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VERY FAR OUT

Far Out was another one to remember. We took it underground for our most recent Wine & Bowties party. Bringing together an assortment of DJ’s in Yung_smh, Starter Kit & Sad Andy, we brought the vibe back and then some. Shout out to the Command Center and the folks who helped put it all together, and a big thanks to our eclectic crowd who make the parties so dope.

JULIA LEWIS – “ASYMMETRY”

Meet Julia, and the Berkeley-bred producer that brought her to life

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Julia Lewis

It’s funny what happens when your debut project drops. For most of the folks who end up hearing your name for the first time, the music comes as a complete surprise, as if it had just materialized out of nothing. The perception, from the outside, is that you’ve miraculously come out of the gate with a fully-formed, articulate style and voice already in tact. But for the select handful of people that get to watch the progression, from putting together a few beats at the crib as a hobby, to the heavy-immersion passion project that spawned Asymmetry, it’s been seriously exciting to watch.

The five tracks that comprise Ben Falik’s first EP as Julia Lewis are intricate and as involved as anything he’s created so far, a dense and varied patchwork of samples and synth not unlike something you might find on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Crisp slap with a touch of trap, woozy atmosphere, heavy wobble-bass, tricky programming–the effect, particularly on the EP’s title track, is pretty damn engrossing. “Asymmetry” is all about attack and release, building from a smooth, far-away female vocal into a heavy crescendo, just before dropping you right back where you started. All the more impressive, is that a song like this one, or say, “Tell Me Everything You Are”, can threaten that adrenaline-rush, dubstep-drop power, and yet still feel subtle and reflective. Asymmetry, like most of the best electronic music in recent memory, pulls from a diverse enough palette of sounds that it defies categorization. In other words, it sounds like Julia Lewis, rather than anybody else. So whether or not this is your first introduction, it’s definitely a distinctive one.


Download: Julia Lewis – “Asymmetry”

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FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES

A few illustrated instructions for mutually enjoyable copulation

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I love sex for a plethora of reasons. The best one, I feel, is that sex is, simultaneously, the most natural and the most taboo practice we engage in. That being said, there are some things that just don’t fly.

If you’re reading this and have slept with me in the past, I may or may not have gleaned one of these DO NOTS from your bag of tricks. If you’re reading this and we haven’t slept together yet, please print it out and keep it in your pocket when you come over.

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ROSES

Next stop Los Angeles...

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TORO Y MOI’S ANYTHING IN RETURN

Chaz draws on a boundless, eclectic palette of pop instincts to craft his most accessible record to date

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Toro Y Moi

“I’ve always taken the word “pop” as its literal translation–it’s accessible, and that’s why it’s popular.” So said Chaz Bundick when asked about his latest record, Anything in Return, which he’d described recently as an album of “sincere”, honest-to-god pop music. The whole conversation sort of struck me as odd though. To my mind, nobody has put out better pop music more often over the course of the last four years or so. On the accessibility front, I’ve always felt like certain standout songs from each of his projects–“Talamak” or “New Beat”, or even obscurities like “Leave Everywhere” or “I Can Get Love”–were so damn perfect in their execution that the notion that someone wouldn’t find them irresistible seemed kind of outrageous. If I was a little more naive about industry politics, I’d probably bitch even more about why there just doesn’t seem to be a plausible niche carved out for his music on a bigger stage. And believe me, I already do.

In any case, Anything In Return is, as promised, an impeccably crafted collection of engrossing pop music. Chaz’s desire to make a pop record, he’s earnestly admitted, was at least partially because he wanted to make music his girlfriend would dig, and maybe even dance along to like she did to Beyonce, Bieber and The Dream. And, without a trace of sarcasm, I can say that it shows. The songs here are crisp and elastic, wide in their appeal and completely beautiful. Currents from each of the stylistic experiments he’s conducted so far run through the heart of these songs, but in most cases, he’s neatly synthesized the most essential elements from each, and folded them all neatly into rich, immersive packages. There’s a certain clarity too, in Chaz’s voice, both as a singer and songwriter, that, in contrast to plenty of his past work, puts Chaz squarely in the foreground. Anything in Return succeeds as a “sincere pop record”, and not just because so many of these songs are among his most immediately gratifying. They also constitute his most ostensibly personal, most relatable work to date.


