30 September 2010

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN

Stuart's gone Hollywood, Stevie needs a haircut, Richard's not on drums and there's no Carey Mulligan, but this is still pretty excellent:

LOVESTRUCK

29 September 2010

THESE GIRLS

...played the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco last night and were, as the saying goes, absolutely fabulous. If you're a fan of their latest album, Release Me, their current setlist favors that record over the first one, plus they toss in feisty covers of a few '60s classics ("Why When Love is Gone," "Let's Spend the Night Together") for good measure. Just two days back from a tour of the UK, singer Z Berg was in fantastic voice, and of course, they all looked mid-'60s stunning.

Longish story, story shortish: Go see The Like. They're up and down the West Coast through October 9 and then off to Europe, so pretty much wherever you are, they're there, meaning you have no excuse.

September 29 – Beauty Bar, Las Vegas, NV

September 30 - Martini Ranch, Phoenix, AZ

October 2 - Pappy and Harriet's, Pioneer Town, Joshua Tree, CA

October 4 - The Vera Project, Seattle, WA

October 5 - Rotture, Portland, OR

October 6 - The Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA

October 7 - Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa, CA

October 9 - The Avalon, Los Angeles, CA

October 14 - Rotonde, Brussels, Belgium

October 15 - Nouveau Casino, Paris, France

October 16 - Rotown, Rotterdam, Netherlands

October 17 - Ubel & Gefahrlich, Hamburg, Hamburg, de

October 18 - Magnet, Berlin, GERMANY

October 19 - Gebauede 9, Cologne, GERMANY

They’re also opening for Jamiroquai at the HMV Forum in London on October 20, but a) it’s sold out and b) I’m not going to encourage anybody to buy tickets for a Jamiroquai concert on Craigslist, no matter how much I like The Like.

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Emma Stone

28 September 2010

27 September 2010

TOMORROW'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

"it's down and down, there is no up..."


26 September 2010

SUMMER'S CAULDRON

With a projected high of 91° today, it seems almost unthinkable that last Tuesday marked the official end of summer, but that's life in the Bay Area: Summer is over, now it's getting hot. So, whilst waiting for this warmest of indian summers to subside, here's a list of melancholy summer songs certain to soothe your sunburnt soul:

1. Spearmint - "The Whole Summer Long" (2004)
2. Lucky Soul - "One Kiss Don't Make a Summer" (2007)
3. Belle and Sebastian - "I Know Where the Summer Goes" (1998)
4. Lorraine Silver - "Lost Summer Love" (1965)
5. The Style Council - "Long Hot Summer" (1983)
6. Elvis Costello - "The Other Side of Summer" (1991)
7. The Doors - "Summer's Almost Gone" (1968)
8. Manic Street Preachers - "Indian Summer" (2007)
9. Howard Elliott Payne - "When Summer Has Passed" (2009)
10. Gene - "Long Sleeves for the Summer" (1997)

ALL GOOD BOOKS

Passing the Brooks Brothers near Union Square here in San Francisco yesterday, I noticed a window display built around the newly released True Prep by Lisa Birnbach. A follow-up to Birnbach's 1980 guide to all things Prep, The Official Preppy Handbook, this newer book has been getting a lot of press recently, somehow getting caught up in what appears to be a (minor) renaissance for the Ivy Look. Indeed, Brooks Brothers' endorsement of True Prep extends beyond mere window decoration: Several stops on Birnbach's book tour are at Brooks Brothers locations and there's even a special limited edition version of the book available exclusively at the store.

I can't really offer an honest opinion of the book, as I've read just enough about True Prep to know it's not my thing. My interest in the Ivy Look has more to do with my youthful dabbling in Mod culture, along with my ongoing interest in the looks and sounds of '60s, and while dressing well has always been part of that, something about the whole Preppy aesthetic has always left me cold. There's something effortlessly cool about Ivy and the various ways it influenced Mods, Skinheads and Suedeheads during the '60s, whereas the preppy look always struck me as absurdly ostentatious.

For many, I'm sure there's not much difference and the difference between Ivy and Preppy are perhaps too subtle to grasp, but for anyone interested in the true roots of the Ivy Look, I would recommend the following:

Take Ivy (2010, powerHouse Books)
For the most part a photographic chronicle of the styles that dominated men's fashion on college campuses during the early-to-mid-'60s, Take Ivy was originally published in Japan in 1965 and is considered the definitive document of Ivy style during this era. For years now, original copies have changed hands for hundreds of dollars, and flipping through this first-ever English edition, it's not hard to see why: Teruyoshi Hayashida's photographs perfectly capture this classic look in a way that words simply cannot. It's not a guide or a handbook, but a firsthand example of the way the Ivy Look was worn at its peak. Absolutely essential.

