Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Sunday, 26 December 2010
OK, here goes the annual round up of everything I've bought, downloaded, borrowed and been given music wise in 2010.
I tend to judge what I consider to be the best on the amount I've returned to things throughout the year. On that basis, Liars' 'Sisterworld' and These New Puritans' 'Hidden' have got to be up there, as has Sufjan Steven's 'All Delighted People' EP. Massive Attack's broody 'Heligoland' also became a repeat player at various points throughout 2010.
On the pop front, the Gorillaz album and Momford & Sons were on constant replay in the car for a while but I haven't gone back to either since the summer.
Some albums have grown on me the more I've left them alone. For example, I thought The National's 'High Violet' hugely disappointing compared to the first single and having given it several goes after buying it, it was confined to the bottom reaches of my iPod until a few weeks ago when I gave it another go. I'm now really getting into it. Similarly Gil Scott Heron's 'Im New Here' (particularly New York Is Killing Me).
Bonny 'Prince' Billy continues to disappoint (has he peeked?) and Grinderman equally failed to impress with their second release, just as they did with their first.
I've been loving the Crass reissues, which were remarkably well timed to coincide with the student anti-fees demos and the word 'anarchists' being bandied about the news again. Spooky. Two other conjunctions included buying the first Big Audio Dynamite CD and some of Elvis Costello's back catalogue. This first was prompted by a visit to the Mick Jones's Rock & Roll Public Library and the second by visiting Process, the Barney Bubbles exhibition; oh and the fact that the new Elvis Costello release was Jools Holland fodder, (that's an insult by the way, in case you couldn't tell).
However, if nothing else, 2010 for me was the year I 'got' jazz. First up was going to see The Ex with Brass Unbound in Tufnell Park which is definitely up there with one of the best gigs I've ever seen. The melding of frenetic choppy riff laden and African rhythm influenced punk with an amaziningly chaotic freeform brass jazz band blew me away. Then came Jerry Dammer's Spacial AKA Orkestra in Brighton which was a joy from start to finish, particularly hearing the reworkings of Ghost Town and Man at C&A. And then, what has got to be the best release of the year for me, the one I keep returning to the most, is Polar Bear's 'Peepers'. Prompted by reviews and bored with many other styles of music, I gave it a punt. Truly astounding musicianship constantly on the verge of falling apart. Organised sonic chaos indeed. Thoroughly looking forward to seeing them when they play Ipswich in April.
These three events alongside gifts and purchases of The Ex's jazz collaborations past and present prompted a borrowing of selected CDs from a jazz buff work colleague (thanks Dave). The Bad Plus and Esbjörn Svensson Trio's 'Leucocyte' have both been big hits for me (although on borrowing other EST stuff, Leucocyte seems to have been a lucky break). And now I'm the proud owner of a box set of DVDs about Jazz courtesy of a Christmas present from Claire that I'm sure will influence my musical tastes for 2011.
Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties
Heavy Trash - Midnight Soul Serenade
Vampire Weekend - Contra
Radiohead - In Rainbows Disk 2
Radiohead - These Are My Twisted Words
These New Puritans - Hidden
The Imagined Village - Empire & Love
The Maccabees feat Roots Manuva - Empty Vessels
The Ex - Double Order, Maybe I Was The Pilot
The Ex + Tom Cora - Scrabbling At The Lock
Massive Attack - Heligoland
Seasick Steve - Man From Another Time
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Kollaps Tradixionales
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
BangStick! - Ring of Salt
The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Dans Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - The Logic of Chance
Autechre - Oversteps
Liars - Sisterworld
Bonnie 'Prince' Billie - The Wonder Show of the World
Opa Hey! - Kottarashky
The Upsetters - The Upsetter
Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths - Young, Gifted and Black
Harry Js All Stars - Liquidator
Lou Reed and John Cale - Songs for Drella
Micah P Hinson - All Dressed Up and Smelling of Strangers
Dave Formula - Satellite Sweetheart
Polar Bear - Peepers
The Fall - Your Future, Our Clutter
John Eden - RSI Radio 4
Konono No. 1 - Assume Crash Position
The National - High Violet
Pavement - Quarantine the Past
These Are End Times - We Have Come So Far, It Is Over
The Bundles - The Bundles
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Various - Too Old To Be New, Too New To Be Classic: DFA Gets Cheap with Bleep
Big Audio Dynamite - This is…
Stornoway - Beachcomber's Windowsill
Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island
Jon Langford & Kay Ex - KatJonBand
Television - Marquee Moon
Wire - A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck
Chemical Brothers - Further
The Ex Guitars Meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo, Vol 1 - Lean Left
Colin Newman - A-Z
Electricity In Our Homes - We Agree Completely
Four Tet - There Is Love In You
Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty
Autechre - Move of Ten
M.I.A - /\/\ /\ Y /\
The Ex - Dizzy Spells
The Ex & Guests - Instant
Ex Orkest - Een Rondje Holland
The Books - The Way Out
Ornette Colman - The Sound Of Jazz To Come
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Skream - Outside The Box
UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall
Various - Randy's 50th Anniversary Reggae Anthology
Niney The Observer - Roots with Quality Reggae Anthology
Micah P Hinson - Pioneed Saboteurs
Mogwai - Special Moves
Grinderman - Grinderman 2
Roots Manuva meets Wrongtom - Duppy Writer
Esbjörn Svensson Trio - Leucocyte
Bojan Zulfikarpasic - Solobsession
The Ex - Catch My Shoe
The Ex & Tom Cora - And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders
The Ex - Too Many Cowboys
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Tricky - Mixed Race
Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EP
Various - Around Robert Wyatt
Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love
Everything Everything - Man Alive
Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen - For The Ghosts Within
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - The Black Ark Years, The Jamaican 7"s 1974 - 1979
The Bad Plus - Give
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, National Ransom
Various - Producers: Lee Perry vs Niney The Observer
The Jim Jones Revue - Burning Down The House
The Beat - Wha'ppen
Wire - The Drill
Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
Crass - Stations of the Crass, Crassical Collection
The Fall - The Marshall Suite
This Mortal Coil - Filigree & Shadow
That Petrol Emotion - Manic Pop Thrill, Babble
Polar Bear & Jyager - Common Ground
Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea
Ninja Tune XX Vol 1 & 2
As many people opened their presents on Christmas morning, the good people of Ipswich, in association with McDonald's, gave me the gift of allowing McJunk to turn 500. As Claire and I walked Timmy over our local park my trusty camera phone was put to good use documenting this monumental occasion. Check Flickr for images (link right).
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
It is with this in mind that it is very sad to hear the death of Kitching's long-time partner Celia Stothard. The design community has lost one half of a creative partnership that produced many iconic posters. I particularly like the story of the two of them blowing their pension on a huge collection of theatrical type. As Celia wrote of their finding the collection in Eye 74:
"Alan climbed up a ladder to check a range of condensed letters stacked on the barn wall shelves. Some had become damp and infested with woodworm. They would have to be dried out and treated, but first the make-ready (random bits of printed paper, glued to the underside of letters to bring them to type height) would have to be removed. As I logged, measured and photographed cabinets and randoms of type around the barn, I heard a shout of ‘Schwitters!’ and joined Alan, looking in amazement at the first of many examples of the Wrington pressmen’s unconscious ‘make-ready’ art, reminiscent of Dada collages.
Alan already had enough type in his ‘palette’ but the prospect of working with this range and scale was thrilling. In June that year I had up-sized from a two-room flat in SW7 to a former alehouse in Kennington SE11. I had envisaged Alan and some of the Typography Workshop in the covered rear yard, but almost an entire print works? Still, there was plenty of room on the ground floor, the joists could take the weight and the old beer cellar was dry. Who else would or could do it?
Perhaps it was the full moon over the horseshoe atop the Organ’s barn door, or the sweet Somerset air that added to the feeling of fate, but I turned to Alan: ‘Pension payments or this?’ ‘This!’ we chorused and returned to London to make the bid."
