Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Former Wilco Member Jay Bennett Dies

Chicago rocker and former member of Wilco (he was with the group from 1994 through 2001), Jay Bennett, died on Sunday, May 24 of undetermined causes. The multi-instrumentalist and singer was only 45 years old.

A friend and collaborator of Bennett’s, Edward Burch made a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Early this morning, Jay died in his sleep and an autopsy is being performed. The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time…He was an extremely talented musician and a great person, and I’ll miss him terribly.”

Wilco are on tour in Spain, but a spokesperson for the band passed along a statement from bandleader Jeff Tweedy:

"We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will miss Jay as we remember him -- as a truly unique and gifted human being and one who made welcome and significant contributions to the band's songs and evolution. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time."

Bennett was born on November 15, 1963 in the Chicago suburb of Rolling Hills and began playing in bands as a teenager. He was a graduate of the University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned multiple degrees in secondary education, math and political science. While in college in the late 1980’s, he co-founded the Replacements-like power pop band Titanic Love Affair, which cut three albums in the heyday of alternative rock between 1991 and 1996; before being dropped from the record label.

Bennett was employed at a VCR repair shop in Champaign, Illinois when he was approached to join up with Wilco as the group began to tour to support their debut LP “A.M.” He made his studio debut with the band in 1996 with the LP “Being There.” Bennett was a very talented and accomplished musician who played an eclectic variety of instruments from the mandolin to the mellotron.

He formed a unique bond with Wilco’s bandleader Jeff Tweedy and his contributions over a seven-year period he was with the group were key to the albums that resulted in the band's national breakthrough, including "Being There" (1996), "Summerteeth" (1999) and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (2002).

However, conflicts between Jeff Tweedy and Bennett that would contribute to Bennett's split with Wilco are visible in the Sam Jones film “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.”

After leaving Wilco, Bennett released five solo albums. The first, entitled "The Palace at 4am,” was collaboration with Champaign musician and friend Edward Burch. In 2004, Bennett released the LP "Bigger than Blue," which is a more stripped-down set of personal songs. In that same year he released "The Beloved Enemy," which saw him explore his personal turmoil in even more intimate detail. Bennett's forth release, "The Magnificent Defeat," was released in September of 2006. He then released "Whatever Happened I Apologize" in November of 2008 on rockproper.com. Additionally, Bennett had been working on a sixth record, tentatively titled "Kicking at the Perfumed Air," but it is unclear whether that record will see release posthumously.

In addition to his well-regarded work with Wilco and as a solo performer, Bennett was also a highly-regarded and sought-after studio talent, having performed on albums by Sheryl Crow, Allison Moorer, Garrison Starr, Jellyfish, Tim Easton, Tommy Keene, Blues Traveler and Billy Joe Shaver (among others). Bennett also produced the Blues Traveler's 2005 release, “¡Bastardos!”

In late April, Bennett wrote on his MySpace blog about dealing with intense pain from a hip injury suffered during a dive from the stage while playing with Titanic Love Affair. He was preparing to have surgery, but was concerned about his lack of health insurance. In May of this year, Bennett filed a lawsuit against Tweedy for breach of contract and unpaid artist's royalties, stemming in part from his role in the film.

"This whole experience [with the hip pain] has really taught me to look both inward and outward for support, and I've learned things about myself that I thought I had completely figured out years ago," Bennett wrote. "Family and friends have helped me to keep faith in a future that will actually be much more carefree than my constricted present state. I encourage you all to tell me stories of recovery, as they really do help... All in all, I'm 'in a really good place' right now; I'm just waiting until I can make it all happen."

Jay Bennett will be missed by millions of fans, who not only loved his music, but his personality as well.

Classic Music Videos

Rush - 1975 - Anthem

This Date In Music History- May 26


Ray Ennis - Swinging Blue Jeans (1942)

Levon Helm - The Band (1943)

Phillip Rhodes - Gin Blossoms (1968)

Verden Allen - Mott The Hoople (1945)

Gary Peterson - Guess Who (1945)

Stevie Nicks- Fleetwood Mac (1948)

Hank Williams Jr. - country singer, songwriter, son of country music's greatest star (1949)

Lenny Kravitz (1964) Buy Lenny Kravitz Music

Vicki Lawrence, who hit the charts with "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and acted on The Carol Burnett Show, was born in 1949.

