Album Cover Art – Winter 2017 Edition

Well, we all somehow made it to the end of 2017 alive. In that time I’ve gathered up several album covers that I thought were worth sharing. Our first album up is a modern take on the Little Red Riding Hood myth. One of these days I will make a proper LRRH post because there is so much fantastic art surrounding this theme, but for now you’ll have to settle for this. This is the cover for Declan “Dec” Burke‘s album Destroy All Monsters. Burke is a veteran of prog rock, performing in the bands Darwin’s Radio (who took their name from a Greg Bear sci-fi novel) and Frost*. This album, Burke’s solo debut, features the more poppy side of prog music. In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of late 80s pop, like Genesis and Peter Gabriel. The title, of course, is a reference to the classic Japanese kaiju film of the same name.

Artist Unknown – Dec Burke – Destroy All Monsters (cover) (2010)

This next cover is from an album by the female-led garage rock/punk act Demolition Doll Rods. The image should be familiar to everyone at this point in some form or fashion. It’s practically iconic at this point and is usually accompanied by some one-line joke like, “So that’s why I make less money than you.” Anyway, it was bound to crop up on some album someday, and so it did, appearing on the front of DDR’s 2006 release There Is a Difference.

Artist Unknown – Demolition Doll Rods – These Is a Difference (front cover) (2006)

Meanwhile, the back cover featured a small photo of three toddler-age children—two girls and a boy—in various states of undress, presumably representing the three band members.

Artist Unknown – Demolition Doll Rods – These Is a Difference (back cover) (2006)

Okay, so this next one is sort of cheating because it’s easy to use covers from child singers. I could fill several posts with those alone. But this one is exceptionally nice, I think. It’s the cover of the debut EP from 2016 America’s Got Talent winner Grace VanderWaal, called Perfectly Imperfect. Grace has a particularly striking face anyway, and then the addition of the colorful illustrated elements transposed over an elegant black & white photo of the young musician just make this cover stand out from the pack. Her new album, her first LP Just the Beginning, also has a beautiful cover, front and back, but I just really dig the artiness of this EP cover.

Photographer Unknown – Grace VanderWaal – Perfectly Imperfect (cover) (2016)

Next up is an album cover which features several of my favorite things for a cover: a fantasy element (an archaic dragon rendered in what appears to be sculpted leather or wood), a trippy, oddly colored photo of the band as viewed through a fish-eye lens, and, of course, a little girl. This is the cover for New Wave band Squeeze‘s Some Fantastic Place. I really wish I knew the story behind this cover. The little girl may be the daughter of or otherwise related to one of the band members, but who knows? All I know is it’s a really beautiful cover, and it’s a great album too!

Photographer Unknown -Squeeze – Some Fantastic Place (cover) (1993)

And the eponymous single from the album also features the same little girl, along with a second girl of about the same age.

Photographer Unknown -Squeeze – Some Fantastic Place (single cover) (1993)

And here is the cover for only release so far from Major Organ and the Adding Machine, a supergroup comprised of various members of a musical collective called Elephant 6. The album is self-titled and was released in 2001. Beyond that I know little about it.

Artist Unknown – Major Organ and the Adding Machine – Major Organ and the Adding Machine (cover) (2001)

This next is from a single release by Danish singer (sounds a bit like ‘Moo’), and the song is a cover of the Spice Girls tune Say You’ll Be There. Fittingly, MØ’s album art features a photo of five young girls dressed and performing as the Spice Girls.

Photographer Unknown – MØ – Say You’ll Be There (cover) (2014)

And here we have the cover for the dream pop group Beach House‘s album Thank Your Lucky Stars. The photo on the cover is of the band vocalist Victoria Legrand’s mother when she was a little girl and was taken in the 1950s. The girl is holding up a doll or figurine still in its packaging, which suggests the photo was either taken at Christmas or during the girl’s birthday. Whatever the case, it’s a charming photo.

Photographer Unknown – Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars (cover) (2015)

The cover photo on Cairo’s A History of Reasons is a bit too grainy, but I liked the concept enough to post it. I could find almost nothing on the web about this band other than they are a folk/indie group from Toronto.

Photographer Unknown – Cairo – A History of Reasons (cover) (2015)

Now we have what may be my favorite cover of the bunch, Olivia Chaney‘s The Longest River. Chaney is also a folk musician, albeit British this time, and seeing this photo just makes me melt. I assume this is a photo of a father and his daughter but I could not verify that. The graphic element which comprises the off-center frame around the photo is a representation of the Egyptian goddess Nut. (Compare against images on Google.) In addition to its wonderful cover image, the album has the added benefit of being quite good.

