Monday, October 13, 2014

Penultimate Dispatch From The #UCC

Kayla and Lori's Ultimate Closet Challenge wrapped up over a week ago, but since I joined late, I went a couple few days extra. It wasn't all that much of a challenge, I admit. I have a lot of clothes, like a lot a lot, so I was never at a loss for something to put on.

I assumed going into this exercise I'd come out glowing with the wisdom that less is more, austerity is beautiful, and that I should consume less. None of that happened. I found joy digging into the unworn. Most the items I decided to get rid of I still at least like. I love my overstuffed walk-in closet, and anyway I don't even consume much to begin with.

But how can I have all these clothes if I don't consume much. The reason: I never get rid of anything. I am a clothing dam. I am clothing-retentive. I keep items for decades. About, oh, I'd say a year ago, I gave away a jacket I'd had but hadn't worn for many years, and I still think about that jacket and wonder if I'd wear it if I had it. I don't let go well.

Sometimes it pays off. Take, for example this nameplate bracelet – not an article of clothing, sure, but an accessory, so it counts. My grandmother gave it to me when I was in my teens. At the time, I never wore gold, plus I hated being called by my full first name, Sigrid. Most pouty, belligerent teens like me would've thrown this thing right out, but I'm fatally sentimental – I could never get rid of a present from gramma – and I was aware, albeit abstractly, over time my tastes would change and it was possible someday I'd want to wear it.

The day arrived. It was about three weeks ago. I put the bracelet on and was like, yes, it is time. I've been wearing it pretty regularly since, so much so it's already getting scratched and dinged. I'm ready to let that happen, though. Gramma would want it that way.

Surprisingly, these  overalls are not ancient and historical. I wore way more than my fair share of overalls in the 90s, wore them so much they disintegrated. After a long stretch of overall-free living, I picked these up from a friend's give-away pile. They've spent most their tenure with me in the closet, but I pulled them out for the UCC and wore them to repot a lemon tree, just like a legit farmer. I'm keeping them.

Also keeping the white shorts. When I found them in a give-away pile, they had an unattractive stain. I brought them home and was in the midst of soaking them in truly horrifying amounts of bleach, as I do, when I noticed the fiber content: organic cotton and hemp blend. "You're not organic anymore," I said. They're kind of grungy here because I'd just worn them camping. I mean, white shorts. How do you keep them clean other than horrifying bleachings? This is why I've only worn them once before this and am still skeptical going forward, but I'm going to try.

I'm confused about the grey and black striped pants. They're from a clothing exchange, and I really dig them a ton, but they're too big. They weren't before; it seems I've lost some girth. The last time I wore them was in the very first I'm Wearing Your Clothes, so now I'm sentimental about that, too. What to do. Take them in maybe? I don't know.

I am giving away the hoody-tshirt and corduroy pocket skirt. I like them both, I really do. I've had the skirt for ages, bought it new at one of those seconds/samples/damaged goods shops. I used to wear it a lot, and still appreciate it's apron-like qualities. I realized while wearing it to a client's, though, I'd be better off with an actual apron. Hm, maybe I'll turn it in to one.

Speaking of alterations, I've decided that's all this vintage dress needs. I mean look at it, it's fantastic. It was a hand-me-down from a much bustier friend. This dress fits me like a glove, and when I put it on, I wonder, how did she ever fit her rack in this thing? Maybe that's why it's mine now. Anyway, it's great, fits great, always has, but I don't like the buttons on the shoulders or the boring white piping at the arm holes and neck. I'm keeping it, but those bits have got to go.

Now will ya take a look a these three bad asses. Ok, I pulled these out was when I was deeply convinced the UCC would teach me minimalism. I decided it's absurd for one woman to own three vintage floor length tropical halter dresses, especially since I don't wear them that often. The orange one – her name is Pele, after the Volcano Goddess – was made by my aunt in 1972 and is a family heirloom, so she's not going anywhere. The pink and purple one I bought at a thrift store in Hawaii, where it was also made – hell, I was probably the first person to bring it to the mainland, which is amazing, so I can't get rid of it. That leaves the middle one, which is homemade though I found it at a thrift shop. But look at that fabric; it's the greatest pattern in life! No way I can get rid of it. The pink one has the least compelling fabric, so maybe it should be the one to go.

