Monday, 27 February 2017

The Rule of three

I believe that there are 3 kind of designers in this world.

The Functional
The Fun-ctional
The Creative

The Functional

 Functional designers are the ones that tick all of the boxes of a design brief. The ones that learn the tools of the trade and just do. When planning for a brief these designers will do the base requirement of research and explore ideas within the comfort zone that they have set themselves very early on in their design career and nothing more. I am tempted to say that designers within this field see it more as a job and not as a career. 

At university, we were told not to be like these people and were demonstrated techniques to get us out of comfort zones and to get out of the bubble of just box ticking. However despite this advice being given I found that people were doing the same thing.

From my sketckbook from a project about saving the ocean. Rubber ring = Saves lives. Fish = Ocean. simple but not that interesting

Fans of clean bold design were working mono-chromatically and using the same fonts. Fans of the flat minimal design were using illustrator. I mean we all fall into the trap sometimes and sometimes it works for a project but it is not something to base everything on.

The Fun-ctional

The Fun-ctional designer is the playful equivalent of the functional designer. The one that takes a regular holiday to the library or explores interest only to return and use a fraction of what he has learnt. This is where I see myself. A close friend described me as the wild card designer, the one who's quality of work is above average most of the time but with that little push could be so much better.

All the above from the James Reay Design Book Club

Fun-ctional designers explore ideas more than their functional counterparts, they have a wide frame of reference on the styles of the past and the present, lastly, they try really hard but don't see the bigger picture. The best way I can describe this is via a case study.

I was doing a typography project based on the Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall (y'all) and I thought it was going really rather well until the final tutorial in which they said Yes James, it is very punk looking but you have just copied the punk stylee from the late 70's rather than interpreting what it actually means to be punk. 


Creatives are the real designers, the ones that stand out like a sore thumb in a group of functional designers. These are the ones that over step the brief and over design for a project and then reel it in. The ones that push the envelope and see what the client will let them get at way with. These are the ones that carve a niche for themselves. The designers that get a feel for a project not just the literal interpretation.

Snask (who gave a lecture at my university and whom I have a signed poster (designed by Vincent Walden) by) are the ones that come to mind when it comes to this. When you are asked to design a poster Function and Fun-ctional designers would probably do one on photoshop; Snask built a poster... in real life.

With every project designers should strive to be creative and not only tick boxes. There are millions of graduates who can tick boxes and fulfill a creative brief but industry doesn't want them it want the creative. Andrew Byrom (another designer who gave a lecture at my uni) said we don't need anymore designers we just need good designers and by that he means creatives.

I strive to be creative in every single piece of work I do but at this stage in mys career I am happy as a Fun-ctional wildcard designer.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Five a Day: Week Eight

The post punk revival of the early to mid 200's were the shot in the arm of the music industry bring guitars back to fore. But with all the bands that were really good and brought something unique to them game there were many who played choppy guitar tunes like the style would die out if they didn't. Some seen in the pages of NME radar when I was growing up and not many amounted to anything.

Why am I telling you this? Well this week was the week I set out to discover the post punk revivalists that I had;

1. Heard of and listened to a bit
2. Heard of put hadn't listened
3. Related to artists that I liked from that scene.

There are three exceptions due to the office jukebox being on I had heard a few other things so forgive me. Please forgive me.

Understanding Electricity - Official Secrets Act - NME Radar Hyped band and love the album artwork; however the album leads with songs that sound like The Futureheads and then moves into what latter day Foals sound like just nowhere near as good. Some interesting Drum sounds though...

On The Brain - Bromheads Jacket - I am sure I have seen the album cover in a design magazine. This is a really fun loud garage psych rock album.

Gospel Bombs - Vincent Vincent and the Villains - This is a great album. It's really enjoyable, feels like an Orange Juice album with a shot of Roy Orbison. 'I'm Alive' is great tune.
Little Death - Pete and the Pirates - Lyrically quirky and just a great fun indie pop record.

Be Your own PET - Be Your own PET - Surprise of the bunch. From seen their image plastered of The Bunker's Rehearsal space and in copies of NME, I expected a stand post punk aware but this is Hardcore punk with tracks that barely reach three minutes. Riot Grrl in the best way possible. Check this out.
The Gift - Sons and Daughters. I spent so much time trying to work out what this albums sounded like instead of listening to it probably. When I flicked that switch, I realised how awesome this is. It was advertised everywhere in NME in 2008 and I didn't know what spotify was but this is a gem. Highlight of day Two. PS it sound like a Phill Spector produced indie rock LP.
Bulletproof Heart - Grace Jones - office jukebox - This is a really great album, it was her last before come back and was commercially unsuccessful (I have no idea why). It is the Grace Jones formula of great production and her distinctive vocals are awesome. I found myself grooving through the whole thing.

Highly Evolved - The Vines - A Strange fusion of britpop and grunge...I'll explain. This album takes the cues of The Verve and Oasis when it comes to ballads but takes it's louder cues from Pixies and Nirvana. I kept thinking Stereophonics too. It doesn't feel like and album of two halves with each style. It actually melds the two together nicely.

Girls and Weather - The Rumble Strips - I thought Mark Ronson had a hand in this but his relation with the band came after this. It is just unusual to have such dominant horn sections around this time without his stamp. This is a Dexy's Midnight runners album in style, vocal delivery and feel and it also features that song that has been on a million adverts. I found myself dancing while cooking my tea and listening to this so that's good

Cape Dory - Tennis. a very enjoyable Lo-fi oldies infused indie album with songs about a boat and the ocean.

No Fighting - Harrisons - a by the numbers post punk revival album with choppy guitars, Shouty lyrics and great rhythms.

PAWS. - Pull Tiger Tail - a by the numbers post punk revival album with choppy guitars, Shouty lyrics and great rhythms however complimented with a great synth work.

Cuts Across the Land - The Duke Spirit - A female lead indie rock and roll riot, garage rock inspired album. Definitely overtakes the characterless albums earlier in the day.

Jewellery - Micachu and the Shapes - Not what I was expecting this is a lo-fi leftfield folk album with choppy beats, keyboards and really short songs.

Everything is New - Jack Penate -  A poppy friendly fires esque LP. Knowing two singles from this LP I was expecting the rest to fall flat but they fit really well into this album.

Elephant shell - Tokyo Police club -  a by the numbers indie pop album with choppy guitars, Shouty lyrics and great rhythms.

Ra Ra Riot -  Ra Ra Riot - A No Wave flavour to this one with unexpected strings that seem to come in from nowhere it's an odd mix. It's is noisey and grungey.

Life is elsewhere - Little Comets - an enjoyable by the numbers indie pop album with choppy guitars, Shouty lyrics and great rhythms.

I will Be - Dum Dum Girls - Love this album cover. This album doesn't appear to have an bass frequency in sight. It has stiff rhytms from the drum machine and a lo-fi sound.

Box of Secrets - Blood Red Shoes - A enjoyable by the numbers male female bluesy rock duo ala White Stripes.

Flying Microtonal Banana - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - a fabulous psych rock concept record with repetitive beats, great riffs all with the unique KG&LW sound on it.
The Colourful Life - Cajun Dance Party - A colour and charming folk influence indie pop album by a band that was splattered across the NME's advert pages and and news sections.

Hats off to the Buskers - The View - Only ten years late to the party with this great album. So much character and interest in this LP. Quirky acoustic ditties with a large dose of Indie Rock 'n' roll Riot both complimented with one of indies unique voices Mr Kyle Falconer.

Young for Eternity - The Subways - This is a great album found myself head banging and foot tapping to the tunes on this LP. John Peel approved garage rock with an indie slant.

Late Night Endless - Sherwood and Pinch. Once you get past the grammatically incorrect album title this is a very enjoyable danceable dub album and a great way to round off a week of choppy indie guitar rock, angsty vocals and great rhythms.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Five a Day: Week Seven

Day One - Pop Princess'

This is Icona Pop - Icona Pop. Boring electro pop album. The first five tracks share pretty much the same drum pattern and structure and the last five share more of the same elements. I have danced to one of these songs in a club and it worked then because it was a big dumb pop song but don't stretch the success of that single across and album. 

