Mac Demarco: This Old Dog Album Review

Having been released only a few days ago on May 5th I have only had the chance to listen through fully and research up on this album today. Coming from the land of maple syrup, Mac is one of my favourite artists and already has an arsenal of brilliant indie/folk songs the likes of  “Viceroy” and “Blue Boy” so I had high hopes going into the album.

“This Old Dog” signals a much more mature sound for Mac with improved lyricism and a focus on acoustic guitar and a much heavier use of synthesizers throughout the album. I must admit that after my first listen through I was a little underwhelmed with the album however it would be silly to base all of my opinions off of one listen so after a few more I had a greater appreciation for the record as a whole. Starting of the album with “My Old Man” with a heavier theme then we are used to with Mac with him discussing his realisation that he is becoming more like his absent father who struggled with being an alcoholic.

My three favourite tracks from the album were “Still beating” , “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothing” and “Watching Him Fade Away” with them showing the old Mac and the new Mac in different ways.

Still Beating

The track with the most evidence that has influence from previous albums. The song seems to be about him breaking up with someone but him saying that he still cares for her even if she can’t see it at the time. Very simple and laid back its a great track to listen to for most occasions.

A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes

This track is a great addition to the album giving it a more uplifting feel. This song is Mac trying to give advice to his listeners telling them that be wary of the outside world but also not to let it get to your head. He wants the person listening to be true to who they are and to keep the right people around them as people can be “a wolf in sheeps clothes”. I really like the use of the mouth organ in the track gives it a feel similar to that of Van Morrison or Bob Dylan.

Watching Him Fade Away

The final track of the album but I also think one of the most heavy hitting and mature. Having only recently reconnected with his absent father mentioned above he has been diagnosed with cancer. Watching him fade away is Mac’s battle between properly saying goodbye to his father or simply watching him “fade away” as a revenge of sorts for him not being there. A very sad song overall but perfect closure to an overall great album.

You can find the whole album on Spotify and other streaming sites now! I would highly recommend it

 

Cxema: abandoned underground techno raves in post-revolution Ukraine

After reading mixmag’s article all about Dublin’s nightlife scene and how its being revitalized after years of closures of some of it’s best known spots like Tripod and Twisted Pepper. With the announcement of the potential closure of both District 8 and Hangar in the next few years to make way for hotels and “aparthotel” it got me thinking about where Ireland’s nightlife is going. Not to say that Dublin’s nightlife is in a dire situation with great spots popping up and still going all around the city it just feels that it can be lacking sometimes.

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It got me thinking about how either I don’t know about or there is little underground initiative for “organised” raves in Dublin, please correct me if I’m wrong which I would hazard a guess to say I am. I remembered a documentary that I had watched recently from American channel Vice. It was actually done by i-D magazine which is a British culture print which they had acquired in 2012. It was all about rave culture in Kiev, Ukraine and how this one organised party Cxema is helping to bring a spotlight on Ukrainian nightlife which you can see below:

A lot of my information that I am getting about Cxema is from this article (https://thump.vice.com/en_uk/article/kiev-cxema-ukraine-raving) considering there is little information out there about it and a lot of it is not great personal accounts of what they experienced but I wanted something more official.

The crew that set up Cxema started it back in 2014 with their first party only having 100 attendees but it has now grown to have 1,000 each event. Ukraine has been through a very long and tough economic downturn and not to mention the current war that is happening in the East of the country between the Ukrainian army and Russian backed rebels. During the maidan protests nightlife in the city went through a rough time with curfews and suspicions from authorities about any large groups gathering in the one place. Cxema was started by Slava Lepsheev who had been djing in the country for over fifteen years at the time and wanted to create a space where young people could party during these times.

