It Came From the Scratch Records EMail List

I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists.  I do this because, at heart, I am part of the entertainment business – well, I pretend to be.  I’m about five steps away from having no life at all, so I need to keep myself occupied with something.

One of the lists I subscribe to is the Scratch Records mailing list.  The company seems to do very well with its distribution arm, but its store…the store is a maze of press releases.  Independent bands/labels there tend to sell themselves with more hyperbole than a mortal can stand.  Also, the prices at Scratch can be awfully expensive and I’m not that rich or easily led a music fan.  I’m not trying to bash Scratch Records, but it seems the term “judicious editing” has never crossed the newsletter editor’s head there.  Am I wrong?  Take a look at selections from recent newsletters and TELL me I’m wrong.

UNDER PRESSURE-s/t  CD (Primitive Air Raid/PAR002) $10.50
Successive waves of tough guy metal dogshit and content-free straight edge pablum have rendered hardcore a dirty word for most discriminating 21st century music fans, but Canada has been at the forefront of the genre’s recent revitalization through such real-deal outfits as Fucked Up, Inepsy and Career Suicide. Winnipeg’s Under Pressure are set to continue this welcome trend with their newest effort, an eight-song ripper of quick, raw hardcore inspired by Poison Idea, Black Flag and Motorhead, delivered with smarts, chops and energy to burn.

What a bunch of overwritten ad copy.  Essentially, this bit of purple prose can be boiled down to its “FUCK THAT METAL/SXE BULLSHIT!  THIS IS HARD…TO THE CORE” lowest common denominator.  Is it good that I can recognize one of three local Canadian band names being dropped here?  Since when was Motörhead considered hardcore, by the way?  Makes sense to reference a speed metal band when talking about how old-school hardcore you are.  I know when I write a comedy script, I always study shows like Mannix and Baretta just to get that comic timing down.

Frankly, this reads like a grindcore band’s bio.  If Under Pressure aren’t grind, I’ll eat my hat.  At least the CD is “budget priced” for those bargain hunters.  Never mind that $10 is the maximum I’d ever pay for a CD – how can I pass up something that sounds like Inepsy or Fucked Up?  Could you?

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS-The Good Son  CD (Mute/8417832) $32.99
We can’t get the cheaper Mushroom pressing any more, so we bring you this more expensive Holland import of Nick’s fine 1990 album.

NICK CAVE-The First Born Is Dead  CD (Mute/8417872) $22.50
Replaces the previous Mushroom version, but no change in price. From 1985, hear Nick sing the blues.

There is no reason to pay $32.99, even in Canadian dollars (seriously, the dollar’s been worth >$0.80 US lately, enough of the Canadian Tire jokes) for an import copy of a Nick Cave album.  I can’t believe people will accept paying more than $20 for something because it’s a limited edition or because it’s an import.  I can understand why imports are more expensive, but good lord!  I can buy seven used CDs for that price, and possibly those old Nick Cave releases Scratch Records is talking about!  How is this cheaper than my local record store or Music World?  The last time I paid $30 for a CD was when I bought an “import” version of Atari Teenage Riot’s Burn, Berlin, Burn!IN 1997.  Now that I’ve said this, of course, Nick Cave fans are going to berate me for having bad musical tastes and I’ll continue to be shunned until I develop the mental illness of being a hipster.

THE USED-I Caught Fire  CDEP (Reprise/9362428872) $8.50
Kelly Osbourne’s grubby and unbearable ex-boyfriend returns with several anthems for the delusional youth. Tracklisting: 1. I Caught Fire
2. The Taste Of Ink (Live) (From Channel V – Australia) 3. All That I’ve Got (Acoustic Version) 4. Lunacy Fringe (Acoustic Version)  5. Alone This Holiday (Non-album Track) “It’s clear The Used know who they are now; they’ve found their voice. They are plainly aware of their position in the music world today, and it feels good. They’ve delivered the record their fans have been asking for- one that places them squarely on the top of a genre they’ve helped create”. That genre must be Nu Bad Music.

THE STROKES-Juicebox  CDEP (RCA/82876759722) $8.50
It took three albums for these turds to sing U2 [and The Cult/Doors] overtop of the Batman Theme. Ew. [Really, this may well be the single worst song ever]. The second track, “Hawaii”, is much better. Tracklisting: 1. Juicebox 2. Hawaii 3. Juicebox (Live In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) 4. Juicebox (Video – Director’s Cut)

Why the hell would a record store based entirely on appealing to a specialized audience sell albums it hates like this?  What’s the point?  I know the music industry exists purely to make money, and independent record stores do that by wrapping themselves in friendly, trend-conscious images.  Even so, who’s going to buy something from a retailer that points out how much the album it’s selling sucks?  Is that good business?  Couldn’t the Scratch Records employee responsible for writing these album descriptions just list the album without the “don’t buy this” spiel underneath?  Frankly, if people want to buy The Used’s new EP, they will regardless of what anyone else says.  Maybe this is a Vancouver thing and I just don’t understand.

