Friday, July 31, 2009
I'm not a Trendy Trevor by any stretch of the imagination, so all I really knew about American Apparel clothing was that they produce the type of clothing sported by characters in 'Gossip Girl' and that friends of mine got very excited about shopping there while abroad.
Having seen the wares on offer, I'm beginning to understand the appeal of American Apparel. The plain, block-colour clothing , which is essentially what my tatty wardrobe is made up of already, seem great for mixing and matching or if you're looking for something simple to team with more daring items of clothing (presumably purchased elsewhere).
The quality of the fabric seems great and, perhaps most importantly, the garments fit really well. This should come as good news to guys exasperated by the high street stores that are hell-bent on convincing rotund, middle-aged men that they are 'medium'.
The down-side of the store is the prices. You're looking at forking out over €40 for a t-shirt with a funky print and the reality is that you could probably get a similar item for half the price in H&M. I'll probably probably be limited to window-shopping until I have some kind of income to speak of.
I'd also be curious to know what sort of turnaround they have in stock. Because the clothes are so plain, they're somehat immune to changing trends but, if the store are slow to update their lines, then shopping there means you're inevitably going to wind up dressed like half of Dublin.
Overall though, colour me impressed.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Kelly Clarkson's latest single, 'Already Gone', is causing a mild furore at the moment following the singer's own admission that it bears more than a passing similarity to Beyoncé's 'Halo'.
Exhibit A - 'Halo' :
Exhibit B - 'Already Gone' :
Pretty glaring similarities, right?
Well, as I say, La Clarkson herself has acknowledged this and is pointing the finger of blame at Ryan Tedder, who penned both tracks. She insists she only heard 'Halo' after the release of her album and phoned Tedder to ask him why he had basically flogged two variations of the same track.
She's apparently less than delighted that her label have chosen to release it as a single. I reckon Ryan Tedder should watch his bank. A Kelly Clarkson scorned is not a pretty sight.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
She'd want to get some new material out pronto because, if she holds off for much longer, Kesha (of Flo Rida featuring Kesha fame) is gonna get away with completely ripping off her sound.
When I first heard Kesha's track 'Tick Tock', I was amazed at the similarities between the track and Uffie's collaboration with Justice, 'The Party'. Even down to the fake English accent.
After initially wanting to see her burned at the stake, Kesha's track has grown on me something shocking and, if Uffie doesn't quit faffing around, I may be left with no option but to cross over to the
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
After previously dismissing them as 'not my bag', I have now succumbed to the evil genius of Music Go Music. If, the first time I heard their track 'Light of Love', I was told it was a long-forgotten ABBA tune, I'd have had no difficulty believing it. The stabbing piano, retro production, hand-claps, cheesy guitar, and decidedly Agnetha/Frida-esque vocals all make for a tune that perfectly bridges the gap between 'Waterloo' and 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'.
Although the majority of their stuff is basically seventies pastiche, channeling acts like The Carpenters and Blondie as well as ABBA, the songs are well crafted enough to avoid seeming gimmicky or overly contrived.
The Los Angeles-based trio have, thusfar, kept their identities a secret, with some claiming they "are a moonlighting Serious Alt Rock Band who use aliases to project the idea of a fantasy pop concept". However, with a number of gigs lined up for September, it probably won't be long before they surrender their anonymity.
Warm in the Shadows:
[Image: Wendy Lynch]
She's currently working with top notch producers on her debut album, 'Beg, Borrow and Steal', but as a means of drumming up some early interest, has produced some timely covers and mash-ups.
These 'interpretations' are slickly produced and inventive and, although I'm not someone who likes to admit I'm wrong, I'll concede I was probably too hasty in making a call on Ms. Hitch initially...
Ouch. That hurt.
