Pfft, I’m not even remotely a fab of cooking shows but man do I love creeping Tamra Davis’ cooking show through her website http://www.tamradaviscookingshow.com/ .
It’s pure Beastie Boy porn. Yes, Beastie Boys. Tamra is married to Mike D. This afternoon I’ve been watching countless shorts about Tamra making Linguine and Clams, Cookies and the like for the hope we’ll bump into Mike D. Oh yes, and he does make super sweet appearances.
Plus their kids are cute too. I’m a pretty decent cook and baker – I don’t do loads of it but you know maybe I should start doing a lil more baking again. The hols are coming and hey what’s another 15 minutes on a treadmill between friends?
Power is out in my building. Boo. So I’m sitting in the dark with my laptop in my lap and my ipod plugged in downloading new tunes as my tea gets cold. I’m going through my Lollapalooza list with a flashlight and downloading bands I fell in love with. The above is one of them. So yummy.
Beirut. Sigh. I missed them too. I was watching some nonsense band which will go unnamed at this point. They were a headliner so I thought ‘Hey, that’s where I need to be’. Mistake. As you can see Beirut has an Arcade Fire feel to them a la tremendous gathering of musicians. I’ll be honest, I fancy them more over AF. There is something endearing about them. Plus, the lead singer let’s face it is super dreamy and sings like Morrissey.
Happy Saturday night!
Yours in fashion,
Oh Diplo I can’t believe your getting me into this….not that I’m complaining. It’s ‘research’….
Why Portishead Still Matters
With the band playing Toronto this weekend, we consider the many reasons why we still care about Portishead and its landmark record Dummy, in spite of their many long absences.
By Anupa Mistry | October 7, 2011
In 1994, British band Portishead released Dummy, a record that helped define the trip-hop moment and is still considered a classic by many. Since then, singer Beth Gibbons, producer Geoff Barrow, and producer-guitarist Adrian Utley have resurfaced for only two more studio records, 1997’s Portishead and Third in 2008. Each work is difficult in its own way, but somehow Dummy struck a chord that’s resulted in a lasting, albeit frustrating legacy for the notoriously reserved group.
Toronto writer Robert J. Wheaton explores the curious happenstance of Dummy in a new book issued as part of the music geek “33 1/3” series. (The Standard’s own Carl Wilson wrote one in 2007: a tangled ode to Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love). Wheaton, who listened to the album “at least 600 or 700 times” during the book writing process alone, has (amazingly!) never seen Portishead live. Touring North America for the first time in 13 years, the group plays back-to-back dates at Toronto’s Sound Academy this Sunday and Monday so I asked Wheaton for five reasons Portishead still matters. You still have time to get tickets.
They want to give you a distinct experience.
Talking to key people who were around during the recording of Dummy, Wheaton gleaned that although the record plays pristine at times, Portishead are perfectionists about imperfection. “You can’t reproduce their process live,” he explains. “All of that experimentation and cutting and messing with each version… They were quite happy to produce a live performance that was quite distinctive in the way that their studio work is.” This means their stage set-up is minimal, compared to the full-bodied moments on recording. “’Wandering Star’ is an aggressive song with up-front drum and bass figures, but they now perform that live in a really stripped down way,” explains Wheaton. “They’ve gone from this pushy, unsettling version to a haunting sort of unsettling version.”
They prove ‘trip-hop’ was nothing more than a selling point.
A lot of bands hate the terms dreamed up by quick-trigger branding hacks at records labels, and Portishead isn’t an exception. “They hated it then and they probably hate it now,” says Wheaton. “Most of the credible musicians (Massive Attack, Tricky) felt the same way because it was sold, in the music press, as a distinctly British ‘improvement’ upon American hip-hop.” The weird racial and class subtext pointed to trip-hop as a ‘safe’ alternative to rap, which is why Barrow himself disparaged Dummy’s massive, early embrace as “yuppie music.” Post-Public Enemy’s zeitgeisty It Takes A Nation Of Millions… Barrow, who came from a hip-hop background, was insulted. “The good musicians ran from ‘trip-hop’ as fast as they could,” explains Wheaton. “And the industry got two-and-half to three years out of it before everyone got bored.” But look who’s still around.
They combined music in a way everyone is replicating now—without the help of YouTube or FilesTube.com.
Portishead spent years refining their unique combinatory approach to music. “Barrow’s biggest inspiration was hip-hop, and same with Utley although he came from a jazz background,” Wheaton points out. “And Beth doesn’t come from a soul, R&B or jazz background; she did a lot of new wave stuff with a singer-songwriter bent.” This very real mix made Portishead so distinctive. Wheaton feels trip-hop’s packaging forced musicians away from the “fertile ground” of a great moment in experimentation between electronic music and production techniques, with genres like lover’s rock and dub and reggae and hip-hop. Danger Mouse, of Gnarls Barkley fame, has clearly nerded out on Portishead’s production techniques—a casual listener can hear it in his dense atmospherics. It has thinned out traces in James Blake and Toronto’s The Weeknd. More than anything, says Wheaton, it’s licensed people to bring influences together they normally wouldn’t.
