Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lissie Live in Vancouver

On a whim, I bought tickets to see Lissie tonight at the Biltmore Cabaret and I am so glad I did! I first noticed her at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton this past May. She did the most splendid performance of Everywhere I Go with Ellie Goulding. You can check out the video on a previous blog here.

Lissie played to a sold-out crowd along with her guitarist Eric Sullivan and drummer/bassist/backing vocalist extraordinaire Lewis Keller. There's something to be said about being able to play percussion and bass while singing at the same time! The standout for me was Everywhere You Go because of its rawness and simplicity. This is Lissie, take it or leave it. The girl knows how to rock out too and does an amazing cover of Kid Cudi's Pursuit of Happiness which the crowd eagerly requested.

She also told the story behind Cuckoo. It talks about the time growing up in Illinois when she felt sure of who she was but was looked down upon as naive. Her advice? Stick to your guns and wait it out. In the end, everything gets better despite a few peaks and troughs.

New! I've just added Lissie performing Pursuit of Happiness

For now, here is the set-list and a smattering of photos. I have a few videos uploading at the moment :) 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Lies - January 22, 2011 (Seattle)

In the next few days, I hope to do a track-by-track review of the White Lie's new album Ritual due to come out in January.

I'm pretty stoked as I'm all booked to do a mini-roadtrip to catch the guys in Seattle at Neumos :)

Favourite track: Bigger Than Us
Honourable mention: Come Down

(But it changes every week)


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top 5 Albums of 2010

Inspired by my friend Rob's blog, and his collection of Top 5 Albums of 2010, I'm going to put my 2 cents in! Now some of you may go, "what the heck was she thinking?" but I have to go by what I've been listening to the most on my iPod and not be influenced by what the music publications have fed me this year. I am a fairly open person when it comes to music and as a result, you will see my choices span the genres of Rock, Indie, Pop and Folk. 

Here goes!

My Top 5 Albums of 2010

1. Foals - Total Life Forever

Their first album 'Antidotes' paved the way for the so-called 'math-rock' movement with its upbeat, syncopated songs. One look at them and you'd think they were the ultimate scenesters. The addictive beats reappear on Total Life Forever, but the melodies are more developed soundscapes.

Standout Track: Miami - it takes the sometimes over-the-top beats of their first album and gives it the space it deserves.

2. Jonsi - Go

While the rest of Sigur Rós are on hiatus having babies, Jónsi Birgisson embarks on his first solo English record. What was intended as an acoustic album somehow evolved into this dreamy festival for the ears when Jónsi met another Icelandic great, Nico Muhly. Jonsi still sounds like he's singing in Icelandic/Hopelandic but bless him, he's more about emotion than words anyway!

Standout Track: Tornado - Despite the bare lyrics, Jónsi develops the sound into a climax and then exhales. Breathtaking  glockenspiel (in the live version only) and fantastic drums, thanks to Samuli Kosinien of another Icelanic experimental group múm.

3. Ellie Goulding - Bright Lights

This is a re-issue of Lights, released in March 2010 with 6 new tracks. BBC named Goulding as the artist to watch going into 2010 and she was even crowned Best New Artist at the Brit awards. The songs are equal parts folk, pop, electronic and 100% infectious. I give the girl extra credit for having written the songs with just her guitar and recorded a lot of this album in an East London home studio.

Standout Track: Your Song - an Elton John cover, it's just Goulding's raw voice, a piano and strings. Honourable mention goes to 'Wish I Stayed' as it's gutsy put the first song you've ever written on a debut album.

4. The Pretty Reckless - Light Me Up

Forget about Taylor Momsen or Jenny or Gossip Girl. The mistake most people make is to dismiss this album based on these three things before they even give it a good listen. Remember the days of Veruca Salt, Courtney Love and Garbage? Momsen is today's version of the power rock chick, albeit with a lot more black goth-liner and a lot less clothes :S 

Standout Track: Tonight - husky yet demanding, this little vixen breathes sexy whispers and then rocks out with the rest of her man-band in the chorus! I've heard her in some BBC Live Lounge sessions and no, this girl is not a product of good studio editing.

