Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Snout - Comic Ad

Earlier this year I visited Florence & Tuscany in Italy.

It was right at the start of this whole media frenzy about Swine Flu, and obviously a lot of people were caught up in the fear of the whole thing.

I found myself unable to contain my laughter though, when the little oriental ladies walked past me in their official anti-germ face masks. I even took to actually saying the words 'Swine Flu' if I coughed or sneezed just to freak people out... in the same way you muffle the word "Wanker" in a fake sneeze sometimes to make fun of someone. It gave me hours of pleasure.

click to increase the image size

However, when the laughs from that childish gag wore down, I took to a more effective way of occupying my time... Drawing. I came up with this idea that you could market ironic germ-wear and decided to draw a comic advert for one of them. It's called "The Snout".

Monday, 27 July 2009

5 More Quick Comic Panels... (Everyday Art Project)

A little update of my 'Everyday Art' project. Here's five more Comic Panels which took me between 5 and 15 minutes each. (I found myself very bored at work the last few days!)

But as you can see... Sometimes boredom is the ultimate catalyst for ideas. Click any picture to get an enlarged view. (You might need to in order to read them!)

Example 1.c - Driven To Kill (Steven Segal)

Example 1.d - Seven Pounds

Example 1.e - Day the Earth Stood Still, The

Example 1.f - Unborn

Example 1.g - Confessions of a Shopoholic

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Everyday Art - Example 1.b & 1.a (High Res)

Continuing on my everyday art project I have created a second comic panel in a an everyday location. It's at my part time job in a video store, and it is related to a new release film. It took me about 10 minutes but will supply me with endless satisfaction.

Example 1.b - The Watchmen

And previously I posted a low res version of Example 1.a. Here is a higher res version to get better purchase on the fun.

Example 1.a - Haunting in Connecticut, The

More examples/locations will be posted in the near future.

Monday, 20 July 2009

and the dish ran away with the spoon...

Today we celebrate the 40th anniversary of pretending to land on the Moon.

Sparked on by the Cold War competition between the US & the USSR, a beautiful photo shoot was arranged on the "lunar surface". This was done in order to finally end the space race, and prove that America was the best at Photo shop (I think they were only on CS1 at that time).

Since this great achievement, the West has gone on to pretend many wonderful things, and hopefully in my lifetime we will pretend to land on Mars as well. That really would be something.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Use the world as your canvas. Lesson 1.

1. Find any blank surface that will support a drawing.

2. Find the time to draw on it.

3. If the drawing can be referential to the item it is drawn on, then it will be especially satisfactory.

(Extra points if the drawing will surprise people on a regular basis.)

Example 1.A - Haunting in Connecticut, The

The photograph isn't especially detailed, (Taken on my Samsung D900irubbishphone) but what you can see is a 'surprise' drawing I did for my workmates, at my part-time job in Blockbusters. On the name board for the new rental movie "The Haunting in Connecticut", I have drawn a rather Scary and/or Spooky ghost. Which will, invariably give my co-workers 'The Heebie-Jeebies' and/or 'The Willies' every single time they see it.

In fact, it's probably scarier even, than the film itself.

Drawing everywhere... This is something I do anyway, and have always done since I was a boy. Much to the dismay of teachers, parents, policemen, friends and others. However I now intend to document as an 'Everyday Art' project. Watch this space.

Monday, 13 July 2009

There's something to be said for not giving up...

Over the last few weeks I took a trip back to my youth by attending two concerts that could've come straight out of the 90's. Blur in Hyde Park, and Oasis at Wembly Stadium.

Remember back in the 90's how there was a big competition between them in the press? About who was the best band? Well that couldn't be more relevant now. I mean, both of these were bands that I followed closely as a young lad, (although Oasis always got me that little bit more) but seeing them play now gives one great perspective.

Moody Motherfuckers

Last week Blur played 2 nights to a sold out Hyde Park (roughly equating to 200,000 people all in). Their show consisted of lots of fairly good pop songs you can remember. It wasn't that tight, or that relevant anymore... but it was good.

Over the last few days Oasis played 3 nights to a sold out Wembly Stadium (around 240,000 people all in). Blasting out hit after hit of tightly played, visceral, and fresh sounding rock jams. I've seen them twice before, and this time they sounded like they meant it more than ever. A perfect example of why perseverance wins. They've got more hits, more fans, and play better. WAY better.

Which is why, to me and many others, the competition has finally been settled. Oasis win by a country house... I mean... a country mile. Their ridiculous pumped-up attitude, their no-nonsense 'music first, imagery second' standpoint, and their perseverance of sticking at it through the highs and the lows of being in a band has made them the better band. They went from the bottom to the top, back down and then back up again. (and they didn't pussy out and 'call it a day' when things weren't going their way.) And to me, that means a lot.

