Tag: music

Wishlist Wednesday #6

My god! It just occurred to me that I have gone on and on on this blog about my love for makeup and even music, but I have neglected my other love: SHOES. (Well, other than the Chloés…)

And I do love them. In all colors, materials, heel heights (but preferably high!). Which is why I am still lusting after this pair, having tried them on in a Joie store a month on a half ago (while getting myself a sample of Folle de Joie).

f_sks-1281_black_angleMeet the Raquel Heels.

Despite the fact that they are weather inappropriate.


Music Monday #5

I briefly flirted with the idea of changing up the nationality of my music post this week, but considering it’s Scotland In New York Week!!!, I’m going to keep going on the theme. Thursday night, Frightened Rabbit will be playing here, but before that happens, I get to see one of my favorite bands to come out of the British Indie Rock explosion of the mid aughts (2005 and on), Franz Ferdinand. (I know they’re not all Scottish, but they met and started up in Glasgow, and Glasgow has been a huge part of who they are.)

From the very first second your toe started tapping to “Take Me Out,” you knew Franz Ferdinand were here to make you dance. And make us dance, they have. Starting with their ubiquitous debut album, Franz Ferdinand, and continuing on with their subsequent albums, You Could Have It So Much Better, and Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.

I’m happy to say, their latest, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action sees ze Franz doing what they know how to do best. Try and not tap your toes.

However, today I’m going to share one of my favorite songs from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, because I really hope they play this when I see them on Tuesday!

What music are you enjoying lately? Any shows coming up you’re excited about?

Music Monday #4

Oh, hey, it’s another Scottish band, what a shocker. 😉

Chvrches (luckily, just pronounced “churches”) is definitely the latest buzz band, but with good reason. They perform killer electro pop, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t normally like electro pop. But I definitely have liked them since I first heard their song “Recover” from the Recover EP. Their full-length album, The Bones of What You Believe, just came out, and it fulfills the promise of the EP. Have a listen to one of the songs on the album, “The Mother We Share.”

It’s so sad, because I keep missing them playing in NYC. Every time I check, they’ve already announced it and it’s sold out. (I’m afraid next time around they’ll play some horrible venue like Terminal 5.) So don’t make the same mistake as me!

Music Monday #3

We’ve covered 2 of my favorite recent artists, and today we move onto the third!

My love for First Aid Kit, the lovely folk-rock duo from Sweden, is on par with my awe of their talent. Okay, forget awe. Straight up jealousy. Like, if the music wasn’t so amazing and sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg weren’t so endearing, I would probably hate them. Who gives you the right to be that talented that young?! (They’re 20 and 22, respectively, and have been making music since Johanna was just 14.)

But amazingly talented, they are. A 14-year-old writes a song about a husband cheating on his wife…that’s poignant and comes off as real?! Well, yes. Their debut EP, Drunken Trees, is good, but their follow up to that, Big, Black and the Blue, is astounding. I’ve listened to it through countless times. Their most recent album, The Lion’s Roar, shows growth from even an album as good as that, touching on country roots they shouldn’t have, having grown up in Sweden. Who cares?! It’s good music.

Here’s the title track and first single from The Lion’s Roar. It’s fun watching them perform this live, because they take advantage of the rare chance in their setlist to rock out and head bang.

Let me know what you think!

Les Cinq Petites Choses #1

I’ve seen several bloggers doing different variations on “(insert number) of things,” but seeing the way Daphné does it,  I decided it just sounds so much better in French, so I’m following suit. 🙂

Here are my 5 little things of late:

#1 – I finally found something that makes me WANT to carry my Nikon dSLR around with me!

As you can probably tell by from some of my posts on this blog, I love to take photos. Traveling with a good camera is always a struggle. Do you carry a camera bag? And advertise that you’re a tourist/carrying expensive equipment with you? I’ve bought two bags, one from Epiphanie and one from Kelly Moore, that look like purses but have compartments inside for camera equipment. But both of them wind up feeling very heavy and bulky. On my last trip, I literally wound up stashing my Nikon in a fabric tote bag and just carrying it around in that, despite the lack of protection.

