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OCTOBER 29, 2006
Call for Change

I don't normally post politically themed topics, but this is too important to not talk about. This election day, on Nov. 7, the Democrats have a solid chance of taking back Congress. After the last six years of a Republican-controlled government, it's time to take things back.

Help MoveOn.org and sign up as a volunteer to call people and make sure they get out to the polls.

Click on the image below to get more information and to sign up to help man the phones. If you're tired of a government that's more interested in padding the pockets of big business and lying to the public to enter a war that doesn't seem to have an end, then do your part. Notice how many Republican Congressmen are getting caught in scandals lately? Those are just the ones we know about. There's way too much corruption and deceit guiding our country. Family values indeed. It's our turn to get out and vote.

Call For Change

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OCTOBER 27, 2006
Restaurant Review: Villandry (London)

Villandry One of the things I loved about living in San Francisco was the number of restaurants that used an abundance of fresh products (vegetables, grains, meats, fish) from local merchants and farmers. There's nothing better than going out to dinner and wishing you could've prepared this meal yourself, working hard all day and combining the most flavorful ingredients to create a spectacular menu. So when I went to Villandry, which was nearing the end of a complete rehab, I was completely bowled over about how much it reminded me of eating in the Bay Area.

The foodstore/restaurant/bar is located in Central London, in the Fitzrovia district just off Tottenham Court Road not far from Bloomsbury and Soho. After its conception 17 years ago (and moving to its current location on Great Portland Street in 1997), Villandry's makeover appears to be doing this bistro some good. 

Walking in, we had to dodge workers painting the gourmet foodstore upfront to make it through to the restaurant. The space itself was beautiful and earthy, with both blond and dark wood set against muted greys and natural hues, giving an overall warm autumnal feeling.

But it was really the food -- and phenomenal service -- that was noteworthy. The menu, which changes monthly, takes its cue from a French brasserie featuring gratin of macaroni cheese, moules mariniere and cassoulet with just the slightest English influence.

Continue reading "Restaurant Review: Villandry (London)" »

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OCTOBER 24, 2006
Interview: Forward Russia's Tom Woodhead

Fr Like so many bands before them, Forward Russia! has massive buzz and some high-charting singles back home in the UK. But who in the US knows them outside those in the know? Not many. To change that, Forward Russia kick off their introductory US tour tomorrow (Oct. 25) and will play a number of showcases during New York's CMJ music festival, including a spotlight set at the Brooklyn Vegan party on Nov. 3 at Fontana's alongside The Thermals, Oxford Collapse, Chin Up Chin Up and the Changes.

Following relentless touring, the band released its debut album, Give Me A Wall, on its own indie label, Dance on the Radio, which was started by band member Whiskas. The foursome, who are all in their very early 20s, launched out of Leeds, England and found themselves quickly skyrocketing up the UK singles charts with the familiar post-punk bravado taken up a notch with hyper experimentation and grating guitars.

I caught up with lead singer Tom Woodhead when the band stopped in Bordeaux, France for a show there earlier this month. For someone who reportedly has one of the most spastic stage presences in music today, Tom was surprisingly relaxed and level-headed. During our chat, we discussed, among other things, avoiding hype, touring America and auto-asphyxiation.

Read the full interview below or just stream it.

Q&A with Tom Woodhead of Forward Russia!

SomethingGlorious: You've been touring Europe – how have they responded to your music?
Tom Woodhead: People have been receptive. We're still starting out in Europe – and have had a good response, but Scandinavia was weird. I think Scandinavia is notoriously bad for British and American bands to go over and try to crack it. It was really Sweden that was a bit shit, Finland was a bit shit, but that's not technically in Scandinavia. Sweden for some reason is notorious for being hard to crack.

SG: You'll just have to keep going back – and wrapping the cord around your neck.
TW: [laughs]

SG: You're going to have to switch to a cordless mic!
TW: No no – I wouldn't have anything to do with my hands!

SG: I haven't seen you live yet, but do you intentionally wrap the cord around your neck or does it happen in your frenzy?
TW: It kind of bit of both. It's not really by design. It's how I'm moving. It feels comfortable to have it wrapped around your arm – it feels good to do that. It's not some grand design or anything. But I couldn't stop it if I tried.

SG: So you say it feels good -- are you into kinky shit like S&M and being tied up?
TW: [laughs] No not really. [Wrapping the cord around my neck] doesn't feel good in a sexual way. It's purely a platonic thing!

SG: Have you ever tried being tied up?
TW: No, maybe I should when I get back to my girlfriend in England.

Continue reading "Interview: Forward Russia's Tom Woodhead" »

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Bloc Party to release A Weekend in the City

Blocparty Over the summer, Bloc Party revealed some information about their forthcoming sophomore release, and today they finally came out with all the details. Their second album, A Weekend in the City, is the follow-up to their groundbreaking, critically acclaimed debut Silent Alarm. The album, which was recorded at Dublin's Grouse Lodge studio, will street Feb. 6 on Vice Records. As I previously reported, it was produced by Jacknife Lee (U2, Editors) and will see the band going in a darker albeit more mature, expansive direction.

Where Silent Alarm set up the band as one of the leaders of the modern post-punk movement with its angular, infectious guitars, throbbing drum beats and wailing vocals, A Weekend in the City could solidify Bloc Party's place as one of the memorable bands of this era.

According to a press release, "A Weekend in the City is inspired by lead singer Kele Okereke’s interest in what he calls “the living noise of a metropolis.”  The music was influenced by Philip Glass, Timbaland, Aaliyah and Bartok and the band experiments with more urban beats and samples -- not to mention the incorporation of strings for the first time. Choral chanting and humming, a la TV on the Radio, were also played with and will be featured on select tracks.

