Friday, April 25, 2014

Try To Understand, These Are Magic Pants

These pants are magic. I said, I want some brown vinyl leggings. We went into Thrift Town, and whoomp, there they were. #blessed 

As for the layers: bottom dress/top thing was a street score, middle burn-out tunic thing bought new, top stripped slouchy shirt was in the last dregs of a clothing swap; boots used from a buy/sell/trade store. Lastly, I didn't mean to cut off my head. Let's just consider it an homage to Instagram's @theoriginal10cent. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Little Bit Velma, A Little Bit Daphne

I don't care for this outfit really, but it suddenly struck me it's a cross between Velma & Daphne so I decided to post it. Ultra-comfy sweater from a buy-sell-trade place; scarf is thrift; shoes, skirt & (ahem) cable knit leggings (don't call em swants) bought new.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Music Tuesday: I Like Psych

Howdy, friends. Welcome to the second installment of New Music Tuesday. Let's get right to it. 

Kelis, Food, on Ninja Tunes


Thee Oh Sees, Drop, on Castle Face
Garage psych with faint hints of goth and shoe gaze, this crisply and cleanly produced album is still delightfully scummy on the inside. I had to mute the record for a second to determine if the high-pitched chirping among the sporadic guitar squelches was a bird outside my window or part of the music. Savage Victory sports some lovely, dreamy vocals and hypnotic synth motions, and the Morphine-esque baritone sax on Put Some Reverb on My Brother was a welcome surprise. The last track, The Lens, would be the perfect epilogue if the second-to-last track, Transparent World, was a full eight to twelve minutes; but at a brief three-and-a-half minutes, the full psych freakout stops many minutes short of satisfaction. That said, I’d much rather complain a song is too short than too long.

San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees have been around forever and I swear I’ve seen them before, but when I read reviews declaring Drop a departure from their earlier work, I couldn’t for the life of me remember their sound. I took a listen over earlier albums, and yeah, it’s different, but not radically. It’s natural band progress, and while Drop could, like earlier albums, be more lo-fi - could have been lower-fi? - I like this direction a lot; it’s the right move.

Eels, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, on PIAS America
Insufferably tedious emotive white guy music. If you truly must listen to emotive white guy music, Beck’s Morning Phase is still fresh and new and awesome, go listen to that. 

Kelis, Food, on Ninja Tune
I think I understand what TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, who produced this album, is going for here. I think it’s an attempt at a retro-motown Phil Spector Wall of Sound. I’m pretty sure that’s the goal. I love the Wall of Sound, but this album, for the most part, doesn’t hit it. Instead of a glorious wash of horns, strings, and voices, it comes off as a busy and uneven mess. 

Well, ok, mess is too harsh a word; this record is good, especially the mellower second half, but would have been so much better with less. And the songs with less - Hooch, for example, and the superlative last track, Dreamers - are the successful stand-outs by a long shot. Kelis’ voice sounds great - adult, experienced, expressive  - especially when it’s not fighting for attention with the instrumental arrangement. And it was a clever turn naming many of the songs after food - both as a nod to Kelis' status as a trained chef and a wink at her breakthrough hit, Milkshake. So yeah, an overstated and uneven but good record all around.

Bruce Springsteen, American Beauty, on Columbia
A four-song EP of Bruce’s home recordings, which of course nowadays means fully arranged and produced. I listened to this immediately after Kelis, and what a contrast -  stylistically, sure, but more so because the first track nails the Wall of Sound in perfect Springsteenian manner. Here is a man who knows his way around both the epic anthem and the close, plaintive lament, and this nice little collection features a couple of each. I admit, I didn’t understand Springsteen for a long time, but now that I do, my life is the better for it. Dude’s a poet.


Mastodon, High Road, on Reprise
I palate-cleansed from the Eels with this. It starts off as the sludgy stoner metal one expects from Mastodon (no, this ain’t my first rodeo with this band), but then the chorus is a sudden, random 80s hair metal flashback. It’s charming the first time, jarring the second, then obnoxious from there out. Too bad, because the rest of the tune is droopy-head-down-head-bang great. 

Little Dragon, Let Go, on Seven Four Entertainment/Republic 
As with last week’s single, Paris, I’m scratching my head about the production on this track. There’s too damn much going on. But why? Singer Yakiimi Nagano’s voice is the greatest, it should not be competing for attention with a bunch of noodly synth noise. While this song is an improvement on Paris, it still pales in comparison to Little Dragon’s other work. I’m not excited for the full album to drop, sad to say.  

Overall Assessment: we got some good tracks today. Nothing blew my mind, but Thee Oh Sees will surly get another listen, and I feel inspired to revisit some earlier Kelis, Mastodon, and Springsteen. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do These Pants Look Strangely Familiar: The I'm Wearing Your Clothes Story

Ok, so: I have a lot of ideas. Bright ideas, dim ideas. Many are - rightfully - never acted upon. Some are never acted upon but actually are pretty sharp and do deserve to be tried at least. And then there are the many ideas that kind of get some action but not, like, really; that get started but not finished or significantly developed. Those poor little ideas.

I'm Wearing Your Clothes is one of them. Originally it was its own blog, albeit barely. Had I, you know, written things, it would have followed my New Years resolution to not buy any new clothes - that is to say, clothes not worn or owned by anyone before me. I could acquire new-to-me clothes, but only if they'd been previously owned by someone else. When I told other people about the project, they typically responded with interest and enthusiasm, and wanted to know if I was documenting it. Hence, I'm Wearing Your Clothes was hatched, grew feathers, then never left the nest. 

The used clothes project, on the other hand, was so successful, I adopted it as permanent way of being, though I do buy some new pieces here and there. 

