Tag Archives: photography

Begin Anew

It’s been a little while since I posted but tonight I’m determined to post something.  I get into “funks” every now and again so my creative outlets loose steam at times (ie: photography and blogging about music) BUT, I then have to look to music and photography as inspiration and begin anew.  Thus the theme on this post, “Begin Anew”.

And what delighted music do my ears hear upon going over to one of my favorite websites: www.hypem.com but a wonderful song called “Eyes Wide Open” by Gotye.   From Wikipedia findings, seems he has had 2 hits down under, “Eyes Wide Open” and a song called “Leanalilgivinanlovin” which is another bright musical gem. I would say from these 2 songs that Gotye is infectious and fun!

Here are the 2 songs via YouTube:

The video for “Eyes Wide Open” is pretty amazing!

And the video for “Leanalilgivinanlovin” is fun and animated too!

I would say this music has fit the past week’s weather in SF and gives hope to my friends and family in the Midwest and East coast that the sun will shine again!

And I also want to plug my friend Richard aka “Disco Pup” has he has added some great music which he dubs “Nu Disco“! Here is the link to his podcast, the current one titled “Aumentare”.  I am also posting the release statement he sent me via Facebook describing the songs he has included in the podcast. Enjoy!!

Podcast Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/discopup-presents-danceteria/id386464658

Danceteria by Disco Pup:

As previously noted, I had intended to do an unabashedly disco mix featuring reboots of some classics, plus explore a genre that is being called Nu Disco.  Then Sharam released “Fun”, and I knew I had to do something else.  So, this became the 20th episode in the Burning Man Trilogy.

Take Me Over (Mylo Remix) – Cut Copy

Thanks to the boys at DOPE and Ben Holder for alerting me to new music from Cut Copy.  This is the first single off the new album, Mylo giving the track an electro spin.

Complete – Code Talkers

Niko Its  A Bad Dream (Sean Palm and Matt Xavier Gravity Pimps Remix) – One Of Them

These two are arguably examples of minimal, a genre I’ve rarely featured. It’s almost chill-out, but good beats and bass keep them from nodding off. After the mix was done, I actually had to go back and write down the times of the transition, as I couldn’t tell.

Come Home (Sasha Remix) – Yousef

This opens the new Global Underground mix from Dave Seaman.

Dog Tag (Sébastien Léger Rmx) – Format:B

One of two tracks brought to my attention by dj spaceotter, who wrote “I love the slinky bassline, the stereo panning effects, and the great build.”

Brainstorm – Re-Zone

From a George Acosta compilation, this hints at the progressive and trancey beats to come.

Fun (Funhouse Mix) –  Sharam featuring Anousheh Khalili

And here, 35 minutes in, we have the reason this set exists.  It starts out wonderfully typically Sharam, great drum loop, deep bass, perky synths… then it stops, cold.  And when I first heard it, I thought there was a glitch in the file itself.  Then Anousheh begins to sing, and the song rebuilds itself around her.  And sets you up for the rest of the set.

Thrive (EDX’s Fe5tival Mix) – EDX

The other track dj spaceotter alerted me to: “This is the kind of epic progressive/trance that reminds me of earlier, more optimistic times in electronic music–the ennobling, joyous nature of progressive & trance in the late 90s. Nice synth triplet chord progression over a sustained choral note.”

Die For Love (Original Vocal Mix) – Klingenberg and Dave Darell

The mix is called “Original Vocal”, but something tells me there’s a version with actual verses somewhere.

Belfunk (Original Mix) – Sasha

I’m going to pick up pretty much anything Sasha puts out. He is easily one of the most original dance music producers out there, stretching genres and challenging listeners.

The Far Side (Original Mix) – Soundprank

Beautiful – George Acosta featuring Fisher

A couple of fun proggy/trancey tracks that continue to ramp up the energy.

9 PM – (Dj J3H 2011 Remix) – ATB

A nice little reboot of the classic ATB track.  Reminds me of sweating my ass off at the Factory.

