Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" Album Art...

...is the best. Album. Art. Ever.

Finally, an artist gets creative with their cover art. Coldplay is not a rebellious band. They are not new-wave, punk, or any brand this album art says they are. They're freaking pop. This art is...not.

The painting, which I actually saw in person last summer, is by a French artist (Eugene something, I believe) and depicts Republican rebels overtaking France in the 1820s. The female centered supposedly represents the French spirit. Besides my love for all things French, the spattered letters bring this album art to unprecedented "cool" levels. It's even cooler when compared to Madonna's recent cover, which is hideous, or even Coldplay's XY (unique but ultimately very boring).

Recalling the mood of early 80's disco records, where men wore chiffon and makeup like homosexual pirates, Viva La Vida's cover art is taking Coldplay's image in an entirely new direction. That is, if their music can follow their kick-ass cover art.


Pre-Hard Candy review

Okay, so I've been reading a lot of reviews of Madonna's new album Hard Candy today, and I have to "interrupt" and write down how I feel about the album.

I love (most) of it, because--like Moby's Last Night--it is completely cutting edge, with the exception of "4 Minutes," which is by far one of the weakest tracks on the new album.

I'll write more later, but the ridiculously wide range of opinion on the new album left me compelled to get my feelings in writing. Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times loved the album, calling it a return to glory. All Music Guide gave the album the lowest review (2/5 stars) of any Madonna album to date--even lower than B-sides and live albums. Then again, All Music Guide misspelled Cialis "Cialisis." SO WHAT DO THEY KNOW?!?

Herringbone Toms

I ordered some herringbone Toms a few days ago and just got them in today. (If at this point you're trying to figure out why I always order everything: Tom's is a shoe company/charity hybrid, and the charity component only works if you buy shoes direct--online.) They're pretty extreme, yes, but they fit really well with blacks, dark colors, etc. Prints are so trendy, they are always floating in and out of style. With a bold shoe you can add an edge to whatever you're wearing without a noisy print jamming up your style.

Because they're Toms, they fit like a slipper (some would argue they look like one, too), but sturdy construction keeps them fresh for as long as you can stand the eventual "Tom reek" that appears after about six months of use. Gross, yes, but it's just a fact of Tom wear-age.

My old Toms ripped on the first day, but I superglued them and they are still in great shape. They were light brown burlap Toms. Here's a link to the Toms website if you want to read up on their charity or buy some of these awesomely priced shoes.

[Confession: Holy crap. Pharell's work with Madonna paid off in diamonds! Cash money diamonds, that is! I'll post a review tomorrow, when the album is released.]


Mad Style: Jenna Bush!?

This whole issue has been way overblown, but for anyone who doesn't know, Jenna Bush (the prettier of Bush's two daughters) declined to say she would support John McCain this Fall on Larry King Live. Not a big deal.

However, watching the clip, I think she deserves props for saying "I don't know" in front of the whole nation; by process of elimination, she may support either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Which, in my mind, makes her way hardcore (or way trendy, if her support of Obama goes as deep as Kim Kardashian's).

President and Laura Bush seem like very nice people, but for Jenna to grow up in an extremely forced Republican household (surrounded by the GOP elite) and question her support of the republican presidential front-runner is astounding.

On the topics of politics, I retract my "I'm officially 100% Hillary/Obama neutral" statement and have gone back to being a Clinton supporter. She takes the crap of the campaign so well, and an interesting Wall Street Journal op-ed I read this morning applauded her ability to absorb and deflect her opponents' attacks. Speaking of her prime opponent, Obama doesn't play as fair as his campaign likes us to think. He pretends to be all "honorable" in debates but calls Hillary "old politics" off camera. He's not the real thing. He thinks that by speaking well and posing as JFK he can reform American politics. Politics just needs some men and women who aren't egocentric. I don't think Hillary is. Barack, I don't know.

I'm still a fan of both of them, though, and if anything my support is now something like 60% Hillary and 40% Obama, down from about 55% Obama last week. Who's the next campaigner to make a political blunder? Let's hope it's John McCain.


