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I’m Obsessed With This GIF I Made of Gwen Stefani

20 Dec

Tryna Get That Rich//I’m Obsessed with Iggy Azalea

26 Sep

I knew Iggy Azalea existed somewhere in the popular music sphere; she’s one of those names I was vaguely conscious of but to whom I never sat down and listened intently.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but I listened to Iggy (for real) for the first time on iTunes Radio when GUEST DJ KATY PERRY played (spun?) ‘Work.’ I must have heard it before, because I knew before even looking down at my phone that it was Iggy Azalea, and then the pieces sort of fell into place. I suddenly recognized why this woman was highly regarded in the music industry right now and why her talent is naturally disputed at the same time.

I can really appreciate the message in this part of  “Work”:

You can hate it or love it
Hustle and the struggle is the only thing I’m trusting
Thoroughbred in a mud brick before the budget
White chick on that Pac shit
My passion was ironic
And my dreams were uncommon

Iggy grew up in Australia in a tiny mud brick house built by her father. She’s white and female, yet she listened to Tupac growing up and wanted to be a *famous* rapper. I like and lust after a lot of things, including  hip hop, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to try and make it as a hip hop artist. I respect this woman who had the odds against her in terms of her career choice, but was so passionate and believed in herself so much that she actually went out and made it happen. Mostly, I like this sentiment: take it or leave it. It’s understandable why people wouldn’t immediately accept a white, Australian, female who also happens to be incredibly beautiful as a reputable rap artist– but not everyone needs to. She is talented and she continues to be recognized for it, whether you hate it or love it.

Her first mixtape, Ignorant Art (2011)  pays homage to  many different artists and  still manages to be complex and innovative. The album came out two years ago, and still had such a strong late 90s influence– you can pick up on some musical references to Writings on Wall (1999) and Outkast’s Aquemini (1998). Ignorant Art feels like the album she was meant to produce for a long time, and I say that positively.

Today, it’s unheard of to be a popular artist and to stand by idly while your music takes the stage. Nearly all musical artists are also performance artists–if your music is popular, so too is your public persona. Critics stand at every media outlet and try to make sense of some amalgamation of style and appearance, tweets, music videos and interviews. While I don’t necessarily want to buy into the gawking and speculating, I do appreciate Iggy Azalea as a public persona. She was formerly a model, but she’s not at all waifish or subdued. She’s has an Amazonian-Beyonce thing going on–when you look at her it’s apparent that she’s a very powerful presence and could one day rule the world.

-RR

Scarlett Johansson Doesn’t Sound Like Tom Waits Anymore

24 Mar

 

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Photo Source

 

The credits roll in Chasing Ice, Jeff Orlowski’s Sundance award-winning documentary about Earth’s rapidly changing ecosystems, and over vast, time-lapsed landscapes and photos of falling glaciers set to the Ken Burns’ effect, comes a sorely melancholic and distinguished croon, channeling Etta James and Billie Holiday-a voice that most likely never had a brief stint in narco-pop, never once sang in an octave so low that only Tom Waits himself could make out some of the notes. Oh, wait.

Scarlett Johannson, who, among classic good looks, big lips and other body proportion-related phenomenons is known for her Lauren Bacall speaking voice, was a blip on the musical radar with, “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” a Tom Waits cover album she released in 2008 that confused listeners everywhere. Mostly, though, the world breathed a sigh of relief, and subsequently sent out a “na-na-na-boo-boo” to Johannson, in, ‘See, you can’t be good at everything,’ fashion. But the world was wrong.

The track in Chasing Ice, “Before my Time,” written by J. Ralph and performed by Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell is a redolent echo of adolescence lost and love forgotten, or, in keeping with the theme of film, cataclysmic carbon footprints. It received an Oscar nomination, broke a few hearts and completely dispelled the notion that Johansson can’t sing. In fact, J. Ralph personally chose Johansson to perform the song because she has what he calls a, “word-class voice,” adding that she could have led an equally successful career as a vocalist as she has as an actor. If that’s the case, though, what’s taking so long to find her niche in the music world?

