Thursday, April 28, 2011

America's Next Top Model All-Stars

I wonder if they're taking a page from the most recent Top Chef season. It was announced today that the next cycle of America's Next Top Model (which has been renewed by The CW for two more seasons) will be a long-overdue "all-star" season, bringing back some of the favorites of past seasons.

They haven't announced yet who will be coming back, so we'll have to wait and see. I've thought some (ok, a lot) about who I would want to see again. Most of my favorites are already true "all-stars" and were able to find enough success to no longer need this show. For example, Toccara Jones (Cycle 3) was featured heavily in Italian Vogue's all-black edition, Kim Stolz (Cycle 5) VJs for MTV, Yaya Dacosta (Cycle 3) had a fairly big role on Ugly Betty and Elise Sewell (Cycle 1) became a top model in Hong Kong. I'd like to see all four of them back, but they're bigger than the show now, so we probably won't be seeing them.

There are a few other girls, however, who haven't fared as well post-ANTM that I would like to see compete again:

Jade Cole (Cycle 6) - Humongous bitch (crazy, too), but entertaining and gorgeous
Isis King (Cycle 11) - She was gorgeous and being transgendered is somewhat less of a barrier now (i.e. Lea T.), hopefully she's less self-conscious if she comes back
Michelle and Amanda Babin (Cycle 7) - Likeable, striking, these were the girls I wanted to see win their cycle (even though only one could have)
Elina Ivanova (Chttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifycle 11) - I just loved her look
Heather Kuzmich (Cycle 9) - Gotta have some Hoosier pride (she hailed from Valpo) and she was stunning
Joanie Dodds (Cycle 6)- I was extremely disappointed she didn't win, she had a beyond amazing body
Nik Pace (Cycle 5) - Another who really should have won, beautiful face
Aminat Ayinde (Cycle 12) - Another stunner

There are a lot of other girls I wouldn't mind seeing back, but these are definitely at the top of my list.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You're not anyone at all

I've been familiar with the band The Horrors for a few years now and have liked their music, but never fell in love with it. So, I almost by-passed this video when I first came across it. Incredibly glad I didn't.

The band, Cat's Eyes, is a project between The Horrors' Faris Badwan and Canadian opera singer Rachel Zeffira.

The song, "Face in the Crowd," evokes Jim Morrison, '60s girls groups, Blondie and Indian pop music all at the same time. It sounds strange, at least that last bit, but it works.

They release their self-titled album next week!

This is either the best thing ever, or the worst

Many malls around the country may soon be installing full body scanners. No, not to counter terrorism, but to give customers an accurate measure of what sizes they should be wearing in each individual store.

MyBestFit
smartplanet.com

On the one hand, it would be nice to not to have to wrestle with different sizes in the dressing room when I go shopping; although some stores, like Express, are all over the place with sizing, it may not do much good there. On the other, it could be disappointing to get a different size measurement than what you usually go for, or typically wear.

Another factor, which may be good or bad depending on how one looks at it, is that it could prove once and for all the existence of “vanity sizing,” which is stores sizing down to make customers feel better about themselves, and what I’ll call “depression sizing”, I think some stores, like H&M and Express, intentionally size up. For example, I can wear a six from the Gap group (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic), but when I go to H&M, I have trouble getting a ten on me (it’s depressing).

My new musical obsession: tUnE-yArDs

Tune-Yards @ Scala

I guess the next time hype for an artist is coming from many disparate sources, I won’t question it. A few months ago, it was James Blake getting a lot of hype from all corners of the music industry for his debut. Now, it’s tUnE-yArDs (yes, that is how it’s apparently supposed to be written – something I’ve chosen to overlook) getting a fair share of hype.

tUnE-yArDs is a one woman (Merrill Garbus) show. Despite being a solo effort, she is able to create a variety of sounds using mainly her voice and looping. Normally, experimental is just that, experimental. What Garbus brings to the table is a powerhouse voice and meaningful lyrics. It isn’t all thrown together just for the point of something different-sounding, everything has a purpose in her music.

I’ve been listening to the album for about a week now, my early favorites are “Gangsta” (showcases her more interesting musical elements) and “Powa” (shows off her vocals).

