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Grammy Awards: Black Keys' 'Brothers' album designer Michael Carney talks recording package win

February 13, 2011 |  2:59 pm

Blackkeys Michael Carney, art director for the Black Keys, wanted to take a risk with the packaging of the band's latest disc, “Brothers,” especially as record sales continue to plummet and digital albums become the norm, despite wavering sales.

The sixth album from the blues-rock duo,  which snagged a pre-telecast Grammy for recording packaging,  features a design that is reminiscent of a vinyl record jacket with just plain text on the front.

The album is filled with little messages, such as the cover that plainly says, "This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers," and the disc has a thin thermal film on the surface, which changes colors depending on its temperature (it transforms from black to a white surface with text after being placed in a CD player or touched).

Finding the heat-senstive ink proved to be the most challenging for Carney.

“Before we started the design, I talked to the people [at the label] and said I’d heard of this ink. Literally, every ink supplier was contacted,” Carney said backstage after his win Sunday. “People are really open to making new packaging.”

Carney said taking risks on unconventional packaging adds incentive to purchasing physical copies, especially as covers are often condensed to just small pixels on phones and MP3 players.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

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