Then along came my Rebecca Minkoff Collin Camera Bag. I’d seen the version that certain bloggers got and coveted it dearly. It was while it was still sold out, but then the new colors came out. And, amazingly, they showed up on Gilt, w00t! (The snap seems to be coming out of the leather a tiny bit, so maybe that’s why it was on sale already?)

It’s not large enough to carry an extra lens, and it’s not large enough for when I use my zoom lens, but for just carrying my camera around with my prime lens, which is what I use most these days anyway, it’s perfect. If I pare down, I can even carry everything I need in it, sticking little things in the front pocket. And it looks good, too.


#2 – As part of working on my français, I’ve been watching a lot of French films. Combine that with a hearty endorsement from Entertainment Weekly, and Starbuck went to the top of my Netflix DVD queue.

And, franchement, it belonged there. I liked this movie so much, I watched it twice within a 24-hour period. Yes, it’s a little farfetched, but it’s also funny and touching. And worth at least one watch. (And I admit I laughed for a reason unrelated to the plot—my French friends complained to me about Montreal/Quebecois accents and, watching this, I TOTALLY got it.)

Naturally, an American remake is already in progress (quelle surprise, sigh), but I would definitely recommend checking out the original. If only to giggle at the accents. (That’s not how it’s pronounced!!)

#3 – I think the best part of being told that I spent enough money at Sephora over the past year to qualify for Sephora VIB Rouge is the exclusive shade of Bite Beauty lipstick that came with my welcome kit. My love for Bite has already been partially documented, but I’ve been waiting for summer to be over to break this beauty out.

It is THE perfect Fall red. It’s a tiny bit darker, a tiny bit deeper than a bright, true red. Very, very vintage feeling. So much so, in fact, maybe somewhat inspired by all the World War I and II historical fiction I’ve read lately, that the other night, I did my hair up in pseudo Victory Rolls, put on some black eyeliner and a vintage choker I bought at a flea market, and painted my lips with this red. And I looked like I stepped out of another era. Which is how I like it.




#4 – I had let my subscription to Birchbox lapse when they sent out samples of Joie’s then brand new signature scent, Folle de Joie. But reading the blog and following them on Twitter, I kept seeing them talk about how amazing the scent was. I’m a bit of a perfume collector (more on that a different time), and every blogger who had tried it seemed to adore it.

I’m a bit finicky with scents, having a very sensitive nose and stomach, so I sometimes can’t wear scents that are popular with other people (for example, Flowerbomb). I decided to go into a Joie store when I was in the neighborhood and try it on for myself. Besides for needing to try it on first, another perfume is the last thing I should be spending my money on right now.

Luckily for me, the sales assistant was so lovely and gave me a sample to take home. I confess, I came back another day with a friend so we could both get another one (she graciously gave me hers), but only because I loved it so much and knew I would run out. (I was right; I’ve already finished one and am on to my second.)

People describe it as very summery scent, but I don’t see it that way. It feels to me like an all-year scent. It just seems to fit me.


#5 – Sorry, I know I’m laying it on thick with the French in this post, but I try to absorb it however I can, and this includes listening to French music. I have a friend who knows more about music than I ever have, and she keeps introducing me to bands, especially French bands. Amusingly, most of these French bands sing in English. But she recommended I buy Lescop’s album, and I’m glad I did.

But it’s on especially heavy rotation right now, because it’s moody, atmospheric, perfectly French, and perfect for Autumn. Listening to this album is the aural equivalent of wrapping up in a cozy sweater with a cup of tea. It just evokes the season to me, and I’m welcoming it with open arms.


Music Monday #2

I pulled my first Music Monday from this post, and I’m going to follow in kind this week. Frightened Rabbit has been one of my favorite bands since mid 2008. I don’t even remember how I heard about them. It’s possible it was from The Pop Cop, that they caught my eye in one of their Music Alliance Pact entries, since they were from Scotland. (I’m a wee bit obsessed with Scotland.)

Who really cares how I discovered them? The discovery has pretty much changed my life. I have listened to The Midnight Organ Fight so many times, I’ve lost count. There have been times I’ve listened to my favorite song from that album on repeat for weeks at a time. And that was their second album, the follow-up to Sing the Greys. Since then, they’ve released The Winter of Mixed Drinks, State Hospital EP, Pedestrian Verse, and, most recently, Late March, Death March EP.

