Song of the Day

BAD SPORTS
Can’t Just Be Friends


DOWNLOAD: Can’t Just Be Friends

One minute and forty-eight seconds of snarling, snotty, ass-kickin’, three-chord punk rock that Joey Ramone would be proud of from three guys straight outta Denton, Texas! That’s Bad Sports. ‘Can’t Just Be Friends’ is from their second album, Kings Of The Weekend, a collection of 14 songs that clocks in at 30 minutes and 15 seconds and is guaranteed to get y’all sweaty after just one play. I don’t hafta say anything else…it’s punk rock…just check ’em out on their facebook page!

Sometimes You Just Gotta Have Fun…

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Scott Milleisen is not only the head of the sports banking group at J.P. Morgan Chase, he’s also a Managing Director at the bank, so getting him to do anything outta his comfort zone for a photograph wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done lately, especially with somebody from J.P. Morgan Corporate Communications over my shoulder the whole time. But even though were were led up to the top floor of the J.P. Morgan World Headquarters on Park Avenue…

…the floor with more modern art on it’s walls than you’ll find at MOMA, but not one that exactly screams ‘SPORTS’ at you…I still wanted to tie in the sports angle to his business. And given that he regularly puts together gazzilion dollar deals funding sports teams, the idea of shooting him in front of the twin Warhol Marilyns (Steve Cohen picked up one Marilyn from Larry Gagosian for $80 million a while back!) just seemed right. All that was left to do was hand him a baseball bat and get him to take a few cuts at the ball I hung from a boom stand.

Next we went around the corner and did a simpler shot of him hamming it up with a football against a brushed steel wall…

…and of course he had to strike the Heisman pose!

Photo Editor Sarah Morse sent me on this one for Institutional Investor and it’s on the stands now.

Song of the Day


WASHED OUT
Amor Fati


DOWNLOAD: Amor Fati

Dream Pop, Chill-Wave, Glo-Fi, Nu-Gaze, Shoegaze, Witch House, Freak-Folk…..Christ, if not for wikipedia I wouldn’t be able to keep track of all the new names that get thrown at musical genres these days! I’m beginning to think that if you wanna get noticed in the indie scene nowadays, you had better come up with a new name for exactly what highfalutin mood your music is meant to evoke. All of which brings us to what may be the first ‘Chill-Wave’ song to ever make it on The List. Washed Out is the alter ego of a rather harmless looking lad named Ernest Greene, who apparently put together his first album, Within and Without, whilst holed up in his bedroom with nothing but a laptop, some synthesizers and a dream. I gotta admit, before I heard a note I was initially drawn by the name of the song…Amor Fati…it had me thinking he was an aficionado of chubby lovin’, but apparently it’s a Latin phrase glommed on by Nietzsche meaning “love of one’s own fate”. My guess is that besides twiddling the knobs on those keyboards, Ernest is reading some pretty deep shit in that bedroom…probably why he looks so serious. The song itself is a fluffy bit of aural wallpaper, complete with the requisite angsty vocals and layers of deep & meaningful synth runs and would feel right at home playing as the credits roll in an 80’s John Hughes teen flick! And while that probably sounds like I’m being a tad dismissive, I actually like it! Hell…I used to listen to Howard Jones, for God’s sake…I got nuthin’ wrong with admitting that occasionally I get off on a sappy, poppy, electronic concoction! You can head over to Mr. Greene’s facebook page and hit the ‘Like’ button and if this sorta things gets your toes tappin’, you can pick up the album on iTunes. And for the rest of you, I’ll promise to find a song with some guitars next time…

Song of the Day


CASS McCOMBS
The Same Thing


DOWNLOAD: The Same Thing

I gotta thank Cheechasaurus Rex for letting me know (via her facebook page) that Cass McCombs is releasing Humor Risk…his second album in less than a year…and is giving away ‘The Same Thing’ as a taste of things to come. I’ve been dropping his songs on The List for years and have always been drawn to the way his subtle songwriting and delicate, Morrissey-like monotone can immediately pull me into his songs, but over the years any similarities to The Smiths have fallen away and he has become more of a sad folk-rock Troubadour…but if it makes any sense, he gives off an almost cheerful dreariness. Humor Risk is set to be released November 7th and in the meantime you can check out Cass on his website

I Love Chicago…

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If you haven’t already guessed from my lack of posts recently, this month has been kinda busy here at Damn Ugly. Sorry ’bout that, but the necessity to work often gets in the way of me filling up the interweb with bloggy bits. So to get back in the saddle, I’m offering a little love letter to Chicago, where we found ourselves last week. I’ve been to Chicago a million times, but I was struck this trip by how much the city has changed…and I don’t just mean because of that gigantic Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn Monroe on Michigan Avenue. No, the city just feels more vibrant and polished. From the abundance of public spaces to the overwhelming amount of new buildings dotting the downtown area, everything just has a fresh energy about it. And on the one afternoon that wasn’t busy shooting I had a bit of time to take it all in. Between the iPhone Panorama’s, Hipstamatic shots and some stuff I did on the Canon, I built up a nice little portfolio of my walk around the Loop…..