Alan White – Oasis (1972)

Isaac Slade - The Fray (1981)

They Are Missed:

Born on this day in 1949, Mick Ronson, guitarist, producer, member of The Rats, then worked with David Bowie. Also worked with Mott The Hoople, Bob Dylan, Ian Hunter.

Legendary R&B vocalist Little Willie John died of a heart attack in Washington State Penitentiary, in Walla Walla, at age 30 in 1968. His biggest hit was the 1960 #13 "Sleep." He also originally recorded the song "Fever," later cut by Peggy Lee (among many others).

On May 26, 1977, Billy Powell, singer with the O'Jays died of cancer.

Moondog, the only internationally acclaimed blind avant-garde composer to ply his trade while panhandling in Times Square, was born in Marysville, Kansas in 1916. He died on September 8, 1999.

In 1933, country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers died of a lung hemorrhage in New York at age 35.

Reggae legend Desmond Dekker died in England in 2006. He was 64. In 1969, he cracked the U.S. Top 10 and topped the U.K. charts with the cut "Israelites."

Norma Deloris Egstrom was born in May 26, 1920 (she died on January 21, 2002). Oh, that’s the legendary Peggy Lee by the way.


Elvis Presley recorded "(You're) The Devil In Disguise" in 1963.

In 1999, it was announced that the Backstreet Boys album "Millennium" had sold 1.13 million units in its first week of release.

Don McLean recorded his future #1 smash hit and now iconic song, "American Pie," in 1971.

In 1953, at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Show, a young Elvis Presley placed second in the talent competition.

In 1969, John and Yoko began an eight-day 'bed in', in room 1742 of The Hotel La Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada, to promote world peace.

At the point of the band splitting up, David Bowie offered Mott The Hoople two of his new songs in 1972, “Suffragette City,” which they turned down and “All The Young Dudes,” which they recorded.

In 2005, Mariah Carey scored her 16th #1 hit when "We Belong Together" topped Billboard's Hot 100.

The compilation The Beatles 1967-1970, known to fans as the "Blue" album, went to #1 in 1973 on the albums chart. Buy Beatles Music

In 1973, Deep Purple released their classic hit "Smoke on the Water."

Tragedy struck at a David Cassidy concert at London's White City in 1974 when over 1,000 fans had to be treated by first aid workers due to the frenzied excitement. One fan, Bernadette Whelan, died from heart failure four days later.

In 1990, for the first time ever the Top Five positions on the US singles chart were held by female artists; Madonna was at #1 with “Vogue,” Heart were at #2, Sinead O'Connor #3, Wilson Phillips at #4 and Janet Jackson was at #5.

A fire at the home of Eric Clapton in 1996 caused over one and a half million pounds worth of damage; Firemen arrived on the scene to find Clapton braving the blaze to save his collection of guitars.

Audiophile Audition Review

I want to thank John over at http://www.audaud.com/index.php for the exclusive rights to reprint this great review!

AUDIOPHILE AUDITION focuses on recordings of interest to audiophiles and collectors, with an accent on surround sound for music, and on all hi-res disc formats. Over 100SACD, DVD Video/Audio and standard CD reviews are published during each month, and our archives go back to January 2001.

Elevated the playback of my LPs to a level I could never have dreamed possible from a $200 cartridge.

Ortofon 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge

Ortofon 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge
SRP: $199

Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5 cm/sec: 5.5 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz: 1.5 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz: 25 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz: 15 dB
Frequency range at -3 dB: 20-25,000 Hz
Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz +2 / -1 dB
Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force: 80 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral: 20 µm/mN
Stylus type: Nude Elliptical
Stylus tip radius: r/R 8/18 µm
Tracking force range: 1.6-2.0g (16-20 mN)
Tracking force, recommended: 1.8 g (18 mN)
Tracking angle: 20°
Internal impedance, DC resistance: 1.3 kOhm
Internal inductance: 700 mH
Recommended load resistance: 47 kOhm
Recommended load capacitance: 150-300 pF
Cartridge weight: 7.2 g


About 12 years ago, and through a quite painful (for me, especially) process, I sold off my hi-end big rig (including a Linn/Signet OC9 analog front end, Classe electronics and Magneplanar speakers) and moved into a more budget-friendly and significantly lower-fi home-theater based stereo setup. While the harsh reality was grim at first, within a few months I’d pretty much made the adjustment, although I totally lamented the inability to play some of my favorite LPs, some of which to this day still haven’t been released in any digital format. But with my daughter’s recent entrance into a prohibitively expensive private college and my wife’s upcoming battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, that decision, in retrospect, was the correct one.

