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Alternative/Rock

UnCovered: Paper Jackets’ Frontman James Mason Discusses the “Bones” Cover Artwork

Not just a great tune, “Bones” also features some pretty snazzy cover art. For our latest UnCovered interview, Paper Jackets frontman James Mason discusses the single’s art, its creation, and that one album he bought just because of the cover.

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Make no “Bones” about it, Paper Jackets are branching out with their latest single. The band released “Bones” last month, the new track from their upcoming record, Souvenirs Part Two. The song is a little darker than what you’ve come to expect from the group, with themes including overcoming fear and finding faith in oneself. When it comes to releasing new music, Paper Jackets have been on fire, with “Bones” the follow up to recent singles “Drugs & Honey,” “i’m depressed,” “Bad Company,” “White Noise,” and most recently, “Rumors.” Souvenirs Part Two will be the follow-up to Souvenirs Part One, released in July 2020, a collection of alternative rock songs with a nostalgic theme that stretched its way throughout the record.

Celebrating their fifth anniversary this year, Paper Jackets formed when each member was rotating through a number of Sunset Strip jam nights. Their initial interactions were quite random, but those passing interactions led to some productive conversations that helped to begin to lay the foundation for the group. By 2018, they had released their EP Don’t Lose Your Head, and were soon opening for Bishop Briggs and the X Ambassadors. Ever since then, the band has been comfortably rolling along, with an audience growing exponentially with each successive release.

Not just a great tune, “Bones” also features some pretty snazzy cover artwork. For our latest UnCovered interview, we spoke with frontman James Mason about the single cover art, how it was created, and that one album James bought just because of the album cover.

What was the inspiration for the “Bones” cover artwork?

James Mason: “The lyrics and energy of the song served as the inspiration behind the cover artwork. We thought the themes expressed in the music were symbolic of warning signs and dangers visible in the real world. Addictive substances being the obvious first thought but in fact physically reactive dangers as well: fire, explosives, chemical reactions etc… I think the biggest challenge with any graphic design like this is creating a story but not overly ‘on the nose…’ The song indicates various possibilities for the art but we tried to give it a little more than just fire and crossbones. You know what I’m saying?”

Please elaborate on the medium(s) used when creating the art. We’d love to know how the artwork was created.

“This was all created in Photoshop using digitally sourced graphics. We develop the concept and overall philosophy behind the cover then start pulling images, overlays, etc.. then it’s all about the layout really. Layout is the next big feat.”

UnCovered: Paper Jackets’ Frontman James Mason Discusses the “Bones” Cover Artwork

Have you ever purchased an album solely because of its album artwork? If yes, did the music live up to the artwork?

“Yes! Marilyn Manson made me do it! Don’t tell my mom. In the days of Tower Records, yes I would say 90 percent of the music I bought was because of the cover art. Two reasons, at that age, I really didn’t know much about music and it was something you could hold, unpack, and treasure. I’d buy posters for the same reason. It could have the Son of Sam on the cover and I’d have no idea. On some level listeners are just waiting to be informed of what they should like regardless of what it is… Once you become more aware it kind of takes the fun out of being a consumer. You then graduate to becoming a snob who tells people why their music sucks.”

With the increasing popularity of digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important?

“I don’t recommend listening or looking at things that were just pumped out in order to fit the next Friday release schedule. But that good art created with bold, brave, and honest intention always wins. It matters because it tells a real story, has detail, has purpose and is badass! The pixels matter, it’s all in how you use them. Art is a powerful human expression like love and shame. It matters to the viewer just like it matters to the creator and I think it’s obvious when the content falls flat.”

When people look at the single cover artwork, what do you want them to see/think?

“I want to pique their curiosity to listen further to the meaning of the song. I don’t think there’s a prescribed one size that fits all for the meaning of the cover. I would hope everyone who sees it takes from it what they will.”

Have any favourite music-related visual artists?

Björk, Marilyn Manson, Pretty Lights, and Korn.”

What are your thoughts on digital art versus non-digital?

“I think they are both valuable and both equally capable of being criticized. I like taking photos and then altering them digitally then using overlays and various blending tools to create something that surprises me. In the end, it ends up digitized for print or online use so it’s pretty kosher. Not exactly sure if I would start digital and stay digital… Start with something in the real world, capture it and then adapt it.”

Artwork for ‘Bones’ by Paper Jackets

What do you think are some of the cover artworks that have translated best/worst onto t-shirts and other merch?

“I think anything that is printed well and on quality material is half the battle. The other half being the design or artwork. Beyond that I can’t comment.”

Do you prefer having the most creative control when working on the art, or do you prefer when the rest of the band gives you a lot of input?

“I prefer when the band and management team all weigh in.”

Born in 2003, V13 was a socio-political website that, in 2005, morphed into PureGrainAudio and spent 15 years developing into one of Canada's (and the world’s) leading music sites. On the eve of the site’s 15th anniversary, a full re-launch and rebrand takes us back to our roots and opens the door to a full suite of Music, Film, TV, and Cultural content.

Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Album News

Slightest Clue Release Their Rocking, Five-Track EP ‘Carousel’

Vancouver indie rockers Slightest Clue recently released their ‘Carousel’ EP, inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship.

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Slightest Clue
Slightest Clue

Vancouver’s Slightest Clue is like the secret after-school project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and dark pop, all bets are off.

Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new EP, Carousel, is inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing track, “Carousel,” marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.

Commenting on the album, the band states:

“The main theme is love, loss of relationship, and connection. The arc of the story is our foreshadowing of the end in our first song ‘These Days’ speaking on the day to day fights and how neither person can seem to get back to a happy place in the relationship. ‘Why Can’t I Call You?’ is the initial spark of infatuation and obsession with someone before you know them. ‘When You Wake Up’ talks of the blissed out honeymoon stage where everything is working and nothing could go wrong. ‘Suit Uptight!’ represents the mounting frustrations and resentments building tension from unmet needs. And finally our closing track ‘Carousel’ is the end and the bittersweet reflection of a cherished relationship that can no longer return.”

Each member, Malcolm McLaren, Hannah Kruse, Sean Ries, and Nick Sciarretta, brings distinct influences and experiences: a stage actor whose playlists go from Talking Heads to Sonic Youth to Björk, a hook-obsessed recovering choir girl, an electrical engineer whose personal idol is John Bonham, and a guitarist who played for (and left) 10 other bands before deciding this was the one for him.

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

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Alternative/Rock

Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’

The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’

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The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen
The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen

It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.

The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.

Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.

1. “Put It Right”

Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”

2. “Rubicon”

“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.

“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”

3. “It Leads To This”

“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”

4. “The Frost”

“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”

5. “All That’s Left”

“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

6. “Now It’s Yours”

“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”

7. “Every Trace Of Us”

“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”

8. “To Forget”

“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”

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