Remember the Wilco album, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’?!!

I love that cover…and those buildings…

While I was looking upwards, I became momentarily fixated on streetlamps…

And yes…I know it’s very blue!

What a way to make a living…

Next, I ended up in front of Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’ at Millennium Park…

…and it’s Circus Funhouse Mirror appeal…

Walking back to the hotel I knocked off another iPhone PhotoSynth panorama along Wacker Drive…

…and some Hipstamatic prints…

And one last shot of Marilyn with a guy really happy to be in Chicago…

…and finally…back to New York…

Song of the Day


LADYTRON
White Elephant

DOWNLOAD: White Elephant

Based on how their recent music was sounding, I never would have thought that Ladytron would be capable of composing a song so lyrical and dreamy and pretty….and just so bloody sweet…as today’s Song of the Day. But then I heard “White Elephant”, a leak off of their next album, Gravity The Seducer, due out in September. OK, let’s be honest…I know Ladytron ain’t exactly known for being hard-edged, but after their last album, 2008’s Velocifero, I was afraid they had made a creative shift towards being just another electro-disco/house group that I could ignore. Velocifero was a lightweight collection of blips and tinny drums and thumpy basslines seemingly aimed at the dance crowd, and quite honestly left me feelin’ disappointed. Aside from “Tomorrow”, the one track I actually liked enough to put on the SOTD (and they must have loved as well since they released a remix EP of 7 different versions) the album just seemed forced and overworked. I was probably in the minority however, cuz Velocifero has been their best-selling album to date.

But for the new album, they’ve set up shop and recorded in the pastoral English countryside. The lack of distractions, rolling hills, hedge rows and chirping birds have obviously had a calming effect on the girls, cuz based on the two songs I’ve heard, they’re sounding a lot more like when they they released the seminal Witching Hour, with songs like “Sugar” and “Destroy Everything You Touch”. The first thing I noticed about “White Elephant” was the signature harmonizing between Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo that got lost in a wall of electronic fuzz on Velocifero is now featured up front where it should be. The sparkling synthesized harpsichords dance and float and give the song an ethereal, lullaby quality…and I can’t wait for more.

For more Ladytron news and updates, visit their website.

And as an added bonus, you even get a video that looks like it was lifted from the early 80’s!

MTV’s Beauty Academy Gets Damn Ugly

When she’s not applying powder & lip gloss to my subjects, Kelly Stedman…my good friend and makeup artist of the past 15 years…has been producing reality shows, and for quite a while she’s been trying to include me in one of her little projects. I have always declined because I don’t really have a desire to get thrown into some televised ‘reality’ drama, but last month she asked if I could help her out on a new show she’s doing for MTV on a Beauty School in New Jersey and I finally caved in and agreed to give it a go. The show follows hair stylists Thomas McKiver and Oscar Bond and a group of students at The Bond Academy. Thomas and Oscar put the kids through the paces, and as incentives the top students get to assist them on photo shoots. That’s where I come in. For the first shoot, my crew and I trucked out to Bloomfield NJ on one of the hottest days of the year to set up a fantasy hair shoot in a third-floor walk-up, un-airconditioned Salsa Dance Studio. Here is some of the fun that ensued…..

My assistants Vivian Alban and Alex Minkin stand in for the models…

Kaz and I on set…

Hair stylist Thomas McKiver checks how things are looking…

The video and sound crew guys…

Don’t stare at the hair…don’t stare at the hair…..

Try not to mix up the model’s names…

Tall, skinny models on set, please…

Happy models…

…and happy students…

And here is some of how it all looked in the end…

Lauren B…

Roz…

Behold the Power of Blogging!!!

All you regular readers of Damn Ugly will certainly recall how just last week I called out Apple on the little Photoshop mistake they let pass on the Apple Store website……well…surprise, surprise…I’m sure that because of the millions of hits my little blog post generated on their site, they must have figured out that even in tiny thumbnail photo-illustrations, reflections matter and…..they fixed it!!!

Who sez ya can’t fight City Hall??? Maybe I should take up a sword and fight Bloomberg and those bloody bike lanes next?!!

Short Film of the Day


KATE TUCKER
Bullet Train


DOWNLOAD: Bullet Train

The temporarily Nashville-based Kate Tucker and her favorite video director, Miriam Bennett, have just released a short film based on one-time Song of the Day, ‘Bullet Train’, off the White Horses album. The film features Kate and Cleveland actor Darryl Dickenson and was shot over the course of a year in Akron, Ohio. If you look closely, you’ll also see members of the Akron pop group, Dolson, chewing up the scenery. You can follow Kate…and maybe find out where she’ll be living next…over on her website. And if ya happen to be in Nashville next week (August 8th), Kate will be playing with Johanna and the Dusty Floor and Bird Call as they make their way across America on tour…I predict a very cool show!