Music Monday 12.13.10 Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi is infamous for scoring the music for the Peanuts movies and television specials, not the least of which being A Charlie Brown Christmas, which just so happens to have become synonymous with Christmas itself, putting Vince Guaraldi in that category as well. This album is perhaps the most perfect Christmas music ever made. It’s at heart a jazz album, though I don’t think it’s recognized as one. Mostly because it’s voice is so much louder than just that. If this can’t get you in the Christmas mood, you’re a hopeless grinch. This is one of the most classic albums of any genre, of any time, and the fact that it’s a Christmas album just gives us something to look forward to every year.

This is an absolute must own album. We’ve still got a few more weeks before Christmas, and you should be playing this throughout.

Sufjan Steven’s Songs For Christmas is the new classic, and between these two you should be set on appropriate Christmas music for life.

Anyway, the iconic Christmas-tree-in-need-of-love seemed to be the perfect subject for this poster.
I know these next few days can be very stressful, but try to relax and enjoy this very special time of year.

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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.

Music Monday 11.15.10 Kanye West

I’m not the biggest Kanye West fan, to the point now, where I’m not sure if I’m a fan at all. I liked his first album, and the next two each a little less than the one before, and didn’t even listen to his last album at all. So when I heard he had a new album coming out, I wondered what I had missed in the few years I spent away from him. This new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was greeted with some early praises, and I had been seeing a slew of people give it praises I could tell were hyperbolic before I even listened to it. There was no way this could be the best album of the decade. Unless you were starting a new decade from the day you heard it. Maybe then. I don’t want to knock Kanye too much, because I think he’s a decently skilled lyricist and his samples are usually interesting, and this album really isn’t bad, but I will say I think he’s way past his prime, and also a jackass.

Nonetheless, in thinking about him more than I have in a long time, I realized that everything about his persona, and his iconic personality, would make for a great poster. So this idea came to me and I went with it.

Also noteworthy is Good Old War’s self titled album. I’m actually happy that this album feels like a continuation of their last. They’re clearly good at what they do, and that’s what I want to hear them doing. Some bands need to realize this and accept it, Good Old War seems to have done both.

Music Monday 11.1.10 Sufjan Stevens

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Sufjan’s yet again at the top of my listening charts this week. The fact that he was a discography the size of the real Illinois certainly helps, but it’s mostly because by the time I’m done listening to to one album, I want to move onto another. This process can go on for sometime as he’s got quite the range of albums stylistically.

Anyway, some of you may know that the name “Sufjan” means “comes with a sword.” And that is the key to this poster. Sufjan’s sword is certainly not literal, but it is absolutely metaphorical.

I also finally got a chance to see Local Natives this past week. And boy oh boy, really glad that happened. They said the first time they played Philly it was for 2 people at The Khyber… all things considered, what an enormous way they’ve come. The Troc was packed to the brim, and it was shaking at times. I would certainly do your best to see them anytime you can.

Music Monday 10.25.10 Sufjan Stevens

It comes as no surprise that Sufjan Stevens has been dominating most of what I listen to these days and it’s because I genuinely can’t get enough of it. I’ve been oscillating between his two newest albums All Delighted People EP and The Age Of Adz, and all I can say is that I’m impressed. I don’t think he needs much campaigning on my part, but man, those two albums are certainly some of the best of the year, and just add to his grandeur. I hope you’ve had the pleasure of seeing some videos of his new tour, or maybe you’ve even got to see it live, but that’s where the sunglasses come in to play. I’ve been seeing him wear these in quite a few videos, and to me, they summed up a lot of what The Age Of Adz sounds like.

The Neville Brothers got 3 plays, which was their rendition of Way Down In The Hole for the season three opening of The Wire, which all came in a row, because I think that’s my favorite of all the seasons. But I also think which ever season I’m currently watching is my favorite. So, who knows.

