Yesterday morning I was happily surprised to hear a new track from Fanfarlo on KCRW. The song I heard is called Replicate, and it’s the title track from their new album, Rooms Filled With Light. It’s a pretty fantastic track to a pretty great album, even though I’ve only listened to it once through so far. The song sort of reminds me of something that Owen Pallet might write and arrange, which is a total compliment. I was a big fan of their last album, so I’m really happy to see that their sophomore effort is just as nice. Hopefully they play some small venue here in Los Angeles before they perform at Coachello.
On a side note, does anyone know who took the cover photo above?
Indianapolis-native Nathaniel Russell is an artist with many strings to his bow. Not content with simply drawing and making prints, he also makes shirts, bags, sculptures and posters. On top of that he’s even got his own band, Birds Of America, who sound really good. Oh, and did I mention that he also designs record covers for great bands such as Port O’Brien and Vetiver? All-round he seems like a really talented chap.
His record cover designs are particularly great. His folky lettering is really nice and the way that he combines text with image feels just perfect. It’s a look which also really suits the bands he makes artwork for. Make sure to check out more of his work online by clicking here.
It always a happy surprise when a large mega-brand gets it right, so I have to give props to Starbucks for this one. The cafe is located in Fukuoka, on the grounds of the Dazaifu Tenmagu, a Shinto shrine complex. Designed by Kengo Kuma, the space is filled with long, square blocks which criss-cross around the space, creating what looks like a mathematically constructed nest. It’s interesting to me, that even though the walls and ceilings are mostly covered in wooden beams, the space still seems to be rather open feeling. It would be really wonderful if Starbucks decided to take more chances like this in their other stores around the world.
Irish photographer Clíona O’Flaherty and illustrator Chris Judge recently collaborated in producing and directing a really sweet music video for the singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan. The track is called Safe Travels and the video shows a man making his way across the country to meet with his companion. It all looks amazing and I really like the stylized feel of the imagined rural Ireland of the 1950’s and 60’s.
The central character is adorable and I’m particularly taken by how successful the collaboration is at combining the warmth and beauty of Clíona’s photography with the wit and whimsy of Chris’s illustrations. It just works really well! They’re a perfect duo and I’d love to see more work from them in the future.
Safe Travels is taken from Lisa Hannigan’s album Passenger.
Microsoft has been doing some really interesting things with UI design lately, especially with the Windows Mobile UI in their new phones. So far though, they haven’t quite hit a home-run with their desktop experience, even though it may not be around for much longer. When I came across this UI concept from Sputnik8 I thought it was a really great idea and pretty nicely executed.
I haven’t soaked in all the details and minutia of the design yet, but from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, I think he’s right on point. The Windows Mobile design is nice and flat with big chunks of text, and Sputnik8 has done a great job of carrying this theme over to a desktop experience. It’s also nice to see that the UI is rather tap-able, so perhaps the UI could even be used for a touchable desktop experience, a path that technology is certainly heading down.
It might sound strange to say that parking garages can be wonderful things, but this parking garage certainly seems wonderful. Designed by MEI, this particular parking structure lives in Almere, a city in the Netherlands with an embarrassingly long list of remarkable structures. What’s wonderful about a parking garage? For starters, garages reduce the footprint that parking stomps into cities. Land that would otherwise become a desert of asphalt and empty cars can become something better, even if it’s just a patch of grass. Folks in warmer climates will appreciate the shade that garages provide, and folks in colder climates can appreciate shelter from the snow.
But parking garages are ugly. Many parking garages wear a sad kind of camouflage: some to disguise their sloping floors and others to obscure their function. This garage in Almere is the first I’ve ever seen with a pattern of garden gnomes on the exterior. I guess the gnomes are there to look after the plants that protrude from the facade. Besides being one of the funnier parking garages, the skin has a diaphanous quality that almost makes the entire thing elegant. So I hope you can agree that even if this structure isn’t exactly elegant, it is at least wonderful.
I bought my first Yo La Tengo album some time in the late 90s, it’s hard to say when. It was their 1995 album Electro-O-Pura, which along with Modest Mouse’s This Is A Long Drive For Someone With No One To Think About, shifted my musical interests forever. Electr-O-Pura is extremely different from their other albums in my mind, mainly because it’s got a darker, more experimental sound to it. I’ve seen people comparing the album to the efforts of Sonic Youth, which isn’t too far off. But it’s the album’s ending that’s really the crown jewel of all the tracks, called Blue Line Swinger.
The song is a slow burn which ends in a huge raucous of drums and guitars. When I say it’s a slow burn, I mean reallllllly slow. The drums repeat themselves endlessly, slowly gathering more and more complexity as they go on. The guitar begins to expand, taking on new chords at the same pace as the drums. Finally around 3:40 something that sounds like a song finally emerges, almost like it’s being birthed from the sound. It’s a complex and driving song, the drums powering the track… and then at 4:25 Georgia’s stunning vocals break through it all, like a siren over the sound of the crashing waves.
I swear to you I get teary eyed when I hear this song. There’s something about this track that hits me in just the right spot. In my mind it has all the right elements, like the right ingredients for a perfect meal. It’s both straightforward, like in Georgia’s drums and vocals, but then you’ve got the ripping chaos of a guitar and the subtle bass line marrying it all together.
I don’t often wax poetic about songs, but I can undoubtedly say this is one of my very favorite songs. I would bring this song on a desert island with me, and I think it’d be a pretty fantastic song to die to in a film. I hope you take the time to listen to the song and appreciate it as I do.
I was browsing around over on James Jean’s blog and came across these images from something called SOMA, which certainly piqued my interest. There’s basically no info about it, just a line from James that reads “From my secret stash,” and a simple Google search reveals nothing either. But as I prepared the images for the site I noticed that the second one above was titled “Character Line-up” and the last titled “Mushroom Boss Detail.” Could he be working on some kind of amazing, epic video game? I honestly have no idea, but if he did I’d absolutely buy it. Anyone know what SOMA is?
I’m going to try my best and post a little more branding on the site, and I thought this gem from Atelier Müesli was well worth sharing. Created for the French restaurant John Rosiak, Müesli has created an odd bit of branding out of some rather unique typography. You can see clearly by the R, S, K and H, which have been blown up larger than the rest, that the letters are made up of only simple, geometric shapes. The R is made of a circle and two lines, the S of two unfinished circles, and so on. It helps to turn these letters into graphic shapes, something more than just a part of a word. The interplay between the letters is also really nice, some of them being a bit more odd and some being quite normal. Definitely nice to see branding like this for something like a French restaurant.
Anthony Lister is one of the new artist/badass combinations who have a very distinct visual expression. His style is impossible to imitate and straddles the line between impermanence and durability, flirting with both street art and “proper” art. Last night at New Image in Los Angeles, his latest works were unveiled which did not feature any superheros or popular culture items: it featured popular art items as subjects.
Lister tackled Impressionists by giving his take on what his ballerinas would look like and what his van Gogh would look like and how he would do Impressionism. The pieces were all very informal, most without frames, some partially painted onto the wall, his notes and commentary on every piece all over the gallery. His work is intentionally not pretty and at points very ghostly, bordering the macabre: it’s like a delightfully playful and cocky middle finger to popular artists of centuries past. It’s super great.