Thursday 30 December 2021

So That Was 2021?

So 2021 was a bit of a weird year. For the most part it was completely uneventful. We started the year in lockdown and as a result I think I did absolutely nothing for the first 5 months or so. I then started going back into the office at work for a day or two each week, but still didn't actually do anything other than work. Before I knew it, Summer had gone and we were heading toward the end of the year without having been anywhere or done anything at all. I managed to squeeze in a trip to Los Angeles in late November / early December. But aside from that, 2021 was probably the most boring, repetitive, uneventful year of my entire life. Good riddance to it.

The year in record collecting was slightly more interesting, although looking back, it was one of the quietest in recent years in terms of both new releases and cool pickups. I did manage to pick up a couple of nice items on my trip but ran out of time to feature them.


Almost every year I come to write some kind of summary of the year, and every year it takes much longer than I expected. Anyway, for what it's worth, here's are my top 9 releases from 2021. In previous years I have mainly done lists of things that I picked up on vinyl, but this year I decided to make the list about my favourite releases, whether I managed to pick up vinyl copies of them or not, mainly because it didn't feel right to miss out a couple just because I didn't pick up the round plastic version.

I was going to do a top 10, but instead decided to do a top 9 as it makes for an easier, square image. My choices are not really in any kind of order. Shown above are:

Iceburn 'Asclepius' LP - If someone would have told me that there would be a new Iceburn record this year, and that I would both buy it and love it, I would have thought they were joking. For me, this is the stand out best records of the year. My only disappointment is that I told several people how good this is and I don't think any of them even bothered listening to it.

Dinosaur Jr 'Sweep It Into Space' LP - a new Dinosaur Jr. record is never a disappointment, and this one wasn't either.

Turnstile 'Glow On' LP - the first time I heard this I almost turned it off after 2 songs, so awful did it seem. But it ended up being amazing. I'm so bummed that I missed out on getting a vinyl copy, and I can't imagine I will find one anytime soon as the second hand prices are nuts for any version. Ah, gotta love modern record collecting and discogs!

Dare 'Against All Odds' LP - a great new straight edge hardcore album from the latest Rev band. It goes hard out of the blocks and also has cool cover art and some nice vinyl colours too.

Freewill 'All This Time' LP - the follow up to their debut which was recorded back in 1988. They now sound like they'd be more at home on Fat Wreck circa 1994, but I'm really into it.

Descendents '9th & Walnut' LP - a new Descendents LP which is actually old music with new vocals. As ever with a Descendents record, it delivered, but it did not need to exist on so many different colours of vinyl for fuck's sake.

27 'A Billion Searchlights' LP - a band that I used to be totally obsessed with, they released their first full length since 2010 and I love it. The songs, the artwork, the vinyl colours are all amazing.

Quicksand 'Distant Populations' LP - this was a funny one for me. I started off finding it dull, then I started to get into it and played it 3 times a day, then I got bored of it again. ALl of this happened in a two week period. I played it again today and it's still good. I didn't buy a vinyl copy as all of the colour options were ugly splatters, although the pink vinyl looks nice... but costs way too much thanks to modern record collectors.

Scowl 'How Flowers Grow' LP - a new female fronted hardcore band which is so damn good. This is their debut full length, but sadly, it seems that they totally underestimated how popular this would be. It came out in late November and was impossible to get hold of on vinyl. I spent a lot of time trying to find one to no avail.


After scrolling back through the posts for the year, it was a slightly quieter year for picking up cool stuff this year I think. But I still managed to add some nice items to the collection. My favourites were these:

Shown in the photo are:

Bold 'Speak Out' LP Green vinyl test press
Cave In 'Mr. Co-Dexterity / Inflatable Dream' 7" Test press
Harvest 'Living With A God Complex' LP on grey vinyl
Integrity 'Humanity Is The Devil' LP liquid filled version
Integrity 'To Die For' LP liquid filled version
Dag Nasty '85-86' 4x7" box set test press
Tad 'Lycanthrope' 7" on yellow vinyl
Warzone 'Lower East Side Crew' 7" numbered label


I've done this list the last few years as I find it interesting to make a record of other music that I have spent a lot of time listening to. It's fun for me to look back on if nothing else. But other than the year's new releases, I have listened to all manor of stuff this year. These are the ones I spent the most time with..

