Friday, December 28, 2018

Bad Rabbits - Feels Good

Friday Night Firsts - Boston's Bad Rabbits just released a new single and I thought it might help to get you in the mood for the weekend.

In Their Own Words - "Like some kind of sonic Pulp Fiction, Bad Rabbits fuse futuristic R&B and post-rock for a slick one-two punch. What are Bad Rabbits? Think Sly Stone fronting Bad Brains, and you're maybe a third of the way there."

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Top 20 Movie Posters of 2018

While the wheels appear to be coming off our society, both here and abroad, the arts are alive and well. In fact, 2018 was one of the best years in a generation for poster art that celebrates film.  


Limited edition work is always sought after with the artist and film influencing value. (Pursuit on the secondary market can be exceptionally fun but really expensive. You have been warned.) These are the best of the best.  

Dr. No by artist Paul Mann

Paul Mann is a illustrator and painter with a penchant for collage-style compositions. From what I know of of the man's work, he is primarily a painter - which lends himself to classic roles. His work here on Dr. No (1962) is outstanding. The Bond is classic, demure and perfectly British. But it's the other elements of the art that really sing. This poster offers the backdrop of a secret island with the mysterious and lovely Ursula Andress and that fire-breathing armored car.

You can tell Mann spent a lot of time with this movie before executing the piece. His custom font for 'Dr. No' in the title block and the credits running at the bottom are precision-defined. It's the little details, like the dots on the poster - which match the film's opening sequence, that really put this thing over the top. Movie Poster Art of the Year for me. And no, I didn't get one.

Annihilation (an Alex Garland film) was the most inspired, beautiful and troubling film I've seen in years. For me it was the movie of the year. Annihilation's lush, embracing sets are the perfect backdrop for confronting debates on creation and faith. Of connection and loss. Dealing with eternity and with nothingness. Natalie Portman's character faces mind-crushing mutations, new life and sudden death. Several artists this year took a stab at producing art for the movie. Today we will visit two of these that got it completely right and in very different ways.

Annihilation by Tomer Hanuka

Tomer Hanuka is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling illustrator and cartoonist. His finest works are silent, casual impressions of life in the modern time. He juxtaposes images side by side to demonstrate a quiet turmoil or a complex thought with, what appears to be, minimal effort. Annihilation is a difficult film to discuss with those who haven't seen it. It's got elements of drama, suspense and terror but it's much more than that. When I first heard whispers Tomer was going to take on Annihilation I got excited. (I'm sure that Garland had all kinds of ideas for his film.. but it's like the movie was made for Tomer Hanuka's art.)  

The light or "shimmer" from the film is enveloping more and more land and whatever goes in doesn't return the same. The way Director Garland depicts that change was likely an opportunity and a challenge for visual artists. Meeting this challenge, Hanuka called for special foil papers and brilliant colors - it's an arresting image for sure. What you see here are his regular and variant version of the poster. Beautiful work. 

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea webtw / fb / ig

Rory Kurtz is an illustrator and artist from Chicago. Focusing in pencil, ink, and digital paint, Rory has carved out his niche as a unique voice in the illustration community. Each of his pieces are individualistic yet share a sense of fantasy in a modern reality. He's taken the world by storm the last few years Rory Kurtz has taken the poster art world by storm the last two years. (I'm pretty positive his Casablanca, Clockwork Orange, Drive, and The Graduate posters are the best of a generation.) But we're here today to talk about the man's take on Annihilation.

Annihilation by Rory Kurtz

Kurtz's technique uses clean lines to often convey complicated subjects and ideas. Most of his pieces represent an "artist's snapshot" of a single moment or scene of a film. Annihilation is a concept piece that breaks the scene rule in spectacular fashion (as did the aforementioned Clockwork Orange) by removing all references around the subject. The subject is life represented by an amalgam of plant and animal life taking on a human form.  

The subject - a representation of "the shimmer's" impact on natural life. The subject is being re-created into new life. Kurtz's unique serif font floats above the mutant life. It's serif-font title above and apart from this magic - making for a beautiful, if not jarring, picture. A fitting celebration of the film. 