More Marc + A little Adam

I'm starting to think Bluefly is a mistake altogether.

I've ordered around ten different items from bluefly.com, and only a handful of those have I kept. However, concerning my two most recent orders, I'm sort of on the fence.

1. White "running shorts" from Adam.

In total, they only cost around $35, and I think they fit great, but it all depends on how willing I am to spend $35 on cotton running shorts...the shorts have great details, as well, but the waist is maybe 1/2" too small.

Chances of keeping the Adam whities: 85%

2. Marc by Marc Jacobs "Hollow Black" blazer

Now, I really like the fit of this from the front. It's got the signature Marc Jacobs shoulder (raised and square-cut), but the sewing is kind of shabby in my opinion. I'm not sure about the color, either. What can I wear with this? My dark sevens are such a severe blue the jacket looks green on top of them. I could wear them with black denim, maybe, but I don't own black denim and this jacket isn't great enough to warrant a purchase like that.

On top of this "what goes" conundrum, I spent nearly $200 on something I feel is not worth that much. And that was after a 70% drop in price. I have 90 days to return the jacket, which is plenty of time to gather opinions and see if a good ironing job takes out all the kinks.

Chance of keeping the Marc blazer: 30% (chances I'll feel ripped off either way: 95%)


Fergie: A Legitimate Proposal

Fergie (a.k.a. Stacey Ferguson) is a total badass. She's not the prettiest flower in the field (stem not included), but she's persistent, completely open about her oft-shallow lyrics, and has an extremely definitive style for sell-out pop radio. She wasn't always sell-out pop radio either, spending half a decade in the adult-alternative rock band Wild Orchid. But this is not about Fergie as a person. This is about Fergie as a rapper.

Female rappers are never on the radio anymore. "Lights Go Off," Foxy Brown's November 2007 attempt at a comeback, did not even chart. Honestly, if these women weren't in jail so often perhaps their music would play on the radio. Fergie, on the other hand, is relatively wholesome in the criminal category and has mad rhythm. She's demonstrated her rapping abilities on a number of ridiculous songs, like the genre-defining "My Humps," the horrid 2008 Nelly duet "Party People," and apparently the new Sex & The City movie "theme song." Like "My Humps," she starts rapping near the end, mostly listing labels and designers (a Fergie constant), and seriously--magic happens.

Therefore, in light of this evidence, I propose Fergie's next album be heavily weighted in reggae-tinged rap. Nelly raps in tune (which is strange, but works for him), and Fergie should do the same. Or perhaps the way they "rap" is really just singing quickly? I don't know, and I don't care. I'm ready for the next Fergie album to be under the "Genre: Rap" label on iTunes.


Frank Miller, always amazing

Above is a poster for the upcoming film The Spirit. Suffice it to say I was not excited about the film until this poster surfaced earlier this week on I Watch Stuff. Sure, it's Eva Mendes, who has an earthy hotness that really can't be explained--or maybe it can (pursed lips, perfectly curved eyebrows, beauty mark, that luscious behind)--but either way, her face expression brings this shot to another level. In fact, the film takes what could be seen as a good imitation of The Invisible Woman (played by the less-enticing Latina, Jessica Alba) in the Fantastic Four posters and drastically improves the circumstances so this film is immediately interpreted as more "artsy" than the latter or any other superhero film coming out this year (gasp!). This is especially true of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, two films playing their 13-year-old market as hard as they can.

Most importantly, however, the poster perfectly captures the vibe Frank Miller has cultivated over the years, which reinforces his already impressive brand. Below is another of his works, Sin City, a decent film but great art piece.

He even uses the same font! I love it!


Why haven't I heard this before?

If any of you are like me, there is a definitive point in your life where who you are and who your parents want you to be part ways. Or, at least in many cases they do. I am someone who came into myself at an early age, brimming with an arrogance that has, over time, become self-confidence. Yay for me. Separating from my parent's beliefs and values, however, has been a slower and ultimately more treacherous endeavor.

