Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Record Shopping Online - Does It Have to Be So Hard?

I was just doing a few searches the other day, seeing if I could find a few bargains online in some of the most well-known websites when I mistyped 'Hell's HeadBangers' (I was missing the e in Bangers) and got this Nuclear War Now result. Who knew one letter could yield the competition, but Google served me a link to the Nuclear War Now forum so I clicked it. I don't really waste much time in forums. Maybe it is my age. Maybe I find most of the info exchange to be a waste of time. Maybe both.

From the forum I jumped to NWN's webstore. I have been there a number of times and I have bought a few records from that label in the past. Usually on sale vinyl and CD's all of which are priced at  an affordable $5, but mostly, I have spent a lot of time packing my shopping cart with obscure records and then dropping out after seeing the high costs of shipping. Twice I have been on the verge of spending close to $100 but have been forced to drop out after NWN's system rejects my gift cards. On this particular day, once again I could not bring myself to pay for the exaggerated shipping costs for a couple of CD's so I decided to do accurate typing and flip over to Hell's Headbangers, who by the way, a few weeks ago sent me two copies of their fanzine/catalog. Nice. As a token of my appreciation and as originally planned, I decided to spend some of my hard-earned cash there instead.

The cool thing about Hell's Headbangers is that as soon as you get into their website you are welcomed by what looks like a few unbeatable offers; 5 LP's for $60, Buy $66 Get a Free CD, 10 CD's for $50 and More Specials Inside. The uncool thing about Hell's Headbangers is that once you get into their store the only visible sale I could see was Buy 3 CD's Get 1 Free. In fine print it reads, On Select Titles. On Select Titles by the way, means Hell's Headbangers releases only. Here, most CD's are priced between $8.00 and $9.00. Quite expensive after spending time on Nuclear War Now's store. To get to the offers you have to actually click on the box on the right that is titled FREE / OFFERS. On this particular day I did not see that box.

Disappointed, I decided to go to the web store on Relapse.com. Once there I clicked on the tiny link on the right that says SALE ITEMS. At one point in time the Relapse website was considered cutting edge. Especially among metal websites, which tended and still tend to look like shit. Nowadays, Relapse's webstore looks dated as fuck, with tiny icons doing little justice to artwork and an annoying tendency to freeze, time out and / or go to dead pages But have patience. It might pay off. While going through the 104 pages of sale items on this particular day I finally encountered two records for very good prices.

The first record I bought was the vinyl version of Children's Hard Times Hanging At the End of the World, which is a totally competent thrash metal record. Flawless musicianship. Atypical long songs for the genre. Heavy early Metallica influence. I am afraid this band may be getting the cold shoulder from the metal community for being signed to Kemado which is seen as a label of hipsters or some shit. This 12 inch cost me $6. I could not believe it. For a while I though it was a mistake. Especially considering that this record is quite new, released in 2009.

The second record I bought was He Visto la Cruz Al Reves by Spain's Moho. I was very familiar with this band because I reviewed their Chotacabra album in Deaf Sparrow back in 2008. This one dates from 2006 and was edited in gatefold version by Spain's Throne Records. Price? $6. Not bad. Not bad at all. I recommend it to anyone who likes thick sludge and angry doom.

All in all, I must have spent two hours searching for something to buy. I had nothing specific in mind but knew that I did not want to go broke. It was frustrating at times.  Not being able to find good records. Overpriced items. Websites that do not work well. Rejected gift card numbers. Offers that are impossible to find. The possibility of errors is endless.


kjenkin6 said...

Could not agree more. Shipping prices tend to be somewhat outrageous, particularly with Relapse in my experience. Another reason why the death of the local record store REALLY, TRULY sucks balls. RIP Vinyl Fever.

Ignacio Brown said...

Indeed RIP Vinyl Fever. Stopped there on Monday. I have never seen it so busy. If they can make a small profit with those prices maybe they should rethink their whole business model. I felt kind of sad for the owner, he looked like he was about to cry. I walked out with four vinyls and three new CD's...