Vanity Fair's Best Dressed LOLs

Every year the endlessly pretentious Vanity Fair (just read the title: Vanity Fair? What, a carnival for the egocentric and narciccistic?) publishes an "International Best Dressed" list. This year was a joke.
Completely ignoring the idea that good style can be achieved without wealth--something The Sartorialist caught onto three years ago--the list is essentially a slow trinkling from the wealthiest American socialites at number 1 (the stunningly beautiful Ivanka Trump) to the less-wealthy (and bat-shiz crazy) on the tail end. And by crazy, I'm talking about Fran Lebowitz.

There are some inspired choices, however. Carla Bruni (images on right) is a perpetually tortured underdog, a true survivor in the poisonous web of 21st Century world politics. She's beautiful, married to the most intriguing national figure on the planet, and most importantly, she started out like any other girl. She was a model, a musician--she was not born the First Lady of France. But then again, where else could a former model become a First Lady?

Bruni is one of those women that has completely owned her physical silhouette. She knows her body, as any former model would, and dresses every inch of that body in clothing that clings in the right places and fits loosely in others. Extra points for keeping it simple and chic, too--lots of greys and blacks. (It's surprising how hard it is to actually pull off a darker, colorless look.)

Sarah-Jessica Parker also scored high on the list, which is kind of funny, because I'm not so sure the brilliant stylings of Carrie Bradshaw "carrie" (HA!) over into reality. In other words, SJP may not be so faaaabulous as her Sex & The City counterpart. Nevertheless, I'm a fan of SJP as a person--she's kind and down-to-earth, or so I've heard--and her husband is just as relaxed (I met him in NY two years ago).

Naturally, Vanity Fair has to kiss-[you know what...] to keep the editorial contributions coming (especially after such low sale numbers recently), so they throw in the odd fashion nut every five selections or so. Evelyn Lauder is one of those fashion nuts. Not in a good way. Estee Lauder, yeah, yeah, I get it--big deal. But the picture Vanity Fair selected to represent Ms. Evelyn (pictured left) is hilarious to me. If that is one of the thirty best-dressed women in the entire world, my grandmother could quite literally take the crown on a retirement pension from the University of Texas.

Of the male recipients, there was one truly deserved, and that was of Matt Lauer. I do watch Today on occasion, if the television is near me while I brew coffee, and I always notice Lauer's clothing choices. He keeps it classic but with touches of sartorial brilliance--like his ridiculously brown brown Oxfords and a midnight blue suit. The men around the office teased him, "Why aren't you wearing black shoes with a grey suit?" And he responded, "I just never liked the way it looked."

Spoken like Karl Lagerfield himself.



I decided to take a little trip back into Xanga to see my last few posts there...I stopped in March of 2007, and I believe one of the posts was "OMG E-TYPE WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? SWEDISH POP/HOUSE ARTIST." Oh, how little I've changed.

Today is a very, very strange day. An acquaintance of mine, from high school, is about to die from lymphoma. For a month he was completely healed--cancer-free--and 24 days later, his entire body is shutting down. When I read the news, on his blog, I started shaking and had to hang up the phone to read, and re-read, what would later send me into an emotional tailspin that began with "Wow, well I'm alive" and ended with, "But this could so easily happen to me."

He doesn't know me, but I hope he knows he's inspired me in ways I can't even put into words. My friend Emily and I traded confused texts all afternoon trying to figure out how we felt about the news. I love him, but I don't know how I can help him. Praying for healing at this point--his cancer is officially "terminal"--seems half-hearted, but praying for a peaceful death seems heartless.


But Vanity Fair DID post their annual best dressed list. And you better believe it'll be popping up in a post near you...


Catharine Holstein

I don't usually pay attention to women's fashion during New York Fashion week (a show that is slowly gaining more and more style cred--"For the first time in my life, I'm proud of my country..."), but with the men's show this year basically boiling down to one thing--$$$$$--I diverted my attention to a few up-and-coming designers. Most notably, Catharine Holstein.