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Cxema is in a different location every time, normally an abandoned location on the edge of the city not too draw too much attention, such as abandoned skate parks and office blocks. This helps to avoid the police who have been known to shutdown nightlife in the city. The euromaidan uprising helped to bring Cxema about with Slava saying “it isn’t about making money.” CXEMA is about Kiev’s brash and fashionable youth coming together to express themselves. They are finding an identity in the music and the rehashed 90s branded sports gear and fur coats they like to wear”. The night has helped other Ukrainian techno Djs more attention in the scene such as  Voin Oruwu, Wulffius and CXEMA resident Borys.

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Cxema is about showcasing great techno music as resident Igor Glushko has said about it “In Ukraine some say the people like techno because it’s a form of escapism; I think it’s just the most functional form of music to dance to. You can see that at CXEMA, the crowd is always really responsive and enthusiastic”. Djs who play Cxema are almost exclusively from Kiev and the has an intense light show to match the heavy techno blaring through these abandoned locations. As mentioned Cxema is also about looking your best with a big emphasis on the fashion worn when attending which is better seen in the video earlier in the blog. Cxema has become a staple of Kiev’s nightlife and will continue to do so for years to come with it creating “ a community of people who love techno and fashion, going to parties and reclaiming their city’s forgotten spaces.”

Question is when we do lose spaces like District 8 and Hangar will we have our own Cxema to take its place?

If you like similar documentaries check out Vice’s Thump and Noisey channels especially this one which looks at the nightlife scene in the eastern part of Ukraine where the war is still taking place and enforced curfews are a daily occurrence:

 

 

 

Is techwear the next step on from streetwear?

Before I say anything I don’t claim to be an expert in any area of streetwear or techwear and I am simply giving my two cents on the matter and why it could be the future. Firstly what the hell is techwear?

According to Onpointfresh.com(http://onpointfresh.com/techwear-style-guide-wardrobe-essentials/) it was “Born out of the unlikely crossover between fashion and the outdoors industry, urban techwear (or “techwear”, for short) is an emerging style that blends form with a relentless focus on function”. In comparison with streetwear with features a lot of bright colours and graphics, techwear generally features a set of a few darker colours of black or dark grey sometimes contrasted with white. It’s a culmination of decades of perceptions of what we thought the future of fashion would look like. It is very evident how the outdoor aspect of the style takes centre stage in the design bringing the functional elements into play especially water resistance, comfort and carrying capacity. It is fine line however between looking good with techwear and looking like you’re trying too hard to be your favourite anime character and that is a line that you don’t want to cross. Some well known brands that create products in the techwear area are Riot Division, Aether, ISAORA, 4dimension and Stone Island.hypebeast

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A big concern with techwear is the current high price point for the majority of the products where you would be looking to easily spend $300-$600 on a jacket from any of the top brands. Shoes are a pinnacle point of the techwear style and having the wrong ones can totally throw off the vibe of the outfit altogether.  Top techwear brand ACRONYM out of Germany has collaborated twice with Nike to create two innovative sneakers in the Lunar Force 1s and the Air Presto Mids:

techwear-footwearMore conventional brands are getting into the techwear space with Kanye West’s Yeezy line such as the shoes seen above from the Yeezy Season 3 range and Nike’s All Condition Gear(ACG) line :

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The NikeLabs have gone on to create a multitude of different products especially shoes which all would fall under the techwear idea including the Nike Air FootScape Woven Nm’s which are my personal favourite’s:

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Overall I think its a pretty cool idea I like the look and design of the majority of the clothing I have seen while doing research for the blog the only issue I would have with it and that I would see it taking over current trends is the high price for the majority of the gear. If you are looking to deck yourself out in a full outfit of gear from some of these brands you could be looking at spending $800-$1000 but maybe that’s why some people like it currently due to its exclusivity and the fact that you won’t find a lot of this type of clothing in your local high street. Could you see yourself sporting an outfit like these?:

Babymetal : The weird Japanese phenomenon that has divided metal fans

Babymetal is probably one of the weirdest music groups to gain popularity in the the mainstream metal music scene in a while. Now its not quite how it sounds its not actually a bunch of babies given instruments and metal being played behind them. It isn’t too far off that idea either. Babymetal is made of three Japanese girls Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal, two aged 17 and one aged 19, and they follow the “idol” concept which is popular in Asian countries for creating music groups. The group was the brainchild of Amuse Talent Agency which is a music company that has created many of these “idol” groups which the three members were apart of however their group oddly had an age restriction so once they graduated from junior high school.