5. The Drums - The Drums

Nothing groundbreaking here and my choice is heavily influenced by a live gig I attended in London earlier this year. If you are looking for an album that evokes the sounds and feel of summer, this one's for you. These Brooklyn lads were much talked about going into 2010 and their young sound re-ignited my belief in the importance of a good live show as well as a strong album. 

Standout Track: Down by the Water - understated surfer cool. Honourable mention goes to Best Friend which is more typical of their sound as a band.


I've been a to whole slew of gigs this year ranging from She & Him to Hole. It's hard to pinpoint just one memorable gig so here's my top 3 :)

1. Jónsi (03.26.10) at 3 Mills Studio in London - We were told we were extras for his 2nd single so we all showed up dressed as animals. Little did we know, it ended up being a recorded final dress rehearsal before they went on their first ever tour! That show is now part of the Go Live DVD/CD set.

2. One Republic (04.20.10) at Shepherds Bush Empire, London - One of the most underrated bands ever. These lads now spend more time in the UK than America and it has done their music wonders. They are tight and best of all, they are all multi-instrumentalists.

3. The Temper Trap (June & December, 2010) at The Commodore, Vancouver - The best singalong show this year by far! Can't wait to hear their second album ... and from what my inside source says, it's going to be worth the wait!

Overall Honourable Mentions:
School of Seven Bells - Disconnect from Desire
Broken Bells - Broken Bells
Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gentle Fawn Giveaway via hearted girl

I'm guilty ... I find myself reading so many blogs that sometimes I neglect my own.
I love keeping my ear to the ground by reading opinions on everything but mainly on music and fashion based out of London or Vancouver.

One new blog I've recently stumbled upon is hearted girl
Based in Vancouver, Lynn blogs about a myriad of things but I love the visuals most of all. Her blog is great for scanning the images until I see something I fancy after which I will delve deeper if I have the time :)

As a way of giving back, hearted girl is currently hosting a Gentle Fawn giveaway:

Click here to enter and check out the blog :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Matt Cardle wins X Factor UK 2010

I never thought the day would come when I blogged about X Factor, but here it is! The show has always been my guilty pleasure and I try my best to pull others in. (Best way I have found is with beer, tea and/or a combination of both with fresh baked goods!). Last year, we had friends around on Sunday nights to watch X Factor. As it is most Brits' guilty pleasure, we gathered everyone around under the pretense of a "catch-up session" but everyone knew it was for the Sunday night vote-off!

My favourite performance by far this year was Matt Cardle's duet with Rihanna. I most often vote for the underdog; even better if the underdog is cute, plays a guitar and sings! Watch the video below and if you don't squeal like an excited teenage girl at the sound of the words "Justin Beiber", then I don't know if you appreciate how truly awesome this duet was!

Although Travis was the first to popularize the "manly" version of Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time, it is Matt Cardle who does it better justice. OK, maybe I'm a bit biased because A) I'm a Britney fan and B) I love Matt Cardle.

Hopefully the same time next year, Matt Cardle will still be around and making great music. I didn't have the same well wishes for last year's winner Joe McElderry so you all know I'm serious this time!

Best of luck to him xx

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My Revived Obsession - Lissie

This past June, there was a lot of buzz in the UK of Lissie, a blonde American folk singer. I fell in love with her album Catching a Tiger but was too preoccupied with another blonde singer (Ellie Goulding) and therefore didn't give her album nearly as many listens. I also wrongly assumed she was Jewel version 2.0 but realized there could never be another Jewel!

With her latest single Everywhere I Go, my obession for Lissie has been revived and all in good time as she is playing a gig at the Biltmore Cabaret on December 29, 2010. Her music provides the space many overproduced pop songs of today stifles. I am not saying one genre is better than another (although most people I know could argue about this for hours).