Johansson took another stab at recording an album in 2009 when she collaborated with Pete Yorn on his album, Break Up. Unfortunately, the album hardly showcased her voice at all as it was lazily recorded on a few afternoons, according to Pitchfork. Yorn puts Johansson’s vocals through a filter most of the time, and although she’s exploring a higher range and sounds perfectly on point, it’s Zooey-Deschanel-esque uninspired and cutesy, which is such a drastic about-face away from the  direction of her solo album. She sounds more like a tool to beef-up each track than an integral part of a duet.

When you think about it, “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” wasn’t the most unbecoming album for Johansson’s image and, more importantly, her voice. “Song For Jo,” the only original song off the album, harkens back to the feminist/grunge-era Liz Phair and the almost-out-of-her-range, frothy, guttural track, “Glory” off Exile in Guyville. It’s no secret that Liz Phair used to kick some serious ass in the 90s, using her deadpan to signal how little of a damn she gave.

Johansson, on the other hand, was perceived as stagnant and dry in her musical stylings circa 2008.

In “Before my Time,” Johansson utilizes her brighter, more feminine vocal register, while still maintaining the lonely, smoky crackle with which each note withers and dies. At long last she is emitting the emotion that most of her on-screen characters seem to conceal. Instead of falling asleep to her voice, we’re shedding a slow, silent tear or two.

Not to downplay J. Ralph’s achievement with the composition, but “Before My Time,” is much more digestible than anything Tom Waits ever did. Therefore, Johansson’s involvement is better received than her attempt to recreate something so anti-mainstream, so lacking in form. Refreshing as it is to applaud unaltered, clean vocals (Ralph didn’t put any effects on Johansson’s voice) it’s worth a moment of hesitation before we boo an artist’s attempt at something challenging and unconventional.

-RR

“I Love LA”- Randy Newman

21 Feb

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Los Angeles exists only in dreams. Stagnant, smoky pink skies and rows of angled palm trees. Dry heat lightly coats the edges of the skyline like a fresh watercolor, then burns a darker yellow before giving in to the night. I pinch myself.

Save for one evening of debauchery, my trip was relatively tame, slow. I had the privilege of taking everything in and drifting with no purpose, of picking a place on a map and following the dotted line to my destination.

Here are some places I visited (and would visit again!):

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(image source: letsdosomethingawesome)

Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (a no-brainer)

As soon as we got to the UCB Theater on Franklin Ave, I felt like I was a part of something. We jumped in a line that extended past a healthf0od cafe and a used book store for Doug Benson’s, “Doug Loves Movies” (free) live podcast. Kids in line said, “for sure” and referred to Doug Benson as just, “Doug,” as in, I’m going to see Doug tonight. The theater is intimate and modest, with about 150 movie theater chairs and a dusty, plywood stage painted black.

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Wild Style (And other stores on Melrose Avenue)

If I had free reign over a retail store and a disposable income, I would have invented Wild Style. The clothes are tastefully gaudy and practically imaginative. Trinkets are displayed on little carousels and everything is neon, clean and bright.

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Griffith Park & Observatory

I’d offer up any given limb to have a life where I wake up in the morning and head to Griffith Park to walk my dog. The snaking paths up alongside the mountain aren’t easy, but lush and cinematic–very evocative of LA life and culture. Amidst traffic and smog, this is a perfect escape to nature.

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Sunset Beer, Echo Park

Extremely fucking hip. Sunset Beer is tucked away in one of LA’s thousand or more strip malls, but is, not surprisingly, a hidden gem. Pick a single beer out of the cooler from a six pack and expect to pay liquor store prices. Seriously. I got my favorites stouts and porters for $1-$3 each.

The Secret Headquarters comic book store in Los Angeles

Photo credit (http://thesecretheadquarters.com/)

Secret Headquarters Comic Book Shop, Silverlake

Of course, there’s no shortage of comic book stores in LA, but Secret Headquarters is my favorite. They have book release parties, literary fiction graphic novels that I haven’t been able to find in other stores since, and zines. (I actually found a zine made by someone from my hometown.) And it’s right next to Vacation Vinyl!

