Monday, April 26, 2010

Rase, Sweet Sweet Lies, This Love Affair @ Hare and Hounds

If This Love Affair would really be a love affair, it would be one between two people who don’t have much to lose or gain. It wouldn’t be mysterious and thrilling; the kind of affair that you have to consume like it’s your last day on Earth. This Love Affair are simply too nice for that. They’re like a post Michael Hutchens INXS. Gavin Monaghan, their producer, has definitely taken them into one of his favourite directions, the kind that pulled Kings of Leon out of Molly’s Chambers and into the chicken eating madness of Sex on Fire.

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Sweet Sweet Lies, on the other hand, mixing rock, folk, bluegrass and a little bit of drama in the shape of a trumpet, then serving it all suited up, were anything but nice. Condescending and ironic, eccentric, old fashioned and romantic – they were all that, singing about their Overrated Girlfriend and sounding like the love child of Eureka Machines and Nick Cave.

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Also produced by Gavin Monaghan and often seen on the stages of Birmingham, Rase are a bit more energetic than This Love Affair and not as melodic, but just as straightforward mainstream, resembling a late 90s indie band, the kind that’s safe to listen to when you’re grandma is around. However, Dan Greenway’s performance is powerful and his voice goes great with the rugged guitar riffs, the songs are memorable and they’ve got an optimistic vibe without becoming one of those inspirational bands whose songs end up on Hallmark movies soundtracks.

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Some more pictures with Rase from Spaghetti Junction Sessions #3

I guess I'm starting to get used to the long trip from Perry Barr to the Hare and Hounds. And to the drunks that hang out in front of the Goose, that pub right next to the bus station in King's Heath. I think it's safe to say that when they're crawling and throwing up, they're pretty much harmless. Right?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Egg, lambs and candles

... somewhere in the Romanian countryside, where lamb chops don't grow in the supermarket and on Easter Night people go to mass and light a candle for their departed loved ones.

Yes, I am the kind of weirdo who brings a tripod to the graveyard. And yes, lambs are cute and fluffy, but I bet you don't really think about that when you're eating them with asparagus or eggplant lasagna.

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In spring, the villagers send their sheep in the mountains, where shepherds take care of them all through the summer; sometimes, they keep the lambs at home

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On Easter, one of the lambs needs to be sacrificed; this is a very old tradition that symbolizes - in eastern orthodox belief - the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity

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In the city, people are buying lamb and mutton from the supermarket; in the villages, where people raise sheep, they perform the sacrifice themselves 

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Easter Day is a time of rest 

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Animals around the house
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Animals around the house
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Animals around the house

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This is the so-called "summer kitchen", a place where, among others, meat is smoked on a log fire; people prepare and eat food here both in summer, when it's cooler than in the regular kitchen, and in winter, when a wood burner turns the place into an oasis on warmth

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Lamb pastrami and painted eggs in the summer kitchen

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The wood burner in the summer kitchen

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On Easter Night, at midnight, people gather outside, in the church courtyard, to receive "the light of Jesus' revival from the dead" - the priest lights a candle from which (and from one another) people will light theirs

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On Easter Night, people light a candle for their departed loved ones 

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The dog barking at the strangers that pass along the road

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Easter meal needs to have: painted eggs, lamb and wine

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After the Easter holiday has passed, it's the beginning of another week of work: feeding the animals, taking care of the house and of the family's land; my grandmother has been doing it on her own for years 

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The narrative princess and the online ogre

Part 3:  The paint job

The following articles represent a series of reflections on the process of starting a music magazine. (Read the rest here)

Read part one
Read part two

In my last post on this theme, I reached the conclusion that long form journalism sits best in print, mainly because of people’s online consumption patterns. Each person’s reading path is different online – when there are so many possible places to go (links, multimedia), it is almost impossible to choose which way a reader will go. Or… is it?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kids. Final frontier

I don't like them. They intimidate me. I think I'd act more relaxed being stuck in a elevator with the Queen than in front of a bunch of cute midgets sucking on their thumbs.

So, you see, photographing kids was always out of the question for me. And, yet, I don't know why, maybe it was all those cute Easter bunnies, chicks & eggs, but when I was home, visiting Romania, I decided that it's time to face my fears.

So I loaded myself with ammunition (my camera and some early drinks) and... here's what came out.

This is Ion:

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And here's his big sister, Anca, a little more reserved:

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And here are both kids, playing:

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Ok, I admit. I loved it. The kids were great. They run a lot, but they don't pose and most of the time they ignored me (when they weren't staring at me a little frightened - but you know what they say, don't be afraid of the spider, the spider's also afraid of you).

Also, I have to mention that I couldn't have done it without my mom, who handled the entertainment of our short-legged guests. So, as a piece of advice for all of you out there who decide to take a shot at photographing children: have someone around who actually loves being around them and who will play with them. Otherwise, they freeze and stick their thumbs in their mouths. And there goes your photo shoot.