But then maybe this whole foundation of reason is stupid. I mean, will my life or even just my closet be perceptibly transformed if I own two vintage floor length tropical halter dresses instead of three? Is that going to make the damnedest little difference? Unlikely. But if I apply that logic to all my clothes, I'll never get rid of anything. So I don't know about this. Pele is practically family, so she's staying, but what about the other two? Going, staying? Help me out here people. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Too Big, Too Small: Kayla & Lori's Ultimate Closet Challenge Continues

#UCC Day 12: Burnout

I'm having an almost impossible time writing less than one-million words about this skirt. There is just so very much to say about it, my struggle with skirts in general, my relationship with my legs, the legitimacy of the colors gray and black, bringing home clothes that are the wrong size, etc, etc. I'm like Proust over here. 

But I'm deleting all that and will just say these few thing: 
  • I was genuinely excited to be reunited with this skirt. I forgot it existed. I'm sorry, skirt. I will never burry you under the other skirts ever again. 
  • It was originally a couple sizes too big, but I took it in. Ta-dah!
  • There's zero way to tell from the photo, but it and the shirt are both burnout prints.
  • It's from a thrift store. The shirt (it has pockets!) is a hand-me-down, the sandals consignment, and the necklace, which is from Japan and has two tiny bunnies snuggling each other on it, was a gift. 
  • I'm kind of in love with this outfit and want to wear it every day. I'm seeing it with leggings and boots for the cold times, AMIRITE?

#UCC Days 13 & 14: Red Is The New Orange

The bullet points are working for me today. LET'S PROCEED WITH THE BULLET POINTS! 
  • Oranger is my friends' band. I love them so so much. They were the sound of the turn of the century! They are now defunct but it's my understanding they'll do a reunion show if you ask them really really nicely. 
  • I have one other Oranger tshirt, and it's a baby-t. For the love of all things good in the universe, may the baby-t trend never ever EVER come back around. Baby-ts were a bad idea then and they're a worse idea now. Nonetheless, I'm not getting rid of that other shirt. I'm too sentimental. 
  • I'm not getting rid of this shirt, either. Sure, it's too small in the shoulders and maybe everywhere else, but they're an awesome band and the shirt's red and says Oranger in psychedelic letters, so KEEPER!
  • The reason this shirt is too small is all the mediums were gone and my friend gave it to me anyway so what was I going to do, say no? C'mon now. 
  • The shorts are thrift store, the shoes–organic vegan Tom's, because of course I have organic vegan Tom's–were bought new but they sure as hell aren't new now. You can't see it but they're thrashed. 
  • Not only did I wear this shirt off and on for two days, I also slept in it, because I was camping over the weekend and that's what you do when you're camping. I should have taken this photo out in the woods I now realize, but I wasn't thinking about fashion at the time, I was thinking about trees. 

#UCC Day 15: Speaking Of Too Small Shirts...

I had full knowledge this shirt was too small when I bought it but I bought it anyway because I liked it so much. I tell myself I'll stop doing this stupid wrong size clothes thing, and then I keep doing it. But put together with the right layers, it works. Right? Or maybe the giantness of my glasses distracts from the tininess of the shirt. Whatever, anyway, I'm ready to part with this one despite still liking it because duh, it's too damn small. I got it at a buy-sell-trade shop, the jeans are hand-me-down, the tank-top and shoes were bought new. 

The bird and branch on the shirt are embroidered, by the way. Once again it's impossible to see the magnificent detailing of my fine, wrong-sized garments. 

Speaking Of Impossible To See Details...

I've had this blog here on blogger for many years now, but since I've been doing I'm Wearing Your Clothes, the horribly poor photo quality has really come to aggravate me. I spend minutes–minutes!–setting up my shots and editing my photos, and then I upload them and they all look horrible. 