Over the ensuing years, I’ve been able to build upon the home theater base with the acquisition of some carefully-considered used equipment that offered higher-end performance, and a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to acquire a second hand Rega P2 turntable. The turntable came equipped with the venerable RB 250 arm, which an intense amount of research had convinced me was its best attribute; it also arrived sans cartridge. I noticed that a number of tables sourced from Rega came equipped with Goldring Elektra cartridges, and assuming that there must be some reasonable symbiosis between the two, I soon was able to procure a gently used (and bargain priced) Elektra and was once again on the path towards analog nirvana. While far from a completely satisfactory situation, it would have to make do; at the very least, I was ecstatic to have access to vinyl playback again. The Goldring actually mated reasonably well with the Rega arm, yielding quite listenable results. Although I fully realized that the Rega/Goldring combination was a shadow of the analog bliss I’d enjoyed with my Linn/OC9 setup from long ago, my long-term memory of the past didn’t get too much in the way of enjoying the music produced by the current system.

The 2M Series

With the recent resurgence of interest in vinyl reproduction, an increasingly regular flow of review copies of LP releases have been made available to me of late. As a result, I’d developed this burning curiosity to see whether a more refined cartridge would enhance my playback and enjoyment of LPs, or whether the limiting factor was my relatively modest system. When Ortofon’s new cartridge series came to my attention late last year, I was definitely intrigued. The 2M Series (2M standing for MM, the abbreviation for moving magnet) is built around four models, the Red, Blue, Bronze and Black, priced respectively at $99, $199, $389 and $669. The lower priced Red and Blue models share the same plastic bodies and reproducing engines; the cost differential between the two comes from the Blue’s use of a nude elliptical stylus versus the Red’s elliptical stylus. The more expensive Bronze and Black models incorporate bodies made of Noryl, a glass/plastic hybrid that significantly improves the cartridges’ resistance to resonance; they also feature enhanced engines with split pole pins and silver plated copper wiring. The Bronze uses a nude fine line diamond stylus, while the flagship Black features the same Shibata stylus found on Ortofon’s highly acclaimed Jubilee MC cartridge.

It didn’t take much to convince me that I badly wanted to experience this cartridge line, and a review that fell just short of an all-out rave from a contemporary over at Positive Feedback had me totally sold. Add a resoundingly firm endorsement from my local Ortofon dealer who couldn’t seem to keep the 2M Red on his shelves, and the deal was sealed. A short series of emails later, Louis Dorio from Ortofon and I agreed that the 2M Blue was the best match for my RB 250 arm and my goals for the review, and in a few brief days I was in serious business!

I’ve mounted countless cartridges over the years, and I’ve often found the exercise to be taxing and tedious. The 2M offered, for me, the most painless cartridge mounting experience of my entire existence as an audiophile. I’m not sure whether Ortofon is trying to maximize the power of suggestion with all those sultry looking photos scattered all over the internet of 2M Series cartridges mounted in Rega arms, but it should be totally obvious to just about anyone how the contours of the 2M’s body match the contours of the Rega headshell almost perfectly! It just seemed too good to be true, but mounting the 2M Blue flush to the edges of the RB 250 placed it in the absolute perfect position. And the inclusion of integral mounting screws made the job amazingly quick – no more fiddling about with tiny bolts or searching for dropped microscopic nuts! A quick check with my trusty old Mo-Fi Geo-Disc (thank goodness I didn’t get rid of that) confirmed that the cartridge offset and overhang were in the optimum position. This took less than fifteen minutes, while in the past I’ve agonized for what seemed like hours – Rega owners will definitely rejoice over the ease of installation and setup.

I’ve always leaned towards higher VTF settings, so I set the tracking force at Ortofon’s recommended 1.8 grams. A real quandary came with the Vertical Tracking Angle setting. The 2M Blue’s body is slightly taller than my current Goldring cartridge, and I immediately noticed that the VTA would need some adjustment. The Rega doesn’t offer continuously variable VTA adjustment, and although such adapters can be had, they aren’t cheap, so I was forced here to take the middle ground. My 200 gram pressings from Classic Records definitely pushed the issue, and I’ve been getting an increasing number of 180 gram reissue pressings as well. I also have a number of standard weight 140 gram pressings, so I compromised and set the VTA to be accurate for 180 grams. Regardless, the VTA change was only a few millimeters at best, and I can’t honestly attest to any significant alteration of the sonic character during playback of any of the differing weights of vinyl. I also had a bit of a challenge setting the arm’s anti-skating; whereas in the past I’d always set the anti-skate value to match the tracking force, that didn’t seem to work here. After a period of extensive experimentation setting the value by ear, I finally arrived at about half of the 1.8 gram tracking force.