Neon Hitch - Cooler Than Me (Sia vs. Mike Posner)
Neon Hitch - Billionaire (Travis McCoy cover)
Neon Hitch - Drop It Like It's Hot (Snoop Dogg vs. Alina Orlova)
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Miike Snow - Animal (Fake Blood Remix)
Kid Sister - Right Hand Hi
Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome
Starsmith featuring Ellie Goulding - Sleepyhead (free download)
Friendly Fires - Kiss Of Life
Amanda Blank - Make It Take It (free download)
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The latest version comes fromGoldsmith, AKA singer Ellie Goulding and producer Starsmith. Both collectively and individually, the pair have gone from strength to strength since I first fell for their work back in January and their midas touch certainly hasn't failed them on this occasion. This track sees Starsmith making his first appearance on backing vocals and you can hear the results here.
Also great is the version by alt-pop purveyors, The Mummers. This borrows samples from the original track, teaming them with funky brass backing and new lyrics. The lovely Matt from Stay Loose has given me permission to share the track.
Click here to listen and/or download.
Finally, Run Toto Run's mandolin-and-fiddle-driven cover, which I've previously mentioned, remains great. This seems to have gained the band more attention than any of their own great tunes but hopefully they can capitalise on the exposure.
[Image: Swedish Leon's Disko Club]
Thursday, July 23, 2009
'A Love Song' is basically an extended version of Diplo's remix of Santigold's 'I'm A Lady' but, in my books, that's certainly no bad thing.
'Make It Take It' is a more upbeat number, sounding like a sassy distant cousin of Santigold's 'Lights Out'. It's different enough from Amanda's other material to suggest she can keep things interesting and avoid the saminess that rap artists sometimes lapse into.
This track, along with previous single 'Might Like You Better', can be downloaded for free from RCRD LBL.
[Image: Last FM]
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Most likely trying to capitalise on the current infatuation with the undead, Worth1000 recently challenged Photoshop whizzes to put their skills to the test and produce a 'celebrity vampire'. The complete list of entries can be viewed here.
As you'll see, the results vary in quality, but these are a few of my favourites:
The video for their previous single 'Suffragette Suffragette' featured the band rocking out while dressed up as D.I.Y. experts and their sense of humour is again evident in the video for 'Photoshop Handsome', albeit on a much bigger budget:
New obsession: sourced.
The Popjustice award recognises the best pop songs of the past year and girlband Girls Aloud look like the ones to beat, having walked away with the twenty pound note on four previous occasions. (I suspect Nicola's the one that has, thus far, been left out of pocket.)
Synthpop duo La Roux are the only act in with a chance of winning £20,020 this year, having been nominated for both the Twenty Quid Prize and The Mercury Prize.
The full shortlist, in pictographic form, is as follows:
Lily Allen's 'The Fear' for the win.
[Images: Last.Fm and Popjustice]
I'm delighted to see Lisa joined on the list by La Roux, Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires and Bat For Lashes, all of whom would certainly feature in a shortlist of my own favourite albums of the past year. If you don't have these albums in your possession, please rectify this.
Also in the running are indie-rockers Kasabian (pictured), Glasvegas and The Horrors, who have all drawn rave reviews for their recent albums and were among the names bandied about as potential nominees in recent weeks. I'll confess I have only heard snippets of their stuff but I'll probably investigate further to see what the fuss is about.
As is customary, the list includes a number of slightly less familiar names, with London rapper Speech Debelle and folk group Sweet Billy Pilgrim among the more leftfield nominations.
Although Lily Allen, Doves and Manic Street Preachers had been considered by many as strong contenders for the prize this year, true to the notoriously unpredictable nature of The Mercury Prize, none of these acts even made the shortlist. Lily Allen seemed to get word of her omission on Monday when she tweeted: 'im like gazza, the judges hate me, but the people, dem love me .....'
The full list of nominees (and current betting odds) is as follows:
Florence and the Machine – Lungs 5/1
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum 5/1
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns 6/1
La Roux – La Roux 6/1
Glasvegas – Glasvegas 6/1
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy 8/1
Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires 8/11
The Horrors – Primary Colours 8/1
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew 8/1
The Invisible – The Invisible 10/1
Led Bib – Sensible Shoes 10/1
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men 10/1My gut instinct tells me it's Florence and the Machine's year but there's nobody really on the list that I'd begrudge the win. In any case, we'll have to wait until the 8th of September, when all the nominees gather to perform at a special ceremony, before the winner is announced.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tracks from the forthcoming Basement Jaxx album have been trickling on to the interwebs, including some mouth-watering collaborations.
