Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top (5x2) for 2013

I went and posted this year's Ten Best-Of on the excellent analog-worship blog, Summoning Spirits. Read up on my top five times two here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Black Sunday: Harding Street Assembly Lab 10" Splits (2012)

A recent weekend trip for a family wedding found me in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Lynchburg, Virginia and, with a Saturday afternoon to kill, I fired up the Vinyl District app on my phone and, lo and behold, found an independent record store, Speakertree Records, a few hundred yards away from my hotel.

Speakertree's wares were devoid of my usual metal desires but they had a healthy stock of indie label vinyl and I was immediately drawn to a trio of 10" records unified by a simple single-colored print stamped onto their jackets. Without bothering to look up the artists or ask about the contents within, I snatched up all three, took 'em home and only later dug into what I was hearing.

Turns out the label, Harding Street Assembly Lab, was also local to Lynchburg and their last blog post, from 2012, indicates that they owned the record store, too. The contents of the records are six sides of moody, largely instrumental, collegiate art and noise rock, not something I would generally actively seek out. That said, I like the project's approach: a label act on the A-side with a friend of the label occupying the B-side. I imagine this is a win-win strategy in terms of financing and, of course, exposure and applaud the ingenuity here.

The presentation of each of the records is pretty fantastic. The aesthetic is simple and generally well-executed. The prints, pulling from Greek mythology, are fine and clean and the records' center labels are minimal with only the catalogue numbers and artist names presented on a stark white label. The label's own logo occupies the reverse of the glossy white jacket and each album also includes a two-sided full-color insert on heavy stock with varying amounts of specific track, session and artist information.

The vinyl itself is heavy and clean and the multicolor blends are generally well-matched to the colors of the prints on the jackets. HSAL16 is a predominantly slate-colored slab with enough purple highlights to complement the Minotaur and Theseus on the front. HSAL 19 is laregly a deep pumpkin hue with streaking traces of green similar to what I am guessing is Heracles and Thanatos in combat on the cover. Here the vinyl itself, poorly described as "burgundy" on the label's blog, really matches nicely with the Guilty Ghosts' side of the insert. Finally, HSAL17 provides my favorite of the records, visually, with a rich brown blend that matches precisely with Hercules and the Hydra on the jacket.

All in all, the Harding Street Assembly Lab 10" trio is a find I love. The handmade work is both a blessing and a curse, though, as I love the effort that goes into these but find myself a little disappointed with some sloppiness here and there (HSAL17 has an off-center, incomplete print with some smudges above that indicate errant ink was wiped away - I would have saved this record out as a second at a reduced price). Still, said sloppiness also adds to the charm and unique aspect of releases such as these. While it's likely not a label I will return to as the music within just isn't my thing, it's the perfect souvenir from a long weekend and the best way I can think of the leave a little money in the local economy and arts scene.

HSAL16 and HSAL19 still appear on the label's Bandcamp site as available for purchase on vinyl at $12.00 each with HSAL17 listed as sold out. All were produced as pressings of 100 each.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Transparent Vinyl: This is Great Until it Sucks.

Kids today would say I am butthurt. They're probably right (whatever that really means). Viewing this blog as a DIY guide to starting (and/or wrecking) a record label, though, I thought some may find this exchange interesting, amusing and hopefully somehow educational on the subject of review submissions. I guess I'm really just posting this as a "what did I do wrong," looking for assurance that it ain't me, it's them. It's a long one, so I'll keep the commentary throughout to a minimum.

The set-up is this: while I rely on The Black Birch for PR and digital review submissions, I still have been handling any physical copies of the vinyl I send out for review. As these are precious and few - and each one sets me back its cost plus postage - I try to solicit sites that not only focus on the music we love but also the vinyl format and the little details that make our releases special.

