The Best Releases of 2015

There have been a lot of ‘2015 Best-Of’ lists out there these days. Here are the releases that matter most, in my humble opinion. The order of 3-8 doesn’t matter.

1. Battle Tapes – Polygon
2. Party Nails – singles Break and No Pressure
3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday
4. FIDLAR – Too
5. Carly Rae Jepsen – EMOTION
6. Ghost – Meliora
7. Glass Animals – Zaba
8. The Score – White Iverson (cover)

Update: As of April 2, 2016, I realize that this list is crazily incomplete. I’m discovering a lot more wonderful tunes that originated from last year. But, my statement on picks 1-2 has not changed for any spilt second ūüôā

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Cleveland HOB)

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Live at the Cleveland House of Blues, 6-2-2015

No opening band. No crazy dance moves. Just pure Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds up on stage doing their thing.

It’s been 10 years since Oasis came to Cleveland and rocked the Blossom Music Center on¬†a chilly Ohio¬†day. I was at that show, my heart all up knots at the first real-life sighting of my favorite band of brothers. We all know some musicians suck hardcore performing live, while their studio work knocks it out of the park. From experience I can tell you that a live show with the Gallagher brothers is like stepping out from the cover art of an Oasis CD and being surrounded by the best live versions of your favorite songs that you could imagine.

After attending last night’s show I can safely say that nothing has changed. At 48 years old, Noel still sings, speaks and looks¬†like a rock ‘n’ roll star. I had tears in my eyes at least 3 times watching and hearing one of my favorite¬†musicians play inside the¬†very intimate setting of the Cleveland House of Blues.

From the opening song Do the Damage to the ending encore song Don’t Look Back In Anger, the set list couldn’t have been better. And neither could the crowd.¬†It’s not just the amazing musician who is aging so well that made this show so special, but the fan base¬†was probably the most mature I’ve ever seen. Yeah, you had the obnoxious 30-year-old-somethings standing in the corner making snide remarks about Oasis. But other than that, it was easy to see the place was filled with people who truly love the music.¬†I’d also like to note that it’s one of the few concerts I’ve ever attended that didn’t have the scent of weed drifting throughout.

I voice recorded the whole set, but since this was the first time using my new recorder, it came with some issues upon playback. Main thing I noticed, and I should have tested it out before attending the show: it seriously catches every sound. I definitely need to not stand around annoying people whining about what they will or won’t play next time. My recording of The Mexican came out the best – but it would be so much better if the dudes next to me would have shut up.

I think this line from writer Annie Zaleski perfectly sums up the night: “The final song, Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” turned into a delirious venue-wide sing-along: Strangers hugged, threw their hands (and phones) in the air and shouted along to each and every lyric with the gusto of one a.m. drunken revelry.” Needless to say, I was one of those people.

You can read Zaleski’s¬†review from Cleveland Scene¬†here.

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My Own Noel and Liam Gallagher

Way¬†before I started¬†this blog, I knew I wanted¬†to do a Liam and Noel Gallagher photoshoot. In early¬†March, I headed to Columbus to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. She chose to go to a bar with live music, one that she had never been to, even though she’s lived in the city for years. It was rather loud, as live bands usually are in a small room, so she ended up herding¬†me and the rest of the gang into another bar. Somehow we wound up throwing¬†darts next to two guys who seemed to be having a great time.

After a liquid badge of courage, I asked a bartender for a piece of paper, scribbled¬†down my story, took a deep breath and walked up to the guy sporting a poof of dark brown hair and a red plaid shirt. I introduced myself, said something like “You guys seem like you could be brothers and you should totally model as the Oasis brothers for my blog!” and¬†then ran off. He seemed bewildered.