Today, finally, I found the setting to make them less horrible. And I'm very glad. For a while there, I thought I might have to move to Tumblr. I hope you notice the difference–I have–but if you have any other tips for really making photos on blogger look nice, please let me know. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

#UCC: Laugh Now, Cry Later

Now that I'm back from my bicoastal ramblings and reunited with my beloved closet, I've jumped right into Kayla and Lori's Ultimate Closet Challenge, aka the #UCC, already a week and some days in progress. As Kayla and Lori explain
For every day of September, [we] have challenged each other to wear at least one thing we haven't worn (old shoes, new jewelry, retired yoga pants, crazy hat etc...) in a while.
A) To remind us that we can never complain that we don't have a stitch to wear
B) To look at our items in a new way and recognize why we don't need more
C) to weed out what we actually don't use or need anymore - and then to DONATE accordingly. If we have wonderful items we're not using, we're giving them to a charity like Dress for Success Worldwide - West. 
Surprise! I'm way into this. And I can combine it with I'm Wearing Your Clothes. Bonus! 

So here's Day 10 of the #UCC, or My First Day Back To Not Living Out Of A Suitcase

The shirt I have maybe worn once since finding it in a give-away pile across the street from my house. I want to want this shirt. It has subtle metallic sparkles in it! And it's long and slim and fits my torso nicely. And yet, I just can't get into it, maybe because I don't have anything good to wear under it; I don't know if I'm doing it any favors wearing it with the bought-new, bright yellow tank top here. So despite liking the shirt--and liking this outfit overall--it's going away. Bye, shirt. 

The turquoise pants--once again, my phone's camera made them look way bluer and less green than they really are--are from a clothing exchange. The bracelets were bought new, are fair trade, and are made of sustainably harvested wood and alpaca wool, so you know I sleep real good at night. The shoes are kind of a funny story. I had impulsively picked up a cheap pair of knock-off Tom's at Target because they were metallic silver. Metallic silver, people. Irresistible. Except unlike real Tom's which are stupefyingly comfortable, the knock-offs hurt my feet so much, I had to buy other shoes to make it through the day. My feet would have been bloody stumps by the time I got home if I hadn't. True story. Anyway, these stripy flats are the emergency replacement shoes. 

#UCC Day 11, or I Got Out Of Bed, What More Do You Want From Me

I started feeling a bit under the weather yesterday afternoon. It was my first full day back after three weeks of travel including rides in five different airplanes. I had breathed so, so many other people's air. I took some Airborne and a nap and blah blah fast forward to this morning. I woke up before dawn still feeling lousy. I took some ibuprofen and washed it down with more Airborne, but it wasn't until the sound of the blender almost made me cry I finally acknowledged I was having a migraine, too. I popped an imitrex, went back to bed, and didn't get up till late afternoon. 

All this is a very long and whiny way of saying, I didn't want to get dressed today and obviously I should get a medal for doing so. I have a trick though, a coping mechanism, because despite loving clothes so much, I actually feel this way pretty often. And the trick is, wearing a knit dress and leggings feels the same as wearing pajamas but folks think it looks way nicer and put-together. Suckers! 

I got this Trina Turk dress at a buy-sell-trade place. Did I mention it's a Trina Turk? I love Trina Turk. Her clothes are pretty expensive, so I was stoked to score this on the cheap, but I haven't worn it in a while. Crazy thing was, I put the dress on this afternoon and suddenly it struck me: it's way too big for me. Was it always that way? I don't think so. It is a size 0 after all. It's made of a very stretchy modal jersey, so maybe it's just stretched out? Regardless, I put a belt on to try to make it look less slouchy, but also just getting out of bed was a chore so who the hell cares. I'm dressed, dammit.

I still haven't decided if I'll keep the dress. It is very comfy--it is basically just a big tshirt--and have I mentioned it's a Trina Turk? Still, I don't want to look like an idiot wearing a dress the wrong size. I don't know, help me out here: should it stay or should it go? 