Holstein isn't so much new as new to me. Clearly she's a women's designer, but her Fall 2008 ready-to-wear is daring and avant-garde, and not because of being flashy or organic or anything pretentious at all. She's completely scaled back on the blacks and harsh silhouettes of other designers, simplifying the entire idea of what can be future-minded. As these shots below demonstrate, sometimes you don't have to be modern to be, well, modern; you just need to be unique. Holstein is borrowing inspiration from Katy Perry and Feist with the nerd-meets-sexpot looks, and while the individual pieces aren't anything you'd see outside of say, Urban Outfitters or (ugh) American Apparel, that is exactly what makes the collection so profound.

As for the men's show, I was far more impressed with what happened off the runway. Granted, as I wrote a few weeks ago, I like what Burberry is doing for casual menswear, but photographer Scott Shuman and a few of the editors at Details (Magazine) had freaking awesome ensembles. I'm definitely feeling the suede loafers of the moment, and as soon as they are on sale for less than $200.00 they're in my closet.


A confession...

...I saw a video earlier of Miley Cyrus making fun of fellow Disney stars, and every opinion of her I ever had completely changed. She's a bigger bad-ass than ANY other teen in the 21st century pop lexicon.

Essentially, Cyrus has performed the teenage pop star equivalent of dog-humping Disney's newest little gnomes.

In a nod to her, and with advice from the Los Angeles Times, I downloaded "Fly On The Wall" and ran 5 miles.

The end.


Music: It's that bad

Now that my Dark Knight haze has lifted, I can talk about some new music. Be forewarned, however, that I'm still getting over a cold and my writing is suffering.

Anyone who's been sick the week before an essay's due in school knows what I'm talking about.

Ryan Leslie's an emerging R&B artist I've had my eye on for a while now. I picked up his single "Diamond Girl" a few months ago (as in, 170 iTunes songs back), and was impressed by the swirling production and Leslie's raspy voice. It's great to hear an artist not being sucked into the Usher/Ne-Yo black hole of "modern R&B crooners." His newest single "Addiction," is a bit more generic, but is once again saved by innovative production. I use "innovative" in the loosest sense of the word; Leslie is a talented producer himself, but he's more Timbaland than Bjork.

The track checks all the necessary boxes for radio in 2008: Unknown rapper with a 30 second solo? Check. A hooky chorus with a female accompaniment? Check. "Subtle" references to pop culture? Holy crap check. If we're going to talk about name dropping, "Addiction" features more than enough. Lindsey Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Kevin Federline...and all in three verses. It's more than I can take. When Fabolous (the "unknown" rapper, who is technically more "known" than Leslie) references Cobain, he ties it in with "suicides," a nickname for the doors to his sports car. If that isn't crossing the line, than I'll shut down this blog right now.

On the positive side, though, it's well-orchestrated hip hop, and Cassie's vocals, devoid of personality or even sex appeal, sound appropriately blank in contrast to the blippy production and Leslie's own vocal track.

Another song that has recently gotten my attention--and I wish it hadn't--is Robin Thicke's "Magic." Ew. It's just not a good song. The instrumentals in the first fifteen seconds are a strong build up, a la Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction," but they turn out to be the only decent part of the song. Thicke sounds like a young Justin Timberlake, or worse, like an Other from N*Sync or 98 Degrees, whining about having "the magic." The seventies musical rehash has been played out for a year now, so "Magic" loses any points for originality. I tried hard to love this song, but I can't hear the track without wincing now.

To close, I'd like to talk about CSS. I have been a fan of CSS since "Alala" was on a videogame three years ago, and I don't hate their new album ("Donkey"). BUT, if you're in the mood for music with a little spunk, download "Meeting Paris Hilton." I never did until recently, and it's satirical perfection.


The Dark Knight: Review Quickie

The Dark Knight is the new reason I love the movies. Without a doubt, it is the greatest film--animated, action, drama or otherwise--of the twenty-first century. Pitch-perfect acting, innovative cinematography, and a plot that grows darker and darker until the
final line of dialogue.
Better than a weekend at sea. Better than the best meal you've ever eaten. The Dark Knight is sublime.