Aside from politics, a few differing values, and glaring differences in personal expression, there are a number of specific things I enjoy that my parents taught me to deplore from an early age. Horror films (love them). Liberal college professors (so scary!). And, strangely, Madonna.

I understand she's had her nasty phases--the era from about 1988 to 1994, her Sex period, essentially set the bar for modern raunchiness--but Madonna is an icon. She's a songwriter, brilliant producer, and most importantly, a visionary who seriously alters the state of music every time she releases an LP.

Bottom line. I just bought a few songs off of Ray of Light (1998) today, and if I'm being honest, it's some of the best music I've heard in a long time. The title track is a thumping, effervescent track, one so powerfully energetic the listener cannot possibly resist the allure of Madonna's transporting range. "And I feel/like I just got home...quicker than a ray of light." The chorus is euphoric, with Madonna singing with a voice so airy and impassioned it gives the impression of standing at the edge of a jagged precipice with a blue sky horizon.

In its entirety, Ray Of Light (the song) is an absolute classic, with a sound so enduring it deserves the title of Mad Style.



This is a blog about good style. It's not about the newest Rolex or Viktor & Rolf's summer line (which is actually quite amazing). I'm not going to post something "new" just because it is so. I'll post what I think is tasteful and cutting-edge. The new Rolex is not cutting-edge.

No H+M in ALL of TEXAS?!?

...doesn't that seem strange to you?


Marc Jacobs drove me to this

I ordered a Marc Jacobs cropped wool jacket off Bluefly a week ago and it just came in today. The tag read "M" for medium (which is strange for moderately high-end clothing--usually 34" or 36" would be printed on the label), but the jacket fit way more like an "XS." The arm holes were far too small, and the buttons did not reach across my chest. I'm not a bodybuilder or anything. My arms are small, if anything, and my chest certainly has the narrow, Marc Jacobs fit. Below are some pictures of the failed jacket.

The cut looks very feminine until you put it on. Unless you're a girl. Then I guess it still looks feminine.

Anyways, I bought a Marc Jacobs blazer instead and am sending this one back.


Mad Style: Lupe Fiasco's "High Definition"

Because I'm seeing the Glow in the Dark tour in Austin later this month (which got a stellar review from the Seattle Times this morning--"bringing the idea of a concert to another level, another planet"), I'm trying to catch up on all the artists before the show. N.E.R.D. I know fairly well--or, at least I know plenty about Pharell. But Lupe Fiasco is an artist I have hardly listened to at all. Now I see my mistake.

I'm not 100% down with hardcore rap (that is, rap without commercial hooks), a genre I'm pretty sure most of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool falls into, but there are a decent number of cuts from the album I cannot get over. "High Definition" is my favorite track on the album, and is, in my opinion as an avid music listener, the most well-produced cut as well.

Snoop Dogg appears during the chorus (which breaks through the melody like a shining light), and to great effect. Lupe's rapping is a bit unfocused, but in this track the feelings elicited from listening is all that matters. Unlike most horrid numbers that pass as "rap" nowadays ("Low," "Lollipop," "Party People"--all putrid), "High Definition" combines the best elements of rap, traditional hip-hop, and the shimmery club trimmings necessary for modern radio.


Racy? More like brilliant

I am sure everyone has noticed the new Gossip Girl ads. They're all over FOX News, each and every kind of Parental Council has jumped them, and if you've opened a recent magazine with the ad you may have thought--for just a split second--you had picked up Maxim.

Yeah, yeah, so they're racy. I've heard reviews of the campaign ranging from "It's what the show's all about!" to "It encourages teen sex!" I, for one, do not give a flying rat about Gossip Girl, nor will I ever care. However, these ads are fantastic. And I'll tell you why.

Gossip Girl, as I understand it (and that is quite little, indeed) is like a teenage version of Sex and the City (yet another show I have never watched). So it's a copy cat. And, from pictures of the show, the main characters (bitchy blond lead character, brunette loser, some guy with an emo haircut both girls like) are just as stereotypical. These ads could change that image. They are provocative, eye-catching, and combine the youthful nuances of textspeak and an elegant design. The Hills is currently mutilating the charts for preteen girls and the 20-25 year old female market. I would wager this campaign will sway more than a few viewers.

