Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music Video of the Week: The Strokes

The Strokes - You Only Live Once (Alternative Version) (Official Music Video)

Once upon a time (that long, long ago summer of 2001) The Strokes were the great contenders. They were viewed by the music press as the new saviours of rock n roll. At the time, the music industry was a barren landscape of mook rock (Limp Bizkit), vapid pop (Backstreet Boys) and crappy pop-punk (Blink-182). Was there ever a more ironically inaccurate term than pop-punk? Anyway, that's another conversation entirely...

The Strokes broke through into the mainstream, bringing The White Stripes (and others) along with them. But they never topped the promise of their superb debut, Is This It. The featured video (above) is a fantastic homage to Stanley Kubrick, and in particular, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Enjoy.

100 Great Album Covers

It's no secret that album cover art is the single greatest influence over me as an artist and designer. So of course I loved walking through these over at the excellent Smashing Magazine.

A Tribute to the Great Reid Miles

Reid Miles is one of my favorite designers of all time. His iconic work for the Blue Note record label remains in the lexicon of the finest work ever created. The (good in it's own right) Computer Arts magazine has a great article about Miles. For the entire article, go here. Here is an excerpt:

Reid Miles’s inventive use of type, moody photography and a minimalist colour palette helped Blue Note establish itself as the hippest of all jazz labels

Blue Note Recordings: the name still resonates today. Synonymous with artistic flair, the label is a fading memory of jazz’s ‘golden age’. Yet for all its musical importance, Blue Note was equally significant in terms of design. Under Reid Miles, the label’s sleeves formed a cornerstone of the graphic design canon.

Established in 1939 by Berlin-born Alfred Lion, Blue Note was an American label founded on love for an American art form. Intent on capturing the performances, Lion teamed up with Francis Wolff to realise his dream. Wolff was an accomplished photographer, whose moody renditions of jazz’s top cats adorned many early Blue Note sleeves. It wasn’t until the appointment of Chicago-born designer Reid Miles in 1956, however, that the label truly found its graphic voice.

Lion and Wolff refused to compromise creativity, allowing pioneers such as Thelonious Monk free reign to explore jazz’s cutting edge. It’s fitting that Miles’s first notable sleeve was a Thelonious Monk reissue (pictured above). Exploding onto the scene, his bold hyphenation of ‘Thelo-nious’ broke all the rules, treating the syllables as visual building blocks. Blue Note quickly became Miles’s playground; a space to challenge himself, artists and the audience.

Interestingly, Miles preferred classical music to jazz, trading in his Blue Note sample copies and not even listening to the music. Given this, it’s amazing that Miles’s designs were so ‘tight’. As Felix Cromey writes in Blue Note: The Album Cover Art: “Miles made the cover sound like it knew what lay in store for the listener: an abstract design hinting at innovations, cool strides for cool notes, the symbolic implications of typefaces and tones.”

Records Redesigned as Pelican Books = The Best

Man, these are the coolest things ever. Classic records lost in time and format, re-emerged as Pelican books. Seriously, I love these so much I cannot even tell you. Go take a look at them here. They are all cool.