They want to challenge you. Who does that anymore?
Along with being weirded out by yuppies throwing fondue parties with Dummy playing in the background, Portishead were troubled by the rapid absorption of their early music into the culture. “It was a CD with vinyl cracks, pops, and scratches all over it and these big chunky basslines,” Wheaton points out, also describing parts of Dummy as “shockingly avant garde.” Third was even more experimental and brutalist in its aesthetic, and it makes sense: Portishead’s ethos has never been to release anything unless they have something to say. “They’re not interested in generic, imitative or unoriginal,” says Wheaton. And yet, somehow they’ve managed to provide difficult, scuzzy, emotionally fucked up music to people who don’t believe they like challenging music.
They are what we need, especially right now.
Think about the ’80s and early ’90s, politically. “England in the ’80s was a really aggressive, uncomfortable and unsettled place,” says Wheaton. “It was recessions and race riots and lots of anger, very much like right now.” This would have been inescapable for a band out of Bristol, which housed racial tensions (the 1980s St. Paul riots between police and black youth) and a thriving underground scene increasingly targeted by a rave-hostile government. Portishead was never overtly political like, say, Massive Attack. “But there are ideas on Dummy about how to be in society, and self-doubt and questions of intimacy,” explains Wheaton. “At the time, the rhetoric of Thatcherism was about the privacy of self and so this was quite radical in an intimate and unsettling way.” Ultimately, their aesthetic brashness can feel like an uncomfortable statement.
Anupa Mistry is a regular music critic for Toronto Standard.
Yours in fashion,
Topshop and Topman open at The Hudson’s Bay Company at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto on Oct 5, 2011 at 11am. Are you excited? It’s almost here…..
One of the first Topshop’s opened at Yonge and Queen Street on Thursday, June 30, 2011 to much pomp and circumstance. It was a big deal when Topshop came to our humble Toronto town that’s fo sho. ;)
The Bay also announced as part of this new relationship with Topshop as of this September; shoppers from across Canada will be able to purchase Topshop and Topman merchandise through thebay.com/topshop and thebay.com/topman websites. This agreement is an international first, and will allow fashion lovers from across the country to be a part of the Topshop and Topman experience.
Since it launched in 1964, Topshop has become a major style authority and one of fashion’s biggest success stories. Topshop began as Peter Robinson’s Top Shop, a young fashion brand in the basement of the former department chain, Peter Robinson Ltd. The first standalone Topshop store was opened in 1974.
In 1994, the Topshop flagship store was born, as the brand took over a 90,000 sq ft space at London Oxford Circus. It remains there today, and is considered the world’s largest fashion store on the high street, attracting over 200,000 shoppers each week. In April 2009, the first American Topshop store opened its doors in New York.
In 2005, Topshop showed its own in-house designed collection, Unique, as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule. The only high-street brand to show on schedule, Unique’s witty approach to style has made it a first choice for those who like to stay ahead. 2012 will see the tenth anniversary of Topshop’s sponsorship of New Generation, which has nurtured an impressive roster of British talent over many seasons of London Fashion Week.
My connection with Topshop is a sentimental one.
On my first trip to London with one of my gf’s at 19 we hit stores like Topshop, Primark, Miss Selfridge and C&A. We were just some urban Toronto girls and never exposed to such fancy street wear but man we were instant converts. These stores were the epitome of fashion. The clothing and accessories were super trendy, cool, daring and on sale decent towards the Canadian dollar. We were in love. We came home with our suitcases packed to the brim. Yes, we even had to sit on each other’s cases on our last day in London. We were over in our baggage allowance flying back on Canada 3000 – but we didn’t care.
Every time since I have been back to both London and Manchester I hit Topshop. It’s expensive and now having a mortgage and full time job I can’t go as crazy as I used to as a kid. But I have still picked up staple pieces like a fitted army jacket, cute miniskirts, warm woollen tights, a silver leather handbag, a yellow and chocolate brown leather clutch, cheap and cheerful necklaces, rings and earrings and even better many a flat shoe and heels. I have stuff from Topshop I bought 8 years ago that I still wear! They are investment pieces.
This past week I checked out the Topshop at Yonge and Queen. It’s no Topshop London ladies. The pieces are lovely sure. There is nothing English and traditional about the pieces. They look like simple items you could find anywhere really. They are also way too boring for the Canadian market. To top it off the prices are obscene. The accessories…meh.
