Thursday, September 30, 2010

Funky Artwork From John Dyer Baizley

No one can deny that Baroness’ singer and guitarist John Dyer Baizley is an accomplished artist. His artwork for bands like Kylesa, Torche, Skeletonwitch and his own, Baroness,  proves it. In the last couple of years his style has become iconic in the metal world and has served to up the ante as far as cover artwork is concerned. This is especially refreshing in the face of the Photoshop crapola that adorns every other metal release these days.  
That said, the first time I saw the cover artwork for Kvelertak’s self-titled debut I thought I was looking at a rip off. Really, I thought I was looking at a cheap imitation hastily drawned by a less talented hack. Maybe I am alone in this one but I think this cover fucking sucks. The style is recognizably Baizley; all the motifs are there, women, animals, nature in all states, etc. But the proportions seem odd, awkward and…well, disproportionate. The owl’s head is so big it looks as if it was placed to cover up a mistake. I am not an art critic, in fact I ain’t no critic at all, but I just couldn’t  help but be surprised when I found out that this artwork was in fact made by Baizley himself.
On the other hand, when I saw the cover artwork for US Christmas new album Run Thick in the Night I thought I was actually looking at the best piece Baizley had ever done. The main difference was in the color palette, which made heavy use of yellow, a color Baizley has mostly stayed away from. I was surprised then to find out that this piece is the oeuvre of Philadelphia artist Hush, whose work includes, unsurprisingly, pieces for Baroness and Skeletonwitch.


Producer extraordinaire Billy Anderson is relocating to Europe for a few weeks in order to produce greek quartet 1000Mods. The man responsible for the classic sounds of Brutal Truth's Sounds of the Animal Kingdom, High On Fire's The Art of Self Defense and Sleep's Jerusalem and Dopesmoker will be working together with the band's sound engineer George Leodis.

Here at Deaf Sparrow we were elated to hear the news. We are such fans of Anderson's work that when the zine was first launched he was the first interview we planned. Unfortunately, due to the producer's relocation to Argentina we were unable to finish it up until a year and a half later. (read the interview here). And way back in June of 2007 we reviewed Blank Reality, the first EP of these greek stoners. (read the review here) Also, we still owe the band a review of their Liquid Sleep 7 inch. Coming soon boys...coming soon...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SKID ROW, 34 Hours (Epic, 1971) - Not of the Cock Rock Kind

There is this record store close to work that I usually frequent at lunch time. I won’t divulge its name just in case the dude that works there finds out. Not like, anyone would run into this blog anyway, but I figure I might as well exercise my right to be extra cautious. Anyway, the dude that works there looks like a mannequin. His face has no expression. Apparently his facial muscles are incapable to smile, or to frown, or to express any human feeling. Every time I walk in he barely raises an eyebrow as if that was enough to greet a customer who is about spend at least $10 on a stupid record. Yeah, I said a stupid record. In case anyone dislikes my choice of words, well just look as your music consuming patterns. If you are not buying music, or records, like physical copies, then it may just be because all tangible formats are stupid. I do not believe that by the way. I like collecting. I like touching, looking and staring. Which is the reason why I go to that record store with the dude with the stiff face.  
Last Friday I paid the store a visit. My boss felt extra kind and let me go about 45 minutes before official time. Anyway, I did not expect a warm greeting and I did not get it. This time around the mannequin did not even look at me. He didn't raise his face, he didn't raise his eyebrow. Actually, I do not think he noticed me walking in about thirty inches from his nose. I did not care but I thought about it. Is that rude? Or is indifference just dandy? I think it is just dandy. I am a bit of an anti social so I do not mind passing unnoticed. I went straight to the vinyl section. I was searching for nothing specific. As long as it was hard, and battering, and fast, and heavy, and silly and was wrapped in evil or uber goofy looking artwork, then it may have been my target.
The first album that caught my attention was from the Australian black metal band Ignivomous. I had never heard of them but the Nuclear War Now logo and the super black cover tipped me off. I have been listening to too much hard shit lately so I did not buy it.  Then I found a Megadeth record. Peace Sells But Who’s Buying? Just thinking about the voice of Dave Mustaine gives me the shits. Around that time I started eavesdropping on a conversation the mannequin was having with his heavy set, full-sleeved tatooes, middle age balding man. This guy was bitching about the city and about how it is not prepared for his art so he was making a move to Portland where people are way more hip to his cool shit. Fair enough. To each his own. But I couldn’t help but think, ‘bald bitch!’.  Then the artiste asked the mannequin about how his music criticism and how he was dealing with the free weekly paper he writes for. The paper in question is this city’s equivalent for the Village Voice. It is actually a nice free paper with plenty of liberal views, lots of escort ads and totally shitty indie rock criticism. Needless to say, if it is released by Matador then these bitches give it a stellar review.  
Around that time I found a copy of a Skid Row record. I could tell this was not the New Jersey glam cock rocking boys who enchanted me in the early 90’s when I was just a na├»ve kid looking for the next L. A. Guns. I could tell there was no Sebastian Bach inside. I could tell the tasty licks of Dave The Snake Sabo were nowhere to be found and that Rachel Bolan’s nose to ear chain had not been manufactured when this was released. Also, the cover artwork screamed of washed up psychedelia and Skid Row were washed up, but not in that sense.  I then raised the record showing the cover to the mannequin and asked, ‘do you know what this is?’. By then, the bald artiste had gone off probably to an art gallery where they eat daily rations of the cock of Banksy or something. The mannequin was quick to answer, ‘I don’t know but it is not what you are thinking’.  This plastic man pissed me off. True, I was thinking of Skid Row and that song “18 and Life”, but who was this soulless shell of a man to tell me what I was thinking. Several questions inundated me then, 'Did he have the powers of John Edward? Could he read minds? And if so, was my mind legible? Was the mannequin not only human, but in fact, super human? And more importantly, did I look like a cock rocker?  Did I fit the Enuff Z Nuff loving stereotype? Could I have been a Poison groupie?'
As research revealed that night, Skid Row was an Irish hard rock band that existed in the 60's. Their tenure extended through the 70's and despite the quality of their music, they became pretty well known in most recent times for having been the band where Gary Moore first shown off his axe skills. I know Gary Moore very well. Not only because I have loved the music of Thin Lizzy since I was 17 and heard one of their worst songs in the radio ("Dedication"), but because around that time, an already puffy-cheeked Moore had released a blues album titled Still Got the Blues. God damn, did I rock my penis to that record! Shit me, if my pelvis got enough exercise for half a lifetime on repeated listens of the title track. Slooowww and sexy crappy blues that did not stand the test of time rules!
Now Skid Row is a different matter. This record is great. It is bluesy but is mostly very psychedelic and progressive. The playing is so fluid and complex that it fiddles its notes and tips its proverbial hat like a young and naive aspiring jazz combo. Highly recommended.

Introducing DEAF SPARROW The Blog

The purpose of this blog is to include all sorts of pieces that we do not see as fitting to Deaf Sparrow Zine. Like for instance, if we want to bitch about the unjust and inflated price of Terrorizer Magazine or if we want to rant about the economy or Jay Leno's ever growing chin, or if we want to talk about the record buying experience or the lack thereof. In other words, this blog shall serve as space to manifest our lowest instincts...Read on and fuck off....