The first of these is a track with Santigold (RIP Santo) called 'Saga'. At first, I was a little bit disappointed. I felt the track didn't quite live up to the billing, mainly because it sounds exactly like the stuff from Santi's 2008 album. I still stand by that assertion but the track has grown on me something shocking.
Another track, 'Feeling's Gone', which surfaced yesterday, features Sam Sparro on vocal duties. This track is a bit more typical of Basement Jaxx: a sprightly dance-pop number with everything but the cats-in-sinks thrown into the production. Once again, I wasn't sure what to make of this at first but, after a couple of listens, I'm sold.
Looking forward to hearing it in better quality:
Already looking forward to seeing The Jaxx at Electric Picnic.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Boy Crisis - Dressed To Digress
Naive New Beaters - Can't Choose
Super Extra Bonus Party - Comets (featuring Heathers)
Florence and The Machine - Girl With One Eye
Dan Black - Pump My Pumps
Imogen Heap - First Train Home
Numéro - Star Model (Le Matox Pointdexter Remix)
After debuting 'First Train Home' last week, Imogen Heap has premiered yet another track from forthcoming album, 'Ellipse'.
'Canvas' is a slow-burning, cinematic number with Imogen's layered vocals laid over a gorgeous backdrop of strings and piano. Some people seem to have been underwhelmed by 'First Train Home', but I don't really see how this could fail to restore their enthusiasm for 'Ellipse':
The video can be seen here.
[Image: Count Me Out]
Helena Bonham Carter's costume for The Red Queen is especially excellent. I still wish they'd done something with Anne Hathaway's eyebrows.
Eyebrows or none, this looks set to be one of the most anticipated movie releases of 2010.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Since setting up in March 2008, Project Brand New has presented 57 brand new performances across many art forms, providing audiences with a chance to see emerging talents and to engage in feedback and discussion. Shaun's script was selected for performance at the fourth edition of the initiative and will be directed by up-and-coming talent Grace Dyas.
As someone who still has nightmares about my six month stint operating a headset for a market research company, I'm really eager to see how Shaun will put his play's setting of a call-centre to use. If his previous scripts are anything to go by, it'll be a fairly abstract slant on the world of survey quotas, social classifications and screaming home-owners.
Tickets for Project Brand New are only five euro. However, they are very much in demand and previous shows have sold out in advance. So, if you fancy catching this show ahead of its full run in 2010, be sure to (cold) call The Project nice and early.
The gig promises to be a boogie and a half so, if you fancy checking 'em out and haven't already been invited, e-mail me before 4pm today and I'll try my darndest to get you on the guest-list.
When I finally saw the 1980 film that inspired the series, I was pretty disappointed. It was all a bit too serious and 'issue laden' for my liking and lacked the camp zaniness of the series.
When I saw the film again recently, I was able to appreciate the 'coming of age' aspect of it a lot more but I'm still fairly dubious about the re-make scheduled for release this year. Despite the involvement of Kelsey Grammer and Megan Mullalley, the trailer doesn't exactly suggest side-splitting hilarity and the whole thing seems a little 'done':
Pointless trivia: The theme tune, made famous by Irene Cara, is performed by Naturi Naughton, formerly of 3LW in the above clip.
[Image: Tim's TV Showcase]
The track is called 'Kiss Of Life' and was given an outing at Oxegen at the weekend. I really love the samba drums and can see this being the subject of many a remix. Yum.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I've been to the festival a number of times before but this year I found the line-up particularly enticing. Sometimes it can be hard to gauge how acts will fare in front of a festival crowd but, thankfully, none of the acts I managed to catch seemed fazed by the Punchestown punters.
I've already written about the effect Florence and the Machine had on me. Seeing the band play in such an initimate space, the week their soon-to-be-classic album was released, in front of such an appreciative audience ranks among the greatest festival experiences I've ever had.
