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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

‘Flexible Values’: Vanessa Billy Exhibition

Limoncello, 13th March- 12th April

Written by Beth Richards

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With such dry, look visit ironic observations as ‘home is where the house is‘, this cialis 40mg Superabundance introduces itself as a melodious continuation of the faux-geek, visit web insightful pop-rock that first emerged in Voices of Animals and Men, but proceeds to take us on a spiralling journey into the dark depths of the Young Knives‘ psyche. In Terra Firma, we are confronted with the beginnings of the climactic incantations that slowly envelop us in a humming and howling hypnosis in Current of the River, which follows a sombre, medieval chant in the delightfully foreboding, pagan harmonies of Mummy Light the Fire. I don’t like to compare bands, but I found some of their wistful, nautical narratives redolent of the Decemberists‘ historical fictions.

While the insinuations of suicide in Counters left me feeling tempted to phone the three band members to see that they were alright, Rue the Days has a positively nonchalant nineties feel and Flies, a gentle meditation on the natural world, seems to encapsulate a recurring fascination with human-animal relationships; a little idiosyncratic perhaps, but I get the feeling this album is somewhat an eruption of the Young Knives’ musical multiple personality.

I listened to every word of the album, and realised it was poetry; a super abundance of philosophical metaphors immersed in a synthesis of unexpected genres, undulating from pensive, orchestral flickers to thick, satisfying explosions of bass, good old enthusiastic shouting and some of the catchiest hooks around. It may leave you weeping, but it may just as well have you running out the house in your dancing shoes.

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Photograph by Jason Nocito

Thrilling things happen when oddballs get their hands on dance music, sickness and Hercules And Love Affair are the perfect latest example of that. These five colourful characters currently breathing new life into disco are an NYC-based collective comprising of Hawaiian-born jewellery designer/DJ Kim Ann Foxman, illness Amazonian CocoRosie and Debbie Harry collaborator Nomi, about it gay B-boy dancer Shayne, Miss Piggy-loving ex-waiter Andrew Butler and new rave hoodie-donning keyboardist Morgan. And then there’s Antony Hegarty of course, he of the Johnsons fame, and it is his beautifully crooning vocals combined with the pulsing rhythms, incessant bassline and playful horns of Blind that has worked both dancefloor enthusiasts and bloggers into a frenzy since it leaked onto the internet late last year.

The outfit’s self-titled debut is littered with more of his famously melancholic performances over shimmering beat-driven efforts, but do this eccentric bunch have the talent and songwriting capabilities to sustain an entire album? The answer is yes – by the bucketload. Hercules And Love Affair slinks delicately into action with dark and sultry opener Time Will as Hegarty pleads “I cannot be half a wife” repeatedly over finger clicks and minimal backing before segueing nicely into Hercules Theme; a more upbeat affair driven by sweeping strings, soft female vocals and discordant brass snatches. This track along with the light and breezy sway of Athene, Iris’ stripped down stomp and the headspin-inducing walking bassline and scat singing of closer True False/Fake Real prove that Butler and co. can shine magnificently even when they don’t play the Antony trump card. One trick ponies this lot certainly are not.

Blind, of course, is sumptuous, sounding more and more like a classic with every listen, but it is cushioned by album tracks that each stand up admirably alongside it, and which reference everything from Chicago house to punk funk, techno and disco simultaneously through the irresistible ice cold veneer conjured up by killer production duo main-man Butler and DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy. In fact, Hercules And Love Affair is the perfect example of an epic work so cleverly constructed that its wide-ranging influences seep out subtly instead of bombarding the listener. Heartbreaking and dramatic yet utterly danceable, it boasts intelligence, heart and soul and features musical prowess that will stop you dead in your tracks. Prepare for this to soundtrack your life for months to come.

Once upon a time there was a hunter, help who woke one day to find himself transformed into the deer he killed before he had rested. Is he now the hunter? Or is he the prey?

Fashion, illness performance, advice and storytelling merged into one as Daydream Nation’s design duo Kay and Jing presented their ominous tale ‘Good Night Deer’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Whilst the audience sauntered in, a man stood behind the branched mic stand donning a furry animal head. He cackled, and whistled, and screeched, and crooned ‘There’s nothing in this world for you my dear’, whilst the band played at his side. The stage had morphed into a forest.

The lights dimmed, and the performers crept in with what looked like a white drum, acting as a moon. Each of them haunted the stage wearing sleeveless t-shirts in dark brown, with bark print on the front. By pulling them up over their heads giving the illusion of trees, the indoor theatre became a night scene. With all the garments made by manipulating old clothes, Kay and Jing create new myths each season. Two girls merged together in one outfit and became a deer, whilst others had t-shirts, and dresses in earthy beiges, browns and greens, and were embroidered with antlers and deer’s.

A large silver sheet was laid on the floor, with the hunter concealed beneath it. It rustled, and lifted, before finally revealing the deer. Looking up at its audience, it was literally a deer caught in the headlights. Draped coats fastened up with bows, and a brown pinafore was worn over a silk, blue blouse. Daydream Nation’s show was an utterly enjoyable evening, full of enthusiasm and creativity.

