Song of the Day

SILVERSUN PICKUPS
Panic Switch


DOWNLOAD: Panic Switch

The most anticipated indie release of the year…the new Silversun Pickups album, Swoon…isn’t due out for a couple of weeks, but the number one request on college radio and alt/shoegaze stations across the country is ‘Panic Switch’, the first single that got leaked a few weeks ago. At nearly 6 minutes, the anthemic, feedback-heavy, Smashing Pumpkins-like opus has lead singer Brian Aubert’s desperately pleading vocal sounding like he’s ready to pick up where last year’s smash hit ‘Lazy Eye’ left off, with his voice rising above the band’s signature guitar distortion over a steady thumping bassline and car-crash drums. There’s just a hint of self-indulgent rock-God posturing where it quiets down and meanders about two-thirds of the way in, but they redeem themselves by storming back with an awesome, energetic finish. Check out Silversun Pickups over at MySpace

silversun_pickups

Video Of The Day

FEVER RAY
When I Grow Up

I’m gonna add some movement to the blog today with a wonderfully weird video (directed by Martin de Thurrah who has previously shot vids for Röyksopp and Futureheads) from the amazing debut album from Fever Ray

Ummmm…Does That Come In Horizontal?!!

bt_set
(Click on any image to see a full-size version)

Normally with my environmental portraits, I don’t hafta mess with the ‘environment’ too much, but on occasion the ability to move pixels around in Photoshop can come in handy. Today’s post is brought to by Adobe®…..

A while back, Barron’s Photo Editor Adrian Delucca asked me to shoot Fund Manager Jim Melcher of Balestra Capital for the magazine’s Hedge Fund Report section. Now, I’ve shot businessmen in business situations for a couple of decades, so I’m used to heading into yet another office and making ‘art’ where no art can be found, but the offices at Balestra were especially challenging…yes, they were extremely small and of course they were hardly pretty…some might say they were utilitarian at best…but even worse, the company was packing up to move into fancier digs so there was really nothing there that would lend itself to photography, let alone ‘ART’

The only possible option was to use the small conference room (that doubled as their lunch room) which had a frosted-glass window dividing it from another office. I dunno, maybe the reflection on the glass table would spice up the shot….the room was barely 8 feet wide with a heavy glass table taking up every square inch of space, but it was better than slapping him up against a beige wall and whacking him with the ringlight! So we lit the High-Holy-Hell outta the place and walked away with a nice portrait. I sent my selects (including this one) off to Adrian…..

james_melcher_006r

…and he sent back this…..

james_melcher_006

…and asked if I had any horizontals…or…could we make a horizontal as he had done. Normally I’m pretty good about covering all the angles…horizontal & vertical are kinda standard…but in this case, because the shot seemed so obviously vertical, I didn’t do a single horizontal option. But Adrian was right. Looking at his mocked-up version, I could see it was much more powerful without the busy reflection in the table. So I told him, “Sure! I can do anything…”, and he chose another frame as his select…

james_melcher_046

…and I went to work! Besides getting rid of the lights in the right side of the frame, I added a lotta window panes as well as extend the table and wall at the bottom/right. Because of the heavy split-lighting on his upper body, I also had to clean up the shadows on his neck because it sort of looked like a tree trunk in a horror movie. And finally I cleaned up his reflection in the glass table and desaturated the whole shot…the blue was a bit much, even for me. My final cloned & retouched image looked like this…..

james_melcher_046h1

…and here it is, in today’s copy of Barron’s…..

P2BW08900E-0-W01400-1--------XA

Song of the Day

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
Young Adult Friction


DOWNLOAD: Young Adult Friction

New York Pop-Fuzzsters, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, who previously graced The List with ‘This Love Is Fucking Right!’, finally got around to compiling a bunch of the 7-inchers they’ve released since forming two years ago into their first, self-titled full-length album. Often called the happy offspring of My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub, what distinguishes POBPAH from a lot of their shoegazing peers is a true sense of musical craft and not screwing things up with overwrought production and unnecessary bells and whistles. And a good friend asked that I get outta the musical doldrums I have been in lately and toss out something more up-beat & up-tempo that he can listen to on his morning jog…this shoud do the trick! You can check out more POBPAH over on their MySpace page

tpobpah

Song of the Day

EMILIANA TORRINI
Gun


DOWNLOAD: Gun

My previous post on the new album from Fever Ray got me thinking…I usually find these leaks well in advance of the album’s release, pass them along to The List, but rarely revisit the artist after the album drops. So I went deep into my iTunes folder to see what other Songs of the Day from the past few months have lived up to the hype I bestowed upon them. One obvious choice is the album Me And Armini, released last Fall from Emiliana Torrini…

