Barneys New York recently teamed with eco-friendly clothing brand Loomstate to launch an exclusive line called Loomstate for Barneys Green. The sexy, hip and fun women's line just launched featuring lightweight knit dresses and tops, watercolor-washed graphics, soft fleece hoodies, denim shorts and skirts that come in a variety of colors including sea glass green, blue smoke and sandy mauve. Barneys approached Loomstate to kick off its Green line because of the company's reputation for respecting the environment. Loomstate uses only 100 percent organic cotton and wool and sustainable materials to make their clothes and is committed to ensuring workers live better lives. A percentage of profits from the sale of Loomstate for Barneys Green will benefit 1% For the Planet, an alliance of businesses that recognize their impact on the planet and donate a percentage of their profits to help create a healthier world. Check out Loomstate for Barneys Green -- for Barneys, it's surprisingly not that expensive.
I was shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that this bottle of 2004 Rioja -- the Cosme Palacio y Hermanos -- was made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. I've had a couple bottles in the past of that varietal that I just didn't like. I guess it was the wine because I absolutely love this bottle. For a wine that's under $12 it is loaded with vibrant flavors and incredible aromas. The wine is sensual and alluring, inviting to numerous senses with its lush blackberry, cherry and plum flavors and just the slightest hint of pepper. It has a nice medium body making it easy to drink alone or with a variety of food. We had it with a melange of grilled meats: honey-glazed chicken, pepper-encrusted filet and andouille chicken sausage as well as some greens and roasted potatoes. From a quick search online, it seems like this bottle is available throughout the US and Europe -- and for good reason: it's a lovely, inexpensive wine that drinks well with a variety of food. And it was a Wine Spectator Daily Pick last September with a score of 86.
March 22 is World Water Day. Hundreds of restaurants in New York have teamed with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to honor the Tap Project by asking patrons to donate $1 for the normally free tap water they enjoy while dining. The goal is to raise funds for UNICEF to bring improved water systems to more than 90 developing countries and the more than 21 percent of children (about one billion kids) living without clean water. Another goal: to bring to attention the fact that we, as Americans with some of the cleanest tap water, take advantage of our free-flowing water all the time. Millions of people around the globe don't have the luxury of clean, fresh tap water and face water-borne disease daily. So if you live in New York, which uses 1.3 billion gallons of water daily, or are visiting the city tomorrow, please consider donating one extra dollar so people around the world can enjoy the luxury we exploit everyday. The project, while Manhattan-based, will expand to include other cities in the future. If you aren't in New York and want to participate, you can make a donation. If you aren't sure that $1 will help, consider these facts:
With $1, UNICEF can provide 40 liters of safe drinking water, which is enough to give one child safe drinking water for 40 days or 40 children safe drinking water for one day.
With $1, UNICEF can provide 100 water purification tablets to provide clean water for children in crisis situations.
For other water-related projects, also check out Charity: Water.
Amoeba Records -- the Holy Grail for music lovers -- announced this morning they're releasing their first-ever live EP for their new live in-store music series: TV on the Radio Live at Amoeba. The limited-edition four-song set was recorded on Sept. 22, 2006 at Amoeba's Hollywood location and will feature “Blues From Down Here,” “Wolf Like Me,” Province,” and “Wash the Day,” all from TVOTR's latest release Return to Cookie Mountain. The numbered EPs go on sale for $5.98 at all three Amoeba locations and online March 27 at 12:01 am and will remain on sale for 30 days or until they run out (which will likely happen much sooner). While you wait for next Tuesday's on sale, check out the video from TVOTR's in-store performance.
The Kaiser Chiefs are about to start another riot with the release of their second album Yours Truly, Angry Mob, which is already out in the UK and has topped the charts for two weeks in a row. My review for URB magazine comes out in the next issue:
On their follow up to the massively successful Employment, Kaiser Chiefs up the ante by settling into their groove. On Yours Truly, Angry Mob, Kaiser Chiefs grow up, dig in and get utterly serious, albeit in a pogo-hopping decadent British way. On this set, energetic front man Ricky Wilson takes vocal cues from Simon LeBon and Morrissey (not coincidentally, this album was produced by Stephen Street who also worked with the Smiths). The music charges forth in a polished package of angular Brit-poppy beats and rhythms with big, colossal guitars and sing-along songs, especially "I Can Do it Without You" and lead single "Ruby," a hyper-paced love ditty that gets enjoyably enmeshed in your head. "The Angry Mob," a melodic tune that morphs into a battle call of sorts, calls out the British public's love affair with tabloids and pubs. The rest of the album mixes signature Kaiser's power pop ("Heat Dies Down," "Highroyds"), anthems ("Try Your Best"), Duran-inspired ballads ("Love's Not a Competition But I'm Winning") and straight up fun tunes ("Everything is Average Nowadays"). Where the band predicted a riot on Employment, for this one, they're surely predicting world domination.
