Music March 29, 2008 By J. Poet
hotchop Hot Chip
Astralwerks

title hot chip Hot Chip

With their third album, Hot Chip mature and end up sounding like…well, a lot like New Order. Lacking their trademark humor and bad fashion sense, the band abandon their trademark pop pastiche and leave it all for the dancefloor. It’s a risky move and could have failed miserably (nerds rapping about Escalades and rims was part of their appeal, after all). Yet Made in the Dark sounds very “now” — and completely unlike the toast of indie-electronica currently filling blogs everywhere (Dan Deacon, Justice, etc.). Erlend Oye may be the unquestionable king of white-boy electro-nerd stylings, but Alex Taylor is a close second, and when he slows the jams down Hot Chip may just be the ultimate basement makeout band. Made in the Dark is an album sure to be on everyone’s list this spring.

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Worldparty March 29, 2008 By Melissa Goldberg

bar Bar Lubitsch bar title Bar Lubitsch

Mirrored propaganda art, Soviet-themed posters, and chandeliers dusted off from Babushka’s flat adorn the parlor of West Hollywood’s latest Russian-themed hot spot, Bar Lubitsch. Vodka is the beverage of choice and the Bolshevik Propaganda Pamphlet, otherwise known as the bar menu, lists over 200 varieties. From the veteran owners of some of L.A.’s famed watering holes — El Carmen, Good Luck Bar, Jones, and Swingers — Bar Lubitsch is two parts 1917 Soviet speak-easy mixed with one part late, great Hollywood director Ernst Lubitsch. Falling in step with the director’s style, the joint is an upscale locale with a familiar nonchalance and a palpable spark. Celebrities trying to keep a low profile have been spotted among the oversize booths, sipping vodka cocktails that are kitschy throwbacks to the homeland, like the Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, splash of lime juice). In the back room a second bar and intimate tables line the walls to make room for a dance floor where DJs get crowds shaking on late nights and weekends. One bit of advice to capitalize on the communist vibe: Arrive early to avoid lines and stay late toasting za vas to the tsars of yesteryear.

7702 Santa Monica Blvd    +323.654.1234

Music March 28, 2008 By Todd Rosenberg
image boniver4 Bon Iver
Jagjaguwar

title boniver1 Bon Iver

I always marvel at the endless derivations of a voice paired with acoustic guitar; Bon Iver (AKA Justin Vernon) is the latest to embrace and advance that basement tape sound. French for “Good Winter” (and intentionally misspelled), there couldn’t be a more apropos name to sum up this debut, supposedly recorded in a remote Wisconsin cabin during that season. It curls up in the sometimes difficult and sometimes comforting moments of solitude. There are two surprises here: the arrangements and the vocals – a soulful drawl that comes off like a chilled-out Kyp Malone, with accurate pitch but more importantly unrestrained emotion.

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Fashion March 28, 2008 By Noel Spirandelli

Vintage Optics Rare Eyewear Lace Bustier La Perla Zip Corset Balenciaga Ruched Bikini Celine Opaque Hosiery Givenchy

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Music March 27, 2008 By Dan Frazier
image crystal2 Crystal Castles
Lies Records/Last Gang Records

title crystal Crystal Castles

It isn’t odd that a pair of young Toronto hipsters decided to name themselves after She-Ra’s fortress and set out to create the sound of the future — but it is odd that they succeeded. You’ll fail trying to label them nu-rave or mark them off as a contributor to the eight-bit scene; a close listen to Crystal Castles’ self-titled debut reveals a varied and audacious collection of conflicted and creepy electronic songs. Created by a multi-instrumentalist possessed by Sega and a female voice that assaults with chants and static shouts, Crystal Castles have made it to the next level.

Music March 26, 2008 By Adam Sherrett
image ravonettes The Ravonettes
Vice

title ravonettes The Ravonettes

Few bands combine pain and pleasure as deftly as the Raveonettes. The Danish duo’s latest release, Lust Lust Lust, finds their tender harmonies once again surrounded by a wall of sound: heavily distorted heartbreak, fuzzy guitars, and countless Jesus and Mary Chain references. The album flourishes in loneliness (”Hallucinations”) and blissful sadness (”With My Eyes Closed”), yet is brightened by occasional sunny hand clapping and sugary sweet sentiments (”Sad Transmission”). Even if it often seems huddled a bit too close to the distortion pedal, Lust Lust Lust has enough surprises, hooks, and atmospherics to make it worth repeated listens.

