Song of the Day

THE SWELL SEASON
In These Arms


DOWNLOAD: In These Arms

Today is one of those days when I went looking for the music, but instead, the music found me. I was heartened to find out that despite their recent breakup, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova will continue to perform as The Swell Season and that they’ve just finished Strict Joy, their first album since their Oscar-winning performance in ‘Once’. When asked about this song, Hansard said that it started as a small idea for a love song but soon blossomed into something much deeper about committing to trust and faith in another person…“Sometimes you’re just meant to commit to someone’s life, and you’re meant to go through all these experiences”….the resulting song is simply beautiful.

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Strict Joy drops October 27 and you can check out more from The Swell Season on MySpace or on their website

And as a bonus today, here is a YouTube video from their recent appearance on NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ hosted by Bob Boilen (and I strongly advise you to take the time and follow the link for the entire performance)…..

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Song of the Day

RADIOHEAD
These Are My Twisted Words

DOWNLOAD: These Are My Twisted Words

Oh that crazy Thom Yorke…he’s at it again, dropping free shit on us and this time he didn’t even take credit for it! Yesterday, “These Are My Twisted Words” mysteriously showed up on the Web, and even though this thing has Radiohead tattooed all over it with that long, meandering intro loaded with simmering rhythmic complexity and Yorke’s trademarked mournful croon, the doubters out there were screaming it was a fake. But after enough people made enough noise, Thom did admit on their website that it was in fact a new song from Radiohead…hmmmmm…..could this be the song that has been rumored to be in the new “Twilight” sequel? Honestly, I could give a damn since I’m not a sixteen year-old girl and I didn’t see the first Twilight movie, but I’ll take all the Radiohead the boyz are willing to toss out. You can visit Radiohead on their official website

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Song of the Day

JULIE PEEL
Unfold


DOWNLOAD: Unfold

Here’s a lovely bit of Slow Core for this crazy hot summer day from Julie Peel, complete with perfect little flourishes of strings, a bongo and soft guitar waft along with her lighter-than-air vocals. And let’s not overlook her wonderfully sad lyric. ‘Unfold’ is from her Julie Peel’s full-length debut, Near The Sun, set to drop in September but available now for preorder on American Laundromat Records and you can hear more on her MySpace Page

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Tom O’Halloran & John Castle for Barron’s

*Click on any image for full-size*

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I’ve been spending a lotta time in boardrooms lately, but despite what a lotta people think, most corporate offices in America aren’t designed like the ones you see in the movies. For example, when I close my eyes, I can still see Gordon Gekko’s beautifully art-directed office in Oliver Stones ‘Wall Street’ with it’s sleek, sexy Italian furniture, floor-to-ceiling windows and made-for-photography views, but it’s very rare when I walk into a office location to shoot a CEO and have that warm & fuzzy feeling when an obvious shot jumps out at me (although my shoot at MTV last week was an exception!). I usually get the tour with the corporate communications director highlighting a series of sterile conference rooms, painted industrial beige, telling me, “We’ve done a lot of photo shoots in here…”. Or I get taken to a corner office that has nothing to do with the guy I’m shooting and shown the ‘amazing sweeping view’ that will make for a great portrait. OK…I’m just thinkin’ out loud now, but really…if I’m there to shoot your boss, why do you think having the Chrysler Building growing outta his head is gonna be what either of us wants?!!

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Which brings us to a couple of recent portraits I did for Barron’s. The locations for both Tom O’Halloran of Lord, Abbett & Co. and John Castle of Castle Harlan, Inc. can’t be described as Spartan by any means…in fact, they were both classic, old-school investment bank offices…full of the requisite walnut wood panelling, plush leather chairs, opulent design details with lavish antiques & art, complete with portraits of their dead ex-presidents on the walls and yes, that corporate communications director telling me about the great views. But they come with their own set of ‘issues’…that dark wood can be deadly in a photograph and the Hall of Ex-Presidents might be impressive to look at, but if I was a the current guy in charge, I’d find it a little creepy to to be put in that situation while I’m still vertical. And l generally pass on ‘the view’…it never (OK, rarely) works…but for the shot of O’Halloran I thought that maybe I could work with those big windows and kinda blow out all of the detail and wrap him in a cool, wrap-around light…..

