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.
I discovered U.S. Royalty a few months ago and have been listening to them pretty steadily since. Their album Mirrors is a very impressive debut from these D.C. dudes, and I would certainly recommend checking it out. They also have served as the soundtrack to a few of the Gant Rugger seasonal look book videos, which are amazing in their own right. Check out the summer one here. Really great examples of how music and imagery can make a product exciting. You don’t know that you want the clothes as much as you want to be those people. I guess they are doing a perfect job at advertising in that sense. Anyway, I think U.S. Royalty was a perfect choice for the videos.
For those of you who don’t already know, River City Extension recorded a Daytrotter session a few months ago and it finally came out this past friday! Needless to say, something I’ve been waiting for for a while now. You can download it here. It has 5 songs, all of which tweaked slightly from their recordings, and there’s one very nasty guitar solo towards the end of Mexico that I was not expecting at all. Daytrotters are inherently awesome, and this one is no different.
Also, can I talk for a second about Tyler, The Creator’s new album Goblin? Hmm, I’m not really sure what happened with this but it feels like the product of an extremely rushed process. Obviously Yonkers is great, obviously Sandwitches is great, but beyond that, the good stuff comes far and few between. The music is about as bland and repetitive as you could imagine (Seriously? Another metronome beat with a keyboard line that sounds like it’s being played by an 8th grader in the keyboard room at Guitar Center) and Tyler, who’s usually extremely inventive with his lyrics, offers up some of the lamest lines in existence. (“In highschool I used to be a zero, now I’m every kid’s hero” – Nice, just what I was hoping for. A zero/hero rhyme.) I’m probably not being fair. I mean, I only listened to it once, but then again, the fact that I had no desire to listen to it again sort of says a lot. I’ll definitely try to give it another shot, but first impression was not good. I feel like he works better as part of the whole rather than the whole. Knowing what he’s capable of, this just feels like it was rushed and forced and sort of unnatural. If you’re trying to give this a listen, it comes out on Tuesday, or if you’ve been on the internet in the past 5 years, you can download it now.
I discovered Charles Bradley after Paste named him one of their favorite artists from SXSW, then I saw this video, and I was hooked. I don’t know how you can hear that song and not be intrigued to listen to more. There’s a very clear and obvious James Brown influence in the way he looks and a bit of a James Brown meets Otis Redding influence in the way he sounds, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Pretty exciting that something like this is happening now. It looks like his shows would be an absolute joy to be at. Check out his moves in this awesome cover of one of my favorite songs of all time, Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold.
I’m trying to talk a little less about what I’m listening to, because really it’s only reason to make something, and more about what it took to make the poster and the struggles I had and the things I’ve learned. For this poster I knew I wanted to have the silhouette of his head take up the majority of the space, and I knew I wanted it to have a rough, painted-looking edge around some parts, but I also intended to have another silhouette of him dancing cutting in from one of the edges. Well, this idea was just NOT working. I tried it in just about every size, from every side, in every angle, and nothing looked right. I was so stuck on this idea and it was really preventing me from getting it right. It wasn’t until I finally let it go and tried something else that I was able to get it right and solve the problem. It didn’t turn out completely the way I imagined it, but it turned out the right way. Never be too attached to an idea just because you thought it would work. If it’s not working, throw it away and try something else, more often than not, you’ll find the right thing to do.
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.
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.
It comes as no surprise that Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues is another incredible album. If anyone had doubts, I think this really shows that Fleet Foxes are cut from a different cloth than other bands right now. Helplessness Blues is pretty much everything I had hoped for in this forthcoming album, and I honestly couldn’t be more pumped about it than I am. Well worth the 3 year wait since their last release, and that’s really not always the case. I doubt anyone doesn’t know who Fleet Foxes are at this point, so all I will say is that you’d be so silly to not be listening to this.
As far as the poster design goes, I locked down the color scheme first and went from there. Not something I usually do, but using different places as a starting point is sometimes a good way to fight a creative block.
In past week I’ve had a series of some very curious occurrences dealing with a band I’ve been trying to fully grasp for years now, Danielson. Ever since I’ve found out that Daniel is from the area I’m living, I’ve been hoping for Danielson to put on some sort of show in town. And this past Thursday, I nearly got the chance to see that. It turns out that Kirby’s friend’s husband is in the band. Which is unbelievable. So anyway, I hear (at the last moment) that this show is happening, but by the time I get there, it’s looking like I just missed it. This is confirmed when I walk in and ask the person closest to the door I entered, who turns out to be Kirby’s friend!? Even more unbelievable. So I got to meet her and her husband Andy, and we talked for a little bit, and he filled me in on the latest and greatest of Danielson. Not the least of which being their new album Best Of Gloucester County. Which rules. It’s been 5 years since the last Danielson album and this all just seemed to come at a perfect time. I have been reminded why I love this band. Another perfectly strange but completely awesome album from the mind of Daniel Smith. They are playing at Johnny Brenda’s on April 17th if you’re interested, I’ll be there.
This poster gave me some trouble for a little bit. I spent a lot of time reworking a lot of things, but I’m glad it finally got resolved. Sometimes everything just doesn’t come to you on the first shot. And being able to work around that is important. Plus, figuring out how something works is rewarding in the same way doing a puzzle is. Hope you dig, and check out the new album, for real.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s no secret I am a huge Paul McCartney fan, and this week I was getting heavily into Wings, specifically their triple LP live album Wings Over America. Filled to the brim with hits, this is in my opinion a perfect representation of Wings. It has all the classic McCartney songs, including a few Beatles tunes, and I love the way each song flows into the next with often no break in between. McCartney is a king, and Wings is no exception to his kingdom. Really great album.
Speaking of other classic albums Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run was doing me so right this week. I’m a very late bloomer to Bruce, but this albums is surprisingly worth all the hype it still gets. I feel kind of silly for it taking me this long to get into it, but who gives, it’s awesome.
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.
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.
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.