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I LOVE THIS SONG SO MUCH.

Young Love is the beautifully melancholic ode of a one-night stand. The Mystery Jets are bang-on in featuring Laura Marling, more about the latest young darling of the music scene, tadalafil on the first single to be taken from their second album, Twenty One. I’ve never been a huge Mystery Jets fan (I wasn’t fooled, and I most certainly wasn’t called Denis) but the dialogue between Laura and Blaine telling both sides of a brief encounter won me over within the first ten seconds.

In a move I haven’t seen since the works of Jane Austen, the love affair is cut short by that damnably unpredictable British weather. Far from regarding this as twee, the lyrics “you wrote your number on my hand but it came off in the rain” melted my icily sarcastic heart.

Laura sings of how “young love never seems to last”, and it’s with this stark honesty the dialogue tells of the ephemeral nature of youthful liaisons and the quiet acceptance of the pains of growing up. It’s this self-effacing honesty combined with the vintage handclaps, oohs and aahs that create one of the best pop songs of this year.

Oh, and check out the video: it’s bound to be at the top of the YouTube hit parade in no time, as Laura and the Mystery Jet boys are involved in a game of human curling. Now that should be an Olympic sport.
‘Five Portraits of Cloth’, site a large scale, tadalafil cunningly crafted work by Jayne Archard could have been an enveloping piece – if it hadn’t had to compete with cramped canteen style tables and chairs. The Tricycle Gallery suffers a problem often seen in community arts spaces: areas are not properly defined, this meaning that an exhibition space can be transformed into a cinema’s ante-room, and a café’s overspill seating space. I’m all for showing artwork in something other than the traditional White Cube, but it can only be a hindrance to the work when you have to battle with a chair to see it properly.

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is part of the Tricycle Gallery’s Recent Graduates 2008 programme; giving artists like Archard and Knight valuable exposure that can be difficult to achieve so soon after graduation. Regrettably, in this case the work shown doesn’t function as well in the outside world as in the bubble of the art college – why should the artists assume that all the gallery goers would be able to read, or even care about, the references to conceptual art history? Adam Knight’s ‘Studio Corner (After Mel Bochner)‘(below) is an interesting photograph that investigates illusion and the documentation of a sculptural object, so why the need for the clever nudges and winks to those with a subscription to Art Review?

Even the title of this show is taken from Bochner‘s influential exhibition: ‘Working Drawings And Other Visible Things On Paper Not Necessarily Meant To Be Viewed As Art‘. In the confines of the art college studio, Archard and Knight’s works are accessible as the viewers are more likely to have a similar knowledge to that of the makers. In the Tricycle Gallery, a space attached to a café, theatre and cinema in Kilburn, the art history allusions can seem like an elitist in-joke. I can see that Knight’s work in particular could be viewed as a playful re-working of ideas about Minimalism and Conceptual Art, but unfortunately the humour falls short.

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Walking into Gramaphone five minutes into Tom James Scott‘s set was not a good idea. His music sounded so delicate that even the whir of the drinks refrigerators was distracting, this web so the sound of a door opening and two stumbling youths almost threatened to destroy the ethereal atmosphere he had created. His fragile guitar sound had an almost filmic quality; evoking images of cinematic landscapes. The performance seemed shyly self conscious, order perhaps a little fractured, but in a way that only enhanced its subtle beauty.

The acapella sound that began Wounded Knee’s set also demanded the audience’s full attention: the quiet fell once more. The singular figure of Drew Wright concocted an alchemy of sounds that ranged from the ghostly to the jubilant. Relying on effects pedals to build up intricate and textured music, the songs still sounded firmly traditional. Who’d have thought that a looped kazoo and bassy scat singing could sound so Gaelic! His music contrasts a sense of history with a playful method of music-making to create a joyful racket.

Having been lulled into a state of wooziness by the last two acts, I’m not sure I was quite ready for Jenny Hoyston. Perhaps it wasn’t that well-considered a line up by Upset The Rhythm, as previously I was more than eager to see the solo efforts of Erase Errata’s vocalist/guitarist. Hoyston’s back and forth with the audience seemed to amuse most people present, but to me it jarred after the pathos of James Scott and Wounded Knee. However, there’s no doubt that the slightly scrappy sound of Hoyston and her drummer revived me slightly; driven on by the sparse yet considered drum sound. Brief, low fi songs shined when they included rhythmic Krautrock references. It’s just a shame that the vitality of Hoyston’s music seemed oddly displaced after the previous acts.

The toilet paper is really thin here in Brazil. And it’s tropical as all hell. In an invigorating, this though makes-me-wilt-severely kinda way. And that’s about all I have to complain about so far.

