Seeing us through to the end of the year we’ve reached out to a number of our favourite artists and cultural creatives to join us in celebrating good things. A bunch of five things that make their world go around, inspire them or just need celebrating for what they are. There’s no theme here. It’s no kind of “best of year” round-up. These are just five things of the many things identified as making the world a better place to be. We’re all about positivity. Almost all of the time. We promise…
Mark Neeley is an animator and visual artist based in Cincinnati. A prolific animator of music videos, his personal short film 'Fragments' has enjoyed a long film festival run, including recently airing on PBS as the winner of the Reel 13 program. Working at the intersection of sound and vision research, Mark is also a contributing writer at Aquarium Drunkard and other music & arts publications.
THE REDS, THE PINKS & PURPLES
Glenn Donaldson has been one of my favorite musicians for over 15 years, when I first discovered his old Bay Area duo Skygreen Leopards. After what seems like hundreds of other projects since, the prolific Donaldson has recently buckled down with his new group The Reds, Pinks & Purples. Since 2019, the group has produced an album a year and a seemingly endless archive of EPs and bonus material, including an instrumental collection that was released just a week ago. It's jangle pop with infectious, bittersweet melodies that is just perfect to my ears: a culmination of so many relatable influences. I don't want to live in a world where there aren't at least 2-3 excellent Reds, Pinks & Purples releases a year.
STAY TRUE by HUA HSU
I was excited to read this memoir after a New Yorker excerpt essay came out last summer. My son was born nearly two months ago, and because my wife was induced six weeks early, the first 48 hours was just downtime in the hospital. I read the book in roughly three sittings and didn't want it to end. I couldn't relate to many aspects of Hsu's story: his Asian American experience, relationship with his parents, and going to school on the west coast. But other facets of his formative years were very familiar, including the nostalgia of pre and early internet culture, and bygone subcultures of that era that now seem like an eternity ago.
SOFT MACHINE ON FRENCH TV
This early Soft Machine line-up is as good as a band can get: Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Mike Ratledge. Every now and then I revisit this very early footage of the band performing on French television program 'Ce Soir On Danse' (filmed in 1967, before the first record). Shirtless Wyatt behind the kit looking effortlessly cool, Ayers with the facepaint under his eyes. Since the band was always tied up in the cross section of art & intellectualism, I love the variance of the types of shows they played early on: from jazz festivals to art museums to psychedelic tents on the beaches of Saint-Tropez.
There are so many fantastic independent record labels and publishers. What's incredible is that Mexican Summer is truly exceptional at both. Their Anthology imprint (in addition to reissuing records) has produced some of my favorite publications in recent years. Where else can you get a reprinting of Dennis Stock's photography book as well as a Norma Tanega retrospective?
A 1959 short film from my animation heroes, John & Faith Hubley. In addition to creating artful educational films, the Hubleys made a commitment to make one personal film a year. They did a lot to change the perception of animation as an art form, using innovative mixed media techniques that often exuded a childlike energy. One of my favorite possessions is a 16mm print of Moonbird. Before it sadly went under, I was planning on projecting it at a great local film facility here called The Mini Microcinema.
Mark Neeley's artwork can be seen at his website: markneeley.com,
his writing can frequently be read at Aquarium Drunkard.
His most recent animated music video is Michael Rault's "Exactly What I Needed", which is on Youtube, here⇒