Amelia’s Magazine | Competition time! The Pickled Award for new character illustration.

Laura_Anderson PIckled Ink
Pickled Ink illustrator Laura Anderson.

Calling all (newish) illustrators! Fancy gaining lots of experience, ailment wider recognition, approved representation from brand new illustration agency Pickled Ink…. and earning yourself a fabulous prize of £1000 into the equation?

As you know I am a major fan of anything that gives up and coming illustrators a way to showcase their work to a wider public and entering competitions is one of the best things you can do to keep the old creative grey matter ticking over whilst you contemplate how to make your way out into the big wide world after graduation.

Pickled Ink illustrator Hanako Clulow.

Behold then, for sale the Pickled Ink Award for an outstanding new character-led artist to illustrate the new graphic novel script by Jenny McDade, best known for the 1980s TV Series Super Gran. Together with comic book author and editor Pat Mills (who is by all accounts a doyenne of the British Comic industry) they are looking for two lead characters, a 20 frame sequence and a front cover design to illustrate a book called Party Girls. If this sounds like your sort of thing you really should get stuck in as soon as possible. The deadline for entries is Monday 8th November 2010. Full information can be found on the website here, but please note that the award is only eligible to illustration or art students in their final year of university or within 12 months of graduating.


Categories ,Character illustration, ,competition, ,graduates, ,Hanako Clulow, ,Illustration Agency, ,Jenny McDade, ,Laura Anderson, ,Party Girls, ,Pat Mills, ,Pickled Award, ,Pickled Ink

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Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review – Crystal Stilts: In Love With Oblivion

crystal-stilts In Love With Oblivion cover

I was hoping to be able to stay away from the Joy Division comparisons while writing this review of New York band Crystal Stilt’s new album In Love With Oblivion, visit this site but like many before me I’ve found it basically impossible – the influence of Ian Curtis flows through the band’s second album like a vein of precious metal. It’s singer Brad Hargett’s drone-like vocal that does it, strongly recalling Curtis as well as the similarly enigmatic Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain. (And now I won’t mention the J D words ever again…promise.)

Crystal Stilts by Stephanie Thieullent
Illustration by Stephanie Thieullent.

In fact quite a lot has been written about Hargett’s singing style, sometimes scathingly, and his vocals are a little monotonous. There are points on this record when I really wanted him to surprise me by stepping out of the echo chamber to give some these songs a bit of extra punch. On Silver Sun for instance, the whole band are doing some pretty great stuff – the guitars and the organs and the jangle of the tambourine but Hargett maintains his monotonal drawl. There are few upbeat tracks on this record and if Hargett switched his style up a bit on some of them, it would lift the whole album.

In Love With Oblivion by Nick Bellhouse
In Love With Oblivion by Nick Bellhouse.

But perhaps I’m missing the point, this appears to be an album that is more concerned with creating atmospheres or feelings than totally nailing each individual track. Hargett’s obvious attachment to the echo effect and the whole lo-fi approach towards recording and production makes this album sound dreamlike, almost as if you could be listening to it underwater, and to over-produce or clean up the sound would mean losing some of this otherworldly charm.

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Departure by Crystal Stilts. From first album Alight of Night.

There’s also a kind of filmic side to the album, thanks to the murky sound and doom-laden lyrics, not forgetting the use of sound effects. Songs open and end with gusts of wind, car crashes, and crickets – it’s totally atmospheric and a big hint that Crystal Stilts aren’t your average Brooklyn-based hipster garage band.

Crystal Stilts by Libby Grace Freshwater
Crystal Stilts by Libby Grace Freshwater.

The band clearly includes some skilful musicians, the Johnny Cash-inspired guitar licks of opening track Sycamore Tree provides as good an introduction as any – this is a track that sounds like it’s been around for the last 50 years. In fact there are clear 1960s influences throughout and pretty convincing in places, like the band went to sleep in 1964 and woke up in 2011 and continued making music like nothing had changed, which for someone like me, who happens to love the music of the 1960s, makes this album a really interesting prospect.

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Through the Floor from In Love With Oblivion.

There are peaks and troughs with this record though, the seven minute Alien Rivers is a needless addition but those that follow like stand-out track Flying Into the Sun is a fantastic listen and includes the inspired lyrics “There’s a black hole/ behind these eyes/ takes everything with it/ when it dies.” Like the album title suggests there is a bit of an emo vibe running through much of Hargett’s songwriting.

Crystal Stilts by Hanako Clulow
Illustration by Hanako Clulow.

This is the kind of album then, that may well find itself providing the soundtrack to a whole host of late night gatherings and post-party hangouts, and I suspect could sound even better when you’re burnt out but not ready to go to bed just yet.

Crystal Stilts are playing in XOYO in London on June 21 – their only UK date and by the sounds of it, well worth getting down to. There will be support from The 1990s and the excellent Still Corners (whom we have an interview with here.)

In Love With Oblivion is out now on Fortuna POP!

Categories ,album review, ,Brad Hargett, ,brooklyn, ,Crystal Stilts, ,Fortuna Pop, ,Gararge Band, ,Hanako Clulow, ,Ian Curtis, ,In Love With Oblivion, ,Jim Reid, ,Johnny Cash, ,joy division, ,Libby Grace Freshwater, ,new york, ,pop, ,psychedelic, ,rock, ,Stéphanie Thieullent, ,Still Corners, ,The 1990s, ,The Jesus and Mary Chain, ,XOYO

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