Sunday, 2 August 2015

Art of the Cover - Beirut's "Gulag Orkestar" (2006)

A luscious leggy Latvian lass, perhaps - and her supercharged muscle car .. seemingly made from tin cans - adorn this wonderful collection.

And she's doing something seemingly naughty on the back cover!

Art design was by Rob Carmichael.

Yap, it's the sublime Gulag Orkestar - our first introduction to the fascinating and very unique world of then teen wunderkind, Zach Condon.

Almost a decade on - after releasing three more fine albums in the meantime - Beirut are set to release their fifth album No No No in September.

And about fucking time. It's already been four years since Beirut's last opus - the beautiful intimate collection 'The Rip Tide'.

Largely the work of an ambitious youngster named Zach Condon, Gulag Orkestar is an indie rock album filtered through the mind of a teenager who dropped out of high school to travel across Europe and soak in as much culture and music as possible. The result is something that sounds a bit like the Microphones crossed with Neutral Milk Hotel. It might be the only rock album you hear that doesn't contain any guitars, and it conveys an emotional and worldly power of the likes I've not heard in some time. 
Largely inspired by Balkan folk music, the album moves through mournful ballads and more upbeat tracks (that sound more like the work of a 10-plus member ensemble) with ease, layering horns, stringed instruments, ukeleles, mandolins, glockenspiel, drum, organs, piano, and other percussion under the soulful vocals of Condon himself, who has a similar range and style as Andrew Bird. The disc opens with the album-titled track of "The Gulag Orkestar," and after some warbling horns and cascading piano, the track turns into a shuffling march that finds Condon soaring over the top of it all with his rich croon. 
The album really hits stride with the gorgeous "Bandenburg," which finds deft mandolins playing out over heaving drums and percussion as accordions wheeze and the track builds gracefully with delightful horn sections and layered vocals. "Postcards From Italy" follows, and it may very well be the best track on the disc, moving along with a playful opening section that mixes shuffling mandolin, piano and horns before shifting halfway through to a more delicate (and reflective) section that completely tugs at the heartstrings before bursting into a celebratory ending that's absolutely stunning. 
By somethingexcellent VINE VOICE

 ... Click the link, little Beirut-aholics!


1 The Gulag Orkestar 4:38
2 Prenzlauerberg 3:46
3 Brandenburg 3:38
4 Postcards From Italy 4:17
5 Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) 3:15
6 Rhineland (Heartland) 3:58
7 Scenic World 2:08
8 Bratislava 3:17
9 The Bunker 3:13
10 The Canals Of Our City 2:21
11 After The Curtain 2:54

The Selfie - Big Blues

Big blue eyes

The Art - And You In Your Autumn Sweater

Black sweater

Art of the Cover - Led Zeppelin's "Presence (Deluxe Edition)" (2015)

Zep's Presence LP, has been described by Jimmy Page as the band's "most important" album, proving they would continue and succeed despite the turmoil the group had found itself in. 

Presence was written and recorded during a tumultuous time in the band's history, as singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained the previous year in a car accident.

The cover and inside sleeve of this album, created by an English art design group Hipgnosis, features various images of people interacting with a strange, black, obelisk-shaped object. 

Inside the album sleeve, the item is referred to simply as "The Object." It was intended to represent the "force and presence" of Led Zeppelin. 

In the liner notes of the first Led Zeppelin boxed set, Page explained:
"There was no working title for the album. The record-jacket designer said 'When I think of the group, I always think of power and force. There's a definite presence there.' That was it. He wanted to call it Obelisk. To me, it was more important what was behind the obelisk. The cover is very tongue-in-cheek, to be quite honest. Sort of a joke on the film 2001. I think it's quite amusing."

The background used in the cover photograph is of an artificial marina that was installed inside London's Earl's Court Arena for the annual Earl's Court Boat Show that was held in the winter of 1974–75. This was the same venue where the band played a series of concerts a few months after the boat show, in May 1975.

In 1977, Hipgnosis and  graphic designer/ illustrator George Hardie were nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Album Package for the artwork here.

The good news is that Presence - as well as Zep's In Through The Out Door and Coda LPs have been remastered by guitarist and producer Jimmy Page and are now available accompanied by companion audio comprised of previously unreleased music related to the original release, selected and compiled by Page.

Originally released in 1976, Presence was recorded during a whirlwind 18-day session at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany. 