 

Enjoy:

RR

Stilettos on Broken Bottles

21 Jan

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[[[[[I’m Obsessed with Body Talk pt. 1]]]]]

‘Obsession’ seems a little stale in the context of my love for Robyn.  I’m tired of hearing myself think about her album. I’m tired of dancing to ‘Dancing On My Own’ alone in my living room. I’m tired of searching for acoustic covers of ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ on  YouTube.  These things seem to happen against my will.

[[[[“Love Hurts When You Do it Right/You can Cry When You Get Older”]]]]]

I first listened to Body Talk in its entirety on a power walk in the dark through my town. Now every time I hear Love Kills it conjures images of a swing set lit by a streetlamp. Dancehall Queen is a greenhouse and a dried-up Imperialist-era fountain.

At first listen a lot of the songs on Body Talk felt like throw-aways, especially compared to instant classics like, Dancing on my Own, Call Your Girlfriend and Indestructible.  We Dance to the Beat is a nearly unbearable one trick pony, and its placement in the album seemed to belabor the listening process. I couldn’t get behind Snoop’s verse in U Should Know Better— how many times can he use the phrase “What it do”? Is he trying to remind us of his better/earlier work so that we forgive him for going so soft? Love Kills and Stars 4-Ever have redeeming qualities, but they weren’t so apparent the first time I heard them.

[[[[“It’s a big black sky over my town/I know where you @ I bet she’s around”]]]]]

It hit me later, though, that although not each track is a gem, (but Jesus I-can-not-stress-enough how good the good songs are) as a whole, the album calls to me, reminds me of the building dissonance in None of Dem and the cut-up “Y-y-you should know better,” the surprising melody behind the lines, “Can’t tell what’s right or wrong/I wish that something could be done/I’m not that clever” in Get Myself Together. Ugh. So good. It hurts.

[[[[[“None of ‘Dem Get My Sex/None of ‘Dem Move my Intellect”]]]]]

The album is so poppy it feels anti-pop–it’s 80s dance anthems with bright house-like interludes–mixed with lyrics that have more integrity than anything comparably catchy.


I love this song. Her outfit. Her dancing.

 

Dummy Magazine did a great interview with Robyn. Check it out.

http://www.dummymag.com/features/2010/07/05/robyn-interview-yeah-always-/

GOODNIGHT.

 

 

Obsessed Wish List

6 Jan

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This week, I’d like to do a sort of compilation post to encompass all of the things encircling my mind– at least in the material sense– and highlight not one, but many different obsessions. Ideally, this will turn into a monthly trend where I use scents, books, music and fashion to sum up how I’m feeling.

Yesterday I went into Sephora to kill time while my boyfriend was browsing DVD’s at Best Buy. The amalgamations of scents jogged an ambiguous mass of memories; of living in Boston in 2008 and wandering around the Prudential center when there was nothing else to do. Maybe it was in part due to the sangria I had with my goat cheese and candied walnut salad moments before, but I was hit with a wave of longing for another time. I feel safe in my surroundings these days; a steady relationship, roommates that I’ve known for years, a small town in which no bar or restaurant houses any secrets, streets without corners to which I’m a stranger, neon signs that, due to repeatedly driving past, I hardly consider anymore.

Boston, though not a highlight in my life, allowed me to feel lost and naive. Granted I was five years younger, but the big-ish city managed to swallow me up and I relished in that a little. In Sephora i ran my hands over tiny jars of glitter, overpriced shampoo and perfumes bottles of a wealthier me– I wanted immediately to be with close female friends, searching for just the right concealer in preparation for that evening’s house party in a cramped hallway somewhere on Mission Hill.

