Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: "Overgrown" by James Blake

James Blake - Overgrown
Artist:
 James Blake
Album: Overgrown
Released: April 8th, 2013
Label: Polydor, Atlas Records
As a recent nominee for Best New Artist at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, London based singer-songwriter and electronic music producer, James Blake is certainly rising as a dynamic and enthralling force in the music scene. With his sophomore album, Overgrown, Blake uses unconventional piano parts as the roots of his songs and embellishes them with celestial synthesizers. He enhances his classical roots with his eclectic beats and plunging bass lines that compliment his mellow tone. Blake’s soulful humming vocals add to his sound as an accessory rather than a statement piece, allowing other elements in his music to have their moment to shine. Overgrown is the mind of an introvert with cold and mysterious facade; as time goes on, the intricate layers are brought to light. Although his album seems to have a melancholic veneer, he sings of romance, togetherness, and understanding. This album makes for easy listening, that will bring tranquility and leave you at peace.
Moreover, all of the tracks have specific elements that make them their own being, but are cohesive in how they all carry the same mature, passionate tone that allows them to flow smoothly. Blake sets the mood of Overgrown with his title track and single that carries a consistent, gentle bass line that mimics rain droplets. His dub influences are most prominent in “Life Round Here”, his single “Retrograde” and “Digital Lion”. Hip-hop legend RZA also contributes his insightful rapping to “Take A Fall For Me”. Furthermore,”DLM”, an abbreviation for Don’t Let Me, is a piano ballad that highlights his classical background and is the only track on Overgrown that does not have electronic elements. “Voyeur” is a prime example of his specialty in building layers and looping to crescendo into a climax. Overall, there is a simple exterior to this album with an underlying complexity that should not be overlooked. He further perfects his distinct sound that is turning the tables in the electronic music world. James Blake clearly demolishes the sophomore album slump stigma in Overgrown and does not disappoint.
Originally posted on KTSW 89.9's blog

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Robert Delong

I stumbled upon up and coming electronic musician, Robert Delong while opening for avant-garde Fueled By Ramen band, Twenty One Pilots during their fall headlining tour in Austin, Texas. This Washington native is the perfect blend of indie influence such as Death Cab for Cutie in his vocals driven by house/electronica beats and sounds. With seeing him perform live and not being fully knowledgeable of his array of equipment, I have found that it is definitely a different experience. To my surprise, Delong pulled out a Wii remote and other video game controllers to use as MIDI controllers. I had the opportunity to meet Delong very briefly after the show:

After some small talk, I asked him about how he had managed to incorporate the Wii remote into his set and he replied with "Basically I hooked it up via Bluetooth and it controls what I sing into the mic". Here's a clip of an in-studio performance of "Happy" in the Triple J studios. In this performance he utilizes the most of his unique equipment and does a quick demo using the Wii remote in the beginning: 


This Do-It-Yourself musician brings that homemade element to his live sets and fan base by decorating his equipment with neon orange duct-tape and paint as well as having his crew paint electric colored patterns on fan's faces to bring a sense of unity and to mimic his neon color scheme on his equipment. For electronic equipment junkies, seeing Robert Delong perform live will make you rethink what you thought you knew about making music.

Catch this indie-electronic on the tour this Spring: http://robertdelong.com/tour

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mid-Summer Updates

Hello again. I apologize for the lack of blog posts on here.

Some small updates:
1. I graduated High School earlier in June. Yay.
2. I haven't been doing much in the month of June (and therefore don't have a reasonable excuse as to why I haven't updated my blog)
3. I've gotten back into making YouTube videos on my fashion/beauty channel. You can watch those shenanigans here:


And my Summer Sales Haul here (not sure why the video won't let me embed it...)

4. I've spent most of my mornings this week in my uncle's home studio recording a few bits for you guys. I won't spill too much, but I'm doing some songs that I've never covered before and some [much better] versions of ones that I have done in the past. If you follow me on tumblr, then you've already seen my excitement for these tracks. It's so nice not to be restricted to my shite equipment here at home. I'm so stoked for you guys to here what we've been slaving over this past week. Hopefully, we get can working on a few originals before I head off to San Marcos this fall. To conclude, here's a little sneak preview of one of the songs we worked on today; Roscoe by Midlake (as done by Ellie Goulding):


P.S. Shout out for my uncle for recording this little bit and to my other uncle for letting me invade his studio!

xx

Sunday, June 9, 2013

OOTD: A Night Among the Stars



OUTFIT DETAILS:
Laced Skater Dress: Thrift - $10
Steve Madden Nude Pumps: Ross - $25

My blog posts are going some what out of order... Wednesday Night (June 5th) was my very last Formal Banquet as an orchestra member. The Officer team plans the entire night so, it was sort of stress filled. It was held at Bella Elegante in downtown Houston. (Don't EVER go there if you have an event. I'll spare you guys the details because there were just so many things that went wrong with them). Even though the venue screwed up quite a lot, I think everyone had a good time in the end. In the beginning there are awards such as the Most Valuable Person award. I won that award, which is based on character rather than on playing, and this was voted on by the students. We also announced the new Officers and I am so proud to say that my good friend Jerry Lee will now be leading our program to another year of success. 


