SXSW Special: The Bird Call Cover Shoot & Song of the Day

Click on Any Image for Full-Size
______________________________

BIRD CALL
Waltz in the Snow


DOWNLOAD: Waltz in the Snow

SXSW starts this week, and Bird Call is heading down to Austin to play a whole mess of dates, so I figured that since the festival has morphed from being just a week-long Indie music show into a multi-media-mega-extravaganza, today’s post would mimic that sentiment by including music, photos and yet another these stop-action jpeg movies I find myself playing with when I got nothin’ else to do.

A few months back, we were out at the Brooklyn World Headquarters of Bird Call Music and mindful of the low-budget, Indie-Music, keep-it-simple aspect to the shoot, we turned a very tiny white room into a photo studio for Chiara Angelicola’s new record, using nothing but four do-it-yourself lights and a bit of ingenuity.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes of what we did and some of the resulting final images…

We started with nothing but some sheer drapes covering a sunlit window and a piano dropped in front of it…

…in a very small room (thank God for wide-angle lenses!). We added a couple of my DIY ‘Ghetto-Flo’ florescent strip lights as backlight skims, but decided to use no front light at all, just overexposed the living daylights outta the thing to let the background blow out and see where that took us…

Not bad at all, even if GiGi looks kinda bored…

Chiara getting beautified…

…and standing in…

Some last minute touch-ups…Lovin’ the Horns!

And away we go…

The final resulting images…..

Next, we pulled out the piano and added a couple of front lights…

…and Chiara jumped around in a cool stripy dress with a pork-pie hat!

Which I was able to turn into this cool multiple…

In the end, GiGi was impressed…

Advertisements

The Songs of the Year 2011

The other day, a friend pointed out that this past year the usual high output of songs that got put up on The List was decidedly less than past years, to which I replied, yes…the necessity to work from time to time had certainly put a crimp in my ability to give away my usual amount of free music, but what did get tossed up was of such high quality as they more than made up for the diminished quantity. And with that in mind, here are the best of the best…the Songs of the Year…

#1. LOW ROAR
Give Up


DOWNLOAD: Give Up

Ryan Karazija didn’t just come up with the best song this past year, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t also have the best album, too. I could have put any one of the twelve tracks from the album on the annual list…they are all that good…and it’s only a coincidence that ‘Give Up’ is the first track on the album. I’ve already yelled at you guys enough to BUY THIS RECORD, but if you haven’t, do it now! And mark your calenders kids, cuz Ryan’s gonna be taking a flight from Iceland over to New York to play a gig at Piano’s January 19 and MilkBoy in Philly on January 22nd.

#2. CAMERAS
Polarise


DOWNLOAD: Polarise

If not for Low Roar, Cameras would have certainly been sitting on the top of the heap this year. I’ve played ‘Polarise’ so often, I’m pretty sure even Camille is getting sick of it! Nothing like a wall of hard-to-understand, harmonic, atmospheric, shoegazey melodies to win my heart.

#3. WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS
Act On Impulse


DOWNLOAD: Act On Impulse

We all should have a dose of sweaty, angst-ridden rock to wake us up from time to time. They’re almost unheard of over here, but these four Scottish lads are burning up the clubs in Great Britain. Powerful, lotsa fun and yes…very sweaty!

#4. BIRD CALL
The Ballad Of New York


DOWNLOAD: The Ballad Of New York
I swear Chiara Angelicola may have been plucked out of a Jazz Club from the 50’s and transported to the Here & Now to remind us what real music is like. She’s got a voice that can drop so low it will rattle your bones…and then outta nowhere she’ll crack a high note that will give you goosebumps. The Ballad Of New York is going to be on her next album, but in the meantime she’s got a lot more sitting over at iTunes just waiting for you to enjoy.

#5. CASS McCOMBS
The Same Thing


DOWNLOAD: The Same Thing

There’s just something so comfortably reassuring about the way Cass McCombs sings. From the very first time I heard ‘The Same Thing’ I was won over. The melody, the slightly syncopated vocal style, the sad/lazy way it made me feel…it all works.

#6. WYE OAK
Civilian


DOWNLOAD: Civilian

Another strong contender for my favorite album this year was Civilian by the Baltimore duo, Wye Oak. It’s a noisy mashup filled with masterful guitar work, shoegazey distortion, wonderful storytelling and Jenn Wasner’s languid voice holding it all together. It’s another record that you should seriously consider buying!

#7. GABRIELLE AIMEE
Have You Ever


DOWNLOAD: Have You Ever

We’ve been friends for quite a while and I even shot her album cover earlier this year, but when Gabrielle Aimée sent me ‘Have You Ever’ I was knocked out. I had never heard her slide into such a bluesy place and be so damned sexy on a song before, and the vibrato from the Farfisa-like organ transported me back in time.