Ready (Maarten De Jong Dub Mix) – Giuseppe Ottaviani, Walsh and McAuley featuring Emma Lock

Ottaviani is a protege of Paul van Dyk and this Dub Mix featured more vocals than any of the other dubs.  I found the full on vocal to be a bit much, but it may appear on the next Alternative.

Hand (Next DJ mashup of JvD mix) – Jorn van Deynhoven and Temple One vs El

From the mix name to the list of artists, I have to believe that this is a combo of two or more tracks.  If anyone knows what the originals are, let me know.

Be.Angeled (Paul Van Dyk Club Mix) – Jam and Spoon featuring Rea

From 2001!  I know!  Be.Angeled is a German film that follows a group of young people as they attend Berlin’s Love Festival.  The vocalist Rea would go on to sing for Paul van Dyk on his “Reflections” album.

Many thanks to DJs Pete Savas, Matt Consola and spaceotter. And thanks to Randy Moore who continues to push and promote.

v.3.46
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/discopup-presents-danceteria/id386464658
The first Danceteria of 2011 features an exploration of progressive, tech house and minimal tracks. But true to the cover art, the set takes a sharp turn about 35 minutes in with a brand new track by Sharam. After that, it’s nearly non-stop switch-backs and rabbit hops until the very trancey last 20 minutes.

Musical Interludes for the Weekend

As usual on a late Friday night, I start to browse through the web for new and old tunes to add to playlists for the 2 bars I work at.  One bar where I work, Trax (Haight St, SF, CA) is what you might expect from a dive bar on Haight (yes, that Haight St, yes those hippies back in the 60’s) is a very laid back dive.  The regulars are musically savvy ranging from jazz to current music and everything in-between.

The bar I work in
Trax: Where Destinies Collide

I love playing a song and seeing that misty look in their eyes as memories drift back to them.  Playing a tune they haven’t heard of in a long time or thought of for that matter.  I love playing for all ages, it’s a challenge that I look forward to fulfilling weekly.  I try to stay within certain parameters for a bar crowd: ie: nothing too depressing, nothing really slow and something that makes people generally happy and in a good mood.  Sometimes I strike out, but I think every DJ/bartender who brings their IPODS strike out at some point or another.  Music is a journey and sometimes, you step in shit just like in real life!!

So some music I stumbled on for this weekend:

Peter Bjorn and John“Second Chance”: They were the guys behind the mega hipster hit “Young Folks” in 2007.  That nice little whistling tune you would have stuck in your head for days on end.  Well now they are back with something a little more grittier and a departure from the whistling.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the tune “Young Folks” but this track kicks some serious ass for 3 guys that are listed in Rhapsody under the category “Dream Pop” (how the hell they come up with these genres are beyond me..?) And it seems they replaced the whistling with a cow bell! Gotta love the cow bell!  Check it out:

Now I’m a sucker for a rap song that loops a song in a decent manner.  I admit, I’m picky about my rap.  I can’t do gang bangin’ rap, I’m a 38 year old white gay male…I just don’t get the gang bangin’ rap.  Now if that is what you like: cool. To each his own.  I mostly favor women rappers vs male rappers ie: Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, etc. But I found this nice little rap jam via Gorilla Warfare Tactic with a tune called “Temptations” which I’m thinking is a double meaning: one being they sample a Temptations song (“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”) and from what I can gather lyrically, maybe temptation is a theme as well..? Anyway, I think it’s a cool song so take a listen:

Another element in a song that will probably catch my attention is when a song starts out one way, then changes into something else in the middle and then go back to its beginning.  A good example is from way back in the day (well at least for me anyway) is Billy Joel’s “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, its 3 songs in one! Starts out slow, then gets mid tempo on your ass and then goes into full kick ass mode by 2:54!

So the song that I’m currently referring to with this element is Memory Tapes “Today Is Our Life”: it starts out slow and moody then it bursts into bright pop sweetness! Then by the end of the song you just have quiet synthesizer playing to fade. Below I have posted Billy Joel’s way of using the element of a song within a song and Memory Tapes after that:

Billy Joel – Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

Memory Tapes – Today Is Our Life

So that concludes another post here in Xanadu! Have a great weekend everyone!

