Nick Murphy AKA Chet Faker

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I recently got to spend a day with Australian singer/songwriter Nick Murphy, better known by his stage name, Chet Faker. The Sydney Morning Herald was doing a cover story for their Sunday magazine that talked about his new album and how he was going to use his real name after five years as Faker. Tegan Sadlier, the photo editor at the Herald, and I tossed around a bunch of ideas before deciding on “Will The Real Nick Murphy Please Stand Up?” as our cover headline. More on that later, but here’s how the shoot went…

I have long had Ruby Bird Studios in Greenpoint on my radar, but haven’t had the right subject to take advantage of the wonderful grunge they have to offer…Nick was that subject! The old warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront was made for a day of rock star portraits…

While studio 520 can hardly be described as a daylight space, it does have a cool casement window…

…that with minimal lighting (one big umbrella directly over Nick’s head) made for a nice, moody start…

Just to the left of the window was a beat up old sliding metal door that I liked for some tight portraits…

To the right of the window was an even more interesting door, but this one was recessed in a brick wall that would make for a frame around Nick…

…and that furry green coat…perfect!!!

Finally, for our cover concept…I convinced Tegan I could do a multiple image photo of Nick in different positions, wearing different outfits, to illustrate the ‘Will The Real Nick Murphy Please Stand Up?’ idea…

This wall was our base…

Next, we had to place our ‘Nicks’ in different spots in the frame…

And when that was done, all that was left was for me to spend a day at the computer making a group shot…with the ‘real’ Nick standing up!

…and here’s our final cover…

Suite Judy Blue Eyes

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Judy Collins…!!!

When Ronnie Weil called and offered me this one, all I could say was, “Wow!”. For five decades…my entire life…she’s been making music…beautiful music. Now Judy is recording a new CD that is tentatively titled “Duets with Guys”, an album that will feature her signing with Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Buffett, Don McLean and Kris Kristofferson, and Alexandra Wolfe was writing a profile on her for the Wall Street Journal. Here is how our day went…

Kaz sitting in for our first shot…

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Ms. Collins in the makeup chair…

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And our shooting day begins…

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We also had a Journal video crew following us around…

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Here are a couple of final images…

Judy Collins

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For the next setup, I wanted to do something dark & dramatic, and more etherial. And while it doesn’t look like much with Kaz in place…

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…once Judy stepped on set, things got dialed in pretty fast…

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Judy Collins

…and our final image…

Judy Collins

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As a little bonus, follow the link below for Ali Wolfe’s interview with Judy…

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…as well as some more behind-the-scenes from our shoot:

Judy Collins Interview & Behind-the-Scenes footage

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Song of the Day

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KATE TUCKER & THE SONS OF SWEDEN
Hangover


DOWNLOAD: Hangover

It should come as no surprise to long-time SOTD listeners that with me being back in the groove of kickin’ out free music for you guys, a new song from Kate Tucker wouldn’t be long in coming. Since ditching all her of dear, dear friends in New York for Nashville a couple of years ago, Ms. Tucker has been bouncing between her solo work and the K+NIKKU project with Nic Danielson, but she recently decided to reform The Sons of Sweden with a new group of Sons…Matthew Thompson on bass, Wes Chandler playing guitar and Ethan Place on drums. Kate and the Sons have been recording new material for a while and have just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to help them release “The Shape, The Color, The Feel”, described as a collaborative audio/visual venture to record the album, release it on vinyl, complete with music videos or short films accompanying each song. ‘Hangover’ is the little tease she’s dropping to get you interested, so give it a listen, head on over to the Sons of Sweden Facebook page and hit the ‘LIKE’ button, and if you have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket, don’t waste it on a Powerball ticket…why not help them out on the Kickstarter campaign?

Click HERE and donate until your wallet is empty!

Song of the Day

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ELECTRIC EEL SHOCK
Metal Man


DOWNLOAD: Metal Man

Electric Eel Shock… a three-piece garage metal band that have been kicking around Tokyo since the late 90’s…are self-described as being “the BEST Japanese Metal Band”, and since my experience with Japanese Metal is pretty damned limited, I’m gonna hafta take their word for it. But I was trolling the Daytrotter site this morning and came across a live session they just did and figured it was just the kind of fun, exuberant thing I needed as a ‘Welcome Back!” to the Song of the Day!

Let’s not kid ourselves…these guys ain’t exactly Van Halen…but without any kind of significant record label success, they’ve still managed to plug along all this time and put together a pretty impressive fan base outside of Japan, and I kinda like that. So enjoy the song and when you’re done, give ’em a look over on their website.

Video of the Day

This is pretty great. Aimee Mann did a shot-for-shot remake (with John Hamm as the Director!) of ‘Til Tuesday’s ‘Voices Carry’ to her new single, ‘Labrador’, from this years Charmer album…

You just gotta love Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster as the scummy boyfriend and brief shot of Ted Leo in a fright wig!

