When Marah unleashes its seventh studio album, Life Is A Problem, on June 22, it'll be like the compact disc era never happened.

The band has confirmed that although Life Is A Problem will be available for purchase on iTunes, it will not be available on CD. That might seem strange, until you consider the formats Marah has chosen to use.

-- 180 gram vinyl LP in a gatefold sleeve (with a limited edition pressed on red vinyl, plus free digital download)

-- cassette tape. That is not a typo.

Keyboardist Christine Smith has long been an advocate for cassettes; she once posed for a promo photo in a bathtub where modesty was provided by piles of anachronistic cassette tapes.

"We obviously grew up on cassettes and get real happy just thinking about you and your boys out in the garage playing darts and listening to our new record on cassette," the group said in an email message.

Life Is A Problem has been in the works for some time. Last August, Smith and band mate Dave Bielanko spoke about the making the record and the fallout from the hobbled release of Marah's sixth album, Angels of Destruction. In recent months, the group has given fans a taste of the eclectic-sounding new album by posting a number of songs on their website. The new record will be issued by the group's new indie label, Valley Farm Songs.

"Walmart will not be selling Life is a Problem, neither will Starbucks Coffee Shops… “good”, “who cares?” Walmart is not our place….never was….our place is different, it’s better," said the band in a post on their website.

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Tags: CD, Christine, Marah, Smith, cassettes, vinyl

Comment by SoCalBert on May 18, 2010 at 10:19am

Okay I might check them out.
Comment by Carol Rodriguez on May 18, 2010 at 10:23am
love marah - i hope they tour the west coast with this new release. doubt i'll buy it tho - i have enough vinyl and my stereo is dying. since when have they had a female in the band? it's been a while since i've seen them, but i could have sworn it was all dudes.
Comment by AndrewT on May 18, 2010 at 10:33am
How hard is it to burn a cd of your vinyl album? And the liner notes on the jacket will be readable for a change.
Comment by Elizabeth Swinney on May 18, 2010 at 10:57am
@ Grant... the songs are the least of my worries. @ Charlie... nobody owns anything. Sorrry, Charlie, Starkist doesn't want tunas with good taste... Starkist want tune-ahs that taste good.
Comment by Alec Pappas on May 18, 2010 at 11:20am
The idea behind it is that if you're a casual fan, you can download it from iTunes or steal it from limewire or bittorrent and if you need a CD for the car, you can burn your own. If you actually like the band, hopefully we're providing value for your money by putting out a superior product(180g gatefold vinyl with the lyrics) and being able to download it for your convenience while you're separating the seeds and stems. For those who are broke as a joke you can buy the cassette(sans download) at a reduced price. Getting vinyl made costs more than manufacturing CD, but we feel it was worth it.

Scott Hull bounced the songs onto 1" 2 track tape and spliced the tracks together for both the vinyl and cassette, and also mastered for download to account for the nature of the codec. The MP3's sound great, but the vinyl just pops.

Big chains are cutting back on CD inventory, indie shops prefer vinyl, while downloads are squeezing from the other end. The world changes, we can only try and keep up. Unfortunately the music business is more like 1960 than 1990.

Alec Pappas

Comment by david vartanoff on May 18, 2010 at 11:45am
Well, Marah, some of us don't use itunes, nor do I have a cassette player. I suppose I might download your stuff, but if I want to put you in "rotation" near my CD player...
No, I don't still use reel to reel or turntables, but cueing a specific tracks is way easier w/ CDs.
Comment by Paul Cantin on May 18, 2010 at 11:46am
Thanks for the explanation Alec. Ballsy move. I think it's an innovative approach and I can't see how any individual fan can't be accommodated by at least one of the options.

Looking forward to double-gatefold pandemonium.

Comment by Lwood on May 18, 2010 at 12:12pm
Thanks Alec...FWIW, 180 gm LP's are NOT the holy grail, it's nothing more than a marketing ploy....it has more to do with who's doing the pressing and who cut the master than how much vinyl there is, along with the 'quality' of the vinyl...out of the thousands of LP's I have, the 180gm and up are a minute quantity, and it's no guarantee of quality.
Comment by Matthew Williams on May 18, 2010 at 12:38pm
I spent half my teenage years trying to fix broken or twisted cassettes. Don't miss them a bit! And when you play them too much the other side starts bleeding through.
Comment by Charlie Silvestri on May 18, 2010 at 12:48pm
Hey, I'm not knocking the band, just the format of this release. I support acts I like by going to shows. I happen to be from the Philly area and have seen Marah. Multiple times. Do I have good taste? Eh, who knows. But I know what I like. It just not LPs and mp3s. This sure seems like a marketing ploy, and judging by the conversation generated here, maybe it's working.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.