Paris - Paris Hilton. This is why models shouldn't make albums. They hire expensive but dull producers who smash out generic pop songs. All these songs are faceless uninspired generic electro pop with hip hop track , a track with a washed out guitar (in an attempt at pop rock) and a track with an off beat guitar ( I won't dignify it by calling it reggae) with words that make me ill. 

Cinderella's eyes - Nicola Roberts. Judged this album by the front cover because it features a great photo and not just because she is an attractive lady. Shame it is a bland electro pop album with dull song writing. There is one interesting effect on the first track and one track sounds faintly like the Pet Shop Boys. 

 Sheezus - Lily Allen. I loved Lily Allen's album prior to this, It's not me, It's you. It had smart song writing and a more organic pop sound. This is just a synthetic pop mess. Don't get me wrong the song writing is mostly great with some smart witty lines a long side one of my fave songs of the past five years, Hard Out Here. Before I forget I am sure Nigel Blackwell wrote one of these songs, URL Badman, seems like something he'd write. Unfortunately the layers of synths, dubstep wobbles and vocoder is detracting. Sorry Lily, Love ya. 

Anywhere I lay my head - Scarlett Johansson. What is essentially a Tom Waits covers album by a leading actress, I had no idea what to think. It's folky, Country, but then half way through a drum machine starts some of the tracks and feels awkward against the folk instrumentation. It's not bad and may take more than one listen to enjoy it a bit more. My hearings not particularly good at the minute so will save this for listen number two.

 Day Two - Lullaby versions

Lullaby versions of The White Stripes, Green Day, David Bowie, Blur and The Clash. 

All of these albums have the same problems. The faster songs slowed down make it hard to comprehend what song they actually are. The slower songs work really well but blink and you you won't be able to tell what's happening.

Day Three - Krautrock

Viva - La Dusseldorf. Sounds like a Yes album but I enjoyed it a whole lot more.

Hijack - Amon Duul II. Bland Hippy Space Rock

Opal - Embryo. Jazzy intense rock music - very much like Can.

Musik Von Harmonia - Harmonia. Sounds like one half Steve Reich and one half Brian Eno.

Zuckerziet - Cluster. Proto-dance music: with a big beat over it it could be a Chemical Bros album.

Day Four - Difficult Second Albums

A French Kiss in the Chaos - Reverend and The Makers. Politically charged lyrically without resolve backed by enjoyable Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era influenced rock. 

Ten New messages - The Rakes. Post punk revivalism without twist or much interest.

The Optimist  - New Young pony Club. Kinda reminds me of the second Gossip album in all the right ways.

Don't say we didn't warn you - Does it Offend you, Yeah? Exaggerated noiser sections and more tuneful quieter parts than the debut.
Do it again - Twisted Wheel. Mod rock from the one time punks.

Day Five - Newish releases

Lemon Memory - Menace Beach. Noisey psychedelic garage rock and roll with a scartch and sniff front cover.

Nehurvia - Bishop Nerhu. Well produced Hip Hop with lyrically simple, love and egotistical songs.

Dumb Blood - Vant. Lyrically Blunt Garage rock

Prisoner - Ryan Adams. Pleasant heartfelt country album.

Life will see you Now - Jens Lekman. There Goes Rhymin' Simon era Paul Simon takes song writing lessons from Courtney Barnett. 
Album of the year contender

Friday, 17 February 2017

Back to Life

Personally the biggest act that I have designed for in my entire design career so far. Saying that since working with SSD Concerts bigger acts might come along.

I had great fun doing this poster, not only because I like the band but because it is a contrast to the rest of the posters that the rest of the venues used. Normally they send a photo to use and the image provided was a photo of Jazzie B & Caron Wheeler on a flat white back ground with a difficult space (in a design sense) and was short and wide (same problem with the Homeshake image).

I love the bands logo and wanted to exploit it some how. It sitting alone won't work a close crop of it would make even less sense so repetition was the best option. Repeating the word Soul wouldn't of made much sense so instead just over lapped them in a 4 x 3 grid and that would replace the image.

