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SEASONAL STIMULI: New Janelle Monae and Kenzo have me salivating for spring

8 Mar

Hey! Have you thought of what you’ll listen to/wear for the first day of spring yet?

No? Care for a suggestion?

You should check out this awesome new track Tightrope by Janelle Monáe, featuring Big Boi.

This song is a pelvis-thrustin’, hair-flippin’, gum chewin’, clam-digger-wearin’ funk anthem with a solid beat that Pitchfork writer Tom Breihan aptly suggests is reminiscent of Rich Harrison’s beat for 1 Thing” by Amerie.

(I still work out to that song allthetime! Beat so good!)

It will help you get “in the mood” for the sexiness of spring.

And the first day is fast approaching, friends. Fast approaching! I even wore my bikini at the beach on Saturday.

Let me reiterate:

Bikini.

At the beach.

It is still winter in Canada.

But my bikini saw real sunlight! I am so excited for spring now I can hardly contain myself. Could it be because my day of birth is in the spring? Perhaps. But even more exciting are the new fashions that accompany the new season.

If I had to choose a fave right now t’would have to be Kenzo, designed by Antonio Marras. His designs are easy, feminine, worldly and dripping with bohemian sophistication — just what I feel like emulating as daylight slowly conquers evenings.

It’s also easy to achieve the layered, ’70s look on a thrifty budget.

In fact, Kenzo’s eponymous Japanese founder Kenzo Takada’s very first designs were made from a hodgepodge of vintage fabrics because he could only afford to buy secondhand. Therefore, Takada had to combine several striking fabrics together to make a single garment.

And here I thought I was the only one who made scarves out of old, mismatched socks!

Anyway, while you listen to Janelle Monáe, you can also behold my favourite looks from Kenzo’s Spring 2010 collection:

Love love those fur textures, floaty florals, menswear touches and enveloping cuts. Hazzah, spring shopping inspiration!

In a bit of a random note, according to Takada’s Wikipedia page:

“Kenzo proved his sense of dramatic appearance when, in 1978 and 1979, he held his shows in a circus tent, finishing with horsewomen performers wearing transparent uniforms and he himself riding an elephant.”

Excellent.

Look for me blogging live from atop an elephant this spring.

Photos courtesy of Pitchfork and Style.com.

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BODY CON BABY: Norwegian Wood brings the dominatrix to my demographic

1 Feb

I love edge.

I also love strappy body-hugging things.

I don’t wear them super often, but when I do, I feel my zealous woman powers come out — one hundred per cent femme fatale!

“I got gloss on my lips (lips), a man on my hips (hips)
Hold me tighter than my Dereon jeans
Acting up (up), drink in my cup (cup)
I can care less what you think”

So you can imagine how a large grin spread across my face when I stumbled across these amazing harnesses by Norweigan Wood on Kingdom of Style. I cannot stop thinking about all the sexy/edgy possibilities!

Made by Canadian seamstress Angie Johnson who learned to sew from a combo of school and motherly influence, these creations are nothing short of inspired.

Prior to starting Norwegian Wood the Montreal native worked in the mainstream fashion industry for eight years, but has since released herself to work on Norwegian Wood full time.

I really can’t stop picturing myself in these. What a strapping young lady I would be. Hmah!

The first two photos are of the collection Johnson designed for Shrimpton Couture. The remaining photos are from Norwegian Wood’s Etsy shop.

These harnesses would make even the most wallflowery of girls strut insane, with the glow of the limelight reflecting off her varnished lips.

“Ahhhhhhh!”

Also I’m a huge fan of the harness-over-t-shirt look. Casual dominance. I like it.

And check out some of her other inspiring creations:

She crafts her wares from vintage and new fabrics, and, in her own words, “various trims and other bits that I dig up in strange little stores throughout the mysterious city of Montreal.”

Super sweet.

Just LOVING the pocket-protector-meets-tribal-embellishment look. Big fan of leatherwork over here.

These creations are so inspiring all I wanna do is picture myself dancing in them allnightlong.

DOWNLOAD this awesome mixtape by HappyFeat called “Mr. Friskywhile you PERUSE Norwegian Wood’s Etsy shop.

