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The short list of reasonable and awesome weeknight wines!

First of all, congrats to Massachusetts for now allowing wine to be shipped within its borders!  This is a huge benefit with all of the great sites out there that give you access to a truly incredible selection of wines at great prices.

Because of that bit of news, I had a friend in MA ask me for recommendations for some great daily drinkers.  He asked about reds, but hey I’m going to be an equal opportunity blogger and give you options that I personally love for both.

So let’s first of all define that reasonable/awesome actually means to me.  In this case, I think any wine between $10-20, that drinks really well and always delivers is what I would call a RAW wine (RAW = reasonably awesome).

I’ll begin with reds, and here are my top 5 in no particular order.  Keep in mind, these are MY picks, and I tend to always gravitate towards New World wines, as my palate just prefers them.

Havens Cabernet, Merlot or Meritage – Napa Valley, CA – I’ve been a disciple of Havens wines for years since I bought a 6 pack online of their Cabernet and couldn’t believe how good it was for $10.  This is also a really great comeback story as the winery actually closed and then reopened with a new owner.  I recently tried one of their newer vintages under new ownership and winemaker, and it’s still a fantastic buy.  All of their reds are top choices.  Goes fantastic with burgers, ribs, or a night of Netflix binging.

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet – Horse Haven Hills, Washington – This is a constant darling of the value wine article when you see them in any magazine or book about wine.  It’s a pure example of Washington State reds with lots of red fruit, and goes so so well with anything from a burgers to beef tacos to Steak-Umms with a college student.

Boekenhoutskloof “The Wolftrap” Red Blend – South Africa – Another easy choice because of it’s bold flavors and unique palate thanks to the amazing climate and modern winemaking prowess of South Africa.  This blend changes year to year but is always a winner and can hold up really well to a steak or a night of solitude after a particularly frustrating day.

St Francis Cabernet – Sonoma, CA – Another awesome California wine that just continues to be great year after year.  I love how smooth it is and it’s just jammy enough to entice anyone looking for a sipping red, and structured enough to go with most foods.  I like it with a really sauced up chicken dish, or a really sauced up friend.

Cambria, Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley, CA – OK, finally I mixed it up and moved away from the cabernets and blends.  And this was VERY tough because my favorite budget (and surprise) pinot noir is actually from a very unlikely place, Chile.  The Amayna Pinot Noir is an absolutely gorgeous pinot and as good as any I’ve had from California for under $30, but it’s harder to find and often is more in the $25-30 range.  So, let’s go with Cambria.  It’s rare to find a pinot that actually has some earth to it for under $40, but I’ve always loved this one for being fruity yet just understated enough to give you the nuances of the grape.  This will kill with a salmon dish, a flank steak, or if you drop it from 10 stories onto a bystander.

OK and now some whites!

Four Vines Naked Chardonnay – Central Coast, CA – Naked in this case means that it’s aged in stainless steel rather than oak, so you get no vanilla/oak attack on this wine.  I love how fresh it is and how they can give you such pure Chardonnay for this price.  Because it’s so fresh tasting this is fantastic with white fish, or white bread.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier – Napa, CA – This is one of those wines you see at every wine store, and for a while I avoided it purely because of oversaturation, but you can’t go wrong.  It’s got the floral appeal of the viognier grape, and then the crispness of chenin blanc.  This will please both the sauvignon blanc fan as well as the chardonnay fan, which is very hard to do.  Because there’s some interesting nuances in this wine I love it with shellfish, oysters, and people who aren’t afraid to cry.

Matua Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough, New Zealand –  NZ sav blancs are an easy choice and this is one of my favorites.  All of them are crisp and have that interesting grass meets pee smell (silly but true) but I like Matua especially because I find it has more citrus notes than many.  Lots of grapefruit on this one.  Would go amazingly well with lighter fish dishes and as a scent deadener for dirty cat litter bins.

Dr Loosen “Dr L” Riesling – Mosel, Germany – Many people I talk to assume that all Rieslings are super sweet, and let me just say, that’s not true.  This does certainly have some sweetness to it, but for an entry-level wine from the Loosen family, this is a fantastic buy.  It’s so darn tasty that even people that don’t love sweet wines will like this one.  So good with medium body cheeses and bodies of water.

