October 12, 2010

Album Covers I Have Known 1997-2009

Posted these a while back on Facebook (sadly, yes, they got there before they showed up here), so I figured might as well reissue recycle repackage:

"Battery Acid Blues" by the Mojo Wire (Dec. 15, 1997)
Our first official "album" had the same name as my weekly music column in the UCSB Daily Nexus, so I thought it was strikingly appropriate to illustrate it with a caricature by Nexite cartoonist Tony Bogandovski. The original column it ran with was this one: http://bit.ly/cI6ZMe. The album itself was full of cartoonishly simple blues and surf pastiches from the '60s, and the cover worked so well that I returned to cartoons for cover art later too. More about this album (including streaming audio) here: http://bit.ly/qtklf

"Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor" by the Mojo Wire (Apr. 8, 1998)
The red-headed stepchild of Mojo Wire albums, this sprawling mess is illustrated by an old watercolor detail of mine from around 8th grade. It's…uh…really red (the watercolor was a pastiche of the planet Jupiter) but otherwise not necessarily a bad design. However, it's also a cut-and-paste job from my pre-Adobe software days, and therefore appropriately amateur in style. More about this album here: http://bit.ly/98eXe

"Seaside Hamlet Skids" by the Mojo Wire (Apr. 20, 1999)
Another amateur cut-and-paste job from my pre-Adobe days, but this design has aged pretty well and is still one of my favorites. It's the first really strong CD cover design I ever made, I think. The photos were snapshots of Isla Vista and Avalon circa 1997, but I can't remember where the reverse-type smear came from. The recording itself is a similar mix of amateurism and inspiration, and you can read more about that here: http://bit.ly/asPT3R

"You're On Your Own" by the Mojo Wire (Jun. 3, 2001)
This one took a while to pull together, but then so did the recording itself—the Mojos' final original album was a mix of remakes, live stuff, and originals. The unifying theme was "ugly Isla Vista," and visually I'd been inspired by warm colors and (randomly) some old Spanish textbook vocabulary cartoons of sad kids, sugary food, and pills. Funny, sure, but ultimately not as good as this band cartoon I thought up later. Well, 3/4 of the band cartoon; Bryn's caricature still doesn't look right. Anyway, more about this album here: http://bit.ly/x6iSd

"My Band Rocks!" E.P. by Honey White (Nov. 26, 2002)
The cover for Honey White's first CD was created by drummer Bill Fedderson (fitting in a way, since his kit dominates the recording) and then refined by me, beefed up a little for color, contrast, and stuff like that. Bill was inspired by the band's fleet of two Volvo wagons that helped us move gear to every rehearsal and gig from 2002-2004. The Volvo theme was something I continued via gig posters and fliers and more, but it all started with his simple and elegant idea. More about this CD (including audio) here: http://bit.ly/YthLK

"Live and Unprofessional" by Honey White (Jan. 28, 2003)
This design is the first of several that really haven't aged well at all. Every designer goes through their "Photoshop filter mashup" phase and this was part of mine. The recording itself is great—capturing everything that was good about our Isla Vista live shows in 2002—but this cover doesn't do it justice. It was supposed to be more about color than image, but a grey slab doesn't evoke the fun of these crazy gigs. It's drab and boring, but everyone needs to stand up and admit their own personal moments of "meh." To be continued. More about this album here: http://bit.ly/T2q4Z

"Epic Noise Now" by Honey White (June 10, 2003)
The bad "Photoshop filter mashup" phase will continue until morale improves! Well, sort of—this cover, for a compilation of live recordings from our 2003 shows, has a much more interesting color palette, but it still suffers from the "weird distortion of band photos = art!" phenomenon I'd been enthralled with at the time. Alt-rock fans also might notice that this layout blatantly rips off the Flaming Lips' "Soft Bulletin" cover. More about this album here (yes, same link as last time): http://bit.ly/T2q4Z

"Low Fidelity Favorites 1997-2001" by the Mojo Wire (Aug. 5, 2003)
We interrupt this "Photoshop filter mashup" orgy to bring you a halfway decent throwback. A mirage of a montage, a collage of sabotage. A diff—sweet Jesus, what the hell was that? Uh…never mind. Long story short: in 2003 I was unemployed and had lots of time for random distractions. One of those was design in night school. Another was "remastering" audio using basic compression. Both went into the mix for this Mojo Wire best-of, and I learned many aesthetic lessons for good and ill. It's not genius work, but it'll do the job—plus it looks a little like "Exile on Main Street." A little. Anyway, listen to the goodies here: http://mojowire.bandcamp.com/

"Saturated Songs" by Honey White (Jun. 22, 2004)
Last of the red-hot (and blue) amateur live album Photoshop filter mashups, but at least it's a little more refined than the others. I was trying to make the perfect image for the way Brian's guitar sounds when he's feeling epic, and this slow-lava drip of drenched cool colors seemed perfect. Of course, a Photoshop-savvy person would look at it and say "hey, that's just polar coordinate distortion with lots of blue on it," and they'd almost be correct—but whatever. The font is called Croobie, and it came bundled with my DVD-authoring software (always a painful subject). More about this album here: http://bit.ly/aAvjl7

"How Far is the Fall" by Honey White (Apr. 28, 2005)
This one is probably tied with the Mojo Wire "Seaside" cover as my favorite. Combining the successful Mojo best-of montage idea with (by this point) one year as a professional designer paid off handsomely. I felt pressure to create something great because this album was THE BIG ONE, creatively and technically, when we went pro in a real studio with the masterful J.D. Mayer at the helm. Marika's in-studio photos worked perfectly as highly stylized slabs of color, and though there were several versions (including a fun fruity-citrus palette) I finally went with a blue-green-purple mix, to match the album's reverb- and echo-laden guitar sounds. More here: http://bit.ly/d0ovCj

"Deluge and Drought" by Honey White (Jul. 3, 2007)
The best Honey White live recording gets the best live album cover, despite being released a few months after Honey White went on effective hiatus. This cover also had several versions made, but the final ended up being straight "honey" yellow and white on that textured black background (itself a distorted detail from the "How Far is the Fall" cover). The band images are manipulated photos by Lenore Griego, from our disastrous UCSB Campbell Hall gig (at least something good came from that show) and the typewriter-from-hell font is called Adler. More about this album here: http://bit.ly/aAvjl7

"The Weapon of Young Gods" by Low Tide (Mar. 11, 2008)
Low Tide was an instrumental solo side project of mine from the Mojo Wire days, and I revived it when recording echo-bass-heavy background music for writing a novel. The novel is stuck on a second draft, but this "soundtrack" was sure fun to make. The cover uses a found and manipulated triple-calavera image (it's a scene in the book) overlaying a mess of blue paint that began as a Rauschenberg-like "combine." Every few months my boss takes us away from our computers to "get our hands dirty" and make art to re-inspire our creativity. Hey Barbara, it worked. More about this album here: http://bit.ly/cqphxp. Play the whole album here: http://lowtide.bandcamp.com/

"Some Reassembly Required" by Honey White (Dec. 1, 2009)
This online-only release was a compilation of the best stuff from Honey White's first three live albums, (which never got high-quality digital releases), so part of the cover's design is a montage of all our gig posters and flyers that I designed during 2002-2004. The rich honey-jar color overlay is a distorted detail from a photo by Owen Salisbury, taken at the last Honey White rehearsal to date in May '07. It was one of many great shots from that session, which definitely deserve their own cover in the future. More about this album here: http://bit.ly/aCjg0Z

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