The album drops March 27. In the meantime, check out these songs:
Nick Drake isn't dead. He's alive and well and living under an assumed name in Denmark. Two assumed names actually: Ehlers/Thejsen. In reality Danish duo Morten Ehlers and Jonas Thejsen do a pretty damn good job of keeping the '70s singer/songwriter's vibe going strong. This pair makes gorgeous loungy music in a pure '70s AM radio style with soothing soulful vocals and glistening light and plucky acoustic guitar. They're backed by Marie Højlund, whose beautiful harmonies perfectly complement Thejsen's deeper yet lofty voice. Add in some wind instruments, cello and piano and you get a smoky jazzy groove on the melancholy "Echoes," while the upbeat and slightly psychedelic "Yes We Fixed Your World" shines a little hope on the darkness and negativity that abounds today. This music is a perfect discovery coming into spring -- its light and airy feeling is the ultimate soundtrack for a lazy hazy morning with the sun rising out over the lake when you want to blow off work and frolick in the park. In a nutshell, I just got turned on to Ehlers/Thejsen and I'm an instant fan -- I absolutely love this music. Their self-titled debut comes out April 2 on Denmark's Warfare Records.
Check it out on MySpace.
Peter Bjorn and John were on my flight from Austin to Chicago connecting to Stockholm. For a band that played seven or eight shows, filmed a TV spot and did a bunch of interviews over the last few days, they look surprisingly refreshed. I chatted with Peter for a bit, who told me they're coming back to the US for a tour in May, which will include a stop at Coachella and also at Chicago's Empty Bottle. He also confirmed they're playing Lollapalooza.
Peter said they were really happy to play the amount of shows they did because it helps keep the buzz going and helps prime them for the forthcoming full tour. They're definitely riding a wave, now that Writer's Block – their third release – is finally getting noticed. He complained that they had trouble with their old label, which really only distributed their albums in Sweden and didn't give them enough attention, because when I asked about why he thought this one was finally hitting he said "better distribution – and a hit single doesn't hurt either!"
The guys are excited to get back home to see their girlfriends but that this trip was a huge success. Peter was a little disappointed he didn't get to see any bands but then again, he said, "we're here to work." I encouraged him to try and book a couple of days for Lollapalooza so they can enjoy Chicago and see a bunch of music since they missed it all in Austin. Of all the shows they played, he said his favorites were the Rhapsody party at Mohawk (the set I caught) and also the show at La Zona Rosa, because it was "more of a proper show" – longer, great energy.
I actually walked onto the plane with Peter who was really looking forward to a little sleep after the whirlwind three days in Austin. We talked about more music and he again said he was disappointed that he didn't get to really see much music – but he did get to see Pete Townshend who played a song with his girlfriend, Rachel Fuller, during the DirecTV taping when PB&J did their set. He also said it was a thrill to see Robyn Hitchcock (who was joined by REM's Peter Buck) at the Mohawk show before PB&J's set and excited that Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil was around town, too. Running into them was a nice way to cap off my sxsw experience and hopefully I'll be doing a proper interview with Peter (or one of the other guys) before they return to the US in May.
After talking to a bunch of people on Friday and seeing other blog postings, it looks like Thursday was somewhat of a cluster fuck for many. But whatever mishaps took place on Day 2, Friday made up for it in spades. My day kicked off with a fantastic interview with Brandi Carlile at the Intercontinental. Brandi, whose new album comes out April 3, looks and sounds wonderful. She grew out her hair and reminds me of Mandy Moore, even with the cute little birthmark. We chatted for about 40 minutes about everything from recording with T Bone Burnett and the song content to her personal life and the need to have nature in her world. Afterward, I headed over to the Fader Fort, which for all intents and purposes was one of the best spots of the weekend (save the weak SoCo punch). I caught Cloud Cult, the sextet (or octet if you count the two artists painting on stage behind them) from Minneapolis, who sounded absolutely brilliant. It surprised me that there weren't more people there because it's bands like this that I feel really merit the exposure at these festivals. The inclusion of a cello and violin completely enhance their experimental northern sound and just make it all the more gorgeous.
