Brian Feeney
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Reed vs Doom

A few weeks ago, I bought the Procreate iPad drawing app. To test out the brushes, I recreated a page from Fantastic Four #200. Original art by Pollard and Sinod.

January 16, 2021

journal


The Year in Music, 2020

Best Records of the Year

  • Song Machine, Season One - Gorillaz
  • The Prettiest Curse - Hinds
  • Amazones Power - Les Amazones d'Africa
  • That's How Rumors Get Started - Margo Price
  • Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers
  • RTJ4 - Run The Jewels
  • Untitled (Black Is) - Sault
  • Folklore - Taylor Swift
  • Lost in the Country - Trace Mountains

Honorable Mentions

  • Cha Cha Palace - Angelica Garcia
  • We Will Always Love You - The Avalanches
  • I Made a Place - Will Oldham
  • Twice as Tall - Burna Boy
  • Fetch The Bolt Cutters - Fiona Apple
  • American Head - The Flaming Lips
  • Mirrored Aztec - Guided By Voices
  • The Loves of Your Life - Hamilton Leightauser
  • Serpentine Prison - Matt Berninger
  • Anime, Trauma, and Divorce - Open Mike Eagle
  • Untitled (Rise) - Sault
  • Color Theory - Soccer Mommy
  • Optimisme - Songhoy Blues
  • Cuttin' Grass, Vol. 1 - Sturgill Simpson
  • Sorry You Couldn't Make It - Swamp Dogg
  • The Slow Rush - Tame Impala
  • Evermore - Taylor Swift
  • Heavy Light - U.S. Girls
  • Saint Cloud - Waxahatchee
  • What We Drew - Yaeji

So 2020 was a fucked up year, wasn't it? Music felt different. When life is so fully off its axis, a perspective on art is equally as skewed. Though I knew better, I was looking for something more in the music than it could provide, as if anyone recording in 2019 could predict what life would be like in the year those songs would be released. That's unfair expectations.

Despite all that, I was surprised to look back and find so many great records given to us. My list is 29 strong, and 9 of those are what I would say are exceptionally great. Taylor Swift also managed to put out a record in that top tier list. What a weird year. Folklore was the most exciting surprise. I'm as big a fan of Swift as a 40 year old man can be; she just doesn't generally write songs for my demo, I think we can agree. But privately and intimately writing a record with Aaron Dressner was an inspired idea and it really produced. Was Folklore my favorite album of the year? Maybe!

The Gorillaz record this year was more like a collection of singles. Albarn started the year by releasing about a song a month, recorded at odd intervals with a usual eclectic mix of artists. They ended up putting out a collected record of these earlier than I think was the plan, but it all comes together so well. I'm gonna love almost anything Albarn releases, and many of his tracks this year were incredible. In the end, my love of his music really keeps this at the top for me.

It was a very uninspired year for hip hop. Run the Jewels put out another great record, on tier with their best. The intentionally private band Sault put out two solid R&B/Soul records after two even better records in 2019. I liked, but wasn't very impressed with the Childish Gambino record. Burna Boy put out a good album, but not one I'd push on to others. I guess Open Mike Eagle's Anime, Trauma, and Divorce was the second best. I highly recommend it. It's honest and direct.

I've been listening to a lot of world music in the last few years, largely African. But this year didn't seem to produce much that I'd elevate. Les Amazones d'Africa put out a record I highly recommend. And the Songhoy Blues record is wonderful. I'm hoping there were another few great ones I've missed.

And here's my playlist for the best tracks of the year: 2020 Favorite Tracks. As always, it's ordered by the date I first heard each track, to give it a bit of an autobiographical flavor, instead of just ordering by release date. And the other rule is that it includes no more than one track per artist, unless there's some rare partnership release or something.

The Gorillaz tracks "Désolé" and "Momentary Bliss" were probably my favorite tracks of the year. They each got the most listens, by far. Perfect pop tunes that few people in the world are able to produce. "Désolé" has a heartache I really vibed on. "Momentary Bliss" captures the anger we have at today's historical moment, but with a headstrong optimism I want to believe I have. But the one song which really gives me those synaptic chills almost every time I listen to it is the Hinds and CHAI combo track "United Girls Rock'n'Roll Club." It's a track by women and for women and which this guy want's to push further out into the world. More people should know this track. It's for everyone and it's amazing.