You will see what I mean.

Tracklist:

1. Delphic – Doubt (Riton Remix)
2. Chris Lake & Lys – La Tromba (Stupid Fresh’s We Announce The Remix)
3. Starkillers – Bitch Ass Trick
4. Britney Spears – 3 (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)
5. Luvstuff vs Alena – Turn It Around (Lazy Rich Remix)
6. Junior Senior – Move Your Feet (DJ Nejtrino + DJ Stranger Remix)
7. Pascal and Pearce – Disko Biskit
8. Tittsworth feat Kid Sister & Paserock – WTF (Tim Healy & Deekline Remix)
9. Jon-E Industry – Skanky Sandwiches
10. Binkers – Do It Right (Calvertron’s 59 Fifty Remix)
11. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax (Spencer & Hill Remix)
12. Mike Snow – Animal (Fake Blood Remix)
13. DJ Dan – Tribute To Voodoo Ray
14. Chase & Status – Eastern Jam (Kyle Watson Remix)
15. Fake Blood – Mars (Jack Beats Remix)
16. AC Slater – Play The Record Again
17. Agnes – Release Me (Moguai Remix)
18. Stanton Warriors – Precinct (Plump DJs Remix)
19. Laidback Luke, Lee Mortimer – Blau!
20. Fatboy Slim – Praise You (Fedde Le Grand Remix)
21. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)
22. Splitloop – Party People
23. Mightyfools – Hoo Haa

Photos courtesy of kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk and etsy.com/shop/iheartnorwegianwood.

BEST OF 2010… ALREADY! Beach House “Teen Dream” is a must-listen

31 Jan

Well call me pleased as a pumpkin! I’ve already found the first album for my “Top Ten of 2010” list, and January isn’t even done.

It’s official: Teen Dream, the third effort from Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House, and I are an item.

We have run away together.

This is not an affair characterized by drunk dials, cheap motels or unrequited love; rather, it’s one built on warmth, complexity and the careful exposure of one’s own vulnerability.

A “teen dream” it is indeed, as the album’s sweeping emotions recall teenage glory-days where highs were high, risks happened daily, and heartbreak was lurking ’round every corner.

Oh the sadness and the splendor of it all!

This is the first album Beach House has released on Sub Pop. Because both CD and LP formats of Teen Dream come with a companion DVD featuring a video for each song made by a different director, it appears the record label folks are just as dedicated to making this a complete sensory experience.

And what an experience it is.

LISTEN HERE:

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Vocalist/organist Victoria Legrand spans an incredible range with her rough, androgynous sound. Her voice is described as “beautifully oaky and deep,” like a fine wine. With incredible vocal dexterity and her trademark controlled wavering, Legrand’s melodies create a world where sadness is a regular fixture, but the depth earned from weighty lessons is far more significant.

Interestingly, Legrand’s sadness is balanced by her bandmate Alex Scally, who brings a tinkering, starry-eyed optimism to the album.

For example, the strong pop-powerhouse loop that opens “Norway” and the easygoing guitar twang that accompanies Legrand’s tormented melody form a delightful contrast.

“Norway” is epic and disorienting: perfect for riding your bike downhill after a first kiss.

Also, the shimmery synth-pop track “Lover of Mine” is suitable for reminiscing about drinking outdoors with good friends. It’s got the simultaneous warmth, excitement and release of going pee in the wilderness. (What?! Who doesn’t love that?)

And if that’s not enough to sell you, the boozy, calm sway of “Silver Soul” will call up memories of the best beach vacation you’ve ever had.

But the true gem of the album is “Real Love,” in which Legland’s soulful voice drips with tears. Here it’s just her and some gorgeous heavy-handed piano for a gut-wrenching five minutes and 23 seconds.

I am tranquilized:

“The color you say is black is the one you might lack / In the size of your eyes, is there a righteous prize?

“There’s something wrong with our hearts / When they beat pure they stand apart / In the black room, the light, watch the seabird fall / Real love, it finds you somewhere with your back to it”

You’ll need to get carried away by the band’s airy, emotional car chase, but rest assured there is a steady hand on the wheel.

