Albums and Photography

Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children

One of my favorites, this one was with me on a roadtrip through the U.S. that created the same kind of memories and nostalgia that loom throughout the album. The lo-fi retro image just makes sense, as does the eery faceless family–the nostalgia in this album can belong to anyone.

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Another album that deals with nostalgia, Deerhunter’s latest came with this arresting image. A mysterious, uncanny shot, it reminds me for some reason of this barn next to one of my childhood homes. I was always frightened by that barn.

Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade

This appears to be a photograph that was colored over, at least I believe. It’s sad to say that I don’t really know how this was done in pre-Photoshop days. But I know it’s badass and fits with the inspirational, DIY, Rust Belt aesthetic that Hüsker Dü so effortlessly embodied. Effortlessly because it was real, before this postmodern web 2.0 authenticity crisis we’re currently enduring.

The Fiery Furnaces – Widow City

“Hi, I’m Eleanor. I’m on the front cover of this album, and my brother is on the back. Because that just made sense.” I concur.

Scissor Sisters – Night Work

Before a life-size poster of this album cover was posted around the corner from my work, I didn’t know that much about the Scissor Sisters, and admittedly I still don’t know that much about them. But it’s clear that they don’t pussyfoot around, and I can respect that.

The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight

Being a fan of jetties and sunsets (I grew up in Southern California) as well as Ralph Eugene Meatyard, I think this cover is pretty cool. This is also a tremendous album.

Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer

When I was 15, I traveled with a friend’s family up to Lake Tahoe for a snowboarding trip. We took the 395 up the state and passed through the Mojave along the way. I remember being on the two lane highway in the middle of the desert and seeing these tiny settlements with 2-3 houses surrounded my derelict cars, buses, and trailers. The inhabitants of these settlements had constructed strange “sculptures” made out of junk–mannequins, life preserver rings, taxidermied animals, you name it. It was either creepy outsider art or the product of terrifying inbred insanity. These sculptures left a vivid impression on me, and this album cover reminded me of them. This is an epic album too. As my friend Nick said, “he’s really outdone himself this time.”

U2 – Achtung Baby

This is a cool collection of photographs with great colors–I can picture it sitting on a table in my dad’s place in the 90s, although I’m not sure if that actually ever occured (he was fonder of early U2). I like that, in the midst of this spattering of pastoral/urban/European/North African? images, Bono is of course mugging for the camera. If he’s not looking dark and pensive in grainy B&W, then he’s looking dapper as he enters the savannah.

More importantly, and keeping with my brief California highway theme, have you ever listened to the first two tracks on this album while speeding down the 5? Well then, my friend, you haven’t lived.

Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-out

I recently walked into my favorite coffee shop around the corner and saw that they had switched the photography on their walls. The new images explored the suburban night theme, and I was reminded of this cover. Suburbia in the evening can be very otherwordly. I like the blue hour aspect of this image, and off to the right (the image wraps around) there’s a young man being abducted–another theme I enjoy. This is one of Yo La Tengo’s many strong albums. I Can Hear the Heat Beating as One is the de facto soundtrack to my long-standing relationship, and I listened to Summer Sun–specifically Season of the Shark–for years everytime I drove to Bolinas to go suring, as a sort of happy-go-lucky death march tune. Tiny Birds is also an incredible track.

Big Bear – Doin Thangs

It’s affluent bears doin thangs in robes. Not much to say here except amazing.

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