The vinyl I’ve chosen this week is the Rations album titled “For Victory”. It’s a nice piece of music and design that I picked up a little while back for like $4 at one of the local record shops. Classic DIY, lo-fi Punk tunes crammed into a neat little package. I dig it and so should you.
I used to buy albums based off of artwork all the time when I was younger. As I got older and money got tighter (and downloading became more prevalent) I stopped buying so much music based on looks alone. I never really got a super awful album from this method but it just became too much of a gamble as time went on. Anyway, cut to the present day and now I have a job that pays decently and I can afford to buy records whenever I feel like it and I thought I’d give this one a shot. I had noticed it many times as I browsed the metal and punk sections of a Reckless Records here in the city and finally made the purchase.
Rations is a punk band from Long Island and the songs are stripped down and raw. Short and sweet is the name of their game and the total running time of the album is only 17 minutes. Good shit for sure. As for all of the graphics of the album they follow the DIY aesthetic that has been used by so many punk bands before them and I feel it was done very well.
I absolutely loved the cover from the first time I saw it. A simple graphic on some matte-black paper is a design after my heart. The eagle on top of a shield and banner is very nicely executed and it really sets the tone for the whole project in terms of color palette and giving the package an overall feel. This is where that first DIY feel comes in. Power is derived from a simple graphic that feels like it was probably screen-printed in one of the band member’s garage or basement.
The back of the album has more of the same styling and that raw feeling.
The banner element is brought over from the front of the record to call out the album name and then the sing titles are all set in a horribly spaced version of Helvetica reminiscent of the paste-ups and quick designs of Punk music’s crusty past.
There really isn’t too much going on with the back of the cover. It’s a fairly standard setup with title, songs and label info on it. I did enjoy the 86’d Records logo though. Just look at that thing. How random is that?! And the introduction of the typewriter font happens here as well. This will be carried out throughout the rest of the elements within the packaging.
The vinyl record is another extension of the visual identity that this album has created. The A-side label features more matte-black paper and uses the typewriter typeface in a more prominent role. Some slightly-odd spacing and the text inside white boxes give more of that paste-up DIY feel that is so prevalent in the whole package.
The reverse side of the record is a screen-printed graphic of a laurel and the label features a dove carrying a branch (presumably an olive branch). Another shield graphic makes an appearance and the typewriter typeface pops up again within a quote that reads “good men have power but evil men are impotent”. The label provides a good contrast to the A-side and gives some clues as to how the rest of packaging will play out.
The military and DIY themes come out even stronger on the inserted elements. First is a nice 11×17 folded poster. Featuring a large halftone image of a military-looking fella surveying the waters, another quote is inserted in the typewriter style. The different thicknesses of the letters and offset spacing really gives the impression that this was typed out and pasted onto the image to create this poster.
The last insert included in this package is a ‘zine. ‘Zines used to be a pretty common occurrence for the punk and metal scene but have slowly died out as the internet grew larger. Message boards, Facebook and other social media sort of pushed the ‘zine community to become more tight-knit, way more underground and to an extent even less important. There are still some ‘zines out there plugging away (maybe making a small resurgence) and pushing the medium forward and but it’s always nice to stumble across one unknowingly, no matter how simple and utilitarian is turns out to be.
This insert is your pretty standard ‘zine-style insert. Printed on newsprint, black & white coloring, halftones, some down-and-dirty text. It’s good stuff for sure and I get a kick out of it every time I pull it out. The military and DIY theme plays out through the whole piece. The cover features an illustrated compass graphic with RTNS in the place of NSEW. It’s a nice detail that I’m not sure I noticed right away. The imagery is straight to the point with some severe-looking men and women in uniform with lyrics or song credits inserted onto them. This ‘zine is mostly a vehicle for the album credits and lyrics but that’s fine. It’s got some other info in it as well but really it’s just a decent piece of design. Everything has that handmade feel to it. The typefaces used throughout are the same two typefaces introduced on the albums jacket. Song titles appear in the sans-serif and everything else is in the serif. It’s just good stuff and it fits in very well with the whole package.
Overall I’d say that this is one of my favorite vinyl purchases of the last year. It might not be an album I’m always itching to put on but when I do I always enjoy the process of going through all the goodies that are packed into it. If you happen to see one in a store for a few bucks then I highly recommend you pick it up.