Music Monday 10.18.10 The Black Keys

I’m just loving everything about The Black Keys lately. It’s bluesy, riff heavy, and you actually feel cooler just listening to it. I have to put the windows down and turn the music up anytime I’m listening to them in the car. It’s funny how certain music has that command, and these guys are one of those bands. I have to admit, I was sort of late on this band, not really listening to them until this summer when I heard them on a hot ride into Philadelphia with Mike in Wechter’s old truck. That sort of seemed like the perfect setting for them. Their latest album Brothers is definitely one of the best releases this year.

Another band I’m late to the game on is Miniature Tigers. I finally wised up and checked them out this week and was so glad I did. River City Extension is playing with them tomorrow night in Brooklyn, and if you like either of those bands and can make it out, that’s a show not to miss.

Black Churches. One of my favorite bands, some of my favorite people, and another band where the windows go down and the volume goes up. These guys have been blessed with the strange ability to write a song better than the last one they wrote. Sort of unfair for the rest of us, but so long as they’re continuing writing music, I’ll be benefiting in some way.

Ba Babes just released their new EP called Hate The Beach which they have put online for free. If I were you, I’d download that right now. It’s classified in my iTunes as “garage wave” which is a pretty decent indicator of what you’re going to get. These guys are doing it the right way, and I expect big things from them. They have a split cassette with Dark Surfers coming out on Cassanova Cassettes very soon. Stay peeled for that one.

Music Monday 10.11.10 The Avett Brothers

It’s funny to me that in all these times of doing Music Mondays I’ve yet to make a poster for the band that I love more than any other; The Avett Brothers. These guys just released their third live album, Live, Vol. 3. and as far as their live albums go, this one is the one. For a band who’s become known for their live show, it does a really nice job of putting a bow on it. I’m going to refrain from saying something like “you can feel the energy” but let’s just if I had a cooler way to say it I would. And I pretty much already did. This band can really do no wrong, and this is just another example of how true that really is.

Music Monday 10.4.10 Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens released another album. Am I surprised? Well actually, surprisingly, no. By now I’m not surprised by anything he does, or how, or when he does it. He’s producing such a high quantity of quality. So much on both accounts that it’s left him fairly unparalleled. The Age Of Adz is his latest; a proper full length (his first since Illinois some could argue) and it’s on a different page from anything we’ve heard yet. It’s Enjoy Your Rabbit meets The BQE meets All Delighted People. But more importantly it’s just really good. I’m certain that we’ll be teaching Sufjan Stevens to our future music majors of the world, and I’m even more certain we’ll be hearing Chicago at high school football games half time shows in 2050. Probably sooner. I’m sure it’s already happened.

Anyway, I wanted to make something that touched on not only the very electronic side of Sufjan, but also the colorful and layered nature to all his music.

Music Monday 9.27.10 Secret Mountains

When listening to Secret Mountains I often have to ask myself “Is this my favorite band”? The question itself is more indicative of how good they are then any answer could be. However, the answer could easily be “yes.” I’ve watched this group grow from one lonely guy, to a 2 piece, to a three piece, and so and so forth. They are certainly in their strongest stride to date working with a 6 piece line-up for a over a year now. One of the most interesting and charming bands to see live, now working with 2 of the best EPs from a band of their stature I can think of. Their newest, Rejoice, caught my ear this week, and it demanded multiple listens back to back to back to back. Despite how good their first EP, Kaddish, is, this yet again ups the game. Joe Michelini of River City Extension just recently said this band was “effortlessly cool.” I can’t think of a better way to describe them. Beautiful music from beautiful people, and aside from The Wire, the best thing Baltimore has to offer.

This is a band who you would literally be a fool to not check out. Live or recordings, there is so much being offered and all you have to do is rejoice, and take it in.