Photographer Unknown – Olivia Chaney – The Longest River (cover) (2015)

The artwork featured on this next album, which is The Getaway by Red Hot Chili Peppers, is a painting by Kevin Peterson. You really should take a look at Peterson’s website as there are tons of paintings of little girls, usually alongside animals of various sorts or against graffiti-covered walls. In fact, he really warrants a post of his own on Pigtails. Anyone want to volunteer?  The painting itself is called Coalition II, and Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis, in an interview on the Kevin and Bean show, explained why they chose it for the cover: “Normally we get a little more highbrow artsy, and this just felt extremely warm and human. Even though it’s animals, it felt human. And it’s also us. Chad is the bear, Josh is the girl, and Flea is the raccoon, and me as the funny little raven out front.”

Kevin Peterson – Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway (cover) (2016)

And here is the actual painting in full:

Kevin Peterson – Coalition II

Our penultimate album cover is for alt rock/alt country band Lambchop‘s album Nixon. The painting on the cover was done by Wayne White, a longtime friend of the band’s singer. White has done other artworks for Lambchop albums but this one is my favorite. It’s designed to resemble one of those old collectible postcards for particular US towns or cities.

Wayne White – Lambchop – Nixon (cover) (2000)

And last but certainly not least, our sole example from a non-Anglophone country is this cover for Gente da Gente, by Brazilian group Negritude Júnior. In a world that seems to be growing more and more hostile to the notion of racial diversity, I find this cover to be disarmingly sweet and lovely. I think the idea here is that, stripped of our personal and cultural pretenses, we’re all pretty much the same. I tried to find a super-high quality version of this image on the web but this was the best I could do. Perhaps someone out there might like to buy this album and do a high-pass scan of the cover? If not, this version isn’t too bad, I think.

Edit: A reader has shared a link in the comments section to a better version of this image. Rather than simply replace it, however, I am going to leave the original and add the new version, but as it is the better version, I’m placing it first. 🙂 I did find the version at the link to be a bit washed out though, so I pushed up the saturation and contrast levels a bit and removed the halftone enough to still maintain clarity. – Pip

Photographer Unknown – Negritude Júnior – Gente da Gente (cover) (1995) (1)

Photographer Unknown – Negritude Júnior – Gente da Gente (cover) (1995) (2)

And that concludes our album cover posts for this year. Happy holidays, everyone!

 

 

Graffiti & Girls

I am pleased to present another submission from one of our guest writers, Ami. It is a challenge when editing someone else’s work to preserve the style and personality of the contributor while making sure the language is concise and clear. It is because of the dedication of fans like Ami that Pigtails can offer a broader perspective than Pip and I could by ourselves. Although we may not completely accept the world view of any particular writer, I think Ami’s contribution is worthy of exposure on this site. Enjoy, -Ron

Banksy is maybe the only graffiti artist ever to achieve household name recognition. His anonymous anti-establishment black & white stencil pieces have been spotted around the world. He boasts legal exhibitions, with his stuff going to people like Kate Moss and John Travolta for upwards of a quarter-million pounds, and there’s a movie about him: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010).

Banksy - August, 2005

Banksy – August, 2005

Totally subaltern, it makes sense that one of Banksy’s landmark pieces is of… a little girl—the most hard-core rebellious tag that any subversive could identify with. So it was very apt, when on August 5th, 2005 the Global Community awoke to find a little girl had appeared, written by Banksy, on the 700 kilometer Security Barrier that is rapidly dividing the pariah Palestinians from the Israelis. Braided—maybe an allusion to Astrid Lindgren’s little anarchist heroine Pippi Longstocking—the small girl holds on to eight balloons that lift her off. She has an almost impossible lightness in a place noted for being very weighty, in a sometimes heavy world.

Another artist has also tweaked the graffiti art genre to achieve some legitimacy for the otherwise criminal art. Kevin Peterson, based in Houston, Texas, transferred wild-style scripts, tags and “bombed-out” urban spaces to canvas, and used it with corrugated metal as a background for the wickedest rebel icon: little girls… posing, strolling, gently smiling or just chillin’.

Kevin Peterson - Discompose (February, 2011)

Kevin Peterson – Discompose (February, 2011)

Kevin’s style is photo-realistic, causing one critic, Arseny Vesnin, to compare his work to Jacques-Louis David. The exquisitely rendered and vivacious little girls against a backdrop of rough street-art, urban decay and industrial metals offers a big contrast between the purest innocence and the trashiest breakdown. Kevin writes:

“It’s about growing up and living in a world that is broken. These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world.”

Kevin describes himself in an interview with Michelle Markelz as having a soft spot for kids and it shows. We can easily tune in and empathize with the inner worlds of the girls in his figurative foregrounds. Each girl is solo, alone on the canvas, sometimes melancholy with perhaps a few hesitant smiles. Kevin says, “My work deals with isolation, loneliness and longing teamed with a level of optimistic hope.”

Kevin Peterson - Alone II

Kevin Peterson – Alone II

“Issues of race and the division of wealth have arisen in my recent work. This work deals with the idea of rigid boundaries, the hopeful breakdown of such restrictions, as well as questions about the forces that orchestrate our behavior.”