Listening Results

The first real acid test for me came with Kor (Proprius 7770), featuring the Mikaeli Chamber Choir conducted by Anders Eby. This LP offers for me the best presentation of acapella mixed voices ever recorded, in truly unusual repertory that I’ve never seen duplicated anywhere in thirty-plus years. Proprius LPs were highly prized in their day not only for their exceptionally lifelike acoustic qualities, but also for their uniformly superb pressings. This disc arrived in less than pristine condition, but was nonetheless playable via the Goldring/Rega combination, although the surface noise was sometimes excessive. And although I’d always had some issues with any of my previous arm/cartridge combinations (including the Linn) tracking the third movement of Cesar Geoffray’s magnificent ‘Triptyque Marial,’ the Goldring/Rega managed it reasonably well. Right out of the box, with no break-in whatsoever, the 2M Blue offered such an unbelievable increase in musicality that even my wife (who I often accuse of being tone-deaf) immediately took notice and remarked on the obvious difference! Besides the incredible gains in imaging and musicality, the surface noise was reduced exponentially, almost to the point of being a non-issue, whereas it previously made listening through the Goldring cartridge challenging at best. And the tracking ability of the 2M Blue continually impressed me; the ‘Triptyque Marial’ came through with the kind of clarity I’d never have dreamed possible.

Another record that rates highly on my short list is the Speaker’s Corner reissue of the 1956 Decca Blueback Espana (SXL 2020), featuring Ataulfo Argenta conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a remarkably entertaining assortment of Spanish-influenced repertory. The album’s keystone moment comes in the opening selection, Rimsky-Korsakov’s great Capriccio Espagnol, which is given a bravura performance by a fiery young conductor that (in my book) has never been bettered. The recording is among the most dynamic records I’ve ever encountered, with truly thunderous bass and tremendously potent transients. Listen closely and you can hear the rumble of the subway running underneath London’s Kingsway Hall, which only adds to the already incredible realism of this exceptional LP. The 2M Blue delivered the performance with not only freshness and vitality, but also with a viscerally dynamic realism I wouldn’t have thought possible from such a modestly priced arm and cartridge combination.

A truly superb 180 gram, 2 LP set that recently came my way is Diana Krall’s The Look of Love (ORG 004) from Original Recordings Group. These LPs are easily among the finest I’ve ever encountered and totally justify the $40 price tag for the 2-disc set. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Diana Krall’s voice rendered more three-dimensionally than on these records via the 2M Blue; I was also mightily impressed by the depth and width of the soundstage that the 2M Blue projected. And the absolute scads of remarkably deep and tightly controlled bass – bass that was significantly lacking in both depth and refinement via the Goldring – was little short of revelatory as heard through the 2M Blue.When I first acquired the Rega/Goldring combo a few years back, I immediately fell back into that favorite pastime of combing the racks of local stores for used records, but in no time at all discovered that playback via the Goldring was relatively flat and uninspiring with just about every used LP I tried. As a large percentage of my listening at the time revolved around a fairly steady flow of SACD reviews, the turntable eventually was relegated to playback of old favorites and the occasional LP review. I was curious how the 2M Blue would respond in this environment, and to my great joy and surprise, it breathed new life into old records, like a pristine copy of Dire Straits’ eponymous debut album, which had seemed almost lifeless via the Goldring cartridge. A recent business trip yielded what appeared to be an unplayed copy of Al Stewart’s classic Year Of The Cat, whose title track jumped from my speakers with a weight and authority that my CD version could not approach – the experience was literally like hearing the record for the very first time! I’ve found myself once again actively searching for used records, and have so far not been disappointed by anything I’ve heard via the 2M Blue, whose superb musicality has transcended any surface issues of a multitude of discs I’ve played over the last couple of months.