In my current headspace, and in this chaotic Christmas season, Lissie's Catching a Tiger is a melodic escape from the over-excited songs infiltrating our everday lives. Take for example the predictable Christmas classic remixes at the shopping mall. Or the annual charge for commercial hits to take the Christmas #1 single title. (Not since Girls Aloud with their amazing Sound of the Underground have I paid even an ounce of attention to such a race ... Joe McElderry anyone?).

I'm getting sidetracked because now I'm getting excited about Girls Aloud again!

Here is the undeniable hit machine with Sound of the Underground recorded during their Out of Control tour at the O2 Arena in London. And yes, I was present when they filmed this! Who wants to buy this DVD for me for Christmas (I have meant to buy it for ages; this one and the one from their Tangled Up tour.)

And let's not forget the woman of the hour, Lissie:

Thursday, December 02, 2010

White Lies return with 'Ritual' and lead single BIGGER THAN US

If the world has any justice at all, this new single from the White Lies will propel them to being an international household name. Their first album, To Lose My Life was thoughtful and dark but most importantly poignant.

Ritual, to be released in January is a follow-up album every band dreams to be able to create. The 10 songs on it shows incredible growth yet it does not alienate their pre-existing fanbase. If the lead single 'Bigger Than Us' is any indicator, White Lies are destined to do the arena circuit.

When I first heard this song, I thought 'Streetlights' should have been their first single instead. After giving it a few more listens, I felt similar to when I first heard 'Death' (lead track from To Lose My Life). Both these tracks are intelligent and emotionally powerful; I didn't quite get them from listening to each once. Watch and listen for yourself.

On October 28th, White Lies played a special show at the Shoreditch Town Hall in London. Needless to say, the boys rocked my socks off! Especially Tommy ;)

White Lies at Shoreditch Town Hall

With Rachel and Frances

Set List:




These songs are off 'Ritual'.
Where was 'Turn the Bells'? :(

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Superdrug Radiance Competition - Please vote for me!

Thanks for coming by my blog ... I've noticed I have had a few new visitors lately and I'm making an effort to blog a bit more as a result of it :)

If you have a few moment, please submit a vote for me in the Superdrug Radiance competition. It would really mean a lot to me if I could win 1000 quid towards a new Apple computer which I desperately need!

Click on the link and vote for photo #4. You don't have to sign up for any newsletters or anything or even give out your personal info other than your email.

Thanks in advance :)

PS. My photo that was shortlisted is the big photo at the top of this blog ... one of my favourites from a trip to Oslo :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ellie Goulding - Your Song

Seldom comes a long a song so simple yet yields such a transfixing effect. I've always loved Ellie Goulding and by always I mean in 2010 when she plowed onto the UK music scene.

Under immense pressure to succeed from the get-go, Goulding was named the BBC Sound of 2010. My other favourite standouts in the list include The Drums, Marina & the Diamonds and Delphic. Three completely contrasting sounds but all unique and carving a niche for themselves.

Shortly after being crowned the Sound, Goulding won the Critic's Choice Award at the 2010 Brit Awards. No small feat considering past winners include Florence & the Machine and even Michael Jackson.

Her debut album Lights was a regular on my iPod this year until it was ousted by The Temper Trap. Lately I'm back on the White Lies as I'm gearing up for the release of their second album in January. But I digress. Goulding has re-released her debut as Bright Lights which includes six previously unreleased tracks such as Human and Animal.

The standout by far is a cover of Elton John's Your Song. Breathtakingly pretty, Goulding is able to stand the test of woman-with-guitar to prove that she is not a puppet in a big man's industry.

And while you are here, check out Lissie featuring Ellie Goulding at this year's Great Escape Festival in Brighton. I was fortunate enough to see this miracle happen in person as I commuted for the festival from London this May. Two young respected females, relatively new to the industry, performing with a rawness most established acts only wished they could replicate.

