31 July 2010
30 July 2010
28 July 2010
27 July 2010
With the film nearly eight months away, who knows how Zak Snyder's fetishistic follow-up to Watchmen will actually turn out, but one thing is for certain: The visually stunning posters for Sucker Punch will definitely insure this film stands out from just about everything else released between now and March 2011.
26 July 2010
The band who wasn't there: Perennial also-rans The Charlatans have made some cracking records, despite never quite getting the recognition they deserve...
My top 10 favorite Charlatans songs:
1. "Weirdo" (Between 10th and 11th, 1992)
2. "Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over" (The Charlatans, 1995)
3. "Mis-takes" (You Cross My Path, 2008)
4. "The Only One I Know" (Some Friendly, 1990)
5. "Can't Get Out of Bed" (Up to Our Hips, 1994)
6. "I Never Want an Easy Life if Me and He Were Ever to Get There"
(Up to Our Hips, 1994)
7. "How High" (Tellin' Stories, 1997)
8. "Can't Even Be Bothered" (Between 10th and 11th, 1992)
9. "Just Lookin'" (The Charlatans, 1995)
10. "White Shirt" (Some Friendly, 1990)
25 July 2010
24 July 2010
23 July 2010
This is from the Image Comics 2010 San Diego Comic-Con Yearbook, available at Comic-Con International San Diego this weekend at the Image Comics booth (#2729):
Also included in the book are original pin-ups by Mike Allred, Dan Brereton, Ian Churchill, Marian Chuchland, Tommy Lee Edwards, Chris Giarrusso, Brandon Graham, Shaky Kane, Joseph Michael Linsner, the Luna Brothers, Ben Templesmith and a whole host of others. It looks pretty sweet. You should buy one.
22 July 2010
For the most part, The Style Council made bloody terrible music videos. How that happened is still a mystery to me: The band's record sleeves and advertisements (all designed by Simon Halfon from Paul Weller's ideas) were impeccably presented, reflecting the playful sense of pan-European style Weller wished to associate with his first post-Jam venture. There was also a '60s influence at work, along with the Modernist touches that have been virtually omnipresent throughout Weller's career, and nearly everything associated with the Council during the peak years of '83-'85 had a very distinctive look.
Except the videos!
By and large directed by Tim Pope, who is perhaps best known for his Cure videos, most of The Style Council's videos did little to expand upon the band's image. And worse, they were often just plain silly, even by the somewhat dubious standards of the 1980s, completely undermining the quality of the music.
The few that did work were pretty great, though: The lazy soul of 1983 hit "Long Hot Summer" is the one time they got the silly just right; "A Solid Bond in Your Heart" captures Weller & Talbot at their most Mod; "You're the Best Thing" comes on all moody and French; and "Walls Come Tumbling Down!" mixes travelogue and "live" footage to good effect, and even includes that floppy asymmetrical do Weller sported ever-so-briefly in 1985.
None of them are as picture perfect as the sleeve to Café Bleu, but they're the best documentation of the band's evolving look on video. By the end of '85, Weller & co. were looking away from the styles they were initially inspired by and focusing on more contemporary looks and sounds.
21 July 2010
20 July 2010
More images from my youth, these scanned from my own collection of TSC memorabilia. Early on, all the Style Council's ads had a look that was instantly recognizable, and I recall being captivated by the whole presentation. Getting the British music weeklies was always exciting back then, along with magazines like The Face, because the ads, along with various photo features, really did a good job of establishing the band's look – and in a way that their music videos consistently failed to.
Paul Weller at the peak of his sartorial powers, in my opinion.
1983, the first TSC ad campaign, promoting debut single "Speak Like a Child."
1984, one of several ads for Café Bleu. "Here come the classics," indeed!
19 July 2010
I came across this the other day and aside from being thrilled to find one of my favorite early TSC ads online (someone really needs to compile a book of all the excellent design work Simon Halfon has done for Paul Weller and The Style Council), I was also prompted to consider how the images from the '80s that have stuck with me over the years are quite different from the images that more commonly define that decade. It also occurred to me that 1982-1985 wound up being a particularly influential period for me, with a handful of album covers laying the foundation for my later sartorial interests.
First among these was Donald Fagen's 1982 album, The Nightfly. I don't think I got the Steely Dan connection at the time, but that black and white image of Fagen as a late night deejay sporting a crewcut, along with an oxford cloth button-down and vintage tie gave the album a distinctly '60s flavor that caught my imagination and somehow never let go.
