Saturday, July 28, 2007

Caught Licking Leather.

I've decided to put together my twin passions of art criticism & rock snobbery in the form of a semi-regular feature in this blog dedicated to excellent albums with excellent album covers. I'm certainly guilty of having slept on really awesome records in the past simply because I thought that their respective bands' taste in graphic design was atrocious, so I figured I'd accentuate the positive for once.

Aside from the fact that I really get a kick out of saying the name "Pissed Jeans" on the radio week after week, these guys are also proudly carrying the torch of early to mid-90s ugly rock in the tradition of the Jesus Lizard & most things that Steve Albini has laid his hands on, which I am most definitely okay with. I've noticed that this revivalism of the Touch and Go catalog from the Clinton era has been in full swing lately, to mixed results, but these Pissed Jeans fellows have gotten the nastiness & the noise down on their new album, Hope For Men, in a way that will make you say "I can't believe it's not David Yow". Major props are due to any band that can make a song about scrapbooking or ice cream sound like the most fucked up, demented thing this side of Nick Cave's house.

And that album cover! I'm a big fan of minimalism in record layouts & this is a perfect example of "less-is-more" done right. Seriously folks, you're not winning any points by using "wacky" fonts & every pattern in your MS Paint application (unless of course you're putting out an album on Load Records). Replace the work pants with chaps & this could almost be a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph, which I mean in the best possible way. Clean, uncluttered layout, elegant black & white color scheme, simple vertical emphasis, adorable display of man-love. What more could you ask for? It's downright iconic in that first Velvet Underground album kind of way. (Brief sidenote: That visible fellow on the cover is Pissed Jeans drummer Sean McGuinness, who was previously in the vastly underrated & ridiculously awesome Washington, DC band Navies, who were more "math rock"/Dischord Records-styled, but also well worth checking out.)

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