We’ve been here since Wednesday and since then it’s been non-stop. We touched down on Wednesday at 6.30am after a smooth and fairly non-eventful flight on a Brazilian airline. The lights inside the cabin were getting all new rave and glo-stick on us, prostate which I actually quite enjoyed. Plenty of leg room, this site and even better: not one, but TWO spare seats adjacent to us. I live for the movies and the food when I fly, and was really impressed with the whole thing until I settled in to watch Nanny Diaries, when halfway through it, it switched over to Pirates of the Caribbean in Portugese. Nooooooooo I’m forever doomed to the dis-satisfaction of never being bothered to want to watch the first half of that film again to get to the part where Nanny gets with cute boy and affects loving change in her employers’ lives.
The effects of global warming are clearly upon us. Whether it’s on the front page of the newspaper, stuff or staring us right in the face, abortion climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing us today. Blooming and reproducing in February; even nature and wildlife seem to be getting confused what time of year it is! The world seems to be wilting before our eyes. Environmental activists have been pushing the seriousness of this problem for a long time now, and thankfully the rest of the world are starting to take note. Artists, historically, are often first on the mark too, defining such issues. ‘Climate 4 Change’ exhibition does just that.

Leaflets and posters emblazoned with ‘Campaign against climate change’, and ‘Do you know the constitution of human rights?’ overwhelmed me as I entered. The smell of incense hit my nose.

Allie Biswas’ ‘No Rave’ painting (below) propped against the wall on the floor. Her abstract blue painting was organic, with orange, green and yellow forms, often dripping down the canvas. Frustrated with the ‘anonymous’ theme running throughout the exhibition, she claimed her work by scribbling her name on a post-it-note, and sticking it to the wall.
In the ‘Bombastic Bureau’, a man with his oversized army jacket, wearing a shiny wrestling mask protests: ‘Don’t worry I’m here, here to kill the rabbit!’ As the notes on a keyboard haunted the space, on the wall were projections of war. In a small room on its own was a short film where hands pushed and pulled, gripped and slipped throughout, defining gravity.

There was a small, perspex house, suitable for a hamster, but filled with furniture, beds, a TV, kitchen, even a parked car outside. Sawdust covered the floor, and food pellets spilled over the sink. Opposite, a man sat on the floor and asked me to shred pages of newspaper. As I proceeded on doing so, he took the tears, put them in a sealable food bag, and signed it ‘Don’. “What does it mean?” I asked, “It would take too long, I’ll tell you in the pub afterwards! Make of it what you want,” he replied. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make of it, and maybe he didn’t either, but the bag is sitting next to me now, so thank you Don!

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Glasgow School of Arts textiles degree has churned out some pretty talented folk in its time; Jonathan Saunders and Pam Hogg are just two of their previous students. So all eyes will be on the graduates showcasing their womenswear collections in the Fashion as Textiles show at the Atrium Gallery. This exhibition aims to explore the relationship between textiles and fashion and dispel the idea of these as two separate disciplines.
Suspended from the ceiling Emmi Lahtinen‘s simple shift dresses hang like clouds, more about weightless yet substantial. Inspired by Finnish minimalism and Cecil Beaton, Lahtinen’s dresses embody a sense of light, depth and wonder. Her rain-soaked palate of greys, blues and greens are created using a mixture of screen printing and dying with digital inkjets.
Inspired by the stained glass windows in Glasgow’s Burrell Collection, Lori Marshall’s collection features high-waisted leggings with digital-prints of stained glass, laser etched velour and layered tops of sheer fabric with Tudor-style ruffled necklines.
Florence To moves away from conventional approaches to textile design. Working in neutral colours, To wraps strips of raffia and polyvinyl around wooden rings. These are linked together to create large-scale accessories, which are draped over tailored silhouettes, creating serene and lightweight designs.
Combining woven fabrics with synthetic materials, Shona Douglas’ collection challenges traditional approaches to weaving. Using raw edged silks and wools cut to fold around the body, Douglas’s skirts and tunics combine a rough-hewn aesthetic with a minimalist approach.
Huddling in the corner like a murder of crows, Louise Browns blue and black coats are dramatic and elegant, featuring appliquéd velvet roses, and topped with light-as-moor-mist ruffles. Brown focuses on volume and as a quote from Coco Chanel overhead reminds us: ‘Fashion is architecture, it is a matter of proportions’.
Although the layout of the Atrium means that some of the students have had to cramp their work into one corner, the gallery is flooded is light and its size allows intimacy, encouraging a closer view of the clothes and highlighting the details that are missed in fashion shows. That these textiles stand up to this level of scrutiny is a testimony to the talent of these promising designers.

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Seven pound alcoholic ‘Coconut Grenades’ combined with WAG central a la Mahiki Bar was perhaps not the ideal location for treating my ears to a lovely bit of Swedish pop. However, cialis 40mg I was determined not to let jersey sequinned smock dresses and trout pouts get in the way of seeing my new favourite female artist, stomach Lykke Li, who EVERYONE who is anyone is talking about, singing her wee heart out whilst shakin’ them hips, and proceeded to squeeze my way to the front of the unjustifiably ostentatious venue.

The best thing to come out of Sweden since momma’s homemade meatballs, this innocent-looking, (looking being the operative word) Bambi-eyed 21-year old starlet knocked me off my feet that fine evening, and left me hungry for more. Performing late in the night under extremely dim lighting – advanced apologies about the video quality – it was initially hard to get into the mood, but when Lykke’s alluring voice rang out to Dance, Dance, Dance it was effortless to let go of all previous pent-up bitterness; a perfectly chosen track to start off the show. Creating an all round exhilarating but unperturbed ambience, she continued to deliver hefty handfuls of arousing yet sensitive, alternative pop, with tracks such as I’m Good I’m Gone packing a jaunty punch with an attitude, the heart-wrenching Tonight, and the most painfully addictive song of the year, Little Bit, which just happens to be her forthcoming single. Sincere and honest words of unrequited love, pain, lust and heartache were sung in an omen to the most complicated of relationships.