The text on the bottom was to be styled in the same as the template that I set up when I first got there as vehicle to get artwork out as quickly as possible if needed and if the band wanted a unique poster the template would be ditched in favour or pretty colours and layouts. This is a hybrid is the sense that it does not use the image provided but does utilise the template structure.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Gringo, you're a star

I am new to the sounds of Gringo Star and now I wish I had heard them earlier. They sounded like the twisted brothers of The Beatles; good old fashioned garage rock music inspired by the beat music boom of the British invasion.

I read the band was a big fan of all things 1950's so I initially repurposed a B movie poster from that generation, like the post modern designer that I am. But it didn't look particularly good and it had no hope of being signed off.

So I changed tactic; Punk. Hand writing, film photography (nicked from facebook) and upside down band to add interest. Everyone was happy with this and once the support bands were announced it was spread across the social media's in our hands.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


I had never heard of Mac Demarco's ex guitarists downtempo hip hop based side project Homeshake until I met Charlie Dancer (the man responsible for Beyond the Wall promotions). He is the fountain of knowledge on the subject and was really excited when he managed to book the band for the tank of dreams.

I have a habit of taking gig poster opportunities too literally but it seemed appropriate at this juncture. A lot of agents prefer that you use the image provided but I jumped the gun with this one and did it before any image was provided.

Technically this house has been liquified and skewed but that doesn't sound as catchy as shaken. It is quite hard to find to find a license free image off a house without doing some digging or cropping. However the text is the thing I am most proud of on these posters. I personally arranged each letter of every word on this thing. Yes I know that it looks odd but that is the appeal of it to me.

The above was sent off to the agent and was rejected so the below was made. However, I had a the same problem with the Avalanche Party: The image that was provided was short and long. So I ended up with this awkward crop but that's okay. It's got a deer's butt and sexy type slapped on it. What more could you want.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Woop-woop! That's the sound of da police!

When given photo options for the hip hop heavyweight I didn't expect to choose this one. The photo options were limited and not print quality but I digress. I love this portrait of Mr KRS and I also love Compacta (the font used). There was limited space so the text needed say everything in the most space effective way possible hence the use of Compacta, a tall and bold sans serif.

The first thing my dad said on seeing the first draft that the colours of the text, truth be told I kinda stole the colours from this obscure RSD Bob Dylan Compilation called Side Tracks.

The poster once was bare on the bottom right and left corner but after being sent off to the agency it needed his latest album cover to the bottom right and the agency logo on the left. I was first skeptical about how nice it looked but on the final version of I think it still looks smashing.

What made this project an extra level of special was that is was a multiple date poster job so had the pleasure of doing a poster for Edinburgh and Leeds as well as the Newcastle date.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Cold -8 Steel Musicans

My dad introduced me to this great band in the middle of last year, no not the Cold -8 Steel Musicans but the Hot 8 Brass Band. I was introduced to them via there range of covers versions from Ghost Town (The Specials track), Bingo Bango (Basement Jaxx track) and Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye track). These are now regular features on the James Reay Mega Mix.

We were due to go and see this band as part of the Durham brass band festival but my mother could not get the time off work. So we are probably going to this gig.

It was a great joy to see that they were doing a tour and playing Newcastle and it was even more of a joy to do the artwork for their SSD Concerts shows. So the artwork will be displayed in Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull and Edinburgh which is exciting stuff. I originally used block yellow shapes to disguise the fake concrete pattern I created.

I tried one more thing before settling on the simple & effective style as seen at the bottom of this post. Because the band is a 'Hot' band, I tried adding some fire to the poster

So this is the final thing: fake concrete used as a canvas, Bold Azo Sans and the sexy stypeface of the Boilershop logo.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Five a Day: Week Six

*DISCLAIMER. This review is late, not because I needed to catch up on albums but because of a panic of design work, Friday and sheer laziness, Saturday.*

Day One

This time it's personal - John Cooper Clarke and Hugh Cornwell. I think this is fabulous. JCC hasn't sung on record before and to me he sounds like a Roy Orbison character. Rock n roller and a singing for the lonely. These are cover versions of tracks I have never really heard but these renditions are beautifully arranged. The problem lies, as my dad addressed, who is this for? JCC fans are used to the poet, not the singer and Hugh Cornwell has been on... My point is these are mostly obscure oldies arranged and done by two punks in 2016. It's great but no audience is probably why it's in the sale bin in hmv. It's great but no one's listening. 

