Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris

The video for Franz Ferdinand's new single "Right Action" makes us long for the simple and bold graphics of intermediate school textbooks. Directed by Swedish animator Jonas Odell, who also did "Take Me Out," it might be the most graphic-design-reliant video we've seen in some time. 

Expanded box sets, when done well, can be about more than extra tracks and remixes. The expanded version of the new collection of Skying singles and videos from The HorrorsHigher,  comes as a limited-edition box with six individual marble pieces of art from album art guru Leif Podhajsky.

Disclosure (just added to the Pitchfork Paris line-up) issues another video from its rapturously received debut album Settle. "F for You" both approximates our idea of the duo's live show (and shows off its integrated gear quite nicely) and plays with light. Ross McDowell and Bullion Collective's Ben Murray are once again directing, as they did for MVA-nominated "Control."

The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival for 2013, curated by the Land and Sea Department, celebrates arts, music, food, and culture in Logan Square, Chicago—which just so happens to be the home of Nothing Major HQ. 

The fest features the work of over 50 visual artists and designers from the area (graphic superstars Drug Factory Press and Sonnenzimmer for instance) in pop-up galleries, live music on two stages (notable acts include Dam-Funk, Waco Brothers, Santah, and The Cairo Gang), and food booths from the likes of stellar local restaurants Reno, Chicago Diner, and Parson's Chicken & Fish. 

But the MAAF is even better than that because Nothing Major will be on hand—in pop-up shop form, that is. 

The Nothing Major shop at MAAF will be stocked with limited quantities of OLO Lightning Paw perfume, Juniper Ridge room spray, Taylor Stitch shirts, our Coil Lamp, totes, T-shirts, patches, and diamond pins. The shop will also stock a limited range of items from FairEnds, Needles & Pens, Co.lab and Filly.

We're also excited to introduce four new caps from our Nothing Belongs to Ebbets collection, which will be available exclusively at MAAF. Plus, we'll have discount code buttons for our online shop. So come on by and meet the team!

The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival runs Friday June 28 5pm-10pm, Saturday June 29 12pm-10pm, Sunday June 30 12pm-10pm on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago's Logan Square. Visit MAAF online for more information.

Kantor Records, a German record label, couldn't get music supervisors to pay attention to its music. They quickly realized the problem might lie in the format they were sending. The label replaced the thousands of ignored promo CDs with a package they called "The Office Turntable," which included a bright orange vinyl LP and a special QR code that lets the user hear the music directly from a smartphone. While the device is meant as a foot in the door for the label, the QR codes offered some positive analytics: 71% of the turntables Kantor sent out were activated. 

The xx and Grizzly Bear toured the U.S. and Canada together and Manchester's Dr. Me designed a very handsome poster available only at the shows. Some superfans couldn't make the gigs, however, and petitioned for their own posters. So the designer has wisely made the posters available to the rest of us.

Hot Ice

Originally created by an indie film studio as a Tumblr to hype the A Band Called Death documentary, My Dad Was In A Band has taken on a life of its own. In fact, we wanted to post about it for a while, but it was jumping to a new URL and now enjoys the support of the mighty Dangerous Minds. In any case, the concept simply rocks: Users submit photos and stories of their dad's "vintage" bands from years gone by. The result: a treasuretrove of small-time New Wave, hair metal, punk, boogie, garage, and psych acts—with some jazzbos in there, too. We can't decide which we love more, the vintage glossy 8x10s or the band names for these mostly totally unknowns. Let's just say, if you're holding any archival evidence of your pop's longhaired gigging years, nows the time to make it known.

Here's a few faves from the site:


Burlington, ON Canada – 1981-1983 – Punk

I’ve known from the youngest age, that my dad ups the punx more than any other dad I will ever meet. –Brandon, Son of Chris Crash.


BEAUMONT, TX – 1977-1986 – Rock/Country

My dad, John Smith, learned how to play guitar because he idolized Buddy Holly and he wanted to get girls. After serving in Vietnam he spent fifteen years as a professional musician in club bands in Europe and Texas. He met my mother, a waitress and bartender, while performing in Beaumont, Texas in the late 70s. –John W. Smith, son of Bassist John Smith.

The MOCAtv web series "The Art of Punk" we told you about is underway and the first installment on Black Flag and Raymond Pettibon is up. Pettibon's album art and logo were key bits of iconography for his brother Greg Ginn's hardcore act in the '80s. Pettibon's often captioned, often disturbing hand-drawn black and white images undercut the return to a golden age that the Reagan years promised mainstream America. Pettibon's work also turned up on Minutemen albums, and later Sonic Youth's major label record Goo. As great and lasting as Pettibon's work (he also named the band, we learn) has been on American punks, his Black Flag logo remains a masterpiece of underground artwork, expressing an attitude in a visual code that's both rebellious, mysterious, and incredibly powerful. The video features Keith Morris, Henry Rollins, and Flea as well as Pettibon himself talking about the Black Flag band name, logo, flyers, and album art.