PREVIOUSLY:

EMILIANA TORRINI
Me And Armini


DOWNLOAD: Me And Armini

When I first passed along the reggae-tinged ‘Me And Armini’, the melancholy charm and blend of wistful nostalgia won me over immediately, but it didn’t really prepare me for what I was to hear on the rest of the album with it’s simple, stripped down instrumentation that allows Torrini’s irresistible vocals to reveal sharp jolts of beauty, delicate little flourishes and unexpected oddities hidden in the simple song structures. ‘Gun’ is both the album’s most musically and thematically divergent track…and possibly the darkest song Torrini’s ever released. With the stark atmospherics and the reverby guitar riff, it’s a haunting homily to a jilted lover’s weapon of choice. The final passage is particularly chilling…. “Hey look me in the barrel and tell me that you love me, Yes this is a kiss that I swear will blow your mind…”

Me And Armini is one of the most appealing records I’ve listened to all year and for all you fans of The List it’s a must-buy. Check out Emiliana Torrini on MySpace or at her Website

emilana

Song of the Day

FEVER RAY
Keep The Streets Empty For Me


DOWNLOAD: Keep The Streets Empty For Me

Previously:

FEVER RAY
Now’s The Only Time I Know


DOWNLOAD: Now’s The Only Time I Know

Back in January when I first dropped ‘Now’s The Only Time I Know’, the first leak off the solo experiment of Karin Dreijer Andersson (former singer of 90’s pop group Honey Is Cool and one-half of The Knife) and her brother Olaf Dreijer, I was completely taken by her voice and the somber, haunting melodies and complex electronic constructions that I heard…and the fact that I’m a sucker for anything with a Glockenspiel in it! Now that the album has been released I strongly advise anyone within earshot to search it out…this is a magical, storied World of primal, minimalist beats and unexpected instrumentation…almost like electronica filtered through an African wilderness. I’ve been sitting here for hours, deskbound…retouching…..and have played it over and over and over…..the intriguing ghostly harmonies taking the edge off of my Photoshop-induced headache…..

Visit Fever Ray on their MySpace Page or over on their Website

feverray

Song of the Day

AUDRYE SESSIONS
Turn Me Off


DOWNLOAD: Turn Me Off

Full credit for today’s song goes to Channel 25 on my Sirius Radio…the Little Steven Underground Garage channel…I’ve been listening to so much great new stuff over there lately that I’ve barely had to look at the online indie music blogs to find anything worth tossing out to you leeches! Audrye Sessions is an Oakland quartet who just dropped their self-titled debut last month and have been getting major notices for the raw, emotional quality to their songs, but especially for lead singer Ryan Karazija’s amazing vocals which one minute can resemble Bono with his plaintive, suggestive cries, then he’ll slide into a Thom Yorke vibe with a wailing falsetto. And any U2 reference you notice might have something to do with the fact that the album was produced by Andrew Scheps, who has previously worked with Bono and the boys….as well as the Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and an armload of other A-List acts. The gorgeously anthemic ‘Turn Me Off’, with it’s wall of crystal-clear guitars and crashing drums, was written after Karazija saw a television show where returning Iraqi-War veterens talked about being “so messed up that you want to be shut off”. The rest of the album covers all the musical food-groups, from power-pop and guitar-heavy arena rock, to deeply introspective ballads. This is one extremely impressive debut! Check out Audrye Sessions over on their MySpace page.

a_s_stair_mosaic

Song of the Day

oands

O+S
Permanent Scar


DOWNLOAD: Permanent Scar

Previously:

MARIA TAYLOR
Time Lapse Lifeline


DOWNLOAD: Time Lapse Lifeline

Longtime devotees of The Song of the Day List will certainly know of my affection for Azure Ray and Maria Taylor…as recently as this past January I dropped a cut from Maria’s new album, LadyLuck, on The List (pre-blog), so today when I found out that the other half of Azure Ray, Orenda Fink, will be dropping her debut as O+S next week. She’s apparently taken recordings from around the world and turned them into loops and beats to incorporate into her new songs…and despite how that might sound, the result isn’t the typical electronic background trickery you might expect. Her new collaborator, Cedric LeMoyne (AKA: Scalpelist…Orinda + Scalpelist = O+S, get it?) and producer Michael Patterson, with their hypnotic drum loops and backwards-masking, have created a controlled and elegantly weird musical landscape for Orenda’s airy, harmonious vocals. Check ’em out on MySpace