Sadly, as I mentioned, they have since stopped playing my favorite song live, as well as many of their earlier, well-loved, songs. So I will leave you with the first single from Pedestrian Verse, because it’s fantastic AND you are likely to hear this one live, should you catch them.

They are on tour, and I would highly advise you to check them out for yourself. Let me know what you think!

Music Monday #1

Everyone dreads Monday, and I’m no exception. Even while unemployed, it still doesn’t sit well. I’ve found that music is a good way to get through it, so I thought I would start doing Music Monday.

Since I just made a reference to Laura Marling the other day, I thought it would be fitting to make her the subject of my first Music Monday. Writing about her reminded me of her absolutely fantastic duet with another of the London new-folk scene, Johnny Flynn, called “The Water.”

This song just gets to me. The words. The melody. The harmonies. To me, it’s a small piece of musical perfection. I hope you like it as much as I do!

On another note, I had the most fantastic New York Sunday. I hope to write about it soon. How were your weekends?

Frozen Over

Sigh. Here’s the part where I have to preface this post with a disclaimer. Over the years, someone will occasionally tell me that I’m a hipster because I happened to have known of a few now-famous British bands, from 2005 on, years before other people. Occasionally, I even sound like a hipster when I mention the fact. But anyone who knows me well knows I’m not a hipster. I’m too much of a dork to be a hipster. And not a dork in a cool way. I just, I don’t know, have gotten lucky. Okay, now, that’s not correct either. It’s really more like this. Take the fact that I’m a huge Anglophile and combine it with the internet, and you have me knowing about and seeing bands before they’ve hit it big. Really, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve made friends with British people and traveled to and gone to music festivals in the UK, combined with LiveJournal communities, band forums, and *gasp* MySpace, I would have been just like everyone else.

(Insider tip: One band I tried to get people to listen to for a year and a half before they became famous was Mumford and Sons. So, let me just tell you, that if you like them, you should check out Laura Marling, who has gotten a little bigger, but still pretty much flies under the radar. They come from the same London scene of new guard folk-rock bands, and Mumford and Sons used to open for Laura. And they actually did the music for her first two albums [before Laura and Marcus Mumford broke up, thereby ending one of the most amazing musical collaborations ever, sigh].)

So having gone to see Arctic Monkeys last night at Webster Hall, another one of my knew-them-first bands, I was split in two by one part nostalgia and one part horror at the band’s current following. Actually, the band’s current everything.

PhotoGrid_1379397560351Not sure if Alex Turner or Elvis

I first saw the Arctic Monkeys at the Carling Stage at Leeds Festival in 2005, having already been familiar with their demos from the internet. The sets they played at Reading and Leeds that year are legendary. It was the smallest of the tents at the festival, and it was so crowded, you couldn’t get inside if you hadn’t gotten there early. That was fine. I stood on the periphery, just making it under the very last of the tent. And then I saw them for their first two shows in New York. And other various shows.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Arctic Monkeys. (And have always seemed to have a lot to say about them!) I loved their music, but objected to the ridiculous hype surrounding them, claiming their debut album was the album of the decade, that this 19-year-old pipsqueak was the “voice of a generation.” I also hated their apparent derision of the massive success they had achieved (see the “That man just yawned” incident when they played Saturday Night Live at the age of 19 and looked like they were bored playing). For a band who skyrocketed to the top at such a young age, I confess, I wanted to see a little bit more…excitement, gratitude, and maybe just a little bit of awe. They always seemed like they just couldn’t be bothered. With you, with it, with anything.

But, as my blog post urges readers to do, I still went to see them when I could. Well, until I seemed to outgrow their music. Or maybe they outgrew me. Or we evolved in different ways. Well, really, did anyone like Humbug or Suck It and See? (Apparently, yes.) I can’t actually remember even seeing them in support of Favourite Worst Nightmare, which I did really like.  But it’s been such a long time since they’ve played a venue as small as Webster Hall, that when my friend asked me if I wanted to go, I said yes.