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When older member and lead singer, Suzuka Nakamoto, graduated from that group the choice was made to continue the babymetal group even though it was only planned to be an extension of it. The band mixes Japanese “idol” pop music styling with a heavy metal influence to create what has now begun to be called “Kawaii metal” kawaii being the Japanese word for cute.

While the music isn’t really my cup of tea it is an interesting blend which does work well and is obviously popular with a lot of people considering the crazy fan base they have amassed over the past three years. The group began with moderate popularity in Japan playing big festivals that are normally reserved for rock/metal specific acts like Summer Sonic. Some of the music began to go viral on YouTube and would reach a wider audience outside of their native country. Popular YouTube channel The Fine Bros did a video of American YouTube personalities reacting to the music which also went viral. The reaction was mixed some really liked it and others really didn’t which seems to be the general consensus when talking about the group.

This hasn’t stopped the group becoming widely popular with the band playing huge stadiums like Wembley Arena in England and playing the prestigious English metal festival Download Festival. Just watch the video below to see the scale of their concerts in Japan alone filling out stadium level concert venues.

The music has some odd Christian themes to it with their concert stages previously featuring a giant figure resembling the Virgin Mary and also having a mock “crucifixion” on stage for some reason. They have also changed the classic devil horns hand symbol popular within the metal genre to one that resembles a fox and they say all that they do is because of the Fox God which is some mythical creature they have made it up giving it a bit of an odd cult feel.  The lyrical content varies from talking about bullying to talking about everyday issues that teenagers go through and doing better in school so its kind of odd knowing that with the metal background.

Many argue that Babymetal has opened up the genre to be more accessible to a wider audience with them mixing in the idol influences to give someone who wasn’t sure of the genre a taste so they can see that its not all guys with beards and tattoos headbanging to Slayer. The group have got support from big names in the genre such as Rob Zombie and Marty Friedman(guitarist for Megadeath) even performing with Rob Halford of Judas Priest and being the opening act for Metallica when they came to Japan. On the other side of it some die hard metal fans say that the three girls have no real knowledge of metal music and that it shouldn’t need to be watered down to make it more approachable. They don’t like the mix of a pop genre in with metal music and feel that it shouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Irregardless of my views or other views on their music Babymetal are big and are playing bigger venues then anyone expected them to be. They have helped to create a more casual listener for the genre which will hopefully lead to them discovering more metal music in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fyre Festival: A failure from the start

I would safely say that you would have no doubt heard about the absolute sham that was this Fyre Festival across social media in the past week or so. The brainchild of some 25 year old rich American socialite, Billy McFarland, who has a shady past with previous companies he has set up and none of other then Ja Rule( one of the most successful Hip Hop artists). The festival was aimed at “monied millenials” with tickets costing $12,780 for a four person package. The festival was supposed to happen across two weekends similar to Coachella however that obviously didn’t happen. Most of the evidence for this blog is taken from timeline reports created by http://www.spin.com and http://www.vulture.com which can be found here: http://www.spin.com/2017/05/fyre-festival-disaster-timeline/ and here: http://www.vulture.com/2017/05/fyre-festival-fiasco-the-complete-timeline.html.

The festival became a huge disaster story and completely fell through with it now having three massive lawsuits being brought against it looking for damages of 100+ million dollars. So where did it all go wrong? lets find out:

2015:

McFarland meets Ja Rule. McFarland had previously founded Magnises, a “black card” subscription social club for millennials that’s been accused of failing to follow through on promises of perks like exclusive concert tickets and luxury vacations. Ja Rule became a Magnises spokesperson. Which was the beginning of the storm to come.