"Gangsta"

"Powa"

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 04/26/2011

About Group - Start and Complete
Start and Complete
About Group is a side project of Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and John Coxon of Spiritualized, as well as Charles Hayward and Pat Thomas of countless other acts and groups. The group initially formed to record a fully improvised album, Gang Gang Dance. In their second album, they came together with some already written songs, but with only none of the other band members having access to them before recording. The result is surprisingly focused and put-together.
"You're No Good"

Cass McCombs - Wit's End
Wit's End
We need more singer-songwriters like this guy. This will be his fifth album of pure AMAZING!
"County Line"

of Montreal - thecontrollersphere
thecontrollersphere
This is a collection of songs recording during the same sessions as for their previous album, False Priest, but cut from the final release for various reasons, though in whole these five tracks are much darker than that last album, an interesting listen.
"Black Lion Massacre"

The Wombats - This Modern Glitch
This Modern Glitch
Fun, totally not serious indie rock. Sometimes, you just need to listen to something that doesn't take itself too seriously.
"Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Record store day

Record Store Day

Last Saturday was the 4th annual Record Store Day and you know I was there! For some context, Record Store Day is an annual event held on the third Saturday in April at independent record stores all over the world. It's accompanied by special limited releases and in-store appearances by DJs and musicians.

This was the first year that I participated in the event, as I haven't really known about it in the past. Still, I knew to come prepared. I consulted the list of special releases and decided what I wanted to make sure to get. I settled on a vinyl E.P. of Franz Ferdinand covers. It was one of the few items that I felt would be fully worth the search. Many of the releases were artists I didn't care much for, consisted of remixes (which I also don't generally care much for), or involved only one or two songs. In the case of one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes, who released a 12" vinyl with only two songs, I didn't see the point at all, especially since those two songs will be on their full-length album out in a couple of weeks.

All that aside, I set out Saturday morning for Landlocked Music in Bloomington, IN (where I was in town visiting friends). The store was packed. After squeezing past the people crowded at the door, I set out to find my precious Franz Ferdinand. I first looked in the 'F' section, nothing. Looked in the compilation/various section, no luck. Finally, I searched through the new releases. About three-quarters of the way through, I found it. I very excitedly yanked it up, yelled "Yes," and elicited a small smile from the man standing next to me.

FF Covers

Clutching my treasured find, I decided to pick up a few things I had my mind set on for a while. I picked up a copy of LCD Soundsystem's This is Happening and James Blake self-titled album and got in line. After about fifteen minutes, I got to the front of the line and made my purchases. The clerk put them in one of the coolest shopping bags ever (it had a side pocket!) which included a pair of 3D glass for Pitchfork 3D, a copy of Sub Pop's CD sampler and tons of mini magazines. I was a happy girl.

IMG_2097

So, that is my story of Record Store Day. The Franz Ferdinand album is great, though a little disappointed at only five songs. I haven't checked out the sampler yet, though I know what's there (the track list was posted online a few days before). I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Music Tuesday - 04/19/2011

Guillemots - Walk the River
Walk the River
I found out about this band five years ago when a song of theirs was a Single of the Week on iTunes. I have forgotten about them in the time that passed, but was reminded again with the impending release of Walk the River. I was reminded of elements that made them more interesting than the typical British indie rock band, including musicians of diverse backgrounds and the occasional atypical instrumentation.


Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!
Holy Ghost!
When one ends, another begins. This band reminds me a lot of LCD Soundsystem, in that they use electronic elements to create songs of fairly typical structure. It's fitting that their debut album is coming on the heels of LCD Soundsystem's farewell.


Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
Mirrorwriting
R&B has become somewhat staid over the past few year. Leave it to a slew of primarily British (and mostly white) artists to finally do something different with the genre (besides adding hip hop, not so innovative). A couple of months ago, James Blake released a dubstep/electronic-infused, but extremely sparse take on the genre, and now we have another. Woon's sound is much fuller than Blake's, but the feel is the same.


Lenka - Two
Two
Happy, perky, cutesy indie pop, something Australia does pretty well (along with hard rock, there's a disconnect in there somewhere). Lenka's music is nothing profound, but it's fun. Something to listen to while getting ready to go out or to perk you up when you're feeling down.


tUnE-YaRdS - w h o k i l l
w h o k i l l
I've been hearing a lot about this band lately, but had yet to check them out until yesterday. Amazing! I can't believe I waited. Reminds me a lot of Dirty Projectors in the basic sound, but still a very original and interesting sound. Loving it already.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is this the real reason skinny jeans are still in?