Song of the Day

THE IDLE HANDS
Loaded


DOWNLOAD: Loaded

Today’s song is a brand-spankin’ new version of a song The Idle Hands released on a rarely heard U.K. EP back in 2006 (I own it)…but the two Irishmen and three Americans are now based in Minneapolis and they’re recording their first American release and they just leaked this smokin’ re-do of ‘Loaded’ that has me got me on my feet and clawing my way back to reality this afternoon…I just had to pass it on. Still too soon for a name or release date on the new album, but you can stream more songs and follow the gang over on MySpace and for those of you SXSW-heads in Austin this week, they’re playing tomorrow night at 7:45pm at the Irongate Lounge…..

The Idle Hands

Song of the Day

THE HORRORS
Sea Within a Sea


DOWNLOAD: Sea Within a Sea

I kinda knew I was gonna like this right from the jump…..I didn’t even care if the lyrics ever turned up, I was so enthralled with the tap-tap-tap of the lone cymbal and the thump of the bass…..but when Faris Badwan’s vocal slides in it’s like a bastard-child cross between Peter Murphy and Ian Curtis…tres cool! ‘Sea Within a Sea’ is off their new album, Primary Colours, which is set to drop May 4th. You can head on over to MySpace or their website for more black eye-liner goth goodness.

horrors

Livebooks.com Site of the Week…..

Big Ups to the folks at livebooks.com…..my new website was just put up on their “Sites of the Week” page…

livebooks

I gotta say…the kind or responses I’ve been getting with the new design was everything I could have hoped for and the guys at livebooks really made it all possible. And it was their idea and constant pushing that convinced me to do the blog as well. Great company, great product, great results and thanks to Ryan, Adam, Jason, Taylor, Matt and all the others who worked with me to make this all come together so well.

Song of the Day

LEMONWILDE
Just This Ashtray


DOWNLOAD: Just This Ashtray

With some of the songs I’ve dropped on The List lately (from Our Broken GardenPete YornThe XXYoung Galaxy, to name a few), ya might think I’m stuck in a deep hole of melancholy…I dunno…it’s not like turning on the news offers anything even remotely cheery these days…but I just find the music, I don’t make it! I think this current wave of aural depressants says a lot about the state of things overall…

Anyway, now that I’ve dropped us all into an even darker mood than we were in a few seconds ago…..the L.A.-based electro-acoustic popsters known as Lemonwilde just dropped their new EP, Red Room, and it’s damned nice, even if it does fall into that Glum Rock category. I really love how vocalist Joseph Murray has a little Ian McCulloch/Bunnymen thang goin’ on with the way his trembling voice goes up and down the scales. They’re giving away the whole EP on MySpaceCLICK HERE and check it out!

lemonwilde

Song of the Day

OUR BROKEN GARDEN
Watermark


DOWNLOAD: Watermark

So when I first heard this cut from the new Our Broken Garden album, When Your Blackening Shows, I immediatley thought of Julee Cruise and and the Twin Peaks-y vibe the song gives off…then I saw the promo art with singer Anna Brønsted laying battered and broken in a bed of moss…and I really got Laura Palmer chills! Our Broken Garden, with the slow-core wall of production, lazy drums, church-like organs and dark, moody guitar work, kinda sounds like Radiohead on heroin, if they had a sexy Danish guest vocalist take over on the gloomier-than-usual songs. Probably not the kinda thing to listen to if you’re already in need of a Zoloft, but sometimes a dose of self-indulgent, ethereal melancholy is just what the doctor ordered. You can head on over to their MySpace page to get further depressed…..

our_broken_garden

You Wanna Shoot Where?!!

Note: Click on any image to blow it up REAL big!

conmed_what1

Often, getting a corporate mind to put aside the literal and think like I do isn’t always that hard…sometimes you just have to ask…..

