4.28.2009

It's a shame about Dave and Ray



If I were Dave Davies (and, just to clarify, I'm not) I would certainly be tired of being popularly known as the less important Davies brother. I would also likely be sick of said concept being always mentioned when being written about, even by those who are trying to be positive. Always in the shadow of his older brother, Ray... blah blah blah.

Anyhow, while digging yesterday, I found a copy of Dave Davies' first solo album, titled after the album's own catalog number: AFL1-3606. On his website, Davies writes:
Throughout the 70's I made various attempts at making a solo album. I always wrote songs at home and recorded them in demo form, but whenever I went into a full blown studio situation ... It just never worked some reason. Working with session musicians I found difficult as it was hard to communicate my ideas generally... So I decided in the end to play all of the instruments myself like I would on a home demo. This felt so much better as I could kind of gently let the songs out of myself this way. I finished the album with the help of a great engineer John Rollo and finally I had an album I was happy with! 'In You I Believe' is still one of my favorite tracks from that period. I felt exhilarated. It was a great experience.
Beyond the music itself, I'm writing about this album because, as a designer, I'm absolutely floored by the album artwork -- especially considering the album was released midway through 1980. I mean, most of the artwork on 80's Kinks albums was fairly horrible, particularly in retrospect. To me, the art on AFL1-3606 feels pretty damn ahead of it's time, by anywhere between 15-25 years (which I arrive at by going "Could this have been a mid-to-late 90's Massive Attack 12-inch cover? Yes", and "Could this have been the cover of a MSTRKRFT or Holy Fuck 12-inch from last year? Also yes.")

Anyhow, mainly this post exists because I feel a need to display that artwork. It really is quite wonderful.

Oh, and as for older brother Ray's solo album covers...? Pretty boring, if you ask me.

4.15.2009

Sign of the times



Gee, thanks. I feel so much safer.

This sign is posted outside of a 7-11 that I go to with some regularity. Somehow, I had not noticed the sign until this morning. It's the eyes that really get me. The graphic designers involved in making this clearly decided to go for the classic dystopian future look.

If anyone has finds other images in this vein, please send 'em this way. I'd like to put together a whole gallery.

4.13.2009

Why you gotta be like that, Hollywood?



This morning I saw that a friend had posted the following story to Facebook: Michael Bay Signs $50M Deal To Fuck Up Thundercats. For a brief moment, I didn't see that the link was to an article in the Onion rather than a Hollywood news blog. It's just the sort of thing that seems so plausible. Relieved that it wasn't real, I went about my afternoon internet surfing. I then found an actual headline which was much worse: Zac Efron Confirmed for Jonny Quest.

Goddammit.

I know that just because Jonny Quest is being turned into a big-budget, live-action film, it doesn't mean that the original cartoon that I love is ruined. Still, I can't help my gut reaction to this news, which is to be upset, annoyed, and... well, actually a little confused, now that I think about it. Is Jonny Quest that well known, even? I sort of understand the logic of trying to make a buck off of a live-action Scooby-Doo. (To clarify, I don't condone it, but I do get it.) It was certainly the more well known Hanna-Barbera property, and it was a definitely a huge staple of the average Gen-Xer's cartoon diet. By contrast, Jonny Quest, which originally aired from '64 to '65, was the one you had to dig at least a little bit to find out about. I guess I don't have much frame of reference for how successful the more recent reboot of the series was, but it never seemed to me like it had much impact. Perhaps the success of The Venture Brothers is responsible for the renewed interest, but it still seems be a pretty small niche market to attempt to appeal to.

My mind is racing with questions. Such as: "Why?" ("To make a buck.") and "How is Zac Efron going to play an 11-year old boy?" ("He won't. We've updated the character.") and "Oh fuck, you're going to totally fuck up the tone and try to make it sort of serious and modern, aren't you?" ("Yes. And we've added an awesomely hot love interest for Jonny. We've even got this awesome shot storyboarded out where we see, in the reflection off the lens of the walking eye robot, her and Jonny getting it on! It's awesome!") and "Seriously, WHY...?"