Meanwhile, I was still taking the occasional pic for the maybe-someday-to-fly blog, writing a little here and there, and enjoying the hell out of other people's outfit selfies. Maybe it's because spring fever or maybe because the idea has finally digested a critical mass of worms (good grief, this metaphor), but I'm kicking it into the air with hopes it will soar. And also, it's not it's own thing anymore, it'll just be here and on Instagram  

TL;DR I'm posting selfies of my awesome used clothes. You're welcome.

DAY ONE! April 21, 2014

Ok, first of all, in real life the shirt is pine green, not teal, so there's that. Also, I think I got it from a free pile but I don't remember. Ultra suede jacket and striped pants are clothing swap. Cotton webbing belt is thrift shop. Boots are vegan and were bought new, so was the wooden watch, which is made from scraps of floorboards or some such. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Music Tuesday! Hello, New Music!

Triptykon's Melana Chasmata; art by HR Giger

Tuesday is the day record labels release new albums. It's just how it is. But why? Why not Friday? Hell if I know.

Conveniently though, with new music consolidated to one day of the week and music streaming services offering just about everything, I've made a habit of listening to new releases every Tuesday, be they from beloved artists or totally unfamiliar ones. And today I'm deep into procrastinating - no, my taxes are done, it's not that, I just can't focus, except on music. So I went with the flow (my fatal flaw!) and jotted down reviews of what I've listened to today. Maybe I'll make this a habit, too.


Chet Faker, Built on Glass, Downtown Records

From the label that brings us Die Antwoord, Miike Snow, and the Scissor Sisters comes this minimal, deep, downtempo/R&B record that’s solidly likable but awkwardly devoid of sexiness or soul. I’d never heard of Chet Faker before, and made it through a full listen before looking him up. SPOILER ALERT: his website describes him as “an Australian electronica musician,” and he is indeed a bearded, white hipster.

Regardless, on Built on Glass, his US debut, he deftly commands silence, empty space, and spaciousness in ways reminiscent of the xx. These are negative space songs, as much if not more defined by what isn’t there than by what is. Unfortunately, “isn’t” includes panty-dropping, baby-making, or even back-seat-snogging. The closest he gets to sexy is on 1998, the housey, languid stand-out. But who knows, maybe he’ll find his groove on future releases, because this is a great album otherwise.

NEEDTOBREATHE, Rivers in the Wasteland, Atlantic Records
Another previously-unknown band. I couldn’t make it through all four-and-a-half minutes of the first track, Wasteland, a white-boy-emotive, Jack Johnson-esque coffeehouse lament. But the second track, State I’m In, an upbeat cross between the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen (seriously), redeems somewhat. Track three, Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, is a serviceable White Stripesy blues pop ditty, and then I stopped listening, because even with divergent styles in the first three tracks, this record is still boring and overproduced.

The 1975, The 1975, Interscope
A beefed-up rerelease of their 2013 self-titled debut. I've been hearing of these guys for a while now but this is my first listen. I’m surprised it took me this long; I was born in 1975 and I love 70s music and assumed from their name they would be 70’s-ish and, I don’t know, just like my own personal sound or something. So wrong. The 1975 is synthpop, straight up. And I like synthpop too. I’ve been bumping much Empire of the Sun and Wild Beasts lately. But this? I hate this. Hate. It’s spuriously perky, cloyingly sanitized, the singing is gratingly over-stylized, and how synthpop can be overproduced I don’t know but these guys pull it off. Thanks for sullying my favorite year, assholes.

The Afghan Whigs, Do to the Beast, Subpop; Shonen Knife, Overdrive, Good Charamel Records
I can’t remember being particularly stoked on Afghan Whigs or Shonen Knife in the 90s. I liked them fine, had nothing against them. They were just part of the landscape, but friends with good taste were always excited about them. Pretty much this still stands with Do to the Beast and Overdrive. They’re, like, fine. They’re good.

SHONEN KNIFE ADDENDUM: Sure the first track is called “Bad Luck Song”, but you will never convince me they’re not saying “butt plug song”. Their own coy little joke?

Triptykon, Melana Chasmata, Century Media
Although I'd never heard of Triptykon, the HR Giger cover art (pictured above) gave me a good sense I was getting into something heavy. Their bio on Rdio describes them as "another avant-garde extreme metal proposition" from Switzerland, the album includes titles like "Tree of Suffocating Souls" and "Demon Pact", and track lengths range from 5:50 to 12:24. @annus_mirabilis recently tweeted "The academic blunder that equates classifying things with understanding them"; in regard to Melana Chasmata, I will not make that blunder. I won't describe this album or even say it's good or bad because I don't really understand it. It is understandable, sure - there are plenty of well-informed reviews out there - but because I'm completely unfamiliar with Swiss avant-garde extreme metal (ahem), I'm going to leave classification alone.

But as it turns out, I enjoyed this album pretty much more than anything else I listened to today, save some old Kate Bush this morning. Suffice it to say, it is heavy, dark, lots of shouting, machine-gun double bass drumming, big distorted guitars chug-chug-chugging, and is either blistering fast or dirgey slow. Beyond that, like, uh, it's well mixed?

TL;DR: I don't know what it is, but I like it.


Little Dragon, Paris, Seven Four Entertainment/Republic

I love Little Dragon so much, but this track gives me zero happiness. It sounds like it’s on the wrong speed, and has a sense of urgency that’s uncomfortable instead of energizing. Also, it’s mixed really weird, like everything’s the wrong volume in the mix. Whoever produced this is a chump totally unworthy of Little Dragon.

Overall Assessment: not a strong day for random new music. Nonetheless, I put all the albums and the single into a Rdio playlist in case you want to confirm today's mediocracy. Have a nice listen.