I found such a site in mid-August. I commented on a post and, on August 19th, got a direct message on Facebook from the blog's owner. You can see below how everything unfolded. I have left every post in the thread in, editing only to disguise any items that may ID the blog or author. I'm not angry and don't want to single them out for any ire. I'm a little confused and really just want to share the frustration that can occur with just a single effort to get a record some exposure. I don't know why this went the way it did - perhaps it was just a true change of heart, perhaps it sat too long and just felt like too much effort - regardless, I'm out about $25 worth of vinyl plus international postage. Thing is, I still love this blog and this author's contributions. I'll still continue to read and share and comment. It's great. Until it feels too contrived, marketed and paint-by-numbers.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Black Sunday: Slaves BC / Cousin Sleaze - Split 7" (2013)

Pittsburgh's Slaves BC, a favorite of this blog since I found them in August of 2012, is a band I've been longing to have on the shelf in the vinyl format (hell, they're a band I wish I had on my own label). While a full-length is still forthcoming (from Veritas Vinyl, I believe), the band have satisfied the appetite for now with a self-released split with New York hardcore act, Cousin Sleaze. With just a total of seven minutes of music across seven inches of vinyl, each band delivers a short, sharp and shocking blast of sound smartly housed in a simple package. Slaves BC give us "Place Axe to Root" and Cousin Sleaze turn in "Indecision."

i appreciate a large hole.
Chris Smith of Grey Aria Design Studio put together a stellar sleeve in shades of gray whose bones and binding recall the aesthetic of the iconic Pushead but keep things appropriately blackened for the content within (but also check out his killer poster for an upcoming Mutilation Rites show to see how this guy can fill a larger canvas). I'm not sure who actually pressed the vinyl but each variant - 100 each of black, white and clear - are clean to look at and listen to. The black and white center labels carry the same design as the jacket's reverse and the entire record exudes a no-frills, utilitarian vibe. "Would you prefer to be fucked up with sound," it asks, "or would you rather we give you colors and stickers?" Yeah, the first one.

Pick who you love more and get it from them. Better yet, grab one or more from each. It's worth noting that each purchase on Bandcamp doubles the music with an extra track available for download from each band ("To My Beloved Bride" from Slaves BC and "Begin Again" from Cousin Sleaze):



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Choice Cuts... Head to Sludgelord for Halloween III : Season Of The Witch (Original Soundtrack)

I skipped this Black Sunday to guest post on the Sludgelord Blog. All you lucky kids with Silver Shamrock masks, gather 'round your TV set, put on your masks and watch. All witches, all skeletons, all Jack-O-Lanterns, gather 'round and watch. Watch the magic pumpkin. Watch...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Black Sunday: Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus (2012) & Women & Children (2013)

Tristan Shone's Author & Punisher has been one of the more exciting musical discoveries I have made in the last year, kicking off my collection with their Seventh Rule debut, Ursus Americanus. I enjoy Author & Punisher's sound so much that they are one of the very few acts for which I have purchased releases in multiple formats with some receiving my money three times for compact disc, digital and vinyl variations of their releases.

I believe only the Seventh Rule releases have been realized in the vinyl format and both are spectacular samples of the medium. Ursus Americanus saw its first pressing in a gray and black blend with a rich gold center label. While the vinyl itself is beautiful, the matte cover layout by Scot Seguine incorporating a photo by Robert Kozek is a stellar shot of man and machines at work. A single-sided insert is accompanied by a fantastic 18x24" poster of a drone machine. While black vinyl is also an option, it appears as if this first pressing has sold out with a second pressing now available with 220 copies in "tiger gold" closely matching the center label available.

Women & Children followed fairly quickly, released August 20 of 2013, and again saw a black vinyl release accompanied by 100 of white and black splatter. While I could not discern the plant used for Ursus Americanus, Women & Children is a Pirate's Press product and it shows. The tones used are beautiful, even in black and white, with an almost blue blend present amidst the splatter. The reverse board jacket is a gorgeous stark black and white as well with artwork from Scott McPherson. A heavy inner sleeve incorporates more artwork and eliminates the need for an additional insert. Alas, there's no poster here this time but I was please to see the record's center label carry over the cover's inverted pyramid, much as Ursus Americanus unified each element with the bear paw outline.