Song of the Day

RICHARD HAWLEY
Down in the Woods


DOWNLOAD:Down in the Woods

Richard Hawley is probably destined to be one of those over-talented Brits who never cracks the American market, and that’s really a shame, ‘cuz he’s awfully damned good. Back in the 90’s he was in the Britpop band Longpigs before hooking up with Jarvis Cocker’s Pulp, but on his own, Hawley has released seven truly inspiring solo albums. And while he’s probably known as being more of a rockabilly-styled singer, his latest album, Standing At The Sky’s Edge…with walls of fuzzy feedback, processed vocals and dark lyrics…is downright psychedelic. And for a guy who’s said he’d “never, ever been interested in fashion or being fashionable”, he’s put out a very hip record. Head on over to his website to check him out, and here he is doing ‘Down in the Woods’ live on Jools Holland’s show…

Song of the Day

SOPHIE BARKER
Say Goodbye


DOWNLOAD: Say Goodbye

Remember Zero 7…??? Of course you do…who didn’t have the album Simple Things on the top of their iTunes list when it came out?!! It practically defined the entire Chillout genre of music. As luck would have it, Sia got crazy famous because of ‘Destiny’, but for some reason the same didn’t happen to Sophie Barker who sang lead on ‘In The Waiting Line’. But Sophie’s had three solo albums of her own material, the latest…Seagull…was released in the UK late last year, and even though you can pick it up on iTunes, it hasn’t had any kind of publicity over here. However…since ‘Say Goodbye’ has been dropped on a bunch of music blogs recently…it showed up in my email box this morning…I’m thinkin’ it’s about to get a stateside release soon. You can follow Sophie on her website or over on facebook

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!

Song of the Day

SARAH JAFFE
Glorified High


DOWNLOAD: Glorified High

Sarah Jaffe has come a long way since she was last on The List back in 2010 with ‘Clementine’. On her new album, The Body Wins, the folky rhythms and mournful lyrics from that first record have been replaced with fuzzy sampled percussive beats, electronic pianos, upbeat melodies and a much more pop-centric feel to her songwriting. Gone too is her earthy, slacker image that featured a mish-mosh of hoodies, plaid shirts and knit caps. Judging from the cover of The Body Wins where she sports a new razor-cut hairstyle and almost military-like fashion, I’d say Sarah has been put through the record company makeover machine. But if the marketing guys thought getting a haircut was necessary to get noticed, it must be working ‘cuz even Jon Pareles of The NY Times reviewed her album yesterday. For an indie artist, that’s kinda huge. And judging from what he wrote, I’d say we’re both fans of her new sound.

You can check out more of Sarah Jaffe on her website or head over to her facebook page and hit the LIKE button.

Song of the Day

HARPER SIMON
Wishes And Stars


DOWNLOAD: Wishes And Stars

No, you’re not listening to a long-lost Simon & Garfunkel single…this is Paul Simon’s son, Harper Simon, and if not for me clearing out some of the stuff taking up space on my DVR last night, I would probably have never heard this. It played as the credits rolled on the first episode of the new HBO series, ‘Girls’, and if you’ve seen the show (and you’re like me) then you probably can’t imagine a more perfect song to encapsulate the characters and themes…

Everyone seems so certain
Everyone knows who they are
Everyone’s got a mother and a father
They all seem so sure they’re going far
They all got more friends than they can use
Except me ‘cause I’m a fool…

The show, by the way, is excellent! Writer/Director/Creator/Voice-of-her-Generation Lena Dunham’s super-smart look at four twenty-something girls trying to make their way in the World is peppered with dialogue that flows like a hipster mash-up of a David Mamet play and a Whit Stillman movie. And is it coincidence or by clever design that Mamet’s daughter Zosia plays one of Dunham’s girlfriends and Stillman regular Chris Eigeman plays her boss? I dunno…just watch it!

But back to the song…which was chosen by the show’s music director Michael Penn…it’s off of Simon’s self-titled debut that features some serious bold-faced indie friends…Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart, Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, Sean Lennon, Joan (As Police Woman) Wasser and the amazing violinist Petra Haden. Oh yeah, he also called upon Steve Nieve whose day job is Elvis Costello’s keyboardist in the Attractions, percussion superstar Steve Gadd and of course, his Dad. Finally, if all that talent wasn’t enough, he got Tom Rothrock to twiddle the knobs and mix the final product. How he Hell did I miss this album when it was released?!!

So your assignment is to watch ‘Girls’ on Sunday nights and check out more of Harper Simon at his website!

Song of the Day

THE MYNABIRDS
Generals


DOWNLOAD: Generals

Laura Burhenn and the Omaha-based Mynabirds are back with their second album, Generals, due out June 5th, and she’s giving away the title track…a percussion-heavy, anthemic foot-stomper that was good enough to get me out the the serious Song of the Day drought I’ve been in! In this song, Laura sounds kinda pissed off with the way a few politicians have been trying to step on the rights of hard-working girls out there lately…

Calling all my generals
My daughters, my revolutionaires
We’ve got strength in numbers
And they’re going to pay for it…

Word is Generals is a concept album that’s allowing her to exercise her political frustration and was named after the Richard Avedon photo “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution”, and she wants all you gals you strap on your ‘black boots’ and ‘war paint’ and don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t count…Amen! You can check out The Mynabirds on their website and for all you locals, they’ll be in New York June 22nd at The Mercury Lounge.

