Haven’t I Seen That Artwork Before?

Seriously, how hard is it to research your graphics and artistry before slapping a sleeve on to your newly recorded album? Well, according to a few artists, it’s more difficult than you might anticipate. Here are a some of the most blatant, impudent and cheekiest album artwork rip offs to date.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights: Despite the ascending brilliance and legacy drawn on by the Joy Division-esque roll on from Interpol, questions were asked about their choice of artwork in relation to Radiohead’s release of Amnesiac the previous year. Subtle differences might deem the artworks as separate entities, but the red square on black background colour scheme, along with the obvious mirrored structuring deems Interpol with at least a telling off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Sheeran – Plus: Although Deerhunters’ 2008 record Weird Era Continued is virtually unheard of compared to the striving success of Ed Sheeran’s chart topping sequel, the orange imagery tainted with a distorted facial photograph, sitting just behind the haze, is a little bit suspicious. Although Sheeran has taken the British isles by storm, and completely in his stride, it seems that some of his work may not be entirely of his own merit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U2 – No Line On The Horizon: Well, try explaining this one Bono. Huge sulphur waste land? Giant metallic mathematical symbol? Three dimensional meeting point of the sky and the earth? Absolutely incredible. This protrusive spin off of Taylor Deupree’s Specification. Fifteen. nearly pulled of a stone wall copy of the original. Deupree himself even wrote an article on the matter on his personal blog. However, no legal issues were ever pressed from the original Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Gaga – Born This Way (Single): Nobody likes to glitter their aptitude with zig-zag lines at the best of times, but the matter becomes even more sickening when it’s copied. Once again, Lady Gaga finds herself in the dusty midst of controversy and originality debates with her Born This Way single. Pretentious photography, shoddy editing and the grotesque use of wind machines. Ah yes, this must be the work of a Minogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rihanna – Russian Roulette (Single): Ah, the barely legal uncovering of an oily, lusting and dangerous Rihanna, flaunting herself in the most eye-catching way possible. Coiled in a spring of barbed wire, suggestively looking into the camera and scarcely covering up her modesty, you would never have guessed that Rihanna’s artwork for her single Russian Roulette was a rip off of the ECW Extreme Music compilation album. Picture the same image of Rihanna, only replace her with a staring, sweaty and half-brain dead wrestler smoking a cigarette. Doesn’t quite have the same level of sex appeal as Rihanna’s artwork does, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOFX – Surfer EP: Oh dear, another cartoon orbited artwork choice. Bad Religion’s 1988 album Suffer encapsulated the typicality of America’s suburban areas, but with the twist of having a flaming child anarchist splattered on the side wearing brand new converses. In their habitual lunacy, skate punk four-piece NOFX replaced the badly drawn suburbs with the crudely deduced seaside for their 2001 EP Surfer. Even the name is plagerised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parts And Labour – Mapmaker: There’s not much to be said about Parts And Labour’s defraud of Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album, other than it’s just a slightly better drawn version of the original. Hot colours, pencil line drawings and running shades. I just hope neither band paid too much money for the design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cynics – Buick McKaine: Forgive my irony in this incident, but my own cynicism is as plain as the fleecing of Mark Bolan’s original iconic artwork for T-Rex’s Slider from Pennsylvanian garage rockers The Cynics really is quiet something. I mean, Jesus Christ. I’m struggling to find ways in which the copy is different from the original, other than the man replacing Mark Bolan looks like a slightly healthier replacer of Slash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kruder & Dorfmeister – G-Stoned: Even though the musical differences are vaster than Katie Prices’ lady garden, the album artwork is, once again, simply ridiculous. Especially with albums as famous as Simon and Garfunkel’s 1968 folk classic Bookends are concerned. I mean, they’re even wearing the same inconspicuous turtle neck jumpers as Simon and Garfunkel. In fairness, Kruder and Dorfmeister’s slowdance record does have a the letter ‘G’ lurking in the top left hand corner. Top effort lads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Let me tell you, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the pitching room when they thought this album artwork. “I know! We’ll use Brimstone Howl’s Guts Of Steel artwork, but replace the white guys with black guys”. Yeah, perfect. I suppose you’ll be wanting to take George Harrison off of the artwork for Abbey Road and replace him with Carlton from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air next, wont you?

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Peace: Love At Start The Bus, Bristol.