In 2010 Chicago singer Willis Earl Beal published an autobiographical novella in the form of a few issues of a zine. For his contribution to Nowness' "Shorts on Sundays" series, he adapted elements of that original zine into the short film, "Principles of a Protagonist." In the six-and-a-half minute film using the same hand-drawn line aesthetic as his Acousmatic Sorcery album cover, Beal outlines the character traits that every protagonist requires. One of those principles, he explains, is the reason for his "Nobody" T-shirt and tattoo.


Photo by: Dexterity Press, 2013 | Rodan Release Party poster

Images courtesy of Dexterity Press

Rodan was only active a few years, but the Louisville, KY-based band made quite an impression on the underground scene of the early '90s with powerful but precise compositions which played with extreme dynamics and time signatures. The band's music lurched like a goliath insect—and appropriately its album art for debut Rusty featured a butterfly in flight.

While guitarist/vocalist Jeff Mueller continued in bands such as June of 44 and Shipping News, he eventually focused on art and design, setting up his own printing press studio in Chicago—before moving to New Haven, CT—with his wife Kerri. Rodan's Jason Noble passed away in 2012, so tragically he won't see the release rarities album Fifteen Quiet Years, due out tomorrow, June 11, on Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records. Its cover features a cicada, which seems particularly apt for a band's work unearthed after so many years.

Nothing Major caught up with Mueller to find out more about his bug obsession, printing biz, and Fifteen Quiet Years.

I remember you were really into insects during the Rodan years—I mean visually. I think perhaps you had some bug art in your pace in the Rocket House, my memory can't be trusted.
That's true —there were also crayfish, bird and/or rat skeletons, cicadas, a small frog, one rhinoceros beetle, monarch butterflies, and an egyptian luna moth. All found in the "no longer alive" category, even the skeletons. After their capture, I would preserve them in glass collages using water-born polyurethane to hold the subject in between layers of cut glass. There would often be other small objects like a mono-ear piece or small rubber pig or paper mai-tai umbrella also included in the composition —these items, I think, would be included to give the deceased a source of entertainment, hopefully garnering a post-humous chortle.

What kind of things usually find their way into your printing over the years?
Lots of stuff: appropriated historic anatomical engravings, primates eating delicious iced cream cones, greyhound skeleton, lanterns, ornithological imagery (found, as well as Jeff-generated illustrations), wood, upside-down/foot-up pied metal type, old and new song lyrics, various patterns built using Adobe Illustrator, etc.

What's Dexterity Press and how long have you been doing it? Is is your main gig?
What kind of printing equipment are you using? Where is your studio?
Dexterity Press is a letterpress printing studio my wife Kerri and I opened 13 years ago. It's my main, 9-5 work these days - though that's only been the case since we moved east three years ago. Our first ten years in Chicago were always supplemented by other jobs—painting Chicago north-side houses with Dan Grzeca was key to keeping us alive while things were VERY slow in the early days at our shop. We are now located in New Haven, CT—in the old A.C. Gilbert building complex, where Erector Set toys used to be manufactured. We print on a Vandercook Universal 1 and a Chandler and Price 10 x 15 platen press.  

You recently printed the Thrill Jockey 20th Anniversary posters. What else have you been working lately that's music related?
We printed an Allen Ginsberg/Arthur Russell 10" a year or so ago now for Presspop Gallery, Tokyo. We printed a compilation 12" called "Eight Trails, One Path" for Three Lobed Recordings last year—that was fun because Casey Burns did the art, and many great musicians were involved. We printed an insane looking Mick Barr 12" for the energetic New Haven label Safety Meeting Records. We printed matchbook-style CD jackets for Christian Frederickson. We've been reprinting and retro-fitting Rachel's and June of 44 CD/LP jackets for Touch and Go/Quarterstick records, trying to figure out special-packaging manufacturing methods that can be done entirely in-house for less cost. We printed LP/CD jackets for a great Louisville band called Coliseum. Most recently, the Rodan record took over our studio for a couple weeks.

What was your involvement in the design of the new Rodan rarities album Fifteen Quiet Years?
Jason and I talked about grabbing graphic bits and pieces from our previous releases and collaging them into the new record design; the nuts and bolts of the art was already done, it just needed to be messed with and changed-up some. I did the new layout and created the cicada on the cover. The Quarterstick staff (Corey Rusk, April Sims, Adam Reach, and David Babbitt) helped proof-read and assisted immensely with pre-press. (Rodan members) Tara (Jane O' Neil) and Kevin (Coultas) kicked in with motivational speak and congenial/positive attitudes, sweet love.

Contact Dexterity Press, or browse the Dexterity Press Etsy shop.