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Interview: Thomas Mars of Phoenix


(Photo credit: Arnaud Potier)

Phoenix, that little French band you may have heard about, recently set out on their headlining Fall tour after a big summer of festivals, so we caught up with singer Thomas Mars to ask him what he's looking forward to, his favorite albums, and Kanye's damn croissants.
Interview by Katie Gregory

Hi Thomas! How has the touring been going?

The tour was very stressful in the beginning because we started right away with big shows which we never did before, but it’s been the reward of two years we spent in the studio. It’s just nice to see the world with your friends and play music for people, it’s as basic as that. It’s the best way to travel the world. It’s very gratifying, very nice. I recommend it. [Laughs]

Do you guys like performing more for the big festival crowds, or do you like performing for the smaller, more intimate crowds?
I think on paper we like our own shows better, because there’s just a couple of things that are easier to bring some atmosphere, like some epic nights. Sometimes at a festival you play at daytime, and the attention of the crowd is elsewhere. But festivals also have this power, almost like a poetic, Roman Empire feel, like there’s so many people it’s just a sea of… you know, you never see the end of it. And it has some universal feel to it that is incredible but dangerous at the same time. It’s fascinating.

You said you love traveling for the festivals. Is there a favorite place that you’ve performed?
I think Lollapalooza was one of my favorite festivals this year. The crowd and the skyline. This festival never disappoints. It feels like a festival I could go to as a guest, like in the audience. There are some festivals we play where I could never picture myself attending. [Laughs] But Lollapalooza is one of the few where I really would like to be there.

But sometimes, the best shows, they’re usually not the ones in the big cities, they’re the ones in the middle, or on your way to somewhere, just because those places tend to see less shows, and they’re probably less jaded about shows or something. It’s more unique there. Some places in the U.S., like Salt Lake City, places like that, you wouldn’t bet on them, but then they become the most fun shows.

Since it’s music month here on the blog, can you tell us some albums you’ve been listening to lately?
I’ve been driving more than usual lately and the one CD I put on all the time is What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, because it’s exactly the length of my trip. More than a collection of songs, it’s one giant song. I think it’s my favorite album, because it’s very complex and the message is so pure. It sounds incredibly modern. It could have been made today and it wouldn’t be surprising. It wouldn’t feel old. What else? We’ve been touring with Mac DeMarco recently, and I really like his music. I love his album.

Do you guys collect records at all?
I have a few, yeah. Between the four of us in the band, we do have a semi-giant collection, but that’s between all four of us. Separately it’s not that impressive. [Laughs]

Do you guys have any rare albums that you can think of?
Yeah, we have… well, there’s one that we bought many, many times. It’s Kill City by Iggy Pop and James Williamson. It’s not that rare, but the vinyl comes in different colors – there’s a pink, there’s a green, I think there’s a transparent one. We have a strange relationship with this record. We had to buy it six or seven times because once it melted in the back of my car, and then things kept happening. I think we lost the precious one. I think the ones we have now are not the super limited edition anymore. [Laughs]

Do you have a favorite musician or band that you’re always in the mood to listen to?
Yes. What could it be? There’s a lot. Anything that I was listening to when I was a teenager, if I hear it anymore it’s very powerful. Anything from Prince or Joy Division or My Bloody Valentine or The Pixies, all these bands I grew up with. If I hear the same guitar or the drum machine that was used on "Little Red Corvette", I can burst into tears. [Laughs] That’s how powerful.

That’s amazing. Do you have a favorite Phoenix song?
No, no. I mean, I have favorites to play live, and it keeps changing, so it’s nice because we change the setlist pretty often. It depends on the mood we’re in. It’s really the only thing we fight for in the band, the setlist.

What’s your favorite song to play at the moment?
It’s one called “The Real Thing.” But it’s also the toughest to play, it’s the one we can mess up the most. And I can mess up the most. That’s why with my friends, it is not their favorite. [Laughs]

And once this tour wraps up, does the band have any new album plans?
No, we don’t. Well, right now we are doing our own tour, which is something we’ve been looking forward to because we mostly played festivals. You can play festivals from April to September, and now we are looking forward to playing our own shows, which starts [this week]. That’s something we’re all really looking forward to.

Okay, and I only have one more question for you. What’s the most common English phrase people ask you to translate into French? Are people always asking for curse words?
No, not that I can think of. But when we speak English, we don’t swear in English, but when we speak French we do swear pretty often, so I think sometimes we have to translate these, but nothing specific.