The belt is also from a buy-sell-trade shop, the leggings were bought new, as were the gold sandals which I got for a Halloween costume and then fell in love with. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Wedding Guest Dress

Tonight's edition of I'm Wearing Your Clothes is dedicated to my friend Emily for two reasons. First, she loves these posts, which thrills me to no end and for which I am so grateful. Second, I snapped this pic shortly after her wedding; this is the outfit I wore to it. 

As it happens, I also wore it to two other weddings, including one a mere 24 hours before hers. That night, I'd turned to a friend and said, "I already wore this to one wedding this summer and tomorrow I'm going to wear it to another."

"Don't worry," he said, "no one's going to notice." 

"They will when I blab about it all over the internet." 

The dress is from a clothing exchange. As is typical for my phone's camera, the turquoise bits in the abstract floral patern appear blue. Please use your imagination. The sandals are from a consignment shop, and if you're following along closely you'll notice these are my go-to sandals right now. They're shockingly light weight and comfortable, and the heel gives the impression I'm dressed up but ha ha jokes on you, I can't even feel the heel. The necklace is handmade by me. What's that? You'd like to see a close up? Well ok! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Good Bye, West Coast

Greetings from—and farewell to—Portland, Oregon. After a week of canoeing, camping, and friending, I'm heading east for familiying, weddingsing, and lots and lots of driving. 

Speaking of driving, this outfit was supposed to be for a few last social calls but thanks to oversleeping and traffic, it was pretty much just a sitting in the car to the airport outfit. Moments after snapping this pic, I changed into yoga pants and a sweatshirt and boarded my red-eye to Boston. The shirt is from a buy-sell-trade shop, and the pants and sandals are from a consignment shop. They are all now safely stowed under the seat in front of me. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hardware Store Outfit

So, turns out I'd been wearing the same yoga pants and sweatshirt for the better part of four days. Off and on, I mean; I showered, and went for a run in my running duds, and there were pajamas here and there. I'm about to run errands now, though, and conceivably I could go out in the yoga pants and sweatshirt, but really, it's time. Time to move on. 

I have deemed this a good outfit for the hardware store. Jackie O wore something vaguely similar in Capri, I will wear this to OSH. 

The shirt is from a clothing exchange, the pants and sandals are from a chichi consignment shop and were bought on clearance, though not at the same time. The cuff I got on vacation in Mexico. They're little clam shells with beads on a fabric band, and some shells have broken but I don't care, I love it all the same. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

How To Dress For The Grocery Store In Six Easy Steps

Most mornings, getting dressed is not much of a process. Although I'm not a morning person and typically am in a state of deep confusion while getting dressed, I still usually somehow manage to put clothes on correctly the first try.

Occasionally, though, there's a more extended, trial and error process typically involving periods of tucking in a shirt then pulling it back out, switching garments inside out, upside down, and/or backwards, experimenting with multiple belts, and the inevitable tying of some belt thing around my head. If you see me wearing a head scarf, there's a 70% chance I'd tried wearing the scarf as a belt first.

Monday morning was one of those mornings. Well, ok, it wasn't actually the morning, it was afternoon. I spent the real morning in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, and didn't get dressed until I realized, after several imploring visits to the fridge, that really, truly, I had nothing to eat, nothing was going to spontaneously materialize no matter how many times I looked, and that yes, like it or not, I would have to go to the grocery store.

As I was putting away laundry that morning (while wearing said yoga pants), I was inspired by this shirt, a hand-me-down gift from a friend that's a great color and feels light and breezy on, but is surprisingly difficult to wear. It's carnation red with these faded purple leopardy spots, and it struck me I'd like to see it with the red, pink, and purple chevron-striped skirt I got from a thrift store. Spots and stripes! Right?
Spots! Stripes! Color! Yes!
Or rather, no.

Uh, no. So, so schlumfy. I could tuck it in, or try… A BELT!