Gossip Girl has done it again

As you may remember from a post I wrote back in April, I'm a huge fan of the racy Gossip Girl adverts. They're sexy, they're bold, and unlike the show, they take serious risks. Sex sells, I get it. But America has slipped into a strange cultural phase as of late, and this is indicative in the way girls dress. (If you ask me, the fashion trends started this whole thing, but let's pretend the fashion houses reacted to the consumer for once) Skirt hems are being lowered, bellies are most certainly 'out,' and most desired silhouette in clothing right now seems to be slimmer rather than curvy. Big breasts are big breasts, and beauty itself will never go out of style, but with Hillary Clinton just barely missing the opportunity to lead this country, there's an air of female empowerment floating around--and that's a great thing.

I read about the newest Gossip Girl ads this morning at work in The New York Post, and though I don't think they're quite as good as the "OMFG" ads, they are once again a shining example of creative advertising for the 21st century. "A Nasty Piece of Work" is my favorite ad, simply because "Nasty" is one of those words that is as slinky as it sounds. The Parent's Television Council advert is the weakest of the bunch. It's just an awkward image. Awkward is definitely one way to describe the Chicago Tribune ad as well, but it's still stronger than the former.

Okay, okay, Paul Oakenfold is a little talented

Fifteen seconds ago, I walked outside my room and caught a glimpse of "Reverend" Jesse Jackson on CNN, with my grandmother watching intensely at the developing story of his "Obama's a n*****" comment. I can barely speak--a cold has left my throat a barren desert of razor blades--but I managed to let her know how I felt about the controversy: "I hate Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. I hate them. They're terrorists in our own country." And now I've slunk back into my room, newly re-re-designed, to sit here and enjoy the afternoon I took off from work.

I am a fan of Madonna, not only because of her music, but because she such a rebel. The lyrics of "Give It 2 Me," one of her better tracks off the faceless Hard Candy, speak on so many levels. A friend of mine claims they're all about sex ("undress me"), I always assumed it was about dancing ("When there's no one left, I can go on and on and on"), but if you think about who Madonna really is, the lyrics are nothing but spit in the face of her detractors. Ask any middle-aged mother and she'll tell you one thing about Madonna: "She's too old to act the way she does." Her pedophile-tastic performance with Justin Timberlake a few months ago is no exception.

But she's still kind of hot, at least from the neck down. If you cut off her arms. And can forget she's nearly fifty years old. But she really can go on and on, and with her Live Nation deal kickstarting next year, I doubt anyone will be able to stop her--not even an army of concerned mothers of the mid-forties set. Granted, I'm pretty creeped out that her Live Nation contract lasts ten years. Can she actually sing sexual lyrics at sixty? The answer to that question is no, and she can't get around that, no matter how many face lifts she incurs. But Madonna's a survivor, and up until American Life, she was future-pop indicator: where Madonna goes, the rest of music will follow.

Paul Oakenfold, another aging artist (though one becoming less and less relevant with each passing year), has actually crafted a lush remix of Madonna's "Give It 2 Me," maybe giving it enough life (ha!) to break the Billboard Top 40. I don't think airplay will increase, as radio has clearly not connected with Madonna's first non-Timbaland track, but if she can top the Club Airplay and Hot Club lists she may turn that around.

The "Give It 2 Me" redeux has been dubbed the "Drums-In Mix," for reasons unknown to me, but it's actually stronger than the original. Don't get me wrong, Pharell Williams is my favorite producer of pop music, and Oakenfold is kind of 2001 to me (as I've said before: bad year for music), but he's given the track a maturity by slowing down Madonna's vocals and cutting out Pharell's frenzied synths during the chorus. While those rapid-fire effects had an organic sound to them--almost as if Pharell himself had tapped out the beats rather than Garageband--they were kind of scary, especially when all listeners can picture is Madonna dominating an older-than-he-looks Justin Timberlake.

[I mean, just look at that image. That's freaking scary. Like...revenge of the GILFs or something. Timberlake's really trying to escape too--all he can think about is Jessica Biel!]