I read an article today that claimed that cotton inflation is what may be keeping skinny jeans around. It was an interesting article, which you should definitely give a look-see. I do, however, disagree a bit with the article's claims.

While retailers are going to be in a crunch with the recent inflation in cotton prices, that cost is not going to necessarily dictate (at least not fully) what stores stock. Trends play a huge role, and it's important to sell what the customers want, not just what's cheapest to produce.

Many signs point to wide-leg jeans (and pants) being a big trend for spring, something I was telling some girlfriends recently as we prepped for a night out. '70s style is seeing a resurgence, with loose boho prints and sky-high platforms, something that lends itself well to wide-leg pants. I personally love how incredibly long one's legs look in high heels and long, wide-leg pants.

J Brand
I want

I also feel that women have grown weary (or have been weary) of the skinny-leg trend. It really is flattering on certain body types. So, I'm sure many women are praying for a change.

I have heard that cotton prices will soon drop due to growers overproducing in hopes of banking on higher prices. However, this will create a surplus and drive prices back down. I can't speak to whether farmers really were planting more cotton. I do feel, however, that the increase in price we saw last year will not be the only (or even primary) factor in what retailers produce and sell in stores.

When I broke up with my favorite band

Recently, NPR Music asked a question of its readers: When did you break up with your favorite band?

A lot of the comments centered on bands that have been considered pioneers of their genres, but had had some minor (or major) missteps at some point in their careers; bands like The Beach Boys, Radiohead and Weezer.

I started thinking about what act or band really jumped ship for me and my life and one really popped out in my mind.

Mariah Carey

I know, I know, she’s not really that great but, when I was a little girl, I was in awe of her and her music.

I got into Carey around the time that Daydream came out; I was about eight years old. I had fallen in love with the song “Always Be My Baby” and its music video (back when MTV was still showing those). I quickly acquired all of her album, on cassette since this was the ‘90s, and spent the next few years listening to them all on loop, singing along in my living room (back then, I could hit most of those high notes).

Her next album, Daydream, wasn't my favorite; I never loved it quite as much as her earlier work, but still wore it out. Where things really changed for me, though, was on the release of Rainbow. Gone was a Carey that seemed approachable and down-to-earth. All of a sudden, she was a diva and it was all about glitz and glamour. Also, her voice seemed to change. In all likelihood, it probably didn’t, but she was no longer showing off how powerful her voice was, but singing like the pop princesses that were starting to gain popularity.

Someone bought me Charmbracelet either for my birthday or Christmas the year it came out, I only listened to it once. My interest Carey at that point was completely gone. I wasn’t even listening to her old stuff anymore. I think it was the summer after my freshman year of college that I purged myself of all of the music I was no longer listening to, everything I had of Mariah Carey left at that time. The interest has not returned.

With some artists (and this seemed to be the theme of many of the comments to NPR's question), when you fall out of love, you still love and appreciate what they released when they were still good, but ignore new material. With Carey, though, I think I equally outgrew the style of music she performed in the ‘90s as developed distaste for her work in the new millennium. There are a lot of artists that I similarly outgrew, mostly my pop punk phase (think Simple Plan and All-American Rejects).

I can only really think of one case where I've liked a band for a while, hate their new stuff, but still really appreciate what made them great. That band is Weezer. Two years ago, I would have also said Green Day, but I've grown quite weary of all of their work.

So, that's who I've fallen out of love with, do y'all have any artists you've drifted away from?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where visual art and music meet

So, Wye Oak is this folksy band from Maryland that I recently found out about. I've been enjoying their album a little bit, but the video that goes along with one of their songs really blew my mind.

The duo teamed up with some artists for "Fish." The video consists of beautiful imagery, depicting the song's lyrics, hand cut from paper. The result is truly amazing.


This is my jam: "You Know What I Mean"

Cults

A few months ago, I went to Rachael's Cafe in Bloomington, IN with a few friends to see some live music. That night, a little band named Cults were there. They performed to not much fanfare and we actually ended up leaving early, nothing really stood out.

Still, I looked up the band later on when I got home, but didn't find much information. There was some excitement from local news and blogs (probably based wherever the band is from), but little else.

Fast forward a couple of months and, suddenly, they're everywhere (everywhere that I'm looking at least). By now, they've released a few songs and caught the ear of a few very influential sources. The hype was so think, you could cut it with a knife.

