Traditionally the first quarter is a weak period for album releases, but here we are, three months into the year, and some really wonderful album covers are starting to pile up. I love all of these. They represent music packaging done well, eschewing cliché to communicate something useful about the album in an original, stylish way. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to make fun of them…
There are a small number of occasions when old pictures are exactly the right thing to put on your cover. If you want to make sure everybody knows your record isn’t one of those cheery but insubstantial Passions, or some lightweight piece of fluff like “Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze,” that your new telling of the gruesome political execution of a peace-loving prophet and self-proclaimed son of God would make Mel Gibson flinch, then Rembrandt is your man. Accept no substitutes. (more…)
The digital marketplace is a visual medium. People make snap judgements, scan pages crowded with products and ignore text all over the place. With everything in stock all the time, clichés get old really fast, nobody wants to make a banner ad out of an ugly sleeve, and a good album cover can make the difference between chart success and total obscurity. Here, then, are ten of the best classical album covers of 2009…
Renée Fleming’s rock album comes out today. I almost gnawed off my fingers trying not to write about it, but after seeing the New York Times carefully dance around its glaring flaws not once but twice, (see also the LA Times and WSJ) it’s time for a review. (more…)
The premises of non-profit label New Amsterdam were very badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
You can help them get back on their feet here.
It occurs to me that it has been a while since I made fun of their album covers.
This is precisely why I like to read the instructions.
ECM’s x-ray glasses proved to be a surprisingly successful brand extension.
Do you have any other bright ideas?
They could barely contain their excitement.
You’re sure this isn’t an advert for tampons? I bought my poodles and rollerskates.
She wasn’t letting him book the holiday next year.
Does my bum look orange in this?
The lasers were a nice touch, but there was no denying the soup was overseasoned.
It was probably time to admit the photocopier was ruined.
Let’s stare at him until he goes away.
Alright. That’s it. Now I’m going to donate so they can pump the sewage out of their office.
I wrote a guest post for Will Robin’s excellent blog on the Rite of Spring. The idea of the blog is for scholars, composers, performers and choreographers to share their experiences of the Rite of Spring. I did think about sharing the story of how the Rite of Spring played a central role in my teenage years, and became the soundtrack to the period in which I decided to pursue a career in music*. But then Will pointed out that I could just make fun of album covers like I always do, so I did that instead.
You can check it out here.
* Not unusual, apparently.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s music critic has written a piece on the Philadelphia Orchestra’s downloads that contains an impressive litany of the misinformed clichés that can emerge when music critics try to write about technology. Or music. It makes me kind of angry.
First up, he opens with a colorful metaphor that doesn’t really mean anything:
This time, the journey to the summit of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony is obscured by fog and slowed by mud – which shouldn’t happen when the trail guide is the Philadelphia Orchestra.
You can’t really argue with fog and mud, but don’t worry. This fog-laden muddiness is the premise upon which this article is based, so why bother to examine it?
The orchestra’s 2008 performance of the Strauss tone poem was highly acclaimed when recorded live in Verizon Hall; some even pinpointed the Alpine Symphony as the moment when current chief conductor Charles Dutoit claimed the Philadelphia Orchestra as his own.
Look. They either played it well or they didn’t. There are a lot of reasons why you might have liked the concert and hated the record, and very few of them have much to do with either the playing or the technology you’re about to blame for it.
But though the lavishly scored piece is the flagship release in the orchestra’s reentry into the recording market on high-profile websites – with 35-plus titles that include Shostakovich conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, Beethoven symphonies led by Christoph Eschenbach, and distinguished guests such as Vladimir Jurowski and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos – one could argue that it should never have been released.
It was certainly a lot quicker to write this paragraph than it was to actually listen to 35 albums. Don’t even get me started on “one could argue”. They won’t even stand for that on Wikipedia. (more…)
Musicians always seem to be deep in thought on their album covers. It’s a rule. Do you ever wonder what they’re thinking?
His anger turned to sorrow when he saw what they’d done to his rose garden. (more…)
If I was any good at learning from my mistakes, I’d be seriously smart by now.
In just over a year, Proper Discord has had 100 posts, 300 comments and 25,000 page views. What haven’t I learned? You can tell me in the comments. Here are ten things I didn’t know before… (more…)
James Rhodes is a classical pianist. Warner Brothers Records is a rock label. Can any good come from their unholy union? Proper Discord caught up with James to ask all sorts of impertinent questions. He was very patient.
You’ve just signed a deal with Warner Brothers Records. That’s the same label that has Metallica, R.E.M. Linkin Park and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, isn’t it? Are you sure that’s a good idea? (more…)
Is there some rule I don’t know about, where the photos on their album covers have to make all male pianists look like one of seven dwarfs?*