A couple years later, Paul Weller's first album with The Style Council, Café Bleu, had a similar effect. Released in 1984, it was Weller's first full album following the demise of The Jam, but whereas I'd liked The Jam, the image of Weller and fellow Councillor Mick Talbot outside a Parisian cafe, decked out in loafers, Levis, crisp white button-downs and macs was nothing short of spellbinding.
A slightly different version of the album was released in the U.S. as My Ever Changing Moods, featuring another shot from the same photo session, and that image is almost as iconic for me. Described by some as "French Ivy," this particular style struck me at the time as a more refined version of the Mod Look.
And then there's Kevin Rowland and his Famous Dixons.
Like most, I was somewhat befuddled by Rowland's makeover for Don't Stand Me Down at first, and initially, I only appreciated the subversiveness of the look. No other band dressed like this in 1985, and I thought it was a brave move to go from Celtic vagabonds to slick Ivy League types. It wasn't until some time later that I finally connected the dots between Mod and Ivy, realizing in the process that Kevin Rowland and Paul Weller had the same sartorial roots. This album cover stuck in my head long before that realization, though, from Billy Adams's cordovan brogues and lavender socks to the parting of Nicky Gatfield's hair...
There are others, of course, but these are the images the come to mind most often, and it's interesting to see now how they're all related. And even more so, that all of these images had such a profound on me at a time when my most of my peers were listening to the likes of Ratt, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Wham!, Duran Duran and Madonna – and dressing up in similar fashion!
18 July 2010
Psychedelic Scallies The Coral are back in action after a three-year layoff, and their new album, Butterfly House, is an absolute corker. For some reason, I've had low expectations for just about every album The Coral have made since their awe-inspiring debut, but they always manage to surprise me – even more so this time, because I didn't anticipate a full recovery from the loss of guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones. This may well be their best album yet, though. Hopefully, they make it over here in support of the record, because the new songs probably sound even better live.
In the meantime, here's the video for their CSN-drenched first single, "1,000 Years."
17 July 2010
15 July 2010
14 July 2010
13 July 2010
Cotton twill trousers – khakis – are easily one of the most basic elements of the Ivy Look, but boy, have they earned a bad rep over the years.
Once, khakis, an oxford cloth button-down and a pair of loafers or plain cap brogues were the building blocks of a straight-forward, yet sharp wardrobe. Today, khakis are often worn baggy, paired with oversized polo shirts and most closely associated with the term "business casual." Which is a shame, really, because well-made khakis, worn correctly, remain both straight-forward and sharp.
A small cult has developed around Bills Khakis, out of Reading, Pennsylvania, which is understandable, because they're made in the same style as cotton twill trousers from the '40s. I've learned over the years, however, that I like the idea of Bills Khakis much more than I like wearing them. I've tried both their standard fit and their trim fit, and both are just the wrong side of baggy.
That's how the overwhelming majority of American men seem to like their khakis, apparently: with a lot of extra room. For what, I don't know, because I prefer my clothes to be a bit slimmer, which is why Levi's wildly popular Dockers (shown below) have never been my thing.
As it turns out, though, Brooks Brothers had the foresight to offer their cotton twill trousers in no fewer than five styles, with their Milano fit being exactly the slimmer cut I'd wanted for years. Nearly every pair of khakis I'd bought since the mid-'80s had required heavy alterations, but after trying these on for the first time, I realized I just needed to have the hem raised by about an inch and they were perfect.
So, bad rep or no, here's to taking back khakis from the business casual crowd.
12 July 2010
The resurgence of Ivy League style has been largely Web-driven, but fashion mags like Details and now Esquire have been quick to jump on the bandwagon in recent months. Each magazine has features on the staples associated with the look, although as one might expect, they are are fairly by-the-numbers: Bass loafers, herringbone jackets from J. Crew, sneakers from The Gap (via Keds), wallets by Prada, the requisite mentions of Brooks Brothers and Bill's Khakis...
Which isn't surprising. Magazines like Esquire and Details by their very nature are more concerned with fashion than style, feverishly pushing whichever Big Thing is all the rage that season before abandoning it for the Next Big Thing. (The former mag is even quick to note that many designers have already moved on from "button-down shirts and Top-Sider shoes.") In the interim, everything is distilled to uniform-like essentials, resulting in the mainstream adoption (and subsequent endurance) of only the most banal examples of any particular style: Punk equals spikey hair, safety pins and Doc Martens, man. Mods ride scooters, wear Fred Perrys and parkas. Leather jackets and denim are rock 'n' roll – and don't forget your weathered (concert) t-shirt.
