‘Pale Green Ghosts (and other true stories) – The Very Best Of John Grant’ Cover Art

The cover art for this project is one of my favourites to date. As I said in a previous post, I prefer to design my own cover art for any iTunes playlists I put together – and I have tons – rather than the bog-standard collage thumbnail automatically generated by iTunes. Playlists are now the mix tapes of my 80’s former self – it feels a little nostalgic putting them together, despite traditional casssette tapes now being so obsolete. I’m also including my chosen track listing for this cover. The fonts used this time were Ababil Script for John’s name with the secondary font being Old Style Small Caps. Apologies for the watermarks – I hate them but they’re unfortunately necessary.


Cover Art for ‘Texas – The Platinum Collection’

I prefer to design my own covers for any playlists I put together in iTunes. This one is dedicated to the best songs recorded by the Scottish band ‘Texas.’ It’s a very simple design but I liked how the title came out, resembling a shoulder tattoo. The main title font used is called Normande Bold, with increased character spacing’ this has also been used by Texas for their last 2 releases. The secondary title logo uses the fonts Haymaker and Monthoers Vintage, with the star coming from Microbrew ornaments. 

Reeder 2 – A Phenomenal first-in-class Google Reader App for the iPhone hits the AppStore as a FREE update!


Google Reader, Pocket-Sized… (for iPhone & iPod Touch)

Reeder 2.0 (a free update from Reeder 1+) from developer Silvio Rizzi has hit the AppStore! The best RSS reader on the block for Google Reader is now even faster than before, with extra features like optional image caching, state saving, and increased contrast. There are also more services available (Open in Safari is back!), and holding on a link will now open up the services menu, so you don’t have to load up a page before being able to tweet the link.

Finally, the gestures have been much improved, so it’s easier than ever to swipe to star or mark as read. I also think a new gesture set was added, since I can now pull up after reading an article to switch to the next one — very slick.

Reeder 2.0 is still available for £1.79/$2.99 if you haven’t bought it yet.

Here are some screenshots of this fabulous app:

 
 
For more information, and the full feature-set, check out:
www.reederapp.comOr download now direct from the AppStore:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reeder/id325502379?mt=8

Follow @reederapp & @uselessdesires on Twitter for more

~ Ryan

Osfoora for Twitter – App for the iPhone AppStore Review

“A Serious Contender to Tweetie 2”

(Star Rating: 5 out of 5)

The UI is intuitive and elegant, while adding a bucket-load of essential features, some of which seem unique to Osfoora. Tweetie has been my app of choice for a long time and I’ve professionally tested almost every Twitter app available on the app store. Osfoora is now my default Twitter app, and although there’s still room for a few improvements/additions, if there was an award for best-newcomer, Osfoora would win! Five stars! The developer always replies to feedback/questions on Twitter, which is really special. Keep the updates coming – I love what you’ve done with this beautiful app so far.

A few requests:
– Push notifications
– Bookmarklet capabilities
– Swipe the top left button to return to home/timeline
– Swipe a tweet in timeline view to reveal more functions
– Inline image preview
– Post to Posterous support
– Inline geotag preview image
– With the ‘now playing’ function (which is great!), the ability to create a custom tweet template of the initial text you want to insert

That’s all I can think of for now – I’ll update my review as the updates keep coming; looking forward to the 1.2 update! And thanks for a great experience…

follow @uselessdesires

Kathryn Williams, The Quickening – a stunning record, a live gig, magic mushrooms, a camel on a broom-handle and music to die for.

[this review/article was first published on the iTunes UK store on 22/02/2010 by Ryan Price]

I had the devine pleasure of seeing kathryn last night at the glee club in Birmingham. Everytime I see and hear her on stage, it’s like meeting with old friends. Warm comfort. She played with a full band (who were amazing) and I felt so lucky to have shared in such a special evening. Although I say this on everyone of kathryn’s new releases, ‘The Quickening’ is without doubt her best, most acomplished record to date, a beautiful creation of seducing harmonies and inspiring arrangements. It feels like a dream, like coming home. Now I’m left with the warm afterglow that cannot be dampened. Kathryn did a great job with Kate St. John, Nev Clay and Neill Maccoll and the rest of the band. In kathryn’s own words, getting such great musicians together is like herding cats, so it might be a while until we hear something this good again…

“Kathryn Williams waves a tender goodbye to the noughties and enters the ‘teenies’ with the release of her eighth studio album ‘The Quickening’ onFebruary 22nd next year, her first for new label One Little Indian.

The new record was recorded at Bryn Derwen studio in North Wales ‘in four days, all live, three takes maximum’and includes a couple of co- writes with longstanding collaborator, guitarist David Scott: ‘It has a mood’ she suggests, ‘a slightly sinister palette with lyrics that are raw. I see myself in these songs a lot, whereas before I invented characters.’

The album was produced by Kathryn and Kate St. John (ex-Dream Academy) and mixed by Kathryn and David Wrench. Of the songs Kathryn says ‘I always wonder if people get the same pictures in their head as me from the lyrics and music. I see the songs as shapes when I sing them, as journeys through pictures or film’. Album opener ‘50 White Lines’ is a great example, Kathryn re-imagining the long journeys on tour as a Bonnie & Clyde style escapade; in the background a male voice ‘counts’ the road markings or lights as they flash by in the protagonist’s flight from city to city, town to town.