Download: Toro Y Moi – “Rose Quartz”

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“CAN I BUM A CIG?”

A short cultural history of tobacco advertising in America

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Irving Penn
from Irving Penn’s “Cigarettes”

It’s hard to deny the allure of cigarettes. A looming presence in the cultural history of America and beyond, the cigarette has now become perhaps the single most indelible symbol of the intangible essence of cool. Whether dangling from the lips of James Dean, or as an accessory to the sumptuous aesthetic of high fashion, the cigarette has played a pivotal role over the last few centuries in constructing an aura of leisurely pleasure.

Today, the marketing landscape for cigarettes has changed dramatically, although many still condemn cigarette companies for their subversive advertising tactics. First introduced to the American public through an advertisement in a local New York newspaper in 1789, it was in fact the Lorillard Tobacco Company that first familiarized America with the seductive pull of tobacco-related advertising.

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FIDLAR – “CHEAP BEER”

Dudes in their early 20s, shockingly, make loud music about beer, girls, cocaine and skateboarding

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FIDLAR

“Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.” Indeed, FIDLAR, indeed. “Cocaine”, “Cheap Beer”, “Wake Bake Skate”, “Stoked and Broke”–a cursory glance at the song titles that populate FIDLAR’s self-titled, full-length debut reveal a handful of the essential features of their identity as a band. They are young. They are from Southern California. They enjoy getting fucked up in a plethora of different ways. They enjoy the occasional skate. A cursory listen to just about any of the excellent songs featured therein tell you just about everything else, most of which you might have guessed already. They are loud. Very loud. They are bored and reasonably nihilistic. And naturally, they’re a hell of a lot fun. At this point, a more extensive background check or an enumeration of their (actually well-selected) influences and references seems kind of beside the point.

“Cheap Beer” has been floating around the internet for months now, and FIDLAR is full of great songs, a handful of which aren’t half as full of piss and vinegar and excessive yelling. Several are singalong melodic, and most of them have lines as straightforwardly unredeeming as “I feel like a crackhead” or “All my friends are pieces of shit”. Some are probably even better songs in one way or another. But nothing hits quite as convincingly as the rapid-fire delivery of this presumably PBR-inspired anthem. “I. Drink. Cheap. Beer. So. What. Fuck. You.” A hook like that just kind of wrecks everything in its path. It’s the kind of declaration that might make you look stupid for even taking the time to point out the fact that it’s stupid. And if nothing else, it’s a reminder that a little good old-fashioned hedonism goes a long way.


Download: FIDLAR – “Cheap Beer”

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MODEL CITIZEN

Eromomen Esoimeme is poised to take on the world of modeling, and whatever else lies ahead

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So Cozy
Photography By Sequoia Ziff

What makes an icon, exactly? Sometimes it takes a lifetime to build the reputation, and other times, a simple discovery can lead to something grand and unexpected. In the case of Eromomen Esoimeme, it was the spontaneous decision to shave her head that charted her current course. A few short years into her career, and that path has already taken Eromomen above and beyond her expectations, as her distinctive look has landed her on runways on both coasts and beyond. Modeling for designers like Ashley Paige, Michael Costello and Mila Hermanovski the Oakland-bred model is well on her way, rubbing elbows with some of the industry’s finest and picking up wisdom along the way.

For our interview, we enlisted the services of fellow contributor Ivie Arasomwan, who sat down to pick Eromomen’s brain about her journey thus far, and the inspiration behind her craft. Aside from all that insight though, Eromomen also happens to be a natural in front of the camera. So it seemed only necessary to bring our good friend and art show alum Sequoia Ziff on board, to snap a collection of shots showcasing Eromomen in her element. The aesthetic of the collection is as effortless as it is stunning, Sequoia’s vision offering a gorgeous visual compliment to her subject’s versatility, capturing Eromomen taking on a variety of looks in epic fashion. Read on for a glimpse into the world, creative and otherwise, of Eromomen Esoimeme.

