Spotlight on Craft Recordings (Collective Soul, Social Distortion, More)

The Craft Recordings label is one of our favorites here at On the Record and this time out we feature four of their recent vinyl releases: reissues of titles by Collective Soul, OTEP, Social Distortion and The Maine.

Collective Soul - 7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001

Originally released in 2001, this 14-song compilation draws material from an especially fertile time in Collective Soul's career, the seven year span from 1994-2001. The set begins with the big hit "Heavy," one of the band's most memorable, where a heavy guitar riff begins the song and continues throughout behind the lyrics that, being about suffering through a faltering relationship, are heavy too in their own way. The song is one of three from the Dosage album; "She Said" and the understated "Run" being the others. Of course the smash hit that started it all for Collective Soul, "Shine," is here too. Side A also contains a special goody for fans: the previously-unreleased "Energy" which has a great hook and hit potential galore. Quirky rocker "Gel" and the band's collaboration with Elton John, the joyous "Perfect Day" where John rocks a piano solo, rounds out a powerful Side A. The B side is no slouch either, beginning with the catchy "Precious Declaration" and the guitar riff heavy "Why Pt. 2" as well as containing melancholy big hit "The World I Know," the equally big hit in the dark "December" and another unreleased track exclusive to this compilation, the buzzing guitar fiesta of "Next Homecoming." The favorites keep coming with "Listen" and closing cut "Forgiveness." The Collective Soul lineup is different today but for all these songs it was Ed Roland on vocals, keys and guitar, Ross Childress and Dean Roland on guitars, Will Turpin on bass and Shane Evans on drums. The album comes pressed on black vinyl or a choice of three different marbled color vinyl patterns and with an inner sleeve that features photos and lyrics.

OTEP - Hydra

Released in 2023 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its original release, here's a reissue of OTEP's 2013 concept album Hydra. The hydra is a creature from Greek mythology, a multi-headed beast that sprouted two heads when one was cut off, an apropos subject for the Los Angeles-based nu metal band fronted by Otep Shamaya. The album begins with the exceptionally eerie "Rising," an awakening of the hydra if you will; cloaked in understated music and lyrics portending doom, the song is a bit of calm before the sonic attack begins in earnest. All the hallmarks of good nu metal are here; rat-a-tat drums, wildly grinding guitar and scream-o vocals. What sets OTEP apart from many is band namesake Shamaya; she has the ability to sing sweetly one moment and then explode into shrieks and howls the next. And she does it better than many of the males working in the same genre. She adds spoken word with album standout "Hematopia," not too surprising since Shamaya is known as a poet as well as a musician. The whole song is spoken/whispered and the technique segues into the beginning of "Necromantic" before the metal explodes mid song. "Quarantine" is a heavy fever dream that likens various ills of society to a hydra and "Voyeur" is about (ugh!) beastiality. Thirteen songs in all on one of OTEP's most satisfying releases ever. Hydra is available here on vinyl for the first time ever and the band and the label have gone to lengths to make the package very appealing for fans. A 2-LP set in a gatefold jacket and with lyrics on the inner sleeves, three sides of the vinyl hold music while the fourth side has a cool "Art Saves" etching.

Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster

It doesn't seem like it's been 40-years since Social D burst onto the punk scene but here's a reissue of their stunning debut, four decades on. Full of short and punchy songs, the album begins with "The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)," featuring the sound that would become instantly recognizable as Mike Ness and company over the coming years. "Another State of Mind" sounds like a SoCal version of the Clash and singer/guitarist Ness and second guitarist Dennis Danell rock like crazy on "Telling Truth," a cut that infuses a bit of a surf rock attitude in the punk, thanks in part to the rhythm section of Brent Liles on bass and Derek O'Brien on drums. The title cut is another guitar rave up that again shows a fondness for surf music and that has the best vocal hook of the album. The album ends on a really strong note with the tour-de-force "Moral Threat," a bashing drums and slashing guitar manifesto that quite appropriately announced the arrival of a band that would soon become punk legends. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve featuring a photo collage and lyrics.

The Maine - Can't Stop Won't Stop

Despite their name, The Maine are actually from Arizona. They roared onto the national scene with this debut album, reissued here on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. The album did fairly well on the charts, breaking the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart and soaring all the way to the #4 spot on the Independent Albums chart. The songs that resonated most with fans were the easy-to-sing-along-to appreciation of a lover that is "Everything I Ask For," which leads off the album, the power pop informed and anthemic "Girls Do What They Want" and the song of adoration and wonderment "Into Your Arms." But the album as a whole is packed with similar pop perfection like the swaggering "This is the End," "Kiss and Sell" and the percolating, electro-tinged "You Left Me." Fans know every song here by heart and they'll absolutely love this vinyl reissue, pressed on gold and silver marbled vinyl and packaged in a gatefold jacket with lyrics on the inner sleeve.

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