Music Monday 9.20.10 Coldplay

Some may find it a bit corny, but the truth is, Coldplay is just plain good. They are one of the bands of our time who will not only be around for quite a while, but will also be looked  back on fondly. I hadn’t really listened to them in a few years and this weekend I was remembering how much I liked X & Y when that came out. Of all their albums, this is the one that seemed to slip by me the most, though ironically, it is also arguably their best. Talk has one of the greatest guitar lines of the past 10 years and that’s a fact. I guess for all their hype and popularity I still find them to live up to how great they are made to be. I can really respect that.

Speaking of albums I haven’t listened to in years Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is something I overplayed to the point that I couldn’t dare try to listen to it, but in my nostalgic moments of recent, I had to give it a play. Boy, glad I did.

I met this guy Danami after he tweeted at me on twitter saying he had been following my work for a year. I was both flattered and surprised. I had a few more exchanges with him, and found out that along with being a super nice and positive guy, he was also a rapper. He’s from Detroit and he’s pretty much killing it on all fronts. I just sent him some Nom Now stickers…you know, gotta get that national reach. Check him out for sure. For fans of Lupe, Talib, or Ghostface…. Settin’ In s my JAM.

Music Monday 9.13.10 Weezer

I first heard Weezer in the summer before my freshman year of high school when I saw the video for Hash Pipe when it was fresh on MTV. I remember loving that they looked like nerds and thinking it was just the coolest thing ever. There was more to it than the pop punk I had been listening to, but still had an edge that made it cool. After that, I got my hands on the Blue album, and from there I was set. A year later Maladroit came out, and I remember buying that from a kid I went to school with who bought it but didn’t like it, and was willing to sell it to me for $5. I bought all the Weezer shirts Hot Topic was carrying at the time, one that looked like it was a shirt for a metal band, and the other which had a photo from the Keep Fishin’ video, which was the band posing with all the muppets. You really have no idea how cool I felt.

Anyway, the Blue album and Maladroit completely set the tone for my relationship with Weezer. Since then, I’ve gone both backwards and forwards in their catalogue making myself familiar with all their albums. I find that most people say they like Weezer and quickly follow that up with “Just Blue and Pinkerton,” and for whatever reason, that always bothers me a little. The more and more I listen to Weezer, I come to the realization that I actually do genuinely like them, not out of nostalgia, but because I like the songs. I’m accepting the fact that I’m not a casual listener, but instead a legitimate one.

Weezer has no doubt gotten worse over the recent years, and the albums have gotten cornier and cornier, but the truth of the matter is, if they have a new album, I will be listening to it, forming my opinion, and trying to come up with where I will place it in the inescapable album ranking list. (For those of you interested; Maladroit > Blue > Pinkerton > Green > Make Believe > Hurley > Red >>> Raditude.)

So when I set out to make this poster it took me a while to figure out the approach I wanted to take, but I finally arrived on this idea. For a band who is so often defined and dissected by their albums (whether it be which ones are classic or which ones are just plain awful) what better way to represent them then by there iconic (for better; Blue, Green, Red, or for worse, Raditude, Hurley, Make Believe….leave your own list in the comments) album covers?

By the way, Hurley is actually decent.

Music Monday 9.6.10 Megafaun

MEGAFAUN. That’s all I can say. They released a new EP called Heretofore that is just beyond most words. Such a fantastic follow up to Gather, Form & Fly. If you are a fan of these guys, then this should excite you, and if you’re not so familiar, then now is a better time then any. They are one of the kinds of bands who just work so well together, everything sounds perfect. Also, I read this album was written in like 6 days. Unbelievable.

I got the new Junip album Fields this week as well, and I am thus far very pleased with it. It’s more or less what I expected to after hearing their Rope and Summit EP which came out earlier this year. José González can do no wrong in my book, and I’m just thrilled he’s making music in any form. If you’re a listener of his, this is right up your alley.

