Vaughan Oliver (4AD/v23)

Vaughan Oliver: A Bit of Urgh, a Bit of Ooh

Vaughan Oliver/v23 Exhibit

Vaughan Oliver retrospective exhibit at Lesley University, Sept-Oct, 2017

If I had to sum up the work of maverick graphic designer Vaughan Oliver in a single phrase, it would have to be “jolie laide” — drolly defined by literary critic Daphne Merkin as “a triumph of personality over physiognomy, the imposition of substance over surface.” (It can also be translated, roughly, into “beautiful ugly” — apropos, in this case.)

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Mary Timony plays the Sinclair, June 10, 2017

Mary Timony’s Helium Homecoming

Long ago and not so far away (here in Providence, in fact), I used to work at a hotbed for Providence musicians. (Everybody needs a day job, right?) Co-worker Chick Graining (of Scarce) recommended that I make a beeline for one of their headlining shows at local, beloved scuzz pit Babyhead: “This band Helium is opening — keep an eye on them.”

I went. He was 1000% correct, and Helium quickly became a Do Not Miss proposition. I love their debut single; I loved their Pop Narcotic followup even more — it was crystal-clear to me that singer/songwriter Mary Timony had a unique perspective that was all her own.

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Suicide flyer, 1972.

Alan Vega, 1938-2016

Few bands fused dream and nightmare as succinctly, brutally and, yes, elegantly as Suicide, the stripped-down synth duo widely considered pioneers of No Wave and punk. (The band used the term “punk music” to describe their sound on a flyer for a 1970 gig at OK Harris gallery; it marked the first known use of “punk” to describe a burgeoning creative movement.)

Alan Vega, the band’s singer, died peacefully in his sleep yesterday. He was 78.

1970 flyer for Suicide show at OK Harris Gallery, NYC.

Punk music by Suicide: Flyer or 1970 show at OK Harris Gallery. Via From the Archives.

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