15. Always, Always Brown with Blue
1. Learn what every well-dressed European man knows: The best way to bring out the richness of your blue suit is with equally rich brown accessories.
2. A brown leather bag only gets better with age.
3. Brown dress shoes should be dark, like the color of coffee with just a touch of cream.
Cotton poplin suit, $1,845, shirt, $420, belt, $300, and shoes, $760, by Prada. Duffel bag, $3,420, by Louis Vuitton.
It’s weird to say this but once upon a time, I thought I would never outgrow the alternative or pop rock genre (I hate labeling music) but somewhere along the way, I kind of did. I still listen to a lot of the records I used to repeat for days, but the most of the newer records released by some of the same people just lack that spirit, maybe it’s a nostalgia. However, one of the few people around that have managed to keep my interest, and here we are today as I look back on one of Jack’s Mannequin’s finest works.
People and Things was released late summer, to much anticipation of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin fans alike. While there may have been expectations of McMahon writing about his experience battling leukemia or returning to that familiar sound of SoCo after their reunion tour last summer, this album is much more sophisticated and mature comparatively. Andrew McMahon’s piano is a constant in all of his work but there are more points in this record where he backs out the instrument in favour of other a different sound, which was a nice change to see.
‘My Racing Thoughts’ was the lead single and the opening track to the album that really acts as the pandora-like doorway and definitely one of the most radio-friendly songs on the album. Having said that, the rest of the album leads you on to something better as each of the album reveals a different story, and sound. The angst ‘Release Me’, celebratory ‘Hey Hey Hey’, or fast-paced ‘People, Running’ all show a different side to relationships that many different listeners can relate to. As mentioned, People and Things has a much more mature theme, and that really comes through on the lyrical content of‘Restless Dream’ and ‘Casting Lines’. Both of these songs are definitely the most reflective on the album and fittingly, they end up on the end of the album where most of the heavy songs tend to be as if you’ve just been part of a road trip.
My personal favourite songs on the album are ‘Amy, I’ and ‘Television’. ‘‘Amy, I’ spills a stale relationship on the table but the driving force of the song is definitely its instant attention-grabbing chorus that is unlike anything Jack’s has ever done before. Television’ has such a mysterious but intriguing atmosphere that just kicks in so beautifully and constant throughout the entire song, who would have thought to write about sleeping to the television as a song? Pure genius and perhaps the best JM song yet. With that, I really hope that this takes JM into an even better direction in the near future.
‘Television’ Animation Video: http://youtu.be/N-OVbA4YrWM
I have to confess, I’m not a big person on instrumental records these days, because there really aren’t many great ones that stand out, but every now and then, something will perk my ears up like a dog hears a cat. Play the Blues was a collaboration between Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis and recorded live in Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC, Clapton on the guitars and Marsalis on Trumpet. The theme of the show was to bring back the old school New Orleans blues band sound, and even if just for one night. The two certainly succeeded, you will instantly feel transported back into New Orleans in its golden age as soon as the needle hits the record. Pairing the two musicians up was definitely a work of genius and shows the diversity in both of their catalogs as they replicate the old sound with great authenticity and a bit of new flare.
As soon as the live set begins, you will feel that atmosphere in the room change into a dancehall with the Clapton’s raspy voice kicking in during ‘Ice Cream’, and later into the set, he returns with his voice on some of the other songs. One of the biggest highlights on the album is its ability to appeal to listeners with different levels of appreciation for blues music. Fans of jazz will recognize Marsalis for his mastery in trumpet and Clapton as the godfather of rock and roll. The rendition of ‘Layla’ on this album will undoubtedly leave an impression to longtime followers of Clapton’s work as Marsalis adds an amazing solo into the song further enhancing the song with new life.
Musicianship seems to be an element that is truly lost in our modern age where the obsession with pop hits makes us take for granted that there are greater masterminds and geniuses that keep music alive with soul. As said by Marsalis in a behind the scenes clip, there is a sense of community among musicians and that’s something that can only be genuine. I definitely think it is the magic element that ties the show together. In the 74 minute album, it certainly feels like one continuous beautiful flow of melody that blends together because of the wonderfully talented musicians that give a glimpse into a lifestyle that is now lost in time. By the end of the record, you will be left with a feeling of nostalgia and tapping your feet wanting to dance to all of it, so make sure you can just grab someone to dance with!
When an artist begins to transform and do something they are not known for, the response is generally lukewarm. Beyoncé’s 2011 album, 4, was a definite curveball that got tossed into the playing field noted for its departure of the signature Bey uptempo sound from B’Day and I Am…Sasha Fierce.
4 showcases Beyoncé’s growth in strength as an vocal artist, and writer. She’s come a long way since her Crazy in Love days, becoming willing to experiment with different sounds that most pop artists that began their careers in the late 90’s have not. Unlike her previous albums, 4 is daring in its near even balance of minimalistic and chart-topper hits. While the lead single Run the World (Girls) took over charts around the world with its positive social message, and Love on Top performed at the 2011 MTV VMA awards, 4’s highlights of the record mainly come from her stripped down songs. I Miss You, with the singer reaching into her lower register in a near eerie and intimate whisper tone woven in a bare minimum level of instrumentation, 1+1, with its slow but ultimately climatic buildup.
This is not to say that the only good songs were the subtle ones, 4’s collection of upbeat songs also include some of Beyoncé most feel-good songs yet. Even though a song Party has been included on the record, it has a laid-back groove and beat, clever guest spot of André 3000, while Beyoncé sings about having a great time. Love on Top is without a doubt one of the most vocally challenging songs that Beyoncé has pulled off yet, with an incredibly uplifting melody paying homage to the Jackson 5.
I will be honest in saying that 4 is underrated as it is one of those albums that need time to plant its seeds and grow on you because it has such a subtle element compared to previous Beyoncé albums. However, the songs on here definitely shows the positive growth Beyoncé has gone through since 2008’s I Am… and perhaps the most beautiful piece of work she has released yet.
Not many bands that claim to be gypsy-punk own the fairy tale mystique and grace that the Colorado-based DeVotchKa have. Mainly remembered as the band who wrote music for the film, Little Miss Sunshine, the band have released this year their followup album to their 2008’s A Mad & Faithful Telling.
100 Lovers is an incredibly musically rich album, featuring diverse use of instrumentation and sounds that will undoubtedly lift your feet off the ground into a dreamlike state. Nick Urata’s vocals in this record are better than ever, with such well controlled strength and power, he breezes through the record as a constant force that takes the listener into the different vibes of each song. Also very notable is the cohesion all of these songs have, every little tiny piece of sound is carefully placed to create a different sounding piece than any other DeVotchKa song. It is very safe to assume that they are a very well knit group of musicians with the years of experience together they’ve had since their debut in 2000.
From the deceptively cheerful All the Sand in All the Sea to Latin espionage sounding The Man from San Sebastian, and Italian Bad Luck Heels, DeVotchKa effortlessly delivers an incredible set of music, sound, and feelings that will undoubtedly leave you craving for more. There really aren’t bands that have DeVotchKa’s amazing musical sensibilities and here’s to hoping for greater success in this band’s upcoming endeavors!