‘It’s a little world of rules I couldn’t write down but I work to them and around them, and I know my way around that world,’ says Kathryn of her song writing itself, ‘I’m forever scared that the way of making the songs will leave me. But in the end, that is part of what drives me.’” So. To the songs:

‘50 White Lines’
The album opens with the sound of rainfall and a ticking indicator giving way to a song about long distance driving. Given the subject matter, it’s a beautiful and slightly hypnotic way to open the album. A male voice counts the white lines on the road as Kathryn sings about “lights in the mirror, darting like fish”. ‘Just A Feeling’
A softly spoken vocal and finger-picked guitar reminiscent of Nick Drake accompany a lyric full of philosophical musings and self-doubt: “Is belief a scratch you’ve got to itch? What if love is just a feeling?”

‘Winter Is Sharp’
The closest thing to a traditional English folk song Kathryn has released to date, this short little shanty sees Kathryn accompanied by a backing vocal that evokes The Unthanks or Eliza Carthy, plus accordion and ukelele that picks up pace to bring the track to a frenetic conclusion. ‘Wanting & Waiting’
Backed by piano and banjo, this reimagining of The Kinks’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ is a song about wishing away the hours of a 9 to 5 job and yearning instead for long romantic nights. It’s an evocative portrait of young love in the city and perhaps the album’s most obvious choice for a single.

‘Black Oil’
At just 83 seconds long, ‘Black Oil’ punctuates the album with a snapshot of a field at dusk full of shining yellow flowers and birds “head to toe in black oil”. Like ‘Little Black Numbers’ before it, this mysterious curiosity of a song leaves much to interpretation. ‘Just Leave’
Far from the all-consuming young love of ‘Wanting & Waiting’, ‘Just Leave’ is a bleak depiction of a couple falling apart at the seams. Weighed down by heavy silences and her partner’s wandering heart, the song’s narrator pleads, “Just leave, just leave, just leave.”

‘Smoke’
The theme of a love slipping away is continued on ‘Smoke’. A glockenspiel leads a stripped back arrangement while Kathryn sings, “Holding you is like holding smoke… I kiss and I blow and you float out of sight.” ‘Cream Of The Crop’
The first of two consecutive jazz-infused tracks that bring about a strange shift in tone at this point on the record. Co-written with long-time collaborator David Scott and previously performed live, it’s a strong song but one that would perhaps have sounded more at home on earlier album, Old Low Light.

‘There Are Keys’
The second slightly incongruous track on the record with its woozy vocal and atmospheric production, the lyric is centred around a missing loved one and the narrator’s desire to know that they’re safe. ‘Noble Guesses’
It’s back to a more folk-oriented sound with ‘Noble Guesses’. Kathryn sings about the importance and value of absence and various ‘holes’ – from the gaps needed to structure the first periodic table to the enigmatic space left in a family album where a polaroid once was.

‘Little Lesson’
A curious track co-written with poet Nev Clay and Kathryn’s new touring bassist Simon Edwards. With a lead bassline, handclaps and an undulating vocal, it’s a kind of campfire song that quickly works its way into the consciousness with the refrain “Give a little lesson for our love”. ‘Up North’
A paean to Kathryn’s home in the north of England, she sings “If I could always be next to you I would”, perhaps regretting that she has to spend so much time on the road away from family and friends. The song brings the album, which began behind the wheel, full circle, with the first and last tracks providing neat bookends for a diverse but inspired collection of songs.

‘Starling’ – (iTunes exclusive extra)
With an underdub of the shipping forcast, a harmony of starlings on telephone wires – a whimsical story of wanting to be up in the air, of breaking free. Available now – Download or buy the quickening from Amazon, Play.com or iTunes:

iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-quickening/id353132157 Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quickening-Kathryn-Williams/dp/B0031NC6Q4

Play.com:
http://www.play.com/Music/CD/-/34/48/-/13506403/The-Quickening/Product.html?s… Fan info:
ryan@kathrynwilliams.co.uk
(that’s me!)

Reeder RSS Reader – App Store Review

THE GOLD STANDARD

Reeder is without doubt the best RSS reader for use with Google Reader. In fact, Reeder is simply the Gold Standard in apps of this genre. I’ve tried many premium readers, and as another reviewer commented, other apps either tend to be top-heavy on features or top-heavy on aesthetics. Until now, no app developer has managed to combine the two effectively. Reeder is fast, sleek, beautifully designed, unclutteted and does what you need well. Twitter integration coming in the next update (I’m a beta tester) works seamlessly as do the other share options. Even sharing an article by email creates a simple but elegant email with clickable headings. In short, it’s just a beautful, simple app to use, and takes pride of place on my iPhone homescreen springboard.

I would argue that Tweetie 2 is the gold-standard of Twitter apps. By this virtue, Reeder is well on the way to being THE best reader app; the gold-standard of apps in it’s class. I would like to see more features available, such as the ability to add feeds from within the app, and to be able to manage existing subscriptions, again within the app. But for now, I’m one happy Reeder!

Here’s the link to the Reeder Site:

http://reederapp.com/

Or just get it from the app store. You could also follow @reederapp on twitter for advance preview betas