Instead of buying, I browsed and fantasized. Here’s what I would have bought if I’d had the funds:

#1- Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift

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I don’t know what it is about this perfume, or Taylor Swift. I joke about being obsessed with her, but it’s not a joke anymore. Taylor Swift rules. I go on binges and watch a lot of her music videos and interviews. She’s surprisingly humble, writes her own songs and is a decent guitar player. I don’t like country music, but her songs are so catchy they are irresistible. Oh yeah, and her perfume smells so damn good! The bottle is adorable, too.

#2- Soap & Glory Tired-Eye Brightening Serum

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UK brand- awesome logo and packaging.

#3- Color-Minded Shampoo by Bumble and bumble

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Nothing appeals to me more than Shampoo I can’t afford. This one smells exceptionally good.

 

Aside from things I want and can’t have, there are a few things that I do have that are keeping me afloat right now.

What I’m Listening to:

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I know very little about Robyn and I’d like to keep it that way. She works well as an enigma. I recommend Dancing on My Own, Indestructible and Call Your Girlfriend.

What I’m (re)Reading

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A woman that I couch-surfed with in Brooklyn gave me this for free. There are a bunch of notes penciled in the margins in Spanish.

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Subscribing to BULLETT  is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What I’m Watching

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I got my roommates into Buffy, which is great news for me as I get to watch the entire series again. I’m also reading the comics. I love when Buffy wears a leather jacket and a cross. I manipulated the photo a bit, but it’s from http://sydsbuffyblog.tumblr.com/page/3.

Happy Winter!

-RR

This Town is Coming Like a Ghost Town

31 Dec

ghost-world

[[[[OR- I’m Obsessed with Ghost World]]]]

A dye-stained towel sits limp on Thora Birch’s shoulders as, for a moment, she admires her fresh, dark locks in Enid’s mirror on the reverse side of her medicine cabinet. Devil Got My Woman plays as an overture.

I feel bit like Enid when I get dressed– not to up my street cred or make myself out to be full of adolescent angst– but I’m flooded with a sense of satisfaction and empowerment when I see my own freshly dyed hair for the first time in the haven that is my bedroom, bopping around in my socks to a Patti Smith record, my wooden floor heated by chunks of sunlight settling in.  (Actually, my mornings are more reminiscent of the scene where Enid shakes loose a full head of post-shower green hair while listening to the Buzzcocks.)

Changing her appearance is one of the few thrills left for Enid post-high school, besides chasing after lonely Seymour (Steve Buscemi) or finding a Cat Woman mask at a sex shop and wearing it around town. It’s the 1990’s in an unnamed town, and Enid Coleslaw is a punk-rocker-college-reject looking to shed the stagnancy of suburbia.

In the comic book, writer Daniel Clowes (who also wrote the screenplay for the movie) makes a cameo as a creepy, pervy artist that Enid is attracted to, much like the Steve Buscemi character that movie-Enid befriends, shares music with and sleeps with only to be hurt when he finds true, age-appropriate romance in the end.

Seymour is first introduced in the movie when Enid and her best friend Rebecca (played by ScarJo) answer a personals ad that Seymour put in the paper. They arrange to meet him in a diner, then snicker in the corner while he gets stood up by his imaginary date. The two meet again at a garage sale where Seymour is selling records. He recommends one with Skip James’ Devil Got My Woman, which Enid will eventually listen to on repeat.  Once you hear the song you’re apt to do the same.

Another iconic song from the Ghost World movie is “What do I Get” by the Buzzcocks. It seems to sum up Enid’s inner turmoil and it’s just generally a great song. Oddly enough, it’s not included on the movie’s soundtrack.

Even more iconic than the music are Enid’s signature and varied outfits. She’s always wearing something outrageous and inventive, usually with a different pair of glasses that probably aren’t prescription.

I’ve always wanted an excuse to use Polyvore, so below I’ve re-created some of Enid’s outfits. I also found out that these girls re-created her Raptor t-shirt, (they drew the Raptor by hand) and are selling it on Etsy. Alas, they sold out of ’em, but the shirt is featured below. The interpretations of these outfits are a little loose, but they capture Enid pretty well.

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I could stand to be a little better at Polyvore.

RR