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Sunday, February 24, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: JACCO GARDNER - Cabinet of Curiosities

JACCO GARDNER - Cabinet of Curiosities (1-2-3-4-GO!) 

Baroque pop debut from a Dutch multi-instrumentalist and home studio wizard that conjures up spirit and sound of the Zombies, Left Banke, and Sagittarius.

To say that the debut album from Dutch multi-instrumentalist is rooted in the Sixties is an understatement. He has so perfectly captured the sounds and spirit of the era that it could easily be mistaken for the genuine article. Jacco deals in lush Baroque pop and pastoral psychedelia filled with Mellotrons, harpsichords, organs, and other gentle period embellishments throughout. The obvious reference points are Sagittarius, Left Banke, Zombies, and Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, but there are also bits of Big Boy Pete, Love, Van Dyke Parks, and even the Kinks (most notably "Shangri-La"). But he pulls so many references and reshapes them around his own songwriting that you can't quite pinpoint any single example cribbing. Although on "the Riddle" I think that's the keyboard riff from "the Rain, the Park, & Other Things" by the Cowsills verbatim.

The record is elegant and surprisingly natural sounding considering how much attention to detail is put into every note. The fact that this was all done by one man in his early twenties producing and playing everything (except the drums) himself in his home studio in a remote part of the Netherlands makes it an even more remarkable accomplishment. At times Cabinet of Curiosities works more as a look-at-me studio showpiece, but overall it stands on it's own legs thanks to the solid songwriting and the sincerity of the man behind it all. I'm quite excited to hear what he does next.


Above I referenced San Francisco songwriter Big Boy Pete as one of the artists that Jacco reminded me of. I am very secifically thinking of his fabulous single from the late 60's, "I Am Seldom 21". Just because I wanted to hear the song again, below is that Big Boy Pete song.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

New adult beverages in the Agogo House

Hit a beer and cider tasting today at a local liquor store (Beeeruption at Malloys in Lisle) and stocked up on a few things I had never tried.

new adult beverage arrivals

left to right: Crispin Fox Barrel Pear cider, Thistly Cross Whisky cider, Crispin the Saint cider, New Holland   Hatter RoyaleHopquilla hopped whiskey, and three from Flesk Brewing Co, a new brewery in Lombard Gnomon saison, Front Toward Enemy IPA, and Force of Nature Belgian Ale.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alyssa Miserendino's stunning photographs of abandoned homes

This afternoon I stopped by the Elmhurst Art Museum today and was quite taken by the work of Alyssa Miserendino, a Chicago photographer I'd never heard of before. As part of the museum's Art About Home exhibit, a series of photos from Alyssa's Our World Insideout project were on display. The series captures the images of vacated homes, starting with her own family home abandoned due to a family crisis in 2004. The pictures are stunningly beautiful while also being a bit unsettling. Each image had me creating back stories and trying to visualize what the spaces might have looked like when they were full of life. Alyssa has taken the subject from Chicago to New Orleans and Brazil. I look forward to seeing more from Alyssa in the future.

ABOVE: Living Room, Summer - I went back to this one several times at the museum, it absolutely captivated me.
BELOW LEFT: Albany Porch  BELOW RIGHT: Library, Summer

See more photos at alyssamiserendino and ourworldinsideout. Along with the OurWorldInsideout photos is a rich portfolio including beautiful travel, commercial, and images from a series of entire-stories-in-a-single-frame shots called Fuck You Norman Rockwell.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Karooooga! My own dumb ass take on a Big Daddy Roth style hot rod cartoon.

Ever since I first flipped through my older brother's hot rod magazine I was hooked on those Big Daddy Roth style monsters driving cars. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not draw a bad ass hot rod. I can't even draw a dumb ass hot rod. Cars totally allude my cartoon ability. Tonight I found a photo of a Shriner car that i had cut out for a collage but never used. I decided to gluestick it to a sketchbook page and draw around it. I didn't really have a plan, but I ended up with something vaguely in the Ed Roth concept.