I hope you enjoy ♥

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Beautiful Shoes from Upper Street

My creation - Coy Zebra
     At 2am last night, I clicked Buy and therefore committed to the very first shoe I have ever designed!
     Courtesy of Keynoir London, I was given the chance to have my shoe design handmade by Upper Street; every girl's dream right? The task was arduous as half the fun of shoe shopping is getting to slip into a brand new stiletto and having my breath taken away. The other half is being able to feel the shoe and study the fine craftsmanship.

     It was difficult to know what fabrics and colours complimented each other. I did not want to go overboard, but I also wanted something whimsical and not available on the high street! Alas, I was up to the task and here is the creation that is due to arrive in 4-6 weeks!

     The body of the shoe is a black satin, with hot pink satin accents. The heel and base are a zebra animal skin of some sort, as is the strap. These will go perfectly with my dress-predominant wardrobe. (Who am I kidding I pretty much ONLY wear dresses so I can wear fabulous shoes!)

My competition entry

     This is another design I did for Upper Street's Facebook competition. I never expected to be shortlisted to their Top 20 designs! The shoes were inspired by the Fall 2010 trends as shown on the European catwalks. Animal prints are back, as are rich metallics. I suppose these two trends have never faded into obscurity but instead are more featured this upcoming season. I have always considered both of these trends to be timeless staples!

     I hate voting competitions as I do not like getting my friends involved in my hobby of comping but if anyone feels inclined to, you can vote for my design here until August 31st, 2010 :)

Live at Squamish & Random Canadian Music Ramblings ...

     With under two weeks until the Live at Squamish festival, I have begun my preparations by perusing the MySpace pages of the artists. Anyone who has ever been to a festival knows that a plan is necessary to ensure no great music is missed. Take for instance Field Day 2008. We managed to catch 1.5 bands and by the 0.5, I mean we made it to the tent but were distracted by the downpour all around us so we didn't actually savour the music! Field Day 2009 was a bigger success, as we managed to see Little Boots, Mogwai, The Temper Trap and more :)

The artists I am most looking forward to at Live at Squamish are:

     I went to high school with Roy and even then, he was distinctly a talented percussionist. They have had success touring Canada and as with any other homegrown band, I hope they cross the pond more often and explore a different market. Dan Mangan has done amazingly overseas :)

     I discovered this 3-piece from Kelowna while Googling for new Canadian artists. After listening to their entire album as a stream on their website, I am convinced they have the potential to be revered as one of Canada's best new bands .

     This guy still needs to redeem himself for his act of arson during a show at The Commodore over 10 years ago. I was not impressed when he lit an unsuspecting plush panda on fire during the show :( It was the most adorable thing, until it engulfed in flames and died a slow, miserable death! All that aside, I remember having a great time that night, but it has been too long! Another local GVRD boy who has had a commendable international career. 

     As you may have noticed, I am going to Live at Squamish to see the Canadian artists! As a supporter of home-grown music, I must mention Canadian Blast.

  Canadian Blast is an organization dedicated to promoting Canadian music around the world. I have met their representative, Shaun, in London and I am thrilled Canadians are getting this exposure, with support from the government!

     At one of their many showcases in London, I discovered Nova Scotian Rich Aucoin. He absolutely brought the audience at Pure Groove Records to their feet when he performed on a Canadian Blast night a few months ago. Even the reluctant wallflowers found themselves singing along to the lyrics and joining Rich's team huddle. You have to see it to believe it, although be forewarned, he may alienate those who like to stay out of the action ...

The crowd getting involved at Pure Groove (London, May 2010)

     Can I digress and say Bryan Adams was amazing this weekend at Empire Field? Talk about a successful Canadian! I should have known better and stationed myself at the front so I could have been picked to sing When You're Gone with him. I forgot that he always chooses an audience member at every show. Here is an extra special performance of that song with THE Mel C in London, November 2008.

O2 Arena, London, November 2008
    And while I am celebrating Canadian musicians abroad, there is a photo of Dan Mangan performing an acoustic set at The Lexington in Angel.