Hold on now youngster - Los Campesinos. This album was splashed all over the NME 10 years ago when I was an avid reader. 10 years later; I hate what the NME has become and I love this album. This is a gloriously chaotic, essentially a duets, humorous album. It's Css without the synths but with fuzz guitars. Great level of humour. Kinda like that Art Brut album from week one/two of this project. 

Everything that happens will happen today - David Byrne and Brian Eno. I love David Byrne, I think he is great and going into this I thought it was gonna be like his last album with Brian but 30 seconds you can tell it's not. These songs are Byrne on an acoustic guitar and then build up from there. The songs are really pleasant and are complimented greatly with the use of drum machine and ambient pad synth sounds. There are touches of African influence with the call and response between byrne and the backing vocals which is delightful. 

Mothership Connection - Parliament. P funk is something I have never understood but have always been caught under its spell of the groove. This album sounds bare bones but always seems to have a lot going on. The groove (bass and drums) are centered in stereo and the rest of the instrumentation is either right or left...that might be why? Wasn't as enthralled by it as One Nation Under a Groove but on this album there are so many things hip hop has sampled/used, this band is tight and I love George Clinton. 

The Angry Buddhists - The Angry Buddhists.

Day Two - 

Don't stand me down - Dexys midnight runners. The lost classic as the music press now sees it. It sounds like a musical, to me there are segments where the members are talking toward thread of tracks like as a hand off to the next track. It's soulful, there are some great organ sounds but there are too many extended sections without anything interesting happening. 8 tracks long but 8mins is the average run time of the tracks. 

Talking to the Taxman about poetry -Billy Bragg. Inspiration to my good self's third album has a much more augmented sound to it than his first two. Guest musicans compliment Bragg's tales of love and romance. Never listened to this album all the way through, now I have and I can safely recommend it. 

Process - Sampha. One half is a piano ballad and the other is piano lead hip hop album. Some really interesting textures, great piano skill and a very unique voice. Short and sweet album, wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did. 

 Year of the Horse - The Mighty Stef. Saw these guys supporting The Strypes when they played Carlisle. Listened to this album because the band was recommended to my work colleague Dom. It's an ambitious Irish garage rock album with a little bit of fat (it's an hour long) but it is a very enjoyable listen regardless of the longer running time. It's a shame the band split up just after I discovered them. Ps they were better than The Strypes live. 

Broken Ear Record - Black Dice. This album is a sound collage. It's not always on time, it's messy and noisy. It's repetitive, it does groove but it's not enjoyable. It's just a challenge

Day Three

Dirty Fan Male - Trunk and Wisbey. Funny readings of genuine letters of fan mail sent to Daily Sport Models/ porn stars. Some are set to music, some are followed by 'how is this real?' and some aren't funny. Heard about this on numerous podcasts so glad I tried it. 

Dub Roots - Prince Douglas. Obscure Recently reissued dub LP and it's amazing. It came out originally in 1980 but feels a lot more recent cos of some of the echos and production technique sound like an Aphex Twin. The cutting up of vocals and synths/organs seem way ahead of their time. Top album cover too.
Lifeblood - Manic Street Preachers. Welsh Rockers, turn on their pop sensibilities and make a shiny pop album. Although its not bad, there are few memorable moments personally and it removes the attitude from the Manic which is a lot of why I like them. 

Overgrown - James Blake. I never understood James Blake's appeal. It's very quiet and based on subtly. Most of this album I couldn't tell you what it sounded like because it just blended into the background. I never saw his music exclusively designed to be like Music for Airports album but I think it is. However the best track is with the guest RZA who adds some spoken word. 

Yezzus - Kanye West. Starts super strong with the first four tracks but Hold my Liquour spoils the good run. It struggles to pick up the form it had from there. Songs about doing ladies, or annoying samples or generic production of drums etc.all the reviews of this album say this is the album Kanye learnt to over use autotune and they aren't wrong. It some times work but otherwise it just sounds messy

Day Four

Try to Be Hopeful - The Spook School. Martha associated power pop Rocker's who write great pop songs in the key of punk/C86/riotgrrl. It's a bit DIY sounding but that doesn't detract from these very enjoyable songs. 