FUN 100-Hit It & Quit  CD (Hockey Dad/HDR10) $10.99  
With “dance-punk” now a household word and Gang of Four crowding everyone’s “Favourite Band” list on MySpace, it is quite obvious that punk rock has nearly lost its fun side. Indeed, it seems that the heyday of mindless punk rock occurred when most of us were too young to buy clove cigarettes or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Enter Fun 100, five dudes who understand that punk without the pop is like dad without his minivan –it’s not taking you anywhere! Rocking out in church basements, public washrooms, houses, and sometimes even real venues, Fun 100 has been the pulse of the teenage heartbeat for the past four years. These guys are the real deal, their bedrooms ordained with hockey trophies, dirty laundry, and a whole lotta records. Adding synthesizers and a whole bunch of attitude, the band has picked up where the best pop-punk left off. Hit It & Quit, the group’s debut full-length, showcases the group’s superior song-writing and high-octane style. From the anthemic group chorus of “Hot Popular Girl” to the dance-inducing new wave of “Computer,” the record is a surefire instant classic. Look out for Fun 100 on tour for the better part of 2006. “Pure teenage zit rawk angst!” Nardwaur the Human Serviette  “Fun100 was headlining—they’re fucking amazing and still so young. Their songs are fast and filled with incredible things. They’re the Ramones and they’re the Exploding Hearts and they’re Blink 182 when you admit that yeah ok, sometimes pop-punk isn’t so bad… those little Abbotsford boys really know how to get the party started.” Terminal City  “True to their name, Abbotsford’s new wave pop-punkers Fun100 were a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Their ‘Computer’ song is about as danceable as they get and bonus points to the lead singer for wearing the same Mario Lemieux t-shirt that a friend of mine had in grade 7.” Only Magazine

Translation: it’s new new wave, and some people you’re supposed to like think Fun100 is tits.  At least the CD is $11, which is sensible enough.  I don’t know if Scratch Records or the distributed bands/labels set the prices, but punk and metal bands usually seem to understand the concept of “value.”

Well, some black metal bands are too in love with selling “limited edition pressings” of their latest missives for $30.  Is it really that clever to use “only 666 copies pressed” as a marketing ploy?  Does the average underground metal band actually sell 666 copies of anything?  I’m not being flippant – the sheer number of bands ripping off Carcass and Impetigo would worry even the most cretinous grindcore fan.

V/A-COMEDY BREAKS  LP (Filthstyle/FIL001) $17.50  
“Do you need a hook for your next song or need a solid diss for your next opponent in a DJ battle? If so, then this is the break record for you. Comedy Breaks features voice samples from Eddie Griffin, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle that will appeal to any producer, DJ or human with a sense of humor! The LP is packed with intros, outros, insults, skits about cops, women, racism, sound effects and more. A sure album for today’s creative music artist.”

I don’t understand why this is necessary.  I’m sure better thrift stores and charity shops have whole Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy albums for fifty cents or so, though they might not be easy to find and the albums are often in pisspoor shape.  Still, it’s more economical than paying almost twenty dollars to find out what the five fingers said to the face.

Richard Pryor made his own drugs.  May he rest in peace, and be remembered for more than saying “nigger” every fifth word in the process.

Much anticipated collection of early 70’s Japanese exploitation gems. “Female bikers! Gang violence! Catfights!” are the promise to be delivered by these remastered, fully restored, uncut versions of DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS: WORTHLESS TO CONFESS / GIRL BOSS CUERILLA / TERRIFYING GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL: LYNCH LAW CLASSROOM / CRIMINAL WOMAN: KILLING MELODY. Extras include audio commentaries for each, trailers for each, actress and director bios, poster & still galleries, boxset bonus CD of Reiko Ike, and a 24 page booklet written by Chris D.

I received this as a promo.  Either I’m extremely lucky or there’s no way that the 4-DVD set is actually worth $100.  Wow.  Frankly, this is why people go to DeepDiscountDVD and other discount DVD sites.  I tend to go the press route on some things, because there’s no way I can afford to be a film buff otherwise – I mean, Panik House releases some good stuff, but $100?  $40-60, possibly, but there is no way people are going to pay $25-30 for one DVD in 2005.  DVDs in cardboard slipcovers sell for a dollar, for crying out loud!

PART CHIMP-I Am Come  CD (Monitor/MON027) $15.99  
“Volume. It goes to eleven. Sure. Bleeding ear drums. Sure. But the use of volume is not a gimmick for Part Chimp. Volume and amps maxed out is needed to reach the sounds and feelings that ended up on their second LP I Am Come. Nearly becoming complete tape scramble, Part Chimp takes volume to the clipping point. After displaying their near ear drum bursting levels on their first LP Chart Pimp, Part Chimp have refined their sound, maintaining the walls of distortion, yet adding more hooks and harmony. The word evolution could be used here, but without being punny, let’s say Part Chimp have developed, but the inner ape is still with them. If Part Chimp’s debut was crusty punk fueled by an Ampthetamine Reptile crunch, then I Am Come is a highly refined offering, standing alongside distortion dwellers such as My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Sunn0))). Recorded and mixed deep in the red by John Cummings of Mogwai, I Am Come is an unbelievable mix of dynamics, harmony, and dissonance.”


I’ve always considered Sunn O))) to be one of the stupidest names I’ve ever seen in metal.  How am I supposed to pronounce O))), anyway?  I know, the band’s name is pronounced “sun.”  The O))) is not pronounced and the band appropriates the name and logo of an amplifier brand, that’s not the point.  It looks ungainly in print.  Some people use a zero (0) for the circle, others use an upper-case O.  Some use three )’s after the circle, others two or four (five if the particular music scribe is demented.)  Sunn O))) are well-loved by people and they have a sizable fanbase, but the name is just one step up from Frantic Bleep.  I’m not kidding.

HAEMOTH-Kontamination  CD (Southern Lord/SUNN47.5) $16.50  IN MONDAY  
“[T]he brand new fithy, sickening burnt offering from the French Black Metal Underground terrorists: Haemoth. Brittle trance inducing cold blast of black metal with a lethal injection of extremely killer riffs. First official USA release ever. CD is limited to 2,000 hand numbered copies. Haemoth support all that can contribute to the ruin of the human being, every form of vice, and don’t give a fuck to the means used top reach that point. Any form of vice, destruction and hate have to be preached. Haemoth encourages every act, physical or spiritual which could carry to the decline, blasphemy or pain. To become one with Him, the interior death is inevitable. the weak ones don’t have their place here. May they burn in hell…”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  This black metal band hates everyone, Satan is God, the clichés all familiar and cozy like a bed of nails.  Frankly, it’s better when black metal bands go WAY OVER THE TOP, because…well, I’ve never understood the appeal of black metal and why people take what any musician says seriously.  Note the limited amount of copies.  Not overshooting your press run is kult.  I’m going to masturbate in front of your hogtied mom now while sacrificing a goat with a sword made of skulls and pure chocolate FOR SATAN, because I’m kult.  And evil.  Buy my album.  I’m not trying too hard to offend you, really.

I swear, most black metal albums are backstory first, image second, musicianship waaaaay in the back.  It’s why I can never take extreme metal too seriously.  I think I’d be mentally retarded if I did.

THE INVISIBLE EYES-Laugh In The Dark  CD (Bomp/BCD4096-) $15.50  
“Take heed! Here be music for troglodytes and spacemen, monks, drunkards and sophisticated hip shakers alike. Primordial fuzz and reverberous caterwaul teetering on the precipice. New hymns by new primitives. A laugh in the dark, a shot in the arm and a kick in the ass. You can’t hold it in your hand, but it feels pretty good nonetheless. The twang and the thump, the rumble and the wail; the hypnotic sound of things breaking, oscillating and coming apart. There goes Bo and the Duchess in a whirling vortex of feedback held together with duct tape and safety pins. Somewhere over yonder a lonesome organ plays a hauntingly familiar tune while a tambourine can’t stop shaking. “Just what the world needs to hear,” said Greg Shaw.”

So…what sort of music do The Invisible Eyes play?  I hate these long, meandering bios.  They say absolutely nothing, yet make out like they’ve revealed a profundity that only gods would be able to see.  I’d like to know what a certain band plays, what neat genre I can file the band under, and what I should expect from an album.  This seems to be an indie rock album, so why can’t the label say so?  Greg Shaw, Bo and the Duchess might like this album.  Since when do they speak for ME?

Frankly, if Scratch Records doesn’t kick me off its mailing list after this, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Those wacky Vancouverites and their expensive tastes, they’re adorable.

C. Archer
Le Social