Stefan Sagmeister is best known in the art world (and real world) for his explorative graphic design work. He’s has worked on projects ranging from the commercial, the cultural, and some which have allowed him to cross over into other industries, perhaps most notably, with his album cover designs for Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones.
The New York based Austrian recently embarked upon arguably one of his most interesting projects yet, one which would ask serious questions about the human condition and methods in which we all partake to achieve happiness.
He’s the first celebrity politician of the modern age. Known not only by his first name but by his very silhouette, Boris Johnson understands the power and significance of celebrity better than any other political figure in Britain today.
Whether he’s knocking bouffants with Barbara Windsor, or straddling a “Boris bike” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is always Boris who manages to steal the star role.
And like other modern celebrities, Boris understands that fame no longer requires the famous to actually do anything. For the modern celebrity, fame itself is both the means and the ends.
Many London districts hit by riots got lovebombed afterwards – but one got the big stick from its council instead. Welcome to Woolwich, a beaten-up, beaten-down place that’s not likely to feature in any “new Hoxton” lists soon.
As the whole world watched on in horror as criminal hordes wrecked London for three straight nights, the Mayor was nowhere to be seen. But whilst Boris Johnson was missing presumed holidaying, his re-election campaign was still fully present and correct.
Drop/Dead’s Flicker has entered and stayed very much within my field of vision this past month. It throws up, firstly, the immense popular potential of a sometimes difficult genre – Footwork – but also holds at its core what has been at the heart of March for me: tension. This ambient swathe and a euphoric female vocal are cleaved (apart/together) by that steady, if unnervingly rapid kick while I check whether Beat Connection got to SXSW all right and tick ‘P4 Ex. 3a & 3b’ off*. I’ll be more specific. I recently started a night called The Happiest Place on Earth, run a label called Tender Age and am also finishing my A Levels.
These are the tensions that have made up this year and more specifically, March. Having said that, March has been an easy month for music – it has in fact been respite rather than work. With killer records already on the way from both Beat Connection & D/R/U/G/S, I’ve been able to sit back and watch their relative scourges throughout the Internet. This focus on the current roster hasn’t even led to a blockage of new music either. Thanks to a multitude of people I’ve heard the Doom Disco of Night Angles, the aforementioned Drop/Dead and met anew Oxford’s Solid Gold Dragons.
School’s worked out less well. On 10th March I got something less than a great result on results day. Three days of recovery— Hercules & Love Affair on the same night – and there was the rest of March to look to. On the 26th TUC crash down into London to protest against cuts throughout the public sector; on the 27th D/R/U/G/S are playing a show at The Lock Tavern with support from Becoming Du Prince (otherwise known as Halls).
I think March has been a vista. February’s unbalanced tensions – wasted all weekend and overworking during the week – have somehow led to a month where test pressings and books have balanced out. But I think that means I’m highly strung and that means that something’s likely to snap so maybe I…I test its strength until April, weight it down to fuck until June – just like the thousands of other kids doing the same– and then listen to Talk Talk until April 5th 2012.
*Shouldn’t forget that letter either.
David Tattershall has jitters. Is it to do with the impending royal nuptials? “I can’t stand the royal family actually,” he says, “not that I wish them any ill of course”. Perhaps it’s the lengthy cross-country drive he and his band The Wave Pictures have just completed, en route to their first ever gig on the Emerald Isle at Galway’s Roisin Dubh, or the fact that as we talk Tattershall is overlooking a beer can infested canal opposite tonight’s venue. Whatever: within the nerves, the excitable, slightly quivering timbre of his voice suggests a man whose creative juices are flowing; a man who’s ready, with his two closest companions, for this two month jaunt around the UK, converting audiences to his cause.
The San Francisco garage scene is one of the most fecund in music right now, with bands such as The Fresh & Onlys and Sonny & The Sunsets helping to put the city on the map as a creative hub. The jewel in the crown of this collective (sorry, Royal wedding media saturation has taken its toll) are the unclassifiable, utterly charming and criminally overlooked all-female trio The Sandwitches.
The band formed back in 2008 when Grace Cooper and Heidi Alexander, then paying their dues singing back-up with the afore-mentioned Fresh & Onlys, bonded over their mutual strange tastes in music. They roped in friend Roxy Brodeur and quickly set to work on their brilliant 2009 debut LP How To Make Ambient Sadcake, a genre-hopping blend of lo-fi garage rock, goth-tinged Americana and folk. The equally captivating Duck Duck Goose! EP followed in 2010, and marked a shift towards a more countrified, bluesy sound, a direction they have continued in with their recently released 2nd album Mrs. Jones’ Cookies. A career highlight for the trio, the record abounds with quirky riffs, off-kilter melodies and cryptically beautiful lyrics. Central to the band’s appeal however are the stunning voices of Cooper and Alexander, weaving and intertwining perfectly to create bewitching, spine-tingling harmonies unlike anything else you’re likely to hear all year.
Key tracks to check out from Mrs. Jones’ are: ‘Summer Of Love’, ‘Joe Says’ and ‘My Heart Did Swell’. But that just ain’t enough Sandwitches: you’ll be hungry for more.
One day back in 2005, David Thomas Broughton went down to Wrangthorn Church in Leeds, set up his equipment, and recorded some music. “I had had these songs already, so I had an idea of what I was going to do,” he recalls. “The engineer just pressed record, I played, and then he pressed stop. The only thing we did after that was change some of the levels of the different microphones, which were situated at different positions around the hall. No overdubs.”
Deptford Market on a Saturday morning is a thriving bastion of old-timey market chaos. The air is full of shouting, arguing, laughing and confusion as people pick through piles of strange china ornaments, odd shoes and every conceivable electrical appliance that has been surpassed by modern invention since electricity began. It is untainted by trendy craft stalls and free from overpriced tourist tat, instead it is full of pure and glorious junk. Junk that it is exciting and rewarding to search through; books, odd paintings, records, furniture, TVs, clothes, old newspapers, hats and the slightly depressing china set your mum had when you were five. Approaching market trader Vic, I admit to being a bit nervous, but soon found a softness behind her hardy exterior.
Something strange is happening to me, and I’m a little bit scared.
It all started a couple of weeks ago as I walked with a friend along Regent’s Canal. The scene was thick with portents, as in a dream. A strong wind from a clear blue sky, dead cherry blossom decaying beneath our feet. The empty carcass of a Number 8 bus on Roman Rd, taken out of service before the end of its route. I should have guessed that a part of me was about to die.
Then it happened.