Have people ever asked you to translate the Kanye line, “Hurry up with my damn croissants”?
No, what is that? It’s a Kanye song? Oh, yeah! We did something with the NME, and they asked us that, but I had no clue it was a Kanye song. They asked us something about “damn croissants,” but I wasn’t sure what they were talking about. [Laughs] I was asked how to translate “cronut” recently.

Can you translate cronut?!
No, I think there’s “cro” in it for croissant, so it’s already in there. I don’t think you can translate it more. [Laughs]

Thanks, Thomas!

'GIRLS' Promo on SNL

Haaaahahahahahahahaaha. —Ally

Review: Crosley Floral Executive Turntable

I think I'm in love but it makes me kind of nervous to say so...because it's with a record player. Is that weird? This Crosley Portable Record Player, printed in a purple calico pattern, is like something out of a Wes Anderson-directed dream, so naturally it fit perfectly into my super cute, weirdly violet-centric life. But this baby has more going for it than just its faux-vintage hot bod, because it sounds just as good as it looks, playing LPs at 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM. The sound from the built-in speakers is beautifully clear. And, of course, the player is portable so you can just snap it all up like a brief case and take it to wherever you want to go: your tree house, your college library where everybody is studying in silence or a party so you can DJ it with some Classixx or Justin Timberlake. Go crazy! Hazel

Here's the player in action spinning the Dum Dum Girls flexi-disc from the Rookie Yearbook:

Look Of The Week: Ollie Neville


This week, when we saw Ollie out and about in his gorgeous red bow tie, we knew we had found the best-dressed dog at the office. What a cutie, right? Since Ollie was adopted from the P.A. SPCA right here at The Navy Yard only a few weeks ago, we just had to see how he was settling in!


So poised. An inspiration to us all.

Hi Ollie! Introduce yourself and tell us what you do at UO!

My full name is Oliver Twist, but everyone calls me Ollie! My mom just adopted me a few weeks ago, and she’s a buyer for UO housewares.

You're looking SO dapper today. What are you wearing?!
Thank you, miss! I just threw on this polka dot bow tie this morning with my everyday bling – nylon blue collar and custom dog tags.

Now that it's getting cold again, what are you most looking forward to wearing this Fall?
I’m trying to convince my mama to get me an argyle sweater vest and maybe a beanie or two. Layers, layers, layers!

When you're not at work, where can you usually be found?
I spend a lot of time people watching at coffee shops. PUMPKIN EVERYTHING.

What 5 things can you not live without?
Beyonce, pumpkin treats, big dogs, my stuffed Mickey Mouse, and snuggles.

Where can we find you online?
Instagram and Twitter! And Tumblr, if anyone cares!

Thanks, Ollie!

Music We Love: "Charm Attack" by Leona Naess

Picture yourself lying on your high school's grass field. It's 1999 and school just got out. You go home to drink a bottle of Sunny D and dance around your kitchen, alone, while a spellbinding song plays from the Adult Alternative station. The song is "Charm Attack" by Leona Naess. Sadly, we haven't heard from her since, but imagine Fiona Apple during her Tidal-era swallowing a bottle of Tinker Bell's pixie dust.

The mystifying lyrics, the calming and heart-bursting nostalgic chorus - it's haunting and electrifying. Still as good in 2013 as it was in 1999. You should definitely consider adding this to the Fall playlist on your iPhone. Alex

Trend: OTK Boots


Over-the-knee boots are awesome, because they add a whole lot of look to an outfit with very minimal work. You just throw 'em on and go. Done. They look great paired with slouchy sweaters and tiny miniskirts. Here's some of our faves!

Inspiration:











Get the look:


Frye Veronica Stonewash Boot


Dolce Vita Daroda Over-The-Knee Boot


Jeffrey Campbell Newcastle Over-The-Knee Boot


Kimchi Blue Tall Leather Boot


Jeffrey Campbell Air-Tight Over-The-Knee Boot


Sixtyseven Enrica Over-The-Knee Boot


BDG Mixed Panel Riding Boot


Jeffrey Campbell Meds Studded Over-The-Knee Boot

Shop OTK Boots

Music We Love: Sleater-Kinney's "All Hands On The Bad One"

I have so many feelings about riot grrrl, the third wave feminist music movement of the '90s that taught me about rad women in punk and the DIY power of young ladies at large BUT I can not, and won't, get into all those feelings here because I have a character limit. At least, I think I have a character limit. For now, let's talk about Sleater-Kinney, the riot grrrl staple and bad-ass rock band.


