Friday, September 24, 2010

covered: installment 1

My name is Stephanie and I am a cover-holic. I am aware that many music lovers frown upon the cover song. I'm here to preach that cover songs can be a good thing... a benefit to not only the band performing the cover, but the original artist as well. I am not talking about cover bands... bands who only do covers. I am talking about original artists who pay tribute to a song and it's original artist by playing it and making it their own.

Here in the STL, there is an annual series of shows called An Undercover Weekend, in which some of the best local bands become a famous artist for one night only. I went last year and this year, and these shows are a ton of fun. They are also a great way to find out about local bands you might normally not see. I think I've seen at least half of the bands that performed last year again as themselves after their AUCW performances. LINKS: Review of night 3 of AUCW; My photos from nights 2 & 3, Photos of night 2 from I Went To A Show (IWTAS) Blog, IWTAS's night 3 photos, Free download of the first act on nt. 3 from IWTAS

I love love love when an artist takes a song that everyone knows, and makes it different in some way. It shows the versatility of music... a well-written song can be good even when it is played in an entirely different style. Doesn't that make sense? Maybe I should stop trying to make arguments and get to some of my favorite cover songs. Let the music do the preaching.

One of my favorite soundtracks is from the movie I am Sam. I am a huge Beatles fan, ever since my dad bought me Sgt. Pepper's when I was in 7th grade. All the songs on this soundtrack are Beatles's songs, covered by current artists. My favorite 2 from the CD are Ben Fold's version of Golden Slumbers and Eddie Vedder's (swooon) version of You've Got to Hide Your Love Away. Some like-minded youtuber put them both together... and there's a duck? Anyway.... (Original Golden Slumbers & Original You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.)

Wow. Talk about remaking a song with a different spin... This Gourds version of Snoop Dogg's Gin & Juice is one of my favorite tunes to blast and sing along to. A bluegrass take on some west coast rap. Amazing. (Original Gin & Juice)

Similarly, Dynamite Hack took Eazy-E's classic gangsta rap Boys in The Hood and made into an acoustic pop hit. Frat Boys and OG's can agree... this cover is fun. (Original Boys in The Hood)

Chris Cornell covering Micheal Jackson's ├╝ber-hit Billie Jean. I never thought of this song as a tear-jerker, but Cornell puts so much emotion into it that I well up a bit. Powerful. (original Billie Jean)

Okay, I lied about not talking about cover bands. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is a cover band. However, they are interesting and unique because they take songs that are fit for adult-contemporary or oldie radio stations and transform them into punk songs. One of my favorites? The Muppets' Rainbow Connection. Me First's version is great for working out too. Try not to bop around to this. I dare you. (Original Rainbow Connection)

Reggae music is all about the covers. Regatta Mondata is an entire CD of various Raggae artists covering Police songs. And it is AWESOME. Sheila Hylton's take on The Bed's Too Big Without You is a fave. (Original Bed's Too Big Without You)

Yes, that's Tom Jones. Yes, he's kind of scary looking. But, if you don't wanna shake your booty to this version of Ram Jam's Black Betty, you might not have a soul. (Original Black Betty)

well that about COVERS it.... for now. I'm a cover junky. Expect more posts on the subject :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

album art... by me!

My good friend Eric has a band called So Much Closer. They recently recorded a CD and I was honored to design the cover art for it! This was my first ever CD cover design, and it was so fun to do. I gotta say I feel pretty cool to have been involved in a rockin' album (buy it here!). I also gotta say that the design was focused on letting the photography shine. The front and back cover photos are GORGEOUS pieces by photographer Scott Church. I've actually admired Scott's work for years... it was awesome to find out that Eric was an old Navy friend of his! Scott makes some of the prettiest pictures around (lots of nudes, though, so if you are at work, well, you know better.)

I am so proud of Eric and the band. The CD release show was fantastic... even more so because my brother's band, Three Sheets to the Wind, closed the night out. My photos from the night can be viewed here.

When SMC asked me to design the CD, I immediately scoured the web for inspiration... what makes a good album cover? Who has great album covers? My favorite find was a blog dedicated to album art, called Sleevage. I love that they did a Metallica retrospective! :)

Here are a random selection of album covers that I dig (okay not really random... I also happen to love the music on these)...

(more on this one in this Sleevage article...)

And here are some super-fantastic links about CD/album design/art:

99 best designed album covers

35 beautiful album covers

25 WORST album covers

best album art of 2008

100 obscure & remarkable album covers


classic record covers re-imagined as 60's book covers

minimalist redesigns of famous album covers

inspirational showcase of 50 famous album covers

past music posts:

favorite live music part 1

favorite live music part 2

local band pasta salad (iron stef post)

damnwells roadtrip (iron stef post)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Derby Dreaming - Installment 1: Team Logos

Back in June I decided to try out for Roller Derby. I have wanted to for years, but have always managed to talk myself out of it. When my friend Jen said she wanted to try out, it was just enough extra motivation to go for it! I made the League! Here in St. Louis there is a roller derby league which has 4 teams within it. So, I am officially an Arch Rival Roller Girl (ARRG), and it is so so exciting. Everyone is extra nice, and the practices are brutal but fun and GREAT exercise. I have yet to earn a derby name or get drafted to a team, but as long as I'm on skates, I'm happy. However, I can't wait to get cleared for contact... KABOOM! I'm gonna have some wicked bruises. I'm told when you wear fishnets (and I WILL wear fishnets) you are likely to get a "waffle bruise." Cannot wait :)

I wanted to post about the awesomeness of Derby on this space... the fashions, the culture, the posters, the design, the related crafts, etc. SO MUCH COOLNESS. But I've reeled myself in and decided to make it an on-going feature... "Derby Dreaming." Focus is good. Today's' focus is Derby team logos. There are some fantastic ones... most feature sexy pin-up ladies and some sort of badassness, be it a skull, brass knuckles, black eyes and whatnot. I've gathered some of the ones that caught my eye. I am going to be on the graphics committee for ARRG, so this is like studying.

Speaking of ARRG, here are 2 of the team logos from here in the STL! The Smashonistas logo is pretty and adorable, with just enough kick-ass. The M-80's one is just plain SEXY. Bombshell like whoa.

The Okanagan Derby Dolls logo is one of the more different, simple & modern one's I came across.

The Dixie Derby Girls from Huntsville, AL have this beauty. While there is a little too much going on, I love the skull and her lashes.

The Fargo Moorhead logo gets it right with a cute girl, a skate in your face, and subtle representations of the area's cold weather.

This logo from a Belgium derby team is so fantastic. Minimalist and artsy. I love it.

And here is one of the GoGo's posters. so mid-century. brilliant.

The Blue Collar Betties are part of the Central New York Derby league. It's so cute, yet slightly tough. Fun stuff.

How much do I love Humboldt Roller Derby's logo?! SOOO much. Who doesn't like some flying petticoat action? And side-boob!! This has great style.