Celia Stothard - 'Buy a pension or…' Eye 74
Fine words article, Eye
Vauxhall Society Obituary
Monday, 20 December 2010
Sunday, 12 December 2010
I'd become used to strange menus appearing every time I hit the wrong keys as I retrained my fingers for a Dell keyboard.
Now I'm working at home on my Mac desktop, I'm trying to unlearn in order to relearn!
Friday, 10 December 2010
I'm hearing it everywhere; at work, in the press, in meetings, online, in interviews.
But without context it is meaningless—moving forward from what and to what?
On its own, moving forward equals standing still.
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Last night Claire and I attended the Private View of Russell Walker's exhibition at University Campus Suffolk. There is some fantastic, well crafted and iconic work on display, and I'm not just saying that because Russell is a work colleague and friend of mine.
Unfortunately I didn't manage to take any photos of what was an amazingly well attended private view, considering the weather conditions, but Russell and I returned this morning with students where I took these shots.
Titled Friends & Acquaintances, the exhibition showcases 30 years of character based work that according to Russell, "capture either a time or illustrate an emotional attitude experienced through my engagement with literature, the arts and fascinating individuals".
The exhibition poster and catalogue cover (above) was designed in a collaboration between Russell and typographer/designer Jonathan Barnbrook, and on display are musical influences, working materials and books that have inspired his work.
This free exhibition comes highly recommended and is on Monday to Friday until 23 Dec at the Waterfront Gallery, Ipswich.
More photos to follow on Flickr.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
I got the hardback McJunk through the post on Thursday. I'm generally really impressed, but test copies always throw up a lot of issues previously unconsidered.
For a start, I've decided to abandon the paperback version. The size of the prints and the overall feel of the book just didn't justify the price I'd have to charge for it. This was made blindingly clear when I held both the hardback and the paperback editions in my hands and I realised a £10 price difference didn't translate into tangible value. There will now only be a promotional paperback version which won't be available to buy.
I'm also rethinking the inclusion of the Polaroid McJunk shots. They may be axed or included in with the introduction text.
Layout and type size issues are bothering me and the bleed on the endpapers is a disaster. Even though I've artworked correctly, it appears I'm not going to be able to trust Blurb's print registration so this needs a rethink also (see below). There are numerous other details I won't go into here.
Needless to say this is pushing the publication date back even further, but this is no bad thing as we approach the end of the year and I'm thinking a 2011 release date could play into my hands as far as publicising the book anyway. I'm now aiming for a release date of 01 Jan 11.
A few weeks ago I invited final year UCS graphic design students to give advice to first year graphic design students via the medium of posters. There's not enough room to show them all here, but for those with blogs that have posted about the project, check the links below:
Monday, 22 November 2010
The print quality, for what it is, I'm impressed by - and I'm pretty choosy. However, I'm now having an internal debate about charging £20 for a 40 page paperback book. I'm on the verge of cancelling the paperback, except for promotional copies.
I now can't wait to see the hardback, which should arrive tomorrow.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Monday, 8 November 2010
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Monday, 25 October 2010
Thursday, 21 October 2010
I was saddened to hear today of Ari Up's death. The Slits were an important band, and only partly for their music. They gave punk an authentic female angle and a spirit that embraced 'crusty' long before that scene ever existed. Like many bands, they got worse the better they learnt how to play their instruments, (now that's a blog post list in waiting), but when they burned bright, they were truly brilliant. All you need is Cut, their fantastic first album. And their rendition of Heard It Through The Grapevine. When I found that 7", backing Typical Girls, at a car boot sale about 12 years ago, I played it back to back all day when I got it home. Although I'd heard it before, I felt like I was discovering music again. Took me back to when I heard the Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP for the first time at the tender age of 15 and the excitement it gave me. Grapevine would be on my desert island disc list.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
I spent the day in London today visiting 'must see' exhibitions with UCS graphic design students. I ended up at Tate Britain checking out the Muybridge show which I found much more engaging than I thought I would, but the main attraction was Process: The Working Practices of Barney Bubbles.