 You can make it if you boogie - James Kirk. Have you ever heard Loaded? ' we wanna be free to do what we wanna do'.no not that one you twit. Loaded by the Velvet Underground cos this sounds like with a little bit of a soul vibe. James Kirk famously of Star Trek. Not that James Kirk you fool. James Kirk was a member of Orange Juice the fore father's of of indie music as we know it. He even covers Felicity like a Lou Reed.
Word gets around - Stereophonics. Some serious Britpop vibes from this album. Heard a lot of this with my boss singing over the top of it. Anthemic tunes before it became a standard feature on every bands press release. Smart songs and a really solid debut album. 

All We Are - All We Are. Equal parts dreamy indie pop and danceable synth pop. Catchy songs, grooving rhymes and all round enjoyable listen.unlike the circumstances I listened to it in. On a late crowded metro train with fake 12 year old girls declaring it smells while taking snap chats, a bloke explaining how he fixed a sofa with a leather repair kit and someones elbow in my back

The Boys - The Boys. Old school punk rock and roll album. Short simple songs that sound like if the Ramones and Chuck berry had a baby... Like The Heartbreakers in that sense 

Day Five - 

19 (Nineteen) - Adele. This album has it's heart in the right place. The songs are good, the arrangements are all very nice but it is nothing special. I used to like a Chasing Pavements but hearing it on this album it doesn't sound like I remember. There are two songs that stood out to me "Right as Rain" and "Make You Feel My Love". It is the only two song streak in the album that is good.

Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft - DAF. Noisy industrial snippets of what seemed to be an improvisation session. It's a shame they cut it up cos I would of love extended pieces rather than one minute section of rhythm just to stop.

Dalek, I Love you - Dalek, I Love You. David Balfe and Alan Gill of Teardrop Explodes fame's experimental synth pop outfit which sounds like a clash of Heaven 17 and The The.
Apocalipstick - Cherry Glazzerr - Classic Riot Grrl sound, great songs and was not let down. I have seen this album advertised everywhere so I am really happen that it deserved the press.

Blue and Lonesome - The Rolling Stones. These guys still love the blues after all these years. Doing these old blues gems justice. I never new the orignals but this makes me wanna listen to them. Jagger's harmonica playing stands proud, the band bring their A game and this is a really enjoyable listen. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Saturday Night Fever Man

It's seems to be a challenge set my close friend Vincent, when he gets that email through to design a poster for the All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gee's and Beyond, he tries to make it the most interesting/ eye boggling visual terror fest you can think of. He has made two of these so far and both are great to look at. Frankly they also suit the band down to the ground having seen them based on the back of the first poster he did.

Above posters taken without express permission from the great and awesome graphic designer and good friend of mine (

When I was given the option to produce one I rubbed my hands with glee. I was going to make the worlds greatest poster for an All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gee's and Beyond. It didn't turn out that way but it is most certainly off the wall and different. 

I started with Saturday Night Fever man in his 'classic' pose from that film I haven't seen but couldn't think of anything to do with him. He was upside down, downside up. Then I just tucked him in the corner and put explosions behind him, sorry I mean star shapes. 

Then I had no idea what to do with the title (looking back I could of used a better/more appropriate font) . So in came a gradient, stretched it and tilted it within reason (of course) . Then I just tucked the other text in where I could find space. 

 It's not finessed in the slightest, it looks Clunky and odd but I suppose it'll stand out in a see of bland posters.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Space Cats from outta Space!

Despite never seeing any B movies (I wish had given how much I hate the comic book movie trend) I really love the artwork that accompanies them. A lot the time these things are painted by hand but bare no resemblance to the actual movie itself. You could paint a scarier monster than the one a prop designer could make with the tools they had.

 However Hollywood with massive budgets and CGI tend to produce the most bland and uninspired posters for movies. Here is photo of the people who are in it accompanied by captions for the actors name. There are exceptions, Star Wars has and always will have (I hope) painted posters, the they make everyone look like they are sitting awkwardly on a giant in viable cloud but it much more interesting than The Martian a film set on the baton environment that is Mars and all we see is Matt Damon's face. 