BUY: Beach House Teen Dream on iTunes

LIVE ACTION: Beach House LIVE at Rickshaw on April 11

Photo courtesy of musicsnitch.com.

HARK! FINALLY! New Joanna Newsom album out Feb. 23

27 Jan

The latest Joanna Newsom album Have One on Me will be released next month…

…and…

we now know it will be a TRIPLE ALBUM!

Das right — three discs and/or three LPs depending on how you roll. This be some highly anticipated shit.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Newsom, here is all you need to know: She is exquisitely beautiful (see photos above and below), prodigiously talented (she plays the harp and piano, and sings with medieval dexterity), incredibly articulate (she writes stanzas in archaic lingo), and she is the same age as me (this impresses me all the more).

Also, her voice sounds like a delightful mixture of girly girl and kitty cat.

Mmmmm!

If this piques your interest, her first track “81” is now available online.  The track is mellow yet evocative; it solely consists of Newsom’s idiosyncratic voice and fingers plucking away like mad on the harp.

In other words, the perfect tease to excite the fans.

And if you don’t like my “pretty-kitty lady” analogy, Pitchfork writer Brian Howe describes her as such:

“After seeing her perform, it’s clear that she is… a sort of Prometheus, bringing an elite musical tradition down from the mountain and into the lowlands of indie rock, where attitude-not-training is the rule, and a certain spiritual posture is more important that traditional musicianship. She’s been punished accordingly by the gods (in this extended metaphor, a cynical press) for her efforts to cross that divide.”

Indeed Newsom is criticized for being too sincere. In an indie culture that is so suspicious of pretentiousness and posturing, the road through Newsom’s music is forked. One path is for those who love her brainy, classical style for its enviable honesty; the other is for those who despise her wavering voice and complex language for the same reason. (Obviously you can make out the path I followed…)

And isn’t pretentiousness in the eye of the beholder anyway? I’m certain it’s not always, but in this case I think it’s a relevant idea to ponder.

Speaking of pondering, after the stratospheric success of her last album Ys in 2006,  Newsom stepped out of the spotlight and retreated to her native California to work on new material. Thank goodness she came out of hiding last fall and posed for Giorgio Armani’s United Artists Campaign though.

Gorgeous.

For those fashion-obsessed out there, she’s wearing Giorgio Armani’s beaded black and blue silk blouse and sequined black silk shorts; Emporio Armani hat; and Carolina Amato gloves.

To add to the fun, see below for a playlist of my fave Joanna Newsom tracks:

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Iconic!

Photos courtesy of Dragcity.com and W Magazine.

NOW HEAR THIS: The Knife’s new opera track “Colouring of Pigeons”

13 Jan

OMG.

The Knife!

Charles Darwin-based opera soundtrack!

If you haven’t heard this yet, you are in for one crazy auditory ride.

If you’d rather not listen to an opera lady’s haunting vocals interspersed with male “oohs and ahhs” to the beat of tribal drums followed by the hyper-female vocals of my idol Karin Dreijer Andersson, you might not like it.

However, if you dig the sound of some of the most experimental pop artists out there, you should listen to this 11-minute track called “Colouring of Pigeons” RIGHT NOW.

It’s easy. It’s even streaming on The Knife’s website (click link above).

It’s waiting just for you!

Back in ’09, the Swedish electro-pop duo recorded a soundtrack to an experimental opera based on Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species called Tomorrow, In a Year.

Berlin dance-rock artists Mt. Sims, Danish performance art group Hotel Pro Forma, and experimentalist act Planningtorock also added their special touch to the sounds.

The soundtrack will hit the web on February 2. It will be available in hard copy internationally on March 1, and in the U.S. on March 9. Performances of this “avant-electro-opera” are available for those alternative-art fans in Greece, Sweden, and Budapest. More information here.

You can also check out part of the opera below:

I gotta be honest, I’m not the hugest opera fan. Something about the brazen theatricality of it all. It just seems so… put on, and based on the clip above, Tomorrow, In a Year is no exception.