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Late 2015/Early 2016

The two ended up setting up a new “well thought” venture called “Fyre” which was an app which allowed you to book celebrities appearances and they wanted to set up a ultra luxury festival to promote the app and get its name out there. As you can already see the issue of strictly catering to rich millennials is all this guy seemed to want to do. They picked the Exuma district in the Bahamas as the luxury destination after going on vacation there.

December 2016

In December they released a promo for the festival after inviting a number of well known models and djs/producers to the Bahamas for a photo and video shoot. They were all picked for their large following on Instagram as the organisers felt this would be the best way to spread the word on social media. Looking at the promo video below I have to say they did a great job because it looks extremely tempting.

On one day all the chosen influencers flooded Instagram with an orange square to promote the festival and the Fyre Media company which was the overall company running the app and the festival ran a benefit concert in the Bahamas to help to promote the festival. Kendall Jenner reportedly received $250,000 for promoting the festival on social media!

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January 2017

McFarland hires a TV crew to record a reality TV show based around the festival but it falls through when he refuses to pay the $100,000. The festival began teasing limited tickets and offering discount codes to try and sell more tickets as it obviously wasn’t going well.

February/March 2017

With less than two months until showtime, organizers attempt to line up logistics. At this point, a toilet and shower supplier told Vice News, Fyre was already down to the wire—just ordering the trailers would’ve cost $1 million, before the cost of shipping and disposal. In a cash crunch, McFarland reportedly obtains a $5 million high-interest loan to cover expenses. If this wasn’t a warning sign to McFarland himself I don’t know what would be taking out such an expensive loan is crazy especially considering it would only cover the cost of some of the logistics.

April 2017

April was when the shit really hit the fan and all the major warning signs came out. Artists hadn’t been paid the money they had been promised in contract and publications began to question whether this festival would even happen. Comcast was at this time looking into potentially investing $25 million into the Fyre app however they pulled out after doing a diligent review. On the 27th of April one of the supposed main headliners, Blink 182, pulls out of the concert saying they wouldn’t “have what they needed to give the performance. That same evening customers began arriving to the the island but instead of the luxury festival they were promised they were greeted with disaster tent accommodation and a barely made grounds and disgusting “luxury” catering.

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The next day the festival announces that it has been postponed and they attempted to help organise flights home for all who had made it to the island already. Ja Rule issues an apology for all the problems however he says that none of it was his fault. McFarland tries to do damage control saying that they were “a little naive”  issuing full refunds for all tickets bought and promising a 2018 Fyre Festival in a U.S location and all attendees for this year will be allowed attend free of charge.

May 2017

May 1st the first lawsuit is filed by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos seeking roughly $100 million dollars in damages and the next day another $100 million class-action lawsuit is filed against the festival claiming they tricked people into purchasing tickets to a festival that never existed. The day after a third lawsuit was filed by two of the festival goers who claimed “Upon the arrival of guests to the island of Great Exuma for the first weekend, the island was lacking basic amenities, was covered in dirt, and guests had to sleep in tents with wet blankets,” the suit claims. “There were no communal showers or bathrooms as promised; instead there were porta potties (only about one for every 200 yards) that were knocked down and only three showers although there were hundreds of people arriving”. Two more lawsuits were filed against the festival from different companies in the days after showing that McFarland was really in the shit.

Basically the whole thing is screwed and a lot of people got screwed over about this “luxury festival” and I feel we won’t be hearing anything from McFarland for a while only if its him showing up to court to have him owe an unholy amount of money .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrasher: The skater brand that wanted nothing to do with the popularity of streetwear but got it anyway

How it all started

Thrasher started as a magazine for skaters in San Francisco in 1981 by Kevin Thatcher, Eric Swenson and Fausto Vitello. The magazine focused on skate culture and promoting skaters who they liked or who they thought were talented.  Every year they nominated their favourite skater of the year and ran series such as “King of the Road” which had teams of skaters competing to complete challenges all based around skating. One of their first magazine covers from 1981 can be seen below.

