Song of the Day

FORT ATLANTIC
No One Will Know


DOWNLOAD: No One Will Know

Fort Atlantic is Jon Black, and Jon Black is pretty Goddamned amazing. His musical style, lyrical phrasing and voice is eerily reminiscent of Jackson Browne, with a little bit of an upbeat Jeff Tweedy thing thrown in for some Indie cred. I was introduced to Mr. Black via my regular email blast from Noisetrade, one of the better sites I subscribe to for new music. Artists can upload an album, EP, single, or live recording to distribute it completely free (tipping gladly accepted and encouraged by yours truly). Fort Atlantic is set to release their first album May 29th, but to get you interested they’re offering a 5-song EP that is quite a revelation. The first time I listened to the anthemic ‘No One Will Know’, with its surging drumbeat and pleading harmonies, it raised the hairs on my neck…

I think I have made up my mind
I think there are places that we need to go just to find…

Black has spent the past three years in his DIY home studio working on the songs that make up his debut album. When he finished recording last November, he packed up the tapes and travelled to New York to have Grammy-winning producer Tom Schick (who coincidentally has spun the knobs for Tweedy and Wilco) handle the final mix. When they were done, Schick said…

“The songs on this record are instant classics. Jon has an impressive voice and crafts beautiful songs with many great twists and turns. I love this record”.

He was right…after listening to the five tracks on the EP you come away with a warm, comforting feeling…almost like you’ve known these songs your whole life. I love this record.

You must get this EP. Head over to Noisetrade for the free download…and if you like it like I know you will, throw him a tip! Then tell all of your friends. Then visit his facebook page and LIKE him…..you’re welcome!

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

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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…

Keeping It Simple With Gabrielle Aimée

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When my friend Gabrielle Aimée asked me to shoot her new CD cover, she was very specific. She wanted to keep it very simple, but very direct. She wanted an intimate connection with the viewer, with minimal styling…maybe just a white t-shirt. Oh yeah…and we had to keep it dirt cheap, ‘cuz in case you forgot, my indie friends aren’t exactly rolling in GaGa Money to throw at their self promotion!

Now one of the things that always impresses people when they first arrive at Damn Ugly Photography is the giant 17 foot by 9 foot high South-facing window that greets them, and on the day Gibbles came up to my place to go over a few ideas, I had her stand up against the wall next to that window and popped off a few quick frames, just to see how she looked on camera with no styling and just a big wash of soft light…I was kinda blown away with the results…

So blown away, in fact, that I told her maybe we should just shoot here, and use the same big, soft lighting. I had an idea to include some rough hewn wood planks and maybe a painters canvas drop as backgrounds, but the real focus had to be her expressions. With that in mind, here’s a bit of what we did…

We started with a few seated poses on my new plank floor…

After a quick wardrobe change we did a few close-ups, but amped-up the window lighting to brighten things up a bit…

Then I turned our plank floor into a wall and we moved in this direction…

And even though we were diggin’ the window light, I figured I would fire up a couple of lights and do a few moodier variations…

And then, just when we thought we might be done, I messed her hair up, cranked up the ringlight, and things took on a totally different look…

Finally, Gibbles told me she wanted to do something fun for her boyfriend, Brendan Brown, the driving force behind the cult alt-rock group, Wheatus. That ‘something’ involved her brand new guitar…and not much else

Gabrielle is set to release ‘I Know Better’…the first single off the album…and all you have to do is go to today’s Song of the Day to download it.

Song of the Day

ANDREW BELLE
Colorblind


DOWNLOAD: Colorblind

Andrew Belle recently dropped by the Daytrotter Studio and laid down a stunning cover of Counting Crows “Colorblind”. If there are any of you indie music fans who have yet to bookmark the Daytrotter site and visit it daily, you are missing out on a fantastic resource for new music. Not only will you get to hear new versions of songs you might already know, but there plenty of times like this when an artist will pull out something from left field that will prolly never get recorded anywhere else. Andrew was last featured on The List a year ago when I posted ‘Static Waves’, his duet with Katie Herzig. Head over to his website and give him a listen.

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…..

Song of the Day

LOW ROAR
Give Up


DOWNLOAD: Give Up

Most of you know that Audrye Sessions was one of my favorite bands of the past few years. Audrye Sessions are no more. Low Roar is Ryan Karazija. Ryan Karazija is Low Roar. Ryan moved to Iceland, the winter was dark, and he wrote a record. I have been dropping snippets from what he’s been working on for months, but I just spent the past hour listening to the final result…and it’s fucking awesome. He’s carefully composed a beautifully reflective, dark and brooding collection of stories that captured his feelings throughout that dark winter. This is no rock-n-roll record…the twelve songs are almost confessional and listening to them made me feel a bit like a voyeur…as though I was intruding on something profoundly personal. There were times when I got chills from the power of his soaring, chantlike vocals. This is a must-own album. You can buy it exclusively over at Tonequake Records…I suggest kicking in an extra 2 bucks for the alac (Apple lossless) cd quality download! And if you haven’t done so already, you can also pick up An Otherwise Perfect Day, the final EP from Audrye Sessions, for only 3 bucks. You can follow Low Roar on facebook.

BONUS…Here’s a stripped-down video version of ‘Patience’…..