Karooooga! by DaleAgogo (2013) Cut out photo and Tombo markers with a bit of colored pencil

some new doodles to break in a new sketchbook

After years of using the classic 5 x 8.25 Moleskine sketchbook as my primary sketchbook I decided that I'd be better served with a bigger page so I'm not always cramming everything together. Plus I want to try out brush pens more, but they're not as fine as the pens I normally use. So now I'm using a Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbook, which, in theory, should give me a bit more room to try new thing. Of course it's probably just another case of me buying yet another sketchbook with out making much headway in the last one. But a boy can dream, can't he?

Here are the first few pages of the new sketchbook. As always, you can see even more doodles by clicking the icon in the upper left hand corner of this blog or by visiting the Cartoons, Doodles, & Sketchbook Pages set in my flickr.


Hank sprawls out on my Moleskine sketchbook while I'm doodling
ABOVE: Hank is already a fan of the Folio sketchpad, more room to stretch out on while I doodle.

doodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbookdoodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbook

doodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbookdoodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbook

doodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbookdoodles and pen tomfoolery from a new Moleskine Folio A4 sketchbook

ABOVE LEFT: Pasted onto the page is the this collage. I didn't know what else to do with it. Plus it also covered up some wicked marker bleed through from a pen I had tested to make sure that didn't happen.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Touch and Go 25th Anniversary Block Party at the Hideout (2006) PART TWO: Arcwelder, Supersystem, and Girls vs Boys

Here's PART TWO of my pics from the the greatest music fest I've ever attended, the Touch and Go 25th Anniversary Block Party. On September 8, 9, & 10 twenty five Touch and Go bands got together to celebrate 25 years of Touch and Go Records. PART ONE is over here (featuring Didjits, Pegboy, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, and Katrin Bornfeld). Scratch Acid and Big Black reunion pics are coming soon.

CLICK PICS TO ENLARGE (there are plenty more photos in my T&G25 photoset on flickr)

ABOVE and BELOW: Girls vs Boys

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ABOVE and BELOW: Arcwelder

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ABOVE and BELOW: Supersystem

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rick's Picks: My visit to the Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit in Rockford

Last month I made the journey out to the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford for their temporary exhibit, Rick’s Picks: A Lifelong Affair With Guitars & Music. The exhibit is collection of Cheap Trick memorabilia and guitars pulled from Rick Nielsen's personal collection. Rick is a packrat of the highest order, so there's no shortage of great artifacts through his entire career.

The obvious museum pieces like the guitars (Uncle Dick, the five necked monster, a Brian Jones guitar, etc), posters, and plaques were great, but it was the ephemera that got me to stay for 3 hours. Rick saved everything from notes handed to the band on stage, equipment receipts, fan letters, rejection letters, etc. For the most part, the entire exhibit is one giant room, but it's loaded and displayed incredibly well.

I've been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Museum in Cleveland several times, but I think Rick's Picks does an even better job of capturing the excitement of rock and roll. I'm hoping to make a second trip in the next few weeks to see it again before it closes in April.


Me @ Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)
We went on a weekend morning, so we pretty much had run of the place without any crowds. Above is me (wearing a Redd Kross t-shirt - one of many Cheap Trick logo parodies out there).

Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)

Uncle Dick @ Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)Uncle Dick @ Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)

Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)
Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)
Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)
Display case drawers @ Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)
ABOVE: Many of the display cases had drawers below that pulled out to display even more ephemera. 

BELOW: As a former member of the Sparks fanclub myself, I was happy to see Rick's Sparks fanclub membership button among the artifacts from his pre Cheap Trick days.
Sparks Fan Club button @ Rick’s Picks (Rick Nielsen/Cheap Trick exhibit)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My first attempt at a collage since grade school: "She Deserves It"

Over the past few years I've reignited my love of collages. Thanks to sites like flickr and Pinterest there is no shortage of collages to look at. After putting it off for years I finally decided to try my hand at making one of my own. Here's my first attempt.