With dance moves as quirky as her Princess Leia inspired hair-do, and mountainous amounts of raw energy, the pretty young thing owned the stage and was within her own element, even with the rather challenging audience present. Hopefully the next time Lykke will be down in London town her team will be able to find a better-suiting venue to compliment such fine talent. Now if you excuse me, I shall be off to listen to her album, Youth Novels, on repeat again and again. And again.

Lykke Li performing ‘Little Bit’ live @ Mahiki – for more Amelia’s videos click away: AMELIA’S VIDS.
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If Kate Bush was a man, prostate joined a book club with Joy Division, had Patrick Wolf over for cups of tea on a regular basis and they all did each others’ make-up on ketamine, this collective of genius might have produced sounds equivalent to FrYars‘ musical offering. Following last year’s EP The Ides, The Perfidy is a keyboard-borne manifestation of this scenario of auditory dreams, but with unique elements that only FrYars – the pseudonym of nineteen-year-old Ben Garrett – could create; songs formed from prose, telling melancholic folk stories of treacherous impregnation, ‘evil’ and the collapsing marriage of a novelist: “Now you can see there’s a mess you’re in/ No problem solved without ketamine/ And it’s probably best that you stay in your hole/ For I’d rather stick to my ethanol”. The video for Olive Eyes is like a French film noir starring Garrett as a New Romantic enshrouded in horrifying shadows, contemptuously eating a bowl of cornflakes. Indeed, there is something of the k-hole that lingers in this slightly nightmarish scene, but something equally intriguing and seductive; a conflicting attraction which the music itself also provokes. I imagine it is most probable that when he finished the making of this EP, FrYars raised Lord Nelson from the dead, had a duel with him, and won; such is the strength of the message that anything is possible, subliminally communicated through FrYars’ astonishingly original work. Kismet, Hardy! I’m off to join that book club.
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Cruel schoolyard carrot-top (FYI, dosage Redhead Lauren says carrot tops are actually green you bullies) nicknames are to be no more. Gingers got a makeover courtesy of number one, find handsome Ron Weasley, and number two, the quiet but feisty popstrel from Girls Aloud, Nicola Roberts.

In collaboration with luxury cosmetics brand Jelly Pong Pong, the less talked about girl band member has introduced a new make-up range in celebration of pale-skinned Celtic beauties, such as our lovely fashion Ed, Miss. McColl. Dainty Doll offers beautifying products from neutral bases and eye shadows to blushing pink lip-glosses; everything a girl needs to achieve China doll cheeks and plumped up babydoll lips to compliment the whitest of complexions.

For the lucky sun-kissed goddesses out there, their finest offerings include shimmering Venus magical pearls for highlighting your most exquisite features, and gourmet lip salves (which claim to rekindle your soul), comprised of the most indulgent ingredient list of chocolate, sugar, milk, liquorice and honey. Yum yum. Packaging is just as decadent – little pocket-sized boxes in all shapes and sizes, gilded, embossed and ribboned, all dusted off with a little sparkle. If you’re one for splashing out on such facial décor then succumb to these divine temptations, but be prepared to shell out for such extravagance.

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Yes, capsule I know, another ethical, ‘save the planet’ calico bag, but when elite designers start getting their mitts on them you know you can only expect the finest. Eley Kishimoto has teamed up with Cancer Research UK in aid of raising money to help fund research towards beating cancer by launching a self-effacing, reusable organic cotton bag printed (with water based inks, might I add) with a humble orange owl upon a vivid blue moon. No fat ‘I’m not a plastic bag‘ slogans all over the front, this simple bag aims to cause effect without having to rub it in everyone’s faces.

I am not one for drumming the fact that we’re practically killing the planet just by breathing, into your sullied ears, but if we can help out Mother Nature as well as donate to a reputable charity that saves lives, then surely it’s worth forking out a measly £2.99 for this little gem? With countless designs of new reusable bags on the scene it’s become easier than ever to become slightly greener, but add that extra solicitous factor by choosing this bag in particular. Take your wee owl home from March the 1st at all Cancer Research UK shops.

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After much self-inflicted blasting of Night Ripper into mine ears upon the bus of 149, page I was expecting a paramount performance from mash-up DJ Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk of Pennsylvania. However, as I am always told, expectations are the set up of disappointment and with an upset stomach and a screaming, head-splitting, keyboard bashing duo beforehand, the evening was doing a pretty good job of weaning it’s way out of my good books. I had failed to notice a fat ‘Boston’ logo on the front sign beforehand, so when I realised that all corners of the venue were filled with Americans, I began feeling slightly odd and insignificant. I am still unsure of why it felt so outlandish; it was as if I’d been teleported to a different country of alien species without prior warning, but then again, perhaps Girl Talk was SO brilliant he may just have had an avid Yankee following in London, which can only be a good sign. Maybe.

