Photo by Autumn de Wilde

Vinyl Corner : Starcrawler ‘Starcrawler’

Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. This time we’re covering Starcrawler‘s newly released debut album that hit shelves last week via Rough Trade Records.

The Music:

Armed with a handful of riffs and a bad attitude, Starcrawler are clearly a band enamoured with both the music and the theatricality of ’70s shock-rock. For their eponymous debut, the quartet waste no time in getting straight to the point; clocking in at around only half an hour long, the album packs a solid punch with the tight, hooky riffs laying the ground over which vocalist Arrow De Wilde screams, howls and hollers with all the enthusiasm of the rock ‘n’ roll pantomime-artistes which the band make such nods towards. The group’s gleeful hit ‘n’ run energy suggests a more populist version of the exuberant proto-punk of The Stooges (and even The Kinks at their heaviest) whilst the vocal antics of their front-woman owe a debt to the camp, maniacal cackle of Alice Cooper. Throughout the album, Starcrawler – presumably – have their tongues firmly in their cheeks, the lyrics to ‘Pussy Tower’ reading more like a sketch from Viz than anything. Theirs is a light-hearted debut that makes for a slap-happy joy ride through riff after riff.

The Pressing:

Released via Rough Trade Records, we’re looking at the standard black vinyl pressing here. There is also a white vinyl indie-exclusive edition but, theoretically, both should sound the same. The record is reasonably weighty – perhaps 140 to 150 grams by our guess – and well cut, with a reasonably smooth outer edge. The record is pressed by Germany’s Optimal Media GmbH who have a somewhat hit and miss track-record, sometimes producing quality pressings whilst at others failing to hit the expected mark. Fortunately they’ve produced a good quality pressing here with a very low  (practically inaudible) noise floor and no obvious surface noise, aside from a few light errant crackles during the album’s one quieter song, ‘Tears’. Even there, though, its noise is minimal and not enough to scupper the listening experience. Quality control is strong with smooth tracking during play; a well cut spindle hole and a clean, shiny play surface free of unwanted marks from factory handling. All in all a great pressing and an excellent way to hear the album.

The Packaging:

Housed in a non gatefold sleeve, the album’s unusual cover art is printed with sharp clarity. The barcode is printed directly onto the back cover rather than being stickered onto the shrinkwrap but it is, at least, small and unobtrusive. The record is housed in a non-polylined paper sleeve, so swapping that out for something higher quality is advised. A large download card is including with the album being redeemable in MP3 – in addition to a large, well printed lyric insert. Whilst the quality of the insert is high the chosen colour scheme is a little baffling, with writing being grey on a white background – making the whole thing appear oddly faint. Labels give the track-list for each side and boast a vivid red and white colour scheme. Print quality is good and they look nice, although we will say it would have been nice if there had been some indication of which side was A and which was B, other than the track-list itself.

Final Thoughts:

This vinyl pressing of Starcrawler‘s debut album is high quality, with an excellent pressing boasting high quality control. Packaging quality is also strong and, even if the chosen colour scheme makes some text hard to pick out, it’s overall a nicely packaged release given the price point – and a great way of hearing the album.