After all of the awarding, our director "toasts" us; she talks about our achievements in school, extra-curriculars, and character. I admit, that I did tear up when she talked said, "Janelle recently admitted that she was considering quitting orchestra because she was unhappy about her placement in Camerata (the lowest orchestra), but look at where she is now". And right then I looked at MsO and we both exchanged grins and I tried to hold back the tears. After more Senior shenanigans, we opened the dance floor and photo booth that we had fundraised for. Despite all of the mishaps with the venue and their staff, I think everyone had a great time in the end. We offered more things to do, and more sweets to eat this year.

I will most definitely miss this group of excellent kids more than anything else in High School. In 10 years, I'll look back at all of the great memories from these past 4 years and I guarantee you that all that I'll think about are the wonderful people, stellar music, and crazy idiosyncrasies that are the Seven Lakes Orchestras. I've put my heart and soul into this program, and in turn, I've gained a loving family of 200+ kids being mothered by two phenomenal women that I can safely call my "otha mothas".

To conclude, here are some pictures with some of my favorite people:

My "little sister" and a new member of the Officer team!


My baby James-y + photobomber Annie

The stunning Nishchala

Robert!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

OOTD: Grad Party

with Juliana who looked fabulous in her purple ombre almost-maxi skirt!

OUTFIT DETAILS:
Lemon Blazer: Thrift - approx. $1.50
Ciao Lioness Shirt: Ross - aprrox. $10?
High-Waisted Denim Shorts: Thrift - $5
Black Opaque Stockings: just found lying around my closet lol

Had a Graduation party with a bunch of my friends and a few "family" members. We ate, and basically just talked about I don't even remember. Then we brought out the fire pit and s*** got real. But really, it's nights like these where I realize how blessed I am to be surrounded with such a wonderfully insane group of kids. I'm going to miss this bunch when I venture off to college. 




Monday, May 27, 2013

Something Old


Once upon a time in the late fall of last year I had the opportunity to borrow a DLSR for a day. Naturally, I went camera-crazy; these are a few of my favorites from the impromptu sesh. 

Please note that all of the pictures below are not edited. The only picture that has been (obviously) edited is the one above. 
Fun fact: that was taken by my 7 year old sister. Gotta train them early!














Outtakes from the impromptu lookbook / outfit shoot, again taken by my 7 year old sister and un-edited lol...





Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts on Gatsby





I was REALLY looking forward to seeing this film. Not only was the cast amazing, but the soundtrack that was released before the movie came out was phenomenal. All in all, the movie itself was an inch above average. The aesthetics and cinematics were on point, especially for the partying scenes. The only thing that threw the whole vibe of the roaring 20's off was that it was accompanied by a Jay-Z R&B track that had hints of jazz. Don't get me wrong, Jay-Z is a great rapper, but the music can make or break the scene. Maybe they were trying to appeal to the more youthful crowd? But for the people that have read the book prior to seeing the movie, it was so difficult to capture that essence of the Roaring 20's. If they had used some Duke Ellington, it would have definitely iced the cake. They did, however feature Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for the scene where Gatsby is finally introduced with fireworks spinning in the background. That, I truly enjoyed. Music wise, it did get better as the plot got more tense. Lana Del Rey's eerie ballad,Young and Beautiful  carried through the rest of the film after Gatsby and Daisy met up at Carroway's house. The haunting melody came in different variations, to enhance the secrecy and betrayal that was intertwined between the characters. The end credits ended with The xx's track, Together

Other than music, I will have to say that the party scenes lingered on for too long. The 2 hour and 22 minute movie could have easily been reduced to 1 hour and 45 minutes if they had cut out many of the party scenes. Again, the aesthetic was amazing, but it made the beginning of the movie go by very slowly. I remember at one point my friend had told me that we still had a whole hour left, but Gatsby and Daisy hadn't even met yet. The first half of the movie was definitely more focused on the Party scene, while the second half was (much better) and had more plot to it. I did enjoy Carroway's narration at the end when he explains the bitterness he felt towards Daisy. It gave the audience closure, and opened up minds to the emotional possibilities of Jay Gatsby's death.

Cinematics wise, they had this awkward effect where the camera would pan to the left or right at a fast pace. It made it seem like a slideshow with bad transition effects and distracted from your focus on what they were presenting. I generally did not enjoy having Nick Carroway's narration pop up on the screen as (an elegant attempt of) physical words. It made it seem like fancy karaoke; it was unnecessary. Again, I cannot express how much aesthetics of the party scenes made you wish you were there among them - the feeling of leaving the world behind you and dancing until you can't feel your legs anymore. There were some instances where it felt like a  20's themed frat party, but overall, I enjoyed it.

There were a few scenes when Nick and Gatsby are driving where Leo DiCaprio's voice over was not in sync with Gatsby's lips. I think they tried to hide the fact with effects that made the car shaky but they did not do a very good job. 

I truly enjoyed and was happy with the casting choices. All of the characters where how I imagined them to be, especially Daisy. Tom reminded me of Hitler, and of course, DiCaprio was great. The only thing that really bothered me was whenever he said "Old Sport" it would sound like he was going for a British accent that didn't quite make it across the Atlantic ocean. But other than that, he was phenomenal. My favorite scene of his was when he looses his temper with Tom. 

I'll give The Great Gatsby a 6 (out of 10), for the reasons listed above. If I were to rate the movie by halves, the first half would get 4.5/10 and the second, 7/10.