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SHY GIRLS – “UNDER ATTACK”

Sexy, sultry R&B, all the way from Portland

SHY GIRLS – “UNDER ATTACK”

Shy Girls

For lack of a better word, there’s just something so damn pure about this song. No arty lo-fi haze or blurry noise. No super-coy, undecipherable lyrics. “I’m in the zone, can you feel it?” “Under Attack” is a straight up, pretty ass R&B jam. And that’s not to say it’s not adventurous either–in fact, it’s bursting at the seams with big musical ideas and theatrical flare. The the subtle, bubbly build has shades of UK bass or Montreal house. The sax flourishes and steely ’80s guitar feel straight out of a Sade record, or say, Destroyer’s highbrow revisit of that era on Kaputt. But that breakdown is something else entirely. When that massive, wave-crash snare drops in slow-mo, this might as well be “Love You Down”.

Portland’s Shy Girls, led by singer Dan Vidmar, is the latest development in the fictional subgenre of white dude retro-R&B, which makes a How to Dress Well comparison kind of inevitable. But where Tom Krell’s falsetto collages tend purposefully toward the avant-garde, Shy Girls’ approach feels a touch more literal, channeling post-Prince and New Jack sexy and stacking songs with lush, colorful texture. For the record, the last Shy Girls record, last year’s Sex in the City, is awesome in its own right. But the six slow-burn minutes that make up “Under Attack” are something special. Like any R&B epic, this is a song that just keeps on giving.

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BIRDS OF ANTARCTICA

Images from the Southern Ocean's thriving bird habitat

Birds of Antarctica
Photography By Fourth World

Of all the oceans in the world, only one surrounds an entire continent. That continent is Antarctica and the ocean is the Southern Ocean. The islands of the Southern Ocean and its cold but rich feeding grounds shelter and attract creatures not found anywhere else. Among these are birds of the Southern Ocean.

Most oceans are defined by the continents that surround them. The Atlantic is bounded by the Americas on the West and by Europe and Africa on the East. The Arctic Ocean is defined by continents and islands – it reaches down to touch Iceland as well as the northern coasts of Asia, Europe and North America – and it encompasses Baffin Bay, and the Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea and White Sea. The Indian Ocean is cradled by Africa, Asia and Australia. The vast Pacific reaches four continents – the Americas, Asia and Australia.

The Southern Ocean was “invented” in 2000 by earth geoscientists and defined as waters south of 60 degrees South latitude. A more “organic” definition would extend the Southern Ocean to include the southernmost coasts of South America, the southern tip of Africa and the southern coast of Australia. This definition would bring the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, the French Southern Antarctic Lands (south of the Indian Ocean), Tasmania (south of Australia) and the South Island of New Zealand all within the Southern Ocean. Below are a selection of photographs of birds that occupy these habitats.

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ANTWON – “AUTOMATIC”

A formal, cloudy introduction to the Bay's subgenre-smashing new ambassador

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Antwon

There have always been certain unique regional sounds and trends in hip hop music, but of course with the internet and instant access, regional sounds are starting to disappear. At the very least its getting harder to tell. Frankly, I think it’s a pretty exciting development. Gone are the days where a rapper or a producer’s scope is limited to the influence of their region. Gone are the days of a rapper’s sound being dictated by the city they call home. The latest influx of new rappers and producers are armed with cross-country influences and the limitless resources of the Internet, and are doing risky and exciting things.

Bay Area rapper Antwon is a perfect example. As post-hyphy and adverse to categorization as any rapper emerging from the Bay could hope to be, Antwon has shown his elasticity and versatility over the course of his three releases thus far. His most recent album, End of Earth was a showcase for a rapper with an ear for dense, seemingly disparate sounds, and the type of beats that, at first glance, might seem least likely to have a rapper on them. Set to rock shows in New York this month with Trinidad James, and at Santos Party House, and his latest tape, In Dark Denim set to drop on Greedhead, Antwon is set to have an even bigger year than the one before. Below is “Automatic”, a gorgeously cloudy collaboration with Bay Area contemporaries Friendzone (who just added production credits on the new A$AP Rocky record to their resume) to help us get by until Denim drops. For an extended introduction, check the MORE.