Sinking 'Only Echoes' - I got a flyer for this record at the start of the year, and something about it caught my eye, so I checked it out... and loved it. It took me right back to the 90s and reminds me of bands like Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate. I have a vinyl copy hopefully incoming in 2022.

Bad Religion 'Back To The Known' EP - For some reason I realised at the start of the year that I had never actually heard this record, so I downloaded it and really enjoyed it. I gave up on Bad Religion a long time ago, so it was kinda cool to find a 'new' BR record from when they were good.

Swervedriver 'Raise' LP - I realised that I had been listening to only 4 Swervedriver songs for 30 years, so decided to check out their first album, and loved it. I'd love to find a vinyl copy at some point.

Christiansen 'Stylish Nihilist' - Around May time I decided to download the albums on Revelation Records that I had never heard as they were released on CD only. Some were terrible, but some I really enjoyed. This Christainsen album was my favourite, and I played in incessently for a few weeks. Such an unappreciated gem. I asked Rev about putting out a vinyl copy, but they don't think there would be enough interest to break even.

Gracer 'Voices Travel' - another Rev CD only release, this one reminded me a lot of Elliott. A really great record by a band that released only one record and were somehow on Rev, and that nobody has ever heard of or heard. A truly under appreciated gem.

On The Might Of Princes 'Where You Are And Where You Want To Be' - the third Revelation CD only release that I really enjoyed listening to. This one came out back in 2001 so it took me 20 years to check it out. Reminds me in places of early Piebald.

Slipknot 1st LP - not much to be said here. After enjoying System Of A Down last year, I decided to check out the first Slipknot album, and I have loved it, especially when I needed an extra push in the gym.

Gray Matter 'Take It Back' - I once sold some dude's collection back in about 1994/95, and in there was a first press copy of this record on maroon vinyl. I didn't really like it back then so I sold it. But this year I decided to try it again and I couldn't get enough of it. If only I hadn't sold that damn record!

Six Going On Seven 'Heartbreak's Got Backbeat' LP - I loved this band's first album when it came out in 1997, and I bought this one when it came out in 1999. But for some reason I didn't take to it and shelved it. This year I tried it out again and really enjoyed it. I played it every day whilst driving around L.A. at the end of the year too, to the point where Anna was getting sick of it. Ha!


Another year in the books, and as is the case every year, I wonder how much longer I will keep this going. Sometimes I enjoy doing this, and sometimes it feels like a chore. But no doubt if you're reading this then you're still getting something out of it too, which is pretty cool. So now it's onwards and upwards to 2022, a.k.a. 2020 2....

Wednesday 29 December 2021

The Holy Green Trinity

One last post for the year, and this is a big one. I was keen to sneak this in before 2021 came to an end. Seems I've just about made it.

This record was, until this month, my most wanted record. It's been my most wanted record for about two and a half years. Before that it was my joint most wanted record. But I have wanted to own one of these for a very long time. Probably around 23 years or so at a guess.

Bold 'Speak Out' LP Test press on green vinyl. There were 10 copies made somewhere around 1992, I think.

These test presses had plain white labels, but someone at Rev wrote on the A side label. The flip side label has been left blank.

There are 3 different green vinyl test pressings that were made at the same time. They are as follows:
Rev07 - 'New York City Hardcore The Way It Is' compilation LP
Rev08 - Youth Of Today 'Break Down The Walls' LP
Rev09 - Bold 'Speak Out' LP

I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think they were pressed by Erika Records, and that the label didn't actually request colour vinyl. The new test pressings of these 3 albums came back from the plant and just happened to be green vinyl. So they are kind of an accident.

I first became aware of these things in the late 90s when the Revelation discography was published. Back then I didn't really have any interest in test presseings, but they definitely caught my eye. But at some point I definitely started dreaming of owning them. I used to only collect colour vinyl pressings, and despite the fact that these are test pressings, they were the rarest pieces of Rev colour vinyl in existence... so I wanted them. But any dreams I had were dashed when, in 2002, someone offered me one of them for $400. At the time this was an insane amount of money and I immediately said no. I didn't even consider paying it for one second. But it made me realise that these things were next level items for serious collectors only... and I was definitely an amateur playing in the little league. So I figured I would never own them.

