After doing the “Elaine” split-7″ for Wake the President in the spring, they let me design the new album as well. Much of the design has been retained, but this time with a painting by Kathryn Rodger on the cover. The album is called Zumutung! in German and is distributed by Tri-Tone (thankfully not hampered by the London warehouse fire!). As can be expected after such a long hiatus, during which the future of the band was unsure, it’s certainly a step forward for them. Recorded mostly by the Sandberg twins with help from session players, the arrangements are bigger and the interplay between the acoustic guitar, the melodic bass and the James Kirk-inspired leads that we knew from the first records is replaced with a fuller sound rounded out by keyboards. While perhaps sounding more like contemporary Glasgow groups in the indie circuit, Erik’s fascination with American groups like Real Estate still shines through. In that sense, they’re not too far from Spectrals’ approach, as heard recently on his brilliant debut Bad Penny. Zumutung! is released on LP and digipak CD on Monday.
Archive for October, 2011
I admit I haven’t kept up with the Australians bands since my obsession last year, mainly with The Frowning Clouds. But the new track from Reading Rainbow (“Dead End”, one of their best yet) got me started again, since it’s one side of a recent Hozac Hookup Club split with Australian duo Super Wild Horses. I still haven’t been able to find out what the SWH side is called, but it compelled me to check up how some of the other great current Aussie groups were doing.
Not only do The Frowning Clouds have their second album out soon, but the first 7″ off it is already here. It’s called “All Night Long” and is a fab raver, coupled with the more sombre “Dame a Dozen”. Can’t decide which one I like best! Zac has recently recorded an album with a new trio called The Bonniwells. He sings and plays the drums on Unprofitable Servant, which is a decidedly more trashy album than Listen Closelier. It doesn’t seem to have garnered much attention but is well worth checking out both for the originals and the covers of e.g. “We’re Pretty Quick” (changed to “We’re Pretty Sick”).
Also out with a new single are Melbourne lo-fi belters Woollen Kits. “Maths” is available from RIP Society and you can watch a video for the great a-side here. They also have a cassette ep coming out soon on Fan Death. Above is a photo from their instore gig at Repressed Records in Newtown, with Super Wild Horses (from Christophlr on Flickr).
The best new Australian band I’ve heard apart from The UV Race is by far Straight Arrows. Their first album It’s Happening came out already last year, but the band just went on their first US tour. The album is full of well-written songs that are obviously garage with all the right influences, but without being tied down by a compulsive authenticity drive. The 24-minute-long record is out on Rice Is Nice and I’m really looking forward to hearing what they cook up next.
Here are some shots of the new Soft City EP that I designed in the spring. It’s got four brilliant pop songs on it and the cover and vinyl label show their relative length in degrees. The 7″ is limited to 200 copies and is available from mailorders already, as well as digitally from emusic and itunes. New York group The Soft City’s virtual home is here.
Known but still uncompiled 60’s garage and beat 45s are growing fewer every year, especially since the internet makes it easier find such songs. Two that I’ve found recently (thanks to youtube and nederbeat.info respectively) are “I’m the One” by The Chateaus and “I’m the One You Left Behind” by The Thunders.
The Chateaus came from Kentucky, USA, and released three singles according to the youtube user who’s uploaded this and the b-side, “Bells of Rhymney”. After the local success of the Boss single in 1965, it was picked up nationally by Smash and released with a different flip “Since You Have Gone“. Their later third single has been comped on Wyld Sydes Vol. 2.
The Thunders hailed from Montfort, Holland, and released two singles on Omega between 1965 and 1966. And while they don’t appear on any compilations, Dutch label Op Art were kind enough to compile them on this ep (that’s the back cover incidentally) which I still don’t know when it’s from. In fact, this 4-track ep seem almost as hard to find now as the Omega originals. It’s the a-side of their second single I’m posting here, called “I’m the One You Left Behind”, and it’s a typical Dutch midtempo beat number, with carefully picked guitars and moody harmonies. Hear the other three sides at Nederbeat.
One thing that is changing is the way brands are interacting with audiences. People talk a lot about brand storytelling. Storytelling to me is a one-way flow, and people don’t buy into that anymore. Most of our experiences are a series of micro-events that add up to something. With a multi-disciplinary approach, which is what we’ve taken, we’re able to manage lots of fingertip events that add up to something bigger, rather than saying I’ve got a story and I’m going to tame the market with it. Value has changed, and probably the biggest thing that will change in the market is people’s perception of value. Value is only what you choose to call important, and what you choose to call important changes all the time. So if design really wants to create value for business, first of all it needs to figure out what it means in the market, then how to capture it, turn it into an offering and deliver it. (Dean Poole in Prodesign, 2009.)
The main part of the Auckland Art Gallery was closed while I was there in 2009. Finally, on September 3rd this year, it reopened after many years of redevelopment. They’ve also got a new identity, created by Auckland-based buzz agency Alt Group. Alt Group was started by two alumni of Elam School of Fine Art eight years ago and have recently won several Best New Zealand Design Awards as well as international awards. The best thing about the new branding is perhaps not the typographic quality of the rather cumbersome logo above, but how the concept lends itself beautifully to adaptations across all media, from signage to marketing campaigns and merchandise. Literally the dream of any copywriter! Look below for some examples, and check Idealog for more pictures and NZ design journal Prodesign for the full interview with founders Poole and Corban, quoted above.
Alt Group have also created the current website for reknowned architecture firm Warren & Mahoney, responsible for such classic buildings as Christchurch’s Town Hall (completed 1972). The building was severely damaged in the earthquake and still faces a small risk of needing demolition.