Another brilliant performance came courtesy of Friendly Fires, who more than lived up to their reputation as a formidable live act. With such an arsenal of incredible tracks ('Jump in The Pool', 'Paris', 'Photobooth' and 'Skeleton Boy' to name but a few), it's a wonder that the Engish trio haven't enjoyed more mainstream success but I suspect they won quite a few fans as a result of their dazzling live set.
I'd seen Oxford four-piece Foals play twice before and loved 'em both times. However, seeing them at the Heineken Green Spheres was the first time I felt where the sound system was able to do justice to their high-octane guitar-driven indie pop. Or maybe they were just on form? Either way, they were a definite highlight.
I'm sure some would disagree but I also thought Lady Gaga delivered in spades. A performance that involved a moped, a piano covered with plastic bubbles, a box made out of mirrors, a keytar, several costume changes and some pretty slick choreograhy meant it was impossible to pry your eyes from the bolshy bottle blonde. Oh, and she can sing.
Good show, Oxegen. Good show.
[Images: Heineken Music]
If you're living in the greater Dublin area, be sure to turn your radio dials to 98.1 FM to hear the fruits of my (unpaid) labour.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Of Montreal finish. The crowd does not pour out. Shit. These people are being devious too.
We fight our way in to a certain pont within the tent. We can't see the stage so we push forward a bit further. We still can't see.
An excited chatter builds. A girl in a gimp mask draws whiskers on our faces and initiates us into a growing number of cat-faces. Someone is blowing bubbles.
The roadies come on stage. Everyone cheers.
A girl gets up on her friend's shoulders. Everyone boos.
9:45 comes and goes. More boos.
At 9:51, Florence and the Machine take to the stage. Lit from behind, shrouded in dry ice, we can just about make out Flo's bushy-haired silhouette.
'Between Two Lungs' opens the set. The album has been out a week. How does everyone know all the words?
The opening bars of 'Dog Days Are Over' induce mild hysteria. The Machine are creating a beautiful racket. People are jumping, screaming, singing and clapping. Flo's pitch-perfect vocal soars above it all.
Surely it doesn't get much better than this?
It's twinkly harps. It's pounding drumbeats. It's a woman's voice plunging depths and scaling heights. It's hundreds of people crammed into a bizarre looking tent experiencing this. It's just as many outside, straining to hear. It's a reminder of why we come from far and wide to gather in a mucky field. It's the reason I'm up writing at 3am the night before I begin a new job.
It's cosmic, love.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Tannone's mixes, featuring the unlikely pairing rapper Jay-Z with gloomy indie-rockers Radiohead, caused quite a stir at the end of 2008 and now he's followed up the original collection with 'The Encore', another five mixes available for free download here.
In case you missed the hype the first time around, the original volume can be downloaded here.
Although 'F*ck You' is doing the business around Europe, La Allen has perhaps realised that the track is unlikely to gain all that much radio-play in the English-speaking world and opted for a less profanity-laden cut from her hit-heavy album, 'It's Not Me, It's You', for release in these parts.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
NewIslands - Attracted By The Lights
Britney Spears - Radar (Bloodshy & Avant Remix)
Friendly Fires - Photobooth
Rye Rye featuring M.I.A. - Bang
MPHO - Box 'N' Locks
Preston - Dressed To Kill
Crystal Fighters - Xtatic Truth
A journalist called James Cabooter from the Daily Star had received a copy of her forthcoming album 'Ellipse' for the purposes of reviewing but somehow his copy the album managed to wind up for sale on Ebay.
By the time Immi had been alerted to the Ebay auction by a fan via Twitter, bidding had reached almost $100. A matter of hours after she urged her Twitter followers to "make it the most bidded-on item ever on eBay", the bid-price stood at $10,000,000.
Yesterday, the first cut of the album was premiered legitimately. 'First Train Home' sees Imogen's dreamy vocals coasting over over a backdrop of twinkly synths and the song's lyrics, telling of the morning after a bad night out, are typically quirky.
