Song of the Day

BOB SCHNEIDER
Changing Your Mind


DOWNLOAD: Changing Your Mind


DOWNLOAD: Changing Your Mind – LIVE

Bob Schneider is something of an institution in Austin, Texas…a town that certainly takes pride in it’s indie music. Back in the 90’s, Schneider co-founded The Scabs, one of those bands that nobody seems to know much about but everybody kinda remembers they were supposed to be great. In no time he built a reputation as being not only a solid frontman, but also became a cornerstone in the Austin live music culture. SInce going solo, he’s quietly put out ten albums and EP’s that always seem to catch the music critics ears, but not much radio play. I heard ‘Changing Your Mind’, from his latest album Lovely Creatures, on my Sirius the other day and was completely taken by the painful ache in his voice, especially when he and Patty Griffin harmonize in the chorus…well, that and the cellos, ‘cuz a sad cello solo with always get me to well up…you don’t get better break-up songs than this. I’m including both the album version and a leaner, acoustic live track he did for the folks at My Old Kentucky Blog Radio. Help a brother out and visit him on MySpace

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Song of the Day

THE SHIMMER
Lover’s Void


DOWNLOAD: Lover’s Void

Sounding like a post-modern mashup of Depeche Mode, The Human League and Bauhaus, bother and sister duo, David and Jade Hanks, have got the two-fingered, blips & bloops synth and drum machine dialed in pretty damned good and are making some catchy pop music at the same time. And if the cool electro-beat sounds oddly familiar, it prolly has a lot to do with the fact that ex-Depeche Mode mastermind Luke Smith is handling the production for the kids. But frantic electronic knob-twiddling aside, it’s really David’s dark, haunting voice that resonates and carries this beyond being just another throw away, lo-fi techno downer. From what I can glean from the interweb, the siblings are just getting this little dog & pony show off the ground, but you can follow ’em on MySpace all the same.

The Barron’s Roundtable – 2010 Edition

I’ve kinda been neglecting to include any actual photo-related posts lately, but a lot of what I’ve been shooting hasn’t run yet and until it does, it’s gotta stay under wraps, but here is a recent job I did for Barron’s…..

Click on any image for full-size
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I’ve been shooting the Barron’s Roundtable cover for a lotta years now, and every year the challenge is to reinvent how to photograph these ten fund managers in new & compelling compositions that will work for the cover, an inside spread, a couple of weeks worth of feature portraits and if that’s not enough, another cover that runs mid-year…all in a little over an hour! The entire production takes a boatload of planning before we even show up at the location…this year’s meeting was at The Harvard Club…but the main trick is keeping to a schedule that will allow us to get all that work done with only seven or eight minutes per person. It’s one thing to make an interesting portrait of a person given those time constraints, but add in all of the different final uses, the fact that most of the images will have to be assembled into group shots in Photoshop and the meeting room we were using as our ‘studio’ was so old that there was only one fifteen-amp electrical circuit for the whole room which meant we had to rent just about every battery-powered strobe in Manhattan to light the two sets, when we’re done it felt like we had gone to war!

Since we always do the actual shoot very early in the morning, before the meeting starts, we always give ourselves a pre-light day, and this was what we came up with for our cover test…..

…then, on a second set, we put this together…

The ‘fun’ part on a shoot like this is always convincing these very buttoned-down investment executives to trust me when I ask them to do whatever it is we’ve cooked up for the cover. This year, the little metaphor we were trying to hammer home was ‘looking around the corner’, so we rigged a few foamcore panels and had each person playing with that idea…..


…Dr. Marc Faber


…Mario Gabelli


…Bill Gross


…and Kelly, touching up Oscar Schafer!

All of which came together inside as this Photoshop-realized group shot…..