Oakenfold takes it slow, rendering the lyrics (sex/dancing/aging/morning vitamins/whatever) far more effective than before. Rather than being one of the best tracks off Hard Candy, the "Drums-In Mix" sounds more like the strongest song Confessions On a Dance Floor, an album that is still far more future-conscious than Candy. The grown-up sound suits her better, which makes one wonder if perhaps Madonna shouldn't have taken this hip hop route in the first place.


Can I survive one more day without these??


sick. ripped. tokyo. future.

just a few words to describe Kris Van Assche'a 09 shoe collection. Seriously, if these things are under $400.00, I'm getting them. after I get a job.


Mad Style: Lourdes Leon, + Don't Trust a ho!

I'm going to be honest here. I dislike blogger Perez Hilton for numerous reasons, most notably his inability to get anything right (but assume he is), and I only pop in on his blog when I'm at work and there's nothing to do. Scratch that, there's never anything to do, so let's just say I visit when I'm at work.

He posted this picture of Lourdes Leon, Madonna's eldest child, and was all raving about her clothing choices, and all I could think was, Don't you sell a freaking clothes line for girls at hot topic? I'm afraid anyone who sells their soul to any craptizzle store like Hot Topic has de facto bad taste. But seriously, I just write a blog with like 9 readers, so who am I to say...

Hilton's opinion notwithstanding, Lourdes happens to have an awesome pattern and color sensibility. I refused to borrow the image from Hilton's site, so I couldn't find a photo with her shoes in the frame. (She's got white hightop sneakers on.) I just don't understand how an 11 year-old girl can figure out high-waisted tights and sneakers all on her own. She's already a beautiful mini-chocolate-Madonna, but she'll probably be in rehab in a few years...she'll bunk next to Miley Cyrus.

Anyways, I've been listening to 3oh!3 a lot lately, as you know, and I downloaded another track last night called "Don't Trust Me." I'm sure this has already hit radio, in which case you can stop reading now because the coolness of "Trust" was just shattered by Ryan Seacrest. Hopefully I'm still ahead of the 3oh!3 hype wave, and this is all news to you.

"Don't Trust Me" is far gentler than the rest of the album--in essence, it's "I'm Not Your Boyfriend" without the anger. I love the track, more than any of the others, and I'm ashamed to say it's because of how, well, radio-friendly it is. Like "Hot N' Cold," off Katy Perry's One of the Boys, "Trust" is a strong enough song that it elevates the entire album, and for no reason other than likability. "Trust," like "Hot N' Cold," brings nothing new to the table, but the uppity vocals and killer base line carry the entire track.

Here's another picture of Lourdes. Who wears striped socks anymore? She didn't get this idea from Disney Channel.



out of the coccoon

complexity of the now

you know the look schwings


Personal Update

God, I need this blog.

I had a great weekend, if not one of the better weekends of my entire life. Nothing outrageous happened--in fact, I spent a decent portion of it being blown off by a friend of mine--but I finally started back on a spiritual regimen. I was deeply affected by a verse I read yesterday in John chapter 10. In fact, it's on my blog (to the right, as you read this):

"I have come that they may have life, and live it to the full." John 10:10

Seriously? I mean, Jesus came to Earth so I can live a full life? It's so powerful, it makes me want to cry. I have a great church here, too, at Riverbend. Today the worship leaders got a little political, praying for the country, with "leaders refusing to give up their crowns" and a nation "poisoned," to be given grace. I don't mind a politically-aware church, as long as their beliefs line up with mine! I kid, I kid.

I had an epiphany today. I read a hopeful love story online, and it was beautiful. See, I'm not a corny person--an old pastor friend once told me my "wood was wet" because a video of starving children didn't make me cry. He didn't understand; the children are heartbreaking, but Clay Aiken's vocals kind of ruined the emotional appeal--he was the water on my wood, if you will.

TO THE POINT: I read a love story and listened to Sam Sparro's "Still Hungry," and the combination of those things--love, thirst for life, growing closer to the ever-present all-powerful God of all creation--made me thankful for what I've been given. We're about to enter a dark time in our nation's history. A financial depression is looming, the "War on Terrorism" is becoming more and more tangled, and half of the World's nations are on the brink of war.

