Monday, August 17, 2009
An Explication of Distros and What They Have to Offer
So we have a list of distros on the side toolbar, we have them there in hopes that you'll support them and buy shit from them. As a vinyl collector myself I put this list together as a good source for people to refer to and order from. For the most part, if not all of them, are based in the US. So I'm sorry rest of the world. So here's the low down.
Here's a key to make looking at each place easier:
O-obscure stuff M-also offers a lot of merch, as in t-shirts, posters, etc
V-good for vinyl
S1-5- Selection, 1 being a very small selection, 5 being quite expansive
P1-5-Prices, 1 being dirt cheap, 5 being very expensive. This is a generalization, and doesn't include shipping which some sites charge a lot more than others.
O-V-S4-P3(most things are very fairly priced, but a couple of things are waaaay expensive for no good reason)
Based in San Fransisco, AQ is a local record shop which since the 70's has been a haven for all types of music fanatics. Their prices are quite fair and they carry an expansive amount of black metal, doom/stoner metal, and lots of indie/hip stuff I've never heard. They put out a great newsletter with editor's picks and highlight new material that's entered the store. Great selection, good shipping, and trustworthy. A top pick.
Tired and true, Century Media offers what the little guys can't. Deals upon deals, cheap cds, relatively priced vinyl and merch, CM's got a lot. I haven't ordered from them in awhile, as I usually go vinyl hunting for obscure stuff, but if i bought cds they would get regular orders from me. They offer grab bags and all kinds of shit, decent service if I remember correctly. Just what you'd expect from a bigger label.
Showcasing a wide array of music from all types of labels, Crucial Blast offers up some great stuff. Carrying many hardcore/grind/pv/whatever labels such as Six Weeks Records as well as many black metal labels like Anja Offensive and what not, they've got everything. Fair prices and staff picks make this a favorite for browsing. A smaller site but maintains a good selection and competitive prices to bigger labels like CM and Relapse. Resides in the DC/Maryland area.
Haven't had a chance to order from these guys yet, but they showcase a lot of interesting stuff and a lot of stuff I've never heard of. Primarily a black metal outfit, see what you can find. A bunch of shirts too. Based in Georgia.
Mostly black metal here, good selection of vinyl and cds from many bands I've never heard of. T-shirts as well, never ordered from here but it seems like good stuff, I check it quite often but never have money when I do. Based out of Colorado.
A distro I've had a lot of interaction with, HH offers a lot of their own household names (lots of black thrash, black/death metal) as well as many other grind, death metal, thrash, and black metal; even some punk here and there. One of the larger selections of vinyl I know of. Prices are fair, although I feel the flat rate of 6bucks for all 7" is a bit much. Well detailed, but expensive patches, shirts and all kinds of promotional/limited edition stuff. Good and fast shipping, owner oversees everything and talks directly to you, the two times I've had an issue he was very agreeable with refunds and credit. Typically includes a bunch of free stuff, like stickers, samplers, posters. I'm sure if I had bigger orders I'd get some cool free shit, highly recommend this one! A mecca for the underground US metal scene.Based in Ohio.
Huge huge huge distro that covers crap like Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, NOFX, to gems like Man is the Bastard, Insect Warfare, Magrudergrind... you get the point; large selection. Can be pricey at times, at others pretty cheap. Things tend to be in the punk region, although they carry quite a bit of metal. They also have a cool point system, and contests, so ordering more yields money towards next purchases(i ordered two Lp and now have like $1 in my account or something). Cool site, lots of shirts, patches and whatnot too. Be prepared to look hard though, lots of crap on the site.
Based in the UK, Karnstein claims to ship anywhere for free and offers cds at 5euros a pop. Seems like a pretty good deal. Cds aren't encased in plastic as it's cheaper to ship that way, sounds a bit sketchy in terms of their safety, but whatever. Cases can be requested. Currently only carrying CDs they seem to have quite a limited selection, but deals like these aren't too easy to come by.
Solid distro/label that carries a huge amount of crap. All kinds of genres, all kinds of formats. They also have a slew of OOP and collectors items that are priced stupidly high. Beyond that my interactions have been quite positive and they offers lots of vinyl! Highly recommended.
Nuclear War Now!
Beyond their cool name, NWN is one of the best US distros/labels around. Fast and excellent shipping paired with great prices, releases of the utmost quality and a large selection, NWN retains a ton of authority. With lots of vinyl (500+), tapes(200+) and CD(300+) along with a handful of shirts and zines, NWN offers a lot. A favorite of mine and something I keep up to date with. Mostly black metal and death metal, although there's a lot to be found when you really dig deep.
A punk based label showcasing tons of hardcore, grind, crust, and what have you. Cheap and solid prices, and small array of good stuff. It's quality over quantity here. In my opinion I think they should carry more, there's a lot of competition out there, but alas; good distro.
Profound Lore Records
One of the most promising, and well rounded labels out there. With great bands such as Agalloch, Altar of Plagues, Cobalt, Amesoeurs/Alcest, Caina, Nadja and Portal, they've showcased tons of new talent and bands that stray(in a good way) from the ordinary and mundane. Decent prices and a lackluster, but quality selection. Solid stuff. Ontario, Canada.
Large selection of the commercial, and not so. Everything from d-beat masters, to the latest trend in metal, Relapse has a lot to offer. Really impressive selection of vinyl and good shipping. Decent and fair prices, plenty of deals and good finds, Relapse is one of the better "big underground" distros/labels. Plenty of exclusives too.
Shadow Kingdom Records
Lots of old releases as well as new. Hefty amount of vinyl and 1000+cds. Divided by genre for your connivance, good stuff. Prices are decent, somethings grossly overpriced, some a bit of a steal. Fun site to look through. Mostly metal, some older rock/proto-metal.
Metal's hippest label, SL offers plenty and quality stuff in terms of their own bands. As a distro it's a bit lacking, but there's some good stuff to be found. Prices tend to be on the expensive side, but packaging and shipping is quite competent. Label releases are ensured to reek of quality in terms of packaging, materials, etc. Mostly metal and the doom field of things(drone, etc).
The Omega Order(The End Records)
The other most hip metal label out there, The End, showcases an impressive distro which covers all fields of metal, as well as the avant garde, and subsections of punk. Wide selection and plenty of gems to find. I got a rare Leviathan Lp from them for 13 bucks simply cause the jacket was bent. Solid stuff, a lot to sort through. Quality shipping and even some freebies here and there.
Unholy Thrash Records
Talk about small, Unholy Thrash is a tiny outfit with some good stuff. $8 LPs, and $3.50 eps, you get a big bang for your buck. A fun site to order randomly from, stuff based in the punk realm of things.
Lots of shit, lots and lots. Cool distro and tons to find. Great selection of vinyl and good prices. Lots of metal and punk stuff, something for everyone! A lot of collector's items and lots of old metal.
Large as hell selection of everything from Indie, to hardcore, to black metal. Lots of cds and vinyl, lots to find. Good prices and great service. Friendly and reliable, a very good distro, hur hur hur.
Well that's it. There's a million distros out there, and a bunch I use regularly that aren't listed here, but I don't have the stamina to do anymore. Check these out and support the scene(whatever it maybe) fuck the record industry, but support smaller labels and individuals. Feel free to recommend other distros in the comments section of this page, hopefully this serves as a good reference for you all.