Thankfully, in the midst of offering on the most cursory glances at what makes the style so appealing, both magazines do take care to mention how a book called Take Ivy has defined such a classic look, offer only the most cursory of examples of what makes that style so appealing.
Originally published in Japan during the mid-'60s, Take Ivy is essentially a collection of photos documenting the styles that dominated American collegiate fashion at the time, all shot by a Japanese photo journalist named Teruyoshi Hayashida. Over the years, the book has become viewed as the definitive photo journal of the Ivy League Look, and as interest in traditional American clothing – and Ivy, in particular – grew, Take Ivy began changing hands for hundreds of dollars.
Fortunately for anyone interested in finding out what all the fuss is about, this document of classic American style is being reprinted by powerHouse Books this August for a much more reasonable $24.95. I've yet to see more than a few scans from the book myself, but I've pre-ordered a copy and can't wait to get it.
I'm willing to bet it's more informative than a couple of pages in Esquire...
11 July 2010
I've been on something of a Harry Nilsson bender over the last week or so. No, I don't mean I've been consuming life-threatening quantities of Brandy Alexanders and cocaine (although I do have a particular fondness for the former...), but my Nilsson albums have been getting a lot of play and I've been reading as much as I can about the man's music and life. And thanks to the Incredible Interweb of Awesomeness, I've been trawling for video footage as well. This clip, from a 1971 BBC special, is about as good as it gets:
And even though I can't embed it here for some reason, you can check out that BBC special in its entirety over at fortheloveofharry.blogspot.com.
08 July 2010
07 July 2010
06 July 2010
Don't get me wrong, it's nice to these Ivy staples getting the attention, but 1) the ad's just plain creepy, and 2) is using a model who clearly evokes Christian Bale in American Psycho really the best way to sell your product? Even as a fan of the shoes, the first name that came to mind was that of Brett Easton Ellis's stylish serial killer, not Jack Purcell...
04 July 2010
03 July 2010
With Independence Day mere hours away, I give you my top 10 favorite songs about America. Or at least with "America" in the title...
1. Manic Street Preachers, "IfWhiteAmericaToldtheTruthforOneDayit'sWorldWouldFallApart" (1994)
Good luck deciphering the words without referring to the lyric sheet, but this track from The Holy Bible is as sharp a criticism of Conservative America now as it was in 1994.
2. Blur, "Look Inside America" (1997)
Blur shunned Britpop for a decidedly more lo-fi affair with the eponymous follow up to the somewhat disappointing The Great Escape, and after three distinctly British albums, it was actually interesting to a song about their growing appreciation of America. Favorite line: "Annie Hall leaves New York in the end, but I press rewind and Woody gets her back again."
3. Curtis Mayfield, "Miss Black America" (1970)
From the spoken word opening to the majestic horns and strings, this is three minutes and four seconds of Curtis Mayfield at his absolute best.
4. David Bowie, "Young Americans" (1975)
With Ziggy Stardust in the rearview mirror, Bowie zooms into the future in his new guise as the soul-crooning Thin White Duke, and the results are nothing short of spectacular.
5. Elvis Costello & The Imposters, "American Gangster Time" (2008)
"I'd rather go blind for speaking my mind..."
I've always preferred Angry Elvis, so there was a lot to love on Momofuku, but this one is the standout.
6. Morrisey, "America is Not the World" (2003)
Who can resist a song with the lines, "And don't you wonder why, in Estonia, they say, 'Hey, you! Big fat pig. You fat pig, you fat pig'?"
7. The Lilac Time, "American Eyes" (1989)
Stephen Duffy and the Lilac Fucking Time go CSN.
8. Bikeride, "America's Favorite Omelettes" (1999)
I don't know what it is, but I like it.
9. Yes, "America" (1972)
Partial to 10-minute-plus prog rock covers of Simon & Garfunkel songs? Well, then by all means, allow me to introduce you to this epic re-working of this track from the folk duo's Bookends album.
10. Billy Bragg, "Help Save the Youth of America" (1986)
There are those who look at the of the '80s – when the twin terrors of Reagan and Thatcher ruled their respective roosts in the U.S. and the U.K. – as the "good old days." Billy Bragg isn't one of them.