I buy a lot of vinyl.
I know, it’s shocking.
But I don’t just buy old out-of-print 12″ singles by synthpop artists, I buy new records too! I try to buy all new music exclusively on vinyl. I like to own something tangible when I buy music, and nothing is more tangible than vinyl.
Thankfully, a lot of labels and artists are picking up on this and releasing their records on vinyl the same day they are released digitally. This is cool of them, and it helps me keep faith that physical media isn’t quite dead yet.
However, they don’t always do it right, in fact sometimes the do it so wrong its just fucking insulting. Here are some of my biggest beefs with new vinyl releases.
No Digital Download
Yes, I buy vinyl partially because I think records sound better than MP3s, however, records sure as hell aren’t as convienent as MP3s. Its nice to have a digital copy of an album. And while I obviously know how to record an LP and convert it to MP3, not everyone does. So when they buy a vinyl copy of an album and it doesn’t come with a digital copy of the record they’re basically either forced to buy the album twice or steal it from a torrent site just to get the ability to play it on their computer or MP3 player. Labels shouldn’t make their customers resort to theft, they should give them the digital copy too. Not only that, if the person is buying the record from the artist or label’s official site, then they should get a link to download the tracks immediately and not have to wait for the physical copy to come in the damn mail. If I’m buying an album the day it comes out I want to listen to it the day it comes out, not wait two to four weeks for delivery.
Even if an artist includes a digital download with their vinyl release they can still find ways to fuck that up. One of the most annoying ways is when they don’t bother to create ID tags for the digital files. Sometimes they aren’t given track numbers, and other times album or even artist info is left blank! That’s just lazy and stupid. And that means that I have to fill that shit in. Is it the end of the world? No, but it’s really annoying. Everyone does this to some degree, but RJD2’s label seems to be particularly bad at it, which is annoying because I love his music and he’s a really nice guy. But seriously, how hard is it to make sure your MP3s are labeled properly?
One of the reasons why I buy vinyl is because I hate over-compressed CDs that crank up the audio to levels that are far too loud. Vinyl actually can’t be too loud, the grooves can’t go that deep. Vinyl geeks like how vinyl sounds, so the MP3s that come with them should come from a vinyl source. Sadly, this is pretty rare. Most MP3 downloads that come with records are taken from the same digital, over-compressed, too-loud source that are used for the CD and digital release, so more often than not I end up recording my vinyl copy so I have a copy of the record for my iPod that actually sounds good. Is annoying. Of course, if they’re going to give vinyl buyers high quality versions of the songs then they might as well just give everyone those higher-quality versions, and we know that’s never going to happen. Nearly every digital download has this problem, I can only think of one notable exception: Beck’s Modern Guilt, which was actually taken from a master vinyl copy (you even hear the needle drop!) and it sounds amazing.
You can buy a digital copy of The New Pornographers’ Together at Amazon for $8.99. The CD costs just a scant more at $9.29. The LP costs $16.99, that’s almost like buying two digital copies. I know LPs cost more than CDs or digital copies to produce and distribute, but the consumers who shell out the extra bucks shoulnd’t have to eat all of that cost. Why can’t the labels or artists give us something extra since we paid extra? The added content can come in the way of bonus songs on MP3. Since the album should have a digital download link anyways, they should just throw a few more songs on it. It would cost the label almost nothing and actually encourage the fans to shell out more for the more expensive version. Everyone wins! The vinyl copy of El-P’s Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixx3 comes with digital download links to the first two volumes of the series, which is nice. However, those downloads lead me to my final point, which is…
Don’t be fucking lazy
The digital versions of the first two mixes are a great inclusion for fans, but they sound like SHIT. And I don’t mean that they are overcompressed or too loud, I mean that they sound like they were taken from a CD that was dragged through a shredder. Its hard to tell if the audio quality is supposed to be bad on these, I’m sure some of the audio glitches are intentional, but its hard to imagine that all the scratches, clips and other oddball audio effects included on these mixes were intentional. Even worse, both mixes have audio watermarks!
For those of you who don’t know, many times promo copies sent out to reviewers have audio watermarks included, these are usually distorted voices that play over the beginning or end of certain tracks, saying things like “You are listening to ALBUM” followed by a warning or an individualized number. These are included to help discourage leaks. They’re annoying enough on review copies, the fact that Definitive Jux couldn’t be bothered to remove them from a fucking FINAL COPY of a recording that is intended consumer use? Inexcusable! Now, it may be that these horribly annoying audio warnings were meant to be included in the original mixes, and if that’s the case then El-P is a fucking idiot.
You know who else is a fucking idiot? Kanye West. I just bought the deluxe vinyl version of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And that thing is a fucking mess. No digital download, the audio quality is pretty crappy sounding and the art is censored!
The vinyl version of the album comes with, as Amazon describes “frameable artwork.”
Here’s one piece of the frameable artwork.
In case you were wondering, this is what the art is supposed to look like.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they even censor the art on the actual album.
You can’t even see the art from the outside of the box, so censoring it serves no purpose at all. Doing something like that requires a special kind of stupid. It’s really quite remarkable.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
You know you aren’t dipshits? Foxy Shazam! They’re the opposite of dipshits, they are godlike geniuses who create music so fantasically amazing that if it gets any better it might cure cancer, solve world peace and function as a free energy source. I saw them last week and since then my eyesight has improved and I think my IQ has increased by 100 points. I also think I may have de-aged 10 years overnight and learned how to play every instrument ever known without taking a single lesson. This song, which is amazing and might just change your life strictly by the power of its perfect awesomeness, is from a 7″ single to their equally brilliant song “Oh Lord.”
Nine Inch Nails
Only (Richard X Edit
Only (Richard X Dub)
Only (EL-P Instrumental)
Nine In Nails are also not dipshits, and neither is Richard X, who created two of these great remixes. We’ve already been over the dipshitness of El-P, however. Thes are from a 12″.