Wrap Up

The 2M Blue has transformed my analog front end, and has elevated the playback of LPs to a level I could never have dreamed possible from a $200 cartridge. In fact, it’s totally restored my faith in my system – the two months I’ve spent with this cartridge has undeniably renewed my zest for living, and has gotten me listening to a ton of music, both old and new. Having owned what I would have considered fifteen years ago to be a Class A turntable system with the Linn/Signet combo, it’s really amazing that the state of analog playback has reached such an impressive level today at such a relatively affordable price point. The 2M Blue continually impressed me with its tracking ability and incredible musicality, and for Rega tonearm owners especially, it’s a dream come true. Of course, any phono cartridge is going to be very heavily system dependent, but place the 2M Blue in a well-matched arm and you’ll experience true analog magic. This one’s a keeper – very highly recommended!

-- Tom Gibbs

New Vinyl Releases

Albums released this week:

Iron Maiden - 'Flight 666'
Gary Go - 'Gary Go'
Marilyn Manson - 'High End Of Low'
Grizzly Bear - 'Veckatimest'
Phoenix - 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'
Fink - 'Sort Of Revolution'
Iggy Pop - 'Preliminaires'
Tinchy Stryder - 'Cloud 9'
Toddla T - 'Skanky Skanky'
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap [LIMITED EDITION] [IMPORT]
AC/DC - Flick of the Switch [LIMITED EDITION] [IMPORT]
AC/DC - Highway to Hell (Ogv) [LIMITED EDITION] [IMPORT]
AC/DC - If You Want Blood You’ve Got It [LIMITED EDITION] [IMPORT]
Bloodhorse - Horizoner (Translation Loss)

The Ocean - Pantheon of the Lesser (Important)
Rusted Shut - Dead (Load)

Music News & Notes

Scarlett Johannson to Release Album With Pete Yorn

Scarlett Johansson is reportedly releasing her second album this year.

Her first album, which didn’t get too much praise, was a collection of Tom Waits cover songs. Her follow-up album will be a duet collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up.

According to USA Today, the album “chronicles a tempestuous affair” and Pete got the idea for it in a dream. He better not tell Scarlett’s husband Ryan Reynolds that!

The album was produced by electronic artist Sunny Levine and is inspired by Serge Gainsbourg's work in the '60s with Brigitte Bardot.

Yorn wrote all the songs on the nine-track disc with the exception of a cover of Big Star's "I Am The Cosmos."

Break Up will be released on September 8th.



Night Of The Vinyl Dead has released MY DYING BRIDE's "The Dreadful Hours" on double vinyl with a gatefold cover, limited to 500 hand-numbered copies.

The album, which was originally released on CD in 2001.

In an interview with Blissfulviolet of Beyond The Dark Horizon, MY DYING BRIDE vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe stated about the band's ninth studio album, "Naturally, we think it's our best work to date and has a sort of 'new-meets-old' sound; the violins giving a nod to our past and the new riffs and vocals showing the way forward. It is quite possibly the most depressing thing we've created to date, and all the more wonderful for it."

Asked how he feels the new CD differs from MY DYING BRIDE's last studio album, "A Line of Deathless Kings", Aaron replied, "Would you believe it, it's even darker? I've pushed the vocals further, finding more melodies, as have the guitars, and, of course, the violin has added a deep range of feeling. It's quite a fresh, melodic sound despite being utterly despondent."


I have not heard the band, but, to me, disco and rock do not belong in the same sentence. I will, however, check them out, more later....

Grammy-Nominated Disco-Rockers Los Amigos Invisibles To Release New LP

Nacional Records has announced the release of Los Amigos Invisibles' sixth studio album "Commercial," which will be available exclusively at iTunes on May 26th and in stores June 9th. Starting with lead single, "Mentiras," the multiple Grammy-nominated group have tightened their hooks and focused their songs, recording their most accessible work yet.

"Commercial" features a variety of special guests from Jorge Gonzalez (of Chilean rock legends Los Prisioneros) and Mexican songstress Natalia Lafourcade to Senor Coconut vocalist Argenis Brito and Los Tetas' C-funk. Los Amigos also enlisted production work from friends like Dimitri From Paris and Cachorro López (Belanova, Miranda).

Since their first album in 1995, Los Amigos Invisibles have developed a sound based in the gozadera, an irresistible fusion of Latin rhythms with fiery funk and lounge music. The band got their first break when David Byrne (Talking Heads) discovered one of their albums by chance in a Manhattan record shop. He immediately called the band up in their native Venezuela and soon after, signed them to his label, Luaka Bop. Byrne opened doors for the band across the globe and Los Amigos Invisibles soon became an international touring machine.


