Who Shot Rock & Roll:
A Photographic History, 1955-Present
by Gail Buckland
More than a few images stuck around in our head after leaving the Brooklyn Museum’s “Who Shot Rock & Roll” photo exhibition early this year. “If only these were in book form, we would revisit them every day,” we thought. So check it: Spanning Elvis to M.I.A, the companion book collects over 200 of the iconic photos shown in the exhibit, accompanied by curator Gail Buckland’s sly telling of how photography shaped the identity of rock music, serving as a convincing argument that the two are inseparable, and as a heartfelt love letter to both. ($25)
at Madison Square Garden Poster
We can remember Arcade Fire’s August 4 show at MSG like it was yesterday, but when we’re old and gray and trying to tell our hypothetical grandkids about it, that may not be the case. We may need a visual aid. Designer Wes Winship’s use of three colors and French whitewash paper may therefore be the best use of three colors and French whitewash paper we come across in our life. ($30 from burlesquedesign.com)
Customized Song Lyric Wall Art
If you send artist Stephanie Morris of crafty DIY brand GeeZees lyrics to a song, she’ll print them on canvas, making use of her sharp typography and design skills, and wrap it on a 1.5-inch wooden frame, but only after you work with her on getting it to look exactly as you had hoped. Various size options are available—9×12, 12×16 and14x24—fitting up to 100, 300 and 750 words, respectively. That should be enough to squeeze in all the words to Belle & Sebastian’s “We Rule the School,” right? Do something pretty while you can, everyone. ($286 from Etsy.com)
Joy Division by Kevin Cummins
The story of Ian Curtis as one of rock music’s great tortured souls/fallen icons is both heartbreaking and captivating. The same can be said for photographer Kevin Cummins’ book on the subject. After spending intimate time with Joy Division in the 70s (he was one of the only photographers granted such access), he’s gathered more than 200 of his images and buffered them with Factory Records flyers, ticket stubs and more. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like eerily beautiful photos detailing a consuming illness, a tragic love affair, and suicide at the age of 23. ($45 from UrbanOutfitters.com)
Expedit Shelves from Ikea
No matter the size of the vinyl collection in question, these shelves are an affordable, nice-enough looking storage solution. Basically a series of 15″ cubes, they come in groups of 4, 8 or 16, in white (yuck), birch (eh), walnut (we guess) and black (definitely). They start at only $40, too. Good taste in records sold separately.
Derek Erdman Prints
Things take a lighter tone in a series of limited prints from goofy-awesome Chicago-based illustrator Derek Erdman, commissioned exclusively for Insound. In a style that crosses the cartoon video for Peter Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” with The Beet’s art muse Matthew Volz, Erdman depicts such fictional scenarios as “Three-Quarters of Joy Division Win Big at OTB” and “Mark E. Smith Writes 417 Royalty Cheques Every Year,” subverting typical indie-rock stuffiness with a wink. Read Erdman’s explanation of each illustration at Insound for a good laugh. ($25 print on mohawk paper stock, $500 acrylic painting on wood from Insound.com)
Orange Juice, Coals to Newcastle Box Set
“How many high-profile reissues does it take for an unsung band to finally become sung?” is a Zen koan for the ages, though the necessity for an exhaustive seven-disc anthology is a fair clue that Scottish indie-pop legends Orange Juice have finally escaped the unknown. As their rickety late-70s beginnings have been so recently cataloged, with the fine Glasgow School compilation (included here too, of course), the greater lure is an expansive treatment of the band’s fine, funk-flecked, out-of-print 80s pop.
Score a Perfect 10.0 Using Only Your iPhone
It’s only a matter of months, presumably, before some bright, young Brooklynite wins breathless, sign-of-the-times profiles for recording a critically acclaimed album entirely on an iPhone. Why not gift the next-big-things in your friend circle with both the means to produce, and irresistible lede-catnip for the music writers they hope to impress? A 10-dollar iTunes gift card is enough to download the StudioApp, which transforms their handset into a classic 4-track recorder. Any semblance of clarity might depend on throwing-in a capable, iPhone-compatible microphone, like Blue’s Mikey G2 Pro (available online for around 80 bucks), and still come in cheaper than an eBay-ed analog console.
Decoded by Jay-Z
Jigga’s convention-subverting autobiography is less confessional and more annotated poetry collection, matching never-written down rhymes to experiences, ideas and antecedents that inspired them. No MC speaks more intelligently about his own work, with real life anecdotes leading into art historical analyses and zeitgeisty connections to the cultural currents from which 36 songs emerged. Insights gleaned from Jean-Michel Basquiat canvases follow revelations about adolescent crimes, all beautifully bound behind a Warhol “Rorschach” painting on the cover. It’s easily the most tasteful rap book in existence, which is exactly what you’d expect from Jay-Z. ($18)