Music Monday 8.30.10 Hop Along

I had the pleasure of seeing Hop Along this week when they played with my buddies Secret Mountains. All I can say is this band keeps getting better and better. Their latest EP, Wretches, a 3 song, nearly 23 minute motion, is in my opinion their best yet. Second Voice, is the better half of this record clocking in around 11 minutes,  is probably my favorite song, not only on the album, but in their full catalog of songs. ALSO, Frances is no doubt an alien… because there’s no way a human’s voice can do the things hers can. She pieced together a little band, dropped “Queen Ansleis” and is now a full on rock band. Best thing she could have done for herself.  Pretty amazing live show, the sound is just THICK.

Paul Simon gets me every once and while with one of his records, and this weekend Graceland was just doing it all for me. Such a really great record.

No Age. Get their new record. Just get it, and listen to it. Better than Nouns. I have to say, I was really really impressed with it. These guys success story is also pretty off the wall, but good for them.

Dungen was sounding perfect to me this week. Which honestly, I have a really hard time getting into their songs some times, so I was glad that it all seemed to be fitting into the grooves. I have a feeling if I saw these guys live, my opinion on them would change completely. But for now, they are sitting plain and fancy in my book.

Feel free to add me on last.fm.

Music Monday 8.23.10 Sufjan Stevens

This week I got one of the greatest surprises one can get: news that Sufjan Stevens is recording a new album. But instead of “recording” it was “recorded” and “snuck one up on us”. He released an EP on Friday called All Delighted People which definitely delighted all people. Maybe those in the serious know had heard about this, but to me it came as a complete surprise, which is of course something he would do, all of the sudden just drop something on everyone that no one knew about. It’s 8 songs and around 60 minutes, which is a completely legitimate new release. Something we’ve been waiting for for quite some time, and let me say, this delivers. Sufjan has elevated to new grounds and is truly on maestro status. He is by far one of the most insane songwriters of our time, and will be held close to the heart by many for years and years and years to come.

I saw the video for the song Drugs by Ratatat and thought it was absolutely genius, (and I liked the song too) so I got this album. If you’ve EVER looked for any kind of stock photography, please watch this video, I promise you will get a kick out of it. I’ve never listened to these guys before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s very fun to me.

Belle And Sebastian have been doing me quite right recently. I hadn’t listened to them in so long and I forgot how good they are. I mean, seriously, some of their songs are unbelievable. They have a new album coming out this fall and I have to say, I’m feeling pretty excited for it for whatever reason.

I also listened to Peter Bjorn & John this week for the first time in a few years, and Writer’s Block is still a good album. I really over listened to it when it came out, and need some serious time away from it, but some things you just cannot deny, and this album is one of them.

Music Monday 8.16.10 Sonic Youth

I think bought Daydream Nation 5 or 6 years ago on a bit of a whim. I’d not listened to Sonic Youth before that, and knew very little of what to expect. And while I thought it was an okay sounding record, it was really dissonant for my taste at the time and I was never really able to get into it. However, through the next few years, I would occasionally revisit the record hoping enough time had passed and perhaps something would have clicked and I would finally get it. This unfortunately never really happened for me. Not until this weekend that is. For whatever reason, I put on Daydream Nation and got reallly into it. I’m pretty excited that actually happened. Like I said, I’d been waiting years for this day. I also downloaded Goo and Dirty, both of which I enjoyed. I can definitely say I am a fan now, and whatever triggered me to purchase that record 6 years ago, I’m glad that happened.

I also listened to a bit of Weezer, which definitely happened after I heard about their new record. Hurley. That should be interesting. But Maladroit does me right every. single. time.

Listened to Ty Segall after seeing my boy Mike Walsh hyping him a bit, and he’s killing it. Caeser is such a great song. Check him out.

Beach Fossils are decent.

Post Post are amazing. One of the best young bands I’ve seen. Philly locals, 3/4 girl band, impossibly catchy. Just doing everything right to every degree. Catch this band as soon as you can.

Otis Redding kept me sane one night as I was sorting with some old stuff and cleaning some bookshelves. Impossibly smooth.