Maybe try the belt backwards?

I mean... maybe?...

I got the belt from a clothing exchange, and although I put in on regularly, it never makes it past this stage. It's never left the room even. I just don't understand belts. Other people wear them just fine. It's just a strip of material around the waist. Pants even have loops for them. And yet, I don't know. Every time I put one on, it seems, like, off.

But what about if I tucked the shirt in and wore a belt. And what if the belt was this awesome old scarf I pinched from the Killing My Lobster costume department?

Not terrible! Pretty good actually!
It was getting there. I was reminded a bit of Dolce & Gabbana's vintage Sicilian-inspired spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection , which was a fantastic move in the right direction, but it still felt a little uptight and looked a little loose for my mood. To tighten up the shape and loosen the feel, I opened the shirt's top and bottom buttons, tied the bottom, rolled up the sleeves, pulled up the skirt up past my natural waist, and there it was.

Awww yeeeaaahhh.
With Dolce & Gabbana in mind - and out of habit - I tied the scarf around my head, threw on some chunky old saint medals of my mom's, grabbed a basket and called it done. The basket is from one of those stores that sells samples, deadstock, damaged goods, etc., and the sandals were bought new at the mall.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's Another Late-Night I'm Wearing Your Clothes. Funny How That Happens.

I was on my way home from a gig with my band, Have Special Power, when I realized I was in a perfect I'm Wearing Your Clothes outfit. The brown vinyl pants you may recognize as the Magic Pants, discovered magically - spiritually, even - at a thrift store. The teeny ultra suede jacket is from a clothing exchange. The beloved, vegan, McBeth shoes I got unworn and hella cheap from a buy-sell-trade shop. A dear friend made the tanktop. The bracelets were bought new - one from a boutique in Marin, one from a boutique near my neighborhood in Oakland, and one from a friend's boutique in Vieques, Puerto Rico. And lastly, the bass is a hand-me-down gift from my little brother and frankly is a prop; though it's my most dearly beloved and the bass I practice on regularly, it needs some repair work, so I played one of our guitarist's basses at the gig tonight. 

And what a gig it was, my first with the band. I hope it sounded as good as it felt - aggressive, exuberant, loud. Some four hours later I'm still blissed-out, sitting on my couch tapping this on my phone with my ears still ringing. Thank you infinitely to everyone who came out, and thank you to my darling bandmates, Andy and Chris. Here's to more, more, more!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I'm Not A Lumberjack, And I'm Ok

That thing where you're trying to take your outfit selfie & you realize your hair's coming undone, but it ends up being the best pic in the bunch anyway? That happened. 

Also, I've claimed multiple times today I'm dressed like a lumberjack. As you can see, that's a bald-faced lie. I am, however, wearing a couple garments with loggish buttons. The shirt - which was my mom's and, like me, is from the 70s - came to me buttonless, so I added the little log toggles - loggles - I found on etsy. The faux-shearling jacket is from a clothing swap, and also came a few buttons short. I like the loggles so much, I got some cross-cut stick buttons - stumptons? No. Butticks? Anyway - from etsy, and there you have it - lumberjack! Ok not really. 

The jeans were a hand me down gift, the shoes thrift.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sacrebleu! Gothic Hotpants!

I read on Twitter this morning today, May 22, is World Goth Day, and since it's also Throwback Thursday, it seems like a good time to pull out these photos I've been sitting on for the last three weeks. Do you remember that one time, three weeks ago... anyway. 

First, a disclaimer: these shorts are not blue. They're parrot green, same as the socks. But even after a quick trip through Photoshop, they still show up blue. Please use your imagination to color-correct. Thank you. 

Second, I am not pulling them up, I'm holding my suspenders. These shorts just fit that way.  Ahem.

Third, I did indeed leave the house in this outfit. Three weeks ago, I went to Death Guild, that old gothic chestnut and perennial San Francisco institution, for a friend's birthday, and this is what I wore. 