Dan Mangan, November 2009
     Clearly I am too musically excited to focus on a proper update today. Sorry for the random digressions! There are not enough hours in a day for me to rant about my lovely musical experiences :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Current musical obsessions ...

Every once in a while, I get an itch and have to hit up the trusty iTunes to buy some new albums. Lately I've been saying "OMG that's an amazing song! I need to get it" way too often yet not remembering to get it right away.

Erland and the Carnival

     Intrigued by the name, we checked out their set at The Great Escape Festival. Pretty impressed by their sound, not to mention, their lead singer was pretty fit. Well, at least in the dark and from the back of the room :) This London band was formed by Simon Tong, formerly of The Verve and played parts with Blur and the Gorillaz.

One Republic - Wake Up 


This is one of the best under-rated bands! I was at The Forum in September of 2009 when they debuted some of the new songs off this album before it was released. I saw them again a few months ago at Shepherds Bush Empire and once again, a polished, international-level show. Sometimes I wonder how Ryan Tedder ends up saving all his best musings for One Republic and not spend them on his other ventures (his Production Credits here). The band has a very European sound, which make sense because they spend more time in London/Europe than their own native USA.

Jónsi - Go Do
     Both Jónsi and Sigur Ros somehow turn everything they touch into musical bliss. I'm not sure how they do it! Although their sound is not typically mainstream and rarely, if ever, makes it into the charts, ask anyone and they will say they have heard of them. And if you haven't, you actually have, you just didn't know that was their music! Rachel and I were fortunate enough to see Jónsi live at 3 Mills Studios in East London when we answered an advert to be an extra in his second video. Dressed like animals as requested, we showed up only to discover we were going to be a test audience for his new tour! Pure bliss :)

March 2010 - 3 Mills Studios, London

Gin Wigmore - Holy Smoke
     I discovered her when I was shopping at Hollister (gasp!) and couldn't get this song out of my head for days. When I like a song, I have to find out what it is and after searching high and low, I stumbled upon a website for Hollister in-store playlists. Very soulful and very reminiscent of my other favourite, Paloma Faith, I find her sound intriguing and hope to hear more from her in the future.

Next up on the list: She & Him: Volume I, and Goldfrapp - Rocket.
Oh, and the new Arcade Fire ... check out what the hype is all about :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Helsinki 2005 - A Walk Down Memory Lane

     I did a bit of cleaning up and I stumbled on some photo CDs! Imagine that, I haven't used a photo CD in years ... so I decided to back them all up onto my trusty hard-drive. I ended up flicking though a lot of the photos and I thought I'd post a few and share the memories of a time in my life that I will hold close to my forever. While most people settled down and got proper jobs, Melissa and I embarked on a journey halfway across the world to experience something most people never get to experience: living, loving and most of all laughing (all the while completely confused as we spoke not a word of Finnish).
     OK, we knew how to say "Little Boy" (pieni poika) and surprisingly, that came in handy numerous times! 
     Also, one random memory that just came to me was the first time we went to the supermarket in Helsinki. We were looking for something as simple as salt. But when you're in a foreign country with packaging in languages you can't comprehend (Finnish or Swedish), finding salt can be the most challenging thing. After about 5 minutes of debating a) which one is salt and b) what the different coloured labels are, this random dude from another aisle casually walked by and said "that one"! Well that sorted us out! That was also the supermarket that taught me cilantro and coriander are virtually the same thing. I looked around and around for cilantro, only to "settle" for coriander because it smelled the closest thing to cilantro .. doh!
At the Pasila train station after a night out at Amarillo ... it was so fun we even took their sign home!
Yes, we went to class (sometimes!) Here is Mauri working hard on his screen printing.

The Italian leaving do ... we came, we stayed until sunrise on a school night, but no, we did not conquer!
Spring cleaning, or rather our one and only ever flat cleaning! Look at all the crap we found in our "Crack room"
You know it's serious when you make Sangria in a bin and stir with a bottle!
We lived in the same building yet for some reason, it's easier just to all crash at ours ...
Easter Preparation Part I
Easter Preparation Part II
Helsinki, I will love you always, even when you are freezing cold...because you're beautiful!