Both of Seventh Rule's Author & Punisher releases in the vinyl format look and sound amazing. The attention to detail is matched only by the quality of the sound. Each do a magnificent job of marrying those analog and digital elements of the project itself and the balance struck here, much like the music within, is nothing short of thrilling.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The $45.99 Record

This YouTube post by VinylJunkies666 has hit our label's Facebook and Twitter but is worth reposting here. Here are the facts for Gogmagogical Records and, very likely, many other small labels. At limited quantities of 300-500, a 12" record with printed jackets costs very close to $10 a record to produce. At 12,000, such as the Relapse release in question, even with a full-color deluxe gatefold and custom colors, they're likely looking at $4-5 for a single disc, not quite twice for a double-LP. Even if it cost twice as much it would be insanely marked-up. Anyone who has looked into pressing vinyl knows the price breaks that come with high quantities and a power player like Relapse has it all over small indies and zero excuse for this kind of gouging.

We make $1-2/record, tops. Two of our three releases thus far are actually priced at a net loss. Every penny goes back into the next record. If I want to release more, I need to sell more. Not one cent goes into my pocket. Of course, the dream would be that someday a label could serve as an income and become a full-time job. Know what I would have to do to make that happen? Pressing 12,000 records and selling them at $45.99 apiece would be a start. In lieu of that, I'm satisfied to work 9-5 for someone else to support my family, press and sell 300 records at $10 each in my off hours and finance the next record in full. The fans can buy more music, the bands can sell more music and I can make more records. Happiness achieved all around.

Please continue to support the small guys and, above all, remember vinyl is first and foremost about the music. We all love fondling records but if we feed the beast $45 to do so, none of us will be able to afford our habits for very long.

Please take a moment and share the above video. It's the most concise, simple and passionate statement I've seen on the subject in a while that obviously comes from a music lover. Thanks!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Danzig 25th Anniversary - August 14, 2013 - Newport Music Hall, Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday evening found me at the Newport Music Hall for the third time in my life and every time I have been at the Newport it has been to see Danzig. First, in 1992 in support of Danzig III and again in April of 1995 on the 4p tour whose December '94 leg also found me watching Danzig at Hara Arena in Dayton. With nearly 20 years eclipsed since my last Danzig live show, the 25th Anniversary performance was a long, long time coming.

Happily, the Newport is a superb venue. A sizable theatre, it has a large stage, generous floor and multiple tiered levels in the rear and along the sides of the venue as well as a huge balcony, allowing for those who do not wish to mosh to still catch a great view of the show. Acoustics are good and volume has always been ample. Others have noted and I second that the lighting effects at the Newport are much better than most venues that host metal acts - as a result the show feels big.

And big it was. This was Danzig. And Doyle. A Silver Anniversary and a Misfits set. Expectations were high and I would be lying if I didn't admit I was a little worried that the man and the band may disappoint. I had to wait through a few openers, though, to find out.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Black Sunday: Malignancy - Intrauterine Cannibalism (1999)

A fan of Dismemberment almost since this blog's inception, I have been fortunate enough to get to know guitarist Jacob Shively along this journey from blog to label and have been intensely excited to see his own label, Goatlord Records, launch. Devoted to limited, special editions of classic metal records that have never before been released on vinyl, Goatlord's first release was Intrauterine Cannibalism, the infamous full-length debut of brutal death merchants Malignancy.

Stepping back from my admiration for Jacob and his work I can still honestly say that this vinyl debut from Goatlord Records is easily one of the richest offerings I have seen for a reissue of an underground record. Offered in three colors, this 12" platter was immediately marketed properly with the tones (each limited to 100) described as "Endometrial Slime" (green), "Intrauterine Red" (and red and black splatter) and "Womb with a View" (clear). With a limited number of very fairly priced three-packs available for pre-order I wasted no time securing my copies.

Opening the records, I was floored by the details.The colors of Juha Vuorma's cover illustration are staggeringly vibrant and also recreated on a 4x4" decal and 11x17 poster included inside each record. The posters themselves contain release information and album credits formatted like a movie poster and are hand-signed in gold ink by vocalist Danny Nelson and guitarist Ron Kachnic. One is currently being framed to hang in Gogmagogical Records HQ - they're that nice.