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At some point the magazine decided to introduce their own branded clothing which became a favourite in the skating community. As with many brands that become synonymous with a subculture they begin to gain popularity outside of that subculture. They began to collaborate with bigger name brands such as Supreme and Huf (Which you can see below) and became popular with the hypebeasts (wear the clothes of a subculture without having any knowledge or appreciation for it and just wear it to fit in with a trend) of our generation.

 

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Move into “streetwear”

Due to its popularity we began to see every celebrity rocking a Thrasher graphic tee or crew neck. From Justin Bieber to Rihanna and everyone in between it was hard to not see in mainstream media. thrasher-justin-bieber-rihanna-00

Thrasher themselves didn’t love this too much with editor-in-chief of the magazine, Jake Phelps, saying about celebrities who don’t have a clue about the brand and what it means but wear it anyway “We don’t send boxes to Justin Bieber or Rihanna or those f***ing clowns. The pavement is where the real s** is. Blood and scabs, does it get realer than that?”. So it’s pretty evident to see what the brand thinks of the situation, they want ambassadors who understand the skating community and what it’s like to be a skater in this day and age.

With popularity comes copycats

As has happened with many other popular brands such as Kanye West’s Yeezy fast fashion has come in and copied original designs so they can sell them to the masses barely even trying to change anything about the design to even hide their shame. Below are two examples from H&M and Forever 21 copying Thrasher’s designers to try jump on the trend. Thrasher has taken it the legal route speaking to H&M’s lawyers however all they got was an incredibly poor response an excerpt you can see that Thrasher posted on their Instagram.

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While it looks like nothing is going to change for the time being Thrasher is still going to make high quality clothing and fast fashion retailers are still going to copy them until their ability to steal designs is somehow better prevented. Until the streetwear trend is broken and something comes along to takes its place Thrasher will unfortunately have to keep dealing with these issues.

Rushing the stage at concerts and how it can go wrong

Every fan wants to be up on stage when they’re at their favourite band’s concert however the artists themselves might not enjoy it too much. It happens all the time at concerts due to poor/overwhelmed security and can be a serious nuisance when these artists are simply trying to do their job. Most take it in their stride however many artists aren’t too keen in having strangers run up and hug them and in the worst case scenario hurt them. Action Bronson is one of those artists and has been known to get rough with fans trying to get up on stage with him for example this video here:

However Bronson’s fans are generally an older crowd with a majority of males and the fan base has come to know and expect what will happen if you try it from the multiple times it has happened at his concerts.

One band who got a lot of flack for something similar is American pop-punk band “The story so far” who I am a big fan of however the video below brought them some negative attention. The video below shows what happened when as the band were about to start into one of their bigger songs “High Regard” a young female fan lingered a little too long on the stage for lead singer, Parker Cannon, and so he proceeded to literally kick her off the stage in a funny but harsh fashion. The concert took place in April 2016 and the video went quite viral afterwards with it currently having over 2,800,000 views on YouTube. A lot of their fans got quite angry at the band for their actions and they received a lot of flak for it but oddly enough the female fan who was kicked came out in support of the band in an article in Alternative Press: http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/fan_kicked_off_stage_by_the_story_so_far_singer_speaks_out.

The negative attention died down relatively quickly but the band were banned from ever performing in that venue again and they lost some fans over the ordeal. When it came down to it the kick seemed to be a spur of the moment thing and fits with the genre of music of “pop-punk” which tries to incorporate elements of punk and hardcore music to a varying degree. The simple way to solve this issue is to respect the artists space, not saying you can’t ever go up on stage just know how the artist you are going to see generally reacts to it so you don’t end up like the people in the videos.

Fans aren’t the only ones known to rush the stage. Kanye West has become known to invade a stage or two when he feels the world wants to hear his opinion but unfortunately for Yeezy his choice of timing wasn’t the greatest and he received a lot of negative press the two most infamous times interrupting Taylor Swift and Beck during their award acceptance speeches. Although with recent incidents with Kanye and his mental state is it right that we made so much fun of him at the time.

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