Strolling down 6th Street, we stopped to grab a slice of pizza and, while waiting in line, heard someone ride by on a bike and scream "Perez Hilton!" I turned back around and the self-proclaimed gossip gangstar walked in front of us, accompanied by English buzz boy Mika. I swear, Perez is a glutton for attention. He died his hair pink and, wearing a bright yellow and pink striped shirt and loud yellow pants and looking fatter than ever, he honestly looked like the Ronald McDonald float from the Macy's Day Parade. Poor thing.
So tired. weird day. super hot. highilghts: [I'll add pictures later]
Pipettes @ Fader/Levi's Fort -- super cute, great voices -- not ready for mainstream
Foreign Islands @ the Fort -- amazingly tight, new york downtown raw indie rock
Schubas party @ Yard Dog -- hoped to see Cold War Kids; more or less hung with friends
PETER BJORN & JOHN @ Rhapsody's soiree @ Mohawk -- first, this new club down by the legendary Club DeVille is a fantastic setting for live music. With a huge indoor space and a great wooden deck. PB&J came on late so I only caught five songs before I had to leave but they finally lived up to their hype. Word was their shows in NY weren't so on fire, but this set ruled.
Uchi Sushi -- some of the best raw fish I've ever had.
Mika @ Eternal -- this young British troubadour lives up to the buzz surrounding him back home. His vocals were so crisp and pure that you almost had to question if it was really him singing live (it was) or if he was lip syncing (he wasn't). I chatted with him after the set and he complained that everything that could go wrong did. The sound was off. His drummer couldn't hear his monitors. I assured him that he was great and that we had no idea they were having issues. He is definitely a showman but needs more practice in front of a live audience. This was actually his third-ever show in the US.
Bloc Party @ Stubb's -- as always Bloc Party brought it, but again, chatting with Kele afterward at the C3/Playboy party, he said he didn't really love it. Something about the venue makes it difficult for him to connect with the audience. But instead of brooding over it, Kele said, "You play the show and then move on." At least he can let it go.
Ghostland Observatory @ Playboy Party -- Not sure what the deal is with this big Austin buzz electronic outfit, but honestly I found them pretty snoozy.
It's 2:30 am. I just got back to my hotel room -- and I'm definitely ready to rest up for the next couple of days. Today felt like one big summer camp reunion -- people from all walks of life popped in and out of the day. Friends from SF, NY, LA, Chicago -- some who I haven't seen for years -- all descended upon Austin for the Holy Grail of music festivals. We started the day with a brief stop at Emo's for the kick off to Metro's 25th Anniversary -- congrats Joe Shanahan for having one of the most incredible, influential music venues in the world. Then we headed to the Levi's/Fader Fort -- a pop-up Levi's store-cum-music venue with tight, eclectic lineups all weekend long. Today we caught a roaring set by David Vandervelde, one of my favorite new singers from Chicago who relives the sexiness of T Rex and Roxy Music. Vandervelde followed a rousing Brit-pulsing set by Foals and a hot interlude by Hot Club de Paris, which was cut short for a fine fine Tex-Mex meal at El Chile (thanks iser!). Heading back Downtown, I met up with friends at Stubb's, where I caught Jamie T, a garage-edged Arctic Monkeys vocals-sounding crowd-enticing young singer (who I first got turned on to in London last October). This NME showcase then featured Lily Allen, who totally drew in the crowd, but I've seen her so I bailed and caught the last two songs of Tally Hall before what will likely go down as one of the hottest sets of the weekend -- San Francisco's Birdmonster. While from the Bay Area, this hot foursome has a New York edge with a British thunderous vibe -- but without any bullshit or pretense. They rocked out so freakin' hard -- and the few industry smarts who were there definitely knew what was up. The night capped off with a righteous hell-raisin' set by spoken word artist Saul Williams whose music is set to an eclectic backbeat of electronic sounds, including his new stuff which is heavily steeped in drum 'n bass with a big Nine Inch Nails influence (which makes sense since Trent Reznor is producing his new album). But now it's time to go to sleep. Mas manana.