I used to go to goth clubs regularly and frequently, though I never much identified as a goth. A friend I used to go out with said we were gravers - goth ravers; had we been in New York, I bet we'd have been club kids. Regardless the title, we used the pageantry of the goth club as an excuse to wear costumes while dancing to good music. 

My personal costuming angle was to eschew the all-black look and dress colorfully. It was a conceptual decision I guess, probably some act of rebellion against gothic convention though frankly at this point I don't remember. But it was fun and lead to more than one occasion of being the belle of the ball (probably because I was the only person in the darkened club with a visible outfit). 

I've had these wonderful, colorful velour tap shorts for ages. They were a hand-me-down gift from a friend. The crisp white shirt is thrift. I think the suspenders are from H&M but it's possible I picked them up at a shop by the Santa Monica pier like twenty years ago. The shoes - oh my beloved Frankenstein shoes! - are also ancient and historical; I got them in the Stonestown Mall in 2000 when I was working as a gift wrapper at Nordstrom's. The scarf is from Clair's Boutique, another mall score, and is secretly the greatest because the patern is a gazillion tiny skull-&-bones, and the fabric is a silky acetate that drapes so perfectly. For the warm layer, I wore this three-quarter sleeve velveteen jacket I found at my favorite thrift store, and carried this redonk little death rock purse I've had since the dawn of time and probably also got at the mall. 

The "warm layer".

Detail of the scarf. Right? Right!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

White Shoe, Green Shoe.

I'm not a white shoe wearer. Folks say, "no white shoes after Labor Day." And I'm like, "no white shoes before Labor Day, either." Today, though, I wish I had white shoes. Went full matchy-matchy monochrome with the green, though, which were bought new. 

My aunt got me the dress from a thrift shop in Palm Springs. Belt is also thrift, bracelet is clothing exchange. The frames I bought new in SoHo NYC; the money I save on new clothes I spend on copious pairs of expensive glasses. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Uniform

Yesterday was long & at the end of it all, I still felt good about this outfit, which is a strong sign of wearing the right thing. Even stronger sign: this was the third day this week I've worn these jeans & shoes. They're turning into something of a uniform. 

The shoes are thrift, the jeans a hand-me-down gift. The belt is from a buy-sell-trade shop, the shirt is from a clothing exchange, & the hat I bought new about twelve years ago at Sears in downtown Oakland.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Avant & Après Costume

We had a party at our house last night. The defining feature of our parties is the costume crate. The crate operates incognito as a side table most the time, but for parties, we push back the sofa, pull the crate into the middle of the living room, put on its vintage polyester coordinate sets, purple wigs, spandex dance leotards, Hot Topic poet shirts, and tericloth kaftans, and then dance to Beyoncé till the break of dawn.

Behind me in this picture is the aftermath of the party. There are no costumes in the crate; they are all on the floor. 

The outfit I have on was my before-&-after-costumes outfit. Part of being a good hostess, of course, means gagueing the exact moment when the costumes should happen. It can't be forced, it must be allowed to flow, and until it does, I can't just stand around in my underwear; I had to wear something, so this was it.

My aunt bought this dress for me in Palm Springs from the thrift shop where she volunteers. As you can see, it's unstructured and asymmetrical, and she was skeptical, but I think it works. The cuff bracelet is from a clothing swap. The shoes - notice, if you will, the cantilever heel -were bought new, though I've had them for years and had to glue them back together recently, so at this point they might count as refurbished. 

I shot this just after six in the morning, right before sunrise, while listening to Super Tramp. I was the last one standing at the party, everyone else had left or was asleep. And though I'm in bed now, the sun is up, albeit behind fog, so I'm having my seventeenth wind and can't sleep. Good morning. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Me + This Dress = Love

This epic little dress was a hand-me-down gift from a friend. You can't really see, but it has subtle gray stripes. I want to wear it everyday for the rest of my life. Sandals bought new, and I'd like to wear them everyday, too. Glasses added last minute as a security measure (because I feel more secure with my glasses on).

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.