I know, too, that every time something is remade and reimagined for the big screen, someone's going to be screaming that its a bad idea. ("What? They're turning L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz into a movie? Good grief. I shan't stand for this!") It's always toughest for those that really love the source material. It's hard to not be protective and on the defensive. It's like Hollywood is the leather-jacket-clad motorcycle-riding bad boy taking our sister out on a date. "You better be good to her, man!" It's really only a tiny bit better when Hollywood is the Nick Andopolis-esque nice-guy suitor who perhaps loves a bit too much -- i.e. Peter Jackson's take on King Kong or Zack Snyder's take on, well, everything.

I know that it's difficult to transform one medium to another, and downright impossible to satisfy everyone. I also know, as far as pop-culture crimes go, it could probably be worse than a live-action Jonny Quest movie.

... just not much. Dammit.

I'm going to sulk and listen to ELO.

(The image above is from the Classic Jonny Quest site.)


"Don't Bring Me Down" by Electric Light Orchestra

4.11.2009

Cutest robots ever




Tweenbots. The name conjures up the image of a robot army of Hannah Montana fans, or Terminators as designed by Sanrio.

Created by Kacie Kinzer as part of her thesis research, Tweenbots are:
... human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
Very cool. Also, adorable.

(Found via Slashdot.)

Yet more reissue wonderfulness


It has been announced that Cloud Recordings will be doing vinyl reissues of Olivia Tremor Control's beloved (and awkwardly named) pair of albums Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle and Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. There's not an official release date yet, but looks they'll be available sometime between late-summer and mid-fall. Man, what a year for vinyl reissues 2009 has been already. Maybe that's a bummer for those looking to make some eBay money, but it is good news for the rest of us.


"Define a Transparent Dream" by Olivia Tremor Control

4.08.2009

The Mighty Hannibal



I just recently watched the episode of 'Daytripping' over at Pitchfork featuring King Khan. The most interesting parts of it involve King Khan talking about the huge influence of James Shaw (AKA The Mighty Hannibal, AKA King Hannibal). I had not previously known anything about The Mighty Hannibal, but immediately upon hearing his music, it was evident just how damn important he was to King Khan, and many other of the current crop of garage-y soul revivalists. Anyhow, Norton Records issued a great compilation of Shaw's work entitled Hannibalism! and it is definitely not to be missed. I just wish I had gotten turned onto this earlier. Better late than never, I suppose. (In my defense, there's less info in Wikipedia on him than there is on me. This is something that really, really should be remedied.)

There is, however, a short biography on the Mighty Hannibal over at AllMusic. Just also found another interesting (and more in-depth) article on him over at Creative Loafing. From said article:

Even though he was busy making history, Hannibal was far from a household name. But the legend's rabble-rousing spirit resonates with today's crop of rockers in a way that has earned him a new fan base – at a point in his career when most musicians would have already thrown in their turban... He reels through stories about hanging out with James Brown, Little Richard, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, and talks about copping drugs with Ray Charles and being addicted to crack for more than 20 years. He's seen more than his share, but his spirit shows no sign of breaking.

The photo above was taken by Jacob Blickenstaff.


"My Kinda Girl" by The Mighty Hannibal

4.07.2009

More reissue wonderfulness



I'm really pysched about this one. The third Wipers LP, Over The Edge, is getting reissued on vinyl, and it appears like its going to be a really solid package -- completely remastered from the original tapes and getting a 180-gram pressing. Nice. I can't wait.


"So Young" by the Wipers

4.05.2009

Photography: Telepathe / Ladytron / The Faint



On April 2nd, I attended the Telepathe / Ladytron / The Faint show at First Avenue. My friend Ben Zvan had invited me to shoot photos at the show with him. Unsurprisingly, it was a great show all around. It was my first time shooting with my new camera -- and for the most part I'm pleased with the results. I wish I had some faster lenses, but all things in time. It'll also be nice as I get a bit more familar with the new gear.

Below are a few of my favorite images. You can browse the larger gallery here. I'll link to the stuff [the other] Ben shot as soon as he gets it posted.

Telepathe:







Ladytron:







The Faint:







"Psycho" by The Faint