Music Monday 5.24.10 – 5.16.11

Well, it’s been a full year of doing these little old Music Monday posts. I started making posters for my “most listened to artist for the week (according to last.fm)” one year ago, and for 52 weeks have made something every Monday. I decided to make a collage of the work, much as I did the last time. It’s nice to see everything all next to each other and see how I evolved, or what waves of style I went though, or better, the waves of music I had interest in.
However, I think this is going to be the end of Music Monday if not forever then at least for a while. I sort of like doing things with a definitive start and end, and a year is a pretty good time to round things out. It’s been great, but I don’t want to be locked down to doing this anymore on a week to week basis. There’s many more projects I’ll probably work myself into, and I’m excited to do something completely different. Or maybe something terribly similar. Who knows.

4.25.11 Lupe Fiasco

Sadly, two weeks ago my cousin’s boyfriend died from complications during a bone marrow transplant, after years of battling sickle cell anemia. Words really cannot describe the devastation this brings to everyone who knew either of them. Lateef, you will be missed and your spirit and essence will live on.
At his memorial, Emily told me that if I wanted to know and understand Lateef further, I should listen to Lupe Fiasco’s new album Lasers, which she described as just being “him.” Lupe was his favorite artist and he never got to hear the new album. I love so much that music has the ability to powerfully become a representation of a time or place, and in this case a person. I was excited and honored to be able to listen to Lasers for this very reason. In this sense, the album is remarkable and was absolutely insightful in understanding who Lateef was.
It’s hard to find the right things to say. Whether that be in trying show comfort, or trying to express your own pain, things can become too difficult to put into words. Music has the incredible ability to sometimes just do all of that for you. How amazing it is that this album be so closely knit to a person who should never be forgotten. Take a few minutes and listen to the albums closing track, Never Forget You.

Music Monday 4.18.11 Wye Oak

I finally got the chance to see Wye Oak this weekend when they played in Philly with my friends in Secret Mountains. They’ve been a band that’s been continuously growing on me, to the point now where I’m pretty obsessed. Jenn not only has an incredible voice, but also shreds on guitar. Seriously, they rocked and if you get the chance to see them, do it, one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. They’re really putting a lot of two pieces to shame, not that they’re trying; everything seems extremely effortless.
Their new album Civilian is a an absolute must have for 2011. Possibly my favorite record of the year so far. So take that as you will.

The idea for this poster was entirely influenced by Kirby’s obsessions with finger spelling and sign language.

Music Monday 4.11.11 Sharon Van Etten

I got really into Sharon Van Etten this week. She’s got one of the prettiest voices going right now, and it was putting me in a bit of trance throughout the week. If you’ve never listened to her, please listen, she’s definitely one of those people who once you start listening you feel like you’ve been missing out all along. Like I said, just one of the most calming voices. Unique in her own way without being obnoxiously strange or anything. Just very good.

I did my best to make this poster look like how I feel she sounds. I hate both of her albums’ cover art, because I feel like aside from being dated (and not in a cool way) it so unrepresentative of how she sounds. That always bothers me.

Music Monday 3.14.11 mewithoutYou

This week I reconnected with one of my favorite bands of all time, mewithoutYou. There was a time in my life when there wouldn’t have even been opportunity for a reconnection, because I’m pretty sure I was listening to them non stop for about 5 years. For those unfamiliar, mewithoutYou were one of the most absolute wild live shows among any band, and I’m willing to extend that to ever. There was an energy at their shows that I’ve yet to see matched. It was pure excitement from everyone involved. Some could argue this is still true. However, over the past years, and with the band getting older, they’ve slowed things down (in every which way) and progressively shed their early skins to become something so different from their first full length, you’d have to assume it was a different band. Which, believe me, I’m really not trying to gripe about the fact that they did this, especially given the quality of the stuff they’ve put out, but I’ve come to the sad realization that I just don’t like the stuff they are doing now as much as the earlier albums. And it pains me to say that. At one point I remember feeling genuinely sad that one day mewithouYou wouldn’t be a band anymore. Now, maybe they put out one more album, maybe they don’t but it doesn’t matter because nothing they do is going to be the magic that happened between A to B Life and Catch For Us The Foxes. Again, I really do like their latest two albums Brother, Sister and It’s All Crazy…, and had those been how they were introduced to me, I would probably not find myself in the place I’m in now. But it’s almost heartbreaking to feel so numb about a band who you’ve followed since their inception.

SO, I’m making my best efforts to realize that there is still so much magic and energy left in this band, and I never want to write them off because even the songs I like the least contain something most other bands are still trying to capture. There’s nothing feign about this band. Just a group of guys who see this world different than most everyone else, and oh, they’re also in a band. For everyone who got to spend 2002/2003 watching Aaron bounce of the walls, or shamefully trying to have a conversation with Mike online, counting how many coats Dan Pishock had, or making your own band that was a direct rip off of them, you know we’ve seen the glory days. But maybe that’s okay right?

