You know Merge Records. The Durham (woo!) based label that represents the likes of Richard Buckner, Spoon, She & Him, and The Rosebuds. The label started by Mac & Laura of Superchunk. The label behind Arcade Fire’s grammy winning ‘best album of the year.’ You know, the label with the one woman art department… Say whaaaa!?
I had the pleasure of working in the same building as Merge Records for a a couple of years, so I got to know Maggie during my time there. She’s one of those rare creatures that is both incredibly creative and yet is somehow incredibly organized at the same time. It’s a good thing too, because a one person art department at a successful record label is a very busy bee.
I’ve been thinking a lot about independent designers lately, as I recently quit my job to try my hand at freelancing. One of the things I know I’ll miss most, and something I always wonder if Maggie misses, is always having an outstanding creative team. It can certainly be difficult for designers to collaborate on projects, because it can result in disparate perspectives being forced to respect and work with one another. Which is especially tricky given that designers aren’t exactly sheepish with their opinions. BUT… when a team clicks, or when they can at least argue themselves into deferential understanding, the payoff can be enormous. Both in terms of calibre of work and the shared gratification that comes from successes. It just feels awesome to take a step back and look at something you’ve created, then turn to your compadres in triumph and say ‘Guys, we fucking ruled the farm on this one.’
The first time I saw Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, I think I was 14 and in the greatest english class ever (R.I.P. Ms. Bertie Lord!) so I thought I would never be in a better atmosphere to fully absorb that masterpiece. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until we went to Mass Moca recently and saw a screening of it alongside a live orchestra performing their own score to the silent film. God damn, if it wasn’t one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in a long, long, long time.
Alloy Orchestra was a 3 piece band of superhuman rhythm and stamina. The film is over two hours long and there are very few moments of hushed pianissimo sound. Besides impressing us with their sheer physicality, the soundtrack they created was impeccable and perfect in every scene. The bowel like, monotonous percussion accompanying the workers as they march like robots into the city, the shrieking, tense pitch of the flood as the children crawl and crowd Maria in the square – AMAZING.
This is actually a behind the scenes shot of the flood scene. Even the stills look awe inspiring.
Sometimes when you’re sitting in a theatre, watching scene after scene, shot after shot pass before your eyes, it’s overwhelming. I like looking back at the stills (you can see those and more behind the scenes photos at the Metropolis website) since every single piece of the set is so meticulously designed.
The combination of sight and live sound both at their peak of greatness in a theatre at my favorite contemporary art museum?
Well, it made for an experience that will stick to my bones for a long time. And that’s the stuff I live for.
In honor of the spectacular news that there will someday soon be a Brian Wilson biopic from the writer/director of “The Messenger,” (also an excellent film) I thought we’d take a look back at some of the incredible album art created for The Beach Boys. I’ve always been pulled in by the music – the tingling harmonies, the innocent lyrics all wrapped up in gorgeous chords that seem to sort of say I’m sorry, I’m lost, I’m confused and I don’t know why. Even if upon first listen it sounds like these young california men are just talking about cars and girls. Besides the masterpiece of Pet Sounds and the relatively recent reworking and excavation of the infamous Smile, there are tons of songs and tons of albums to discover. There’s a lot of hope, curiosity, heartbreak and loneliness in the music all at the same time. That’s my favorite kind of song.
See some of the more “psychedelic” album covers after the jump…
Turntable.fm is the coolest thing on the internet right now. Apple wishes they hadn’t done that stupid Ping thing and done this instead. Social networking + music is not sharing what crappy pop song you just bought on iTunes. It’s this.
Everyone loves to play songs in the jukebox. Everyone loves getting points. Everyone loves impressing their friends with that sick song from some unreleased whateverthefuck. So why the hell did it take til 2011 for all these things to be put together online? Plus, did I mention there were points involved. Everyone loves points, likes, retweets, whatever – we live for that shit in this social networking age.
The gist is – go to a room, 5 djs will switch off playing tracks. ”Lame” them or “Awesome” them to show your appreciation. Simple. Because we love you, and because we all have impeccable taste in music, we’ll occasionally throw a room together and spin some of our favorites for you. Right now – 4:45 pm EST on Friday – Dylan and Mike are rocking some jams here. You weren’t going to get anything else done today anyway.
This girl—Claire Boucher—was amazing. Amazingly weird. Reminiscent of a really good desert party. Cosmic pop, dark and angelic at the same time with a voice that is not from this world. She calls herself Grimes, opened for Lykke Li and totally transported the crowd to the right place. Deep basslines. Crazy high and childlike sounding vocals. Right with her first song. RAD. End your Memorial Day with something memorable.
Get Dark Bloom, Boucher’s forthcoming split 12″ EP (with her Montreal bud d’Eon).
So I’ve only been to Coachella once, and to this day it continues to be my best festival experience. This year though, Intel and Vice got together via their Creators Project, to encourage collaboration between the brightest of artists, geniuses and designers and to create an experience that would enhance the live performances and blow people’s minds. This makes me GREEN WITH ENVY to not have witnessed the spectacle live.
Spend some time on the website—all the artists are ridiculous. and inspiring enough to make your week full of magic.
My fellow NCSU design school graduate, Wes Richardson, made this ridiculously awesome music video. You should watch it, I guarantee you will like it. It’s always great to see what really talented designers can do when they make things just for fun.
Happy holidays from all of us here at OKG! Most of your are probably counting down the days til Christmas with anticipation and excitement. A few days off from work, some family, some boozy eggnog fueled evenings – good times. Personally, I’m counting down til the day after Christmas – my own personal Christmas (for a Jew like myself) – the day when Christmas music ends. No more rum-tum-tumming or jingle bells or Frosty the snowman for another 11 months or so (though it seems like it starts earlier every year).
Now before I get accused of being a Grinch, I’d like to say that it’s not Christmas music per se that I can’t stand. It’s the incessant playlist of the same songs in any commercial setting, on tv, on the radio, everywhere. So I’d like to offer an alternative. Sound Opinions, the fantastic WBEZ weekend radio show, enlisted the help of Andy Cirzan, their own personal Kris Kringle, to scour the musical obscura for the weirdest, most unappreciated (though often for decent reason) Christmas music you’ve ever heard. Now I’ll admit, some of this stuff probably should have never seen the light of day, but I’ll take it any day over jingle bells. Try it out!
For the record, the views expressed here are my own Grinchy views, and do not reflect those of my fellow OKGreatsters. Though deep down you all know I’m right.