Sleater-Kinney was formed in Olympia, Washington by musicians Corin Tucker (of the other Washington-based punk band Heavens To Betsy) and Carrie Brownstein (of Excuse 17). For those unfamiliar with SK, you might know Brownstein from the TV show Portlandia or her other insanely good band Wild Flag. She is one of the greatest guitar players of all time. God DAMN IT is there anything Carrie can't do?

Sleater-Kinney's music was loud and unabashedly political, calling out the misogyny of the music industry to the confines of gender roles. Their angry lyricism is a feminist manifesto in itself, making this music for ladies to rage to. Tucker has a particularly distinctive style of singing; it is literally a warrior-call. Her shrieking, punk snarl is one of the reasons Sleater-Kinney's music is so satisfying. Because Sleater-Kinney is one of my favorite bands, picking just one album to write about is hard. Though their fifth album, All Hands On The Bad One is super good. Girl power 4-ever! [Insert Corin Tucker shriek here.]


This is one of my favorite Sleater-Kinney songs, though it's not their typical, mega-screamy sound. It's a fun song but also pretty snarky. If there's one thing you can count on with Sleater-Kinney it's brutal honesty. If you're a totally predictable buzzkill boy band who disses lady rockstars, they're going to call you out on it with insults veiled as catchy hooks in a glossed up song. And how good is "fill our Christmas socks / with whiskey drinks and chocolate bars?" Dudes, this is what your girlfriend wants for Christmas. She also wants you to shut up forever and help dismantle the patriarchy, but start off with the booze and treats. 


Sleater-Kinney's "#1 Must Have" is a takedown of the hype riot grrrl was receiving from the media at the time. People were hating on SK for "selling out" and feminism had become a total commodity. "But they took our ideas to their marketing stars / and now I'm spending all my days at girlpower.com / trying to buy back a little piece of me," Tucker sings. Then the band went on this totally mainstream Oxygen talk show to perform this song and Tucker's attitude is sooo over it all. You can see it in her performance, it's great. Of course they would pick this song to play! Such a brilliant move. Ugh, I LOVE YOU SLEATER-KINNEY. 


The fast-paced, mosh-worthy "Youth Decay" is about the widespread misunderstanding of young women and disorders. It's easier to silence a chick than help her. "I'm so good at playing dead / words just don't seem to come out," Tucker snarls. Playing dead and being silenced is a common theme in Sleater-Kinney's outspoken music. The music gets REAL.


Sleater-Kinney penned this tune which, in Tucker's words, mocks how people perceive women in rock. To some, a band with all women can't be just a rock band. It has to be a lady rock band with their own special brand of female music. It doesn't really matter though, what people think of SK, 'cause all of the members have not stopped kicking ass musically over the years and All Hands On The Bad One is a testimony to their lasting rock n' roll, feminist power. Buy this record and all of their records and just get your girlfriends together and dance wildly. Hazel

Shop All Hands On The Bad One

Express Yourself: Pee-Wee Herman

Okay, so we all know that story about the man behind Pee-Wee Herman, but let's forget about it for a minute so we can focus on the beauty that is Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. If ever there was a tale about Being Yourself and also Being Really Weird But Endearingly So, then Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is it. If you've been living under a rock since 1985, then let me tell you about the plot of this fine film: Pee-Wee gets his totally radical bike stolen by his mean and rich neighbor Francis; Pee-Wee goes hunting for said bike; hilarity ensues. Throughout the movie, Pee-Wee charms his way across the country on the hunt for his stolen bicycle, and throughout it all, he is always ~true to himself.~ Not even hot babes can stand in his way.


But seriously, Pee-Wee's reaction to Dottie is amazing. Who needs dumb ol' relationships anyway?

NOT EVEN MOTORCYCLE GANGS ARE IMPERVIOUS TO HIS CHARMS! For some reason, there's just something totally delightful about a grown-ass man in a red bowtie, hunting for his bike, and livin' his life in the weirdest, most joyful way possible. Basically, everyone's takeaway from this movie should be that it's okay to be a little bit of a weirdo. You might not get a movie deal in the end, but you'll feel pretty okay. No sense in trying to tame your wacky personality! So you see? PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE GAVE US A DEEP AND IMPORTANT LESSON. Also, this snake .gif. Thanks, Pee-Wee! —Katie

Get the essence of Pee-Wee:


Classic Bowtie
Duh.