 

Music Monday 3.7.11 Nirvana

Still on a big Nirvana kick this week. I don’t know, the more I listen to them, the more I realize why such a big deal has been made over them for so long. It’s sort of hard to convey that though unless you actually just listen. This poster idea came from the shirt Kurt wore in the Smells Like Teen Spirit video. Shirt Cobain.

Had a chance to see Akron/Family and that was awesome despite a really trying crowd filled with some of the absolute oddest characters I’ve seen at one show. But nonetheless Akron/Family was still impressive.

Gave Destroyer’s new album a listen this week. It’s good but nothing beats Destroyer’s Rubies.

Music Monday 2.28.11 Nirvana

I shamefully admit that up until this week I never listened to Nirvana. I mean, I had heard them obviously, I think Smells Like Teen Spirit put them into a world of forever being known, but I never owned any albums and aside from a few singles, I wasn’t familiar with their discography at all. But after an amazing scene from Six Feet Under in which Nate is listening to All Apologies, which might be the best song ever, I wound up familiarizing myself with all their studio albums and loving it.

This poster is a turn style-wise from the ones I’ve been doing recently, but something didn’t seem right when I tried to brainstorm an iconic or fitting illustration to match the dourness of the band. What makes Nirvana Nirvana? All apologies (pun) to Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, but it’s Kurt Cobain. So what better way to represent this band then by using the face of the guy who represents an entire generation? If you’re in the same boat that I was, do yourself a favor and get familiar with this piece of music history. There. Was that cheesy enough for you?

Music Monday 2.21.11 Tyler The Creator

This week I was again all about OFWGKTA but more specifically Tyler The Creator’s album Bastard. If you’re on the internet, I’m sure you’re getting an earful about these guys, but I have to back the masses and say they are quite deserving of any hype they are receiving. I really admire any artist who’s willing to give what they do away. So I wanted to make a poster featuring his now famous green mask, which was shown off to the world when he wore it on Jimmy Fallon, because this has become a staple of his identity as much as the Supreme hats, the tube socks, and floral shirts. Not to lose sight of what hes actually doing, he’s a really good rapper.

Much like everyone else this week I was listening to the new Radiohead album The King Of Limbs. However I’m going to spare you any sort of thoughts I have on it because if you’re anything like me, you can’t decide which you hate more; people glowing over it simply because it’s a new Radiohead album, people bumming out over it because it’s not what they were expecting, or just people talking about it because they feel like they should. I would definitely listen to it and see what you think.

Music Monday 2.14.11 OFWGKTA

OFWGKTA is one of the most interesting and talented group of musicians making music right now. They make their own beats, they record their own music, they do their own art and promotion, they self release all of their albums and then give them away for free, and they tear everything to shreds. This week a new video was released from ring leader Tyler The Creator, and it’s a really great video. One of the best in the recent years. The whole thing is rather simple but it’s such a great idea and seems to fit everything perfectly. Just watch it. These guys are gonna be on Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday night. If you can stay up that late, reward yourself. If not, you can check the internet the following day, like I’ll be doing. I think everything about these guys is fantastic and they’re going to take the music world for a spin.

Update: Thanks to the powers of tumblr, I just got an email from Julian Berman, friend of OFWGKTA and the photographer of the shot I used to start this illustration. I’d like to point out that Julian was totally cool about this and instead of going all AP vs Shepard Fairey on me, he only asked for some much due credit. This guy is taking all sorts of incredible photos, so check him out.

I got Toro y Moi’s new album this week, something I’d been pining for. Get it? Underneath The Pine. This album is different from the last in the sense that it seems songs were written with the intent of being played with a live band. This is somewhere between Causers Of This and the Daytrotter Session he did. If you liked his other stuff, there’s no reason you won’t like this.

Music Monday 2.7.11 U.S. Royalty

I was turned onto U.S. Royalty by one of my tumblr feeds most famous users, novh. He had talked about them enough that I figured I should give it a chance. It’s somewhere between some kind of dusty Americana and something like Rolling Stones meets Fleet Foxes meets The Cure. I’m not even sure that’s entirely accurate, and I’m sure you could piece together a few probable influences, but it’s all nonetheless impressive. They just self-released their first full length, Mirrors, and it’s no doubt worth giving it a shot. This is definitely a record I’ll be listening to throughout the year. You can sort of hear this music being set to panning shots of old mid western plains, which gave me the idea fore the tepee. Great album art too.

Music Monday 1.31.11 Smith Westerns

This week I got so into Smith Westerns, some young boys from Chicago who just put out a new album called Dye It Blonde. The first song/first single is a track called Weekend, and after hearing that I just went bonkers over them. The whole album is made up of some fine licks and melodies, and although this album is impressive regardless, the fact that they are as young as they are just makes it even more awesome. Really fun songs and this album if nothing more is a great sign that they are a really promising bunch of dudes.