I'm happy for what I have, and what God has promised to give me.


New Music from London (Where else?)

After work today I stopped in a few stores to purchase some organizing supplies. I walked out with a few white boxes--long, flat and pristine. As I (re)organized my shelves, again, I played my favorite new-old song: Third Eye Blind's "Never Let You Go." That is a beautiful song. It came out in the late nineties, but sounds completely modern. The secret to good music--lasting music--is the sincere emotion of the artist. "Never Let You Go" is sincere. I actually took the time to read about the band a bit, and they're coming out with a new album this fall. I'm actually excited.

Moments like earlier today, when I'm, well, cleaning and listening to great music, I feel a deeply resonating happiness. It's contentment. I'm thrilled I at least feel self-sufficient--that's the power of individuality. Controlling one's actions, feeling really really in control? Powerful stuff.

Was that a Carrie Bradshaw moment or what?

On to music. (Not much to say in the way of clothing. Until I get a job-job, The Sartorialist is my only indulgence.)

As music lovers, we should all bow down to Island Records. I love them. I really do. They have guts, releasing artists like The Killers back in the day, current artists like Annie, and all the while Capitol Records is shaking in their boots with Katy Perry. I mean, Perry's a sure-fire deal (beautiful, talented, kind of a dirty streak...). Just imagine how Capitol would feel signing Beck in the mid-nineties? Or Fiona Apple?

Scratching for every buck does not an innovative record company make.

Leon Jean Marie, hailing from the ONLY place for good music in the 21st Century (London, that is), is a creativity booster shot to the rear of R&B crooners Usher and Ne-Yo. Ironically, I downloaded Ne-Yo's new craptastical single this morning, thinking I'd dig the dance-y vibe, but I was wrong. This afternoon I found what I was looking for.

LJM's first (ahem) European single off Bent Out Of Shape, "Bring It On," is a multifaceted piece of work, stirring a bit of Justin Timberlake (sans Timbaland), Amy Winehouse, and even Sam Sparro into a rich, syrupy batter of darkly shimmering blips, lazily churned vocals, and a subtle yet essential horn track. I'm trying to lose the food metaphor (am I cooking pancakes? Brownies? I don't know), but the song is so smooth--like pouring warm butter in your ears.

(Admit it--that turned you off. Come on now, if it didn't you're a total pervert. Welcome to my blog!)

The song is--can I say this?--groovy, but has a tangible maturity to it. I've read an article that compared him to Lenny Kravitz, a comparison I agree with. I think Kravitz is a bit edgier than Marie, but "Bring It On" is a seriously thick track. Her Madgesty's critics say "Bring It On" is one of the album's weaker tracks, and if that's true...well, there's no stateside release planned as of now, so there are few legal alternatives...

Another artist signed to Island, also mentioned like three paragraphs up, is the hard-to-google Annie. I've been into her for about three years now, kind of phasing in and out of interest with each and every song on her last album Anniemal. (Download "Me Plus One" and "Greatest Hit," the latter featuring a Madonna "Everybody" sample.) She's talented, though, as both a DJ and a vocalist, and retains a sexiness throughout all of her work. Other female DJ-gone-pop stars, like the unfortunate and derivative Colette, can't always hold their own when faced with writing lyrics and performing vocally. How is it that Annie was so blessed to be born so freaking cool? She's hot, she makes music, and she's a DJ.

"I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me," Annie's first single off her September album Don't Stop, is pretty standard fare for Annie listeners. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun song--her vocals are saccharine-sweet, like some kind of musical candy (NO MORE FOOD METAPHORS!)--but it's been four years. I expected something a bit more future-sensitive, or at least more current. She's clearly heading for a more radio-friendly sound, so she might as well cash in on her good looks and position herself for super-stardom.

I'm being hard on her. "Girlfriend" is accessible pop. There's nothing wrong with that. As to whether she's still got the magic trifecta (coolness, hotness, DJness), we'll see in September for what I'm sure will be a full-album review.