Obviously, the racier of the two is the better ad, but it's far more raunchy than the make-out shot. But it is my favorite. To whoever designed this campaign: Bravo. You are promoting your show and--most importantly--altering Gossip Girl's image in a--I say this loosely--mature way.

Why I Love The Sartorialist + NEW MUSIC!

Here's a letter I recently wrote to my favorite blogger, The Sartorialist.

Dear Sartorialist:

I have only been visiting your blog since the beginning of this year, but I have to tell you--I have learned more about personal style and what "style" truly means over these few months than any other time in my life. What you do is so organic and hits at the heart of why fashion exists, and more simply, why clothing exists. What someone wears is a complete reflection of who they perceive they are, or at least of who they want to be.

Reading The Sartorialist has absolutely refined my personal style, and I had a revelation concerning style a few days ago: what someone wears, beyond what I previously mentioned, is also a reflection of self-confidence. I have been blessed with a wonderful life and a healthy self-confidence (with more ahead of me--I'm only eighteen years old), and that reflects in my style. As a junior college student and future businessman, the clothes I wear tell others I am different from the average young man; furthermore, I bring something new to the table.

I love clothing and style. You, Sartorialist, are inspiring me every day to further pursue this love. Reading your website every day is helping me increase my self-confidence because I am honing my personal style. Additionally, I am now considering a career in fashion advertising because of your website. Thanks for this.

Never stop Sartorializing!


On another note, I have some great music quickies to talk about.

First of all: Mariah's new CD. Yeah, it's weaksauce. But check out "Migrate" with T-Pain. It is hip-hop sell-out perfection.

Second of all: Anouk. Who is she? She's amazing...check out "Modern World" from her newest album, Who's Your Momma.

Third of all: Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. Not as "cool" as it seems, but still great. His flows are ridiculous. Granted, my favorite Lupe verse is on the Kanye track "Touch the Sky" ("smoov like miss butterwurf"), but's there are some really enjoyable songs from The Cool.


Three obsessions

1. This new Nike Windrunner. The colors are amazing, especially against all the blacks I'm wearing now (lolz, lolz).

2. This motorcycle jacket by John Varvatos on Bluefly.com. It's running like $650.00 right now, down from about $1,500.00. So it's a steal. But I just can't afford it. Or can I? Just how far am I willing to go for something so spontaneously wonderful and perfectly made? In all truthfulness, I am like halfway to buying it right now.

Don't. Click. Purchase. Must. Resist.

3. The upcoming Glow in the Dark tour with Rihanna, Lupe, N.E.R.D., and--of course--Kanye. I'll be there. Will you?

I'm looking forward to a few good days ahead of me. Granted, I have a serious problem ONLY looking towards the future (it's horrible), but aside from finals I am going to be having megafun (one word) until September. The Glow in the Dark tour, M.I.A. at La Zona Rosa, Barcelona, Internship with Juan Garcia, trip to Ouxaca...yes.



There are a lot of things in my life that are hinging (get it? huh? huh?) on some little details. The biggest of these obviously being admission into the University of Texas. I am confident I will be admitted under the liberal arts degree program (it's my second choice), but if that happens I may not transfer at all. I need to keep my priorities straight. I want a successful career (whatever I end up doing), and a degree in advertising and business from UT would be a great start. Especially if I plan on joining the peace corps and getting my MBA afterwards...

...and then moving to Paris, which is like a 99.99% sure thing. I can't resist European life. Every time I'm abroad, something inside me becomes in sync. Paris does that for me.

Another thing hinging is my health. I may have something weird going on since I had mono two years ago, but the blood test results aren't in.

I'm sure there are other things to write about, but I have to check the oven (I'm cooking a great chicken/garlic/chickpeas dish).