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Hmmmmm…that kinda sucked….how ’bout we head in the opposite direction and go for the drama by knocking down the ambient light about five stops…..

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That’s much more like it!

Now let’s move on and see what we can do with Mr. Castle…..

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This one was actually a lot harder to do than I thought it would be and is kinda of those shots that doesn’t exist in ‘real life’. First, to even see this angle you would hafta jump up into the window well at the end of the room, press your body against the window to get as far back as possible, make sure not to fall through the air conditioning duct (that always freaks out the guy from corporate communications!) and then use the widest lens you have because you’re only about four feet from where the guy is gonna stand. Next, there was that wall of windows that ran the entire right side of the room. They didn’t have blinds on them and there was just way too much light pouring into the room. I had to reduce he ambient light from those windows just the right amount to keep things interesting, while still retaining enough from the chandelier and lamps in the background so that they would still show up. Then we aimed a hard spotlight from the table directly behind him so that it picked up the ceiling (which also gave us a cool shadow) and added some tasty highlights on the boardroom chairs that were fading into the dark. But the first couple of tests we did were really boring, so I cross-filtered the beauty dish I was using as his key light with a full blue CT filter, then set the gray-balance off of that light…this resulted in my other lights and the ambient window light having an overall blue cast that turned the sedate beige boardroom into something a bit more dramatic…and a bit more ‘Wall Streety’…..

And one last thing…..here is John Castle…with his Corporate Communications guy!

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Azim Premji for BusinessWeek

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Azim Premji owns over 80% of Wipro, the third-largest Indian IT company, which by default makes him one of India’s richest business people. He was actually the richest person in India from 1999 through 2005, but I guess the recession has taken a chunk outta his wallet, ‘cuz now he’s only the fifth richest Indian! He was in the States a few months ago and I photographed him for BusinessWeek for a story on how the global recession has affected India’s vast outsourcing industry…….

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That’s right…outsourcers. Wipro is one of those companies that you get to talk to when you call customer service after your computer breaks, or the software you installed doesn’t work the way you thought it would, or any one of a thousand other reasons the call to customer service that used to take to you to a guy named ‘Bob’ at the Home Office is more often than not routed to a call center in Bangalore…..just like in Slumdog Millionaire

He was at Wesleyan University getting an honorary degree and I had all of five minutes between appointments to get off my two shots. The first was a kind of dark & scary number where I sandwiched him between a stone wall and a gnarly tree trunk, but then I had a thought from the mosaic side of my brain that told me to shoot him in a way that would metaphorically illustrate the over-reaching effect outsourcing has on the World…and I came up with this Vishnu-like, multi-armed photo that made me smile…

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And I also knocked off a test shot of me showing off my new, modified-mullet haircut!

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Van Toffler for BusinessWeek

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In one week I went from photographing the President of the United States to photographing the President of MTV…..how damn cool is that?!!

Van Toffler is is president of MTV Networks Music/Films/Logo Group and is responsible for all of the MTV Networks music services including MTV, MTV2, VH1, CMT and all their affiliated digital services. I was shooting him for BusinessWeek because MTV is releasing The Beatles: Rock Band, a video game that allows players to use plastic instruments to jam as their favorite Beatle. The Beatles: Rock Band comes out September 9th.

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Song of the Day

GREAT NORTHERN
Houses


DOWNLOAD: Houses

As any of you long-time Song of the Day Listmembers can attest to, the summer months always prove kinda tough when it comes to finding truly good music to listen to…Hell, I even tossed out Katy Perry’s “Kissed A Girl” last year ‘cuz the pickings were few and far between…so I apologize up front for having to go back to a release from earlier this year for today’s song. I think L.A.’s Great Northern dropped “Remind Me Where The Light Is” back in April and I admit to having completely overlooked it, but I gotta say, there are some really tasty cuts on it…”Story”, “Snakes”, “Mountain” and the song I’m giving up today, “Houses”, all showcase Rachel Stolte’s dreamily harmonic vocals and the dubbed-up, buzzy wall of shoegazing guitars offered up by her bandmate, the former 30 Seconds to Mars vocalist and guitarist, Solon Bixler. With very little coaxing, I found myself wrapped up in the eerily surreal aural scenery that I was hearing. Give ’em a further look on their MySpace page

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