Author: jsimpson

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About Jaden Smith As The New Face Of Louis Vuitton And Gender-Bending Fashion

In a piece of topsy-turvy fashion news, the new face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear line is not a woman. This turn of events speaks to the legendary designer’s forward-looking fashion sense as much as the androgynous charm of Vuitton’s new model, Jaden Smith. The photographs from iconic fashion photographer Bruce Weber debuted last week on the Instagram account of Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière. The photo shows Smith decked out in an embroided skirt, fringe top, and moto jacket that debuted during Paris Fashion Week. Although gender-bending is nothing new on fashion or pop culture, Ghesquière’s collection is the most recent example of gender-bending fashion design to hit mainstream media attention. Gucci’s F/W 2015 men’s collection featured waifish men appearing beside boyish women, both wearing silhouettes, fabrics, and items of clothing traditionally associated with women’s fashion. Gucci’s new designer Alessandro Michele collection saw men and women alike wearing pussycat bow blouses, midriff jackets, and low-riding, wide-legged trousers. Male and female models alike sported matching make-up, with loose, flowing, unbound hair. This approach is working …

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Thanks For The Elegance: David Bowie – Blackstar review

In the mercurial world of Pop Culture, holding people’s fascination for five minutes is a minor miracle, let alone five decades. So how has The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, the man once known as David Jones, managed to remain relevant the entire time? This string of monikers is one clue. Bowie remained relevant to today’s world of Celebrity Deities and shifting personas because he helped to create it. Bowie re-defined himself at least seven times, during his lengthy and illustrious career. He has been an alien, androgynous, gender-bending, elegant pop cultural royalty, as he played with the ideas of identity and persona, injecting Pop Culture with a much-needed thread of High Art. It could be argued that modern Pop Star personas like Lady Gaga and even Top Shelf glitterati like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, or Lana Del Rey wouldn’t exist without this British gentleman named after a big damn knife. Bowie partly remained relevant by mining the Avant-Garde underground for the most interesting and innovative modernist musical techniques …

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Embracing The Contradictions: Mono/Poly – Cryptic EP review (Hit+Run Records)

Today’s hip-hop exists in a paradoxical state. Rappers and beatmakers are expected to be raw and real, in line with hip-hop’s origins, “keeping it real” and “from the streets”. At the same time, hip-hop is probably the most influential genre of music on Earth, at the moment, frequently gobbling up the Top 40, dominating the clubs & charts, as well as a good chunk of our listening time and attention. That means, for all intents and purposes, hip-hop IS Pop. Likewise, Pop needs to come to grips with hip-hop, as can be heard from the twerking, jittering rhythms of Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach”. Rappers are expected to sing, singers are expected to rap, and producers need to be able to blend the raw and immediate with the high-gloss sheen of pop – sometimes in the same song – for people to really stand up and take notice. Cryptic, the follow-up to 2014’s well-received Golden Skies, from LA’s Charles Dickerson, finds the perfect equilibrium of raw and polished, creating a nuclear fusion of …

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Christmas Gets Weird And Messy With Cassie Ramone’s ‘Christmas In Reno’

Coming of age in 2015 is a weird and complicated thing. I avoid the phrase “becoming an adult”, as no one’s really sure where adulthood begins, or ends. For most people in their 20s, 30s, and probably 40s, “adulthood” is exactly the same as adolescence, full of libidinal angst, existential confusion, social insecurity, and a weird mixture of egotism and self-loathing. This is never more apparent than during the Christmas season. For many/most 20- and 30-somethings fortunate enough to be living in the First World, Christmas-time finds most people doing whatever is the modern version of circling your wishlist in the Sears Catalog in Crayola Marker. We’re overgrown children, with outsized pocketbooks and desires. But adulthood will not be deterred, even if we don’t know what it is. Obligations begin to sneak in, as we begin to have extended families, friends, office parties. Our friends start having kids, and, oh so gradually, it stops being about OUR wish list, as the torch is passed to the next generation (lucky, ungrateful ducklings!). Cassie Ramone, formerly of …

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Sunn O))) – Kannon album review

For the first five decades of its existence or so, heavy metal was perceived as one of the most primitive musical forms, second perhaps only to punk. It was the soundtrack of tall boys, tight pants, raised trucks, and torn denim – the exact opposite of cultured. Metal has gotten downright cerebral in the 21st Century, as a number of brainy individuals sought out to blend the brawn of downtuned guitars through eight-foot amplifiers with any number of intellectual pursuits. The cowled duo of Gregg Anderson & Stephen O’ Malley, as Sunn O))), are largely responsible for the intellectualization of heavy metal, without ever losing the force, the pure beating power of the electric guitar. Rather, they turned metal on its head, slowing it down to a tectonic crawl, transforming bestial Black Sabbath riffs into an unholy black mass of bass frequencies that are more like weather patterns or continental drift than songs. Over the course of their career, Sunn O))) have incorporated the atonal minimalism and repetition of 20th Century classical composers, like Ligeti, …