Who needs war when you can have Peace? Birmingham’s tie-dyed indie tripsters bring their colour and verve to Bristols flourishing and lusting students in search of a fresh demographic to spread the word of Peace.

Being dubbed as the ‘new Maccabees’ by the NME is a daunting prospect considering the praise and accolade the Brightoners are receiving following their chart storming new found sound and complexity. With festival stage headline slots burning on the horizon, success is has finally constructed itself around The Maccabees after six years of playing together. Edging your vision just past the horizon, you’ll see the so called mimics of Brighton’s finest in midland four piece Peace, whom entertained Bristols striving student community last night (14th March 2012) at Start The Bus, as they continued on their nineteen date March tour.

In a small stretch of onyx-painted brick and pavement slab in the middle of Bristol city centre lies the energetic band and DJ bar Start The Bus, the mecca for student binge drinking and weekend away from halls. Around the glossed pine bar and past the circular, vessel styled windows lies minute, triangular performance area, tucked away neatly in front of the dance area. Here, Peace graced Bristols finest to the inundated watermarked sound of deep bass guitar, luxuriant reverb and snappy dance beats. Armed with leather jackets and tripped colour blends, the midlanders waited in the side lines for sound checks and fans to arrive.

As pint glasses were refilled and countless sound checks were equalised and repeated, the atmosphere remained that of an every day contemporary bar. The vague scent of smokey fabric, sticky table tops and low mood lighting maintained the semitropical, yet bromidic surrounding for some time. As support act number one stepped behind the monitors and switched on the amplifiers, the day dreaming ceased as post-rock locals The Portillo Moment enraged and whined their nostalgic, summery songs onto mostly deaf ears. Happily, for those who were listening, The Portillo Moment formed warm guitar sounds over crashing drums times in a Best Coast-esque thirty minutes. Despite a preparation of ignorance at the venue, which was not yet reaching a sizable capacity, The Portilla Moment were well received and enjoyed by those whose interest was caught.

Following another timely delay due to sound checks and staff cigarette breaks, the second group to entertain the unsettling crowd were Bath’s Blood Choir, who seemed as uninterested as the crowd as it became apparent that the timings were far from on schedule. Balancing a generic sounding acoustic/electric blend and banging on a drum kit that sounded that it wasn’t sufficiently sound checked swam streamline with a less than inspiring performance from Blood Choir. Exiting the stage as quietly as they stood upon it, Blood Choirs dismissal from the crowd quickly turned back to the nights promising prospect. Sat parallel to the stage, Peace’s moment finally came upon then an hour later than intended.

As the student cliental steadily piled into the enduring performance floor, expectations has lapsed from my previous hopes, and from those around me too. Having said that, the turnout for such a small venue was a pleasing one in the perspective of the band. Roughly fifty people had shuffled forward from the bar to either the dance floor or overlooking from the steps. All the little frustrations seem to be discounted from the moment Harrison, Sam, Dom and Douglas took to the stage, and faced the anticipating crowd.

Matching the dark style of the Horrors and the jittery, dance rhythms of The Happy Mondays and The Charlatans, new single “Follow Baby” electrified and sent shock waves of biting bass lines and heterogeneous harmonies that finally gave the crowd something to dance to. With an enticed crowd, Peace continued to pay homage to the nostalgia of a dark-waved revamp of Manchester bands and 1980’s club music through out “Follow Baby”, before leading into the rest of their set.

Chorusing jungle beats and the delayed echoey math-rock sounds of Foals and Dutch Uncles, Peace captivated and put a trippy edge onto the indie assumption to the crowd, whilst sporting tight black jeans, scraped back hair, studded earrings and the typical tie-dye persona caught the imagination of the respective crowd. Flushing more reverb from the crevasses of their amplifiers and pushing their hands through their hair, Peace manifested their indie capability to hinge and anchor their sound to the crowds cosmic mood, gaining a more than satisfactory appreciation.

As their encouraging and poignant set came to a close, the crowd’s fatigue from the unexpectedly late performance contained itself and was overwhelmed by Peaces’ effortless nature and cool. Playing their final song, “BBLOOD”, was rendered in the trippiest of fashions. Strong, British vocals reverberated over jungle beats and dance/indie guitar lines and the pulsating fuzz of bass guitar, followed by the angry conflicting crashes of the cymbals. As the pizzicato rage of the delayed guitar collapsed under a blast of feedback, Peace retreated to the bar after a glorified set at Start The Bus, Bristol.