The New Wembly Stadium

Don't get me wrong, I think there will always be a love for both of these bands. They came from a time where British music had a real sense of itself. People were proud of our scene and our bands, and didn't feel the need to copy the American trends of the time.

I think that the next Blur album, assuming they do one, will probably be quite excellent. Providing obviously that they steer clear of Norman Cook taking the producer's chair ("Think Tank" sounded so ewww), and try to pick up where they left off with "13", we could be in for something special; And with Oasis's Most recent effort "Dig Out Your Soul", their best since 95's "(What's The Story) Morning Glory?" seeing a resurgence in their popularity... We could be in for a good new era for British music.

That'd be nice right?

That said... Oasis have proved their stubborn longevity. They are in for the long haul. Blur... well, they left when the songs dried up and then came back in the middle of this reformation craze. So all I'm saying is, don't be surprised if in 5-10 years Blur have called it a day again and Oasis are still releasing vital British rock music.

P.S. Oasis played for over two hours and played only hits. And just to demonstrate how many hits this band have, I've created a list of all the ones they DIDN'T play:

The Importance of being Idle
Talk Tonight
Stand By Me
Some Might Say
D'you know What I Mean?
Go Let It Out
She's Electric
All Around The World
Little By Little
Cast No Shadow
Stop Crying Your Heart Out
Lord Don't Slow Me Down
Don't Go Away
Let There Be Love

You can't tell me that's not ridiculous.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune)

Not everybody who listens to Lights Action will be aware of this, but I am actually a big time Hip-Hop geek.

I listened to Hip-Hop and Soul long before I ever touched rock music, and so it is a huge influence on the way I think about music, the way I think about lyrics, and the way I think about performance.

Now... I haven't really blogged about it much, as nothing seemed particularly appropriate to what we do. That is, until Jay-Z brought his new track "D.O.A." to the world.

D.O.A. is his battle cry against the increasingly saturated pop & Hip-Hop market's use of the studio trick "Auto-Tune". If you don't know what it is, you will definitely have heard it on the radio. It is basically a computer program that, when used correctly, will make any voice sound 'in tune' with a song. It can literally make the worst singer in the world sound in tune.

This practice has become very popular within pop music in recent years, partially I think, because it makes recording things a lot quicker and cheaper, but also because there are more and more acts signed for their looks and not their talent. The bi-product of this use in chart-topping singles, is that it has spilled over into the realms of Hip-Hop.

Hip-Hop has always been known for it's ability to change with trends. Unlike in other styles of music where bands will make the same style of music time after time, with great success, in Hip-Hop... You are encouraged to constantly change your sound and flow, or else you are seen as becoming stale. Seeing the successes of Auto tuned songs on the radio. Hip Hop artists like T-Pain, and Lil' Wayne (Both mentioned in Jay-Z's track) wanted a piece of it for themselves.

Both of those artists have garnered worldwide hits by using this studio trick, and neither of them actually record without it any more. Lil' Wayne even gets a lot of critical acclaim. He was recently featured on the front cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, quoted as being the 'genius of Hip-Hop'. And while I'll concede that he actually has some decent lyrics, his constant auto tune raps make him sound like a sleepy robot.

The only Rap Artist who I will give credit to for his use of Auto tune is Kanye West. To me, he's more of an artist trying out a new set of paints... And although I found some of his last album "808's and Heartbreaks" a bit of a challenge to get through (on account of all the auto tune), I could see what he was getting at. He came through with some quite emotional performances, and well written songs which, yes, got through after repeated listens. I do hope though, that if he intends to sing on his next record, that he puts the effort in to condition his voice so that he can sing naturally. I think that would be a great step forward for him.

There are a lot of Rock bands who use auto tune as well. In fact, the vast majority of them do, but they use a much subtler version than you hear in the pop world. Makes it more difficult to detect.

Much of them use it because the can't really sing that well, and they want a nice sheen to the sound. Or because they've heard it on the big American records, and they want to sound like that etc etc.

And in my experiences of recording, I have had to begrudgingly use it on a few occasions. Mostly because we don't have a lot of money, and we can't spend loads of time in the studio getting the perfect take. So sometimes the best performance emotion-wise is chosen over the best performance tuning-wise etc. People who have seen my band live, know that I can sing in tune, and that I don't really need that stuff. But in the past I have been party to it's use.

However, As I learn more about the art of studio singing, It becomes less and less of a threat. For example, we recently recorded a song in a day with a producer called Romesh. A situation which usually would neccessitate the use of shortcuts. But when it came down to it, I nailed the vocal in a few takes. Absolutely no tuning required. Which, to me, spells good things about the upcoming recordings.

I'm hoping that this 'call out' of Jay-Z's will make producers start to think more about the negative implications of using Auto-tune. And perhaps turn the tides of music, in some small way, back towards those with actual talent.

Here's Jay-Z's perfomance of D.O.A. on BET