Thursday, November 30, 2006

Photo Shoot With Tim Ricks

So I shot photos this week with Tim Ricks. I love how they came out. The style is very different from the Gregory Prescott shoot. I am really just in the stage of trying new things and seeing what different photographers can pull out of me. Well hope you enjoy this new expression of myself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gwen Stefani Review

Gwen Stefani
The Sweet Escape
Label: Interscope
7.5 out of 10
By Norman Mayers

Gwen Stefani has always been something of a music industry oddity. Rising to fame with her Southern California band No Doubt she became the face of a generation. No Doubt’s ska-pop sounds were just one part of Gwen’s repertoire as she re-invented herself as a fly white chick by hooking up with rapper Eve a few years back. With her solo debut, 2004’s Love.Angel.Music.Baby, Gwen further stretched her artistic muscle by referencing 80s pop sounds and Japanese fashion. L.A.M.B. wasn’t exactly the most consistent album even though it produced the monster hit “Hollaback Girl”. With The Sweet Escape, Stefani gets her schizophrenia in check and delivers a mostly streamlined set of bass heavy hip-hop cuts sprinkled with pop lyrics and soaring retro-flavored anthems. Although it’s far from perfect, The Sweet Escape is a far more enjoyable listen than Stefani’s debut and is destined to spawn another massive Hollaback single.

A part of what makes Stefani’s sophomore solo release a bit more accessible is the indelible stamp of the Neptunes. As the producers of “Hollaback Girl” it was inevitable that they be the main contributors to this album. Luckily, Stefani and the Neptunes do make an exciting team. The collaboration produces some of the Neptunes’ most adventurous work in years such as the mildly annoying yet entertaining lead single “Wind It Up” and the playful “Yummy”, which ends with a bizarre voyage into a mechanic’s shop (listen to the track and you will know what I mean). The Neptunes also pull the most radio-ready singles out of Gwen. The 808 heavy “Orange County Girl” could be the new California anthem while tracks like “U Started It” and bonus track “Candyland” are among the best on the album. However, it’s Swizz Beatz who comes up with the most likely heir to the Hollaback crown with the bumping chants and boasting raps of “Now That You Got It”.

But Gwen Stefani is more than just a rapping white girl. Many of the album’s highlights are the softer ones. Cuts like “Early Winter” and “4 In The Morning” soar thanks to Stefani’s girlish vocals and brilliant hooks that reference iconic moments from Madonna and Tears for Fears. There are places where things don’t quite click such as on the musical train wreck “Don’t Get It Twisted” and the Gogos inspired title track. Neither track has a clear direction, simply throwing a million sounds into a pot with pretty dismal results.

Gwen Stefani will probably always remain one of those artists that projects style over substance, yet she continues to make some of the most interesting music in pop. Very few artists in the mainstream can hope to produce an album as wonderfully weird as The Sweet Escape.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nintendo Wii Launch Event

So I just landed my first freelance assignment with a magazine called BizBash. They basically cover events as a guide for event planners. My first event was for the Nintendo Wii launch party in Hollywood. It was pretty cool. Of course it was open bar but they had lots of huge video game displays and stations throughout the venue for you to play with. Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys fame was on the decks playing some proper hip-hop beats.

There were a bunch of celebrities strolling through there which was kinda interesting. I counted Justin Timberlake, Marlon Wayans, Freddy Rodriquez (Six Feet Under) and Macy Gray. Plus I saw that really hot girl from that old WB show Popular. The dark haired one, not that blonde bitch.

Anyway, the people were just ok. A bit too Hollywood wannabe for me and not enough solid networking going on. But I was definitely more excited about my first asisgnment for Biz Bash. Things are moving forward in my freelance career.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Hot Air Balloon Ride - Ventura, California

I had the unique privilege this past weekend of getting to ride a hot air balloon. I went on a press trip to Ventura, California which is about an hour north of LA. It's a beach community but the sorroudning land is used for agriculture: strawberries, avacado, lemons, etc. I had to get up at the crack of dawn but it was so worth it. It was so quiet and gentle in the balloon as we drifted over the crops and valleys. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I love my job!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nu-Soul Magazine is Here!

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After about 2 years in the making I have finally launched my website, Nu-soul. It's an online music magazine focusing on the sounds of soul and electronica. I have found that throughout my life I have listened to these two genres but they have a common link. Soul music is of course an African-American tradition but most do not realize that most forms of electronica were also created by those of African descent. Genres like techno, house, drum and bass, and breakbeat can be traced back to African-American traditions such as soul, funk, hip-hop and disco and are simply the modern forms of these styles. My website Nu-Soul hopes to explore these sounds through interviews, articles, reviews and more. Click the banner above to go check out the site!

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