The Ivy Look (2010, Frances Lincoln Limited)
Another treasure trove of images, The Ivy Look combines photos, ads, illustrations and album covers with brief descriptions of the various elements of the Ivy Look for what authors Graham Marsh and JP Gaul describe as "an illustrated pocket guide to classic American clothing." Prior to picking this up, I was only aware of Marsh through his work on a pair of books showcasing the classic album art of Blue Note Records, but JP Gaul's name should be familiar to anyone who was lucky enough to visit London's Ivy mecca J. Simons in Covent Garden before it closed earlier this year. Suffice it to say, both men know their stuff, and this is an excellent overview of the look and a clear guide to the style's essentials.

The Soul Stylists: Forty Years of Modernism (2000, Mainstream Publishing)
Something of a companion piece to Paolo Hewitt's earlier Mod tome, The Sharper Word, The Soul Stylists traces over forty years of Modernist style through interviews with the people actually involved. Based on a concept by Paul Weller, the idea these interviews are meant to put across is that from Mod to Skinhead to Suedehead to Northern Souler to Soulboy to Casual, each of these styles are all part of the Mod ideal. A quick, yet illuminating read, the interviews are broken down chronologically into brief snippets, actually starting in the '40s and then moving forward. John Simons, proprietor of the aforementioned J. Simons, is quoted extensively, explaining how he introduced the Ivy Look to England through the legendary Ivy Shop in Richmond, but what's really fascinating is how elements of Ivy style show up again and again.

The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion (2006, Adelita)
Like The Soul Stylists, The Look sets out to connect the dots between several different (and often disparate) styles, linking them together under the banner of "ultimate cool," as projected by performers of rock and pop music. A fantastic book for anyone interested in either contemporary fashion or the imagery of rock and pop, The Look is of note for Ivy obsessives primarily for Kevin Rowland's wonderful essay, "The Great Lost Look," documenting the transition of Skinhead to Suedehead and the huge impact Ivy had on both looks. John Simons turns up here, too, plus there's some great stuff on such influential sartorialists as John Stephen, Dougie Millings and Lloyd Johnson.

25 September 2010

KNOWLEDGE OF BEAUTY

What a difference a quarter century makes:

Twenty-five years ago, Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners were mocked mercilessly over Rowland's choice to debut the brilliant Don't Stand Me Down in the Ivy League finery he'd found so stylish and inspirational in his youth. As he went to great lengths to explain some years later, the entire image was based around an "all-out American look" he'd first encountered in 1968. Rowland wrote an essay for Paul Gorman's excellent The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion (which is due out soon in an updated edition, from what I understand), describing the style as "a clean, beautiful look" that stood out in sharp contrast against the more hippie-centric styles of the late '60s.

Don't Stand Me Down was released smack dab in middle of the '80s, though, and Harrington jackets, shetland wool crewnecks and neatly parted hair were hardly the order of the day, never mind Brooks Brothers suits, repp ties and cordovan brogues. Even amongst the members of the backing band assembled for the album's promo videos, Rowland, guitarist Billy Adams and violinist Helen O'Hara look distinctly out of place.

Flash forward to 2010, though, and the Ivy Look, or "Trad," as it has been christened by the blogosphere, is alive and well, getting write-ups in GQ, Esquire, Details and a host of major newspapers and featuring prominently in numerous labels' Fall collections. Anyone sporting the look still stands out mind you, but at least there's now an acknowledgemnt of this crisp, clean style's timeless beauty. Kevin Rowland could rock his navy shetland crewneck and khakis today and look just as effortlessly cool now as he did in 1985, I'd wager, but watching the video for "Knowledge of Beauty" (later renamed "My National Pride"), I'm not sure the same could be said for the guys in the backing band...


23 September 2010

22 September 2010

GOOD TIME TONIGHT

If you're a fan of '60s-era psychedelia and British folk and happen to be in San Francisco this evening, you're in luck, because Joe Boyd will be reading from his book White Bicycles about the musicians he discovered, nurtured and produced during the '60s, including Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake and the inevitable "more."

Better still? The incomparable Robyn Hitchcock will be on hand to perform some of their songs and chat with Boyd about those songs' beginnings.

It all takes place tonight at the Swedish American Hall, located at 2174 Market Street, round about 8 pm.

