Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Style icon: Zooey Deschanel

It's honestly no secret that I really, really adore Zooey Deschanel. What's not to love, really? She has amazing style, she's a talented singer and musician, AND she's smart and funny to boot. I know a lot of people scoff at her popularity and dismiss her as that stereotypical "manic pixie dream girl" trope or gripe about her "twee"-ness. But - haters to the left. This is a style diary post, so I'm going to focus on the fashion here. I can't think of any other celebrity who inspires me, style-wise, as much as Zooey D. I know it's silly, but one crazy dream of mine is to go thrift shopping with her.

Anyway... I really dig Peter Pan collars - on blouses, shirts, dresses, tunics, YOU NAME IT... if it's got a Peter Pan collar, I will probably love it. I also really dig puff sleeves and a-line skirts. These fashion loves basically sum up this outfit. Though it may be two very basic pieces and simple lines, it also features two, bold and bright primary colours.

Cobalt blue puff sleeve Peter Pan collar blouse - Dr. Denim (from Singapore)
Red a-line skirt (with big white buttons and pockets!) - Lux/Urban Outfitters
Red wide stretchy belt - H&M
Black tights - Old Navy
Black oxford flats - Aldo (not pictured)
Red heart ring - Pauper's Bounty on Etsy
Rainbow cocktail ring - Harbourfront Centre gift shop
(all photos can be clicked for a larger version)

Warmer weather allows me to let my hair air dry, which results in these lovely waves! I wish I lived somewhere where blow-drying my hair wasn't a necessity in the winter (else you catch pneumonia/end up with icicles for hair).

A better look at the detailing on the blouse.
I seriously LOVE this skirt - it's the perfect shade of red and I adore the big white buttons (my bf calls it the "Minnie Mouse skirt," even though a Minnie Mouse skirt ought to be red with white polka dots). Plus skirts with pockets are the best!

I wear my rainbow ring pretty much every day; I usually wear this heart ring (it was a birthday gift from my boyfriend) - I also have it in pink.
Also, I realized that though I wear my watch every day, with every outfit, I never credit it in any style diary. It's by Fossil and it was a university graduation present from my parents.

The inspiration from this combination came from an outfit I've seen Zooey Deschanel wear, most notably at a ceremonial presentation of the "key to the city" and plaque for Angel's Knoll in Los Angeles. I believe her blouse and skirt are from Dear Creatures, as featured in their Celebrity/Press section. Seriously, browse the DC site for ten minutes and if you know me at all, you'll be exclaiming, "That is SO Wini!" over every outfit. If I had the money, I would buy all my clothes from them....

(both Zooey Deschanel photos are from ZooeyDeschanel.net)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Brian Wilson @ Massey Hall, June 18, 2011.

First of all, I'd like to wish Brian Wilson a happy birthday today - June 20. Hard to believe he's a year younger than my dad.

Second of all, I just checked back in my blog entries tagged with "Brian Wilson" and "Beach Boys" and I can't believe I never mentioned (back in November 2010 when I bought tickets, no less) that I would be seeing Brian Wilson perform at Massey Hall on June 18! I know I tweeted about it on Twitter and posted about it (somewhat excessively?) on Facebook the day I purchased tickets, but why I didn't post about it on my blog is kind of baffling to me!

So that glorious day has come and gone, and here I am, on Brian Wilson's 69th birthday, updating my blog with a review of his show at Massey Hall this past Saturday.

The show started promptly at 7:30 - as Brian Wilson and his band made their way onto the stage, the crowd applauded wildly and quickly got to their feet. How many artists can boast they've received a standing ovation before even performing a single song? But honestly, I can think of very few artists who would deserve it as much.

Having read so many accounts, biographies and articles of his past reluctance and anxiety with performing, I guess I was a bit surprised at how charismatic and jovial he seemed. There was comfortable banter between songs, quick smiles here and there, and a gracious "Thank you!" after every song. There were also the maybe slightly contrived proclamations of "Toronto, you're the best!" but hey, audiences love that shit, right? He even got the audience to embark on a singalong of "Row Your Boat" (yes, the children's nursery rhyme song) several times with the expectation that it would launch into a Beach Boys/Brian Wilson tune before he waved, grinned and said, "That's it! You were great!" Ha! Good to see he has a sense of humour.

I especially enjoyed the informational introductions of many songs - even historical, if you will! ie. the year in which he wrote particular songs. My favourite intros: that "Surfer Girl" was the first song he ever wrote (I heard several murmurs around me saying, "Really?"), he wrote the instrumental "Pet Sounds" to be submitted for a James Bond film, and the introductions for a bunch of the Gershwin songs (including the educational fact that George Gershwin performed at Massey Hall, I think back in 1934 if I remember correctly - in any case, good researching skills for relevance!).

