I’ve never picked up a book as thick as 101 Artists to Listen to Before You Die and been able to sum it up so effortless. This is a musical diary. Creator Rícardo Cavolo even opens the book by telling us that. It’s a conversation starter. In a sense you could put this on your coffee table and have guests thumb through it to start conversations because that’s exactly what Cavolo wants, conversations about music. This isn’t the first review and it won’t be the last in which I say there is a very weird connection between comics and music. The two mediums just work with each other in a way other mediums don’t. Perhaps it’s because so many creators are listening to music as they create. Hell, I’m listening to music as I write this, as I write ever review really.
So who are the artists?
Ha! Like I would actually tell you that. Sure I could give you a couple, but that’s not the point. Cavolo isn’t telling you definitively that these are 101 artists you have to listen to, but rather his 101 artists to listen to. It’s almost a click bait title because admittedly, it’s why I read it. I wanted to know. It’s an interesting window into someone else’s musical taste, but as Cavolo says, it’s interesting to see how many artists overlap between people. It’s like a Venn diagram in a weird way.
There is art that accompanies each artist. It’s usually an illustration of the artist in all ink and watercolor, but with Cavolo’s own artistic style added to it. There’s almost always an image of some kind on their cheek and it always blue. Some of the symbolism of the art I don’t particularly get, but the overall gist usually relates to the artist and their music. In that sense you either get it or you don’t.
The design and aesthetic of the books is something I really enjoyed. The lettering is all handwritten with mistakes and all. It gave the book a raw feel, like we really were reading someone’s diary. I can see it bothering some readers. I know there’s readers out there that prefer straight lines and professional lettering, but I sometimes enjoy seeing some real handwriting in comics.
Overall, this is a one and done read. I don’t think you’ll get much out of reading it a second time and that’s not even really the point of the book after all. It’s a conversation starter and that’s fun and interesting. I would recommend to read it in bursts and not all the way through in one sitting. It will start to feel “samey” if you read it all at once so I advise against that. Otherwise, this is a really unique book that will get you thinking about your top 101. Go ahead and leave them in the comments and get the conversation going.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 4/5[/button]
101 Artists to Listen to Before You Die Creator: Rícardo Cavolo Publisher: Nobrow Press Price: $22.99 Format: Hardcover; Print Website