For why Bloc Party experimented and morphed their sound, Kele told me last June that "it kind of dogs me a little that we're seen as a rock band. Of course we're in a rock band - we play guitars. That's really so far from what I wanted this band to be perceived as ... I just really hope that this album goes some way to making guitar rock music to sounding a little less white and skinny, I guess. The music that I've been inspired by hasn't been any guitar bands in the last five to 10 years."

Bloc Party hit the road this fall with Panic! at the Disco before settling in for the holidays and gearing up for their February release.

Track listing for A Weekend in the City:
1.  Song For Clay (Disappear Here)
2.  Hunting For Witches
3.  Waiting For the 7:18
4.  The Prayer
5.  Uniform
6.  On
7.  Where Is Home?
8.  Kreuzberg
9.  I Still Remember
10.  Sunday
11.  SRXT

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OCTOBER 23, 2006
Murdock London

Murdock1 Murdock is a modern-day men's barber (that leans toward being an apothecary) about a stone's throw from Hoxton Square in the Shoreditch area of London. Brendan Murdock opened the place earlier this year to attract a discerning man who wants a shave and haircut in a comfortable, relaxed setting.  The shop features a variety of services, including a traditional wet shave, moustache or beard trim and even manicures. Murdock isn't the only grooming salon in the area, but it is the sole proprietorship to cater exclusively to a male market. In addition to the services, the shop stocks an array of somewhat hard-to-find products in London, including Jack Black, (Malin + Goetz), D R Harris, Caron (a French perfume house that was the first inMurdock2 the world to create a scent just for men), Hierbas de Ibiza, Korres, Marvis toothpaste -- even KY Jelly and Trojans (which, surprisingly, has completely different branding than the States). Going a step further to accommodate the busy man, Murdock also features leather goods -- bags, belts -- as well as cufflinks and books -- just to add a touch of kitsch.

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Wagamama Coming to the US

Wagamama_1

Anyone who has ever spent a semester abroad in London or even jumped across the pond for a long weekend with advice from friends has likely eaten a meal at Wagamama. The 14-year-old noodle-house chain, which now has 45 locations around the UK -- with additional spots in Australia, Dubai, Ireland, Turkey, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Denmark and Belgium, is finally coming to America. I first dined at the original Wagamama in London's Bloomsbury neighborhood shortly after it opened back in 1992 and went back to the Covent Garden space on this last trip. Wagamama still has the same cachet and fast-paced environment -- not to mention fantastic, inexpensive noodle, ramen, rice and curry dishes -- as it always has. The first spot is set to open in Boston's Faneuil Hall in early 2007 and when I spoke with someone at Wagamama HQ, she told me that Chicago is a very possible second spot.

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Morrissey Announces Chicago Date -- Only in US

Morrissey just announced his only US date this fall and it's going to be in Chicago. Moz will make his US stop on Nov. 21 @ the Aragon Ballroom. Tickets go on sale this Saturday at noon. He tapped Kristeen Young to open. Never heard of them? Me either. Apparently Kristeen is Morrissey's favorite singer. Why am I saying them? Because techincally, KristeenYoung is a NY-based duo, rounded out by drummer "Baby" Jeff White. My first impression is  that she sounds like Kate Bush (vocally) on electro steroids. Check out some tracks.

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OCTOBER 19, 2006
Brandon Flowers & Killers party in Chicago after show

Killers On Tuesday night, Brandon Flowers and Co., hit Chicago hot spot Cabaret for their official after party following their sold-out (tickets were gone in like 5 minutes) show at the Congress Theater. The Killers showed up sometime before midnight and partied late late late -- except of course pretty-boy Flowers who needed his beauty sleep. The Mormon frontman left through a back door around 1 a.m. by his bodyguard and whisked away in a black Lincoln Town Car to his hotel.

The rest of the band, however, had no problem swigging Veuve Cliquot, their fair share of KnobCabaret Creek and the requisite Heinys to wash it all down. Drummer Ronnie Vannucci partied with fans (read: enjoyed loads of shots) and eventually invited some lucky fans (read: trashy groupies) to join the band in Detroit Wednesday night for the E Street Band Killers show there.

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Grey's Anatomy's O'Malley is Gay!

Omalley The closet doors just keep fallin' off their hinges ... T.R. Knight, who plays the fumbling, bumbling goofy resident George O'Malley on Grey's Anatomy, confirmed to People that's he's gay (by the look on his face in this picture, he looks as surprised as I was).

This, on the same day it was revealed that co-star Isaiah Washington, who plays the too-cool Dr. Burke, hurled an anti-gay slur (assumingly toward Knight) during an argument with Patrick Dempsey.

Knight, 33, told People: "I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I'd like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me."

Way to go, Georgie Boy!

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OCTOBER 18, 2006
The Dears: Whites Only Party Video

Dears Montreal-based The Dears just released the video for their powerful new single, "Whites Only Party," off their new album Gang of Losers. The race-rights song (sung by lead singer Murray Lightburn, who happens to be black) could easily have had a harsh, angry tone, but instead the Dears go at with a softer approach. The beautiful song captures the anger without spewing venom.

The band is known for their dark yet luxuriously layered pop and this song fits that mold. From the start of the track, its upbeat tempo, happy keys and bouncy drums lead to believe it's going to be a happy dance tune, but as soon as Lightburn starts in you know it's quite the opposite. The song moves darker, with swirling, haunting guitars and Lightburn's Morrissey-like vocals and high staccato.

"I wanna know how you did it/you waltzed right passed through the door/while we struggled here at the gates and can't get through/We could've followed you and made you look like fools/But who cares/We'd still be true."

Watching the video move from scenes of a '50s "whites only" party (not necessarily the case in reality but for purposes of the video it works) to a montage of black people protesting, the dichotomy is powerful.




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