Sole The OFW Bike
You've gotta have a rad bike. Just don't let it get stolen.


Jeffrey Campbell Jagger Platform Oxford
Gotta have some platforms for when you feel the urge to dance to "TEQUILA!" in a bar.


Giant Googly Eyes
Because furniture should be fun, too.

Charli XCX's "SuperLove"

Charli XCX's new music video "SuperLove" is like what people in the '60s would imagine the future to be like. Pretty millennial girls in buffalo platforms selfie-ing through an unknown Asian city as their faces glow via the skittle-lit arcade lights.


And did we mention the dancing robots? It's a minimal vision of the future, but both the alien disco sounds and "video-game IRL" imagery are an exciting direction for 2014 pop. "I think your hair looks better to one side!" Charli admits. Could she be singing about Aaron Samuels?!

"SuperLove" will be released December 1 via Asylum/Atlantic. —Alex

The Pulp Girls: Oct. '13 Goodie Bag


AHHHH. Are you dying for some adorable, Halloween-themed pins and stickers? OF COURSE YOU ARE! WHO ISN'T? The Pulp Girls put out some great ones for October, and look how cute these things are! You can pick from 3 different sets, so choose wisely. (I'm feeling partial to that smiling, cherub-cheeked "LEAVE ME ALONE" ghost pin.) And then follow The Pulp Girls on Tumblr because theirs is a delightful, bright '90s explosion. —Katie






Music We Love: Elliott Smith's "Either/Or"

Feel that chill in the air? It's called Autumn. Do you know what you do when it gets colder out? You put on sad music. It's just what you do. Or, at least, what I do. When I'm feeling melancholy and especially Richie Tenenbaum-esque, I'll put on Elliott Smith. If you've never heard Elliott Smith, then you're probably doing sadness wrong, just saying. Actually you're just doing music wrong.


Elliott Smith was a Portland-based singer-songwriter. Now, I have a pretty strict "no contemporary dudes with acoustic guitars" policy in my life (sorry, Jack Johnsons of the world) but Smith's music gets a major pass. His multi-tracked songs are complex, layering acoustics and vocals to make haunting melodies punctuated by his dark lyricism. Elliott Smith has such a distinctive style of singing as well. It's this light and whispery voice that is still so haunting. After a tortured life of depression, Smith died an untimely and oddly mysterious death at age 34. His music still lives on and on and on. 

It's hard to pick an Elliott Smith album that's my favorite, because I love them all so much, but his third studio album, Either/Or, is special to me. Either/Or was released right before Elliot Smith performed "Miss Misery" at the Oscars, a song he contributed to the soundtrack of Good Will Hunting. After that, Smith was on to bigger record labels that refined his sound in studios, so not to get all "his old stuff was better" but this is sort of the last truly lo-fi release Smith did, and it's the gritty nature of "Either/Or" that makes me love it so much.


"Ballad of Big Nothing" is so classically "pop" for Smith, with its strumming guitars and catchy choral hook. But the passive-aggressive lyrics of this ballad's chorus give it a much moodier tone than the average pop song vibe it seems to spit out. I think this was my Myspace song for more than a month, which is saying a lot 'cause I changed that baby on the daily. Luv u, Smith.

 

Ah, this song is so beautiful I could scream. Actually all the songs on this album are beautiful so I guess I'm doing a lot of internal screaming right now. Smith sings so softly, with each layered vocal track barely reaching louder than a whisper, and it only makes the delivery of these cryptically poetic lyrics more heart-breaking. Something about the line "in the cathedral with the glass stained black" alone has always given me chills. ALL OF IT gives me chills. Ooooh.


This is a seriously underrated Elliott Smith track. I just love the electric guitar work on this, especially that solo. It's like the whole album is this quiet, bubbling, anger and Smith sort of explodes in his own brooding way on this track at the end of the album. "IT'S MY LIEEEE"


Probably one of my favorite lyrics of Smith's: "You beat it in me, that part of you / But I'm going to split us back in two." Aaah?! Every line of this song is a wound, though I guess this entire album is a wound. A gorgeously, wispily, well-written diary of darkness. R.I.P. Elliott Smith. Hazel

Shop Either/Or

Stream Haim's "Days Are Gone"