Despite all of this, none of the songs really stood out to me. They were good, but not spectacular. Until I heard a little ditty named "You Know What I Mean" about a week ago. It's one of their newer songs and I love it!

It reminds me a bit of '80s pop songs, as well as '60s girl group jams. There still is that indie tinge that makes it thoroughly modern.

I rarely play things over and over on You-Tube, but this one's been on repeat (which pretty much means clicking back on the tab and pressing the play button again - they should streamline that process somehow).

Anyways, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Open Letter to Old Navy

Dear Old Navy,

I didn't think you could do it, I thought nothing could be worse than the "modelquin" campaign, but you managed to do it. These music video ads you're running now make me wanna cry. They're horrible and I officially never want to set foot in one of your stores again.

Why can't you go back to showing your clothes on real models while playing halfway decent indie music? Hell, I'll even accept the half-celebrities you used towards the end of the '90s. Anything but another bubblegum pop-style song about cropped pants.

There's nothing wrong with using good music and professional models in your ads. Have you seen the H&M ads? They feature an amazing song and some of the best models working today. Your sister company, Gap, even uses top models (so I know money is not an issue).

Please reconsider your current campaign before I shoot a hole in my TV.

Signed,

A concerned shopper

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Music Tuesday - April 12, 2011

Brett Dennen - Loverboy
Loverboy
Dennen was getting a lot of attention a couple of years ago as an "artist to watch." He's primarily been a folk artist, but this is supposed to be his "experimental" record. I've only heard the lead single, "Sydney," not bad, but I feel it's lacking direction. We'll see what happens when I get a chance to hear the whole album.
Listen: "Sydney"

Little Scream - The Golden Record
The Golden Record
I got really into this band a couple of months ago upon hearing "The Heron and the Fox," absolutely beautiful. This album was technically released a few weeks ago, but only in digital version. For some reason, I didn't know about that. But I know now; by the way, I'll be seeing them next month at the MusicNow festival here in Cincinnati.
Listen: "The Heron and the Fox"

Panda Bear - Tomboy
Tomboy
My first stop on the way home from work today was to the record store to buy this on vinyl (granted that stop was when I was nearly home anyways). I think I may be in love with all things Animal Collective. It seems rare that members of a great band can all create great solo material.
Listen: "Last Night at the Jetty"

Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
So Beautiful or So What
This is being hailed by some as a return to Simon's form on Graceland. I've listened to early streams and, while I think it's a bit of an overstatement, it is a good release. For full disclosure, I will admit to not having listened to Paul Simon's more recent work, but this isn't a bad venture.
Listen: "The Afterlife"

TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Nine Types of Light
Somehow, this release got deleted from my list and I forgot to post it initially (I swear it was on there!) I dislike it when bands get labeled "Afro-Punk" just because they have black members. All but one in this one are black, but the influences in their music is so varied and diverse (and more electronic than anything else), that Afro-Punk doesn't even begin to describe it. This is another great release from them, I loved the lead single.
Watch: "Will Do"

Vivian Girls - Share the Joy
Share the Joy
Like their frequent collaborators, Black Lips, I think these noisy punk girls have grown up a bit since their earlier releases. Based on what I've heard so far, the sound is more straightforward, but they've still managed to maintain what kept them unique. I'll also be seeing them live soon, next week at the Southgate House (with Black Lips!)
Watch: "Heard You Say"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I found my local music venue

The Southgate House is a bar and music venue across the river from Cincinnati in Newport, Kentucky. While there are a lot of great smaller venues in and around Cinci, this place (as far as I've seen) seems to get a lot of the bigger (but still indie) music acts.

A few weeks ago, I went there to see Wanda Jackson and went to two shows in just this past week.

On Tuesday, I went to see The Raveonettes, which, coincidentally, was also the day that their new album, Raven in the Grave was released! A new band, Tamaryn, opened for them. Both bands have a Jesus and Mary Chain sound to them, so a lot of noise and very fuzzy sound. The show was LOUD, my ears are still ringing.

The Raveonettes

Thursday was a much quieter and low-key affair. The usual setup at the venue is a standard open concert layout. On this night, however, tables and chairs were set out for a more intimate affair. The acts were local artist Daniel Martin Moore and Kent, OH native and Black Keys protege Jessica Lea Mayfield.