Standing in line, I was surrounded by teenagers. I was so confused. Was this 2013 or 2006? Shouldn’t the teenage fans I stood in line with years ago be adults by now? I heard teenagers lamenting over possible counterfeit tickets and how they would JUST DIE if they didn’t get in, and how it was “OMG MY THIRD TIME SEEING THEM.” To be met with, “You’re so lucky, it’s my first!” I was told by a 19-year-old boy in line that in fact their new album, AM, is outstanding, despite my not being amazed by it, and advised to look up a specific old gig on YouTube (which hadn’t even taken off back when I was first listening to the band and seeing them perform). (He was duly impressed by my having seen their set at Leeds festival in 2005, despite him telling me my opinion of the new album was WRONG.) (Not in so many words.)

Standing inside the venue waiting for the bands to come on, I overheard teenage girls saying things like, “So you have to flash them. And then they’ll bring us backstage,” and “They have a stripper pole?! (referring to the room where the band waits before they come on which is visible from the floor) Why am I not up there?!” (I know they were teenage girls, because one of them asked the other how 19 was going, and she said the same. To which the other one replied that she is only ever having her 18th birthday from now on.)

Welcome to the new wave of Arctic Monkeys fans: They’re young, they’re opinionated, they’re sexually aggressive, they’re pushy, and they need to wear deodorant. (Seriously. That place SMELLED.)

I have nothing against teenagers, especially teenagers discovering good music, but where were all the adults?! The frightening thing is, I think that they were only the people ON the stage. All the members of the Arctic Monkeys look like they have grown up, well, except for Alex. But in a scary way. I was actually alarmed to see Jamie Cook now (second from right), and remember what he looked like then. I know, I know, people grow up. But when did Nick O’Malley turn into Jack White?!

But they have grown up. I used to hate the derision and superiority they would have while playing, and the cockiness I didn’t feel they had earned. Well, now Alex Turner is cocky as hell, in a strutting, posing, sparkly jacket wearing, pompadour combing, waiting for the girls to scream at him way. (The teenage girls.) There was a moment I found so cringeworthy, I actually turned my head and laughed. But I guess I should be glad he’s developed some kind of stage presence??

For me, though, the telling moment was when, halfway through the show he asked the room, “Were any of you at our other show?” I couldn’t quite tell if he meant their other show recently or if he meant any other show at all of theirs. He followed that up with, “I don’t even know why I’m asking. I don’t care.” But don’t you maybe just a little bit, Alex?

Because, congratulations, Arctic Monkeys. You seem to have an entirely new fanbase made up of teenagers. Teenagers who REALLY dig your current music and also like your old music, but who already know your just recently released album by heart. While people like me, people who really loved you when you came out, well, we’re not so sure if we’ll be back. And not just because this was the roughest show I’ve been to in years. (To the girl who tried to shove me out of my spot: Yes, I will use my elbows. I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you, sweetheart.)

To be fair, the friend who I went with tonight has liked them for 8 years and loves AM, and probably does not feel the same way as I do. She and the 19-year-old boy on line were trying to explain to me why the album is excellent, because it “brought back the funk” that was missing in their last 2 albums. But she walked away from the show completely disappointed that she had waited all this time to finally see them live, and they hadn’t played “Fake Tales of San Francisco.”

And I guess that kind of sums up my problem with the current iteration of the band. I don’t like them “bringing back the funk,” I liked them when they rocked the hell out. Even if they did it with an unearned swagger.

I wanted to hear “Fake Tales,” too. I wanted to hear “Mardy Bum,” “A Certain Romance,” “View from the Afternoon,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” “From the Ritz to the Rubble.”  And they wanted to play their new music. (Again, to be fair, they played a lot of the songs I love from Favourite Worst Nightmare.)

But it’s an epidemic, these days. Every new album a band puts out, they consider it growth and evolution, and SO MUCH BETTER than the SHITE they had written earlier in their careers. (All the bands I know who are doing this are British, so they would say, “Shite,” yes.) Their new material is TOO GOOD, and they’ve just grown TOO MUCH, and evolved away from those songs. But they forget that those songs earned them a following. Even a reluctant one, like me.

