Last year I gave you my top five favorite vinyl finds of the year. This year, I enlisted the guys from The Saddest Landscape, who put out an incredible record this year - You Will Not Survive. The guys not only gave us their top five favorite vinyl packages, but also five tips on releasing your own tunes on wax. See below for a double dose of the column this week.
Vocalist Andy Maddox's advice on vinyl presses...
Over the years I have released a fair amount of records and purchased (or should I say obsessively collected) a substantial amount more and while I would never claim to be an expert on anything here are a few things I have learned:
1. Make sure you are happy with the songs before you release them.
I know this may sound really simple but I can not even fathom how many times I have met someone in a band who has said some variation of the following to me: “Hey Saddest Landscape dude please listen to my bands new record, but only listen to track 3 as the rest of it should have been aborted”. If you already don’t like your new album that is a pretty good sign more time should have been spent writing the songs, take time and be proud of what you are releasing. Simply put life is too short for shitty records.
2. A good mastering job will not save a bad recording.
From time to time I have come across this attitude of it being ok to spend less time/money on recording because it can all be “fixed” in mastering. This is simply not true, while a good mastering job does do a lot to enhance a record it can not make an awful sounding record into a masterpiece. Getting a good recording at the start is important, spend time getting everything to sound how you would like it to sound and then build from there. Do not settle for mediocrity at the start in the hopes you can make yourself happy later.
3. Colored vinyl sounds better.
Not true, it only looks better, and even that isn’t true all the time (I’ll take a good classic black LP over one of those bunk looking splatter jobs every time). I am more mentioning this in a larger sense though, in that if your resources are limited they most likely would be better spent making your recording sound better than on fancy looking vinyl. Trust me no matter how good a record looks if it sounds terrible and the songs aren’t good no one will want to listen to it.
4. Good packaging goes a long way.
Unless you are on Factory records the whole minimalist approach is just a cop out. If you don’t care enough to put any effort into the packaging don’t be surprised when more copies get jacked online than bought. This does not mean a lot of money needs to be spent on a layout, there are many examples of records packaged brilliantly for almost nothing using waste materials, it is more show the listener you really care about what you are releasing, it is noticed.
5. If a pressing plant promises a release date they are lying.
More often than not it seems if a plant early on (say in that initial pressing quote stage) promises a record will be done by a certain date it won’t happen. I have found that when I have been given good vague estimates on ship dates is when a plant will come through. They will try their hardest to honor it but there are too many variables in pressing a record to guarantee anything so far in advance. Think of how many records have alternate tour covers, why do you think that is? It is because there are always a fair amount of unforeseen delays that cause records not to be ready in time. So be mindful when planning that record release show as things always do come up.
Andy Maddox and Aaron Neigher's Top 5 Favorite Vinyl Releases of 2010:
1) Pianos Become the Teeth - Old Pride
I know it seems like our band crush on these guys is growing out of control, but seriously this record is that good. The vinyl looks and sounds great, it comes with an impressively large poster full of way too many photos and still rules no matter how many times in a row it is played. and while we are at it, anyone who bitches about their name without listening to them is just a horrible human being, 'nuff said.
2) The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs - 6 x 10 + book box set
This collection of songs was impressive when it came out years ago and it only seems more so now with it finally getting the vinyl treatment. Merge really went all out on this one with nice gatefold covers on the 3 double 10"s, a full size booklet providing insight to all 69 tracks, and then housing it in a sturdy box we are proud to display as part of our collection.
3) Murder by Death - Good Morning, Magpie - Deluxe 200 gram LP
10 years in and still putting out great records, MBD really does vinyl right. This LP came with a really legit looking embossed cover and a full LP size booklet on hefty 200 gram vinyl so one can judge the impact of the record before the needle even sets down. Oh, and it comes with a big black feather, no shit, a feather, i had to promise Aaron he wouldn't get some sketchy bird disease from it, not sure if he believed me.
Mono - Holy Ground: NYC Live - 3x LP + DVD
Rad 3xLP + DVD set put out by Temporary Residence. One look at the cover and inner artwork and you instantly know this wasn't just another show, but rather - a special experience for anyone in attendance. I saw Explosions in the Sky in a similar chapel environment and it made for one of the most ethereal show going experiences ever. Anyways, this MONO show just so happens to be a sore subject in the TSL camp as I was supposed to buy Andy, Mike, and Myself tickets. I then promptly forgot about said promise, and then this shit of course sold out. At least this record can let us pretend we were there, right guys?... Right?
Into the Wild - Soundtrack - 180gram LP + 24 page book
I'm admittedly not the biggest Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder fan. But Andy wouldn't shut up about this record so i eventually caved in and checked out the movie :) Gotta give it to Eddie Vedder as he nailed this one right on the head. Gorgeous music that hits me right every time no matter what type of mood I'm in. Vinyl comes with an awesome book with stills from the movie, lyrics, and commentary from Sean Penn on how working with Vedder came to fruition.