American sacrilege aside, after the shrieking teenagers had fled the stage, some random greasy-haired technician began setting up laptops, but a closer look assured me it was actually Gregg himself. Disappointed I may have been with his original mundane attire, but after much faffing about for half an hour gaffataping wires, he reappeared with trendy headband, red hoody and dirty grey joggers in tow. After a semi-haughty ‘God bless America’ speech (the crowd went wild as you’d expect- those crazy ruffians), he finally delivered the goods. His signature style of cut and paste hip-hop beats and rhymes layered on top of indie and old school classics failed to disappoint, and moments in, EVERYONE, including myself, unashamedly ambushed the stage to rave with the sweaty mongrel (who looked like he’d just come from ‘The Last Supper‘ as Amy observed). Arms were up in the air, bottoms were sticking out, a few gun fingers were on show, and wet hair was swishing all over the place – but what made it extra bizarre was Gregg’s eagerness to join in with the crowd; all lines between celebrity and public civilians were lost amidst the revelry. His delirious washing machine moves led to the flinging of his clothes everywhere from top to bottom, but thankfully, I think, his boxers just about stayed on as a rampant fan yanked at one side giving me a perfect snap happy opportunity of half his buttocks. Scroll down to take an exclusive look – you perverts.

It was best that the early curfew of fifteen minutes past midnight was kept in place, as if I’d danced anymore I might have keeled over like one of the drunken frantic girls there who fell off a table three times, each time insisting she get back on her high horse. Electrifying this hairy man was, and I shall certainly be inviting him over to the UK again to DJ at my house sometime; providing he keeps his clothes on, of course.

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Music ed’s note: Did you scroll down before you read the whole post? You should be ashamed of yourselves!

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Go Team Owain…!

Students in the third year of the graphic design course at CSM displayed a vast selection of work in progress for our beady little eyes to admire last night, thumb in a miniature room filled to the brim with people of all sorts. Busy enough to form an orderly queue outside, it was a shame I couldn’t get a better opportunity to see everyone’s work properly, before another person elbowed me in the head. But a packed out venue usually equals a successful evening, so on their behalf it was most probably a good thing.

If I am to be honest, we initially had the ulterior motive of supporting our fellow team member at Amelia’s, Owain Thomas, but his work was enough to impress us in its own right. A dab hand with the paintbrush, he remains one of the more traditional artists whom paint monochromatically with tones, shadow and light, provoking emotions of an eerie and paranormal nature. Not content with showing off his natural flair for drawing, he also composed the projected film animation show reel, revealing a series of short films by the students to accompany their 2D wall illustrations. Owain’s in particular, an advert for Vigorsol chewing gum, exposed the quirkier side of his persona, in contrast to the more sinister undertones of his black and grey paintings. On the other end of the spectrum, Takasuke Yamanda presented child-like ink sketches of story tale characters, bringing me back to the age of innocence with a sweep of his brush. Foo Chi Ip was more comfortable with the simplicity of pen and white paper, and displayed the most delicate, and almost fragile illustrations of Japanese anime inspired mystical characters. The flight of imagination ran throughout other pieces, with Tara Cloak’s ‘King of the Birds 1′ where woodland birds’ heads replaced those of humans, all arranged in some sort of circular dancing-cult ritual.

If all artists of tomorrow showed such exuberance for illustration as these hard-working students did, critics like us would have an extremely hard time scrutinizing them when we get invited to such private openings. I now only have high hopes for the finished goods, as the work I have already had a taste of is only the start of something en route to excellence I am sure.

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This Parisian trio really are filthy. From clipped beat-driven opener Homecoming onwards, look Reality Check is ridden with lewd lyrics and sordid sounds delivered in charming broken English and inspired by an impressive range of influences from Slayer, viagra 40mg Nirvana, sickness Weezer
and Dillinger Escape Plan to M83, Jacques Lu Cont, Madonna and Beverly Hills 90210.

This striking first track sets The Teenagers‘ impish intentions out perfectly as it paints a humorous picture of an adolescent holiday fling. Like a synth-tinged, mischievous take on Grease’s Summer Nights, the male vocal boasts about “fu*king American c*nt” while the naïve cheerleader in question swoons over her English romance. The band then turn their attentions to seducing someone new as breathy electro pop offering French Kiss finds them in a girl’s bedroom watching Dirty Dancing and offering a “French kiss on your soft lips”.

But this impeccably dressed, easy on the eye bunch are not just here to brag about past conquests and have their wicked way with the ladies; they mix alcohol-soaked anecdotes that would make your elders blush with witty cultural references, tell tales of violence on the streets of their hometown, address everyday teenage issues and bare their souls post-break-up. During string-tinged breezy ballad Wheel Of Fortune, for example, they ask what their lives would be like if they’d been popular at school and whether they would dance in the same way if they’d never seen Michael Jackson, Sunset Beach – their account of being dumped after a one night stand – finds them seething the refrain “this fu*king bitch deserves to die”, End Of The Road is a Cure-esque epic about the end of a love affair and Fuck Nicole was written about a Myspace encounter in the midst of a late night vodka session.