Recognizing his precise vision of innocence juxtaposed against hardness, Kevin makes reference to Banksy’s iconic Security Barrier girl many times in his work.

Kevin Peterson - from Graffiti Girls series

Kevin Peterson – from Graffiti Girls series

“A person who decides to go out and paint illegal graffiti and ‘deface’ other people’s property was once an innocent child as well but something happened along the way and they developed into someone who was willing to break laws and social norms to express themselves in such a way.”

…And sometimes that person who is willing to “break […] social norms to express themselves” still really is a child! If the image of a small graffiti girl is rebellious, a lil’ girl who writes graffiti must be revolutionary…

Solveig Barlow - November 29, 2007

Solveig Barlow – November 29, 2007

Called the “New” or “Female Banksy” by British media, the ten-year-old schoolgirl Solveig Barlow writes legally on wastelands around her Brighton home. While supported by her (magazine) writer father Paul and mother Heidi, she isn’t coached by them. Speaking of her muse Solveig told The Sun, “I’m not sure where I get my inspiration. I must just have a good imagination.” Solveig, which means “sunbeam” in Norwegian, uses SOL as her tag.

Solveig Barlow - March 23, 2009

Solveig Barlow – March 23, 2009

In the spirit of Banksy a year-and-a-half earlier, SOL gets up to the Berlin wall.

Solveig Barlow - November 27, 2007

Solveig Barlow – November 27, 2007

Graffiti is a subversive art—frequently anonymous, the expression of the alienated and disaffected. Its messages tend toward anti-establishment in form and content. But the most dissident piece or artist of all, turns out to be… the little girl.

The ultimate dissident philosophy is cute, fun, colorful, playful and readily forgives; it’s vulnerable, fragile, sincere and cries easily. That is what is most threatening to the heaviness of the world. That is what is most defended against, poked fun at and even called a crime.

Kevin Peterson - Into the Light

Kevin Peterson – Into the Light

Out-of-doors artist and social activist Keith Haring’s “radiant babies” are referenced by Kevin in his “Into the Light”. Openly gay, Keith was outspoken on gender and sexuality issues. He died of AIDS-related complications quite young, just 31.

Kevin Peterson - Hope

Kevin Peterson – Hope

”Kevin Peterson has a way with color that is so magnetizing and utterly perfect that at your first glance you see a photograph, at second glance you begin to realize it’s truth, by the third you are right in the middle of his brilliantly executed contrasted world of struggle and hope. Peterson has a clear depiction of the struggles of life … but it is his undertone of optimism and vulnerability that has kept our attention.” -Erin Leigh

The little girl in “Hope” is Ruby Bridges, after Norman Rockwell’s integration painting: “The Problem We All Live With”; she is a symbol of overcoming, reminding us that the dreams of movement and acceptance from earlier periods of art history still have hope and are found living in the same media today. While at the time, six-year-old Ruby represented the breakdown of racist segregation, today such a little girl might point to the equally powerful and punitive ageist and sexist rhetoric that maintains the norms and taboos of a contemporary capitalist patriarchy. Norman’s painting was printed in Look in 1964, since he had ended his contract with The Saturday Evening Post the previous year due to their unwillingness to accommodate his political expression.  Kevin says today, instead of trying to help solve social problems, he prefers to portray them in paint. “I’ve always enjoyed painting the figure…”

Kevin Peterson - Teddy

Kevin Peterson – Teddy

Long ago hardened against the glyph of the adult face and figure, every form of psychological defense thrown up against its affective expressions, the little girl still evokes for us our ultimate humanity, sensitivity and impermanence in an infinitely tender Universe.

Banksy - (untitled) (1)

Banksy – (untitled) (1)

Egoistic consciousness, meshed with the machinations of the big world, hates and despises what is sweet and soft and warmhearted. Kindness and caring melt the ego and its defenses. That’s why a harmless little girl is the most threatening icon to the System: she is trans-political and dissolves the vast, hard defenses of the statist war-machine and its cogs. Unlike ordinary signs, little girls are not absurd and dead arbitrary signifiers; they disarm everyone universally and immediately, being natural symbols of gentleness and goodhearted irreverence.

Banksy - (untitled) (2)

Banksy – (untitled) (2)

“As far as I can tell the only thing worth looking at in most museums of art is all the schoolgirls on day trips with the art departments.” -Banksy

And Solveig Barlow is definitely one schoolgirl worth taking a looking at….

Solveig Barlow - April 14, 2009

Solveig Barlow – April 14, 2009

In and through Solveig Barlow there is a radical going-over of the traditional subject/object dichotomy in Western art history. The little girl who had appeared as an image in the outsider art of graffiti writers, standing for the total subversion of all egoistic and worldly defenses, comes to life off the concrete walls and corrugated metal and writes for herself those anti-establishment images and graffiti.

Solveig Barlow

Solveig Barlow

For more images from these artists you can read Ami’s unedited article here and here.

SOL official website

Banksy official website

Kevin Peterson official website