Why am I telling you this ? Well I think one of my new design projects looks like it could of been a movie call When Cats attack! Or Space Cats from outta Space! I received a press shot of a band called Avalanche Party and it was long and not very tall and how do you use a photo like that. Thankfully sitting on the end was a cat, an innocent looking cat. So I took a close crop of the cat. Halftoned it because it didn't look good quality. Then I had a doodle on it and suddenly I'd given the cat lasers on its eyes. So attempted a redraw of the laser beams (they were off kilter) and it looked great. I added the typography and sent it off with another poster using the whole press shot. 

Thankfully the poster was accepted and I danced around the living room. Weeks later I made it a gif and a week later it sold out.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Five a Day: Week Five


Turn It Up - Pixie Lott. This album should be called Turn It Off. Complete in difference to an album is more painful than it being bad because you can see potential to where it could of gone. I admire the skill to completely rip off the sound that Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse crafted on Black to Black. Replacing Winehouse with a pretty face with a non distinct voice so they can autotune it to sound like Amy and just missing the point. The bits that aren't ripped off something are just generic pop tunes.i don't think she had creative control of the music which is something I would of preferred to hear (at least it would be honest) not just whatever the music executives wanted. 

Here, not there - Heathers. Glorious Folk duo with great harmonies, intelligent words and it's upbeat. Clocking in at 25 mins, I can't think of a many better ways to spend that time. I wish I had listened to this sooner. I first heard one of there tracks on Steve Lamo's 6 music program and I fell in love with it so I am disappointed it's taken me this long to get here.
BBC Radiophonic workshop volume 21 - this is the most interesting album (it's a compilation but that remains true) I've listened to in a long time. These are snippets of music composed in house at the BBC to soundtrack shows and for shows special effects. This is pretty affordable synths, pre computers and presents digital recording. So this is way ahead of its time. It's not a sing a long but you can hear so much that went on to influence other musicians. 

Mesh and Lace - Modern English. Dark Noisy arty post punk ala Joy Division and The Cure. Monotone vocals, relentless rhythms and excellent use of effects on guitars (phaser on guitar adds an experimental feel. Does miss the single I know this band for off the original release but still stands up as a obscure post punk gem. 

Cluster and Eno - Cluster and eno. Ambient music that actually gives you something digestible to listen to. It's mostly drone based but it does merely sit in the background. There are change in dynamics, bright synth sounds and glorious echos giving it a spacious feel. Selange has has some abstract drumming to it that follows the jazzy repetitive piano.


Third Reich and Roll - The Residents. Normally I listen to something 'easy' on a morning first thing but when I read about this LP yesterday I had to put it on ASAP. and now I am just confused. It's noisy, discordant and free form versions of other people's songs in two 20 minute segments. There is some straight sampling of the originals, versions of the songs in German and then when songs are played over each other it's just messy. This is an oddity, if this peaks your curiosity check it out and if not I saved you the audio chaos. Do I like it? I like it because it is a brave and interesting album. No I will not be listening again. 

Update Your Brain - The Tuts. Power pop with personality. Tales of being a girl in a band, which for some reason is still really a taboo and you get misstreated for it as you will hear. the songs are great, the lyrics are great and it's just a great slice of power pop/ pop punk.
 Strictly Dub Wife - Dennis Bovell. Glorious dub album with some chilled vibes, great synth/organ sounds and some interesting effects. 

Lights - Ellie Goulding. What a really fun folky pop album with great songs, distinctive voice and just a very enjoyable album. Saw her live on this tour and it brought back great memories of seeing her live. Unlike her second and third LPs which saw her musically become generic pop and become overtly sexualised. This is most enjoyable. 

Soft Hair - Soft Hair. Twisted disco is the first thing that popped into my head. It grooves like a disco track but has too many off kilter rhythms, vocoded vocals and dark synth sounds. It's glitchy in places, ambient in places but unfortunately it's nothing new. I had an allergic reaction to this kind of slow electro stuff last year because it's so damn boring.


Playland - Johnny Marr. Melodic power pop with some great songs (including the excellent single, Easy Money), splashes of experimentation with heavy reverb and echos as well as some awesome guitar work by Marr. It has energy, melody and is well worth forty minutes of your time. 