In today’s BusinessWeek is the story on David Johnson and Conmed that I went up to Utica to shoot a couple of weeks back. It was one of those jobs where BW photo editor Sarah Morse and I talked about what might make a cool shot, but neither of us had any real idea what was possible or if there were any eye-grabbing visuals strong enough to anchor the story. Conmed manufactures medical and surgical equipment and the story was about in order to streamline production, they went from long assembly lines that cranked out warehouses of product to compact U-shaped workstations that filled orders as-needed. We knew that showing the workstations was a must, but production lines are rarely as groovy as they appear in the movies…still, after getting the tour, Bo and I slapped on our hairnets & bunnysuits and went to work on this…

conmed_bo_line

Now, the workstations were OK and they got us this shot…

dave_johnson_line

…and Dave loved it ‘cuz it showed off their new production facilities and how they used new ideas to solve a manufacturing problem, but for me it was more of a ‘point picture’ and I knew there was more we could do to sell the idea of individual, hand-assembled production. I suggested to Dave that we look at a couple of other locations I had briefly seen on my walk-through that didn’t involve the production facility. I convinced him that we could use one of the production teams showing the final product in a more graphic location and still convey the idea of the story. One location was a bank of ‘windows’ just off the reception area in their plant…

conmed_windowfinal

…and that was nice, but still a bit too sterile and corporate. The real winner was down a hallway that linked two parts of the building…an circular elevator bank that was covered is shimmering white tiles surrounded by acid-green walls!

bo_green

And here is the final spread…..

conmed_spread

The combination of the sterile white tiles and scorching green walls just screams medical and the nice balance of the workers blue smocks and Dave’s blue shirt made for a perfect image.

And as usual, to finish things off, I gotta get into the fun!

conmed_bt

Song of the Day

PETE DOHERTY
New Love Grows On Trees


DOWNLOAD: New Love Grows On Trees

If you had told me I would ever drop a Pete Doherty song on The List, I probably would have slapped you just on principal…I mean, the guy has turned himself into a tabloid joke and trashed what was not only a great music career but a lucrative and marketable music commodity by not knowing when to put down the damned crack pipe. That said, the junkie can still crank out a damned nice song when he puts his mind to it! He locked himself in the studio with legendary producer Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, Kaiser Chiefs, The Cranberries) and the result is Grace / Wastelands , due out March 24th. And damn…wouldn’t ya know it…Pete’s got a MySpace page where you can stream a few more cuts off of the album!

pete-doherty

Song of the Day

MEN WITHOUT PANTS
My Balloon


DOWNLOAD: My Balloon

I gotta say, I’m pretty surprised with today’s song, ‘cuz when I first told you guys about Men Without Pants last July, they were weeks away from releasing their first album, but being the uber-perfectionists they are, Dan the Automator (Gorillaz, Mercury Rev) and Russell Simins (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) trashed the early recordings and started over! And the song that leaked out today is so far on the musical spectrum from that earlier Song of the Day that I hafta wonder how all over the place the rest of the album will be! You need help remembering what I’m talkin’ about? OK…here’s ‘Double Life’, the song I leaked back in July…..


DOWNLOAD: Double Life

Now back then I said ‘Double Life’ was a gritty, dirty, ass-kickin’ bit of straight-up Rock & Roll that “hits you like a mash-up of White Zombie, QOTSA and Stone Temple Pilots”…but ‘My Balloon’, with the gals from Cibo Matto handling the vocals, is all sweet and frilly and full of sweeping strings & pianos and…pretty!!! How in God’s name are these two songs gonna live in harmony on the same album?!! I dunno either, but Naturally drops April 7th (they promise!) and you can stream a few more cuts (with other guest vocalists like Sean Lennon, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Pelle from The Hives) over on their MySpace page in the meantime.

Song of the Day

PETE YORN
Don’t Wanna Cry

[AUDIO https://damnuglyphotography.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/01-dont-wanna-cry.mp3%5D
DOWNLOAD: Don’t Wanna Cry

I still get chills whenever I crank up his debut, musicforthemorningafter, so the news today that Pete Yorn is getting ready to drop his new album, Back And Fourth, has me all goose-bumpy. After that album hit, Yorn was hailed by the critics as the best thing to come out of South Jersey since Bruce Springsteen. To that, I say those critics obviously forgot about the pride of Red Bank, Kevin Smith….but that kinda comparison has gotta weigh on anybody and while his more recent releases have all been solid, getting heard in today’s music scene is tough enough without everybody thinking you’re the Boss’s replacement! His last album, Nightcrawler, basically went unnoticed, so he crawled back into the studio with mega-producer Rick Rubin. And if you think you’re hearing a a bit of early Rod Stewart in the mix, it wasn’t by accident…I’ve always thought his voice paid tribute to Rod, but he has he actually said he wondered what Stewart would sound like singing this song. The new disc is due on June 23rd, but you can head on over to MySpace to stream a few more cuts.

The Ones That Got Away…..

