Archive for July 14th, 2010

Sleeve Notes: The 5000 Spirits or The Layers Of The Onion

14 July 2010

Dutch artists Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger became a sensation in mid-60s Swinging London for their clothing design, before forming a design collective called The Fool. Best known for the colorful clothing, murals and graphics they created for The Beatles, The Fool eventually ended up on the Apple Records payroll. They painted The Beatles’ cars and guitars (as well as John Lennon’s piano), designed the group’s clothes (most notably for their ‘All You Need Is Love’ appearance on TV) and provided the inspiration for the song ‘The Fool On The Hill’. Pattie Harrison gave them £100,000 to open the ill-fated Apple Boutique – the first of what was to be many Beatle-themed shops across England. Fortunately, The Fool branched out into album cover art. Their striking, psychedelic artwork for The Incredible String Band’s The 5000 Spirits or The Layers Of The Onion might be the most readily accessible example of their LSD-soaked style…

Bad Apple: The Milk-Eyed Mender

14 July 2010

[Today: Lady of the mush-mouth harp…]

Joanna Newsom is the anti-aspirin – listen to two of her songs and your head will start to hurt almost immediately. Her quaint harp strumming might be well-suited for a comedy album, but sitting with The Milk-Eyed Mender is like being serenaded by a mentally retarded angel. It’s unbearable. Her vocals are an unholy combination of an unnaturally high pitch and cutesy-pie, mush-mouth baby talk. Madonna might sound like this if she decided to sing lullabies after far too many scotch and sodas, but she would no doubt inject some energy into her harp-driven madness. Newsom? Not so much.

Aside from the sound of her voice, Joanna Newsom has brought some good things to the music industry. An advocate of downloads, she’s gone out of her way to tote copies of her albums to concerts so she can give them away to those who can’t afford to buy them (pity the poor). She also gets that her sound isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea: “I can understand someone not liking the voice or the songs,” she’s said. You may tally me among them, o’ lady of the mushmouth harp…