Sound Advice

Karen Novak lays it out for you.

Cleveland rock photographer Karen Novak has worked with the likes of Ringworm, Today Is the Day, and the JJ Paradise Players Club. She gives us the skinny on some must-have tunes.

What have you been listening to lately?
I tend to get a little obsessed with albums. So sometimes I may play them until they die (the CDs, not the bands). Currently, it's High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings and Live From the Relapse Contamination Festival (because I was there). Roger Allen Wade, All Lickered Up. While Christmas shopping, I found a K-Tel-type mix CD of some old-school hip-hop (Sugar Hill Gang, Ice-T, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Queen Latifah, etc.). And, as always, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy, and Duran Duran.

What do you most like to spin while shooting bands?
I leave it up to the victims. When they pick the tunes, they're more relaxed and fun, so I end up with better results.

What works best to loosen up subjects?
I tend to lean towards something a little heavy and/or mellow. Tom Waits, Neurosis, Mastodon, Isis, Keelhaul, Unsane. A little bite of Bauhaus, and, for fun, some Cheap Trick and Duran Duran.

What picks you up after a crappy day?
I listen to this CD made by a friend of mine, under the name Maktaktic. It's kind of a hip-hop thing, with lyrics like "two ho's are betta with chedda" and songs about toe-sucking and girls fighting over him. You can't help but have a smile on your face. And of course, Unsane, High on Fire, Mastodon, the Book of Knots, and a new band out of N.Y. called ASEA. Play it loud and drive fast.

What kind of stuff sours your mood?
The only name that pops into my head when I think of music that sucks and/or an artist that makes me sick would have to be Celine Dion. (Bluk! I think I just threw up a little.) I also have a bit of a dislike for those teenage-boy-type bands: Green Day, Blink-182, etc. Maybe it was all those crappy bands I had to endure during the days of the Euclid Tavern.