Take a look back at how different Kurtz and Hanuka represented the same film property. It's amazing to have two posters for the same movie have such different approaches. And both brilliant!

Suspiria by Sara Deck

A few illustrators and silkscreen artists dominated in 2018 - soaring from relative obscurity to a level of notoriety that only comes with considerable exposure. The illustrator Sara Deck is one of these champions. I could have easily put three of Sara's works on this list without much pause.

Deck's Suspiria is dark and rich. Her dedication to color as a means to invoke life and depth of emotion is a recurring theme in her work. Here she presents the power of a haunted dancer who captivates without movement or eye contact! Be on the look out for more Deck in 2020; like this poster - she's on fire.

Another artist on his own meteoric run - this list celebrates the work of the talented Ruiz Burgos, who is responsible for not one but two of my top ten posters of the year. What's especially odd about this development was that I, like most enthusiasts and collectors, had no idea who the man was prior to mid-2017. In 18 short months, Burgos has gone from a relative unknown to a cherished and sought-after illustrator.  

Terminator 2 (two versions) by Ruiz Burgos

Ruiz Burgos produces the best Terminator poster ever made in glorious detail here. And considering just how many Terminator art pieces have been commissioned and created, that's a mighty accomplishment. It's also his finest work to date and it demonstrates how remarkably good he has gotten in just the last year. 

You only find this level of dedication when the artist is a fan of the source material and when the creator, is perhaps, being chased by the devil himself. Let's examine the piece a bit before heralding it's many, many wins. 

A few elements that absolutely must be raised: these posters are printed on a foil paper meaning all the art and color is (deliciously) atop a layer of chrome. There is no 'regular' vision for the poster. Burgos mapped out his central composition and almost every other element otherwise has been changed. A stunning accomplishment all around. No commercial versions of the art were ever made available for sale. Had it not been for Mann's quietly amazing Dr. No, this would definitely be my poster of the year. 

Ruiz Burgos is fearless in his approach to well-celebrated film properties. There have been what seems like a zillion Pulp Fiction movie posters unleashed over the last 15 years and few to none of them are superior to this one. Burgos' clean design features a collage-style piece which as your eye moves over the art, proves to be the silhouettes of assassins-for-hire Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega. The muted wall behind them riddled with bullet holes.

Pulp Fiction by Ruiz Burgos

Elements of this particular art that should be celebrated and loved: the non-repetition of characters. Collage-style art has a tragic downfall.. by celebrating so many scenes from movies, primary characters are often captured too many times. I like to call it collage neurosis. Vince is captured twice as is Mia but their second appearances are in that winning dance floor scene which works really well to visually widen the piece at the base, providing balance. It works. Bruce Willis, as dreamer/boxer Butch Coolidge, with a sword standing above a ball-gagged Marsellus Wallace - is perfection. And you have to love the inclusion of tangential but fun characters like Jimmie (Quentin Tarantino) and The Wolf (Harvey Keitel). I mean.. bad-ass!   

PRESS PLAY Oketo tw / fb 

Seems like a good time to mention the differences between licensed and unlicensed art. Licensed art can be mass-produced (like the movie posters you see in national theaters) or limited run. Unlicensed poster art (or "fan art" or "commission work" or "alternative movie posters") are the fastest growing area of movie poster collecting. Typically unlicensed art is short run and, in some cases, exceedingly difficult to acquire if you don't locate it right away. Creatively, I love artists who take chances and I've found (for the most part) the finest work the last half-decade has been unlicensed.  

Many artists launch unlicensed work until they gain the exposure and following needed to be offered commercial opportunities - but that's not the case for everyone. And even celebrated artists love the freedom of doing "inspired by film" work as it allows them complete flexibility - work that might not be granted approval by license holders. 

Apocalypse Now by Laurent Durieux

Belgium artist Laurent Durieux is celebrated as one of the most gifted silkscreen artists by collectors around the world. You'll find nearly everything the man has ever created has sold out in just minutes making the proposition of acquiring one of his pieces a difficult endeavor. An art show celebrating the man's museum-quality work was just recently held here in the United States and along with it came a number of new pieces - including this eye-popping Apocalypse Now (1979) poster which is probably the best thing that rich film has ever seen. 