To see my photography go here: http://shandopics.paradepro.com/ or here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shandopics/

To buy my photography go here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/shandopics (and if you don’t see a photo you like that is currently on Red Bubble, tell me a photo you do like and I will post it for you to purchase!)

All the photography you see on here (unless otherwise noted) is by me and if you are in the Bay Area and would like to have portraits done, or a headshot or some other kind of photography gig, let me know! Thanks!!!

Album Review: Cold War Kids: Mine Is Yours

Cold War Kids
Image via Wikipedia

Today the Cold War Kids have a new album out, Mine Is Yours, that I’m very excited about. A band that I thought was becoming a one hit wonder with their song from 2006 “Hang Me Out To Dry”, are no longer in that category and I couldn’t be happier for them.

A few months ago I got to hear a song off this new album called “Royal Blue” and that is when I knew this band was no longer a one hit wonder on my charts! Nathan Willet, the lead singer, has this amazing voice which has a high range but yet can also have a dark side to it not heard on many guys with high vocal ranges. That was the hook to “Hang Me Out to Dry”, it was raw vocally and with that great bass line, the darkness was always present.

Before I wrote my review and heard the entire record, it seems the consensus is that they are going “soft” and being compared to Toad the Wet Sprocket??? Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some 90’s Toad, but I wouldn’t put them in the “Adult Contemporary Category” just yet!

This album is big on the sound scale. At times it seems as if it was recorded live in a bar. Nathan’s vocals soar throughout the album. The band is cohesive and there was a vision in this album and they met it and surpassed it! I would love to turn off the vocals for a few tracks (not because they are bad or annoying) but so I can hear every detail that is going on in the background.  There is no wasted space musically on this album.  They accomplish mixing genres a bit too (punk, pop, alternative, soul; heck there is still a “garage band”/lo fi effect on the track “Cold Toes on the Cold Floor”).  There is still the “alternative” Cold War Kids (like on “Sensitive Kid”, “Bulldozer”) but there is a nice soul/pop sound too but doesn’t seem contrived or “planned”. In other words, the Cold War Kids are growing up but they are not becoming boring.  They can still be minimalists as well as full on in your face musically.  Every track grabs you and never lets you down.

Below are some of the tracks from this album! Enjoy and buy it now!

(Excuse the friggin’ advertisement before the song on this first video from YouTube..sorry..but its a great live performance!!)

Louder Than Ever -Live

Royal Blue – Album Version

Skip the Charades – Live

Digging for Gems: From Classic Rock to New Rock

I work at two gay bars here in San Francisco and I’m in charge of music on my shifts. It is one reason I started a music blog because I was spending so much time researching new and old songs (cause I get tired of listening to the same stuff over and over) that I figured I might as well blog about songs I discover.

Last night I Goggled “rare classic rock songs” and found some gems I had never heard of so now I’m sharing them with you!

Also, I found a band by the name of Cosmo Jarvis which is really just one person, Harrison Cosmo Krikoryan Jarvis, who was born in New Jersey but moved to Devon, UK according to Wikipedia. He has a song called “Gay Pirates” which is a sweet pop tune with a great message. I think if you heard it without knowing the title you might not even realize its about two gay pirates!

And lastly, posting the new song by Cold War Kids “Mine is Yours” from the album with the same title. The album drops on January 25th and I’m excited about it so will probably be reviewing it later this week! If you don’t remember who Cold War Kids are, I will post their first hit “Hang Me Out To Dry”.

Have a great weekend everyone and as my friend Dave and I say to each other when ending emails: LICK IT UP!!
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First is a song called “Fast Bluesy Woman” from a band called Tucky Buzzard, 1972. Simply awesome!

Another classic rock gem by Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys called “Good Old Rock N’ Roll”

This is a down and dirty classic by Moxy called “Midnight Flight”, 1976.

Music in the now, “Gay Pirates” by Cosmo Jarvis! Great pop and great message!

Lastly, the new song by Cold Wark Kids, “Mine is Yours” then followed by their first hit “Hang Me Out to Dry”!