For those that don't know, Barney Bubbles created many of the sleeves for punk and post-punk pop favourites such as The Damned, Generation X, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Nick Lowe, and was Stiff Records' designer in residence. Before this he had a history of designing record sleeves for Glastonbury Festival and Hawkwind, as well as creating light shows for Pink Floyd, which is where his name was coined, as he mixed oil, water and ink and projected this to form psychedelic 'bubble' back drops for live shows.
It is only in the last few years that he has been getting much deserved recognition as he preferred anonymity to fame during his working lifetime, with much of his work going unsigned. 27 years after his death, with Paul Gorman's excellent 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' biography (2008), and this show, Barney Bubbles is finally being seen as a hugely important figure in the history of graphic design.
Paul Gorman was on site this morning and together with Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at Chelsea Space, kindly gave an introduction to Barney's working life and practices to students. The show was put together on the basis that most of the finished outcomes, (the products) were displayed along the entrance ramp, with the focus being squarely placed on Bubbles working methods. Sketches, Letraset and Rotring artwork, overlays of tracing paper with notes to printers and PMTs were all given pride of place. Students were amazed, enthralled and daunted in equal measures by the fact all the artwork was produced by hand - Barney committed suicide 2 weeks before the introduction of the Apple Mac in 1983.
The show unfortunately finishes this coming Saturday (23 Oct) but find below more images and links to Paul Gorman's blog, the Chelsea Space website, and unusually for Dublog, a link to Amazon for Reasons To Be Cheerful book; go buy it.
I look forward to the coming weeks where this exhibition will form much debate and discussion among students about process on display, ideas informing application, application informing ideas, and old school design methods.
Barney Bubbles blog
Chelsea Space 'Process' images
Reasons To Be Cheerful biography
Thursday, 14 October 2010
This postcard came from the William Morris house and gallery in Walthamstow and is self explanatory. Thanks Dan.
The second item came from my friend Liz, who titled it Westminster Dicks. Thanks Liz.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Monday, 20 September 2010
The current incarnation of the McJunk (large) cover, subject to change.
McJunk is a step closer to publication now that I've actually ordered ISBN numbers for it. I say 'numbers' because as a new publisher I can't buy a single ISBN, but have to order a batch of 10. As I'm publishing two versions of McJunk, I'll have to find eight other books to publish under the Dubdog moniker to use up the remaining ISBNs. Hmmm, I feel an anthology of Bum Gravy and Pindown lyrics coming on. Or maybe not.
The two versions will be:
McJunk (large), 200 x 250mm, hardback, 80pp, full page photographs printed on premium paper.
McJunk (regular), 200 x 250mm, paperback, 40pp, multiple photographs to a page, paper as yet undecided.
The large version will obviously be of superior quality and cost considerably more than the regular version. It will also be deleted after an as yet undecided number of sales.
Imprint page awaiting ISBN number
Once the ISBNs are through, there are barcodes to order, and then I'm pretty much ready to publish after a final proof read, sorting the folios and ordering a proof copy from Blurb.
As in previous posts about McJunk I've decried the slow progress of this publication. So I've decided smaller, but more regular bursts of activity are much more likely to get this project completed while I've got other more important responsibilities to deal with (i.e. paid work).
Updates to follow as progress advances.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
In the meantime, here are a few things that have caught my eye over the last month. Sorry, no tash shots, that's far too embarrassing, but feel free to check out my upper lip menagerie on the Dubdog Flickr photostream.
Art on the Prom, Felixstowe:
Poor Richard, or poor books?
Remixed ad. Reminds me of those plastic puzzles where you have to shift squares around to complete an image (I was always useless at them):
My Garden, Your Litter, the follow up to The Fall's Your Future, Our Clutter?
And finally, in my office this morning I was caught by my shadow as I was about to rush out of the house:
And now my favourite season of the year has arrived, can anyone tell me where I put my jumper?