The subject matter on display throughout Reality Check is clever, sexy, romantic and utterly of its time, as is the music which soars and simmers, combining breezy harmonies with blissful, instantly catchy melodies, scratchy riffs and pulsing basslines. It is a glorious triumph of a debut, crammed full of youthful oomph and oodles of ideas and originality that utterly justifies the hype about this band. The Teenagers‘ lusty effort also makes many of their British counterparts sound lifeless and stale, but then we shouldn’t really be so surprised – French boys have always been more exciting…

According to experts, adiposity caffeine is good for cellulite. No, adiposity not the liquid form that we throw down our necks, quite the contrary, but the lycra form that we pull up our legs. I mean tights. Skinkiss kindly sent us a pack of Revolutionary Caffeine Slimming tights “It has been shown that wearing them on a daily basis can reduce thigh measurements by up to 2 cm” the packaging read. Despite this promise there was barely a fight amongst the Team Amelia’s girls over who tried them out. Eventually the garments were designated to three reluctant testers; we were in need of some new tights anyway.

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I’ve heard of caffeine in cosmetic products but never in a pair of tights, so I was inevitably curious. The mild hint of coffee released from the foil fresh packaging enclosing the tights came as no surprise to me. It was a surprise however, that they appeared perfectly normal; no Bridget Jones waistband, bizarre gusset or divided buttock panelling.

So to answer the big imposing question here- “did they work?” Surprisingly, they didn’t. If the truth were told we didn’t exactly give them a decent trial. The experiment was accompanied with an extreme diet of biscuits and mountains of grated cheese and of course this hasn’t been a fair experiment; you’d actually need some cellulite for it to be fair!

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A dark figure half-submerged in a phosphorescent black sea set the mood of the private view of Faith; a series of paintings, ed drawings and video installation by a group of eleven artists, viagra set in the intimate location of the Primo Alonso gallery in London’s east end. The artists’ collective exploration and questioning of the meaning of ‘faith’ is palpably evident in the exhibition, an ecclesiastical undercurrent emitting from every beautifully considered piece of work, but each takes a unique approach. Simon Burton‘s dark, faceless figure rising from anonymous watery depths is reminiscent of a Francis Bacon or Peter Doig but swathed in a foreboding blackness, a dimly unsettling vision of a dystopian future.
The sublimely talented David Hancock‘s most recent work appeared; small, intricately painted portraits of three apostolic figures, their wide eyes averted to the heavens. Neon pinks, yellows and greens emerge spasmodically beneath the flesh of the figures and the distorted walls they lean against. Influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite and Romantic movements, Hancock’s work draws on the religious symbolism of this era but relocates them into an urban, contemporary context. Every piece of work left me stunned and enraptured – a remarkable show of remarkably talented individuals.

The show runs until 13th April.

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So it’s Friday night again and, order its fair to say that I’m looking forward to a beer or two. Tonight’s main attraction, purchase aside from the alcohol, is Ghost School at the Macbeth with Naïve New Beaters.

Having sunk a few beers we are greeted by the arrival on stage of the first band, Grand Pocket Orchestra, who, over the next 60 minutes, played a plethora of squawky, offbeat songs with equal measures of distortion and quirky melody that managed to very much divide opinion amongst my group of friends. Vocally, Paddy sounds like a cross between Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat fame and a child having a tantrum. Not an entirely unpleasant combination by any means, as the rest of the band proceed to twang away at their instruments with varying degrees of gusto (Bronwyn, the band’s only female member makes Meg White look positively animated). At that point, my group of friends were fairly critical of GPO and agreed only with the vocal sound alike references. Personally, I quite enjoyed them. They have a laziness not dislike Pavement and something in common with Modest Mouse , although I’m not quite sure what! It’s all a bit kooky, wonky and a bit out-of tune; but upon listening to the songs recorded they seem to have the balance about right. Mid-set their singer appeared to have a bit of a hissy-fit that looked like he couldn’t quite overcome the reality that, although perhaps looking vaguely cool in a very cliché fashion, if he throws his guitar on the floor too hard, he may then actually break it and have to buy a new one. Despite this comedy Grand Pocket Orchestra a worth a listen.

By the time Naïve New Beaters arrived, the venue had really filled up and despite being more or less at the front; the obligatory tall guy appeared and stood in front of me. Between people’s heads I could see guys wearing splendid jumpers as the set began with sparklers being lit, then pierced through said jumper of the brave keyboard player. NNB proceeded to storm through their next three songs with increasing attention from the growing crowd. Finally, the evening really got going and it started to feel like a party.

NNB are an interesting band really, because it would be all too easy to write them off as yet another ‘of the moment’ electro/indie type bands who we’ll forget about in a month’s time. This may well be the case in the fickle world of music, but on Friday night at the Macbeth they really shone and everyone genuinely seemed to be having fun. All the songs are suitably upbeat and title track from the current EP, Live Good is so popular that it got played twice. So an evening of dancing commences and everyone I speak to is suitably enamoured with NNB.