[If you want to download LJM's "Make It Right," another song off Bent Out Of Shape, visit his Myspace and click the link. It's free if you (lie) and say you're British! Do they seriously think people will be stopped by a "U.K. Residents Only" notice??]


Douchebag Music

Those guys on stage there? Yeah, they're douchebags. I've never met them, no. But I've listened to their stellar new album, Want, and that's all I need to summarize the characters of hip-hop group 3OH!3.

Ahem. The lyrics of "Starstrukk": I think I should know/ how to make love to something innocent/ without leaving my fingerprints out/ L-o-v-e's just another word I never learned to pronounce

Hip-hop is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen! And, thankfully, it hasn't been muted by the age of Miley Cyrus and 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology," arguably the worst hip-hop song ever created (it both single-handedly destroyed Fiddy's career and tarnished the slowly-fading image of superproducer Timbaland).

Rather, it's been revived by a white boy with Garageband on his Mac. Albeit a heartless, chauvinistic white boy with no ambitions beyond getting the girl in "the see-through shirt" and "daisy dukes." Which is cool with me.

Want is an album I'm not sure I could swallow completely. I mean, there's only so much yelling "BI***!"that a man can take, especially when it's blasting out of headphones or during rush hour. But three cuts off the album--which is fantastic in its entirety, by the way--are strong enough that I have to write about them.

(For the record, I heard about 3OH!3 when my brother showed me their Myspace a week ago. Thanks, Bo! You were actually helpful!)

Aside from "Starstrukk," with it's scratched-up beat and whistling effects, both "Punk Bi***" and "I'm Not Your Boyfriend Baby" impressed me. "Starstrukk" is the best track though, with brutal lyrics and an out-of-this-world instrumental during the chorus, which makes me wonder why producers like Nate "Danja" Hills are paid any money at all when a little white boy from Colorado can outproduce them in quality ten times over.

"Punk Bi***" has a typical hip-hop flow, which is a bad thing, with a Linkin Park-esque chorus, which is a worse thing. There's even "popping them bottles" in the chorus, which is the worst lyrical sin any artist can commit in my book. But "Punk" succeeds because of a fantastic synth line and enough tempo variation that similarities to other tracks (anything by...*gulp*...T-Pain) kind of melts away. It's the weakest of the three tracks, but I can see this attracting prepubescent boys to radio again, after Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" scared them away.

I'm assuming "I'm Not Your Boyfriend Baby" is the highlight of 3OH!3's show at the Warped Tour. It begins with echoing arena synths and the lead singer yelling out the title of the song; as the chorus builds, he sounds so full of energy--even screaming out a victorious (or drug-addled) "WHOO!"--you kind of want to run someone over. Aggression can most certainly be transferred musically, and I promise you will be riled up after listening. With the exception of a whiny, Boys Like Girls-gross-out chorus segment reminiscent of something Panic! would write, "Boyfriend" is essentially the antithesis to all girl-pop. It's douche-y, but I think after Rihanna and Perry have dominated the men on the air for so long now the guys deserve an opportunity to vent.

On an entirely different note, Imogen Heap recently released a single off her upcoming album, which I did not take the time to look up. I love Imogen Heap--an adjective I rarely use to describe musicians--but the song, "Not Now But Soon" is like the worst songs off Frou-Frou's Details: beat-less, boring and far too ambient like for my taste. I think it hints at great things to come, though. There's a neat five-note trill during some segments, and her voice is still clear and distinguishable. I kind of fell out of Immi interest after seeing her in November 2006, but I'm totally ready for another Speak For Yourself.

Great haircut, though.


Music: Beck, Kerli

I don't really understand my iPod's "played count" ticker. There are songs I listen to on repeat for weeks, and other songs I forget about (or avoid)--my little iPod ticker, however, disagrees.

Case in point: Sam Sparro's debut has been spinning (incorrect usage, but a nice alternative to "playing") on my iPod for two weeks now. The most plays on a single song are 20. 20? On an album I can't stop listening to?