Well anyway, acquiring this Bold record has now completed the set for me, and proven yet again that everything comes in time. Patience is very important in this game. As is focus. Sometimes you wait and things come along, and sometimes you go out there and chase things. And sometimes it's a mix of the two. But after many years of dreaming, the green test trilogy has become a reality.

There are only 3 other people out there who own all 3 of these 3 records, so I feel super lucky and honoured to have these things in my house. I remember that I once said that if I ever got these three then I would retire from collecting. I may well have meant it at the time, but now I'm there it feels like I'm getting into the swing of it, so I may actually carry on. We shall see...

Monday 27 December 2021

A Billion Searchlights

Back around 2005 the band Isis were a big deal, as were lots of bands who sounded like them, mainly characterised by long songs and pretty much no vocals. At the time I got really into a lot of that stuff. One band that were associated with Isis, but sounded absolutely nothing like them whatsoever, was 27. The vocalist, Maria, appears on an Isis song on what is probably stil regarded as their best record (Oceanic) and the bands toured together. That's how I heard 27, but as mentioned, they sound nothing like Isis. The band features a dreamy soft female vocal over a soft guitar and drums. I really fell in love with this band circa 2005, and they let me release one of their albums on vinyl because Relapse Records only put out a CD. Over the years they have been pretty quiet, but now and again they surface with some new material. And in 2021 they put out a new full length, 'A Billion Searchlights'. It came out in late July, and I finally received the hard copies last week.

The first thing to mention is the quality of these records. Thankfully the label that released this uses a good quality US pressing plant as opposed to the one that I hate that cranks out the cheap plastic. So these records all look and feel great. There are 3 colours available, and all are visually very interesting.

The first version is 'Rainbow splatter' and is out of 100 copies.

Clearly this colour is designed to match the cover art of the record, which it does really well. This record is also supposed to give a positive message of support for everyone as the last two years have been pretty tough. So the flipside label has 'Keep Going' written on it, which is a lyric from the opening song on the record.

The second colour is the 'searchlight' version. This is a pretty clever idea, I think. The label features a searchlight, which then continues into the vinyl itself via a white splotch. There are 94 copies of this particular version.

The third colour is called 'Deep Ocean Eyes'. I'm not sure I have seen this colour before exctly, but it looks fantastic.

I also got sent a 4th version, which is really just a mispress of the 'searchlight' version, where the white bit in the vinyl doesn't line up with the searchlight on the label.

There were 8 of these mispress copies, and they were stamped and numbered and given only to friends and family. I feel really lucky to have been given one of the friends & family copies, and I'm super grateful.

This record was a great surprise this year. The last full length from this band was in 2010, so this new one is kind of a big deal, and has got a lot of play from me in recent weeks. If you're looking for something a bit quiter and gentler for your cosy winter nights in, this could be the record you are looking for.

Sunday 26 December 2021

Against All Odds

Here's another new release from 2021 that I'm trying to squeeze in before the end of the year, this post is the debut full length from Southern California straight edge band Dare entitled 'Against All Odds'. This was released by Revelation, with the vinyl having been delayed a bit, and with it finally materialising just over a month ago. This is a rare example where I downloaded the songs before I had the vinyl because I was keen to check it out, so I've actually been playing this one for quite some time despite only recently getting hold of one of the circular plastic versions.

I hadn't really heard of Dare before they got signed to Rev, and had assumed that they were a new band, but checking online I was surprised to find out that they had previously had a 7" and a flexi 7" released by Reaper Records. Seems their first recorded output was in 2017, so they've already been going for at least 4 years. In a way it seems quite impressive that they've been going for 4 years and have just put out a full length, as 4 years seems to be longer than a lot of hardcore bands' entire lifecyle these days.

I'm a big fan of a song starting with a grunt, which this record delivers after 15 seconds which then opens a fariyl typical hardcore instrumental intro. Also, as I mentioned, Dare are a straight edge, and somehow in 2021 it feels kinda refreshing to hear a current band singing about more traditional straight edge subject matter. There's a song about being 'proud to be straight edge' and another where the chorus is 'fuck off, get lost, without you we're all better off'. Just what you need sometimes to fight off the feelings of being old.