Belle And Sebastian’s Push Bar Man To Open Old Wounds is my favorite thing they’ve done. It’s a collection of their EPs and singles, which in this case, are some of their best songs. I hadn’t listened to this in a few years, and it was great to listen to again.

Flying Lotus is decent.

Music Monday 8.9.10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

This week I discovered a little band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. through the extremely awesome website Daytrotter. I was drawn to them because the name made me laugh, and once I listened to them I was pretty much immediately hooked. I’m not entirely sure how to describe them, because some songs are just unbelievable grooves, and some just going to make you smile. They do a cover of The Beach Boys’ song God Only Knows which is a high mountain to climb, and they hike it. Head straight over to download the Daytrotter now.

Because of the obvious connection with the racecar driver by the same name minus one Jr., I wanted to make them their own racing jacket. I was also exploring a lot of new techniques for creating and manipulating textures. This was a very fun piece to make.

Some other highlights this week include Fruit Bats, who have become my summer go-to band, We Barbarians, who came as a recommend from my buddy Biff who caught them with Local Natives. They can best be described as Cold War Kids meets early U2. Definitely check them out.

Static Sex is the project from my buddy Dana Yurcisin, who just released an album called Bedrooms which is all over the internet for free. The whole thing is really great, and highly inventive for a home-recording of that nature. Lots of great songs. For fans of Neutral Milk Hotel or anything Brian McLendon does.

Murder Boats has been described by John Andrews of Wisdom Tooth as the best band in the world. I’m certainly not going to disagree with that. Cannot wait for this full length.

Music Monday 8.2.10 Arcade Fire

So Arcade Fire did it again this week, and topped my charts. I have the tendency to sometimes over praise a band’s newest album and perhaps too quickly pronounce it their best, but despite that, I’m not going to NOT say that here. The Suburbs is a really really solid album that leaves me satisfied in ways their previous albums don’t. Whether you agree or disagree, this album is one to seek after. Arcade Fire are just one of the bands that will be talked about by our kids.

I took a ride with Wechter and Mike a few weekends back, and Wechter (amongst some interesting hip hop mix tapes) was playing The Black Keys latest album Brothers and I was really impressed. I’d not really ever listened to them before, but I knew they did the song that’s being used as the intro for the show Hung, and I liked that, and I liked everything I’d heard in the car, so I decided to give it a shot. These guys are playing some straight up rock and roll that I could easily get behind. I’d be interested in hearing some older albums for sure. Recommendations?

I was in a bit of a time warp circa 2004 with a few doses of Modest Mouse and Bright Eyes. I can’t say what called my interest to either of these this week, but it was alright. Sometimes you need to listen to something you haven’t in years.

Also got my fix of André Charles Thériault, who is one of the finest songwriters around. I’d put André’s album in my list of albums I can always listen to and enjoy. The songs are so relaxing, and instantly calming, it’s sort of unbelievable. Much like the Arrested Development movie, I don’t care when it comes out, I just need to know another André album will eventually be made, and I can rest easy.

Music Monday 7.19.10 Best Coast



When I first heard Best Coast I hated them. But then one day I heard the song Something In The Way in a new way, and I was changed forever. Now, I’m at the point where I can’t get enough, and thankfully this past week I got their new album, Crazy For You, and I’m crazy for it. It’s warm and fuzzy and she’s got that perfect voice. All the songs are about falling in love, or already being there, and it’s to me, the perfect sound of summer 2010. I give this a strong approval and recommendation.

Other things to take note of is that for the first time in the 4 years I was aware of them and on and off listening, I finally understood Woods and really enjoyed listening to them. I don’t know what clicked, but something did. I was cleaning my old bookshelves while listening to this, and it was really late at night, and the music added something to that.

I also realized that Pedro The Lion’s Achilles Heel is my favorite thing David Bazan has done.

I also listened to The Books new album, which classic Books, but I like that. If you like there other stuff, this won’t disappoint.