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Mary Elizabeth Winstead

21 September 2010

I'M NOT LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD

...but my imaginary world is better, because there's a compilation of Stevie Jackson's Belle and Sebastian songs out on heavyweight vinyl, and it goes a bit like this:

SIDE ONE
1. Seymour Stein
2. Chickfactor
3. The Wrong Girl
4. Jonathan David
5. Wandering Alone
6. Roy Walker

SIDE TWO
1. (I Believe in) Travellin' Light
2. To Be Myself Completely
3. I Took a Long Hard Look
4. Mr. Richard
5. Long Black Scarf
6. I'm Not Living in the Real World

The CD has Stevie's cover of the Beach Boys' "Good Times" as a bonus track. (Of course.)

WELCOME TO THE DEAD ZONE

AMC's television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's award-winning Image Comics series, The Walking Dead, has a new ad...

I SAW THE LIGHT

The Owl Tree (date unknown)

20 September 2010

ROCK 'N' ROLL

Ryan Adams got it pretty much right:

"Everybody's cool playing rock n roll
Everybody's cool playing rock n roll
I don't feel cool at all
I don't feel cool at all
Send all of my best out to the hand
I don't think I'll make it out to the show
There's this girl I can't get out of my head
There's this girl I can't get out of my head
And I don't feel so cool at all"

16 September 2010

15 September 2010

PICTURES

Here's another photo I love: Stephen Duffy's mantlepiece. This was posted on his blog a while back, and there's something quietly beautiful about it. Only he could tell you the significance of everything he's arranged here, but it speaks to me somehow. There's just a lot of personality and love in this photo, I suppose. It makes me wish the world was a different place.

And that I had a mantlepiece of my own to decorate with the things that inspire me.

You can find Stephen Duffy and his band the Lilac Time over here.

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Nina Persson

WONDROUS PLACE

I finally got to see my friend Paul's new pad in person over the weekend, and I must say, it more than lived up to the promise of that wonderful photo I posted a few days back. Paul's dubbed this atmospheric wonderland "Laurel Canyon North," and it's not hard to see why. Everything about this quiet shelter from conventional city life vibrates with folky '70s-era cool.

Paul has a blog now, incidentally. You can check it out here.

14 September 2010

13 September 2010

SHEEP

Reading about all the various political posturing associated with 9/11 and the segment of the American public that buys into it with willful ignorance reminded me of The Housemartins, particularly the first track below, "Sheep." You see, back in the '80s, when Conservative politics were grinding both England and America down to size for fun and profit, there were a number of bands who actually wrote about what was happening. Listening to a number of The Housemartins' songs today, it struck me how little has changed in the quarter century (!) since they first emerged on the UK popscene. There may be a Democrat in the White House, but there's a Tory at Number 10, and Conservative interests continue to drive political and economic discussion, and regardless of what the rest of us think, it's the gullible, fear-driven sheep who make the political decisions that ultimately shape our government, our lives, our world...



09 September 2010

BEAUTIFUL


08 September 2010

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Francoise Hardy

07 September 2010

PERFECT

My friend Paul sent this out when he moved into his new place in Berkeley, and I don't know what it is exactly, but there's just something beautiful and evocative about this photo.

Maybe it's because it's such perfect shorthand for Paul's personal style, or maybe because it calls to mind an almost forgotten vision of what I thought Berkeley was going to be like before I moved to the Bay Area (almost) six years ago. It could be there's just a bohemian simplicity to it that I secretly yearn for on some level, even though it has been a long and winding path that brought Paul to this wonderfully weathered door.

All I know for certain is it made me tremendously thankful for my friendship with Paul and, more surprisingly, suddenly very homesick for Berkeley...

06 September 2010

DOING IT RIGHT

This news clip about Garland Shirt Company in North Carolina is a few months old, but I thought it seemed fitting to post it on Labor Day. Not all Brooks Brothers clothing is made domestically, but it's nice to know that the company is committed to keeping this plant in business.

It's a shame there aren't more stories like this, because our economy would no doubt be in better shape if corporate greed hadn't dictated outsourcing so many manufacturing jobs.

05 September 2010

HIT PARADE

1. Manic Street Preachers - "Some Kind of Nothingness"
2. Lucky Soul - "Could it Be I Don't Belong Anywhere"
3. The Like - "Don't Make a Sound"
4.
Manic Street Preachers - "I'm Leaving You for Solitude"
5. Yes - "
And You and I (Cord of LIfe; EclIpse; The Preacher The Teacher; Apocalypse)"
6. Pulp - "Wickerman"
7.
Painted Hills - "Kaleidoscope Eyes"
8. The Cardigans - "Over the Water"
9. Paul Weller - "In Amsterdam (Noonday Underground Remix)"
10. Beck - "Ramona"

02 September 2010

WRAPPED UP IN BOOKS

Is there anything better than receiving a package early?

I gots books, and they're everything I was expecting and more:

01 September 2010

MORE, MORE, MORE

She's just impossibly beautiful, isn't she?

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Mia Farrow