They may be a band hiding under the persona of ‘Peace’ and harmony, much like they’re musical discourse, but their underlining performance hold many more pragmatics than first meets the eye. There is a true acidic passion for music and a real inspiration behind the tripster image of Peace, and you need to see it to believe it. Although they may have only played to small gathering of people, they dart in the right direction and bring nothing but good.

If they play more gigs like they did at Start The Bus, soon NME will be comparing other bands as being the ‘new Peace’.

Why Capture One When You Can Have Them All?

The project to turn the international hunt for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has become a viral phenomenon. After decades of abductions, rapes and murders, it seems the world has finally woken up to the dark truth. As the Invisible Children video crosses its way across the internet, attentions focus on what more can be done to stop this atrocity. Surely though, this could be used to capture more than one man?

Before I go any further, I would just like to say that I absolutely support the campaign to finally capture Joseph Kony, after over twenty years of villainy and crimes against humanity. If you take a step back and really think about it, the viral video posted by the Invisible Children is quite remarkable. With over thirty two million views in four days, awareness of the issues facing Uganda and their past struggles with Kony are quickly spreading the globe, building upon the pro-peace army striving for the arrest of the calamitous Ugandan assailant.

Perhaps, even with their immeasurable and evolving success, the people of Invisible Children are narrowing the ultimate push for humanitarianism and the rights of mankind all over the world. I’m hopeful, and fairly assured, that only good can come from this campaign and that Kony will be taken into US custody for his disenchant crimes and actions against so many people, but I am left with the concern that the whole campaign will be put down in the history books after the dust settles following Kony’s demise, rather than staying on the spectrum of current affairs. Surely if one can be captured and pursued by an army of internet users and social networkers, there are more libertines to be thwarted.

As the worlds torches scout the dark for Kony, we let others slip away with crimes on a similar level. Sudan’s Abd Al Rahman and Ahmad Harun have been placed behind Kony and his accomplices in the list for most wanted fugitives. Harun, Sudan’s deputy ministers of humanitarian affairs, and Rahman, a janjaweed militia leader were named and accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the rape, murder and displacement of thousands of innocent civilians in the Darfur region of the country in 2007. Before their shortlisting by the ICC, Huran and Rahman escaped arrest when the countries government refused to hand the pair over to the court. Although Rahman was eventually detained and arrested in 2004, it became sickeningly apparent that Rahman and Huran were responsible for the deaths of two-hundred thousand people and the placement of a further two and a half million civilians placed in refugee camps, whilst Huran funded janjaweed militias to execute the operations under the regime of Rahman.

The African continent is barbed with tensions in all four of its quarters, and the only international addressing even close to taking action still remains Kony’s crimes. At the heart of the continent lies the second largest country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a country which has seen its fair share of bloodshed and slaughter, Bosco Ntaganda, head of the military operations for a Dabout Congolais militia called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). In an overseas campaign, Ntaganda, like Kony, trained children as soldiers to fight and participate in the complex four year civil war in the Congo. More than two and a half million people, including thousands of these child soldiers, were killed in the conflict. The child soldiers were led into battle by Ntaganda, who soon became known as the ‘terminator’. He is still wanted by the ICC.

The list goes on endlessly, which is a dire indication of our failing humanity. As thousands of people dies from preventable causes, the nations of the world try to unite to break the seals of oppression. Unsurprisingly, in my opinion, it’s the internet and the power of social media and networking that has connected so many people to form a clan of freedom fights around the globe, all by showing them a half hour video. It’s been a beautiful, harmonious chain of individuals joining together for one cause and one purpose. But surely, we should be tackling multiple causes. If the internet can make so amy people aware of one mans transgressions, we can pin point and challenge others, like Huran, Rahman and Ntaganda.

If there is one thing we can definitely take from this crusade to bring the downfall of Joseph Kony, it’s that the will power and determination to do the right thing of the public is something to be rarely questioned. On so many occasions, humanity has come together to offer help to those who need it. Whether natural disasters, like the tsunami in Thailand in 2004, or manmade carnage thrust upon the world, like the terrorist attacks on the world trade centre in New York, humanity has an answer and a will.