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Arca – Mutant review

  Arca’s Mutant is less of an album than a journey through a strange country. Or of an alien biology. Electronic music has always been particularly adept at illustrating where our heads are at, as a culture. There was the urban dissolution of Burial in the first years of the new millennium, as we sought to make sense of the way-more-wired world we are living in. Then we had the queasy information overload of Oneohtrix Point Never or James Ferraro. One consistent aspect of electronic music in the 21st Century has been a sense of vastness, with monolithic bass dipped in a reverb gravity well, sounding like the forgotten remnants of some ancient civilization. Perhaps it is the sound of our awareness of our – not insignificance, but small. One of many. Not unexceptional, but not different, either. The sound of society as a living organism, of which we are one cell. This is the macro/microcosm Alejandro Ghersi explores on Mutant, his follow-up to last year’s excellent (and similarly geist-fulfilling) Xen. Arca’s career has been …

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Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete review

For the last 8 years, Daniel Lopatin’s work as Oneohtrix Point Never has mirrored the way we feel about our digital lives – with all of the requisite passion, excitement, anxiety, disgust, and grotesquerie. And while OPN’s earliest works may have been content in idle detournements, with Lopatin flipping through the tasteless detritus of ’90s corporate culture like an Adderall-addled CEO tearing through their rolodex in search of new business, Garden Of Delete explores the Internet as an archetypal realm, connected to the physical world, but just barely. Lopatin hangs these cerebral concepts on Ezra, a fictional teenager with a super sweet music blog, intent on creating the most epic trance chords ever, to create a loose, if bizarre, narrative. Garden Of Delete was created in the wake of Oneohtrix Point Never opening for ’90s big room rockers Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails. Lopatin wanted to recreate the vibe of angsty aggressive ’90s guitar rock. It says a lot about what a twisted genius Lopatin is that Garden Of Delete is what he came up …

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Well That Was Metal: Grimes – “Art Angels” album review

Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, is the spokesperson for a certain type of sad girl/boy. They probably have a Tumblr and/or Instagram. They may or may not have non-organic colored hair. They are creative, and don’t feel like they fit in anywhere. Except, at this point, there are a lot of us. Grimes’ shot-heard-round-the-world, 2012’s Visions, trickled from the underground like a demon-possessed river of bubbling crude. You can practically hear the obsession, feel the strain of late nights half-bent over a Macbook screwing beats into corkscrews of twisted metal and regret. Visions came out of nowhere, and went everywhere. How does Claire Boucher follow-up, with 3 years absence and a million expectations to fulfill? What happens when the World’s Most Misunderstood Artist is also the world’s most popular? “California”, the first song on Art Angels with discernible lyrics, tackles this paradox head-on. “California, you only like me when I’m sad,” she sings. It’s a properly miserablist sentiment, but the music is bright, bold, powerful, and direct. art angels: album cover. music & video next week …

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Nicole Dollanganger – Natural Born Losers review

Stoufville, Ontario’s Nicole Dollanganger delivers a dark, sweet mumblecore folk record for Grimes’ new imprint, Eerie Organization. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Nicole Dollanganger’s atmospheric folk-tinted bedroom rock and Harmony Korine’s filmography. On Natural Born Losers, there’s “A Marvelous Persona”, a nod to Gummo’s larger-than-life bad boy Tummler, he of the marvelous persona. Dollanganger has previously referenced Korine’s directorial debut, following “Bunny Boy” from 2014’s BabyLand, along with a haunting homage to Beverly Marsh from Stephen King’s “It”. Bunny boys, cool losers, battered heroines haunted by abusive fathers and homicidal shape-shifting clowns, all of these images would be at home in a Nicole Dollanganger record. Like Korine’s work, there is nothing all that ominous and unsettling on the surface of Dollanganger’s ghostly folk music. Korine’s movies focus on the lives of the fringe dwellers – trailer park denizens and celebrity impostors. Korine shows the darkness and desperation of “normal people” eking out an existence, but not as some morality tale. The darkness is just a shade and texture, like a cloud passing across …

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Chvrches – Every Open Eye

Emma Goldman was famously quoted as saying “Any revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” On Scottish synthpop band’s breakout debut The Bones Of What You Believe, Chvrches paired infectious melodies and club beats with the brittle militancy of post-punk, suggesting an army of camo-wearing anarchists out for a night on the town, letting off some steam. On Every Open Eye, it seems that the dancing is the revolution, updating the blurry, cinematic M83-indebted anthems to an album of bright, shiny, major-key primary-colored club bangers wouldn’t sound out of place on a Carly Rae Jepsen or Taylor Swift record. And while this progression risks Chvrches sounding like everybody else out there and eradicating what is unique and special, Chvrches overcome this trap with hard work and insane attention to detail. Every Open Eye offers one up-tempo club anthem after another, only slackening the momentum with the slow-dance balladry of “High Enough” and finale “Bow Down”, perfect soundtracks for your next ‘80s revival prom. The homogoneity of the tempos and reliance on bright major-key synths …