Switzerland Film Photo Diary: Part 2

Luzern, Switzerland- November 2014 by MVHPhoto. All photos captured w/ 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 speed film on a Canon Rebel K2. Do not copy, use or share without permission from mvhphoto.com

Marjani Viola Hawkins/MVHPhoto Interview Exclusive Part 1/2

Interview segment where I chat about my latest music addictions, superpowers and future aspirations! Check out Part 1 and stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

Jim James-Regions of Light and Sound of God

Kentucky-born “psychedelic” rock band, My Morning Jacket had me mesmerized when I discovered the original demos from their debut album Tennessee Fire (1999) many years ago. The stripped down, acoustic songs captivated me with not only the rawness of the chords but the sincere lyricism about love, change and the process of maturing.

 Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

Fronted by the emotive and eloquent, Jim James, the band has achieved much success in the indie music scene as well as securing mainstream notoriety with songs such as “Wordless Chorus,”(Z, 2006), “Just Because I Do”(At Dawn, 2001) and the heart-breakingly beautiful track, “Golden.” (It Still Moves, 2003).

 Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

Regions of Light and Sound of God (2013), is the first solo album for Jim James, delivered in his signature vocal style (impressive, and sweet falsettos, followed by moments of vibrato so rich in texture that it pulsates your bones). The album addresses many topics ranging from holy devotion, and belief, to being aware of (and challenging) deceiving messages about life.

The songs flow together cohesively in a manner atypical of My Morning Jacket; the music is soaked in hipster obscurity (vocals that blend almost too seamlessly, that are accompanied by stirring melodies that significantly slow the heart rate) and casts a introspective mood from the first tune to the last. Also true to his style, James effectively uses lyrics to make social commentary

Regions of Light and Sound of God, Jim James., Image courtesy of Google

In the opening track, “State of Art (A.E.I.O.U)” he expresses frustration and weariness for the technological age, and reliance on various gadgets in order to communicate:

“I used the state of art technology/supposed to make for better living/are we better human beings/we’ve got our wires crossed/our tubes are all tied/and I’m straining to remember/what it’s like to be alive.”

There are some downsides to this 40 minute album: if you do not focus on the differences of every song, there is little way to distinguish one ballad from the next, and the record generally requires a few listens to grasp the concept. But aside from the blurriness, Jim James has succeeded in expressing his emotional and musical growth-and has presented a bewitching compilation that only cements him as a talented figure in the pop-indie scene.

 

Ska Skank Redemption-The Trunk Space

Where they lack in air conditioning, they made up for in culture: that was apparent as I squeezed my way through the red door that donned the words “The Trunk Space” and was immediately greeted by a ocular goldmine for music junkies and hipsters alike. There were carts of dollar records for sale, hand-made necklaces and varying books about hot pop culture topics pinned in an absurd and ironic way that attracts the smart asses of the world.







This tiny haunt in the heart of Phoenix, was hot. Just so very hot. Sweat was pooling on my face as I surveyed my surroundings, and checked out the sites, namely the snow cone machine and the $3 dollar photo booth. The free programs that lay strewn on a bookshelf near a wall, served as a hand fan for the night ahead. Barely large enough to contain seventy people, The Trunk Space caters to smaller local bands and their devoted following: make a sharp turn and you risk elbowing someone in the gut.





The first band to play was One Four Fives, the quartet was comprised of four boys, a few of which I recognized from my days in high school. Their loud and intense set was full of energy and ear-piercing guitar riffs, the banging drums drowned out most of the vocals, but it did not hinder their performance, it just lent to the cataclysmic, raucous affect that the music delivered. After a short twenty minutes, One Four Fives was done playing. The crowd dispersed for some smoke and gossip in the small parking lot that was segmented off with ominous barbed wire and featured a bed of gravel for the cars to rest.





I stayed inside and snatched up a seat before they were claimed, I needed that perfect spot to photograph the next band, Colorado-born septet Ska Skank Redemption. The front line of musicians appeared from the side door and set up the instruments, a menagerie of pretty brass: trombones, saxophones, and trumpets; along with the usual stuff like guitars and a pristine drum-set. Vocalist, Mark Kinz, riled up the crowd immediately, rousing everyone to get energized as the music began to play; the crisp slams on the drums rendered a perfect upbeat sound that had the small audience clapping within seconds.








The trumpeter, the pixie-haired and adorable, Hannah Lewis, played off to the right side of Kinz, dancing in all her bare-footed glory to each song. Ska Skank Redemption is a smooth blend of ska, rock and reggae infusions, which combined with infectious, thrilling energy had their fans captivated: by the third song, the front of the crowd started a congo-line around the small venue, led by Kyle Etges, the alto saxophonist/vocalist. The band was directly involved with each passing second of the melody and crowd reception, Kinz even jumped to the ground as he played the trombone, spinning on his back to the uproarious respond of the fans: both old, and you new enthusiasts would be impressed. Their music swept up the room in brassy, funk energy that I can only compare to that of Sublime at both their “Caress Me Down” and “Seed” moments. I was thoroughly impressed with the performance. Proceeding the encore, they thanked the audience and complimented us on our ability to withstand the summer heat in Phoenix, for they were set to leave the valley the following day, to travel to the next stop on their tour.










After a brief chit chat with the Ska Skank Redemption, I went out to bask in the swampy August air before returning ten minutes later for the final band, newcomers Rabid Whole Logic who played an alluring blend of indie trip-hop infused with funk rock. There synchronized playing would often be broken up by rap verses similar to early Gym Class Heroes. The ginger-haired violinist was absolutely captivating, along with the rest of the musicians who maintained exciting energy and expressed immense gratitude for the audience from the first song to the last. A friendly and jovial group, they passed out free CDs to the spectators and promptly disbursed as the lights went up. The crowd vacated The Trunk Space and vanished into the night, “great show, yeah great show” I could overhear the many conversations, as I left the venue with free music in my hand and a smile on my face.








To view more pictures in HD, visit: https://www.facebook.com/marjanivphotography

How Soon Is Now?

I do not know much about the history of The Smiths, but I feel that will change soon, because they are my latest obsession. I cannot stop listening to the following three songs: ‘Panic’, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ and ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’

I usually am not an aficionado of music from the 1980s but this phenomenon cannot be ignored; I now understand the cult following this band has and it’s influence on the indie scene. They sound like a smoother, more moody version of The Cars-which is one of my favorite bands.

The Smiths

I had a few pictures taken today, to commemorate my twentieth year. It is always exciting to stand there and be photographed and pampered for the moment. Here’s a few:

La Vie Boheme!
MVH