Thursday, May 29, 2008

Icon: Chan Marshall

I started writing this article two months ago with Cat Power's style in mind. After extensive research I deleted everything I'd written. I knew she was a musician and a Lagerfeld muse but I didn't know that I would fall in love with her music. Chan Marshall has released quite a few records so far, but I've started with her ten year old album Moon Pix. The songs have a soul of their own. Some stories are told with such penetrating intensity that is not doubt influenced by Chan's voice has the ability to lack emotional inhibition. She isn't afraid to feel the burn of tears that won't fall or stutter or let words almost unrecognizably drawl out in a hushed tone. Guitars quirkily layer and it works even though some may think it shouldn't. They don't take away from Chan's feelings, they create an atmosphere. In one song, "Say", the sound of grey roaring clouds complement the music while providing a darker atmosphere. "Moonshiner" is the tale of an alcoholic who has been a slave to the drug for many years. For me the peak moment on the record is in this track when she sings ," We're already in hell! I wish we could go to hell!" with such intense and helpless sincerity that must coax listener's to tears at Cat Power shows. In a turn that's more sweet than bitter "Colours and the Kids" is a stream of consciousness where Chan sings confections like "It must just be the colours and the kids that keep me alive, because the music is boring me to death", "Will you meet me down on a sandy beach, we can roll up our jeans, so the tide won't get us below the knee" and "When we were teenagers we wanted to be the sky."

See how many references you can spot in "Cross Bones Style."

This video of "Metal Heart", another standout track, has me spellbound. It breaks my heart every time she sings "Metal heart, your not worth a thing."

from What Would the Community Think
from You Are Free

richard avedon ^

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tokyo, I Love You

There was a time when I watched every single anime (Japanese animated show) that came on television. As a kid I was intrigued by the storytelling. Most American cartoons were for children. Anime could become very suspenseful and tell intricate stories. When I was eleven I had a small group of friends who loved manga (graphic novels, er, comic books). We would alternate buying books each month and share them because of the expense. For a while I thought that I would like to be a graphic novel artist. I dreamed of going to Japan to study manga art but now I have a different reason: street fashion. (That and I don't have the patience to illustrate every second of a long story.)

If you look around the streets of any major city you'll find a multitude of styles and tastes. Despite this Japan has a reputation for being quite unique. Whats sets them apart you ask? They are fearless.

Online I found an image of a girl wearing a strawberry necklace. It did not appear to be a strawberry charm necklace, it looked like a daisy chain of actual strawberries. There was even a cluster tucked into the top of one of her boots. Another girl wore huge strawberry earrings but they were fake.

Leg warmer's, an item approached with caution, are really no big deal. Part of this is due to a healthy dose of humor. Many people on Japanese street style websites display their embellished cell phones. Others pin a mini stuffed animal to their clothing. There were people who kept tiny figurines in their pockets but displayed them for pictures as well. Kookiness isn't fear factor.

I also noticed layering. A few fearless individuals looked swamped in fabric while others confined this look to a skirt or sweater. One of my favorite images is of a mangled white t-shirt worn like a giant necklace. I also loved some looks reminiscent of Anglomania. The bright colors, stripes and pirate boots would make Viv Westwood proud.

Like a true former otaku, I couldn't help but notice looks that reminded me of anime characters. Some brought back fond memories of Trigun and Fooly Cooly. I found some childhood Final Fantasy nostalgia as well. There were a few modern takes on traditional samurai wear that reflected a current viewing pleasure, Samurai Champloo. School girls drifting in the background of some images brought back of pang of Serial Experiments Lain eeriness.

Some day I would love to witness Japanese street fashion in person. For now the Internet is my gateway to the world.

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