Monday, November 30, 2009

Shadowtime Toronto

My Thanksgiving weekend of film, fashion, and fraternization in Toronto included a visit to the set of M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming film Devil, to Queen St. boutiques, and to the Bovine Sex Club.

I can't say much about this upcoming thriller slated for release in 2011, although Devil is directed by The Brothers Dowdle, (who brought us Quarantine and The Poughkeepsie Tapes), so expect it have their usual frightening intensity.

As for the shopping, from the 800 block all the way down to the 200's, Queen St. has a surprising variety of great fashion boutiques and record stores - the darkest and most glamorous is surely Carte Blanche. They sell pieces by designers like Gareth Pugh, Cheap Monday, Camilla Skovgaard, and NYC's own Pleasure Principle. From shredded chic to asymmetrical minimalism, the selection is pure eye candy, rivaling anything you can find in the L.E.S., Soho or WBurg.

My best night out was spent at the Bovine Sex Club, which is the trashiest dive bar with one of the best names I've ever heard. It's a $5 cover for the bands that happen to be playing, and definitely worth it for decor that includes an undead Cabbage Patch Kid rattling inside a neon light-up cage, and rusty found metal sculpture clusters.

No snarky Canada jokes necessary: Toronto is just a great city.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

Whether you deem her divine or dismiss her as vile, Lady Gaga has been on the lips of too many of late to ignore the occasion of her second official release. What's not up for debate is her power to polarize; there are few who are indifferent to her. The haters want to steal the Lady's wardrobe even if they can't bear to listen to her songs, and the lovers are lining up for everything from signature headphones, a lock cut from her wig hair, and more from the Haus of Gaga.

With an aesthetic culled from experimental haute couture that's recently been enhanced with a sepulchral spark, I'm not sure there's a more 'Goth' popstar out there. This title only applies to lyrical motifs and a fashionable appropriation of a gothic aesthetic, however, as her music couldn't be more

Gaga's monster hits so far have paired the catchiest, trashiest synth lines, lyrical rhymes, and X-Rated beats, (this record's "Bad Romance" included). But if you're looking for more of this formula, I suggest you skip most of The Fame Monster. "Alejandro" is Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" and ABBA's "Fernando" done up by Ace of Base. "Speechless" showcases Gaga's love of The Beatles with a Sgt. Peppery lead lick, and "Telephone" has her swapping vox with Beyonce in synth-y R&B club style. There's lots of mid-90's Eurodance touches when she veers into Aqua territory or has one of those 'cool guy' spoken word bits ala Real McCoy or La Bouche.

"Dance in the Dark" gets into a spookier groove musically, helped along by lyrics about vamps, tramps, and poison, and the lyrics in "Monster" - "He ate my heart and then he ate my brain" - are also kinda cute. But really, it's a stretch of the imagination to say this new crop of material is much darker than anything Rihanna, Beyonce, or Britney are making these days.

One can only hope Lady Gaga's music catches up with her aesthetic and ideology. If she would dare to team up with IAMX's Chris Corner, she'd be unstoppable.

Regardless, one look at the "Bad Romance" video and I am still left chanting, "Gaga Oh la la..."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vampire Taxonomy

This weekend was a big one for vamp fans (no further comment needed on that subject), so I thought I'd mention a new book by Meredith Woerner: Vampire Taxonomy: Identifying and Interacting with the Modern-Day Bloodsucker. Whether you delight in this stuff or think it's a ridiculous teenybopper joke, it's hard to resist the burning vampiric questions Woerner answers (according to the publisher's website).

Diet: Are they waging a never-ending struggle against the temptation of human blood or do they view the world as their personal blood buffet?

Dress: Are they decked out in leather with aspirations of becoming the first vampire rock stars or do they cling to Gothic robes and ruffled collars?

To those who have the constitution to actually read this book, please do fill me in -- I'm dying to know...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Burning Image - Fantasma

A choice cut from the current issue of Big Takeover #65, Fantasma by O.G. deathrockers Burning Image is deserving of permanent playlist status.

This Bakersfield, California quartet has risen from the crypt with a bleak, thunderous sonic maelstrom almost three decades after their start in 1983. Fantasma is gripping from the beginning – the gruesome grooves of “I Am Alive” crash in with the crunch of Tony Bonnano’s angular, chromatic guitar-driven melodies and Moe Adame’s pointed wails. This is frighteningly good. The real deal. You can hear and feel the difference between Burning Image and the young crop of self-conscious devotees to this sound in the band’s unflinchingly earnest approach to brooding, bleeding intensity. As Jello Biafra quips in the liner notes for 1983-1987 (a compilation of Burning Image’s classic tracks), “They brought their own cobwebs and played their own sound.” Evidently, nothing has changed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tim Burton @ MoMA Sneak Peak

Sneak peak of MoMA's Tim Burton exhibit on the museum's official Flickr. Open to the public this Sunday!

Friday, November 13, 2009

None more black (or more erudite): Blacklist in L.A. Weekly

Delicious erudition from singer Josh Strawn in L.A. Weekly's article on Blacklist. Anti-irony, pro-romantic realism, none more black. One more chapter in the Wierd manifesto. Catch them in L.A. this weekend if you can!

Starting to get that "I reviewed them when..." feeling.

My backlog of writings on these gents from 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

(Ph: Jammi Yorklow)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aire: The Second Fourfold Root


Devotion Gallery presents dark, upcycled Victorian elegance showcased alongside equally august sonic experimentation.

Saturday. Williamsburg. 5 Bones. Succumb.

SOUND: Black Swan, Death Domain, DJ Cowboy Mark, Mike Servito (Ghostly)
VISION: Cyberoptix, Bird Ov Prey, Sinner/Saint (Anthony Malat of Bellmer Dolls)
++++++ MORE

RIYL: Dances of Vice, Wierd, Good taste.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shadowtime L.A.


LAX Hilton: Pacific Media Expo

Royal/T: Three Apples exhibit (Hello Kitty's 35th Anniversary)

Japanese American National Museum: Giant Robot Biennale 2

Honor Fraser: Tomoo Gokita exhibit

thx, iPhone

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Abandoned Asylum Photographs

Christopher Payne's book of abandoned Asylum photographs beckoned me in at St. Marks Books a few weeks ago, and I haven't been able to get these haunting memento mori out of my head since. Dr. Oliver Sacks' forward on the cultural history of mental health institutions is equally full of pathos. New Scientist provides an overview of Asylum: Inside the closed world of state mental hospitals, and includes a sampling of 15 unshakable images.