Let’s talk about bad pressings. Well…I’ll talk. You can listen, if you’re in the mood.
CFCF “Music For Objects EP” (Paper Bag) was recommended by a friend at work. After hearing a sample on Pitchfork. I was excited to check out the rest of the record. I couldn’t find it anywhere – in shops, or online – the initial clear vinyl pressing disappeared quickly. But Amazon (always my last choice) claimed to have a few copies left.
I ordered one. Eighteen bucks.
It showed up via FedEx. The flimsy, zip-top cardboard mailer had a three-inch divot across the top, as if someone had whacked it with a sharp object. I held my breath and opened the packing-material-free “certified frustration-proof packaging” and…yes. The top of the LP jacket had a matching divot.
I didn’t bother playing it. I sent Amazon a return request and got an immediate email autoreply stating I’d have a free UPS call-tag pickup the next business day. I boxed up the LP in the same mailer and UPS collected it, as promised, the following morning.
In three days I had a replacement LP. The box and jacket looked undamaged.
I put the album on the turntable and was appalled at the surface noise. The record sounded as though someone had run sandpaper across every song on both sides. Even the louder tracks seemed like they’d been scrubbed with a Brillo pad.
I figured it was paper flecks from the innersleeve. I ran the disc through a VPI record cleaner and put it back on the turntable.
I’m pretty sure it sounded worse.
I obtained a fresh return authorization from Amazon and returned the LP again. The replacement showed up in two days.
Side one sounded alright. Good, even.
I turned the record over.
Side two’s first track was preceded by a once-around-the-LP “POP”. Loud. Disconcerting. Disappointing. The pop bled into the first ten seconds of the opening song. The rest of the record sounded okay, with a few intermittent, loud clicks.
I played the beginning of side two again and listened carefully. I sent Amazon my third return request and asked for a credit. And felt like an intolerant bitch. Then I thought again about the $18 and said screw it, I’m gonna be an intolerant bitch.
I sent an email to the label’s customer service department politely asking them about the bad pressing, and if anyone else had mentioned a Similarly Poor User Experience?
The email bounced.
UPDATE 9.26.13 4pm PT:
This afternoon I re-sent the almost-bitchy email to Paper Bag’s customer service from another account, and received an immediate and gracious reply. The first email apparently was bounced because Paper Bag’s email server didn’t like my ISP (I don’t like them either, so there’s that). Anyway. The label assured me that no one else had complained about the pressing quality. So I guess I’m…special.