Author: Ben

An Introduction to Jeremy Cowart

Written by : Posted on April 24, 2009 : No Comments

Jeremy Cowart is one of my favorite photographers.

I found out about Cowart when I picked up his photojournalism book Hope in the Dark. The photos were so awesome that I went to Jeremy’s website and recognized a lot of his work from band/musician photos and CD covers I’ve seen.

I don’t really know much about the specifics of what makes great photography so I just go off intuition and I know I really like his stuff. I could look at for hours… well, put together I probably do. I’ll shut up now and let you see his work.

Oh, last thing… he is a fun guy to follow on Twitter. There are almost always cool pictures to go with his tweets. (nerd alert, I know)

KT Tunstall

Iron and Wine

village gathered

Breakdance

Subway

Wes Hutchinson

Africa

cardboard city

Imogen Heap

Angus & Julia Stone

Written by : Posted on April 20, 2009 : No Comments

Angus and Julia Stone

Immediately after seeing this duo you’re asking yourself three things…

  1. Are they husband & wife, brother & sister, lovers…?
  2. Which one is more attractive?
  3. Has my sexual preference just been compromised for asking that?

I only have the answer to one of those and the answer is “yes!” Actually I know the answer to all of them. They happen to be brother and sister. (but not twins)

It’s a pretty interesting dynamic but I guess it wasn’t always that way. In fact, until a few years ago Angus and Julia each did their own music. They came together when being jobless, their father offered them both free rent. Naturally, without anything to do besides surf, they began playing and singing together. However, their songs did and still do remain uniquely separate. Each sing harmonies and play on the others’ but you won’t find the alternating verses that you might see on a track like Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis’ “Nothing Better.”

With the US release of their latest album A Book Like This and a recent appearance at this year’s SXSW these guys are rapidly gaining popularity… and for good reason. Their melodies are catchy, song structures have a jazzy undertone to them, and they’ve created uniqueness within that folk genre, which is hard to do. A lot of their appeal is from their unique vocal styles. Tracks like “Bella” and “Paper Aeroplane” don’t immediately queue you in on the fact that the soft, comforting, almost childlike voice, belongs to Angus… that is until you Julia whose distinct vocals have subtle hints of Bjork and Jolie Holland.

Check em’ out… A friend helped Angus and Julia make this video for their most popular song, “Just A Boy.”

Here is another guy that pairs well with Angus and Julia Stone for your lazy/sleepy day playlist…

Mike Kinsella is guy I saw a few years back touring and recording under the name Owen. As you can see, on stage you’ll find Mike, a guitar, a stool and his iPod which serves as his band/orchestra. He dedicates time to take questions from the audience, casually starts/stops songs as if it were a rehearsal, and tells intense stories about broken relationships with family members. Worth seeing if you get a chance.

Owen

Angus & Julia Stone – Paper Aeroplane

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Owen – The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi

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Bon Iver Goes Back to His Roots

Written by : Posted on April 20, 2009 : 2 Comments

Bon Iver

So where do you find a man whose cult status is beginning to rival that of Sufjan and Connor Oberst…. who has been receiving national and international acclaim for his creativity with the release of For Emma, Forever Ago with his most recent project Bon Iver… who is being sought after for collaboration by some of the industry’s most respected artists?

A high school jazz auditorium.

That’s right. A high school jazz auditorium. Last night Justin Vernon (frontman of Bon Iver) performed a fundraiser show with his former high school’s jazz band. Pimping a white suit and staying out of the spotlight as much as possible, Vernon and the Memorial High School Jazz Ensemble performed both Bon Iver tunes such as “Lump Sum” and “For Emma” as well as more peculiar pieces such as Sinatra’s “The Lady is a Tramp” and Mahalia Jackson’s “Satisfied Mind.”

This guy is the shit.

Top 5 Hallelujah Covers

Written by : Posted on March 25, 2009 : 3 Comments

I’m always amazed at the timelessness of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah. You would think people would get tired of it, but it seems like every couple of months I run across an artist who has had success covering this song. Even still, it doesn’t crack the top 100 most covered songs according to Second Hand Songs. Though, I find that hard to believe since it has been recorded by around 185 different artists. (Here’s a list of all the artists to cover the song)

Just as interesting as the song’s popularity is its ambiguity. Probably because Cohen was a more of a poet than a songwriter, the song is left open to interpretation and everyone seems to have their own. I love how Cohen describes the meaning… “It explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value.” Supposedly, Cohen told Bob Dylan this song took him 2 years to write and the original composition had 80 verses. The full version has been slimed down to a mere 15 verses.

So, with all those versions out there, I decided to rank my personal favorites. Like most people, I secretly used Jeff Buckley’s version as the standard. I leaned towards artists who were creative with their melodies and instrumentation without killing the feel. There are some good voices covering this song but their too similar to Buckley’s version. Anyways, here are my top 5:

No. 1 – Jeff Buckley

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No. 2 – Phil Wickham

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No. 3 – Rufus Wainwright

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No. 4 – Brandi Carlile

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No. 5 – Bob Dylan

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Honorable mention: Beirut

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Dishonorable mention: Bono

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Music For the Mind

Written by : Posted on March 23, 2009 : No Comments

Riceboy Sleeps book page

Let me take a minute and introduce you to two bands that will make you think you’re on an acid trip when you’re not and remind you when you are. Son Lux and Riceboy Sleeps. Let’s start with the latter…

Sigur Ros frontman Jón (Jónsi) Þór Birgisson and his boyfriend Alex Somers made a conscious decision to begin making art together in the summer of 2003. Their work began as a musical collaboration but evolved into still images, videos and storytelling (as well as music). Their work is known today as Riceboy Sleeps. Most people have become familiar with Riceboy from their recent appearance on the prolific Dark Was the Night album created by the Dessner twins of The National. Riceboy’s two previously released tracks accompany videos and a storybook found under the Riceboy Sleeps name. Watching these videos and listening to their sounds becomes this mind-blowing, ethereal experience. So much so, that I only “do” Riceboy if they have my full attention. If you appreciate anything similar the sounds of The Album Leaf, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwei or Sigur Ros then Riceboy Sleeps will give back every second you give them.

The second and a personal favorite is Son Lux. I’m a guy who hates mash-ups and seldom enjoys a remix. Because, for all of the remixes out there very few are actually good. Ryan Lott who is Son Lux, is a guy who does them right. He is one of the industry’s most sought-after “remixers” for his work with artists such as Mute Math, My Brightest Diamond, Beirut, Anathallo and several others. Alongside his remixes, Lott has recorded his own debut album At War With Walls & Mazes. It’s crazy to think that one of last year’s best albums was done in between Lott’s day-to-day job of writing jingles for TV and radio commercials.

Riceboy Sleeps – Hapiness

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Son Lux – Wither

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