If we can do so much when so many odds are stacked up against us, why stop at one? Why concentrate all of our efforts on Kony when we can dethrone masses of evil with the same principle and power of the media, connectivity and mankind.

The Typical ‘Little Monster’ Response. Perhaps It’s Time For Lady Gaga’s Following To Face Facts?

Thank you so, so much NME. You rolled up your sleeves, grew a pair of testicles and published a public opinion that was bound to cause controversy. And sure enough, the band wagon has been jumped on more times than Paris Hilton. Allow me to take the baton and explain why Gaga’s ‘little monster’ fan base are wrong in claiming that Born This Way is not the most pretentious album of all time.

Critical writing, as an art form, tends to extract the best out of people. Whether they are musicians, actors, directors, politicians etc, each article or interview cites an aspect of their persona in the public eye. We’ve seen the rave reviews and opinions that have propelled people to the top and darted them straight into the accepting hearts of our nation, but we’ve also witnessed the negative fragments of individuals persona. The likes of Ricky Hatton, Paul Gascoigne and George Michael have all found themselves shamed in the media for various antics. A few exceptions, to their credit have bounced back from their critics and found peace again.

Lady Gaga, however, one of the most exposed merchants of media profiling on the planet, has responded in the same way as her fans with her recent criticism in the NME. After an NME poll dubbed Gaga’s second studio effort the ‘most pretentious album of all time’, Gaga and her entourage responded in the same manner as the album. Pretentiously, sanctimoniously and, best of all, laughably. So much so, that the NME received a considerable number of wounded replies from Gaga’s fans. Messages and tweets to the NME such as “I hope I meet the writer of this so I can piss on their face”, “‘Born This Way’ is one of the most meaningful songs ever” and “Don’t mess with Gaga. We’ll tear you limb from limb” have found the way into the NME g-mail box.

Obviously, the person in question had to have her say on the whole matter. She tweeted “Oh the irony of winning “Most Pretentious Album Ever” from none other than NME. *eyeroll* I might laugh forever + then return to narcissism”. She makes a fair comment calling the NME pretentious, as the magazine itself has had it’s share of self indulgence over the years. Having said that, the NME has been around for decades and has surely earn’t the right to be a little euphuistic from time to time. Lady Gaga has been on the scene for three or so years now, and she still feels obliged to ‘speak for the people’ and remain a genuine figure of ‘individualism’.

Now, I could draw a line in the sand and back away from the whole situation revolving the New Musical Express and Lady Gaga, or I could dissolve myself into the argument too. This being the post on a small independent blog, it’ll be a surprise if this will be picked up by anyone, to say the least. So, in true journalistic fashion, I’m going to go the full mile and call Lady Gaga the most pretentious singer/songwriter on the planet. I find her originality to be nothing more than a 1980’s drag queen attempting to dress up as Madonna for a stag night. Her ‘unique’ sound is the product of Michael Jackson’s pop style and Cyndi Lauper’s vocal chords finding their way into the music collection of a twelve year old American girl.

The counter argument is that she is very, very famous and very, very successful. And I respect that, just like the NME did. Funnily enough, the NME gave Born This Way a rave review and placed it in their top fifty albums of 2011. In recent times, Gaga has been nominated as ‘Best Female’ and ‘Best Dressed Female’ at the NME awards. They’ve very much supported Gaga through her ‘gay rights’ campaign in America and, just like everyone else seems to be doing, give her a lot of press coverage via their magazine and website.

In her most gracious and appreciative ways, Gaga has thanked them for their hard work by slandering them. What Gaga needs to realise and understand is that this is their job. They are a music magazine, and they will criticise you. The same message goes to the hoards of narrow minded and naive fans that wrote into the NME. They are an independent institution who ‘review’ peoples work. Secondly, it wasn’t even the NME that drew the conclusion that Gaga’s Born This Way was the pretentious album of all time. It was a public poll, addressing all readers of the NME and those who visit the website for the British magazine company. Don’t blame the NME, blame yourselves for not voting otherwise. If anything, you’ve let down your ‘messiah’ of individualism and soul.

As for Gaga, she should think herself lucky. One day in the future, she may look back on this and be thankful for the public exposure she was given by the NME. I mean, Terrence Trent D’Arby came second with Neither Fish Nor Flesh, and I bet he’s doing cartwheels over the exposure the magazine have given him. Rant over.