I hafta remain pragmatic about what I do and who I do it for, because while I strive to always photograph my subjects in the most artistic and intelligent ways, I know that often what is best is not necessarily what is right for the job at hand. It’s hardly news that photographers constantly bitch & moan about how their images rarely get shown properly, but the simple fact is that most guys like me (if they’re doin’ their job right) come away with so many great situations on a typical shoot that it’s inevitable that something has to end up on the cutting room floor…well, if there was a cutting room floor any more! And it’ll still tear me up inside, but I understand that due to the restrictions of space and editorial integrity, what sees ink more often than not is not what I would print if I lived in a totally ‘Brad World’. Oh sure…perhaps I should be sticking up for artistic integrity and all that, and if I lived in another time, I might even pitch a fit and go to war over how I feel my photographs deserve to run…Hell, back in the day, Eugene Smith repeatedly quit Life Magazine whenever they would even as much as crop one of his photographs, but last time I checked this wasn’t exactly the Golden Age of Photojournalism…..and even he came back to the fold once he calmed down!

I was thinkin’ of this because of two recent stories I did for Barron’s…the first was the story I did on Stephanie Pomboy…allow me to show you what ran…..


(full-size image here…Stephanie Pomboy)

…and then there is the one that got left behind…


(full-size image here…Stephanie Pomboy…bigger)

Hey…I get it! I absolutely understand how Barron’s might wanna run a photo where she looks ‘pretty’ instead of ‘edgy’, or how the final choice about what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ may be decided by seemingly arcane parameters…..but I still hafta hold my fire sometimes. It came up again this week with another Barron’s shoot, this time with the CEO of Bristol-Meyers/Squibb…

What Barron’s ran…


(go here for the full-size image: Barron’s – James Cornelius)

…and my pulled-back select…..


(full-size image: Mr. Trent’s Pick)

Again…I get it…really I do! My select is crying out for a full-page treatment and even though my choice may better fit the dark, somber theme of the story, I know it’s a hard sell to show an image as pulled-back and airy as this when you’ve only got a quarter-page of real estate to plant the photo in…but it still hurts like Hell, and even after all this time, I still complain and fight for more! And even though both of these shoots were for Barron’s, I’m not piling on them…in fact, of all of my clients, they usually are with me 100% when I suggest a select…it just happened that my two most recent examples of this kinda thing fall on them…..but when you get right down to it, my portfolio is littered with photographs that have never been published. I’ve actually shown my book to editors who have assigned the images in the book who ask me who I shot them for! That’s when you really feel the knife twisting between your ribs…when six months after the fact, the guy who didn’t use a shot tells you it’s way better than what actually ran…

And I’ll just keep smilin’…’cuz no matter what…..we still had fun, right?!!

Song of the Day

EAST HUNDRED
Slow Burning Crimes


DOWNLOAD: Slow Burning Crimes

This is one of those indie band stories that kinda shows the length some bands will go to get heard ‘cuz they so believe in their music. East Hundred originally got together back in 2004 in the basement of brothers Brooke and Will Blair who thought they’d start a synth-heavy electro-dance band. After realizing that genre may not be their cup of tea, they invited Brooke’s girlfriend, Beril Guceri, to jump in on vocals. They played around as a trio for a while, releasing a few rough EPs, then in 2007 added childhood friends David Sunderland on bass and Susan Gager on keyboards and began in earnest writing original songs. But of course…you knew it had to happen…Brooke and Beril broke up, which added mucho tension to the mix, but also gave them a whole new path to go down with their songwriting. All that angst and heartache has finally produced their debut album (after five years!) Passenger, dripping with songs of failed love, friendships, anxiety and awkwardness. You should really head over to MySpace and give ’em a look!

Song of the Day

THE XX
Stars


DOWNLOAD: Stars

People ask me all the time where I…

A.) find the time…
and
2.) find the music, for the Song of the Day!

I’ve said it a million times, finding good music ain’t that hard…and honestly, it’s not like I spend major time doin’ it, either! I obviously scan MySpace Music, but I also keep my eyes and ears on a lotta indie record label sites and music blogs…they’re both great sources for incredible music that will probably never be performed by Rihanna, Kanye or Mariah Carey. Just this morning I fell over a post on the Young Turks Records blog announcing this band of four 19-year-olds from South London they just signed & recorded (in a studio the size of my bathroom!) called The XX. The wistful, dreamy, bedroom slo-jam has me swaying in my chair this morning…you can check ’em out further on their MySpace page and if you follow that link to Young Turks you can download another track!