     So all the photos above are from March 2005. Wow, in one month, I lived a lot. And that's how life should be ... Hope to find more and immortalize them in the Blogosphere!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Holiday in Whistler

     After having lived in London for the past few years, a visit back to Vancouver is always interesting. I guess you don't really miss what you have until you leave it for a while! I know Vancouver is beautiful, but it didn't really hit home until my boyfriend came to join me for a few weeks ... then I started to look at Vancouver through a tourist's eyes again and have now regained a new found inspiration from the landscape (great beaches help too!)

     We spent our first few week exploring Whistler. The last time I was there, it was a one-night party trip with a few friends and we barely explored the Village. This time, with five full days, we were able to try a few new restaurants, hit a lake, go up to the top of the mountain, and more importantly, work on our tans!

Capturing the 2010 Olympic spirit!

Gorgeous and patriotic moment :)
     Dinner on our first night was at Bearfoot Bistro at 4121 Village Green. We chose this restaurant as our 'splurge' over Araxi because of its fantastic 3 course dinner menu for $45. I just noticed the price went up to $55 though ... You may also recall the winner of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen (US) Season 6 recruited it's winner to be the Executive Chef. Sadly he left Araxi shortly after the Olympics so that bit of novelty factor also swayed me towards Bearfoot.

     We had fresh Effingham oysters and a seared scallop to start (+$8), followed by an angus beef tenderloin and a lamb shank (+$5) for me. In between courses, we went to the sub-arctic vodka tasting room (why not!). For $16 a pop, not cheap, although we are always game to try something fun! To top it off, I finished off with a Coconut Snowball (swirled with a coriander dressing! my fav!) while Darren had a box of handmade chocolates. Pastry Chef Dominic Fortin really outdid himself with a basil infused strawberry chocolate amongst other flavours!

Atlantic lobster mini-starter
Lamb shank with bone marrow (served in a bone!); Beef Tenderloin in the background
     The following day, we took a Ziptrek Ecotours Tour (Bear Tour). I would recommending the extra splurge to take the Eagle Tour since it has a line that is twice as long as the longest line in the Bear Tour. We had to watch our budget though, but had an equally thrilling time on the Bear Tour I'm sure!

Me, upside down!
Totally gorgeous right?
     Next up was a day at Lost Lake. No photos though, it was just the most relaxing day, jumping in and out of the water and working on our tans while getting on with our books. Take-home message: when you can't reach somewhere, get someone else to put on your suncream for you :) My bf burned his back, just in the parts he couldn't reach. I didn't do my wifely duties (ie nag) because I saw he took the initiative to slather himself in SPF. Little did I know he had missed a (massive) spot!

     We got an amazing offer on the Peak to Peak Gondola (2 days/$39.95 each) and took full advantage of it. It's the longest unsupported Gondola in the world! Once we took the gondola up to the Lodge, we went even further up with the Peak Express chairlift. I have to tell you, it is one of the most exhilarating experiences when you feel the sun shining down on your while a light arctic breeze keeps you the right amount of tingly cool!

Enjoying the view at the top!
View at the top
Looking down in the Peak to Peak Gondola

     I had been on bear-watch all day and we had spotted one in the gondola on the way up. I clearly recall shouting "BEAR! BEAR!" like a little kid ... Can't help it! We spotted one from our chairlift on the way back down the Blackcomb side:

So cute!
    Next day, we went up the mountain again, and in the same spot as the previous day, we saw a mama bear and her cubs!:

     We rounded out our Whistler trip with one last gulp of the breathtaking views ... I obviously skipped on a lot because in my true Chinese style, I took a picture of virtually everything. This edit took restraint ... I kid you not! I will end with these last few pics ... everyone must experience Whistler in the winter AND in the summer :)

So beautiful with thick feathers for the cold
So cute but not sure what he is ..
Another bear! Dragging his hind legs :)