Also worthy of a frame is the vinyl itself. Pressed at Ohio's own Musicol, the discs are heavy and smooth and the colors vibrant. The "Endometrial Slime" is no simple "coke bottle" clear but carries tissue-like solid green flecks and streaks throughout. On the other hand, while true transparent clear vinyl itself may not be as exciting, it certainly is disappointing when it isn't clean. This isn't the case with the "Womb with a View" as it has zero residual traces of any past colors left on the press - it's like a crystal windowpane. Perfect. Finally, the "Intrauterine Red" is a magnificent black splatter pattern on an opaque red base and imparts the violence communicated by the record's title and lyrical themes. It's also worth adding that, when you finally get to playing Intrauterine Cannibalism, it sounds great, too (especially for an album whose own liner notes - from Danny Nelson - inform the listener that it has never been mastered).

The little details are what make Intrauterine Cannibalism on vinyl a grand slam. The two-sided insert is riddled with photos and poster reproductions. It also includes the aforementioned liner notes, providing a history of the album from its original release, and, alongside the lyrics, what appears to be Danny's original sketch for the record's jacket concept.

Finally, the vinyl fanatic is rewarded by the record's center labels. Screamingly funny warnings grace the perimeter of each and this package is topped off as a complete and utter success.

Click as fast as you can to Goatlord Records' online store. They're already hard at work on their next project and I have a feeling that, once Intrauterine Cannibalism has been devoured, those who missed out will suffer their own post fetal depression.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Black Sunday: Test Pressings

Once one begins to navigate the world of small labels and limited runs of collectible vinyl, it doesn't take long to run into test pressings. Once just the stuff of collector lore (think the fabled '78 Misfits acetates of "Static Age"/"Teenagers from Mars" that purportedly never made it past five or six copies that went to Glenn, Jerry and jukeboxes in Max's Kansas City and CBGB's with those last two always reportedly popping up in used record stores for a buck, forever taunting treasure-hunting collectors), nowadays test pressings are not at all uncommon on electronic storefronts, nearly always priced at a premium well above the mass-produced counterparts.

It's not exactly a secret but may surprise some record-buyers that, while every vinyl pressing results in a handful of true test pressings to assess the record prior to production (usually around a half-dozen), some plants will produce many more (up to fifty at United Record Pressing) at a relatively low cost. These are nice to share with friends of the bands and label but concern me a bit as one who collects, too, as anyone even a little unscrupulous can post what appears to be a real rarity for sale when, in fact, it ain't that special.

That said, I am about to part with a few test pressings of my own label, Gogmagogical Records. Each record we have pressed had five tests delivered by the plant. Fister got three of theirs, one went to Encapsulated Records (who made the jackets) and I got the fifth. Cold Blue Mountain and Kingsblood each have five members and the bands each got all five original tests. I ordered four extras only with the Kingsblood 7" as we had just partnered with The Black Birch to promote the EP and hoped to use some for contests. As I began working with Bariann and her team I also received my pressing plates and excess labels from the plant for the Fister and Cold Blue Mountain records and, to my surprise, each package contained two additional tests. While I am not exactly sure what I will do with each of these in the future I can pretty much guarantee you will not see them for sale on the site marked up to snag extra dollars. It doesn't feel fair to the bands and it doesn't feel fair to the fans. My guess is that we'll eventually use them for promotional contests or as parts of prize packages associated with charitable events.
So, I have included a few photos throughout just to share a little more of our DIY ethic here. While we have some fantastic creative partners here, there really wasn't anyone I could ask to create jackets in such small quantities across three sizes. As these tests come in plain white sleeves I wanted to gussy them up so took a trip to Hobby Lobby and bought some heavy, heavy paper, printed up a standard label template and cut, folded and assembled these by hand. I tried to coordinate the colors with at least one aspect of the vinyl and attempted to carry that over even into the Sharpie used to hand-label. While the Fister and Kingsblood tests are very close to an actual color produced, the Cold Blue Mountain is entirely unique as it appears the plant took the split colors and instead combined them in a blend. In each case, though, these are all that exist aside from what the bands hold. I suspect there may be two more Kingsblood tests coming back with their plates eventually but am not certain.