With that part done, we quickly moved to the second set for a few tighter portraits which would result in these images that ran in the following weeks……

Song of the Day

TRACEY THORN
Oh The Divorces


DOWNLOAD: Oh The Divorces

Tracey Thorn has, quite simply, one of the most purely original and distinctive voices in pop music from the past 20 years. No matter if she’s belting out a techno/house-clubland dance hit or gently whispering a bluesy torchsong, or whether it’s with the partnership of husband and longtime collaborator Ben Watt in Everything But The Girl, her ground-breaking work she has done with Massive Attack, or the many solo albums and compilations she has done with other artists, the control she shows with her beautifully evocative vocal range is stunning. The spare piano and swirling array of sad strings that caress and carry her voice through ‘Oh The Divorces’ shows similarities to another of my favorites…..

TRACEY THORN
By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept


DOWNLOAD: By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept

…but this leans more towards theater with it’s orchestral flourishes and the lush, tender way the story flows from her. Her new album, Love and Its Opposite, drops May 18th and you can get more Tracey on her blog or over on MySpace

Song of the Day

CATS ON FIRE
The Borders Of This Land


DOWNLOAD: The Borders Of This Land

I remember once reading that Finland has one of the highest rates of suicide mortality in the World. The sociologists who get off on this kinda thing have ever been able to decisively figure out why, but after studying factors such as seasonality, sunlight duration, temperature variation, Solar radiation, atmospheric acidity, rainfall rates and the quality of beer available to the populace, the facts don’t lie…Finns off themselves more than just about any other nationality on Earth! So it shouldn’t be altogether surprising that Cats On Fire, one of the most popular bands burning up the Finnish record charts, has a sound that so closely resembles The Smiths that you would swear Morrissey finally made up with Johnny Marr and got the boys back together for a jam session! Now I have no proof that either The Smiths or Cats On Fire has ever caused anyone to take a header off the roof, but I would be willing to bet a few sad bastards have had “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” playing while they were tightening the rope around their neck. Lead singer Mattias Björkas’ softly accented falsetto so closely mimics The Moz that one has to wonder if he’s simply doing an homage or if his friends should be prudent and slip an electric razor into his shaving kit. But just like The Smiths, Cats On Fire succeeds at balancing the melancholy with uplifting, happy, complexly melodic and even danceable music. And let’s be honest…how can you not love a song as well written and purely poetic as this? I mean, when was the last time you heard a pop song with a lyric like, “…When you are lowered into the ground, Your friends will set up a memorial fund…”…?!! Oh yeah…when The Smiths were still around……

Check out more of Cats On Fire at their website (where you can also download the A-Side single, ‘The Hague’, for free) or on MySpace

Song of the Day

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O EMPEROR
Some Small Matter

https://damnuglyphotography.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/some-small-matter.mp3
DOWNLOAD: Some Small Matter

Playing to sold-out crowds in their native Ireland and getting the kind of press that’ll get you noticed from 5,000 miles away, O Emperor seems very much a band on the verge. There is something quite mesmerizing about Paul Savage’s strained vocals, slightly syncopated rhythms, the stuttering high-hat and that sort of retro/T-Rexy/Rock-God guitar riff that slithers in and out of the otherwise easygoing, jangly arrangement. They just dropped Persephone, a 3-song EP and have apparently finished recording their debut album, Hither/Thither, due out in May. Give the lads a look over on MySpace

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Song of the Day

INU
The Bailing


DOWNLOAD: The Bailing

I needed a bit of ambient fuzz to help me start the week and the this morning I fell over a leak off of Monster, the 5-song EP by Inu, the new project comprised of producer Mikael (Count) Eldridge (DJ Shadow, No Doubt, New Order, Radiohead) and bassist/guitarist Tim Hingston (The Nightland, Stripmall Architecture), featuring cello superstar Zoe Keating (Imogen Heap, Dresden Dolls). I liked ‘The Bailing’ so much after only a couple of listens that I actually coughed up the five bucks to buy the rest of the EP. I’m sure some of you might find this easy to pass off as your usual mellow blend of electronic trip-hop with techno-squonky vocals, but the smart production and theatrical guitar structures carry this much further up the musical ladder. I get a wonderful Joy Division vibe off of these guys. Don’t believe me? Then head over to Inu Music to stream the rest of the EP. They’re apparently following up this EP with a full-length in March…I’ll be keeping them on my radar, for sure.