Finally was able to find the very first and self titled record from Peter, Paul and Mary, something I’d been thumbing through bins looking for for a while now. I think they are unfairly remembered for Puff the Magic Dragon, and nothing could make me more upset. They’ve got some really good folk tunes from their early days, and this album is prime example of that. I mean, just try to listen to this only once. Impossible.

Music Monday 1.24.11 Akron/Family

Well, it’s hard to believe, but this today marks a full year of me doing Music Mondays! I started January 25th of last year and have faithfully posted every Monday since. This has certainly kept me listening to new music and in turn forced me to design something accordingly. It’s been quite an exercise, and I cannot wait to see what happens through out this upcoming year. You can count on having something to look at and read every Monday.

I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this anniversary than to be talking about one of my favorite bands Akron/Family. A/F finally put out a new record with a name that’s as much of a mystery to me as it is their label, but why am I not surprised? Akron/Family covers a lot of bases, both on this record and previous, and while you might prefer some over the others, it’s hard to say that they aren’t pushing the limits to their own creativity. This is one of the most appealing aspects to the band. It’s almost always a surprise what you’ll get, but rarely a let down. This new record sounds much more controlled than previous efforts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in comparison to their last album which was for better or for worse all over the place, this is certainly a change of pace. And don’t get me wrong, this album still has it’s ups and downs, but in comparison, it’s being held on a tighter leash. All in all, this is another solid album from these dudes and I think it’ll grow on you given the chance.

I’ve been intrigued by the guys of OFWGKTA after seeing them take over all sorts of corners of the internet, and I finally had to get my ears on their album (which is offered for free on their tumblr), Radical. They are some young boys from LA who put together this hip hop collective that rivals just about any other hip hop collective, especially considering how young they are. This record features some verses that are honestly as good as any seasoned rapper. I can’t wait to watch these guys take over the rap game because it seems like that is the inevitable direction things are headed.

The youngest and probably nastiest of the group is the 16 year old Earl Sweatshirt. (Get his album EARL for free on their tumblr as well.) This dude has a flow so smooth and seamless you’re waiting for him to end each line  and take a breath but you realize he’s still going and is going to rhyme something from 8 bars back. Again, only 16, cmon. Imagine what he’ll be doing in another 2 or 4 years. Still, for now he’s certainly the shining star of OFWGKTA. Probably not for the light at heart, but with lines like “Yo, I’m a hot and bothered astronaut crashin’ while Jackin’ off to bufferin’ vids of Asher Roth eatin’ apple sauce” anyone with a sense of humor and an appreciation for word play can get down to this kid.

Music Monday 1.17.11 Fleet Foxes

Hadn’t listened to Fleet Foxes in quite some time, and it was nice to hop back to that album for a little bit. Apparently their new album is done and mastered  and will be out this year. God knows we’ve waited long enough.

The idea for this poster came to me right before I fell asleep last night, which you can’t ask for something nicer than that. And if I had to give one tip as a designer, it would be to never stop looking for and being open to inspiration, it’s everywhere and just waiting to reveal itself to you.

Music Monday 1.3.11 The Tallest Man On Earth

Still very obsessed with The Tallest Man On Earth and so I made a companion piece to the poster I made last week. It’s like a night and day thing. A land and sea thing. You can see that though, I mean, obviously. But yea, this guy is incredible, every song is incredible, and I’m just wrapped up in all of it.

Listened to Real Estate for the first time in a while this past week. That was a huge album for me in 2010, which I would have easily put on the best of the year list, but it actually came out in 2009. Still, a really fantastic album that is surprisingly appropriate for every season of the year.

I wonder if next week will be a 3rd poster for TTMON…. do people abbreviate it like that? Sorry, I’m tired.

Music Monday 12.27.10 The Tallest Man On Earth

I contemplated listening to The Tallest Man On Earth many times and never got around to it, and this week I finally put and end to that, simultaneously ending one of my worst, and making one of my best decisions. I guess I just pegged him as something different, a bit more average. But this is some of the most incredible songwriting I’ve heard in a long while. I’m really blown away by his latest abum The Wild Hunt, which features, like the rest of his recordings just guitar and voice. But for being so minimal, it’s really cavernous in the way it sounds. He throws in these melodies and little vocal reflections that you could never anticipate, and that keeps everything very exciting. The obvious comparison to Bob Dylan is truer than most Dylan comparisons, and if someone’s going to carry that cross, I’d be fine with it being Kristian.

If you’re wondering if you should listen to him, you absolutely should. So glad I squeezed this in before the year’s end. Happy listening.