I stayed on after the bands to drink some more and by this stage the Macbeth was heaving. The upstairs smoking gallery provided the perfect opportunity to get into bizarre drunken conversations with group of people that is actually pretty friendly. By this point I kinda feel like I’m at a house party – granted, I spent way more money than I would have at a house party. And despite the crowd’s attempts to prevent me from getting anywhere near the bar, Ghost School was well worth a visit and NNBS were a fitting accompaniment.

It’s Friday night at the Water Rats Theatre and its ladies night…or so it would seem. Packed throughout the venue, thumb it is a struggle to even get near the stage where a bevy of beauties, local faces and mandatory scene kids were awaiting east end band The Cazals.
Long tipped for big things, I was simultaneously apprehensive as well as looking forward to see what the Cazals now had to offer. Early demos and their 2006 XFM session had left me eager to hear an album but that was two years ago and I had since been disheartened by a mobile phone advert (yes I’m a purist).

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Arriving on stage the band (or at least two thirds of them) launch into an opening track that immediately reignited my faith and interest in them. Joined mid song by the other members (who were allegedly propping up the bar), the band stormed through their opening song and into a set that included all their classic hits in the making as well as new tunes that make up their up and coming album What Of Our Future. Its songs like Poor Innocent Boys and new single Life Is Boring with their infectious sing along choruses that hold the key to the bands future success. The Cazals sound as fresh as when I had first heard them and yet nothing like I was expecting. Analogue synths and guitar tones that would make Pink Floyd proud, the Cazals have clearly realised a musical direction that is evident in them signing to French dance/electronic label Kitsuné.

With a recent resurgence in dance/electronic influenced music touted as New Rave coupled with the Cazals mobile phone advert I cant help but wonder if this is a jump on the bandwagon or a natural progression. What ever it is, I have decided it irrelevant, the Cazals are back, and back in force.

Bragg’s contentious mix of pop and politics has endured for a quarter of a century now but this is his first release proper in 5 years. It follows 2006′s Hope Not Hate Campaign which was aimed at raising the awareness of a notoriously apathetic UK electorate to the genuine threat of the British National Party in the impending local elections. When the BNP won a number of seats on Bragg’s local council in Barking, troche Essex the same year it seemed that his campaign had fallen upon deaf ears somewhat. Ever the stalwart though, Bragg tirelessly soldiers on – this time aided by the astute backing of The Blokes. His usual one man band approach shelved in favour of what is a more polished, if inconsistent affair.

Bragg has always been more interesting when he is singing about love and loss, as opposed to peddling his political ideals. This is not to say that his ideologies are without worth – far from it- but they tend to often come across clichéd and trite when consigned to the rigid structural constraints of song lyrics. On Mr Love and Justice the old qualities still shine through, and it would be fair to say this is Bragg’s most complete solo work in years. Promise indeed, then but it’s not great by any means.

The immediacy of opener I Keep Faith provides a welcome opening. It’s whimsical, soulful tones soon make perfect sense of the tailored production Bragg has opted for. What is also strikingly apparent is that Bragg’s voice has barely altered at all throughout his career. Here is it supplemented perfectly by Robert Wyatt’s starry eyed whisperings on a track that has a certain addictive quality.

The Blokes do a great job in keeping things uncomplicated whilst maintaing enough of a presence so as not to become an afterthought . The Morrissey-esque I Almost Killed You which is driven by harmonica, handclaps, layered acoustics and muted woodwind- with the odd burst of anthemic guitar- typifies their approach. Elsewhere the bluster of Something Happened demonstrates an essential versatility. The solo Billy comes to the fore on the genuine If You Ever Leave and there is a nice little ditty in You Make Me Brave.

There are a couple of clunkers and the aforementioned trite political driven numbers are present again in the form of troop withdrawal from Iraq (Sing Their Souls Back Home) and an ‘extraordinary rendition’ (O’ Freedom). But there is a lot here to hold the interest, and so on this evidence, it’s good to have Mr Love and Justice himself back.

Using photography to document style subcultures is nothing new, shop but the difference with the Exactitudes exhibition is that most of its subjects certainly wouldn’t recognize themselves as members of any fashion tribe. In the murkier depths of Selfridges (down the escalators, ailment via the decidedly unhip luggage department) photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek make like crazed zoologists intent on documenting the distinctive markings of each subspecies. In their images, carefully numbered and categorized according to city and date, Versluis’ models are pinned out like exotic beetles under glass.

Some species are instantly recognizable: Formers – Rotterdam 2005, for instance, is a series of serious-looking female curators in black Yohji robes and ethnic jewellery who would be equally at home in a gallery in Shoreditch or Williamsburg. Likewise, the ranks of Gallic Johnny Borrell-a-likes in Zazous – Bordeaux Lac 2006 in their leather jackets are, apparently, a universal phenomena. And if nothing else, this exhibition has taught me that the German for Goth is ‘Ghoullie’ which is, I think, something definitely worth knowing.