Download: Antwon – “Automatic”

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BIOLOGY, YESTERDAY

What the trippy illustrations from a 1972 textbook can tell us about the intersection between art and science

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Biology Today

It couldn’t have just been the drugs, right? I suppose it was a combination of things–a golden age for psychedelic art and graphic design, an era when every new scientific discovery seemed to be expanding our collective understanding of human nature, a thousand Ram Dass or Sagan-inspired fusions between both of those worlds. All I know is my textbooks growing up, from the late part of the last century and the early years of this one, just didn’t look like this.

Biology Today, printed in three separate editions for college-level science students, was a prime example of the confluence between the aesthetic and scientific realms that seemed to characterize its particular time period in the world of popular science. In addition to some fifty-plus editorial contributors–seven of them Nobel laureates–Biology Today called on an impressive collection of the era’s most imaginative visual communicators in order to explore and interpret the subject matter at hand. Spanning virtually every medium imaginable, the illustrations, paintings, photo montages and diagrams supplied by those artists bring to life those concepts with psychedelic, surrealistic imagery–from reimagined biblical scenes, to visualizations of drug trips, to cell structures and all kinds of groovy body parts. For the design folks, this is some solid vintage eye candy. For the TED Talk crowd, it’s a reminder of just how far we can take things when we blur the lines between disciplines. And finally, yeah, it’s not a bad advertisement for doing a whole bunch of drugs either. Thanks to 50 Watts, for the inspiration.

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ORIGINS OF A FIGHTER

The often outspoken Mike Tyson opens up about his very first fistfight

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Celebrated around the world while still shrouded in infamy, the story of Mike Tyson remains one of America’s most memorable cautionary tales. A world champion at the ripe age of 20, by 21, Tyson had the world at his fingertips, with the perils of fame and fast money not far away. We know how the story goes from there. Money and cars, women and drugs, Robin and Don and a little thing called bankruptcy. Tyson’s rise and fall is well documented, although many of the anecdotal tales of his journey are still left to be told. In this conversation with fashion and design magnate Jeff Staple, Tyson opens up about his affinity for pigeons and their involvement in his very first fist fight. Not one to shy away from the truth in recent years, Tyson’s anecdote is both honest and engaging. A little history for a Wednesday afternoon.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

“So Good at Being in Trouble”, Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s most recent offering from the upcoming II, rolls in with the kind of warm, down-home guitar twang that’s so evocative, you can’t help but to expect Sam Cooke or Wilson Pickett on the other end of it. And granted, it’s hardly lacking in stick-to-your-ribs soul. But UMO is hardly the kind of band that’s likely to dazzle you with straight-ahead showmanship, and in most cases, it’s pretty clearly to their advantage. After all, maybe their best song to date is lo-fi to the point near-illegibility, a fuzzy ball of impressionistic feeling set to breakbeat. Much like “Ffunny Ffrends”, “Trouble” is effective because it’s subtle, relying on evocative, unexpected chord changes, and falsetto-filtered, disembodied feeling. It’s tempting to wish you had an Otis here to channel all the heartbreak of being steamrolled by a relationship gone wrong. But something about that world-weary, ghostly falsetto feels just as convincingly lonely, and just as quietly devastating.


Download: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “So Good at Being in Trouble”

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MOMENTS FROM CLOSER

Celebratory moments from our first event of the 2013

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So Cozy
Photography By Max Claus

Each celebration was a different beast. New settings with familiar faces. Our job was merely to facilitate it all, but in essence it was a group effort. There’s been folks who’ve been rockin’ with us since ’09, and those that only hopped on this weekend. Regardless of what station you boarded, we’re glad that you’re riding now. Many thanks to the folks in L.A who made this weekend special. We really can’t do these things without you. Thank you for being you, thank you for being tight, and thank you for bringing your uniqueness to our celebrations. Much love to Max, Booker and As-Is for lending their services to the night, and to you for supporting Wine & Bowties.

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