Playlist: Quirky ladies of pop

Not all pop musicians are made alike. Thank goodness for the weird ones. Here’s a list of the ladies that gladly make what they want, whether it’s a night of dancing on the town or sulking in the dark corner of your bedroom.

1. “Zero”- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Karen O is clearly a badass. I love how she can be both vulnerable (“Maps”) or aggressive (“Date with the Night”) with ease.

Karen O of the Yeah  Yeah Yeahs
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Photo Credit: Damian Shaw)

“Zero,” taken from the album It’s Blitz, is a departure from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ edgier, more punk output earlier on, but clearly Karen O is having a blast. Her outfits are proof.

2. “Northern Lights”- St. Vincent

On the surface, Annie Clark’s work seems like breezy pop/rock songs, but digging deeper reveals rich textures and an underlying edgy tone that isn’t found in the majority of modern pop music. Go take a listen to her new self-titled album via NPR if you haven’t already.

3. “Infinity Guitars”- Sleigh Bells

Juxtaposition is what Sleigh Bells is all about. What other band can say it is comprised of powerful 1980s metal guitars and sugary pop choruses? Singer Alexis Krauss doesn’t have the most impressive vocal abilities, but her ability to intersperse sweet coos with shouts and chants sets her apart.

4. “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing”- Garbage

Oh do I love Shirley Manson. She’s one of the first women that showed me female-fronted bands can indeed be cool (I’ve usually preferred male vocalists).

Shirley Manson of Garbage (Photo Credit: John Kenney)
Shirley Manson of Garbage (Photo Credit: John Kenney)

Though her music can be described as rock, there’s always a pop element to it, and Shirley Manson has an effortlessly cool style and demeanor.

5. “Glass”- Bat for Lashes

I’ve always felt Natasha Khan has a certain mysterious quality about her.

Much like Florence Welch, she creates baroque pop that often incorporates a hint of mysticism. Okay, maybe more than a hint.

6. “Bones”- MS MR

Lizzy Plapinger’s voice is so unique. Her powerful, husky tone compliments MS MR’s dark indie pop.

Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR and her always cool hair
Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR and her always cool hair

The debut album Secondhand Rapture is one of those albums for which you won’t feel inclined to skip a track.

7. “Feral Love”- Chelsea Wolfe

Goth culture has found a new inspiration. Wolfe’s somber music and visuals are hauntingly atmospheric. Too bad she isn’t more popular, because there’s such a breath of fresh air to her approach.

8. “Circumambient”- Grimes

Claire Boucher’s angelic, wispy voice layered over many, many vocal tracks and synthesized sounds didn’t immediately engross me, but take a few listens and you’ll start to realize just how smart and layered her records are.

9. “Falling”- Haim

This talented trio of sisters have soared in success since the release of their debut album Days are Gone in 2013. R & B, soul, modern pop, and classic rock are all sprinkled within the catchy record. Somehow it all works.

10. “Army of Me”- Björk

The fabulously weird Bjork (Photo Credit: Andre Csillag)
The fabulously weird Bjork (Photo Credit: Andre Csillag)

Countless artists have been inspired by her, but Iceland’s most popular musical export is in a league all her own.

Raw yet sentimental, Björk’s otherworldly voice and music has opened up the genre of pop in a whole new way.

11. “Fist of a Flower”- Gemma Ray

Though not as well known as most of the artists on this list, Gemma Ray is a British singer/songwriter that has released several albums evoking a 60s pop vibe for the modern age. Considering she collaborated on a single with Sparks, she’s the definition of quirky.

12. “Spectrum”- Florence and the Machine

That powerhouse voice Florence Welch has can wail about anything and make it sound spectacular, but Welch’s lyrics also separate her from the overtly saturated pop genre. She sings about everything from ghosts to mental breakdowns, yet somehow manages to keep it all sound sweeping and beautiful.

13. “Dreams”- Fleetwood Mac

This playlist just needs to end with a classic. Besides Stevie Nicks’ wild lifestyle back in the day, there’s actually good music there too! Nicks’ vocals are unlike any other, and her style of long flowing garb has inspired many (including the aforementioned Florence Welch.

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Favorite Photos of 2011 (part 1)

To put it lightly, I took a lot of photos this year. Some were good, some were okay, and others were laughably awful. But no matter what the outcome, each image has taught me something- whether it’s how to improve, or keep making the consistently interesting photos.

2011 was a year of exploration where photography is concerned. I expect this year to be more about experimentation. There’s a drive for me to push the boundaries a bit, and  actually start photographing people that aren’t just on a stage (gasp!). I would also like to be involved in more art exhibits in 2012, with both photography and painting as mediums. Hopefully more fun and amusing moments will be ahead!

Here are several of my shots from 2011 that I consider my favorites. Each has a story or emotion that I connect it with. They are not in any particular order. Clicking on the images will direct you to the larger and higher quality version of the photo on Flickr. Let me know what you think!

1. Golden Gate Bridge

During Christmas break I joined the family for a trip to Northern California, and most of the vacation time was spent in San Francisco. This picture of the bridge reminds of the beautiful views from the harbor and Marin Headlands.

Lately I have been obsessed with capturing unique angles and perspectives, and this is (in my opinion) one of the best this year. The bridge’s bright orange color and the perfectly blue sky really makes the photo pop.

2. Modern Trees

This photo was taken in the “backyard” of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. I was there to volunteer for the local independent radio station KXT 91.7, but because they didn’t need help, I ended up sitting on a hill watching local bands play (including my buddies in Novaak) by a reflecting pool at sunset. Not a bad way to end a day! I have a few cameras with me, so no one was safe from my obsessive hobby.

3. Sleigh Bells @ La Zona Rosa, Austin

Even though I had just seen CSS and Sleigh Bells perform in Dallas, I drove out to Austin after CSS’ lead singer Lovefoxxx kindly gave me a photo pass for the show. The crowd was crazy, but it was worth enduring stinky beer sloshed on me to get some great photos.

Sleigh Bells are difficult to shoot since there’s often strobe lights in use, and they’re not ones to play staring at their feet. Thankfully for me, that made for some interesting shots. This one in particular is a favorite of mine because of vocalist Alexis Krauss’ expression and her interaction with the crowd (she even stage dived!).

Click here for all of the images from the show in Austin.

4. Up We Go

This one is quite simple, but I think that’s what makes it so effective. Black and white allows for striking images, and the contrast of the blind’s shadow with the incoming light came together perfectly. You never know when something as simple as a few windows can produce an interesting photo.

5. What a Tangled Web It Weaves

Depth of field is a technique that I’ve always enjoyed. When I saw a spider’s web outside, I knew that the perfect moment was there. I hurriedly grabbed a spray bottle and lightly misted the web,  and then set the camera to flash. The result is a sparkling web and a not too happy spider (but don’t worry, I didn’t destroy the web). Another photo of this web was featured in December at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

(Continue to part 2)

 

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