Plague Vendor webtw / fb / ig

Calling himself an "art and cinema enthusiast," Polish designer Gabz (his full name is Grzegorz Domaradzki) has had this thumb on the pulse of poster art the last three years. His screen prints decorate the houses of collectors all over the world, and his work has gained a large group of dedicated fans. He has presented his works at many foreign exhibitions, and his group of clients includes Marvel Studios, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and various other global brands.

Purple Rain by Gabz

I never believed someone would make a great print for Purple Rain (1985) and while it's entertaining, I can see why. A good deal of the film is caricature. Prince's music career - which was already underway but thoroughly initiated with the movie - tells the tale. In one shining moment, Gabz executes the best Purple Rain poster ever and the best Prince print. (Really bummed I missed out on this one since it's sure to command huge secondary-market pricing for years to come.) And which to choose? I was all-in on the regular (all purple, right?) but the more I look at the variant, the more I have fallen in love.   

Now we head to a movie franchise that needs no introduction. Every year there are literally dozens of Blade Runner prints introduced so it takes a whole lot to make a creative dent in the world of art. Christopher Cox did that this year with his sensational print for the 1982 sci-fi masterpiece.

Cox lovingly curates a series of scenes in this poster - dividing them (literally) in the words 'BLADE RUNNER.' The poster does what the film did; let's the scenes (some of which are clear and others dreamlike) explain the storylines. It's a stellar piece and worthy of a film that is still being mentally-unpacked by viewers two generations later.  

Blade Runner by Christopher Cox

Ise Ananphada is a freelance illustrator from Bangkok,Thailand. She is known for her feminine illustration style with delicate detail and pastel color palettes. Ise attended Rangsit University in Thailand and received a BFA in Visual Communication Design as the first class honor in 2007. Ise's style is influenced by traditional Thai art that consists of multiple layers of symbolism that could be described as visions, illusions, madness, genius and poetry.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) by Ise Ananphada

Ise's three versions of this remarkable Wizard of Oz poster (regular is above followed by the purple-colorway and platinum-colorway variants) represents one of her finest art pieces for the movie to date and celebrates aspects of both the 80 year-old classic and the book on which it was based. Each of the variants (below) offer enhancements and differing side characters making this a crazy-detailed labor of love. A most worthy round-out of my Top Ten Movie Posters of 2018.

Movie Posters of 2018:  #11 - #20

Brad Peterson webfb / ig

Big Trouble in Little China by Phantom City Creative

The Shining by Laurent Durieux

Alien by Florian Bertmer

Metropolis by Kilian Eng

Lost In Translation by Matt Taylor

Invisible Man by Jonathan Burton

Dune by Stan & Vince

Dune by Mike Saputo

Honorable Mention (Just missed my Top 20)
Do an internet search on these babies

The Man Who Fell To Earth by Martin Ansin
Annihilation by Greg Ruth
Logan's Run by Martin Ansin
Dead Ringers by Sara Deck
Bride of Frankenstein by Greg Ruth
Aliens by Rory Kurtz
Look at Me (Heat) by New Flesh
Stand By Me by Barret Chapman
Hereditary by Greg Ruth
The Wolf Man by Eric Powell
Thief by Robert Sammelin *

*denotes posters added following initial publication
(So many releases, it's easy to miss a few here and there!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Flaming Lips get covered by Nemes

Nemes teams up with Addison Chase from Dressed for the Occasion to perform Yoshimi by The Flaming Lips. They picked a pointed and poignant track. Originally released by The Flaming Lips 16 years ago, the track has become a bit of indie rock canon, however - it's the perfect end of year song since the melancholy track pokes at realization of mortality, artificiality, passiveness and deception... what better way to celebrate the holiday? 

In Their Own Words - Nemes (pronounced knee•miss) has made their mark on the Boston and larger New England music scene by playing everywhere from subway stations to highly-revered rock venues. Led by duel-frontmen Dave Anthony and Josh Knowles, the band showcases a true metamorphosis of sound, featuring warm, layered harmonies and one-of-a-kind violin shredding Vanyaland describes as "fiddle-action glory."