The track would sound right at home on Imogen's previous album, 'Speak For Yourself', which should keep fans happy but if you didn't like her before, this is unlikely to change that.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Earlier this week, she sent out a preview of a new track 'Numb'. At first, I was a little put off by the rawness but, after getting past the poor quality of the recording, I can definitely hear another anthem-in-the-making:
Sunday, July 05, 2009
I know most people are smashed broke and, as such, keeping their eyes peeled for competitions to win free tickets. So, I thought I'd draw your attention to a competition being run by the brand spanking new Heineken Music website.
Heineken Music are giving away four VIP camping tickets here but you'd want to act fast because the deadline for entries is tomorrow at 4pm. There's actually a lot of decent content on the site if you care to mosey around, including Oxegen day-by-day highlights from respected music journo, Jim Carroll.
Since its humble beginnings as 'Witnness' nine years ago, the festival has become something of an Irish institution. There are those that will insist that Electric Picnic has 'better vibes' but, even if this is so, Oxegen is unrivalled in terms of the calibre of its line-up and this year is no exception. From Gaga to Glasvegas, Bloc Party to Blur, Nine Inch Nails to Nick Cave, Florence and the Machine to Fun Lovin' Criminals, the 2009 roster is nothing short of stellar.
If you'd like to see the full line-up and stage times for Oxegen '09, the lovely folk at Heineken Music have provided one here. Heineken are running the Green Spheres stage for the first time this year, with some fairly brilliant acts like 2 Many DJ's, Fight Like Apes and TV On The Radio set to perform.
The 5 sets at which your most likely to see me up the front, shaking what God gave me:
I was a bit late to the party in terms of discovering English three-piece Friendly Fires and only came across their self-titled debut earlier this year, several months after its release. However, the album has already had enough rotation on my Itunes to make up for any lost time. Combining rock, pop and electro influences, the band have built a reputation as a fantastic live act and are definitely worth pencilling into your schedule.
Heineken Green Spheres, Sunday, 17:15
Alt-pop singer Patrick Wolf has been a hero of mine for many moons and yet, circumstances have always prevented me from seeing him when he's played here. Wolf's music is hard to describe, not only because he draws on a diverse range of musical influences, but also because he constantly hops from one genre to the next, alternating between pulsing electro, jaunty bubblegum pop and the odd heart-wrenching ballad thrown in for good measure. Wolf's latest album 'Battle' may have divided critics but, from what I gather, his live sets have drawn fairly unanimous positive responses.
To The Lighthouse:
Hot Press New Band Stage, Saturday, 22:00
Back in the summer of 2007, when Lyndsay announced 'I Love Foals' on her Bebo skin, I genuinely thought the statement was borne out of some sort of equine obsession. Flash forward eight months later to me and Lyndsay in The Academy jumping up and down like our lives depended on it as the Oxford-based band played songs from their excellent debut album, 'Antidotes', to a decidedly receptive crowd. If the band can emulate the quality of that gig next weekend, it's definitely a set you don't want to miss.
Heineken Green Spheres, Sunday, 18:30
Ladyhawke's self-titled album was one of my favourites of 2008 and, despite having listened to 'My Delirium' and 'Dusk to Dawn' kabillions of times, I never tire of their electro-infused guitar pop brilliance. I saw Pip and her band play at the launch of Arnotts' Project earlier this year and, as much as I enjoyed the set on that occasion, I have a feeling that it would be even better suited to a festival atmosphere.
Red Bull Academy, Friday, 21:00
Anti-folk scene queen turned platinum selling chanteuse Spektor returns to Ireland for the first time since 2007 and her sing-a-long piano pop should make for a refreshing alternative to the thrashing guitars and outrageous pop vixens running amok on some of the bigger stages. Spektor will be sure to play a selection of tracks from her recent album 'Far' but I'm hoping her set will be peppered with some older songs like 'Braille', 'Oedipus' and 'Poor Little Rich Boy'.
Heineken Green Spheres, Saturday, 9:00
Thanks to the recession, there's still a range of tickets for Oxegen available. Tempted at all?