Pearl Jam: 20 years

 

Pearl Jam
Cover of Pearl Jam

 

Like my 20th  high school reunion approaching and catching me off guard, knowing that Pearl Jam with their amazing first album, Ten, debuting in 1991 caught me by surprise as well.  Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Unfortunately I have only seen them in concert once (wish I could say more) and when I did see them it was way after their initial success.  But don’t get me wrong, that show was amazing and it only reconfirmed why I will always love and respect this band.

When I think of Pearl Jam, some great memories rush into my head.  First they always make me think of one of my greatest friends from college, Bryan R.  When Pearl Jam’s 3rd album, Vitology, came out, we drove from Ashland, OH where we were attending college to Cleveland, OH to stand in line at midnight to be one of the first to get the CD.  And as I think about this, I think that is the one and only time I ever did that.  And when we got back to our dorm room, we played the crap out of that CD for weeks and weeks.

Pearl Jam are a hard working band; not prone to stereotypical excesses of other rock bands.  They just do their thing, work, tour, make music from their heart and minds and have always rebelled against corporate scum (ie: the Ticketmaster boycott in 1994).

Of course you can’t really talk about Pearl Jam without mentioning Nirvana.  Nirvana introduced the world to grunge and killed the declining popularity of hair metal back in the early 90’s.  But Nirvana and Pearl Jam are so different musically speaking.  Cobain had issue with Pearl Jam at the time because he said they were “commercial sellouts” and that the album Ten was not a true alternative album due to its number of guitar leads (cited from Wikipedia.org and Rolling Stone).  And Cobain is correct, their are the standard rock guitar leads on many Pearl Jam songs but that is what makes them great for they integrated the essence of “grunge” into rock n’ roll giving an expansiveness to their music where as I feel Nirvana’s music is so alienating at times (and I feel that is what Cobain was striving for most of the time) that you get caught up with the loss of Nirvana and what could have been.  Pearl Jam had many dark messages but there was always hope and a sense of moving forward no matter what life dealt you.  With Nirvana, it was just dark and not much hope.


(Photo by: Shandopics: http://shandopics.paradepro.com/)

Below are a few of my favorite Pearl Jam tracks!

SHAMELESS PROMOTION OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY AND WHERE TO BUY IT =)  http://www.redbubble.com/people/shandopics

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Retro Thursdays: 1991: School of Fish

A view of downtown Bucyrus, Ohio on South Sand...
Image via Wikipedia

I am going to attempt every Thursday to recall music from my past that had a profound effect on me.  Today I have chosen the year: 1991, my senior year of high school in my hometown of Bucyrus, Ohio.  Where you live and what music you listen to have a very strong connection on your life.  I think to myself sometimes, ‘why was I so into this song? into this album? at that period of time? How was it speaking to me?’  As I do these retro music blogs, I am trying to find those answers.

I begin with a band that I wish would have had a more prolific career but alas, there is only one album of theirs that still to this day takes me back to 1991 like no other.  They are School of Fish and their self-titled debut album.  I have learned they had a total of 2 albums, the second one in 1993 didn’t do nearly as well as their first and of course, they broke up soon after.

The album School of Fish is alternative music at its best! Every song is a gem and it covers angst and frustration quite well.  As I stated before, I was a senior in my small Ohio hometown and I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of dodge at the time.  Every day I was counting the days down cause I was going to be the next big actor.  I was going to move to NYC or Hollywood and make it big.  (Ah the dreams of an 18 year old and how no one can tell you anything cause you are 18 and know everything..)

There is a line in  the song “Speechles” : “And in my one room apartment/High above this town” I would picture myself living in NYC, far away from my boring little Ohio town.  The album itself is mostly depressing in lyrics but somehow it wasn’t depressing to me.  It made me want to go out and explore the bigger cities.  I also didn’t drink or do drugs in high school so this album kind of glorified drugs and alcohol..once again, in a depressing manner but it didn’t stop me from daydreaming about all that!

The main hit off the album was “Strange Days” (also known as “3 Strange Days”) and it’s just a great song basically about being fucked up for 3 days.  But there is one line in the song that gave me inspiration: “I’ve got to make it through/No matter what it takes/Oh I’ve got to make it through/These strange days” I knew there were new experiences ahead that I would learn from and grow.