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…

Song of the Day

ZEUS
Are You Gonna Waste My Time?


DOWNLOAD: Are You Gonna Waste My Time?

Today on The List we prove once more that everything old is new again. Fuzzy dueling guitars with whammy bars, echo, reverb, some honky-tonk piano and even a Goddamn cowbell…welcome to the 70’s, kids!!! Zeus are four guys from Toronto that obviously have prayed at the alter of Grand Funk Railroad, and their second album, Busting Visions, will be released next month. Besides making friends on Facebook, you can check out more of Zeus on their website, and for you New Yorkers, they’re playing The Mercury Lounge Thursday night (2/23/12).

Song of the Day


ED VALLANCE
Crystalline


DOWNLOAD: Crystalline

What’s not to love about this new song from Brooklyn-based Englishman Ed Vallance?!! Right from the intro with that twitchy guitar & syncopated snare drum, to the almost Steven Patrick Morrissey-like whiney wail of his voice, and the way it quickly builds to a flourish of mirrored backing vocals and distorted guitars and then slides back into the tick-tock tick-tock marching beat of that drum…everything just comes together perfectly. ‘Crystalline’ is the lead track from his second album, Volcano, which is due to be released this month, but check him out on his Facebook page and for you New Yorkers, he’s playing a residency at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan every Sunday in February at 10:00pm.

Song of the Day

TEN SECOND EPIC
Better Off


DOWNLOAD: Better Off

OK…so yesterday a lotta you pointed out to me that the recent stream of sad-as-Hell folky songs that have taken up residency here on The List might be just the thing to convince some of the more manic/depressive types who hang out here to open a vein…God only knows I can’t be burdened with that responsibility…and then this morning Andrew Usenik, my much younger rockstar cousin from the Great White North, emails to remind me that his band Ten Second Epic will be playing Webster Hall this week! That gives me the perfect opportunity to kick out the title song from their latest album, Better Off. No sad-bastard vibe here, just three and a half minutes of guitar-driven, rhythmic rock-n-roll that should get you off the ledge and back in business. So if you’re in the mood from some old-skool R&R, hit The Studio at Webster Hall Thursday night tell Andrew I told you to show up. Oh yeah…check out the video for ‘Young Classics’…also off of Better Off… for an even harder & rockier look at these guys…

Song of the Day

KATE TUCKER
Get You Over


DOWNLOAD: Get You Over

January is almost over and we’ve been so damned busy here at Damn Ugly (we’re havin’ a record-setting month, thanks for asking!) that we have yet to put out a single new Song of the Day this year! I’m gonna rectify that by offering up a song off of Kate Tucker’s beautiful new EP and also send you guys a link to where for a limited time you can download the entire EP for free. Ghost of Something New includes songs she recorded with her former Sons of Sweden bandmates and other collaborators in Seattle, Brooklyn, and Nashville. The deluxe version will be released March 13 with some exclusive songs, but like I said, for the time being she’s giving it away (don’t be a cheap-ass…you can still tip her a few bucks!) over on www.noisetrade.com and you can follow Ms. Tucker over on her facebook page.

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

SHARON VAN ETTEN
Serpents


DOWNLOAD: Serpents

Sharon Van Etten has a new album coming out next year and to get us all jazzed up, she’s giving away ‘Serpents’, a rambunctious sizzler that has me picturing her swirling out of control, her arms flaying, totally enraptured by the song. Her plaintive vocal stays locked in the same mid-register throughout…a buzzing, pleading drone…set alongside a howling slide guitar, the constant beat of a snare drum and layer upon layer of trebly guitars. The new record, Tramp, is due out in February on the indie power label Jagjaguwar Records, and she’s playing with some serious folks…the Dessner twins, Aaron and Bryce of the National, Matt Barrick of The Walkmen and Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak on backup vocals. Go check out Sharon on her website

***EDIT: Just thought I would add this, even though it’s a month later…a wonderful piece on Sharon in the Sunday NYTimes Magazine

Song of the Day

SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
The Night


DOWNLOAD: The Night

When the news broke last year that Claudia Dehaza was going to be leaving the Brooklyn-based trio School of Seven Bells, my heart sank a little. It’s hardly a secret that I’m a big fan of their luxurious, shoegazey dream pop…they’ve been featured on The List three times before, HERE, HERE and HERE…and God knows I’ve pretty much worn out their albums, Disconnect From Desire and Alpinisms, so it’s understandable that I couldn’t imagine how the band could continue without the harmonic melodies Claudia and her twin Alejandra spun into their songs. But the new duo of Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Dehaza have recently completed a new album, Ghostory, which is scheduled for a February release. With a bit of creative knob-twiddling, Alejandra is able to harmonize with herself while Benjamin stays at the top of his game assembling layer upon layer of guitars, synthesizers and frantic drumwork into what is unmistakably the SVIIB sound.

You can follow School of Seven Bells on their website and if you’re into planning ahead, the Album Release show is gonna be February 28th at The Mercury Lounge