Madonna: A Fine Cheese

So, I'm late to the party, but I just found out that Madonna--trashy, trend-loving, Madge--is actually okay. Yeah, so her new video for "4 Minutes" is ridiculously hot, but that's not what this is about.

Confessions On A Dance Floor is one helluva good record. It's really a concept album, if anything, spanning a night of European clubbing. The best tracks are "Isaac," "Sorry," "Get Together," and "I Love New York."

"Isaac" starts with a man singing in Hebrew; the entire song is like a journey through Madonna's then-religious obsession, Kabbala. Mystical, beautiful, and just subtle enough that it can be played at a dinner party or after 3:00 a.m. "New York" is big and kitschy. It's got a great hook, but some of the lyrics are just dripping with the over-saturated corniness so common in Madonna songs. "I love New York/Anywhere else I feel like a dork." Seriously? A dork? She goes on to say "Texas/Where they play golf."


Anyways, I need to review some masculine music before I lose my macho image.

I've been listening to DISPATCH...?


Having a great time

Hey all. I'm in Austin, having an awesome time. Details and pics coming soon.


4 Minutes

I just downloaded the video for Madonna's "4 Minutes" on iTunes...

That vid is so hot it's ridiculous.

Red Pandas

True to my namesake, I am somewhat of an activist. My newest cause is saving the Red Panda. If I'm being honest, I simply saw a picture of the fox/bear/koala/raccoon lookalike and wiki'd him...and if he wasn't so darn cute, I wouldn't be so fervent about preventing his extinction.

There are only 2,500 left alive on this planet, and they are still hunted regularly in China (albeit illegally) for wedding hats (??). They are extremely docile, and do not attack unless provoked. In fact, in the wild they come up to humans without any intent of harming them--they are basically the most ridiculously saccharine teddy bears you could possibly imagine. Problem is, they are TOO docile, and are killed off easily. Even worse, they only breed a few times in their lifetime, and often only bear (no pun intended) one or two cubs. Anyways, just thought I'd let you know about this awesome little critter.



This right here is the best Youtube clip I have ever seen. It ranks up there with Powerthirst and the Mobile, Alabama Leprechaun vid.



Simon, you SUCK

Okay, first off, I LOVE American Idol. I'm not ashamed. I think it's a great show, and I have no problem with pop stars borne by such a frothy medium. This is America.

However, as of tonight, I no longer "like" Simon Cowell. His judgment of Carly Smithson, my favorite contestant by a mile, has been consistently unfair and, well, wrong for the last month. Her performance tonight was brilliant and easily the second-best of the night. Simon even criticized her clothing. Her clothing. As someone with considerably better taste than Simon, I believe I can better judge her outfits. She's fearless. She's awesome. She's got tattoos. That's better than Cowell's ever done.

So how can I deem myself a better critic than Simon? Because I'm an American pop consumer.

And, of course, I'm the Happiest Activist.

Moby IS Cutting Edge

Moby's new album, Last Night, has completely crept up on me. It is fantastic. If there is one way to describe the new direction Moby has taken, it has to be cutting-edge. Each cut is simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic, implying this musical trend (early nineties club pop and rap) may catch on universally, despite Moby being universally ignored for his resurfacing this short-lived era of music. The best tracks are "Disco Lies" and "I Love To Move In Here," both drastically different in tone but similar in the euphoric high they create. "Disco Lies," a thumping, persistent club track with a brilliantly original hook (and just the right amount of corny humor) shines because, despite the subtleties--which could well turn off casual listeners--if it plays in a Parisian discoteque no one will bat an eye.

"I Love To Move In Here" is brilliantly composed. Small blips, an almost-incomprehensible vocal track, and the muted bass line leaves this cut both a lounge and club track. One could just as easily eat sushi or take the dance floor to "Move." This is also the more commercial of the two tracks I've mentioned.

Anyways, check out Moby's latest. It is a strong metropolitan soundtrack, easily worth a purchase (or at least a few tracks on iTunes). In any case, it's much better than Hotel, which is messy and unfocused in comparison.