Moore is a folk artist from Northern Kentucky who sings a lot of traditional songs as well as many of his own. He ended his set in the midst of the audience with his drummer performing some of the best damn ham-boning I've ever seen (not that I've seen that much).

Daniel Martin Moore

Mayfield herself has been getting a lot of attention lately, for good reason. There are some strong country elements to her music and she has an amazing husky voice.

Jessica Lea Mayfield

It's safe to say that I will probably be back at this venue for more shows. It has a great atmosphere and gets some of the best acts in the area.

Looking forward to the Black Lips and Vivian Girls on the 20th!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where have all the edgier designers gone?

Today, it was announced that Christophe Decarnin is officially out as creative director and head designer of the fashion house Balmain. This comes after weeks of speculation following his suspicious absence at the house's show during the Fall 2011 Paris Fashion Week.

During his time at Balmain, Decarnin became known for his ├╝ber-edgy designs, making the minidress more than just sexy, popularizing skinny cargo pants and distressed t-shirts.

Balmain

Decarnin isn't the only major designer generally considered edgy to have left his post over the past year. Last February, Alexander McQueen passed away and, only about a month ago, John Galliano was fired for anti-Semitic remarks.

What's strange to me isn't so much that these three were considered amongst the edgiest designers working, but that all of their departures were linked, at least in part, to emotional problems. While Balmain reps stated that it was the reason for his departure, rumors have long been flying that his reason for missing the Paris show was due to emotional issues. Some have tried to blame emotional problems for Gallianos's rant and McQueen committed suicide.

Thankfully (or somewhat so) two of these designers will probably be back. While I do think that Galliano had his firing coming; he'll go to rehab, issue a lot of apologies, meet with Jewish groups and be back within the year (isn't that what everyone does when they go on a racist rant?). Decarnin will find another post, perhaps his own line, to showcase his perspective.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Music Tuesday - April 05, 2011

Cold Cave - Cherish the Light Years
cherish DIGIPACKcovercorrectbarcode
Just found out about this band and already in love! It's like '80s new wave...but much darker. While the band has two shows this week easily accessible, of course, they fall on the worst dates, Thursday here in Cinci (going to see Jessica Lea Mayfield) and Friday in Bloomington (mom's visiting). But, thankfully, they are performing on Nashville, TN on Good Friday with the band below. I have the day off and just found out it's only about four hours away!
Listen: "Confetti"

The Kills - Blood Pressures
Blood Pressures
The two-man blues band seems to be a formula that works wonders (see White Stripes, The Black Keys). This duo ups the ante with sexily husky female vocals and a drum machine, in lieu of a drummer...who needs them anyway when they never wear any pants. This is easily one of my top ten favorite bands, I'm excited for another great
Watch: "Satellite"

The Raveonettes - Raven in the Grave
Raven in the Grave
Scandinavian always seems to work out well, too (see just about every Scandinavian band ever, not ABBA). This Danish band is loud, fuzzy (the sound, not the people) and overall awesome. They're in Cincinnati tomorrow, definitely going!
Watch: "Recharge and Revolt"

Monday, April 4, 2011

The best Panda Bears aren't at the zoo

Yeah, so, lame title...anyways Panda Bear! As in Noah Lennox of Animal Collective (strangely, he's the only one in the band with an actual animal as his stage name).

Anyways, he is releasing a new album, Tomboy next week. As a solo artist, he's known for his use of samples, but this release is a bit more subdued. It's streaming over at NPR and, based on the first listen, it reminds me a lot of his bandmate Avey Tare's solo record, Down There.

Tomboy
  1. You Can Count on Me
  2. Tomboy
  3. Slow Motion
  4. Surfer's Hymn
  5. Last Night at the Jetty
  6. Drone
  7. Alsatian Darn
  8. Scheherazade
  9. Friendship Bracelet
  10. Afterburner
  11. Benifica
Squuueeeaalllll!!!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Farewell LCD Soundsystem!

Tonight is LCD Soundsystem's final show at Madison Square Garden.

To watch a livestream of the concert, head over to Pitchfork.

LCD Soundsystem


UPDATE

Although Pitchfork stated that they would not be re-broadcasting their live feed of the final show, it has, of course, been posted online.

The concert is on You-Tube, but cannot be posted, go here to watch!