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Post-Punk Sound: Swine Tax


In Their Own Words - Combining visceral college-rock with angular post-punk, Swine Tax have established themselves as a distinctive and formidable band. Formed in 2017, the abrasive Newcastle upon Tyne trio quickly found themselves at the heart of the North East alternative music scene.

Their captivating and relentless performances have seen their live reputation continue to grow, typified by them being invited to share stages with the likes of the Orielles, Brix & the Extricated, Bully, Jeffrey Lewis, Shopping, the Nightingales, Spiral Stairs and more. Swine Tax are currently working on new material for release in early 2019.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Weighty Ghost

Norman Wong photo

I got out of bed today, Swear to God I couldn't see my face
I got out of bed today staring at a ghost
Who forgot to float away, didn't have all that much to say
Wouldn't even tell me his own name
And where'd my body go

Where oh where'd my body go?
Africa or Mexico?
Where or where'd my body go?
Where'd my body go?

Have you seen my ghost?
Seen my ghost, seen my ghost?
Oh, have you seen my ghost?
Staring at the ground?

Have you seen my ghost?
Seen my ghost, seen my ghost?
Oh, have you seen my ghost?
Sick of those goddamn clouds

Are you some kind of medicine man?
Cut the demons out of my head
You can't kill something that's already dead
So leave my soul alone
I don't need no surgery
Take those knives away from me
Just wanna die in my own body
A ghost just needs a home

Have you seen my ghost?
Seen my ghost, seen my ghost?
Oh, have you seen my ghost?
Staring at the ground?

Have you seen my ghost?
Seen my ghost, seen my ghost?
Oh, have you seen my ghost?
Sick of those goddamn clouds

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Emma Blowgun's Last Stand by Beaulah

Goodness knows its been a wonderful run
The autumn lakes where the children were swans
Your mothers convictions and your fathers predictions don't seem so insane
They laugh they say your treasures are fake but don't throw it away
You've been framed with a beautiful name
You've been saved but you've lost your head
With halos and friends the trinity saves but three is a crowd
You flirt you drink you can't stop your winking at the boys at the bar
All you need is a gun and a car
A country song if you don't have a heart
My cowboys and indians and the falls and aminions where the highways are far
When all you know your shadows a ghost don't let it scare you away

Web / Wikipedia Page

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

3 Songs by Psychic Love

Catching up On Los Angeles - This is Laura Peters. She creates music under the name Psychic Love. Another new to me, I've quickly learned she is building a following in the city's music underground. Noisey reviewed her band's debut “one of the more promising and refreshing debuts in a sea of staple LA psych and surf rock.” Catching up never sounded so good. I've selected three songs to blow you away. One & Two is brand new. 

Happy Wednesday. Psychic Love is Definitely One To Watch.  

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Boy Azooga

THE INTERNET PROVIDES: So every so often I double click on a link without cause or I listen to a music submission received from an unknown publicist. Being a music blogger doesn't mean all good times, but it can result in some wonderful discoveries. This week the Internet provided the UK's Boy Azooga. Upcoming EU dates for those interested. Thanks Infinity! 

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

A new Christmas Song closes out a huge creative year for Kirby Brown

Christmas may be deeply entrenched in the song tradition but that doesn't mean it's all good times down on Highway 10. On the new song, Shepherd's Lament, Kirby Brown sings about waiting for Grace and finding purpose -- "everybody's waiting for a friend." This isn't a track about geography. It's a song about having the season find you in not-the-strongest-place. 

The song is the perfect bookend to a 2018 that saw Brown release his finest songs to date on his first full-length album - the appropriately titled, Uncommon Prayer. 

BEST OF 2018 - Those songs were formed over the course of the last two years as the charming and talented songwriter has sought to find love and a place on glory's path. It's impossible for fans not to hear the influences of Brown's heroes and contemporaries on a country-steeped album that strives for sources of light. Beautiful and haunting stuff. 

The Album's Best Line: On Sweet Shame; "you're holding my heart like a cigarette.."

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Thursday, December 06, 2018