The new self-titled EP by New York City glam band Semi Precious Weapons is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.com. The band is on tour with Lady Gaga and has been getting a lot of attention.
I wanted to write about the cover art for the EP for two reasons. The first is that I find how the photograph used for the cover (right) was cropped to be very annoying. There is a lot going on in the photo and the photographer used some talent to get that frozen in mid-air effect just right. Probably the most shocking thing about it is what frontman Justin Tranter is wearing. The silver ankle boots and grafitti-covered nylons are just too much!
For some reason, the bottom of the image has been cropped off for the cover and the result is somewhat ordinary. Why bother to hire a talented photographer if the best part of the photograph ends up in the recycle bin?
The second thing that I think is worth noting about the cover is that it used a 3D effect for the typography. This is about the third time I have seen this done in recent mopths. I doubt that many people have 3D glasses sitting around the house. I just happen to have a pair and the 3D effect is kind of cool. The image of the band floats in front of the type.
Personally, I would have rather seen the entire photo on the cover. The 3D type just looks like a printing error without the glasses. As it is, the cover is just kinda cool and not nearly as outrageous as the band.
In October 2009, Danish pop group Alphabeat released The Spell (right), their second studio album. Fans outside of Denmark have been waiting for the album for months. AlbumArtExchange user henZ uploaded the album cover to the gallery last November and I’ve been looking for it to appear in U.S. and U.K. online stores ever since.
The album art is pretty good. It features a color photograph of the group with the focus on female singer Stine Bramsen. The typography appears above the group in white lettering on a dark blue sky.
The U.K. version of the album is now scheduled to be released tomorrow. Bramsen tweeted about is a few hours ago, “Our album is out tmrw!? Wow!! What a big day, didn’t even realize until now that it’s the 1st of March tmrw! Go get it and do enjoy!”
For some reason, the title of the album was changed from The Spell to The Beat Is… (probably some record label craziness involved in that). Unfortunately, they did more than just change the title on the album cover. They changed the color of typography to a nauseous pink.
Just comparing the two covers is a lesson is why chosing the right color for typography is an important aspect of album cover design. The pink color ruins the whole look of this cover. The eye is drawn away from the image of the group and to the harsh shade that is hovering above their heads.
When I finally download this album, I am going to change the name and use the Danish artwork instead. Thank goodness it was uploaded to the gallery. Thanks, henZ!
Databass Records is a Detroit record label that produces DJ mixes. Afew of their EPs and singles have charted on iTunes. The generic sleeve that they often use for their products has a logo that gave me an instant déjà vu moment. It is a pair of lips on a black background that look very much like the lips from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The mouth on the Databass Records sleeve has a “grill” that spells the label’s name. Some may point out the similarity to the Rolling Stones’ tongue logo (right) that was created by graphic designer John Pasche for the inner sleeve of their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. That has often been the case with the Rocky Horror mouth as well. However, the main element of the Rolling Stones’ logo is that tongue.
The Databass Records sleeve is similar to the Rocky Horror artwork in many ways, including color. However, the sleeve has been distributed in several colors other than red.
Before I begin this installment of WTF?!, I want to remind my readers that being placed in this category isn’t a bad thing. All it means is that an album cover or music video made me scratch my head and say those three words. Often, that is exactly what the recording artist indended.
There can be no doubt that Kansas City, Missouri electronic queer punk musicians Ssion want to shock their audience. Singer Cody Critcheloe’s costumes and bizarre face paint are nothing short of eye-popping.
Ssion released their album Fool’s Gold (right) in 2008. They have since released three remix singles, Street Jizz, Clown and Ah Ma. This week, they released a music video for Clown that hs to be seen to be believed. Really.
The cover art for the album and two of the singles is colorful and creative (even though it is nicely rendered, I don’t really care for the black and white cover for the Street Jizz single).
In 1995, Annie Lennox released her second solo album. Medusa featured covers of songs that were all originally recorded by male artists. Four singles were released from the album, No More I Love You’s, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Waiting in Vain and my personal favorite Something So Right (right).
The artwork for Medusa features a black and white portrait of Lennox with her name inked onto her forehead in what looks like old fashioned typewritter lettering. The black and white image was quite an interesting choice considering that Lennox’s eyes are an amazing shade of pale green.
Medusa was re-released later in 1995 as a deluxe version with an additional CD of live tracks and a new version of Something So Right as a duet with Paul Simon, who originally wrote and recorded the song. I prefer the original album version without Simon.
The soundtrack for Shutter Island, the Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley is getting some buzz. It is an ecclectic collection of tracks by artist such as Brian Eno, Kay Starr, Johnny Ray, Nam June Paik, and Dinah Washington. Unfortunately, this is one of those soundtrack albums that isn’t being sold as individual tracks. Those who want the haunting Dinah Washington and Max Richter track will have to shell out for the entire album.
The artwork for the album is a square version of the movie poster. It features DiCaprio holding a lit match. I don’t think the poster does a great job of capturing the spirit of the film. It would have been nice to see something a bit more creative. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to buy the album if that were the case.
With her 1972 hit You’re So Vain (right), Carly Simon launched decades of speculation about who was the inspiration for the lyrics. There have been numerous rumors over the years. Was it Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger?
In recent a magazine interview, Simon may have finally spilled the beans and revealed that the song was written about record label owner David Geffen. She stated that there is a clue to the identity of the vain one hidden in a new version of You’re So Vain on her forthcoming album Never Been Gone.
It was reported by the UK newspaper The Sun that Simon says Geffen’s name backwards in the track. I guess that means they used backmasking. How ’70s can she get?
I have to admit that it is a clever publicity stunt. I’m almost tempted to check out the album. Almost.
You’re So Vain appeared on Simon’s album No Secrets. How’s that for irony? It seems as though Simon may have planned this stunt 38 years ago.
I’ve been meaning to write about Broken Bells for a few weeks now. The self-titled debut album recorded by James Mercer of indie rock band The Shins and producer Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse) is scheduled to be released on March 9, 2010.
The artwork for the album and the first single, The High Road (right), is very cool. Both feature illustrations with shocking Pepto Bismol pink-colored shapes on green backgrounds.
The music video for The High Road was directed by the legendary Sophie Muller (who also photographed the cover for the amazing Sade Soldier of Love album). I think Muller does her best work with female artists like Annie Lennox and Gwen Stefani, but the Broken Bells video isn’t bad.
What is lacking in this project is cohesiveness between the graphic design and the video. It just doesn’t pull together as a package. This is fairly typical these days. I’m not sure if the idea was to create covers that look kind of like what Muse is doing or what.