How is that possible?

More gruesome than that is how many other songs end up with twenty to thirty-plus plays without my intentionally listening. Lindsay Lohan's "Bossy," a song that lost it's sheen for me about seven plays in, has a count of 18. "I'm Grown," by the ultra-typical, ultra-embarrassing Tiffany Evans, has 12. Janet's "LUV" has 52.

There are many more instances of this music ticker enigma, on both sides of the equation. The Caeser's "Jerk It Out" and the X-Ecutioner's "Like This" have under 20 plays, but I feel like I've been listening to them for eternity.

But on to the important stuff. Today is a good music Tuesday.

We'll start with Kerli, as at least one reader is interested in hearing what I have to say about our Estonian-born Avril Lavigne lookalike. Firstly, my ego won't allow me to continue until I brag about how I had Kerli's EP in January. Oh, that's right (cue evil grin). It all started when I played Burnout: Paradise and heard "Creepshow," a track so off the chain I don't really know how to describe it with regular adjectives. It's not musically pleasant, per se, but you've got to respect an artist like Kerli for totally relinquishing any fears about public perception and letting it all hang out in her North American debut. That doesn't mean it's always healthy to do so, however; Love Is Dead is the musical equivalent of a Moulin Rouge circus in the middle of Iceland. The musical effects are so bizarre, especially on adventurous songs like "Creepshow," that it's difficult to listen to the album unless your working out or in a seriously chilled mood; really, it's difficult to listen to period. Even "Walking On Air," a fluffy track with tinklings of ice crystals and a decent hook, is only so-so for me. (I gave it up in February.) Granted, Eastern-European pop has never been my bag--Bjork's show at last year's ACL did not change my mind--and Kerli is most definitely channeling her heritage. Good for her, though. I'll just stick with "Creepshow."

Beck's new album dropped today. I'm not as thrilled as I was in 2006, for The Information, but that album left me so empty I have no Beckcitement left. (oh, I made a lol!) I don't mean that in a good way; music is supposed to help fight boredom, not induce it. Modern Guilt displays a new, Spoon-influenced sound for Beck, and it's actually not that boring! My favorite track, and the only track I would recommend putting down cash for, is the title track. "Modern Guilt" has Beck cooing his raspiest, most nonchalant vocal against a perky bass line and piano peppering the background. The end is weak, though, as Beck seems to just fall off the song into a repetitive murmuring of "lalas" and other Blink-182 fillers. Guero still Beck's strongest album with his strongest songs, and I'm afraid Guilt won't change that.

3OH!3 and Imogen Heap's return on the way...

She's gonna be huge

This is Leslie Davidson, one of my best friends. She's definitely on her way to becoming a model, as the recent Facebook album of pictures I took of her this weekend will prove.

Clearly, I had a great weekend.

Post on Kerli and Beck forthcoming.


Tammy Kane Fall 08 Collection

There's a reason I read Kanye West's blog. I'll check Viktor and Rolf, Marc Jacobs, and Bottega Veneta on my own, but West is always invited to the Italian shows and sheds light on new designers he likes. West has a flashy (lights) and layered sensibility--for whatever reason, the more billowy a pair of men's trousers the better--but when he writes on new designers it's always a blast to see the quality of fresh thinking.

This dude, Christopher Kane, has only been around a few years, but I love his stuff. I'm not here to educate anyone on "high fashion," a world I'm clearly not a part of, but in my observations most clothing presented in this format are not wearable by the average male or female. What's great about Kane's (not Kanye's) collection is how accessible it is. I know plenty of girls that could wear the following three looks.

Notice the missing pleating, giving the impression of draping.

Peep the shoes. If anything, Kane's one memorable addition
to female fashion this year will be the lace-ups.

Reminds me of the ballerina skirts (tutu) look that took over
for five seconds in 2000-2003.


New Music: HEALTH and Neon Neon

Neon Neon is a group I've been following for a while, but sort of forgot about them until Sam Sparro released. Their new album--er, only album--is called Stainless Style.

