Music Monday 4.4.11 Fleet Foxes

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.

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 11.8.10 M. Ward

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.

Obsolete Vernacular

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

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 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.