Very much a work in progress, Exactitudes charts the rise and fall of trends over the past ten years. The grungy Chillers of 1999 have been replaced by equally sullen if more sharply dressed Emos of 2006 while the views of 1997′s environmentally aware Young Activists have gone mainstream; perhaps they’re making government policy now. Meanwhile, Versluis and Uttenbroek are updating the collection with the aid of a crack team of students from all the best acronyms – Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and London College of Communication – to identify the archetypal denizens of London circa 2008 and lure them down to the gallery-cum-studio. The resulting works will be unveiled on 6th April. The team won’t be drawn on their chosen groups but when I went along a neon haired lesbian couple and a pretty Japanese girl with a designer handbag were posing for the cameras.

Playing ‘Spot the Stereotype’ is, of course, excellent fun, but does it really qualify as art? What I think this exhibition is ultimately about is the failure individuals to conform to simplistic generalizations: glimpses of personality still shine though. After all, the angelic little girls dressed up for their First Communion in Little Brides – Maastricht 2006 may well resurface in a few years as, god help us, Emos – Maastricht 2015!

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There is nothing particularly enigmatic about the Mystery Jets‘ new album, more about but in terms of creating an almost perfect collection of charmingly melodious pop, dosage it’s a winner. The ominous opening sound of a second world war air raid siren precedes an onslaught of off-kilter romances and narratives of domestic abuse that are verging on the sinister, price with lyrics that should probably be disturbing – but are nonetheless unashamedly amusing. These arise prominently in Behind The Bunhouse, with the obscure accusation “you knocked me o’er the head with a rolling pin / And then you got down and you kicked me in the ribs.” Funny ’cause it’s not true. Throughout the album allegoric narratives abound, and this is what ties the album together, as on a musical level it seems quite disparate. But there are some harmonic diamonds in Twenty One in the form of the new single Young Love, Two Doors Down and Flakes, the former a wistful reflection on a missed opportunity of the heart, which despite its sentiments cleverly avoids being vomit-inducingly quaint. I did become less enthused by this initially great track after it clung to my brain and repeated itself on a relentless loop against my will for several days; but therein lies the strength of its catchiness. Flakes combines a poignant story with a beautifully dischordant tune, while Two Doors Down, with its sprightly resonances of eighties Norwegian pop icons Aha, is the epitome of accessible, uplifting pop. Always better than a kick in the ribs.
After a hard day’s work and a delightful dinner of dim sum, Team Amelia headed to Dolce Night Club for the presentation of Couture Clubbing. The press release informed me that this post-Fashion Week presentation was the, and I quote, “debit” collection designed by Central Saint Martins alumni Amy Winters and Kseniya Zagorodnyuk.

The invitation promised a Paradise Lost extravaganza including poisoned apples, flutes of champagne and electric violin. I’m sure John Milton was turning in his grave at the very thought of his epic legacy being bastardised by some art school idiots.

The compare sounded like she was strung out, but she was nothing in comparison to the cabaret style performer who provided pre-show entertainment. Ms Cabaret looked like a mash-up of Jodie Harsh and Miss Havisham and her skit involved twirling a silver baton whilst singing a memorable little ditty which went something along the lines of: “I am swallow, flying high over the sea, swallowing swords.” And, yes, she flapped about onstage as she sang.

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The clothes were meant to resemble a character from each episode of Paradise Lost. Interesting concept, and maybe if Satan was to let loose and kick up his heels he would invest in a selection of sexy platforms, flirty dresses and tailored jackets.

As the presentation ended, we flocked to the bar to numb the pain with the aforementioned free flutes of champagne. No such luck, as we were fobbed off with a diluted cocktail, and herded back to watch the electric violin display. Sadly, the hippidy-hop DJ was in full flow, and the strings were drowned out by Beyonce, Jay-Z and Rihanna. In the words of The Four Seasons – Oh, What a Night.

Vanessa Billy’s subtle interventions and artworks in her new exhibition ‘Flexible Values’ needed a bare, side effects tranquil space to breathe. As the gallery filled up throughout the evening, doctor I saw a couple of people trip up over her unassuming sculptural piece ‘Four Times Weathered’ and duck under the acrylic arch of the work ‘Fluids’. This interactivity, sales whether intentional or not, seemed a nice touch as so much of the exhibition seemed hinged on the relationships between the individual artworks and how the viewer moves around them.
‘Dry Stamina’, a slope of sand that ran across the floor of the gallery, was dispersing and mutating as the evening progressed, again alluding to the fluidity of the experience of the exhibition, and to the journey of the viewer in the space.

The curation of the show seemed as important as the works; sculptures such as ‘Suns neither Rise Nor Set’, two circular glass objects mounted on the walls, could seem too simplistic without its interaction with the other artworks. Instead, the piece resonates with some kind of otherworldly meteorological or astronomical idea, the more I moved around the space the more it seemed I was looking at some kind of fragile model of a solar system. Everything was placed in a very considered way; Billy created an unearthly mood very succinctly. This is necessary to the show’s success: the materials that kept appearing – pale pastel coloured tissues, transparent acrylic and glass – needed a strong sense of placement to anchor them in the exhibition. Not that the work seemed flimsy or insubstantial, just that Billy’s handling of materials, even in the case of concrete plinths as in ‘Four Times Weathered’, seemed naturalistic and feminine. This feeling managed to transform the gallery into a delicate, atmospheric space.

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