The album which peaked at #1 in both the U.S. and UK and was certified triple platinum crackles with energy on Zeppelin classics like Nobody s Fault But Mine and Achilles Last Stand and delivers powerful jolts of the group at its visceral best.

The companion audio disc that accompanies Presence has five unreleased reference mixes from the sessions, which reveal works in progress. 

Along with alternate incarnations of For Your Life, Achilles Last Stand and Royal Orleans, there is also the previously unheard instrumental curiously titled 10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod).

Presence, In Through The Out Door, and Coda are available from Atlantic/Swan Song in the following formats:
  • Single CD – Remastered original album. Presence and Coda will be packaged in a
    gatefold card wallet. All CD and LP versions of In Through The Out Door will be
    wrapped in a brown paper page replicating its initial release.
  • Deluxe Edition (2CD and 3CD) – Remastered album, plus a second disc of unreleased
    companion audio. Coda will feature two companion audio discs.
  • Single LP – Remastered album on 180-gram vinyl, packaged in a sleeve that replicates
    the LP’s first pressing in exacting detail. All vinyl versions of In Through The Out Door 
    will also include the water-sensitive insert that replicates the inner sleeve from the
    album’s initial release.
  • Deluxe Edition Vinyl – Remastered album and unreleased companion audio on
    180-gram vinyl. Coda will feature two companion LPs.
  • Digital Download – Remastered album and companion audio will both be available.
  • Super Deluxe Box Set – This collection includes:
    o Remastered album on CD in vinyl replica sleeve.
    o Companion audio on CD in card wallet.
    o Remastered album on 180-gram vinyl in a sleeve replicating first pressing.
    o Companion audio on 180-gram vinyl.
    o Hi-def audio download card of all content at 96kHz/24 bit.
    o Hardbound, 72+ page book filled with rare and previously unseen photos and memorabilia.
    o High quality print of the original album cover, the first 30,000 of which will be individually numbered.



01. Achilles Last Stand
02. For Your Life
03. Royal Orleans
04. Nobody's Fault But Mine
05. Candy Store Rock
06. Hots On For Nowhere
07. Tea For One
08. Two Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand) (Reference Mix)
09. For Your Life (Reference Mix)
10. 10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix)
11. Royal Orleans (Reference Mix)
12. Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix)

The Art - Sweet Sunset


Pinay Pretties - Juicy Jahziel

Art of the Cover - The Spits "Vol. 4"

Moving Models - They call her Dawn

The Art - Jet Set

Private Jet

Bad Days - Despite All My Rage I'm Still Just Riding A Train

Seems like Billy Corgan sure had a whale of a time riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland the other day!

Maybe he's just having a flashback to banging Courtney Love!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Still - Nuit Noire

Sultry Sandra Milo and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Claude Sautet's sublime directorial debut 'Classe Tous Risques' {aka The Big Risk} back in 1960.

AV Dolls - Who Wears Short Shorts?

Art of the Cover - Betty Boo's "Where Are You Baby?" (1990)

Cult Cuties - Pouty Betty

Art of the Cover - Calexico's "Carried To Dust" (2008)

a lovely ;piece of idiosyncratic art adorns another great Calexico collection.

Carried To Dust, which again features intoxicating the band's trademark magical mergings of various southwestern American musical styles,was released through Touch & Go Records.

Carried To Dust was recorded in the group's hometown of Tucson, Ariz. at Wavelab Studios with producer Nick Luca (of Neko Case, Iron & Wine etc fame).

Singer/guitarist Joey Burns and fellow band founder and drummer John Convertino recorded the album with steel guitarist Paul Niehaus, bassist Volker Zander and multi-instrumentalists Jacob Valenzuela and Martin Wenk, who've been band members since 2003's Feast Of Wire.

Carried To Dust features a guest appearance from Iron & Wine's Sam Beam, who has collaborated with Calexico numerous times since appearing on their In The Reins EP.

Other guests include bassist Doug McCombs of the legendary Tortoise, and Iowa singer/songwriter Pieta Brown, among others.


1. Victor Jara's Hands
2. Two Silver Trees
3. The News About William
4. Sarabande In Pencil Form
5. Writer's Minor Holiday
6. Man Made Lake
7. Inspiracion
8. House of Valparaiso
9. Slowness
10. Bend to the Road
11. El Gatillo (Trigger Revisited)
12. Fractured Air (Tornado Watch)
13. Falling From Sleeves
14. Red Blooms
15. Contention City

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