I've already learned that I need to invest in a pair of tweezers and a few other tools to make it easier dealing with small pieces of paper with glue on the back. That and I need to brush up on my Exacto knife skills. But it was fun to do and I'm anxious to try another one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: ADAM ANT - Adam Ant is The BlueBlack Hussar Marrying The Gunner's Daughter

ADAM ANT - Adam Ant is The BlueBlack Hussar Marrying The Gunner's Daughter (Blueblack Hussar)

Adam Ant's first album in 17 years is a bizarre hodge-podge of random ideas that could benefit from some editing and more focus. Actually, ANY focus. It's kind of a mess.

I was rooting for Adam Ant and his first album in 17 years. He's an artist I give a lot of extra latitude to, forgiving his mis-steps as a little charming where I'd be much harsher on anyone else. Plus I heard he was reuniting with Marco Pirroni, with whom he did his best work. I even held out hope when it took 2 years to finish, when it was announced to be a double album, and when Marco dropped out (a few songs with Marco made the cut, but I really can't feel his influence anywhere). I wasn't expecting a brilliant record, but I was hoping there would enough moments of the old Ant magic to make it a record I want to return to for more.

There are some inspired moments and small flashes of brilliance, but they're too spread out over the chaotic and unfocused mess that became the final album. To call the album interesting would be an understatement - I was riveted on that first listen wondering what would happen next. But it's not the sort of interesting that merits many additional listens. By the second listen it was already becoming a bit of a chore. And worse of all, after a few plays I couldn't remember a single hook or melody.

I give Adam credit for not just cashing in on 80's nostalgia by trying to recreate the double drum sound of the Ants. His vocal delivery is unique enough that there's no mistaking whose record this is. And his erratic genre jumping touches on many of the musical reference points of his entire career, which is a bit fun for a longtime fan. And he branches out and brings in a kitchen sink of new sounds, but often they sound like they were just thrown together like an audio collage rather than a fully thought out song.

I can't say that I think Adam has a great record in him, but he definitely has a better record than this in him. I'd love to see him work with someone that could guide him into focusing more rather than trying to capture every notion he has and slapping it into a final album. All that said, if you're and Adam Ant, you really do need to hear this record once. You might be disappointed, but you'll also smile and laugh. Sometimes with him, other times at the bizarre choices he makes. You'll be glad you did. But you probably won't need to hear it a second time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Alternate Universe Album Cover: Massive Attack - Mezzanine

Here's yet another album cover for Steve Lamacq's Grand ReDeisgn on BBC6. This time I try my hand at redesigning Massive Attack's Mezzanine.

The photo image is a greatly reworked version of a photo I took at Queen of Heaven Mausoleum (right) in Hillside Illinois a few years ago. When I loaded the pictures into a viewer this one turned up upside down and I ended up liking it better that way. More pictures from the Mausoleum are over here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Alternate Universe Album Cover: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads

Once again, here's another album cover for Steve Lamacq's Grand ReDeisgn on BBC6. This time here's my take on Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads: For this one I started out with a picture of church I took on a trip through Southern Illinois a few years ago. I took several different pictures of the church, each one getting closer, but I liked this one for the big open sky to work with. I was happy with the finished product (above), but then I started fooling around with the photo distortion in CorelDraw and ended up with more sinister looking version below.

Alternate Universe Album Cover: Django Django - Django Django

Over at BBC6 Steve Lamacq is doing something called Grand ReDesigns as part of his celebration of album artwork. He's asking listeners to redesign album covers as if the original never existed. Here's my take on Django Django's self titled debut.

Django Django - Django Django: I've liked word balloons on album covers ever since I first saw Mothers of Invention's Freak Out cover. The woman was originally on the right, but I flipped the image because for some reason in my head the dog just had to have the last word.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Alternate Universe Album Cover: Adam and the Ants - Prince Charming

Over at BBC6 Steve Lamacq is doing something called Grand ReDesigns as part of his celebration of album artwork. He's asking listeners to redesign album covers as if the original never existed. Here's my take on Adam and the Ants' Prince Charming.

Adam and the Ants' Prince Charming: This is actually a reworking of a Velvet Underground best-of mixdisc cover I made many years ago. The image is from a bondage pulp novel, which was perfect for use on a Velvets mix. But it also lends itself quite well to Adam Ant.