But anything involving The Knife strikes the deepest chords of obsession from within.

Their sound was in my head before I’d ever heard it, tinkering and clanging against the growing threads of my early twenties emotions. (Speaking of brazen theatricality, I’m just now understanding the apt pairing of opera and The Knife: it all begins with love!)

“Dear The Knife,

To hear you is so dear to me.

I would compose an ode were it not so onerous…

…but I would do it for a simple fee.

To see you is my dime spent three.

I lively live for lovely thee!”

Introspective dreams tonight!

Photo courtesy of seattleweekly.com.

FLOWER POWER REBRAND: A new addition to my jewellery collection

11 Jan

I went poking around on Commercial Drive on Sunday and came across this little gem from Attic Treasures:

It’s a large, metal flower-power pin from the 1960s! In punchy red! With stripes of white and navy in the middle! I loves me some red, white and blue for some reason… perhaps because the colours are masculine. Could be because my mom always favoured red, or because my grandpa was in the navy, or because I have several American relatives.

Who knows!

At $20 it was a tad pricey for my pocketbook since I’m quite good at sourcing stuff like this from thrift stores, but I also found a wicked, ’60s-painted-fabric wall hanging for a mere $30.

(We needed a large piece for the wall behind our dining room table, so I felt justified in buying the pin because the wall fabric was such a good deal.)

Ahhhh, how I can justify buying anything when it’s red:

  • “But this red shade is being discontinued…”
  • “I’ve never seen this [insert item here] in RED before…”
  • “Ooh, they only have the red one left!”
  • “Look! Red leather!”
  • “Aren’t red shoes supposed to be lucky?”

Agreed?

Well, whatever. Red works on me.

Now witness my latest photo essay titled, Me and My Red Flower-Power Pin: A Story of Triumph:

Love love!

And here’s the wall fabric I bought that started this whole affair:

Highest praises? Lemme know what you think!

All photos by me.

XMAS PRESENT (TENSE): A handbag fit for a digital queen

21 Dec

This dorkus-malorkus computer key bag is so up my alley.

Made by Joao Sabino, an industrial designer in Portugal, “The Keybag” is made from exactly 393 keys from computer keyboards.

Lined with black nylon and available in four colours (see photo below), The Keybag is the perfect accessory with which to ring in the new year.

It also reminds me of Super Mario Bros. with all its blockiness.

Since I have a typing impediment — I type with left hand on 1/3 of the keyboard and right hand on 2/3, and I never use the pinkies: for decoration ONLY — this bag would be the perfect training apparatus.

And just think of the jokes I could throw down!“Oh, sorry, you’re just not my… type.”

“Learning is… key!”

“I’m really… board of your instant messages.”

“#$@^%&!”

“Print screen!”

:>

So, mom, dad, stepdad, if you’re reading this, The Keybag will set you back €130.00, or $253.00 CAD including shipping. Don’t worry that it won’t arrive in time for Christmas. I can wait.

Buy it here. And check out Joao Sabino’s blog here.

(And this is how it would look before my stuff got put inside…)

I first caught wind of The Keybag through a mention on Kingdom of Style (my fave fashion blog), and I’ve since been reading up on it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any evidence to suggest it’s made from recycled keyboards, which would make it ever the more awesome.

The Keybag reminds me of the 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes about Edward Burtynsky, an incredible Canadian photographer who travels the world shooting breathtaking landscapes changed from manufacturing and industry.

Directed by Jennifer Baichwal, part of the film follows people in China that live among piles and piles of “e-waste” (or computer waste). They pick through bits and chunks of broken computer parts, chemicals and wires searching for valuable pieces they can sell to avoid starving.

Apparently 50 per-cent of the world’s computer waste ends up in China. It would be incredibly remarkable for The Keybag to be made of keys from China’s e-wastelands.

Manufactured Landscapes is tragic and berating and stunningly filmed. If you’ve never seen it, you really should. It’s pretty unforgettable. At the very least, watch Edward Burtynsky’s TED talk on the subject.

In the meantime, anyone seen my… keys?

Ahhh!

Photos courtesy of kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk, designboom.com and workshop.iyms.info.