Keep an eye on the label site for any opportunities to grab any of these. Likewise, if you have a brainstorm or a worthy cause to which we may want to use one or more, get in touch. Just because I want these to be free to collectors doesn't mean I want them to be any less special.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Transparent Vinyl: The End of Violence, Mountain for a Molehill, Vinyl Vikings and Coupon Codes.

So, as I like to update every now and then,here's a look at current numbers and the general Gogmagogical Records state of the union, release by release:

Fister - Violence (GOG001)

Violence spoiled me. It's a beast and it has moved quickly. In fact, quantities are dwindling to the "oh, shit, I better get one now" level. I just saw these guys at the last two dates on their summer tour and they deliver the goods live. Fans were drooling over all their vinyl and I restocked their Violence stores with a good portion of my remaining stock.

Here are the facts: 1) these will sell out; 2) any potential re-press possibility is unknown; 3) we will not re-press with multiple jacket variations. Quantities available as of this exact moment are:
I: Artwork by Coby Ellison.  Lavender base with black and white mixed vinyl: 17 remain.

II: Artwork by Clark Medley. Opaque white base with black mixed vinyl: 15 remain.

III: Artwork by Travis Lawrence. Translucent green base with yellow mixed vinyl: 16 remain.

IV: Artwork by Scott Fogelbach. Transparent dark red base with black mixed vinyl: 15 remain.

V: Artwork by Josh Rowan. Transparent blue base with black and white mixed vinyl: 4 remain.

Get one now. If you want a set of five, move even faster.

Cold Blue Mountain - S/T (GOG003)

The Cold Blue Mountain record is fan-fucking-tastic. Press has been overwhelmingly positive. Sales are, admittedly, more sluggish than I would hope. Listen to it. I am convinced that if people hear it, they'll want it. I am likewise convinced that once people handle the artwork from Holy Mountain they'll show their friends. I am further convinced they'll then play the record for their friends. I am finally convinced their friends will then buy it.

Here's a good chance to be that first guy in that chain. Through the end of July use code COLDBLUEMTN and get the record for only eight bucks. That is a huge loss per record for me but I have faith that a little word of mouth is all that's needed.

Kingsblood - Trudging Through the Field of Crows (GOG002)

This little EP is picking up rave reviews. Sales have been brisk though definitely focused in the band's home base of Columbus, Ohio. Watch for more press and a few promotions soon. This is a mean, massive sound in a seven-inch package and three-packs are flying. Like Fister, even with a re-press we won't repeat ourselves, and once these introductory colors are gone, they're gone.

Finally, there are lots of coupon codes still hanging out there on the site. While the Cold Blue Mountain code will only last two weeks, these others never expire. Mix and match 'em and take me to the cleaners:

  • GOGPATCH - Add a Free Patch When Buying Two or More Records
  • FREETOTE - Add a Record Bag Free When Buying Two or More Items
  • VIOLENCE - Spend $20, Get $4 Off a Fister Tee
  • COLDBLUE - $2 Discount on a Cold Blue Mountain Tee With the Purchase of a Record

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Black Sunday: Off! - First Four EPs (2010) & Off! (2012)

Stuck recently on my excessive SST collection, particularly the works of Black Flag, and celebrating the addition of the Circle Jerks' long out-of-print VI CD to my library to replace my original cassette after years of scouring secondhand bins, it was only a natural progression to focus this week on Keith Morris' Off!.

I don't know the story behind the band's formation but guess it's more than a coincidence that, like another band on Morris' resume, they share a name with an insect repellent. Add in artwork by the incomparable Raymond Pettibon and Off! is absolutely irresistible.