Fun. Announce Debut Album

Nettwerk Music Group has announced the release of "Aim And Ignite," the highly anticipated debut from fun., out August 25th. "Aim And Ignite" was produced by Redd Kross' Steven McDonald and is a stunning array of diverse inspirations from three extraordinary musicians-former front man of The Format Nate Ruess, ex-Anathallo multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost and Steel Train's Jack Antonoff.

The band recently joined Manchester Orchestra for a 34-date North American tour in April and has been hypnotizing sold out crowds night after night in major cities such as New York, Boston, Nashville, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Chicago.


Iron Age To Release "The Sleeping Eye" This August

Iron Age have announced that Tee Pee Records will release their brand new full-length, "The Sleeping Eye," on August 4th. The band has also announced June East Coast dates with Sex Vid and Mind Eraser.

Austin, Texas’' Iron Age have been slugging it out in hardcore and punk circles since the middle of the decade, touring the North America and abroad with such contemporary hardcore luminaries as Rise And Fall, Cold World, Fucked Up, and Trash Talk while steadily honing the riffed-out hardcore sound established on their 2006 debut "Constant Struggle."

Fans of unconventional hardcore, ripping thrash, and heavy music in general should look out for early June dates with Sex Vid and Mind Eraser around the North East, a July-August West Coast tour, and more as 2009 unfolds.


Beastie's New LP

The Beastie Boys have announced that their new album is finished and will be called "Hot Sauce Committee."

Back in October, Adam Horovitz related to Billboard:

"It's a lot of vocals, a lot of words, very wordy. And it's political, depending on what you call political. You know, if toilet talk and fart jokes are political, which they can be, in that sense yeah, very."

Can't wait.....

Album cover art gets facelift

Digital downloading is changing the relationship between music fans and artwork


There’s more to a CD than just the music. Flipping through liner notes, reading lyrics and, especially, staring at brilliant cover art is all part of record listening experience. Or at least it was — with legal downloading accounting for 20 per cent of all music sales, the future of album artwork is in jeopardy.

“There seems to be less and less need for artwork,” says Bob Mersereau, author of the Top 100 Canadian Albums. “When my son buys a CD he throws the insert away. He doesn’t want it; it just gets in the way for him. He’s not interested in that experience.”

If Mersereau’s son is any indication, the days when an album’s cover would often resonate more than the music is over. That worries the New Brunswick-based journalist.

“When you say Dark Side of the Moon, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? It’s not Money. It’s that cover. Abbey Road? It’s the cover,” he says.

While there’s no doubt the experience of flipping through a CD booklet is changing, one web-based music store owner doesn’t think album art will disappear.

“The future is limitless,” says Dave Ullrich, founder of Toronto-based Zunior.com. “It might not be the same as vinyl, but it can be very different and different can be better.”

On his website Ullrich gives music buyers the opportunity to download PDFs of a disc’s artwork, and he once offered downloaders a high resolution Rheostatics poster that could be printed and framed.

While he’s happy to give his customers more than just MP3s, he admits that the future of cover art will soon be far more dynamic than a simple PDF download.

“It doesn’t exist yet, but with things like iPhone apps fans will be able to easily dig into lyrics, or even kick back and just listen to music and look at the record’s artwork, all on their phone,” Ullrich explains.

Michael Wrycraft, a Juno-winning artist who’s designed artwork for Bruce Cockburn among other Canadian acts, should be the first one to lament the move to digital. But, not only is he busier than ever before, he thinks the work will keep coming well into the downloading era.

“Artwork on paper may die out years from now, but then someone will download a track, play it on a computer and a screen saver will pop with credits and pictures,” he says. “I’m not panicking about my future — I just realize that someday the material I work with might change.”

Mersereau, however, thinks the devaluation of cover art is already in full swing, especially when it comes to major label releases. “There’s less and less work going into them already,” he says. “Take the new Bruce Springsteen, the reviews are great, but it’s the ugliest cover you’ve ever seen. Where are the iconic shots of the past? Where are the great covers that you want to hang up on your wall?”

Ullrich agrees that some liner notes aren’t as eyecatching as they used to be. He chalks that up to budgeting issues, which can be resolved when digital artwork takes off.

“Creative bands will be able to do some really cool stuff,” he says. “Digital is more wide open — it’s even more open than what you had in the old days.”

SOURCE: http://www.metronews.ca