Charles Smith “Kung Foo Girl” Riesling – Columbia Valley, Washington – Yes, I did double down on Rieslings.  I couldn’t help it.  This is such a great wine that is crisper and fruitier than the German version, and just completely addictive.  It’s apple and kiwi for days.  Plus, the label is pretty darn cool too.  You should grab this wine if you need something to really go well with scallops, shrimp, or to hit an intruder in your home.

There you go.  Whether you’re in MA indulging in the newness of wine arriving at your door, or anywhere in the country that you can get your hands on decent wines, I hope this list helps you.  Of course there are many many other wines out there that I love, but that is for future blog postings.

 

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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Endless River, and the end.

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I am the first to admit I was a little late to the table in listening to the latest Pink Floyd album, as it was released in late 2014 and I only just downloaded and listened at the beginning of the new year.  Much of that had to do with my schedule, but to be honest it was also in part to the fact that I had mixed feelings about the concept and the understanding of what the album means.

For those not aware, this album was created from sessions done around the time of PF’s last studio album, The Division Bell, which was released in 1994.  Most of this was made up of keyboard/synth foundations recorded by Richard Wright twenty years ago, and was originally considered being put out as an ambient/instrumental album.  Of course, twenty years is a long time, and during that time, Wright has sadly passed away, and Roger Waters is no closer to rejoining the band he helped create.

I like The Division Bell, although it’s certainly not one of the better Floyd albums.  So to hear songs that didn’t quite make that album seemed a little silly to me, not to mention that often post-mortem albums are by nature thrown together and usually too self-aware.  Add all of that to the knowledge that this is almost certainly PF’s last album to be released.  I was nervous about this listen.

Regardless, I did listen.  And here is what I have to say.

First and foremost, this is not the Pink Floyd from the era they are most known for (arguably Dark Side of the Moon through The Final Cut), and much more in league with the post-Rogers work such as the afore mentioned DB and the even better A Momentary Lapse of Reason. In fact there are still many bits of both music and audio samples that are right out of DB, from quotes to the ringing bell.  So in that way it does feel like a companion to that album two decades prior.  From there though, it bears less in common with the previous two albums and overall feels l like something new, built from what has already been established as canon of art rock.

Secondly, it is almost entirely an instrumental album.  So although it’s not quite the “ambient” concept they originally thought of, it is quite close, and in some cases dead on that description.  Especially in the opening cut.

What I am happy to report is that in general, this is a well crafted and thoughtfully prepared and produced album.  It won’t appeal to everyone, but rather than try and replicate something of the past, they rather turn to reflecting their career and putting in many of the same ideas and concepts that make PF who they are.  The lush keyboard work is often used as a base, but there is no shortage of the signature David Gilmour guitar phrasings.  There are still backing vocals, straight percussion groove, even sax solos, that speak to the history of PF. In fact what I liked most about this album is that it revisits the overall concept of very early (although post Syd Barrett) PF as sonic landscapes and musical waves.  It’s certainly a long way from Ummagumma, but what I was constantly reminded of was that rather than a lavish, artsy musical tapestry induced by both rebellion and mind altering substances, this is instead an homage to a brilliant career and the people that created it.  What is missing, obviously is the deep lyrical content that defined the Roger Waters years.

Despite the lack of lyrical content (except for the final cut, which sadly feels like a true goodbye from Gilmour, speaking for the band), there is plenty to enjoy.  Wright treats us to many different sounds and textures, including some vintage organs mixed in with the contemporary synth sounds.  Mason’s percussion sounds fresher and more interesting than on both previous albums.  Gilmour of course treats us with constantly tasty guitar ideas.  As is his signature, it’s not about speed or precision on his solos and riffs, but the way in which he plays which somehow sounds meticulous and improvised at the same time.

Finally, just to add more interesting footnotes to the last decade of Pink Floyd, is that there are some expected similarities between this album and Gilmour’s last solo album, On An Island.  If you do like this more modern, dreamy sound of PF, then I highly recommend that album as well.

I will continue to listen and enjoy the entirety of Pink Floyd’s long and ever-changing catalog, as I am a fan.  For anyone else who has the same hesitations I had, I would say this:  It’s not going to take you back to the 70’s and give you an instant feeling of the great albums of old, but it’s a great listen and I think a very fitting goodbye album from a group of guys who helped define rock music for decades.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

New Years Resolution #5

I won’t bore you with the other 4, because this is the only one you care about if you’re reading this.

Yup, in 2015, Sonic Sommelier will be back in action, starting this week.