Music Monday 12.20.10 Good Old War

If you’re new to my blog, or have been living under a rocking chair for the past while, every Monday I post a poster I made for the band who I listened to the most that week according to my last.fm scrobbles. This has opened the door for new music and staying active with making things…

I had a strong renewal of my faith in Good Old War this week. Not that I didn’t like their first album, because I did, but I really love their new self-titled album. I know I am really late on this, but I finally got to really listening to it this week, and it’s pretty great. I sort of was beginning to write them off as just a bland pop band, but they’re really a bit more remarkable than that. I hear tinges of early Paul Simon creeping through, and their harmonies are nothing to scoff at. If you’ve heard their first album, the second album really is a great progression from there. It’s nothing too unfamiliar, which I liked, but it really is just more impressive all around. Great album art too.

Modest Mouse’s The Moon And Antarctica is their best album (by a long shot) and a great example of a band at their peak. I got this album my junior year of high school and it’s never not sounded good to me. I think their early albums were inventive, but sometimes too rough to enjoy, and I think everything past this album was far too polished and fussed over, making this the perfect medium.

More Vince Guaraldi, obviously. Christmas is so soon, and I’m loving it!

Forgot how great Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is. But, really great is how great.

 

 

Music Monday 12.6.10 Sufjan Stevens

So here’s another embarrassingly late Music Monday post with none other than our boy Sufjan Stevens. I’d be lying if I said I don’t eagerly wait until Dec. 1st to appropriately break out his Songs For Christmas. Talk about a collection; this guy put out a BOX SET of Christmas music. Over the past few years it has become the soundtrack of my Decembers, and have the intention for it to be that way for years to come. Let’s face it, he’s a king, and this should come as no surprise to anyone. If you don’t have this, well, you’re on the internet, fix that problem.

Also got into The Hellacopters this week. It’s some good old rock music that sort of makes you feel like a cool guy listening to it. I mean, this is the most pathetic description ever. Just think MC5 or something like that.

Music Monday 11.29.10 Kanye West

So upon the recommendation of just about everyone, I gave Kanye West’s new album a few more listens. I’m not exactly sure how my tone came off a few weeks ago so I want to make this clear: I think this a good album, and probably one of the better of the year. But I don’t think it’s this year’s best… I don’t even think it’s his best. But it is good. There’s something to it, that you can get behind the songs that you don’t even really like that much. I think it’s a creative album by most standards, but not all. It’s funny to me that it’s getting showered with the compliments of how unique it is, but in comparison to some truly unique acts, I think it still falls short.
Again though, it’s good.

The idea for this poster came from the couple of Egyptian references Kanye makes on the song Monster, which I just couldn’t get enough of. You may also notice this is in the style of the last poster I did for him. I don’t know if it makes sense to say this or not, but the album sounds very black and red to me, and I think it would be cool to do a few more that fit this style of illustration.

Kirby’s dad lent me a few albums that he loves, that he thought I might enjoy, one of which being Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band. He had told us that he wanted their song Blue Sky to play at his funeral. And even though that’s strangely sort of morbid to think of at this point, the song is pretty awesome, and would probably be the coolest funeral song ever. This album is southern rock, perhaps at it’s finest.

Brick + Mortar, who I know I’ve talked about before, are just one of the most creative and talented bands out there right now. They are emerging from the Asbury/New Jersey music scene and gaining a lot of deserving recognition and respect. If you have the chance to catch these guys, I would certainly not miss the opportunity. I actually had the fortune of seeing them twice over this Thanksgiving break. Once at The Stone Pony, and two nights later at a bar in Seaside. It was awesome to see that even in two completely different venues, one with a stage and an intense sound system, and the other with neither, they still performed great and made each environment work for them. I took some video of them from The Stone Pony, and I think it’s best you check them out. John Tacon is an absolute crazy person on the drums.

Music Monday 11.21.10 Squeeze

So I know this is more than a little overdue, and I know it’s far from being a Monday, but hey, some weeks are just like that. So let’s get to it…

About two weeks ago I was lucky enough to pick up the vinyl of a favorite record of mine, Squeeze’s Singles 45′s and Under. It’s basically a collection of some hits from Squeeze, but unlike some singles compilations, this one was released by the band, which always seems to make it more legitimate. Regardless, this album is really filled with songs that honestly get better every time I listen to them. The back half of this record keeps getting better and better and it ends with Annie Get Your Gun which I could probably listen to on repeat for an hour.

It’s sort of funny because Squeeze just put out a new album (new recordings of old songs) on XOXO records, home to River City Extension. Glenn Tilbrook has taking a liking to the band, and actually sings on one of their songs. I’m hoping that sooner of later our paths cross, because you know, that would be awesome.

This poster was strongly influenced (okay, almost entirely) by their song Black Coffee In Bed, which if you aren’t familiar with, please check it out now.