I hate giving background information on artists and their work (that's what Wikipedia is for!), but the story of Stainless is just too singular to be skipped. So, two artist you've never heard of, but critics pretend to have heard of, got together and created a concept album about John DeLorean, an 80s icon that literally skyrocketed to greatness and had it all taken away in one fell swoop over a $1 million drug deal. I know you know what a DeLorean is.

Anyways, the entire album is based on his life and the decade that was 1980. I was born in the eighties, which is far better than being born in the nineties--in my opinion, the early nineties was one of the only tasteless times in American history--but the eighties are way overhyped by young culture nowadays. Reminds me of the dance group "Fannypack" on America's Next Dance Crew. They're like, "The 80s were all about self-expression and fun!" Um, no, the 80s were all about bad economies, failed plastic surgery, a thriving porn industry, the American caste system (you like Star Wars! YOU must be a nerd!), and the glamorization of hard drugs. I don't buy into the whole porn and drugs as self expression bit, either.

Neon Neon knows this, though, and Stainless reflects both the grit and the glitter of the eighties. I've only heard three or four songs on the album, so I'm not providing a full review, but the tracks I've heard are notable enough to be mentioned.

"I Lust You," the lead single off the album, is a heartbreaking lament on prostitution, goldiggers, and the American infatuation with riches. I know, for a three-minute song that's a lot of substance to cover; but, really, the lyrics are completely up to individual interpretation. "I love you/I love you if the price is right/and I curse you/curse you if the price is right." Cate Le Bon, another artist critics pretend to know, begins the track, eshewing any bit of irony in her vocals. The dynamic between Le Bon and the male vocalist is stunningly elegant--it's the kind of music you can't play at a party because everyone will stop to listen.

With an electronic melody reminscent of The Killer's "On Top" from Hot Fuss, along with a meandering tempo, "I Lust You" doesn't disappoint from a musical perspective, either. However, "Dream Cars," a critic's favorite, is far more original in its production. The horn-like bleeps and boops boom through the speakers at a volume far louder than anything else on the track, which gives the song a much-needed injection of modernity, while the vocalist gently sings about "cold girls in cold cars." As a representation of DeLorean's life, "Cars" is not as understated as "I Lust You," so it's a bit easier to understand. In a touch of brilliance, near the end of the track, there's a full three-second pause of silence--rather than burst back into melody with a full-blown instrumental set, a la Gwen Stefani's "Serious," which would add a definite pop sensibility, they only resurrect the most poignant sounds for the last thirty seconds.

HEALTH, some wierd electronic band that's thisclose to being too noisy to enjoy, has at least one really strong track on their new album, //Disco. "Glitter Pills (Toxic Avenger Remix)" is a disgustingly slick and modern cut with a synthesized beat than can only be called throbbing. Like The Faint at their best ("Glass Danse," "Your Retro Career Melted") combined with Death Cab for Cutie at their worst (all albums post-Transatlanticism), the instrumental track stops during the song to allow for some tedious little vocal nothings: "Blood dried/in our bodies." The lyrics (and their ghostly delivery) is not musically enjoyable. The rest of the album contains a bit more dialogue, I'm afraid, so I'm sticking to "Glitter" and that's it.

Another band I'm (kind of not) listening to is Crystal Castles, a duo that remixed the remixes on //Disco. (?) I bring up Crystal Castles because they're on a positive track for great music in the future. Production-wise, their EP single "Crimewave" is strong, with a sparse, overly-digitalized harmony and a phenomenal instrumental interlude every minute or so. If Crystal Castles can mix in a bit of pop with their production talents, I've no doubt they'll excel in the future. Sure, I get it, to sell records or conform to pop culture doesn't necessarily equal excellence--but as far as my listening pleasure, "Crimewave" is a long way from it at present.

I've downloaded the entire Simian Mobile Disco album, Attack Decay Sustain Release, finally, and I'll post more on it later. I've written on them before. SMD is my favorite electronic group in a year or so--they, like Sam Sparro (but to a lesser extent) combine commercial fizz with sick production, something neither HEALTH nor Crystal Castles have yet achieved.