I plan on talking about a few wines I tried over the holidays, as well as some music I’ve been focused on lately including what is considered to be the last Pink Floyd album, Eternal River.

For the 2-3 people who actually take note of this site, I apologize for the delay.  Little did I know that keeping up with a blog would be so much work, nor that once you get started, you just want to write more and more!

I also want to focus equally on wine and music this year, as well as put out some thoughts on other beverages including beer and spirits.

More.  Soon!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Monday is now vinoMonday

Let’s talk about wine shall we?  Or rather, I’ll write, you read.

Actually, before I type about wine…a few house cleaning thoughts.

This past weekend brought in the autumnal equinox, which has long been something I look forward to as I feel a real affinity for the Fall season.  I’m sure a big part of that is my upbringing in New England where this time of year is legendary.  From the foliage colors, to the crisp air, to the tastes of apples and pumpkins, it always seems to have a certain magic to it which is impossible to categorize and also impossible to ignore.

This year, this 2012 episode of that above event, really feels more potent than usual for me personally.  It’s been one of the most roller-coaster years I can remember, and I’ve had some whoppers in my time.  From the very beginning of this year which brought in a fairly uncommon glut of work, I knew this would be an unusual one.  That was proven with true as we took the positive beginnings to our first small space in NYC, which was followed quickly by a five week bout with pneumonia in the Spring.  That insanity was followed by a crazed but positive June, ending with a halt upon learning of my Mom’s cancer prognosis in July.  Within weeks of that we needed to vacate our space in NYC because of construction and a re-imagining of the space by our lessors, and then wrapping up with the busiest late August and early September I’ve seen in years, and yet during that time an abnormal amount of jobs were lost, died, or otherwise disemboweled.  It’s not even the end of the third quarter yet.

With a deep breath I plunge into this change of season with extremely mixed emotions.  First and foremost of course is the concern and support of my Mom.  Her situation is not going to improve, so we are teaming up to simply make sure she remains comfortable and enjoys her time here as much as possible.  A large strain on myself and my family for sure, but one that I’m happy to say we’re handling very well.

Work’s problems are good problems to have.  We are extremely busy and juggling jobs from all coasts and around the world.  It’s mostly fun, sometimes infuriating, and always exhausting.  It’s a damn good thing I love it, because each day I still remain thankful for doing what I do and doing it well.

But, you started reading this because you saw vino, and you saw Monday.  It’s like witnessing a car crash and a cake coming from the over at the same time.  Distressing, and glorious.

What this insane year has taught me, among other things, is that many people, including myself, are most lucky to be alive, in good health, and living a life we can be proud of.  It’s also reminded me that for all my passion and commitment to wine, I’ve consumed far too little this year.  I don’t mean that in the “Oh my this is a bad year, time to booze” way, but in the sense that life is short, and in some cases, shorter than we believe.  Thus, better enjoy the things you love while you still can.

In the honor of this recent revelation, I’m going to dedicate every Monday to wine.  I have no idea what I’ll talk about exactly, or if it will be a review, a history, a rant, a picture, or if I’ll simply spill a glass of wine on the computer and call it a day.  But Monday will be a day I write about wine.  Whites, reds, pinks, sparklers, whatever seems to fit the given week.

I won’t get into long details about anything in particular today because just flushing out my mental pipes above took some doing.  What I WILL say is that with the new season, it’s time to break out of the familiar mode and drink something new.  I’m going to be on a mission myself to stray less into my usual happy places of Washington reds, Cali blends, Oregon Pinots, etc.  My goal is to try new varietals, from interesting places, and in effect tour the world through wine, as I certainly do not have the time or the budget to do so physically.

Monday will be one day (although perhaps not the only day) I will write about what I find out there during this grape inspired globe-trotting, and hopefully inspire a few people to try some new things they might normally never experience.

Why Monday?  To me it’s pretty obvious, but beyond the fact that it’s day 1 of the proverbial “work week”, I have come to conclusion many years ago that life is better when you are looking forward to something.  Even a LITTLE something.  Therefore, if you are reading about a new wine on Monday, you can look forward to perhaps trying it out on the weekend, or even that night, or at lunch TODAY!  But regardless of when, it’s there to inspire you on the hardest day of the week to wake up on.

Looking forward to sharing some bliss on a typically bland day!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Wine

 

A positive follow up

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that my last post was a little, negative.  However, after reading it a few times after the fact, and discussing with a handful of people, I feel that more than a rant, it was truth.

