Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blomicon 2008

A few weeks ago I did this rush job for Comedy Central's David Alan Grier show, Chocolate News. They needed posters for a Black ComicCon sketch. I picked two of the characters, Blood Diamond and Meltdown, and got to work.

For those that are interested in this sort of thing I'm posting the pencil drawings and then my final color pieces. Blood Diamond went through more revisions than Meltdown. The first rendition will probably end up as the basis for a new Bodhisattva cover one of these days...

The episode aired in mid-December and they actually featured the posters quite nicely. The clip is archived here: http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=213671&title=blomicon-2008.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Imposing my taste in music on you

2008 albums

These are my favorite albums of 2008. Though it’s very possible that I’ve missed one or two – last year I failed to mention one of my top 3 albums of the year, “Jarvis” by Jarvis Cocker.

13. The Verve – Forth
I am recommending this despite being a bit disappointed. It smells a bit too much like a solo Richard Ashcroft album. Even Nick McCabe’s genius guitar playing doesn’t quite knock this material over the top. Still, The Verve need to be encouraged to stay together! The world doesn’t need anymore solo Ashcroft – it does however need to witness the one man wall of sound that is Nick McCabe performing live with The Verve. Is that too half-hearted a recommendation? Then go get my favorite Verve album – A Northern Soul – it’s brilliant!

12. The Kills – Midnight Boom
I normally recoil from bands that get a lot of radio play even if it is the awesome Indie 103.1 out of LA. This band really got me with this album, though. Catchy, raw, primitive… sounds vaguely like The White Stripes if Meg could sing and shared vocal duties… Great stuff.

11. Darker My Love - 2
I’m a sucker for these bands that wave the Jesus and Mary Chain flag, but this is really a good album. Plus they’re obviously into one of my favorite now-obscure 60s bands, The Pretty Things, so that must be rewarded. Check them out.

10. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
The Raconteurs of course are led by Jack White and Brendan Benson, and while this band isn’t as good as either The White Stripes or Benson’s solo career, I’m still a big fan.
This their 2nd lp lacks the catchy single the first album had but to make up for that, it’s a much stronger complete work. The playing feels more natural, the songs, and the interaction between the two front-men seems more natural. I’ve really enjoyed this one.

9. Paul Weller – 22 Dreams
I’m reading the memoir of Richard Strange, Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks. In it Strange rips into Weller branding him a copyist. That’s a point that’s hard to argue with, Weller has blatantly borrowed from The Who, The Kinks, Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, etc. But comparing him to Noel Gallagher is just a low blow! Of course, despite the debt Weller owes (and he really wears his influences like a badge), in making his point Richard Strange left out the little detail that Weller has written some truly great songs. So while there’s nothing really “new” here, the music feels very familiar, this is a really beautiful collection of songs and stands up with the best of Weller’s solo outings.

8. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig
For years I had a couple of Nick Cave cds but was never a huge fan. That changed last year with his side project GRINDERMAN which released my favorite album of ‘07. So when The Bad Seeds released this album I was keenly interested. I’ve since back-tracked and got more Bad Seeds and Birthday Party cds and this new album is a fine addition to Cave’s catalog. I caught them on tour this time, playing the Hollywood Bowl with Spiritualized opening. Great bill, awesome show! And I’ve heard there’s a new Grinderman album coming!

7. The Damned – So, Who’s Paranoid?
This one really took me by surprise. I’ve always loved The Damned. They are without a doubt my favorite of the original wave of British punk bands (I prefer the first wave New York “punks”, Richard Hell & the Voidoids/Television/Heartbreakers, etc.) The Damned has never left regular rotation in my music library but while I knew they were still performing, I honestly didn’t know they were still recording new material, much less material that stands up with their best! After reading stellar reviews I found both this one and their previous album, 2001’s Grave Disorder, on eMusic. Highly recommended.

6. Supergrass – Diamond Hoo Ha
If you ask me a new Supergrass album is always cause for celebration. This one’s kind of a return to the cheerful up-tempo Supergrass everyone knows and loves following their darker (yet equally excellent!) album Road to Rouen. Another fine album!

5. Spiritualized – Songs in A & E
After a long break, Spiritualized returned this year with their finest album since ‘97s awesome Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Here they continue to perfect their own brand of hypnotic and moving space/noise/symphonic/gospel-rock to great success.

4. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement
In which Alex Turner, singer/songwriter from the Arctic Monkeys, and another singer/songwriter Miles Kane create an album of orchestral pop reminiscent of Scott Walker and early David Bowie. And as it turns out, this is excellent.

3. James – Hey Ma
After a seven year absence, James pick up where they left off. The band and singer Tim Booth have never sounded better and the new songs are excellent, standing up with their best. They’re also fantastic live. Here’s hoping they stay together to make more albums!

2. Primal Scream – Beautiful Future
Primal Scream has been one of my favorite bands since the late 90s albums Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. After a detour into acoustic heavy, Stones-y rock on their last album the fine Riot City Blues, our boys are back to doing what they do best – kicking ass! The most rocking album since XTRMNTR. Great stuff.

1. Julian Cope – Black Sheep
Sometimes I feel like the only American to appreciate the Arch-Drude Julian Cope. (Listen to the albums Peggy Suicide and Jehovahkill if you doubt his genius!) Cope has been through many, many styles and manifestations over his career from leading the 80s post-punk group The Teardrop Explodes, on through the pop of his 80s hit “World Shut Your Mouth”, through the forward-thinking music of Peggy Suicide and Jehovahkill, the proto-glam-metal of his side project Brain Donor… it’s enough to make your head spin. Well, he’s on to something different again with this one. This could perhaps be described as a HEAVY acoustic rock album, I dunno. The important thing is these are his finest songs in years (and that’s saying a lot!)

And who else could string together the words, “All the blow-themselves-up-mother-fuckers-are-going-to-realize-as-soon-as-they-die-that-they-were-suckers” into a truly catchy melodic chorus that will not get out of your head? Nobody but Cope!