A few moments went by, and then the blond one came up out of nowhere¬†and spoke to me. LO AND BEHOLD, THESE TWO WERE ACTUALLY BROTHERS. LIKE, BLOOD BROTHERS. I kept laughing and seriously couldn’t believe it. We then played darts together and my team lost terribly, no thanks to me. When I got home the next day, I had an email from this blog, saying it was well put together and that we should meet¬†up for a shoot.

So, we set up a shoot. About a week before the planned date, I got a text asking if it was alright if they got haircuts. It made me chuckle; I failed to mention that my favorite¬†thing about the real Noel and Liam is the hair. But of course, who am I to dictate hair length on people I don’t even know?

The day of, Roger, Bryon and I spent over 5 hours running around Columbus, photographing and exploring their favorite parks, homes, places and eats. All the while these two brothers fed me memories and insight about the city they adore. I discovered their preferred bubble tea smoothies, the vegetables they despise, and their distaste for Canadian geese. I learned about their different senses of adventure, about the pets and animals they grew up with, and cracked up at crazy funny stories about their dad. I grimaced when I was told that they had to look up who Oasis was (and that a scary amount of 90s kids have never heard of them). And I learned that I am the luckiest to have had the opportunity to photograph them.

This was the first shoot I have ever had where strangers modeled for me. I have a lot of experience in the photojournalism side of photography, where I’m just there to record the actions of others. I’m almost scarily good¬†at being a fly on the wall. That part of me definitely came to light a lot more than I had wanted; I found myself observing, taking it all into my introverted self, more than talking and interacting with these two fantastic people who had allowed me, a complete stranger, to enter their lives.

I had an absolute blast on this photoshoot.¬†Seeing the two interact the way they did – I imagine it’s just like how the real Liam and Noel interacted when they were our¬†age. It made me appreciate having an older sister.

A long time ago, my Oasis obsession cruised in on a hot summer day. I was at Cedar Point with my friend Sarah, eating jumbo pretzels before going on the Witches’ Wheel. I overheard some song playing near an Employees Only door.¬†I knew I had heard it before, and managed to keep the chorus in my head the rest of the day. When I got home, I poured through my mom and sister’s CD collection, and finally found it. I remember skipping around my living room as Supersonic filled the air. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Regarding the photos, I had Bryon and Roger present¬†a fresh take on my favorite Gallagher photos that I found online and in magazines. We even went to Roger’s church where his friend and roommate let us borrow a microphone, stage and spotlight. Nicest people ever.

In a way, Roger and Bryon were the inspiration¬†I didn’t even know I needed. This shoot sparked a fire in my will¬†to create, and it has earned a¬†place in my top three¬†favorite¬†photoshoots of all time.

I really hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do.

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What I’m Currently Digging – March 1-3

breaking ice

A friend who reads this blog suggested I post about things I’m digging lately. The past few days I’ve finally come across some stuff worth posting. If that friend is reading this, I sincerely mean to write you back by the end of this weekend.

WHITEY – SEVEN EP – I’m on song 3, and already obsessing. The second track is called Dog and Wolf for crying out loud. Also Why is it that my favorite artists release all their tunes for free, and let you choose to pay? I paid. Talented people gotta eat, and (hopefully) make more tunes.

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – CHASING YESTERDAY – I’m in for a lovely evening with this Oasis rockstar in a few months. I did a first run of the new album today, and starred a bunch of the tracks. One in particular, but I forget the name right now, is particularly haunting, and I can’t wait to turn it into some kind of photograph. Only one negative-ish-comment: Pretty much every song is lovey-dovey. I miss my Digsy’s Dinner days.

SIGNAL TREE – A local band working on a new release. I listened to some songs they have been working on a few days ago. And you know what? Tonight one of them randomly popped into my head, so I had to listen to it again. The singer’s voice is unlike anything out there, at least in my opinion, and the music that goes with it is rather intricate. They put Native American ties into the songs, which makes it have a neat story. More on these guys later.

I don’t have a relevant photo at the moment, so I slapped on an ancient picture of ice. Fitting for the current weather.

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