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.
Secret Mountains are one of the most booming and sensational bands out there right now, and Kung Fu Necktie is one of the coolest venues in Philly. So make the most of this upcoming Wednesday night and join me in this highlight of the week. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see Secret Mountains yet, you are missing out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I got to work with NJ funny man, personality, and all around nice dude, Taylor Allen, on this poster for his radio show, Attack Of The Soundtrack. He came to me with not much more than name of the show, the idea of a record with teeth, and the free range to do something cool. I love when clients are so kind.
If you’re into laughing, music, movies, or any combination of these things, check out the radio show. Taylor is a great guy and quite deserving of your attention.
This past Friday marked another show Nom Now got to be a part of, this time at the very awesome Studio: Christensen. The show was fairy tale themed, so we decided to do some interpretations of some famous fairy tales, and I chose Beauty And The Beast.
I don’t assume you’re heard to brush up on the story, but if you’d like to, do so. Knowing the story certainly makes sense of the poster.
The entire piece is encapsulated in one giant tear drop, which is of course the key to the beast becoming a handsome prince.
So, big thanks to JT, the prince who runs the gallery, and to Christos who put the show on, and to everyone who came out, or wanted to, and to all our friends who braved parking in Rittenhouse on a Friday night to see the show and hang out. If anyone’s a huge Beauty And The Beast fan, I do have some posters left and I’d be glad to hook you up. The show will be up for a month or so, so if you want to see the rest of our stuff, and the other pieces from the other great artists, you have some time to catch it. But don’t wait too long, time seems to be flying by these days.
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.
M. Ward’s Post War is a phenomenal album. I’m forgetting which song, but one from that album came onto my iPod early in the week, and it just did me so right, that I got into a bit of an M. Ward groove that lasted the next few days. While all of his albums are great, Transistor Radio and Transfiguration Of Vincent, being in the top three, nothing beats Post War. If you don’t listen, that’s the place to start. But also, why aren’t you listening already?
I got Cee Lo’s new album this week. Something I was certainly looking forward to. Unlike most mainstream pop records, this actually packs a few punches and delivers on more than the single. I think we can all agree Cee Lo has been pretty impressive on anything he’s worked on, and this is really no different.
I picked up Scout Niblett’s record The Fool Can Die Now this weekend mainly because I was drawn to the cover, but also because I saw Will Oldham had some work on the album, and that was good enough for me. The songs where he sings certainly shine, but the whole thing ain’t bad.
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.
Here’s another compilation from the man with all the right moves, Biff Swenson. Biff came to me after the success of his first compilation, and asked if I’d like to work on the album art for the next one, and of course I did. As many of you may already know, this is an instrumental compilation aptly named Obsolete Vernacular. The title comes from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums from a scene in which Eli Cash is describing his first novel. The title actually ties in perfectly with instrumental music, as it’s an “obsolete vernacular” in its own way.
While I can’t take credit for the art in the sense of painting the leopard, I will say that Biff graciously gave me complete creative control and I was able to accomplish the idea I had. As soon as I re-watched the scene from The Royal Tenenbaums in the context of this compilation, I knew I wanted to use an old painting involving some sort of wild cat. (If you’re familiar with the scene, this connection is fairly obvious.) This was a great exercise in dealing with public domain images. I was able to find this really awesome painting, and with a few tweaks it was just what I wanted. The type I used for this is different from the stuff I would normally lean towards, but again, I think it fits really nicely is the context of this grouping of songs.
I was also lucky enough to be asked to submit a song to this, which I did quite willingly. It was a challenge writing a song that was intended to be instrumental from the get go. You can’t rely on melodies of lyrics to save you. While this wasn’t the first instrumental song I’ve written, it may have been the first I wrote on purpose. Along with my track comes 21 others, from all sorts of bands with no lack of heavy hitters. Just as the first compilation Biff put out, you would silly to not check it out. It has tons of new music to expose yourself to, and above all, it’s F R E E. Unbeatable. Hope you enjoy the tunes!
You can download the compilation here: http://www.mediafire.com/?bg27sr008hdgo
Or get hooked up on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=136053693112331
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.
Two nights ago I got into a fight on Facebook. Not something I’d normally be proud of (necessarily ;)), but it was one of those instances where you are unable to hold back and you know you are signing yourself off for a night of back and forth arguing. I’m sure you can tell the nature of the argument by looking at the poster, but if it’s unclear, a girl was claiming that people aren’t born gay, that it’s a choice you make, and on top of it all, it’s wrong.
The fact that people believe this is appalling to me, and so for better or worse I entered into what became a huge debate between me and some future members of the Westboro baptist church. I don’t know if it got anywhere (arguments online rarely do) but I felt glad that I stood up against something I believed was absolutely wrong. My final input to this 80 plus comment bomb, was a single line informing her that I was deleting her as a friend.
You’re not going to talk much sense into people like this, they’re too caught up in their own twisted belief, but one question that no one cared to answer was the one on the poster above. It seems simple enough to answer… or not. But in its unanswerable quality, you kind of see where I’m going with it.
So a few things… I hope you’ve all remembered to wear purple today, it’s a seemingly small action, but anything raising awareness is not only important, but integral. Secondly, be brave in confronting people, standing up for what you believe, and do not be afraid to take the leap and delete anyone on facebook who is holding onto these ideas of hate and homophobia. You’re better off without them.
I’m beyond looking for tolerance and am looking for complete equality and acceptance.
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.