Tag Archives: Elliott Smith

Albums and their covers

In celebration of the exhibition coming to the MACBA this month, here’s a selection of album covers which I find to be, in turn, thrilling, sickening and indie-cool-self-affirming.

That is to say, here are the covers of some albums I like and love. Not all of the covers are great works of art, but many are. Royal Trux, being my favourite pop-group, dominate the field somewhat. I’ve always enjoyed their album art, given that it combines a variety of rock clichés, fan-art, corporate-style logos and blocked toilets.

Elliott Smith’s epnoymous album has an evocative image of bodies ‘falling’ or ‘floating’ between buildings in an American city. The design represents a haunting pre-shadowing of the ‘falling man’ photograph taken on September 11th 2001 in New York City.

The Flaming Lips’ ‘The Soft Bulletin’ album features an awesome photograph taken outside an ‘Acid Test’ party in San Francisco in the late sixties. I love the way it captures a young man’s intoxicaton, no doubt due to some of the acid he’d been testing.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s ‘Master and Everyone’ has a simple cover photo which needs little explanation: his face, with its idiosyncratic beard fills the sleeve… his eye seems abnormally deep and reflective, as if it’s been ‘photoshopped’.

After these, the Rolling Stones’ explicitly erectile cover for ‘Sticky Fingers’, Basement Jaxx’s homage to Copito de Nieve, the albino gorilla late of Barcelona’s city zoo, Super Furry Animals’ collage of a famous drug dealer’s various passports’ photos and Primal Scream’s stunningly primal ‘Screamadelica’ cover are all firm favourites.

Album art is a special form which combines the necessities of commercial success and hip styling with an interesting glimpse of how the pop-group (or their record label) view the music contained within the packaging. A good album cover should give a clear idea of the feeling and agenda (I wanted to write ‘philosophy’, but that seems too much) that the album espouses. Either that, or it should have nothing to do with anything. An album cover is, therefore, both an advertisement for the product, and a part of the product itself. As to the design included on CDs or vinyl records themselves – and the other design elements in on an album’s packaging, that’s a different matter. But Royal Trux’s highly suggestive hypodermic skyscrapers which feature in one of their EPs, (though I can’t remember which one), represent to me a pinnacle in album art by virtue of their combination of drug imagery and the New York City skyline.

In a brief note which didn’t deserve a whole post: here’s a great article about the most important website in the world. GYAC: it’s Popbitch.

The Kills play Barcelona 19th November

The KillsThose crazy Kills are coming to town. They were going to be supporting American ladies (and erstwhile friends of the late Elliott Smith) Sleater-Kinney but unfortunately, the main act have pulled out.

I’m not really bothered because I really like The Kills. My problem is that no one wants to go with me because it’s the same evening that Barça play Madrid for the first time this season. And Gemma’s going to manchester.

So if anyone nice wants to accompany me to the concert, please contact me. In fact, even if you’re not nice, I’d be interested.

Wire: Stay glued To Your TV Set

It must be the good weather rolling in, but after a lull of two months where I practically only listened to ‘Cats And Dogs’, ‘Elliott Smith’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ oh and ‘Bad Behaviour’ by the Super Furries, I am suddenly revelling in the dusty contents of my iPod and the CDs that slipped to the back of a pile.

Recently rediscovered albums:
Wire: Pink Flag
Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentlemen…
Stuff by Quasi. Other things including stuff I don’t know the name of.

Rocking the Soul train

Oh yes on holiday I’ve had much opportunity to consider things… Like what music do I like, and why do I like it?

I can safely say that I like:
and numerous other groups whose music is similar to these artists.

I can’t really find any reason why I like these bands and not others. I would like to claim it’s to do with SOUL, like oh they don’t sell themselves to ad merhants, but they do (Bowie and the Stones do anyway). Or being genuine, but the Trux are a curious blend of the genuine and the not-so, and Bowie ripped off everyone. And what does genuine mean?

So now I’ve decided it’s just attitude and cool. I can’t deny it, it’s utterly superficial, but I like all of these artists because of something to do with their attitude. The whiney or groany vocals, the sweet instrumentation, the rhythm section, the endless addictions! The not giving a fuck but really giving a fuck at the same time.

I can never dig U2 or the Coldplay clones because they’re so relentlessly dull. Say what you like, and maybe Witch’s Tit ain’t the most meaningful song in the world, but the truth lies in The Spectre, Second Skin, Pol Pot Pie, Needle in the Hay, Independence Day, Brainville, Heroes, C.R.E.E.P, Judy is a Punk. Not in ELEfuckingVATION.

/rant paused (will no doubt continue)…