That being said, I didn’t want people to think I was all down on music, because that will never be the case until my dying day.  There are always times where music at large is a little bit of a downer (for instance, most of the 90’s), but there are always tidbits to find.  Recently I’ve been enjoying some fresh tracks from relatively newer bands such as the new Shiny Toy Guns album III.  Really good stuff full of the usual megaton of production and emotion walking hand in hand.

Same could be said for the new album by MetricSynthetica, which I expected to really like, and do.  In fact I think it would be my favorite album of the year so far were it not for some very UNexpected twists of musical fate in 2012.

Despite Metric’s amazing new collection, I have to say that I’ve been completely blown away by and older Canadian counterpart, Rush.  Now, I am a HUGE fan, so that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot since I was destined to at least enjoy the new album, but what I wasn’t really expecting was how good their new album really is.  Clockwork Angels is absolutely a must buy at this point.  I would have spent the full album amount for two songs alone.  Caravan (which was actually released as a single 2 years ago) and Headlong Flight.  If you want to believe that the band is still very much alive and well as they head into their 60’s, just listen to those two songs.

What is even more interesting about 2012, is that three other albums have jumped out at me as huge surprises, partly because of the bands involved, and partly just because of the sheer quality and youth going on.  All three are from bands who to most of the music listening public, are not even around anymore but are a distant memory.

The three bands are Asia, The Outfield, and Ultravox.  The albums are (in the same order) XXX, Replay, Brilliant.  The release by Asia wasn’t such a huge surprise since they released a fantastic album back in 2010 with the original line up (called Omega which I have already raved about in an earlier post).  Still, it’s great to hear them still pulling it off after all these years.

The next two albums were HUGE surprises to me, and I didn’t even know about them until I received word from their appropriate publishers that I should check them out.  Of the remaining two, the clear favorite for me is Replay.  It’s crazy to think that after the last album which was released in 2006, that they could wait six years and still deliver a killer album.  Previous to that release there had been a fourteen year hiatus for the band, and yet STILL they seem to deliver that perfect combination of slick production and solid hooks which was certainly the hallmark for this band in the mid-80s in the height of their fame.

Although none of these follow up albums has ever come close to the colossal success of their debut album, Play Deep, they really work well as worthy follow ups and if you close your eyes and play these back to back you would think they were released a few years from each other, not decades.  Tony Lewis’ voice still has the boyish charm and power he had back in the early years and the tight songwriting holds it together.

Ultravox on the other hand hasn’t released a true studio album in 28 years.  This one has promise as it begins, with Midge’s voice still the mighty front of the musical assault followed by all the synths and samples you might remember from their 80’s hits such as Vienna and Dancing With Tears in Your Eyes.  The problem is that after the first few song the album really sounds like one long chord.  Lots of ballads and almost progressive approaches to their writing (and we all know I love progressive), don’t work well as they are really trying something that is not who they are.

So, lots of reasons to jump into the way back machine this year so far.  I think it’s worth a listen to any of these albums, especially if you are a fan of old, because they (mostly) stayed true to their roots.

I will leave you with a video because despite all my positive energy put into this post, nothing will say it like actually seeing Rush play it, will say it.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Music

 

Music, food, and WTF

There are a few things that are very important to me that I believe are quite obvious for anyone who knows me and the people that read this blog.  I love my family, I love music, I love wine, and I love food.

That all being true, I consider myself extremely lucky that I have found a career in music that allows me to spend a lot of time in New York, Boston, and other major and semi-major ad markets.  As a bonus to the situation is that it also gives me plenty of great opportunities to try fantastic food and wine as well.  This IS a relationship business after all, and what better way to begin solid relationships with, than with great food and drink over excellent conversation.  So before I say too much more, I must stress again, that I love what I do and I love the people I do it with.

Now that this has been established, I feel that I have to talk about the music for advertising business and the things that I have noticed in the last 7 years.  Especially what I have been dealing with for the past year or two.  Is it a rant?  Yeah a little, but I also think it needs to be said.  Self-therapy, advice for the young musicians out there, karmic bullets, whatever you want to think of it, here it comes.

There are many, many options out there when it comes to choosing music for advertising.  You can license a band/artist through a label.  You can license the same through a publishing company.  You can license music from a collective (who essentially collect multiple tracks by artists and producers and have them available for use).  You can license from a massive stock music library.  You can buy publishing only of a song and then cover it.  You can hire an original company and have them write custom tracks for you.  Should you go that last route, there are music companies that could have 8 composers.  1 composer.  No composers, you get the idea.  You can have a band write the tracks for you.  Well, I’m sure there are about 50-100 other ways to spin it as well.