This is the orange vinyl version which was made for Independent Records shops, and it proved a mild pain in the ass to get hold of. I was at RevHQ a couple of weeks back and they told me they didn't have any. A couple of days later we were out hiking and on the way home stopped in Programme Skate & Sound to pick up a copy, but they were sold out. It suddenly felt like this one was going to elude me. Then a day or two later I was in Hollywood, and ended up nipping into Amoeba Records, and I found a copy in there. I was happy. But then when I got home I realised that the copy I bought at Rev that was supposed to be purple was in fact orange. So after an initial panic about this, I have ended up with two copies. If anyone wants the spare, get in touch.

Friday 24 December 2021

All This Time

So there was a new Freewill album released this year. The band were originally around waaay back in the late 80s, with their debut LP being recorded in 1988. Back then a test press was made by Wishingwell Records, but the record was never given a proper release... until New Age Records finally put it out in 2016. Well I guess this provided a spark for the band to get back together, and a few weeks ago their follow up album was released. Rather appropriately titled 'All This Time', the record was put out by Unity Worldwide Records. I was intent on getting hold of a test press to keep my Freewill test press collection complete, and managed to do just that with the help of a friend.

I was waiting to post this until I had listened to the record properly, which took a while as my record player is knackered and I struggled to find the songs to download (I don't use spotify). Eventually I ended up paying to download the songs, but at the price of $1, I didn't mind too much.

It's always difficult when old bands get back together after years apart. Freewill is an interesting case. Their first record sounds very similar to Dag Nasty, and definitely has a melodic 80s vibe going on. These days it sounds slightly dated, but in a good way. This new record, however, suonds absolutely nothing like the first record at all. I would confidently say that if you didn't listen to this knowing that it was Freewill, then you would never guess. To me, this sounds like the kind of band that would come out on Epitaph or Fat Wreck a few years ago. At first this new sound put me off, but I really wanted to give this a fair go, so I made sure to play it a couple more times, and then I started to find myself getting hooked. And wouldn't you know it, I have ended up absolutely loving this record. Clearly I'm going to have to pick up a 'regular' copy at some point.

Thursday 23 December 2021

Blood Filled

It was only last month that I posted about a bunch of Integrity 'To Die For' 12" represses that were fresh off the press, and then here we are a month later with another version. But this one is kinda special. This is a 'blood filled' version of the record, very similar to the liquid filled version of 'Humanity Is The Devil' that came out about four years ago (but which I only received a few weeks ago) yet this one is much more limited.

There were only 20 copies of this one made, and all come with a certificate which contains a number. Mine is number 15.

The record is referred to as 'blood filled' as it is fille with a red liquid... which admittedly looks like a kind of light purple colour in the next two photos:

I think that the reason that the liquid looks some colour that is not red is due to the colour of the plastic, which is a cloudy clear. If you hold the record to a light source, the liquid shows up much better abd is definitely red. So I took a photo with the record in front of a window and then cropped out the background, and it looks completely different. I think this is a pretty good quality image for a photo:

This one came along at a time when I really didn't want to spend any more money, but how could I say no to this one? With only 20 copies in existence, I don't imagine this one will change hands too often, so I'm glad I had an opportunity to pick this up.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

You Knew I Was Poison

Fall Silent released a new album this year completely out of the blue on Revelation, and I only just got around to picking up a vinyl copy, despite having spent the last three months or so listening to it 'digitally'. The band got back together and put out a 7" called 'Cart Return' back in 2017, and then things have been silent until this year, when this new full length appeared on the scene without too much fanfare.

I first picked up on this band back in 1997 when Moo Cow Records put out a 7" by them which was really good, titled 'Nineteenhundredninetyseven'. That put them firmly on my radar. I enjoyed the full length they put out in 1999, but then after that even though they got signed by Revelation, I pretty much ignored them. The reason was simply because their Rev releases were put out on CD only for some reason, and I never really had time (or rather money) for CDs. There were always too many records to buy.

So anyway, the band have obviously gotten better at playing their instruments over time, and this LP sounds so far ahead of what they were doing 20 years ago. This is a proper, full on metal album as far as I am concerned. It's hard and heavy and relentless and has proved itself to be one of this year's gym soundtracks for me.

As for the vinyl, there were 3 different colours made. The rarest is the white with black splatter, which is out of only 100 copies.

Then there was also a red with black splatter which was made for independent record stores.

There was also a clear red vinyl version too, but I don't have one of those.

Interestingly, I realised something with this release. That despite me saying how much I hate splatter vinyl, I actually like these. I think the reason is that these were made at a US plant, and there are several aspects of the vinyl that just feels higher quality than the vinyl from the Euro plant. So I can now clarify that I only really hate the splatter vinyl from the plant that I hate.

Friday 17 December 2021

I'm Still Fucking Pissed

I was always into the No Reply 7". It came out on Mankind Records way back in 1999, and aside from the well known split 7" with Life's Halt, it was the band's only release. But sometimes this is how it is with hardcore bands and records. A relatively small band with little output can just land with you, depending on so many different factors. I don't really remember exactly what it was that made me like this one more than other records of the time, but maybe it was just that particular time. But anyway, it's been a long time since I've given it much thought. But I got a reminder of it back in 2018 when I met the drummer whilst visiting RevHQ, and not long after that someone else was selling their collection, so I picked up a few copies as they were super cheap. And recently they were finally delivered.

First up is a test press that comes in a regular sleeve. It also has a pair of labels included.

Next, a rejected test press. It has the word 'reject' written on both the front cover and the paper dust sleeve.

This next copy is a regular black vinyl copy but with one blank label. It's basically just a minor hiccup in the pressing.

The 4th copy is a legitimate 'variant' (a word which most people use incorrectly) of the first press - a blue / black mix copy. The first press limited colour was clear blue vinyl, so this is a cool 'not supposed to exist' copy.

This one looks much better when held up to the light. So I did that and then managed to crop the photo to remove the crappy background. Looks pretty cool huh?

The 5th and final version is a similar variant of the second pressing. The second press was clear red vinyl and black vinyl, and similar to the last one, this a mix of the two. This one is much darker than the blue / black mix copy though, and looks pretty much black unless held up to a strong light source. Not even natural daylight is enough to show this one's true colour. I had to hold this one up to a bright light to get a decent photo.

I have to say it, but I really do think that this 7" holds up. I actually sat and read the lyric sheet for the first time in probably 20 years, and I love how they give an explanation to what each song means. The written piece explaining the first song, 'I'm Still Fucking Pissed' still seems pretty apt to me too, but maybe that's partly just because I never change, as is evident by the fact I'm still buying the same records in 2021 as I did in 1999.

Monday 13 December 2021

What The 80s Mean To Me

This one has taken me ages to find, and I'm very happy with it as it completes a set that I have been trying to collect for about 13 years. This isa test press the 3rd album on SST Records by fIREHOSE, 'From Ohio'. Or at least, I think it is. It may just be a promo copy. Is there a difference? I'm not sure at this point.

Here it is pictured next to the colour vinyl version that I picked up in a sealed condition back in 2012.

So when I mentioned that this completes a set, this now means that I have test presses of all three of the fIREHOSE LPs on SST Records as well as the colour vinyl copies of each:

As ever, I'm still not quite satisfied, because this latest test press has different labels to the other two. The first two tests both have the pressing plant's standard labels, but this one has bank white labels stamped with the label's catalogue number. I've seen other SST releases with blank, stamped labels and always assumed that they were tests. But after laying these records out for this photo I'm now wondering whether they are promo copies. I'm going to have to do a bit more research on this I think.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Crossbearer Test

So I went to LA back in 2018 and ended up visiting Vacation Vinyl, a store that was run by one of the dudes that used to run Hydrahead Records. There was a lot of old Hydrahead releases in crates in the back of the shop, which I got to dig through, and I also ended up going back to the house of the guy that owned the shop to look through more old Hydrahead records. He had a huge amount of stuff, and it was a little overwhelming, but I ended up finding a few items. One thing I totally forgot to ask about on that day was a test press of the 1st Cave In 7" that Hydrahead put out, but not too long after I got home one showed up on eBay, and I ended up winning it for what I thought was a really great price.

Unlike a lot of Hydrahead tests, this one has no kind of cover. But that's ok.

I was pretty happy to get this one as I genuinely thought I would never find one. I have a lot of Cave In test pressings, but this one seemed the most elusive. Until this copy surfaced, I don't think I had ever seen one of these at all, and didn't know anyone who had one. Aside from black vinyl copies (which I am conveniently ignoring), this one completes my collection of this 7"... and only 24 years after it came out and I bought my first copy.