The BQE – Sufjan Stevens

The BQE – Sufjan Stevens

Just wanted to give everyone who is a Sufjan fan the heads up about his instrumental album The BQE. Maybe some have heard it already or don’t care, but it came out last week, and I have been enjoying it all morning.

Not to diminish his eerily beautiful and emotion filled vocals, or his expansive and vivid song writing skills… but the star of the Sufjan show for me is the musicality of his arrangements. You often can’t tell if a Sufjan song should be played at a house party or a funeral. But, either place is a perfect fit. The music alone provokes the release of a spectrum of emotions, and often continues build in intensity throughout the entirety of a piece.

Well, The BQE takes his time tested and mother approved skills and expands them across an entire album, with out all those pesky lyrics getting in the way.

An apparent homage to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (and maybe Hoola-hoops), the entire album emits a clear vision of movement, busyness, loneliness and excitement. When you hear it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It’s done in a way only Sufjan could, or would do. However, this album takes the man from Detroit to another level of credentials and status that normally wouldn’t befall even an indie artist. It puts him on a pedestal that will allow his next tour to be in Symphony Halls and Opera Houses, not smokey and small night clubs. The BQE brings socialites and hipsters alike come together to appreciate and explore the same music.

Apparently there is also a film that accompanies the album, or vice versa, you can check out bits and pieces on Youtube, or get the entire film when you buy the album. Here’s a sort of trailer to give you a taste:

Check it out.

Dark Was The Night

Dark Was The Night

Dark Was The Night

What album would you direct people to that represents perfectly your ideal music? Not your favorite song, or artist… I think that is an impossible question to answer for most people. But what’s the style that you are into.

I found mine yesterday thanks to my buddy Scott of Surly Birds acclaim. He heard just a snippet of the the compilation album Dark Was the Night and was on a mission to get it to me. He had a feeling that I would geek out about it, and I have to tell you that he was absolutely right. I am in his music sharing debt for at least a year.

I had read about this album back in February on a few blogs, and seen it on iTunes as well. I even downloaded a few tracks from it randomly, with out knowing their original source. But I passed it up, didn’t pursue it. I missed out on some amazing music on account of it. Til’ now.

Check out the artists featured on this two disc compilation:

Andrew Bird

Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons)

Arcade Fire

Beach House


Blonde Redhead

Bon Iver

The Books

Buck 65

David Byrne

Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues

The Decemberists

Aaron Dessner + Bryce Dessner


Dirty Projectors

Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene)


Ben Gibbard (Deathcab for Cutie)

Grizzly Bear

Iron & Wine

Jose Gonzalez

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Kronos Quartet

Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian)

My Brightest Diamond

My Morning Jacket

The National

The New Pornographers

Conor Oberst

Riceboy Sleeps


Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio)


Sufjan Stevens

Gillian Welch


Yo La Tengo

If that list doesn’t mean anything to you, I’m sorry. You are missing out on some tremendous musical forces dominating the ears of the world for the past few years, and the years to come.

These some 31 tracks are a part of an ongoing project from Red Hot, who describe themselves this way:

The Red Hot Organization is the leading international organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture.

Since 1989, Red Hot has produced fourteen groundbreaking albums, related television programs and media events incorporating the talents of leading performers, visual artists, producers and directors to raise funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS.

To date, these efforts have donated nearly 7 million dollars for AIDS relief around the world.

So, in essence this auditory bliss of a project is some of the best artists of today and tomorrow performing everything from original music to covers and remixes in order to raise awareness about and money to fight the AIDS virus.

This isn’t your standard charity song project. We’re not talking Springstein, Wonder and Jackson in a recording boothe here. These are amazing songs with powerful writing, playing and arrangement. Awesome original music written by the performers or amazing covers of underground classics.

Many of these tracks also offer unexpected but obvious musical pairings I haven’t heard before, but hope the colaboration continues. For example, check out the song Train Song featuring Feist and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab and Postal Service fame.

Check out these songs, but please, consider buying this amazing album which goes to support a really good cause and other musical projects hopefully just as good or better than this one.

So next time you ask me what kind of music I am into, I will direct you immediately to this album. Hopefully you will like this enough to do the same when you are asked.

Thanks Scotty.David

Fun work

Martin Luther King Tribute

I wanted to attempt this style  in February, and being Black History Month I chose the Rev. as my muse.

His face is made up of the words of his epic Lincoln Memorial “I have a dream…” speech.

Take a look. I am having it framed as I type.

Smoking Goat Branding

I like beer.

Beer high in flavor, alcohol and price. I brew at home, but wouldn’t consider myself very good at this point. I’m working on it.

We have friends in Louisiana who I would consider really good. I designed some branding for their forthcoming brewery down there.

The Smoking Goat will hopefully be amazing, especially if I get some good beer out of the deal.

Have a look. Then drink a beer and have a look again. Continue this process until the logo looks awesome.

New Poster

This is a poster I made for my buddy Dustin.

A classic quote from him as we drove by Effingham, IL’s infamous and huge cross.

I thought it would look good in his new apartment.

Sheltered Perceptions

I recently got the chance to work on a project for the Humane Society. Given the fact that every time I walk into an animal shelter I have to be talked down from taking home every animal in the place, I was happy to help in anyway I could.

With the majority of pet buying in the United States coming from breeders, mall pet shops and unfortunately mills, animal shelters (specifically the Humane Society) are left overflowing with pets that need loving homes. They are running into a perception problem however, and many misconceptions about shelter pets are accepted as fact, and often repeated as such.

To get past this, we decided to take the problem head on, and address the most common misconceptions individually.

Here is where we landed:

Humane Society - Misconceptions"Mutt"

Humane Society - Misconceptions - "Bark"

Lauren and Dan sit’n in a tree…

My good friend Lauren is getting married in July, and though I am extremely jealous of her fiance Dan (don’t tell my wife), I made their save the date cards.

I use VistaPrint to print these types of things. Though the quality suffers, and the rumor is that they are destroying local community printers nationwide, for the price they can’t be beat. Check them out next time you want to customize your own holiday card or invitation.

Here’s how Lauren’s STDs turned out: