Type Essays

Pearl Jam Win at 57th Annual Grammy Awards

February 11, 2015 by
Yves Peters
Yves Peters

Last Sunday February 8, The Recording Academy presented the 57th Grammy Awards, honouring “artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position”. Below is an overview of the nominees and winners of categories that are of interest for our My Type of Music-loving readers: categories 64 and 65, respectively Best Recording Package and Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package. I won’t go as far as to do a ’Ye (God complex much?) but nevertheless I give some type-centric commentary on the nominees and winners.

64. Best Recording Package

© 2014 Monkey Wrench – Discover all the illustrations on the Pearl Jam website
© 2014 Monkey Wrench – Discover all the illustrations on the Pearl Jam website

Pearl Jam | Lightning Bolt [WINNER]

Art Directors | Jeff Ament, Don Pendleton, Joe Spix & Jerome Turner
Label | Republic Records

The artwork on the album cover is continued and expanded upon inside, with a different illustration for every song. While the striking geometric approach in flat black, white and red works really well, the geometric sans… doesn’t. I don’t know if it is lettering or type, but the character shapes betray a lack of knowledge about letter construction and proportions. Even if you want to design letters in a rigidly geometric style, you still need to apply optical corrections to visually compensate the tricks our eyes play on us – for example the ‘A’ and ‘M’ appear to be too short, the bowl on the ‘R’ looks narrower than its leg, the ‘L’, ‘J’ and ‘M’ are far too wide… This should not happen on the album cover for a band of the stature of Pearl Jam.

© 2014 Hove – Discover the full packaging on the Onion Design Associates website
© 2014 Hove – Discover the full packaging on the Onion Design Associates website

The Muddy Basin Ramblers | Formosa Medicine Show

Art Directors | David Chen & Andrew Wong
Label | Hove

[link not found] A jug band from Taipei playing music from the turn of the century such as old time Jazz, blues, ragtime, and so on, The Muddy Basin Ramblers fully embrace the eclectic wood type aesthetic from that period. They also understand that in order to sell a physical album in this digital pick-and-choose era, it pays off to offer the potential buyer a nice incentive. The elaborate packaging is lots of fun, aptly visualising the concept of the album: a traveling medicine show from the 1900s. Typographically it checks all the boxes, from the Brothers typeface-inspired band logo to the smorgasbord of type styles (most of the Adobe Wood Type faces, the Copperplate Gothic typeface, the P22 Cézanne typeface, …) used inside. The body copy looks like it is set in the Adobe Caslon typeface, an appropriate choice.

© 2014 [PIAS]b – Discover the full packaging on thePixies website
© 2014 [PIAS]b – Discover the full packaging on thePixies website

Pixies | Indie Cindy

Art Director | Vaughan Oliver
Label | Pixies Music/[PIAS] Recordings

The story of Pixies is as much defined by their music as it is by the mesmerising visuals by Vaughan Oliver, one of the giants of contemporary music design. The iconic British designer and art director was responsible for most of 4AD’s output during its heyday. It is only fitting that he reprises this role for Indie Cindy, the first full-length studio release by the legendary grunge band since 1991’s Trompe Le Monde. Vaughan Oliver has not lost his impeccable typographic flair, applying his idiosyncratic signature style for this monochrome cover.

© 2014 XL Recordings – Discover the full packaging on the Turntable Lab blog
© 2014 XL Recordings – Discover the full packaging on the Turntable Lab blog

FKA Twigs | LP1

Art Director | Jesse Kanda
Label | Young Turks/ XL Recordings

There is no text on the cover for the debut of British experimental R&B artist Tahliah Barnett, but the typeface on the back and inside is the original distressed typewriter face FF Trixie.

© 2014 Nettwerk – Click the image to see the album cover on Amazon
© 2014 Nettwerk – Click the image to see the album cover on Amazon

Passenger | Whispers

Art Director | Sarah Larnach
Label | Nettwerk

No no no no no. I can stomach the fake worn vintage schoolbook fetishism up to a point, but if you insist on going down that road at least try to get the typeface right. Brilliant as it may be, in this context the Georgia typeface is a lazy and inappropriate choice as it is one of the quintessential fonts specifically designed for the screen. Why not go for something really old-timey and quirky that the viewer can believe in? Or a convincing vintage-like text face like Hollandse Mediaeval or Luminance or Hightower or Vendetta or Pratt Nova or something in that vein? And do not space those lowercase letters so loosely. And fix the kerning between the ‘P’ and the ‘a’. And why did you have to make me sound like a cranky old fart?

65. Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package

You can view all the entries for this category on the Modern Vinyl website.

© Third Man Records – Click the image to discover the package on the Third Man Records website
© Third Man Records – Click the image to discover the package on the Third Man Records website

Various Artists | The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917–27) [WINNER]

Art Directors | Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White
Label | Third Man Records/Revenant Records

© 2014 The Numero Group – Click the image to see the package on the Numero Group website
© 2014 The Numero Group – Click the image to see the package on the Numero Group website

Various Artists | Cities Of Darkscorch (Board Game)

Art Directors | Leland Meiners & Ken Shipley
Label | The Numero Group

© Third Man Records – Click the image to see the package on the Consequence of Sound website
© Third Man Records – Click the image to see the package on the Consequence of Sound website

Neil Young | A Letter Home (Vinyl Box Set)

Art Directors | Gary Burden & Jenice Heo
Label | Third Man Records

© RCA – Click the image to discover the package on the Imogen Heap website
© RCA – Click the image to discover the package on the Imogen Heap website

Imogen Heap | Sparks (Deluxe Album Box Set)

Art Directors | Andy Carne & Imogen Heap
Label | RCA Records/ Megaphonic Records

© 2014 Rhino – Click the image to see the package on Amazon
© 2014 Rhino – Click the image to see the package on Amazon

Grateful Dead | Spring 1990 (The Other One)

Art Directors | Jessica Dessner, Lisa Glines, Doran Tyson & Steve Vance
Label | Rhino