The vinyl, from Vice Records, is sturdy, simple stuff. Entirely black-and-white, the aesthetic is immediately appealing. Fans of Pettibon's art will undoubtedly devour these and hardcore punk fans should likewise be satisfied by short, sharp - and smart - bursts of music clocking in in single-minute increments. I've never seen any of the EPs on the First Four EPs box available individually and am not certain if they all saw separate release. That said, I wouldn't want them any other way. The box itself is beautiful, housing each jacketed 7" and a nice booklet with Pettibon liner notes, selected lyrics and several photographs. The self-titled 12", with sixteen tracks, contains the same amount of music as the EP set and anyone who has worked to make records will appreciate the cost associated with pressing and packaging four different records as opposed to a single 12". It's really fun as a collector to have this variety of sizes and helps each little EP to stand alone as its own statement (though, admittedly, I always simply play them back-to-back).

The 12" record comes with a simple two-sided lyric sheet and each of the vinyl incarnations share similar label design with a stylized "O" circling the center hole and the 7" records alternating between inverse combinations of black and white between the A and B sides. The 12" also features "Satan Did Not Appear" etched into the A-side run-off matrix, reprising Pettibon's text from the album's cover art.

Seemingly basic black-and-white offerings, Off!'s records are rich in detail and high in quality. The vinyl itself is clean, the sound crisp and packaging materials a notch above the standard (and admittedly flimsy) SST fare that sent me here in the first place. Off!'s online store sells First Four EPs for $20 and the self-titled 12" for $15. That's about a buck per song. Add in that you get download cards with both packages and Off! on vinyl is a no-brainer over iTunes. Grab 'em while you still can.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kingsblood's Trudging Through the Field of Crows Releases

Following an extensive hometown set that covered their entire modern catalogue, Kingsblood's 7" debut on Gogmagogical Records releases today. Preview its contents below:

The band is en route to Nordic Midsummer Fest in Kent, Ohio with a van full of vinyl. The Gogmagogical Records store and bandcamp site are fully stocked and shipping immediately as well.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Black Sunday: Devil - Magister Mundi Xum (2010), The Noble Savage/Blood is Boiling (2011), Time to Repent (2011) & Gather the Sinners (2013)

Across the last month I have discovered - and devoured - Devil. Their throwback bluesy doom is easily digested alongside Sabbath and St. Vitus and their vinyl, from Soulseller Records, is nothing short of fantastic.

My first acquisitions were spur-of-the-moment record shop grabs of the 2010 demo 10", Magister Mundi Xum, and their latest LP, 2013's Gather the Sinners. Magister..., in its second printing, is one of 500 copies pressed to white vinyl (the original pressing was black) and is housed in a heavy white jacket with my favorite of the band's artwork. A slick insert collects band photos and the basics in terms of information on the recordings. It's an incredibly raw EP and the 10" format contains exactly enough to get a new fan salivating for more. Gather the Sinners, the band's second full-length, is listed as a "limited" vinyl edition and, indeed, the band's own official webstore appears to have sold out. It's not clear to me exactly how many were produced but the gatefold package and platter are as heavy to hold as they are to hear, no frills but no disappointment in any way, either.

I had to utilize mailorder to round out the collection with the band's 2011 7" single, "The Noble Savage/Blood is Boiling." This record also came my way in its second pressing, a deep chocolate vinyl from a series of 500, the first pressing again apparently black though limited to 100. I also imported the band's 2011 full-length debut, Time to Repent, another repress following an initial black run, this time in transparent yellow. One wonders if a colored variant of Gather the Sinners will pop up before too long. Each of the prior offerings complemented their jackets' color schemes and a 12" in maroon would look awfully nice.

Devil's design aesthetic is rock-solid. Each of the packages is beautifully detailed yet retain a Scandanavian simplicity that effectively communicates (and does not overdecorate) the utilitarian rock within. The largely monochrome packages are simultaneously rich and subdued. Center labels alternately complement and copy segments of the jacket art, leaving the entire catalogue feeling like an entirely cohesive whole. Credit must be due to Soulseller as well as the materials, from jackets to the platters themselves, are all top-notch. The recordings are clear and strong and play free of any noticeable defects. None of the albums feels in any way flimsy, which is a good thing as I have been pulling these records off of the shelf every few days and don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Transparent Vinyl: Moving Mountains.

It's been a while. Sitting back for a second, though, as Cold Blue Mountain's eponymous 12" is freed to run rampant across this earth, I thought I may collect and share some thoughts from this go-round.

Following the (in my mind) successful Fister formula, I went down a very similar path with Cold Blue Mountain's record. Again we used Aardvark for cutting the lacquer, United Record Pressing for the vinyl and, this time, Holy Mountain Printing handled not only t-shirts but a jacket folder as well. The timeline unfolded a little something like this:
test pressing.
October 8, 2012: Cold Blue Mountain makes initial contact based upon our Fister project (then just in progress).
January 10: Cold Blue Mountain and Gogmagogical Records sign an agreement to release their self-titled debut as GOG-003.
February 1: Masters received at Aardvark Record Mastering for plating.
February 3: Finalized order placed with United Record Pressing. Aardvark has lacquers cut.
February 4: Aardvark ships lacquers off for plating.
February 28: Order placed for t-shirts and jacket folders with Holy Mountain Printing.
March 14: Test pressings are received from United.
March 20: Test pressings approved by the band, final order approval sent to United and release date set for April 19.
March 28: All vinyl - 100 blue/white splits and 200 black - received from United Record Pressing.
March 29: T-shirts received from Holy Mountain Printing.
April 11: Jacket folders received from Holy Mountain Printing.
April 12: The band's records are shipped via overnight mail for receipt for an April 13 show.
April 19: Cold Blue Mountain releases wide.

I have to say I am getting a little spoiled at this point. Cold Blue Mountain was absolutely a pleasure to work with. No one pushed, questioned timelines, nor argued any points. We communicated well and this was about as smooth as one could ever hope. I worked largely with Brandon Squyres but also maintained regular contact with Sesar Sanchez and Daniel Taylor. Additionally, there were zero problems with all of our manufacturing partners. Holy Mountain's jackets, in particular, are incredibly lush and I have yet to find a blemish on any.

The launch of the record has been relatively slow. Fister, as a counterpoint, was not. There are several factors in play here. First, Fister never listed their album for sale online nor did they hold anything "exclusive." With the exception of Encapsulated Records, to whom I traded 100 records for the jackets, I had zero competition for the product in the online world. I do not believe Cold Blue Mountain have listed their record online to date but we certainly have no agreement barring them from doing so (nor did I with Fister, for that matter). That said, the band is the exclusive holder of the colored vinyl and I expect many of their California-area fans are opting to purchase theirs directly from the band. Second, geographically, I am closer to Fister's fanbase. There are simply more folks nearby and in my admittedly limited circle of influence who know the band and wanted the record right away. It is very clear to me that I need to face the reality of my very limited exposure in a very large world. The band has partnered with The Black Birch for PR and I am extremely impressed with their efforts. Nearly every outlet I have contacted regarding review copies has already heard from them and I am now convinced more than ever that I need a PR firm myself. I'll be contacting them myself very soon.

I chose black vinyl as the second option and could have certainly chosen a more collectible color for the label to hold. That said, expenses were a factor as was consideration of the fact that there is an interest in "pure" black vinyl. I do not want the label to become a source of only colorful collectibles and feel strongly enough about the musicians I am working with to believe that their music alone is the draw and these sounds should matter more than the color of the platter on which they spin. All that said, if I were buying, though, I would opt for that blue-and-white beauty before black in a heartbeat. I am very, very confident that as word of mouth spreads and reviews begin to appear online that Cold Blue Mountain will pick up traction and succeed swimmingly.

Kingsblood's Trudging Through the Field of Crows is currently awaiting test pressings and will begin its sprint toward release any day. Once finished, though, the label will need to recoup some funds before setting out upon the next release. While Violence has broken even, two records underway at once has eaten into a couple thousand of my own personal dollars. I am hoping for GOG-004 to see the light of day in late 2013/early 2014.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Black Sunday: Cathedral - Gargoylian (2001) & A New Ice Age (2012)

As stoner/doom stalwarts Cathedral approach the end of their career (supposedly) with the upcoming The Last Spire, I've found myself revisiting their entire catalogue recently and, even with a few compilation items included, admire that the band have left a few choice tracks vinyl-only, at least for now.