 Simplicity - JAWS. It's dreamy poppy noisy and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. I have pretended long enough to know about these guys so it's great listening to them now. 

How men are - Heaven 17. You can tell it's a Heaven 17 album due to their unique sound. I don't really know why this album has been sidelined. It's really enjoyable. Apart from the ten minute last track which goes off on a tangent for no reason and then return to the chorus and I just thought, this songs ended didn't it? Very enjoyable stuff from the shefield Lads. 

 Wreckless Eric - Wreckless Eric. Odd quirky pub rock with a punk rock attitude. Some great horn sections on this album. Includes the smashing single Whole Wide World. 

Revolution Dub - Lee Scratch Perry. Oh my word this album is great. Very unique mixing style. Interesting use of panning/stereo. The bass is so heavy. The early sampling in this album makes this album so unique.

Another Eternity - Purity Ring. Pop music from the school of Grimes. Instead of light drum machines, generic lead singer autotuned to be in tune and bad lead synth riffs. this is has over the top in your face big synths, autotuned vocals as a vocal effect (like you would a reverb) and the drum machines sound huge and glitchy. There are touches of industrial music, dub and big beat in just the drums. It feels like a pop album but of course this is too good to be widely recognized by the pop music market. 

The abstract dragon - Busta Rhymes and Q Tip. Short but perfectly formed hip hop album. the lyrics aren't particularly nice to female kind but the production is great if you like Jazzy Hip Hop. 

In a Gadda Da Vida - Iron Butterfly. Oh god no flashbacks. This isn't Yes-terday again is it? My word I really find it hard to like early hard rock. It's just such an awkward middle ground. It's not heavy enough to be metal but it's not soft enough to work as beat music. So they just sound like drawn out Beatles songs with a distorted guitar and bad mixing. The stereo is dreadful as it shoves the whole drum kit in one ear, but even in mono, I think I still would of fallen asleep. It's just show off, especially the last track. 17 mins of a boring song because everyone needs a solo and then a chorus return. 

Inner fire - the soul jazz orchestra. I always thought by the front cover that this was a Sun Ra album despite it bearing no resemblance to one. However like Sun Ra, I like this album very much it's an African jazzy funk album with chanting, great rhythms and some extraordinary musical skill. 

 Future Breeds - Hot Hot Heat. First off love the album cover, second, I was expecting some kind of synths electronic stuff but I got Post Punk/ Dance Punk. Some tracks have an Arctic Monkeys thing going on some are like The Rapture/ Lcd Soundsystem, there is a bit of jazz elements when it gets slower but the was a glorious surprise for me. Thirdly, we picked up the CD cover when we were on Holiday in Santa Barbara thinking it was a free CD and then got in the card to find no CD but it did comes with a cool poster. 


If you were Fruit - The Lovely Eggs. I am just gonna come out and say this. I love this. It's inconsistent in music tone changing from noise rock to country to indescribable things but it's Lyrical tone is funny all the way through and the best part is they play it straight. Rhyming Scorpion and bourguignon as if it was just a normal thing to rhyme. This is an a drill, listen to this album. It's Half Man Half Biscuit, Courtney Barnett and Velvet Underground. It's country, Indie rock and punk.

Tookah - Emiliana Torrini. can't decide if it's a folk album or a Bjork album and ends up sounding odd because of this. Instead of a fusion of the two styles it's just a split album. It's pleasant don't get me wrong but is just not consistent in style. 

The Slow readers Club -The Slow Readers Club. If Johnny Marr joined New Order...scrap that. Sounds like an electronic (Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner project) album. It is a really enjoyable album and would recommend it to fans of either New Order or Electronic. 

Souvlaki - Slowdive. Shoegaze classic that lives up to the classic tag. Like Galaxie 500 it's dreamy but has enough going on to keep it interesting. It's noisy in places too which makes me wonder why I didn't listen to this album sooner. There is a Beautiful acoustic number at the end too. 

New Brigade - iceage. Noisy intense 25 minute punk record. Songs are short and punchy and dark. In that sense, there is some resemblance to the work of Bauhaus (the band, not the important school of design in Germany). Nothing particularly inventive here (unlike the Bauhaus school) but if you like that kinda music give it a shot.