My company falls into the original music category, and we currently have 4 staff composers, one being our creative director.  Then, like many of the modern “music houses” we have a group of freelancers that range from experienced commercial writers to band members to young engineers/producers right out of college.  With the way budgets have decreased and the amount of spots being produced decreased, this has become a very common model to keep costs down but creative and variety of style up.  But this is all just backstory to what I really wanted to talk about.

What truly confuses me and has done so since the first day I started working at a music company, is how much of an afterthought music and audio are for advertising.  Not only an afterthought, but one that seems to frighten most producers and creates to a degree that is similar to what putting a half an arm into a garbage disposal may induce.

In a conversation I was having with someone today, we actually put it into a great food analogy.  It seems like making a great spot is like crafting a gourmet cupcake, and instead of the music being the flour, the sugar, or the frosting, it ends up being the sprinkles.  Let’s take that even further, and say that in many cases, it’s equivalent to the sprinkles that are thrown onto the cupcake, from 5 feet away, as the cupcake is on the way to the table.  Even worse, there are many times where instead of the sprinkles being chocolate, they are liver flavored.  Who the heck wants to eat that?

Cooking IS like music in so many ways. You take ingredients of all kinds, mix them together in particular measurements (of course, if we’re baking, very precise measurements are needed due to the science of things), apply heat of various natures for specified amounts of time, and create a finished product that you feel really good about consuming.  Also like music, cooking has a direct relationship between the quality of the ingredients that go in, to the quality of the product that comes out.

When a company such as ours creates music, or to the most degree, anyone making music, gets into the trenches it’s the same basic theory.  Just like in cooking there are MANY variations of the theme: folk acoustic; electronica; heavy metal; acid jazz; etc.  In creating these there are many factors that dictate the quality of what can be delivered, and it’s OUR job to make sure that most of those factors are in place.  Talent, understanding of the technology or music gear, creative instincts, and other intangibles.  What the clients have control over is the budget, the schedule, and the overall creative direction.  What NO ONE has control of is the subjective nature of music.  Whether you’re a Rush fan, a Carpenters fan, a Holy Ghost fan, a Lady Gaga fan, all of that is within the foundations of personal taste, and of course different for each individual.  That is often where music for advertising gets into trouble, and where the people on our side of the business try and predict as much as we humanly can.

I’ve heard such amazing things in my time such as “Really modern and hard rockin like Cheryl Crow”, “It should be anthemic and fresh and unexpected, like that Coldplay song from 5 years ago”, “Who are the Kinks?”.  More whoppers than I can fit into a blog and most I have shut out of my mind like a memory of falling off a bike badly as a kid.

I often talk about how describing music is like describing a color.  Everyone has their own “shade” in their mind’s eye and it’s virtually impossible to identify what someone wants without seeing or hearing it as an example.  We use many methods to try and help this problem, just like design companies would use samples and palates to try and hone in the proper creative.  We post tracks from our internal library of demos to get a sense of people’s tastes to mood, style and instrumentation.  We might also talk about bands, and then even go so far as to talk about specific songs.  Of course, that leads to ANOTHER frightening fact of ad music, which is demo love.

When rushing to get the music onto an edit (see the sprinkles flying through the air?), often a track by a popular band lands on the spot in an effort to at least gain a mood and tempo.  Not a terrible idea on the surface, but then what happens when the creatives and the client fall in love with that track, which is then impossible to license because of costs.  Everything else that comes after it will sound like crap to the ears of those who have seen the cut 389498 times with that music on their.

To get back to the metaphor, it’s like putting a decoration on the top of the cupcake, instead of the sprinkles.  But in this case it’s a large, solid gold guitar.  It weighs 5 lbs, to the cupcake’s 4 ounces.  It crushes this poor thing under the weight into some form of an expensive pancake with the texture of a cake.  Then you throw sprinkles on it, although really all along you SO wanted that gold guitar.  In the end you have a crushed thing, with sprinkles on top.

Most clients know to avoid this, or are careful enough to get something that is gold leaf, which won’t crush, or something that is fancy but light enough to still be removed and replaced by something more tasteful, and most certainly more affordable.

