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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DIY Cork Turntable Mat in 30 Minutes

I've been looking into the benefits of using a cork turntable mat (it helps to dampen vibration and can limit the build-up of unwanted static), but was surprised by the cost.  Seriously, $20-30?  Fuck that.

So, I took it upon myself to create my own mat on a budget.  Here's a step-by-step breakdown with the fetching results.

First, acquire the essentials:
  • 12" x 12" Cork Sheet (1/8" to 3/16" depth for best results (depending on your deck)) - this can be purchased at most craft stores for approximately $3 per sheet.  (This sheet was purchased at Michael's)
  • Hand Clamps
  • X-acto Knife (sharp)
  • Masking Tape
  • Cutting Board
  • Marker
  • A record that can be properly abused

Next, clamp your shittiest (unwanted) copy of the Oak Ridge Boys (or Wham!) to the 12" x 12" cork mat, with a cutting board beneath.

Now, cut out the center spindle hole portion (later you may have to flip it to cut the other side - this will provide a cleaner opening).

Next, simply start at the top (nearest the clamp) and follow the blade along the edge of the record.  It's best to make careful straight-down cuts rather than striking quickly over and over.  Again, you'll get a cleaner edge.

Then, once a full half is complete, carefully remove the clamps and flip the record with the cork so that you can easily cut the remaining two quarters.  If you have a smaller cutting board surface you can omit this step.

Now drink.

Once all sides have been cut, carefully move the clamps to the side (still clamped down) and X-acto any left-over edges that are evident.

Again, you can then flip the cork and place the record on top to remove the spindle hole.  I wouldn't recommend drilling the center...that shit will tear up the cork.

Anyhoo, you should be left with a pretty decent mat at this point.  So, drink again.

To clean up the mat, I would advise using masking tape (preferably a roller) and simply dab both sides, as well as along the edges.

There you have it.  I also threw on a RPM speed sticker from Sleeve City that I pulled from a felt mat, to gussy things up.

The Results:

Now, I'm a man.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Into the White: A Pixies Bootleg

I recently obtained a free promotional copy of a Pixies bootleg entitled: Into the White: BBC Recordings from 1988 and 1989.  On first glance, I was really taken aback by the quality of the sleeve design (a nice two-color screen print) and the look of the vinyl (a sturdy standard weight pressed on transparent dark green).  But, then I listened to it.

A good portion of the tracks have been taken directly from the Pixies at the BBC CD, originally released in 1998 by 4AD, omitting Subbacultcha, Is She Weird, Ana, Letter to Memphis, and Monkey Gone to Heaven.  The good news is that two unreleased tracks have been added: Tame and Into the White, both of which sound exceptional.

Keeping in mind that this was a bootleg, I didn't have too high of hopes for the quality of the sound.  For the most part, I was correct...but I was also occasionally surprised.  Surface noise and the random 'pops' aside, this isn't a bad release.

The Good:
  • Two unreleased BBC recordings
  • The condition of the vinyl itself as well as the sleeve
  • Supposedly limited to 100 (transparent dark green) or 500 (standard black)
  • Caribou sounds fantastic
The Bad:
  • Caribou is completely left off of the track list (on both the sleeve and LP's label)
  • Nearly every track cuts in at the beginning
  • Some songs have the channels reversed (comparing to Pixies at the BBC)
  • Noise between tracks (but not as noticeable during songs)
Sure, it's a bootleg...but the price was right and I don't mind adding more content to my Pixies collection.  If I want quality sound, I'll stick with the Minotaur set....maybe I'll do a write up of that set in an upcoming post.  Maybe.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Reissued

Although I can't say that I've been an avid Tom Petty fan, I've always had a great deal of respect for his musical abilities.  As a result, my Petty consumption has been limited to the 'best of' or 'greatest hits' category, which I now find quite sad.

It wasn't until a few months ago when I picked up a limited 7" featuring off-record "Damn the Torpedoes" tracks, "Nowhere" and "Surrender," that I realized what beautiful and rich production TP and the gang have become famous for.

As a result, when I discovered that Chris Bellman was mastering the reissues of both the self-titled debut album as well as "You're Gonna Get It" for Record Store Day, I bit the bullet and dropped the cash.  I couldn't be more pleased with the purchase.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Self-Titled release on Standard 120 gram WHITE vinyl

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - You're Gonna Get It release on Standard 120 gram Transparent BLUE vinyl

Although I don't have the original releases for comparison, these remasters are unbelievable!  Guitars leap effortlessly from left channel to right channel, the percussion has pulsating bite, and the vocals are clear and upfront (for the most part).

Completely satisfied with these copies, I then set out for the tour-de-force itself, "Damn the Torpedoes" - the deluxe edition on limited double vinyl.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes release on 2 LP 180 gram BLACK vinyl

Extras include a second disc of unreleased/alternate and live tracks, in paper/poly sleeves, with high definition download, and a 12 x 12 photo/lyric book, all within a beautiful gatefold

I couldn't recommend this reissue any more.  Granted, the album initially sold millions of copies and can easily be discovered in the used racks for a few bucks...but THIS release is the way the album needs to be heard.  Simply put, it's sex for the ears.

Kick back and enjoy, I know I have been.

Click READ MORE for a full track list and audio players.