Vinyl Spotlight: The Format – Dog Problems

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Today we’re kicking off a new column in which our resident vinyl lover, Kiel Hauck, talks about a recent vinyl release and gives a breakdown about everything from packaging to sound quality.

When I heard that a vinyl release of The Format’s classic 2006 album Dog Problems was coming, I immediately knew it was a must have. I’ve enjoyed Nate Reuss’ work in Fun., but The Format will always hold a special place in my heart. In my opinion, Dog Problems was more than a simple swan song, it was one of the best indie rock releases in recent memory.

The vinyl release of Dog Problems comes courtesy of The Vanity Label with an initial pressing of 1,000 copies on white vinyl that sold out quickly. There has since been a re-release on black vinyl which is still available. The album recently arrived in my mailbox, so let’s take a look…

Packaging and Presentation

To put it simply, Dog Problems features some of the best packaging I’ve seen for a vinyl release. The cover and colors are obviously iconic, but they took great care in putting it all together for this vinyl release. The dogs on the front cover fold out into a few different panels, revealing production notes. Not only is this a fantastic way to display many of the liner notes, but it plays upon the artwork and adds an extra dimension to the dogs on the cover.

The vinyl discs themselves are inserted into an opening at the top and are placed inside colorful sleeves and include the song lyrics. The discs are white with multi-colored centers that include the colors from the cover of the album. It’s a really beautiful display and is wonderful to look at. Additionally, white vinyl was the perfect choice for this release and complements the the blue, red, green and yellow sleeves.

Side D is actually blank, but instead includes an etching of a dog bowl. It’s a pretty cool addition as I haven’t seen this on many vinyl releases in this scene. The only drawback is that the etching was apparently screwed up initially by the manufacturers, resulting in a delay of the shipping date while they repressed it. All in all, it was worth the wait. Dog Problems is truly one of the best presented releases I’ve seen in both color and aesthetic appeal.

Sound and Quality

As Dog Problems is probably best known for it’s rather charming raw sound, one would hope that this would shine through on the vinyl release. The good news is that it certainly does. Opener “Matches” starts out quietly before the song crescendos – the lead in sounds solid and the instrumentation doesn’t overpower Ruess’ voice. In my opinion, this album was almost made to be heard on vinyl, so there was little work that needed to be done for this re-release.

While the percussion feels a little muffled at points, it hardly distracts from the songs themselves. Ruess shines throughout this album and it’s great hearing his voice in this context. While Fun.’s Some Nights seemed peculiar as a vinyl release with its polished production, Dog Problems sounds right at home – there’s really not much to complain about here.

The vinyl itself is of decent quality. It required cleaning off some packaging particles before spinning, which is fairly normal, but there was no disturbances during the playback. All three sides played great. Since Dog Problems is such a raw album in and of itself, it felt great to spin it on vinyl for the first time and experience the album again.

All in all, the Dog Problems re-release is a pretty great one and well worth the wait. There are still copies of the black variant available, which I would highly recommend buying if you’re a fan of the band. The $25 price tag feels just about right for this release. You can pick up a copy over at Hello Merch.

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by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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