But the song I listened to over and over in times of teenage frustration was the last song on the album, “Euphoria”.  The song just takes me back to that 18 year old boy laying on his bed staring at the ceiling, worrying, wondering, what is the meaning to all this?  I wish someone could have reached out and said, ‘it’s going to be alright.  Being gay is ok.  You have great times ahead of you.  Stop worrying what people think.”  So this song was a way for me to have those thoughts privately and keep going, get to graduation and your life is yours.

If you do not know this band at all, I highly recommend to take a listen to it and see what you get out of it.  And if you were alive in 1991, what were you doing? Where were you and can you feel the connection from music to time?  And if you weren’t born yet, you now have a great album that your friends probably don’t know about and you can be the cool kid with the old music that is still cool today..at least I think it still holds up to the test of time.

As for an analytical standpoint of this album, you can feel the precursor to grunge and all the bands that would copy this sound down the road.  All the songs flow very well together almost telling a story but not in a direct manner.

Below I have posted 2 videos; the main hit “3 Strange Days” and “Euphoria”.  Lastly, I dedicate this post to one of my good friends in high school days, Molly.  She loved this album and it never fails to make me think of her when I hear these songs.

 


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Kick Ass Podcasts That Will Make You Shake Your Moneymaker!

Promoting my friend and wonderful, amazing DJ and Producer, Matt Consola! He has a podcast called Adapter and it’s  amazing!! Check it out!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/swishcraft-magically-gay-dance/id266416444?i=90224588

Another amazing and talented DJ friend of mine, Richard aka DiscoPup.  Has a truly awesome podcast below:

http://www.triple7media.com/DiscoPup_presents_Danceteria/Podcast/Podcast.html

Photo credit of Matt Consola: Eric Nielson http://www.ericnielsonphoto.com

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Review of the week: The Decemberists: The King Is Dead

The Decemberists
Cover of The Decemberists

Recently I have been reminiscing about R.E.M and their early days.  Well lo and behold, The Decemberists give me a good reason to keep R.E.M. in mind in literal fashion.  “The King Is Dead” is set to be released on January 18th, 2011.

This album is a great, enjoyable record taking you down country roads and open fields.  It was recorded in a barn near Portland, Oregon.  The music is deeply influenced by where it was recorded.  There are many enjoyable harmonies on most of the songs which are provided by the lead singer, Colin Meloy and the wonderfully talented Gillian Welch.  (Do some research on this talented woman, begin at her website: http://gillianwelch.com/ .

Another guest on this record is Peter Buck, the lead guitarist of R.E.M.  His influence is great indeed and adds a wonderful texture to the three songs he contributes to which are: “Don’t Carry It All”, “Calamity Song”, and “Down by the Water”.  Instead of this album “sounding like” its influences, it really is an homage to the roots of country/folk music.  There is the jangle pop sound fans of The Decemberists are used to but there is a new direction they are taking and I hope they keep down this path of country/folk/jangle pop because it is magical to the ears.

Some favorite songs of mine off the album are:

“Don’t Carry It All”: Bright beginning to the record.  The harmonies between Meloy and Welch are just simply wonderful and perfect.  Favorite lyric: “a neighbors blessed burden within reason/ becomes a burden born of all and one”

“Calamity Song”: This has the most recognizable Peter Buck influence on the entire record.  Upon first listen you will hear a direct R.E.M. guitar lick which I believe is from “7 Chinese Brothers”.  This song is another bright, country affair.

“January Hymn”: an ode to the month of January and actually makes winter seem bearable. (I happen to loath winter which is one of the reasons I moved to San Francisco!) This is Meloy on his own. Favorite lyric: “Hail the winter days after dark/ wandering the gray memorial park/ a fleeting beating of hearts”

“Down By The Water”: This is the first single off the record and is full of good old fashioned teen angst.  There is the obvious influence of Bruce Springsteen (especially in the harmonica playing).  This confirms all the feeling and frustrations of a bored teenager.