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Music March 25, 2008 By Iphgenia Baal
image rumble The Rumble Strips
Photography by Jay Brooks

title rumble The Rumble Strips

Rock ‘n’ roll has been the same since its inception; same sentiments, same instruments, same chords. They do say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But with a simple set of rules and road signs to follow it’s easy for musicians to slip into cruise control. Which is what rumble strips are for — raised ridges at the side of highways that, as wheels slip off track, cause hammering jolts of alarm. Thankfully, The Rumble Strips, the band, live up to their namesake.
     Growing up in Tavistock, Devon, the boys — Charlie Waller on vocals, Tom Gorbutt on sax, Matthew Wheeler on drums, and Henry Clarke on guitar — first started playing together simply to relieve the boredom of small-town life. “We weren’t totally isolated,” Waller says of their beginnings. “It’s not like we didn’t listen to music; it was more that we grew up without the music press. We would ‘discover’ records by Adam & The Ants or The Stones, usually years too late and without any context to put them into.” This meant two things. First, their influences were widely varied. Second, by remaining oblivious to the idolatry rock stars inspire, there was no apprehension about following them down their well-trodden path. “It began,” Waller picks up, “without anyone really thinking about it but, by sixteen I was decided. This is what I was going to do.” And so, from the living rooms of parent’s houses the sounds of skiffly off-beat guitars, an awkward brass section and stuttered drums began to sound.

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Architecture March 24, 2008 By Domingo Robledo

jean Jean Nouveljean title1 Jean Nouvel

New York’s MoMA may have recently opened a new building, but its continued ambition couldn’t be any more obvious. Late last year, MoMA announced it had struck a deal with real-estate development firm Hines to turn the museum’s adjacent vacant lot into a monumental seventy-five-story tower of concrete and glass. For its part, the museum will pick up 40,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Jean Nouvel-designed building. Across the Atlantic, Nouvel has been reshaping the post-modern look of Europe with buildings like the new Philharmonic in Paris and his older Institut du Monde Arabe, setting the tone for metropolises worldwide. Now, in his third and largest building in the US, Nouvel’s genius is making a splash stateside. Above the museum floors, the building will house 120 private luxury residences and a 100-room “seven-star” hotel — whatever that is. With this project underway, New York City will once again set the high-rise standard in architecture, not simply for building big but rather for creating structures that are both smart and culturally relevant. While many architects may have a vision for the future, few are as futuristically epic as Jean Nouvel’s.

Music March 23, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
image vampire Vampire Weekend
Photography by Alexander Wagner

vampire title Vampire Weekend

In February 2006, four seniors from Columbia University, in New York, got together to compete in the Columbia Engineering School’s Battle of the Bands. They finished in third place, out of only four contestants. And so, Vampire Weekend was born.
     With jovial bluegrass-loving Chris Tomson on drums, cool and self-assured Ezra Koenig on guitar and vocals, mad musical genius Rostam Batmanglij on keys and string arrangements, and buttoned-up, “Team Dad” Chris Baio on bass, Vampire Weekend have excavated a new brand of musical anthropology. J. Crew, meet the kente cloth. Earth-tone cardigans have been tied tightly around Polo collars flipped upright, as the Kanda Bongo Man is blasted to eleven. Call it “post-hipster”. Call it “post-colonial”. Call it “post-baccalaureate prep-rock”, Vampire Weekend just hope you call it good.
     Two years after that fateful Battle of the Bands, these bygone bronze medalists have struck gold with ubiquitous praise from the likes of The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and even some primetime loving from MTV’s TRL for their self-titled debut. But the specter of third place remains. “It’s hard to take [the attention] too seriously when there are multiple shows where there are still only thirty people [in the audience],” says Tomson, who cites the band’s addiction to Arby’s roast beef as further evidence of their modest ways.

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Features March 23, 2008 By Anthony Paul Smith
marco Marco Polo
Illustration by Peter Karpick

marco title Marco Polo

A funny thing happened recently during a book launch party in lower Manhattan. I had just received word from one of my seedy underworld contacts about an assignment for PLANET° magazine concerning the adventures of Marco Polo and the brilliant new biography by Laurence Bergreen, Marco Polo — From Venice to Xanadu. There I was, trying to remember everything I could about the Polo expedition, busily stuffing my face with the rather good assortment of canapés and attempting to erase the effects of the day by tossing back an inordinate volume of red wine that was both disappointingly cheap and encouragingly free. By then the roving servers were starting to avoid me (like surfers who’ve spotted a shark), and I was forced to make my way through the crush of people toward the bar to beg for booze like an inebriated Oliver Twist. Halfway there I was halted in my tracks by a rather stunning redhead and her equally arresting blonde companion. “Wait!” she said with a dramatic hand to my chest. “You’re Anthony Smith, aren’t you?” They were clearly too pretty to be trusted so I made a quick survey to see if they were concealing weapons or FBI badges around their necks before I hedged with a cautious, “Maybe yes, maybe no…” The redhead turned to the blonde and insisted, “Oh my God! This is that guy I was telling you about…”

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