But, many clients are not, or they just don’t give a shit about what they deliver to the table at the end of the day anyway.  Sad, but true.

Many agencies put music and audio as part of the concepting stage, and I find that most of these shops are delivering the best work.  They understand the power of audio, or if it IS a non-audio driven project, knowing that early and pushing forward with the rest of what will make the concept work.  I will admit that sometimes silence IS golden, and I respect that decision.

I understand that it’s easy to be scared of things that pertain to your ears when you don’t have a background or foundation for music and audio.  There’s a really interesting phenomenon where it’s easy to conceptualize around things that you can see and touch, but very difficult with things that you hear.  I experience it often in conference calls, music briefs, meetings, and other discussions that revolve around music that people throw out adjectives and ideas like they are throwing out confetti at a wedding.  The problem with that is it works with a wedding since it’s for effect, but now imagine that your goal is to get one specific confetti into a small shot glass on the Church stairs.  It’s a bit of a disaster to make all those things come together perfectly.

The solution of course, is to find people you trust.  Huge word there, TRUST.  There will always be the problem of layers of approvals.  There will always be the obstacle of subjectivity.  We know that, we fear it as much as you do, but it’s our job to make this easier and to educate.  Give trust and earn trust.  Seems pretty simple to me.  But again, there seems to be something about music that people do NOT trust.

Certainly I can empathize!  Many times we’ve been in a great place musically on a job only to have the client pull a complete 180, which essentially destroyed the vision that we all had for the final product.  This happens to us, happens to our clients, happens to the clients clients.  We all seem to have someone to answer for, and with something so subjective and fluid as music, it is inevitable that it gets its ass kicked.

Regardless of those concerns, there needs to be trust and an understand of how much work goes into what we do. I am not sure what people think happens once we get a music project, but I can guarantee you that there is no “make music like this” button we hit and are done for the day.  Nor is there a “get perfect song” button.  Whether it’s a publisher, label, artist, music house, composer, or any level of music professional, there is an finite amount of time and energy that can be put into the project, and for the most part the people that do these things are passionate about it.  People who aren’t passionate about music and creating music for a living, don’t make it a living.  It’s a hobby.  And a hobby they probably aren’t good at either.

Everyone that I know in this business (with a few exceptions of course) looks at each project as a gift and a challenge.  We have to!  Jobs are fewer and fewer and the budgets are lower and lower.  Thus it becomes more of a numbers game than a matter of large creative strikes.  Not ideal, but if you find that middle ground then you can not only sustain your business, but you can also put out some really great work.  We work just as hard as an editor, a director, a flame artist, a CGI artist, or any other part of this amazing piece of media that the client is spending money for.

Yet, we still do it on occasion, for free.  We do it in 24 hours.  We do it over weekends.  We do it with direction that is so vague that if we followed it to a T then we would have to deliver options all the way from Beethoven to Bat for Lashes.  When we look for bands people assume that because they are going to be used on their spot for this amazing brand, that they will do it for $5,000 and a smile!  When that doesn’t work out, then they want an original piece, that sounds JUST as good as that track (which was worked on for 2 months, in two studios, after 2 months of writing, and then 2 weeks of finishing and mastering) and they want it in 24 hours.  But, don’t get too far from that track, because then the client won’t like it.  But don’t get too CLOSE to the track, cause then everyone will get sued.  Oh, but also throw in a few more options that are kind of like it and sound just as good, since you’re already working.  Oh, and the final budget is actually $4k, not 5.  Oh, and there are two other music companies ALSO working on this for free, so your chances of winning are 1 in 30 depending on how many demos come in.

Where else in the world of advertising do you get odds like that? It’s already an insane proposition, which we take on with a smile because as I said at the beginning of all of this, I love it.  We love what we do.  The people I work with love what they do.  There’s an uncanny thing about music people in that we have very thick skin.  Does that mean we should be screwed over?  Hell on, but we will be anyway, and we’ll keep coming back for more.

All in all, the moral of the thing is to find trust.  Find knowledge and don’t expect the most amazing cupcake you’ve ever delivered if you’re throwing crap flavored toppings onto it from an unreasonable distance as it’s traveling through the kitchen to the table.  Like anything in life, if you’re scared or frustrated with something, then find people who are experts in that something and give them enough respect to make it better for you.  There is rarely enough time or money, and we’re prepared for that, but we expect you to be prepared with an open mind and some forethought so it can be a partnership.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Music, Uncategorized

 

Head Northwest Young Man (and Woman)

Last night I tried out a new wine bar called Lelabar.  It came highly recommended on multiple sites and was in the right neighborhood as I was using it as a home-base to meet with clients from various agencies that happen to be located in the lower West side of Manhattan.  The cool oval bar is the center piece of the room and they focus mainly on a variety of both new and old world wines, craft beers, and a limited but very tasty small plates menu.

