Monthly Archives: August 2012

One of the less appreciated aspects of music is album artwork.  In the age of digital media (and bootleg files), a music fan might never even see an album’s artwork.  But yet there’s so much fantastic artwork out there accompanying our favorite music.

I’ve combed summer releases looking for album art that is interesting, engaging, or just plain awesome.  So here, in no particular order, are my ten favorite album covers from this summer.
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I’m not sure why Taco Bell gives away free tacos at SXSW.  Or why Mountain Dew has a record label.  And I’m not sure why Adult Swim – purveyor of your favorite late-night drug-enhanced cartoons –   puts out singles every summer (brought to you by the Kia Soul!).

Sure, I could go on a rant about the commercialization of music and how it will destroy us in the end.  But it’s hot outside, and late-August Texas weather just isn’t that conducive to ranting.   Just make sure you take a minute to make that argument to yourself while you’re listening to this track.

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This week is Back to School in a lot of places around the country, and it is first time in 6 years that I won’t be getting a new class of second graders to love and hate.  So that may be why I am digging this new video from Flight of the Conchords.   It’s got all the good parts of kids (adorableness, ridiculously funny statements) and none of the bad (temper tantrums, crayons in noses).

The song and video were made to raise money for New Zealand-based charity Cure Kids, which raises money for medical research on the life-threatening illnesses affecting children.   To do so, Jermaine & Bret create a “We Are The World”-style benefit song in the best way possible.

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There are a lot of books out there that examine bands, particularly iconic bands like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Clash.  There’s also books out there that explore particular genres, from the birth of grunge to the evolution of hip-hop.

What there seems to be fewer books about is the concept of music – what it is, and why we all care so much about it. And the books that are out there tend to be aimed towards the music major demographic – those folks that study music theory and have the jargon to back it up.

Now, don’t get me wrong – my 12 years of piano lessons have served me well, and I do know the difference between a C-sharp and an E-flat (see, Ms. Amedio!).  But even so, I’m not going to plod my way through a music theory textbook on a Saturday afternoon.

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It’s Friday, and you’ve been working hard too hard all week. I’ve got too much music I want to share with you and not nearly enough time to post it all.  Don’t worry, I’ve got a solution to both of our problems.

It’s music video marathon time!  I’ve got five new videos for you, featuring the xx, Purity Ring, the Antlers, TRAILS AND WAYS, and Deep Time.  So go pop some popcorn, put on some headphones, and take a break.

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I mentioned before that I saw Peter Murphy at Astroworld in Houston and that House of Love opened up – and it was an amazing show.

I was a huge Peter Murphy fan by this time but I had not really heard of House of Love so some days before the show I went to Sound Warehouse (anyone remember that place?) and bought a House of Love tape.

It was the one pictured above – the second self-titled also known as the butterfly album.

This record (and really House of Love entirely) has such a contextual sound. They are the descendants of The Smiths and a very obvious precursor to Blur and Oasis. Something akin to the interwar years but with brit-pop. Their sound very much screams 1990!

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It’s hard to be believe that after 2 (fantastic!) albums, this is Japandroid‘s first music video.  But the Jim Larson-directed clip is exactly what you would come to expect from the Japandroids, with the duo playing shows, drinking beer, and hanging out.

I’ve seen Japandroids live a few times, and each time it was total madness.  Loud, sweaty, crowded, perfect.  That’s not always the easiest thing to capture on film, but video does a solid job of that.  It doesn’t hurt that the song is “The House That Heaven Built,” one of the most anthemic, pump-your-fist-and-scream-along songs I’ve heard in years.

Check out the video below, then grab Celebration Rock on white vinyl.  The release also comes with a 20-page booklet featuring some fantastic concert photos, meaning you can continue to live in the fantasy that you went on tour with Japandroids:

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“We first self-released Remember When in October. It was big in our high school for two weeks, and then it died out.”

As a music fan that’s long past high school, it’s hard to read a quote like that and not try to reduce the band in question with a series of “Aww!  How cute! They’re the li’l-est punk rockers!”

But when you hear The Orwells, a band comprised of teenagers from the suburbs of Chicago, you realize that these dudes are not playing around.  While you were trying on prom dresses and souping all night, these dudes put together a gritty garage rock sound that got them noticed by Aquarium Drunkard‘s label Autumn Tone.

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