#8. K+NIKKU
The Search


DOWNLOAD: The Search

Kate Tucker has been a staple on The List from the moment we first heard her with the Sons of Sweden and since then we’ve followed her from Seattle to Ohio to New York and now to Nashville, so when she recorded an EP with Nic Danielson as K+Nikku we were on board. I’ve been goofin’ on her…calling her Katemau5…because of the slightly electronic edge to the EP, but she knows I love her…

#9. THE PACK A.D.
Sirens


DOWNLOAD: Sirens

The Pack A.D. is Becky Black & Maya Miller and they’re a hard-hitting garage duo outta Vancouver B.C. that has released four albums of stripped-down, pissed-off, dirty punk rock…and they’re bloody great! ‘Sirens’ is off of their latest release, Unpersons.

#10. SHERLOCK’S DAUGHTER
Reprise


DOWNLOAD: Reprise

Going from the grungy goodness of The Pack A.D. to Sherlock’s Daughter shoegazing their way through ‘Reprise’ might be a bit jarring, but I’ve had their EP near the top of my iTunes folder all year and there was no chance it wasn’t making it on this list. Call it nonsensical aural wallpaper if you must, but Tanya Horo’s voice always has a calming effect on me…like a neural tranquilizer…I can feel any tension I’m feeling fall away as soon as she whispers in my ear…

#11. THE BOOZE
Hit Me Where It Hurts


DOWNLOAD: Hit Me Where It Hurts

We’ve come to the end, but I’ve turned it up to “11” and hearing Chaz Tolliver channel Mick Jagger one more time seems like a perfect way to close out this years Best Of List. The Booze play boogie-rock that can’t help but make you think of the early Stones and The Kinks, and Tolliver seems to have mastered the fine art of Jagger-esque posing…in a good way!

Song of the Day

BIRD CALL
The Ballad Of New York

A few weeks ago the crew at Damn Ugly Photography took the ‘L’ Train out to Williamsburg for an impromptu cover shoot with Chiara Angelicola…Bird Call to the rest of you. She needed a photo for her jazzy new single and I’ve been dying to shoot her for a while, so was certainly willing to help out. That single…The Ballad Of New York…came out this week and I’m giving you guys an exclusive first listen here. Her smokey & souful vocal, backed up by the cascading piano and the oh-so-sad wail of the saxophone give me goosebumps every time I play this song. She co-produced ‘Ballad’ with Noah Hoffeld, and it will be featured on the new album she’s recording now. Unlike most Songs of the Day, I’m only attaching the mp3 player and not the usual full-download link (you folks on iPads will likely have to fire up the old desktop computer to listen), ‘cuz after all, Chiara is 100% indie and needs to make a few bucks every once and a while…if I go giving everything away for free she’ll be stuck eating pork ‘n beans, so please, head on over to her website (where you can also pick up her two earlier EP’s, “The Animals Know” & “Other Creatures”) or iTunes and show her some love ($) by downloading there!

Then head over to her facebook page and Like It!

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!

Song of the Day


photo by Gretchen Robinette

BIRD CALL
Lost Cause


DOWNLOAD: Lost Cause

Late last year, Nadia Ackerman kept telling me about a singer/songwriter friend of hers with the most amazing and soulful voice that would immediately have me thinking of a female Tom Waits, and that I simply must meet her. Well, since then I’ve gotten to be very good friends with Chiara Angelicola…..Bird Call as she’s known on stage…..and while her vocals can go to the dark, bluesy place that Tom calls home, on her latest EP, Other Creatures, she’s recorded covers of songs from Fleetwood Mac, Nick Cave, Man Man, Kate Bush and Beck that don’t simply parrot the originals, but instead her unique voice gives a heartfelt interpretation to each one in her own style. I remember when Beck released Sea Change…his melancholy country-blues masterpiece…and how ‘Lost Cause’ quickly became my favorite song on the album, so hearing Chiara throw a sitar in the mix really caught me off guard. This from Chiara…..

“Lost Cause is one of my favorite Beck tunes. I think the Sea Change record influenced a lot of people my age at the time it came out. It signaled a major shift in the music world. I knew that it would be a challenge to recreate, but I was working with some really talented people and we found a way to diverge from it in a spiritual and organic way and stay true to it at the same time. I think the sitar really expresses the spiritual and emotional aspects of the song alone. I’m really glad we went that route.”

Joining Chiara on the record are Indra Roy-Chowdhury on the aforementioned sitar, Dave Smallen on guitar & vocals, the amazing Harvey Jones on electric pianos, harmonium & synthesizers, Aaron Nevezie on bass and the whole thing was mixed & produced by Joel Hamilton at Studio G in Brooklyn.

Chiara and another good friend of the Song of the Day List, Johanna & the Dusty Floor, just wrapped up an uber-successful Kickstarter campaign and will be heading out on a cross-country tour starting August 2nd at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, so if they happen by your town, trust me…it’s well worth your time to check ’em out!

You can follow Bird Call on her website, then go pick up a copy of the Other Creatures EP on iTunes for only 7 bucks!

Finally…I was gonna drop the video for ‘Lost Cause’, but Chiara tells me that apparently Deli Magazine is getting a temporary exclusive on that one, so you’re all gonna hafta do with Beck’s original version and I’ll drop Chiara’s version when it clears Customs…..