The last two songs on the album, “This Is Why We Fight” and “Dear Avery” are darker in tone and feel than the rest of the album.  “This is Why..” is about war and its repetitive nature thus the repetitive nature of the lyrics.  At the end of this song, there is a wonderful moment with Gillian Welch singing into one mic and you can hear the rain in the background.  This moment leads directly into the last song, “Dear Avery”.  Is this a song about the passing of Avery or his absence?  The very end of the record is just music that gives the listener hope but with the lingering of a “ghost” of loss.

You can listen to this album in its entirety or song by song on NPR’s website: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/03/132436422/first-listen-the-decemberists-the-king-is-dead#playlist

A definite must have for lovers of good old fashioned country/folk/rock music.

The Decemberists main website: http://www.decemberists.com/

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Music, Photography and Me

For my first blog on We are in Xanadu, I just wanted to give insight into the who, what and why of this blog.

Music and photography are two of my passions and I decided to bring them together to create what I hope to be a successful blog.  I have a photography blog but have basically abandoned it at this point.  I am beginning a career as a photographer currently under the business name “Shandopics”.  To the side of this blog, you will see the Flickr links, etc.

I became bored with the photography blog but also, the thought of being technical, explaining how I take photos, etc really was a boring concept to me.  There are soooo many photography blogs (well ok, there are so many music blogs as well) but I thought by combining my two loves that I would be more invested in keeping the blog up to date.

The main purpose of the blog will center on music reviews, some music news and hopefully introducing people to new music as well as older music that you may have never heard of or forgot about.  The photography is more of a showcasing of my work along with the blog.  That way I will give more exposure to my photography while at the same time commenting on music.

When it comes to music, I pretty much like every genre except for polka, opera and other not so popular genres.  Well, who am I to say that polka isn’t popular, it just isn’t in my world.  If one listens to my Sansa Fuze + (that’s right, I do not own an IPOD currently and am trying not to, I will talk more about that in other posts), I am all over the place musically.  From dance/club music to classic rock, to vocal/pop standards to country.  And when I speak of country on this blog, I will mainly be referring to country music I grew up with that came from the 50’s through the mid 80’s and maybe some 90’s.  Current country is really just plain boring to me and most of country today seems to have lost its roots with the past.  Most country to me sounds like a pop song with a “twang” here and a “twang” there for country flavor.  I like my country with ALOT of twang and for the most part, alot of depression! But more on country and depression in another post.

In each post after this one, I will attempt a review of some kind whether it is of a current song/album or past one.  I will try and list some songs I am currently listening to at that moment and links to where you can find the music.  Of course my concept of what goes into each post could change at any given time but that is the basic idea at this time.

As for the name of the blog, We are in Xanadu, it harks back to the awful but wonderfully awful movie “Xanadu” starring Olivia Newton-John and what unfortunately was Gene Kelly‘s last movie.  The song “Xanadu” holds a very special place in my heart.  It is in my top 3 of all time favorite songs and no matter what, always makes me smile and almost everytime, dance in some form or fashion like I’m on roller skates! “Xanadu” was also one of those roller skating movies of the late 70’s and early 80’s. The soundtrack is amazing with the combination of ELO‘s production and lyrics added with the delivery of Olivia’s vocal talent!

I was 8 years old when this movie came out (August 8, 1980) and I did not see it in the movie theater unfortunately (that would happen upon moving to San Francisco in 2005 and seeing it on the widescreen at the beloved Castro Theater!).  When it began to be played on regular television randomly is when I began to view the movie and growing up, it would be on mostly late at night.  If it was on, I pretty much stopped whatever I was doing and watch with content as the amazing sounds of ELO and Olivia Newton-John come together for a pop/rock roller skating extravaganza! Also music and photography take me to xanadu, they bring me peace, happiness and with photography, I find a very quiet, serene place in my soul as I take photos.

I hope to make people smile, think and follow their passions through this blog as well as introduce you to new music of all kinds from current to the past.  I feel that knowing the history of music and how it connects to today’s artists is very important.  Like anything else, knowing the history of a subject just makes it that much more richer of an experience.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and go on this journey I call “Xanadu”..go download the song now, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

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