(And it’s not all bands. Franz Ferdinand seem to have managed to develop and evolve, while still retaining their essence, the quality that made people like them to begin with. Even on their new album, you can see the growth, but they’re recognizable as the same band. And upon first listen, I vastly prefer Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action to AM.)

Because whenever a band decides that they are no longer going to play their most popular songs, they run the risk of alienating the fan base that got them where they are. Arctic Monkey’s debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, broke records in the UK. They became famous without even having put out an album, just off of those first tracks circulating on the internet. I have a copy of Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys (from eBay, years ago, okay?! I’m not that old school) and I still prefer those versions of the songs to the ones on the debut.

(Another band I love, Frightened Rabbit, have also stopped playing one of their best songs at shows. I’m seeing them in October, and I’ve heard that their recent set is made up primarily of songs off their most recent album, ignoring their most popular songs from their breakthrough album, The Midnight Organ Fight. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit worried.)

But you know what? I’m truly glad for Arctic Monkeys, that a new school of people are discovering them, and they’re able to continue what they’re doing and have a strong fan base, even if it’s not the one that they started with. I meant every word I wrote about Alex Turner clearly being extremely talented. And talented people should be successful.


I can’t speak for all the people who were there at the beginning—and the people who were really there at the beginning, who saw them gigging in Sheffield, the people who first traded around those mp3s—but I, for one, wouldn’t necessarily put myself through that again. (Unless maybe I adore the next album.) I have my memories and my mp3s, and that will have to be enough.

About a girl

Well, then. Here we are.

Since this is the beginning, there are 2 things that you should know about me.

1. La rêve! Only in my dreams do I dream in perfect French. Despite the fact that I’ve been learning for a couple of years now, I’m still even hopeless when I speak! But I like to pretend, and at least j’essaie (I try). And I’m persistent. And a bit obsessed with all things French. Have any of you learned a second language and have any tips? I am all ears, both asleep and awake! And if any of you speak French and I MISuse it, please correct me!

2. I am a failed blogger. I always begin with great intentions, and then somewhere along the way (sometimes after only the first entry), I lose all momentum. Under my belt, I have a music blog (my best attempt to date), a pseudo-knitting blog, a blog about my attempts at learning French, and a blog about what it’s like to be a fan of European football in America (so shameful, this one). It occurred to me that part of the problem might be dividing all my various interests up into different blogs. I fear alienating people who may begin to follow me for specific content with other content they have no interest in, but consider this your fair warning.

So, c’est moi! That’s me.


…okay, I lied. There are more than 2 things.

3. I’m obsessed with makeup and beauty products. When I was a little girl and my friends would come over to visit, we would play with this eyeshadow palette that my mother had. We would always come out of it looking like little clowns, but that was our idea of fun. And it still is mine. I embarrassingly just earned my entry into Sephora’s VIB Rouge program. Which, basically, means that I spent way too much money on makeup this year. Whoops.

4. Ditto for being obsessed with fashion and style. Alas, that was not as easy to do with my mom’s stuff. Although I surely toddled around perilously in her heels well before I could actually fit into them.

5. Strangely, despite my Francophilia, I am also an Anglophile. Hey, the two of you may have a rivalry going on, but as an American, I can remain blissfully unaffected. This means my vocabulary is peppered with French words AND Britishisms. It’s a wonder anyone ever understands me. In particular, I adore Scotland, and it’s so bad, I’ve been 11 times. (I also have dear friends there now, so it’s not quite as bad as it seems!) It also explains how I fell into liking what the British call football (and what I will never call the “s” word), even if I do support a Spanish team. (Although, being American, I also like baseball. You resolve it. I’ve grown to live with it.)

6. I am never so happy as when I’m traveling. So I hope to share my future adventures with you all, as well as some of the things I’ve already learned and places I’ve already been.

7. I have never shot and uploaded a video to YouTube before, but I hope to attempt to for future entries. Please, go easy on me!

8. Oh! And I knit. Slowly, but pretty well.

So, basically, all these numbers add up to tell you that this blog is going to be a hodgepodge of all the varying and contrasting interests that make up me, and I hope you will stick around to see how it turns out! (I especially hope I do, ha.)

Merci, et, à la prochaine! Until next time!