The show began with crowd pleasers - kicked off with "Do It Again" and followed with a whole slew of Beach Boys hits like "Dance Dance Dance," "Don't Worry Baby," "Please Let Me Wonder" (*dreamy sigh*), "I Get Around," "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Surfer Girl," as I already mentioned. They also did "Then I Kissed Her" (as found on Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) - sort of a response/opposite point of view to The Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me") with guitarist/amazing falsetto vocalist Jeffrey Foskett on lead vocals. Foskett did most of the higher vocals for all the songs - a little sad thinking about how a young Brian would've been singing these notes in his heyday, but Foskett was impressive nonetheless.
From Pet Sounds, the band did the aforementioned instrumental title track, "Sloop John B" and "God Only Knows" which garnered another standing ovation.

The only (slight) disappointment were the mere two songs from SMiLE - "Heroes & Villains" (it gave me chills, though I wish they had led into it with "Our Prayer/Gee") and "Good Vibrations" (more chills!). I wanted "Surf's Up" and "Vega-tables" and "Wind Chimes".... hell, I wish I could've gone back in time and that this was the SMiLE tour instead. But alas.

After a 20-minute intermission, the band came back to perform the Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin album. I gotta say that I truly adore this record, especially with my vocal jazz choir background (back in my high school days) and classical piano training. The audience was somewhat quieter during this portion of the show, and I had my suspicions that it was likely because many weren't familiar with the songs. Unfortunate, in my opinion. I love the "Beach Boys sound" given to these Gershwin standards and to me, that proves Brian Wilson's still "got it" when it comes to composing - even if it's not original material.

After the Gershwin material, the band left the stage again but quickly returned for an encore. As one would expect, the majority of the crowd was fairly older (older than myself and my boyfriend, at least by 20 years!) but at this point, most (if not all) of the audience were on their feet and dancing. For "Barbara Ann" and several songs afterward, Brian stood up from his keyboard stool to play bass (!) with an awesome "SMiLE" sticker on the back (I want this sticker for my guitar case!).

The band left the stage once again and returned for one last song: "All Summer Long." At the end, Brian waved and said, "We'll see you again!" I really do hope so.

I danced, I sang my heart out and maybe I even teared up a bit during a few songs. While it gave me a twinge of sadness to know I will never be able to see Brian Wilson in his youth and heyday, I'm still thankful I got to see one of my absolute favourite musicians, one of my idols perform live.

The set list (plus a meh review I wouldn't bother reading) can be found here via Canoe.ca/Toronto Sun.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It doesn't always have to be beautiful.

I know I never got around to finishing that 30-day music meme (shame on me, I know), but I'm pretty sure one of the topics was naming a song that I loved the previous year. I had started a text file with my prospective answers so I knew what I was going to write about for that topic.

Anyway, long-winded intros aside, do you ever discover a new band you really, really love that you can't get enough of them, and you listen to them so much you fear that you'll ruin their music for yourself?

Slow Club has definitely been one of those bands for me. My friend Jackie suggested them to me because she thought their music sounded like it would be right up my alley. And she was right! Their sound is the perfect, sweet mixture of folk, pop and twee, plus the boy-girl harmonies are positively heart-melting.

This morning I've been feeling a bit under the weather and in need of a pick-me-up. The weather in Toronto has been uncomfortable and sweltering these past few days, but today is cool and breezy, with the right amount of sun. If the weather was cooperating, then I wanted to feel better to enjoy it. I opted for power pop tunes from Weezer (Blue Album followed by Pinkerton and then the bonus tracks from the Pinkerton deluxe release - totally an aside but, isn't "Long Time Sunshine" great? Not too keen on the overlapping "round" at the end, but otherwise an awesome gem of a tune).

To keep the toe-tapping, upbeat pop theme going, I chose Slow Club's debut album Yeah So next. Like I had mentioned, this album, at one point, was severely in danger of being played out for me. When I'm on the verge of possibly becoming sick of a band (due to my own repetition), I stop listening to them entirely. Before today, I can't remember the last time I listened to Slow Club.

Ah, the sweet reunion! With the first opening chords of "When I Go," I felt a smile spread across my face. Song after song, I felt myself perking up, cheering up and remembering how much I love this album. A wonderful feeling.

And so I leave you with the video for my favourite song off Yeah So: "It Doesn't Have to Be Beautiful." I don't think anything will ever stop me from loving this wonderful, infectious pop song.