Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Happy Birthday Brigitte Bardot!

Brigitte Bardot turned 77 this week. Most famous for her iconic sixties sex symbol photos, she has influenced the realms of art, music and film and been an inspiration to many, including Lennon, McCartney and Andy Warhol.

Brigitte Bardot, born 28 September 1934 in Paris, has starred in about 50 films, recorded 80 songs and performed in several musical shows. The former model, actress and singer retired from the entertainment industry in 1973 and transferred her passions to animal rights activism.

Bardot changed the way western society sees teenagers by immortalising and celebrating the stylish, youthful teenager. Children became adults with no labelled transition in the early 20th century, but Bardot trigerred the fashion world for les jeunes filles. In time, French intellectuals began to identify her as a symbol of liberal and postmodern France - a provocatively free woman.

Bardot popularised short shorts, bikinis and revealing necklines. However she is known for her stylish French dress and is an icon of the 20th century with her carefree, laissez-faire St Tropez lifestyle.

Brigitte on Brigitte: I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

R.I.P. Robert Whitaker

Renowed British photographer, Bob Whitaker, passed away this week. He was most famous for his controversial Beatles "butcher" album sleeve (Yesterday and Today), where the band was pictured holding mangled cuts of meat, and disfigured baby dolls. His father and grandfather were Australian, yet he grew up in the UK. As well as many photographs of the Beatles between 1964 and 1966, especially during their America tour, Whitaker also took some shots which were later used on Martin Sharp's Disreali Gears album cover for the band Cream. Whitaker passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer at age 72.

Yesterday and Today album cover (1966)

Robert Whitaker photography used on Disraeli Gears

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Album Review - "Junk of the Heart" by the Kooks

Junk of the Heart (2011)               1/2

This week the Kooks' latest album has been released -it has been 3 years since the last (Konk). As one of several big 2000's bands this year releasing a long-awaited album (including RHCP and The Strokes)- I wasn't sure what to expect, if the band would stray from it's catchy songs about love, or experiment. "Junk of the Heart" isn't going to be a major album in the band's career but there are a few singles which stand out.

There is a nostalgic feel to this album, with the traditional Kooks-style songs reflecting on happy times with loved ones, and the newer, more experimental ones delving into semi-psychedelic sounds. Overall Luke Pritchard's voice sounds a little less youthful, less 'naive' and a generally more composed. The album doesn't deal with extreme emotions or sport amazing lyrics, but it seems to be the sort of album that will be enjoyable in summer, or at least should be listened to outdoors on a lazy afternoon.

Title track Junk of the Heart is an upbeat, enjoyable tune with a more electronic feel than previous Kooks numbers but not as rough as Konk. Second single Is it me has the most playful lyrics, I think, in the album: "Bring me a pig's heart and a glass of wine"..."We're both still playing with shadows in our hands."

There is a mix of slower ballads and cheerful, lively songs but the Kooks have not completely disbanded from their love of sixties tunes. Rosie is a fast-paced, old-fashioned style serenade to a girl from afar. Runaway is almost the opposite with an innovative blend of synth and vocals, moving away from their literal storytelling approach to music.

My favourite is Petulia, a quiet achiever towards the end of the album, with its Paul-McCartney-ish soft rock style and smooth vocals. This album is definitely about "junk" or tales from the heart, although most are rather agreeable.

For now, the Kooks may be overtaken by newer, more alternative bands in the British Indie scene but I'm sure that there is a band of loyal followers that will taking a liking to the new album by this bunch of sentimental Brits.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Karlie Kloss for Fall 2011

Karlie Kloss goes mod in New York City for Vogue Japan this month

Karlie Kloss just turned 19 in August and already she has modeled for the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Micheal Kors and Chanel on runway, in countless magazine shoots and campaigns. I admire her unique but classic look and have particularly taken note of her stride at this fall's runway shows. Karlie is famous for cat eyes and arching eyebrows (never mind the endless legs) which see her hired for both fashion and beauty. Her ballerina training lends her a sense of grace and elegance and although she is skinny, she appears strong, not frail. I first heard about her as an emerging schoolgirl model a year or so ago, but since then she has caught my eye with her growing number of campaign contracts. Karlie has headed to the top pretty quickly but her youthful charm and talent in front of the camera convinces me that her career is far from over. We'll be seeing a lot more of this Chicago-born sophisticated girl in the future.

Chanel Runway - Resort 2012

Michael Kors Runway - Ready-to-Wear 2011

Elle Saab Runway - 2011 Couture

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Adele on the Jonathan Ross show

After watching Adele's television appearances this weekend, I've gained a sense of her personality, past the powerful voice (and powerful hair). Her working-class British accent and cackling laugh in between questions makes her presence feel more familiar than a record-breaking pop star, and breaks away momentarily from the vintage-inspired heartbroken soul singer.

Adele signals the return to strong voices and sincere personalities in pop music. Her songs sound real and are a welcome break from the auto-tune effects which many other singers use. She is talented enough to be praised for her voice but also to be played constantly on radio stations around the world.

Adele has just turned 23 this year and already has left her mark on the world. At first, I was a bit tentative about listening to her music, song after song about misery and despair. However, after buying her album 21 off iTunes (less commitment than a CD), I've decided that Adele will stand the tests of time.

Her recent performance at the VMAs was touching, during "Someone Like You" she was close to, if not already, in tears. For an entire album that was written about one breakup, 21 can communicate with many, and it's the mix of both emotional resonance and catchy tunes that makes Adele's music so attractive.

Adele told Jonathan Ross that she'll be back in the studio by November but as there's no man around, it will be interesting to see what we'll be hearing from her next.