January 14, 2021

journal


Interview on the WSJ Design Blog

A few years ago, we started a blog for the WSJ Design team for posting about various design-related things. Among the article type is a Get To Know series and I was selected for interview number three. It was nice to share a bit about myself and my career path. If you'd like to hear me talk a little more personally about myself than I even do on my own website, well here's the interview.

January 04, 2021

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December 18, 2020

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Rainy Day Painting Hour

Nine months into the pandemic, and we finally bought ourselves some painting supplies. Here's my output on the first go-round.

December 17, 2020

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Nature is Healing

My Twitter feed has slowly been filling with more design and development chatter. Less politics. It's a very noticeable difference, and so very welcome. If I were to unfollow all the lawyers and reporters I followed these last four years, I bet it would even feel more like 2016, again.

Of course, I should probably just leave Twitter altogether. I know I know.

December 04, 2020

journal


Biden/Harris

On Saturday, November 7th, Lisa and I stepped out to visit the bank before taking a train into the city. Time was about 11:30am. As we approached the bank door, we heard a scream. Then some honking. And then some light clapping. A few cheers. It dawned on us pretty quickly that the election had been called. Within a few minutes, Smith St. Brooklyn became a party, as did the streets all over NYC and the country. Everyone was coming out of their homes and filling the sidewalks. Bells were rung in Paris. Fireworks were set off in London. Someone joked that Earth had "real Endor energy" and they weren't wrong. I honestly can't remember ever feeling so relieved. It was real joy.

The last four years were very difficult to live through. Awful things were happening on a weekly basis. And not just sad, unhelpful policy, but deeply damaging actions by the Trump Administration that hurt Americans in every corner of the country. I don't think it's worth listing out here the crimes and officialized bigotry. There's just too much.

For a late lunch on Saturday, Lisa and I ate outdoors. The cheers and the honking had relaxed a bit, but they weren't over. That audible hum of jubilation that had permeated the city had died down as we settled into the news. That night, we watched Kamala Harris and Joe Biden give their victory speeches. On Sunday, we relaxed outdoors in our makeshift yard in beautiful and warm November weather. It felt so good knowing that America had not completely broken, that we will be entering a time of healing.

What's next is what's next. For now, we're celebrating.

November 10, 2020

journal


November 08, 2020

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Stanley Crouch

Stanley Crouch died a few days ago. He was a good man.

When I remember my barista years, Stanley is the first person who comes to mind. How could he not? He was the most regular of regulars. His home was a few doors down from the café, and he'd stroll in nearly every day. Some days twice or more. He'd enter slowly, taking note of which neighbors were inside (he knew everyone). When he reached the counter, he'd quietly lean on it, eying me down. I'd eye him down too, knowing there was something on his mind. There always was.

I'm terrible at remembering exact conversations, but he'd ask my opinion on political news of the day, or about some movie he'd just watched, or about the books he was reading. Philosophical questions as often as trivial ones. I was a backboard for him to bounce ideas off of; one of many, I'm sure. He really did seem to value my opinion, though never hesitated to let me know when he thought I was wrong. The back and forth was the important thing to him. What I learned from Stanley was how to get more from a conversation by giving more.

We laughed a lot, too. Like me, his resting mood was a calm attentiveness, yet always quick to laugh if there was something funny in the moment. One day, he came in saying, "Ornette loved that joke you told yesterday," meaning Ornette Coleman. They were close friends. I wish I remember what it was I had joked about, but it doesn't matter. What mattered to me at the time was that I felt like a participant in a bigger community. Stanley made me understand I was a real person in the real world. I'm not sure it was his intention, but he gave me a source of confidence I had been lacking.

It had been so long since I'd run into him, nearly a decade, that I assumed he had moved. Maybe to Los Angelos, where his daughter had been living. I'm sad I won't see him again.

Before I left my gig at the café, he gifted me a copy of his novel with a kind — and funny — inscription. It will always be a nice momento. Rest in peace, Stanley.

September 21, 2020

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In Remembrance Of

These lights are to remind us of those who died that day. They’re also to remind us that we are one country, and that NYC is our beating heart.

September 10, 2020

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