. I really enjoyed this when it came out and managed to pick up an orange vinyl and a test press, both of which got lost in the mail. I always thought I would buy them again if I came across them cheap, and finally it happened.

The orange vinyl was /100 and was exclusive to Revelation.

I guess this band were forgotten about almost as quickly as they appeared, as I managed to get the test press on eBay for $20. As tests go, this one is good. It's numbered out of 25 copies and comes in a special sleeve.

I checked the pressing info and it turns out that all of the sleeves were signed by the band, not just mine, which means that thankfully I didn't manage to buy this from some fool who asked the band to sign it for him. Somehow that would have been embarrassing.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Conscious Unconscious Test

If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of discogs. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's a lot of positives about it, but my main gripe is that it is full of dickhead sellers who make up prices that bear no relation to reality, and they encourage other sellers to follow their lead. I've lost count of the number of times I have been on there looking for records to find 3 copies all listed at 3-4 times what the thing is actually worth. So annoying. At least with eBay auctions the market value could be tested. But on discogs, over priced records just sit there for years, and it annoys me. If you're not interested in selling, don't list it for sale.

Anyway, recently I was really lucky. I got the daily email telling me about all the stuff for sale from my want list, and I got excited because one of the items was a Mind Eraser 'Conscious Unconscious' test press. One hadn't sold before, so the price was untested and the seller had it listed at $35. I decided that this seemed like a fair price so bought it quicksmart.

Not an easy one to photograph, this comes in a plain black sleeve with the band name and the record title printed on the front. Simple, but effective.

Well, that wouldn't be the most interesting story if it ended there. But by coincidence, about two weeks later another copy appeared for sale on eBay as part of a huge lot of auctions from Painkiller Records. I decided to watch it just to see ow much it sold for. I just wanted to make sure it didn't got for $10 else I would have felt a little bummed. Well, the auctions drew a lot of attention and a lot of items sold for big money, and this record was one and in the end the bidding stopped at $230. So for once discogs gave up a real bargain, and I felt pretty lucky.

It had been a while since I had played this record, but I dug the other two copies out for a photo. Gold vinyl /200 and second press white vinyl /500.

I almost forgot that I got to see this band play a few years ago. They played a set in London when The Rival Mob came over back in 2013. So good. I'm not sure if they ever technically broke up, and as such I always hoped that they would come out with a new record at some point. Although 12 years on from the release of their last record, it now sadly seems highly unlikely.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Get Real x Cro Mags

Here I am still happily buying and collecting multple versions of hardcore records from the early 00s. Back then I found the numbers of versions of each record that labels pumped out slightly irritating, but over time I mellowed on it and then started to enjoy collecting some of these records. Today's post is for a full length from 2004 which I have always enjoyed - the Get Real 'Shore Style' LP.

This particular version comes in a Cro Mags rip of sleeve and was made for a show on Halloween back in 2004. There were 75 of these made, numbered on the back.

The vinyl is the more common clear blue with screen printed b-side. No idea how many of these exist, but this is very much the 'common' version of this record. Still, regardless of how many were made, it's still a cool record to look at.

As seems to be a bit of a trend recently, another version means another photo. I last added to this collection back in 2014 when I picked up the ten year anniversary version. Before that I picked up the test in 2010. The other couple I think I got when they came out.

I don't think there are anymore copies of this that I need. But I'm still interested in a test press of the 7" and a copy of the 'Fuck The Shore' 7" if anyone can help.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Time's Up

This year's record pick ups have been almost as weird as the year itself. The year started pretty strong with some great stuff, then during lockdown I shifted my attention to cheap finds within the UK. And fingers crossed I am hoping to pick up some new releases in the next couple of weeks before the end of the year arrives. But during the lockdown phase I picked up a bunch of cheap 7"s, one of which was a gold vinyl Worn Thin 7". I then realised that I was one copy of that 7" short of a full collection. So I decided to pick up the one I was missing, which is the black vinyl copy, which arrived recently.

Apparently this is the most limited version of this 7" there is, which kinda helped justify buying it in the first place. You know by now that I'm not the biggest fan of black vinyl, but the only exception is if it's the rarest version.

So of course, once I picked up the final copy that I was missing, I had to find the other copies that were dotted around my room to take a group shot of the finished collection.

Shown here are:

[Top row] Test press / 15 & 2 different record release show versions / 54

[Bottom row] Black vinyl / 142, gold vinyl / ?, and solid orange vinyl / 840

Funnily enugh, earlier this year I added a test press of the second Worn Thin 7" to the collection and snapped an almost complete collection photo of that 7" too. So now I'm feeling even more bummed that I missed that test press of the LP that Youngblood sold earlier in the year. Still, gotta have something left to aim for I guess.