That all being said, the small group I was with was happy to sample a few of the food items, but it was the wine list that took center stage.  What I was most excited about was that the list was an example of a perfect, manageable size for a wine list.  It wasn’t a single page showcasing a smaller variety of whites, reds and bubbles, nor was it an encyclopedia of regions and varietals that you needed the first 1/2 hour at the bar to navigate and play the painful game of remembering which page the pinot noirs are on.  This was a 4-5 page list broken up by color and region that gave you options for any budget within.  Not only that, but they also have a happy hour from 5-7 where they feature one red and one white wine at a discount.

What really pushed me from thinking “I like this place’ to “oh my I’m coming back” was when I started to really dig into the selections not from your most influential wine regions like California, France and Italy.  They had a really great selection from Oregon, Washington, South America, and even the Middle East.  It felt like a place where I could get a little adventurous with my wine choices.  Ironically, I took almost the exact opposite direction, mainly based on the company I was with.  They were expecting me to pick home run wines, and so I went to regions I was confident in, and seeing some of the wineries they were featuring I knew I was in good hands.

The first big success was a Januik merlot from Washington State.  I almost didn’t order it because we started the evening with a really meaty Rhone red from France, and that Syrah was a big one to start with (but I couldn’t argue with the price point on happy hour special!).  But wow was I happy that I did.  

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I knew that I loved this wine because I’ve had Januik reds before and have always been blown away by the quality and complexity of their juice.  Mike Januik is a legend in Washington and has been making top rated Merlots, Cabernets, Chardonnays and red blends for years.  The concern I had was that I was ordering not a single-vineyard Cab (which are truly amazing in Januiks hands, all of them), but their Columbia Valley Merlot.  Basically their very good but basic table Merlot.  What I failed to remember is that they don’t make a simple wine there, and not only did this feel just as big as the Syrah we started with, but with the added Washington red fruits, dark cocoa and hints of American oak, it made us forget what we drank before.

Of course, this is all for those who love that new world palate, for this was new world all day long.  But even so, it was NOT a bomb by any means.  Though it tasted like wine as candy in many ways, it had enough complexity to really make this a special wine.  I can only imagine how amazing the single-vineyard Merlot they also produce must be.

When I ordered a second bottle of this wine (VERY rare for me being a variety whore, but it was just that good) I was informed that we had just finished the last bottle they had in the restaurant.  Despite my initial shock, she presented to me another Washington red that she explained was fantastic and would sell it to me at the same price as the Januik although normally a little higher.  So, of course, I had her dig in.

What she presented to us was Dunham Cellars “Trutina”, which is a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot.  Now although I can’t say I’ve ever had a Dunham Cellars wine, I know that I’ve heard of them and again, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a Washington red I didn’t like.  The other interesting difference was that Januik is from the Columbia Valley AVA, where Dunham is from Walla Walla.  So not only did we make a shift in the varietals, but also in the terroir and region within the state.  

After letting the wine sit for a short time, I was very pleasantly surprised by the nose of this wine which took me to a village coffee shop that also specializes in gourmet candy.  There was an abundance of toffee and mocha that just forced me to sit and smell my glass like some kind of drug addict.  It was so pleasant that I almost forgot to drink it, but, you can be sure I did.  It was a smooth ride of red fruits, dark chocolate, coffee and just a little oak.  It was definitely more viscous, peppery and chewy then the Merlot, which I expected due to the Syrah in the blend.  Although they didn’t serve such things there, this wine was begging for a big steak to go with it.

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It’s clear to me that just when I think I’ve figured out how good Washington State wines are, and I realize that I’m bordering on changing this blog to SonicWashingtonWinesLover, I have a night like this where I feel like it’s some kind of palate rebirth.  Both of these reds to me are spectacular finds, and both of them are VERY budget friendly.

A hugely successful night that inspired me to finally sit and write here again, I would suggest that anyone locally should check out Lelabar for a glass or a bottle, and if they start serving steak on the menu I may just move into the neighborhood.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized