Friday, May 9th, 2008

You In Color

Photo by Briana Purser

It’s very true that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, except that sometimes you can. Consider the artwork that accompanies Directions To See A Ghost, the new album due next Tuesday from Austin, Texas’ Black Angels. Rare is it that a record’s visuals so accurately describe that which is contained within.

First there’s the colours. Reds and greens that aren’t quite fluorescent but are definitely intense. Combine that with the design, radial lines arranged in concentric circles that could be exploding outwards or sucking inwards, or perhaps both at the same time. It’s more than enough to jump off a shelf or make you dizzy like the opening credits to Doctor Who and then when you pick it up, there’s the kicker. It’s EMBOSSED. Congratulations, your mind has just been blown and you haven’t even left the store.

Moving from sight and touch to sound, Ghost proves that the band is worthy of their name, taken from the Velvet Underground song, as well as offering an argument that they could have just as easily named themselves after your choice of Spacemen 3 recordings. Ghost grafts squalls of abrasive guitar, swirling organ and ominous vocals onto a monolithic and droning bass and drum groove that’s as heavy as it is unrelenting – I’m talking serial killer in a horror film unrelenting – all of it sounding like it was recorded in a wind tunnel decked out as a Hallowe’en funhouse.

This style of music is never intended to sound contemporary, but those who prefer to view their retro sounds through rose-coloured glasses are advised to look elsewhere. The Black Angels do their musical scavenging in the shadows on the seedy side of town, driven by paranoia and shrouded in a narcotic haze. Easy listening or pop music, this is not. It’s designed to be played loud, but my personal recommendation is that you do so via a stereo or some sort of speakers – over headphones, injected directly into your brain, it’s kind of freaky trip.

The Black Angels are on tour this Summer alongside their west coast drone-merchant brethren in The Warlocks and will be at Lee’s Palace on June 26.

And oh, contesting. Courtesy of Light In The Attic, I’ve got five copies of Directions To See A Ghost along with the limited-edition four-song EP that accompanied pre-orders to give away. To enter, leave me a comment below with your choice for album art that best matches the music it accompanies. Include a link to a decent-size image if at all possible and your correct email address – spamproofed as you see fit – in the appropriate field when posting. The contest is open to everyone, everywhere and will close at midnight, May 17.

MP3: The Black Angels – “Doves”
MySpace: The Black Angels

Drowned In Sound talks to Clinic and The Daily Collegian to Shearwater, both of whom will be in town at Lee’s Palace this Sunday, May 11. Shearwater will be back for a show at the Horseshoe on June 23 and release Rook on June 3.

Chart and The Calgary Herald talk to Tokyo Police Club.

Bassist Shonna Tucker of the Drive-By Truckers fields questions from Prefix.

The Lawrence Journal rings up John Stirratt of Wilco; chats.

PopMatters discusses April, the new album from Sun Kil Moon, with Mark Kozelek.

The Colorado Springs Independent talks to violinist Rebecca Zeller of Ra Ra Riot.

The Portland Mercury profiles Kate Nash.

There’s a trailer/preview of sorts for Neil Young’s Archives up on YouTube.

AOL Music Canada contemplates the return of Portishead and what it means for the recently moribund genre that was once called “trip-hop”. Oh yeah, Tricky is back.

A couple new albums are available to stream – the just-released Momofuku from Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Sloan’s Parallel Play, due June 10.

Stream: Elvis Costello & The Imposters / Momofuku
Stream: Sloan / Parallel Play

New additions to V Fest, going down September 6 and 7 on the Toronto Islands. The lineup now features The Fratellis on day one, Ladyhawk and Cadence Weapon on day two. There was supposed to be an announcement of some consequence this week about the lineup, and all respect the the above but I can’t believe that it was them.

Speaking of V Fest performers, Bradley’s Almanac is sharing the audio from a Bloc Party show in Boston last Spring. They’re playing the first day of V Fest.

Coldplay have two dates scheduled for the Air Canada Centre on October 29 and 30.

PopMatters reports that a new online magazine will be rising from the ashes of Harp, which ceased publication this past March. The site – to be located at – will be run by the founder of Harp along with their managing and senior editors. While this won’t replace the Harp-shaped hole in my real-world reading habits, I’m glad that there’ll still be fresh content in the spirit of the print publication coming our way.

And along the same lines, Reveille engages veteran music journalists from the print world in a discussion about the rise of digital publications versus the traditional medium.

Entertainment Weekly has cast shots from the G.I. Joe film, out next Summer, and all I can say is Destro – you seem to have forgotten something. YOUR BIG METAL HEAD. No, I don’t care how the special effects people do it, that’s not my problem. But Scarlett, Baroness and Snake Eyes, you can stay. Oh, and not pictured but do you know who’s playing Cobra Commander? This guy. No idea how they’re going to sell THAT.

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Keith says:

    The first thing that came into my head for art matching music is Cocteau Twins’ "Heaven or Las Vegas". Their brightest album cover for their brightest album.

    Of course, pretty much anything on 4AD or by New Order is in serious competition for this title.

  2. Adam K. says:

    The most recent one to come out is Sun Kil Moon – April.

    Dark. Dreary. Mysterious.

  3. Chris says:

    Primal Scream – Screamadelica:

  4. Scott says:

    Keeping the Madchester theme alive:
    The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

    And the (potentially obvious, for today anyways) always perfect cover to Loveless by My Bloody Valentine:

  5. Chris says:

    Nice Doctor Who reference at the top of the post, and then you question the look of Destro, played by Doctor #9 Chris Eccleston. I’m now psyched for the revitalization of G.I. Joe.

    And yes, Scarlett can stay.

  6. J.P. says:

    My first choice:
    Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips

    Bonus image from the DVD-Audio version

  7. Matt Hawker says:

    I’ve always liked the first, self-titled, Constantines record. A single wooden match enclosed inside, as if to say "this shit is incendiary." And it is.
    The paper used for the liner notes is almost coarse to the touch, not glossy like regular stock, underlining the no frills and bullshit ethos the band so honestly deserves. Folds out to be three pages, Cover page and then two devoted to lyrics and thank yous. The lyrics take up about 85% of these two pages. Formed in a block paragraph with typical times new roman (or equally indistinguishable alternative), no fonting or bolding, the only indication a new song has started is a number that tips you to it. Much like the album where many of the songs bleed into another, so that the album as a whole doesn’t feel like a collection of songs, but 40 plus minute communique from the alleys and trenches.

    The front cover, white background with a red furnace dissected as if it was one of those paper doll sheets that you only have to cutout and fold to create, saying, perhaps, "Son, you can do this to."

    Gets my vote.

  8. ryan says:

    Hmmm, how about Autobahn by Kraftwerk?


  9. lostchocolatelab says:

    Flying Saucer Attack – Further


  10. Thierry says:

    In theme with last weekend’s road trip, I would nominate Music From Big Pink:

  11. J Baker says:

    The cover of the Decemberists’ "Castaways and Cutouts" is a perfect match for Colin’s lyrics that evoke that same 19th-century mood.

    Also worth mentioning: anything by Unsane or Dwarves. Both are "night only," if your local college station will even play them at all, but the album covers make that pretty obvious.

    Search for Dwarves album covers at your own risk. All are NSFW.

  12. jason says:

    Low – Curtain Hits The Cast

  13. JP says:

    Mastodon – Leviathan.

    Listening to that album, I imagine, it represents what the Captain’s summation of the fear of impending doom that must come from leading a boat that is at the mercy of a prehistoric giant whale

  14. juepucta says:

    Fistful Of Metal by Anthrax.


  15. Erik T. says:

    I think Blur’s self-titled record has a perfect cover. Not only is the picture itself blurry, but the nurse pushing the crash cart represents the band itself on life support, with Graham’s departure imminent.