The Bay is really bringing their A game to try and sell the Topshop brand to a whole new younger retail market. I get it. But I am not going to spend $100 for a cardigan. Nor will I pay $70 for a plastique/imitation leather satchel. Why would I? When I can do my research as a 38 year old and go to Winners? Joe Fresh? Or a vintage show and get something more unique with a brand name with some weight behind it.
These Topshop clothes are meant for Forest Hill kids. They aren’t meant for urban Toronto kids. Hey I know Toronto kids have money – but why would they want to put money in a brand that’s at The Bay? Their mom’s, dad’s and grandparent’s stores? They need to be wooed in our already cluttered disposable trendy retail clothing market.
Now Topshop has been doing their wooing on Twitter and Facebook – I give them that. But come on, you’re gonna get them in the door once. There’s no guarantee they are going to come back once they see those prices no matter how many free gift cards and scarves you give away. http://ow.ly/i/ilVC
Do you honestly think kids in Halifax or Winnipeg are going to be able to afford this stuff full price? Nope. These kids when they visit Toronto as well as Toronto’s urban kids have brand relationship connections with Old Navy, The Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Hollister all located closest to Dundas Square and in the thoroughfare at the Eaton Centre. Going into The Bay to look at Topshop is miles away. It was miles away for me and I work downtown.
Toronto teens may check this stuff out – sure. But they will still continue to take their wads of cash and credit cards to the disposable fashion stores like H&M, Forever 21, Madewell, Urban Outfitters and Ruche. They aren’t looking for long term relationships with their clothes at the Topshop’s current price point. Personally, even as an adult I will wait for this stuff to go on a 75% sale rack. Even then I’m not going to heat up the doors outside of The Bay to get in and snag these offerings.
Now in terms of colour blocking – yes I love it! The cobalt blues, eggplant purples, orange jewel tones and patent leather are dynamic. I love the pops of colour intermixed with the black hues.
The quality of the dresses and cardigans are oh so Topshop. Perfection! But again I can probably find similar items at a vintage shop in the city for a fraction of the price. That said I will haunt a few dresses and see if I can get them on sale. The holidays are coming up….I may need a new frock or two.
The shoes. Don’t get me started. They are Payless meets Shoe Company. Horrific. They are nothing special – bypass them quickly and do not dwell on them. Hopefully, they will get better as the collection progresses at The Bay.
The bags are cheap pleather. For a $70-80 price tag – I wish they were better quality and a lil more eccentric a la Oxford Circus Topshop.
I’m hopeful that the buyers at The Bay get their act together and see what sells and doesn’t sell this season. I’m sure the pricing for this stuff to send from the UK after duty etc. is nuts – but think brand loyalty please. Remember the Toronto consumer likes quality, bang for our buck, staple pieces and most importantly affordability. If The Bay wants to secure a whole new demographic of buyers they have a limited time to woo us. I give you one more season.
In regards to the Yorkdale store – let’s hope learning from the J.Crew controversy they keep their prices reasonable. But then again, the calibre of shopper that shops at Yorkdale maybe able to sustain them.
Lastly, I hear on twitter that there will be a special live performance at the Yorkdale Topshop opening. The Kills are the rumour. I’ll keep you posted!
Check out details at Facebook.com/TopshopCanada and Facebook.com/TopmanCanada as well as on Twitter @Topshop_Canada#TopShopCA and @TopmanCA#TopManCA. Watch the sites for news on the hottest trends out of the UK as well as details on Canadian events and exclusive contests.
Yours in fashion,
p.s. October 7, 2012: Check out my latest review on Topshop titled, Topshop Invades The Bay (Toronto): Bay & Queen Street Review, http://thirtyfourflavours.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/topshop-invades-the-bay-toronto-bay-queen-street-review/
I was 18 when both Nevermind and Bloodsugarsexmagik was released 20 years ago yesterday in fact. They are just two of the handful of albums and bands that were around at the time that funnelled my love of music. I don’t know if I’d be the person I am today without these albums.
They got me listening to the Pixies, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, The Smiths, Joy Division, Soundgarden whilst catching these bands and others in concert. Which in turn tuned me onto the power of live music and how instrumental it is to my self-care today as an adult.
This music also gave me relationship and friendship connections. Some were amazing whilst others ended as time passed and we grew up. Loads of life learning came from that which music that had nothing at all to do with.
Sure, these days I am obsessed with bands like Sleigh Bells, Cold War Kids, Phantogram, Beirut, Arcade Fire and I may not listen to Nirvana and RHCP as much as I used too in my daily rotation of music offerings. But they will always have a special place in my heart.