Next week, San Fernando Valley sister trio, Haim, release their debut album, Days Are Gone. If you can't wait to listen (like me), then you're in luck. NPR is streaming the record a week early in order to make your ears happy. These leather-clad, motorcycle boot wearing ladies know how to play some damn good music. Days Are Gone is definitely a true Haim record. It's all their own, and lends credibility to the fact that they've been so hyped over the last year or so. While listening, you'll find true pop songs, but also a hint of soulful R&B. You'll find some songs you've already heard, like "Forever," and "The Wire," but there are some serious gems you've yet to discover, like "My Song 5" and "Honey & I"! Have a listen here. Maddie

Str#ct#re 001 at Space 15 Twenty

This Thursday, September 26th, at Space 15 Twenty (1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd) St#ct#re, a new music and art event based out Los Angeles, will be hosting their first ever event. From 6pm to 10pm, enjoy live music and fashion from various artists and vendors. Performances will be provided by Moses Sumney, Kissey, DJ Smiles Davis, and Neijah Lenae. Also on hand during the evening will be MVT, Refindefined, BlackxSheep, and Kleur for all of your vintage and nail art needs! Stop by to discover some new music, and RSVP here. Maddie

Haim Covers "Wrecking Ball"

URGENT, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Haim covered "Wrecking Ball" at BBC Radio's Live Lounge. It is delightful. Check it, yo. (And then go read the Rolling Stone cover story on Miley because it is somethin'.) —Katie
(via Pitchfork)

Vinyl 101: 'London Calling'


One album I often find at the top of my stack of records in my room is The Clash's London Calling. Released in 1979, the record is the band's third album, and one of its most remarkable. From the iconic cover photograph, shot by Pennie Smith, of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his guitar at a gig, to the pink and green font referencing a self-titled Elvis Presley album cover, London Calling is a record that sticks in plenty of peoples' minds when it comes to classic rock and roll, and punk rock, to be specific.

London Calling
is a double album that may still fall into the punk rock category because of The Clash's roots, but in my eyes, it's actually a notable record because of all of the different styles it mixes. The album begins with the band's best known song ever, the title track of the record, "London Calling." Joe Strummer sets the mood with his dark lyrics about politics of the time, like "phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust," amongst other excellent rhymes. Next, the songs move into a more upbeat mood, with tracks like "Hateful," and "Rudie Can't Fail," that has a serious ska vibe to it. This is where you can really see the other influences the band had other than strictly hard, punk rock, which can be heard on their earlier material at that point.



Right in the middle of the record are another two of this album's most famous songs, "Lost in the Supermarket" and "Clampdown." "Lost in the Supermarket" is sung by fellow Clash member Mick Jones, lead guitarist and often vocalist as well. Similar to the title track, "Clampdown" contains lyrics that refer to things like conforming and one of the best lines, "Let fury have the hour, anger can be power/D'you know that you can use it?" It's an empowering song with a memorable main guitar riff, and that's why it's constantly stuck in my head!



On the second LP of the album, more styles are played with, like the serious reggae influence on "The Guns of Brixton." It's enlightening to see how a band like The Clash - who is pinned with having such a specific style - do things with other genres but still keep true to themselves as musicians. The second half of the album also includes lesser-known songs like "The Card Cheat,"where Joe Strummer sings his heart out to a catchy piano tune. "Revolution Rock," drifts into reggae territory like some of the other songs, and I personally think it's aptly named, because of what The Clash always strove to do with their music. They wanted to change what was going on in the world.

"Train in Vain" is London Calling's closer, and originally wasn't supposed to even be on the record. I'm happy the band included it because it has turned out to be my favorite Clash track. It always makes me feel like dancing because it's so energetic. The song is a far cry from punk rock, and features Mick Jones on vocals again, along with a blaring, harmonica and post-disco sound. I think it could be my favorite song ever, to be honest. London Calling is a magnificent record that lends more than just its famous title track. Grab this album on vinyl and discover another side of this band! - Maddie

Shop The Clash's London Calling.

#URBANACCESS: Exclusive Soundchecks




#URBANACCESS is up and running! If you're in a city with an Urban Outfitters, then be on the lookout for exclusive soundchecks for your favorite bands. If a soundcheck is happening in your city, then all you need to do is head to UO and snap and share a pic at the Urban Access Instagram station! The tickets you'll receive guarantee admission into the soundcheck, and will give an intimate look at some of the coolest bands out there. Check below for the current lineup of participating bands and keep checking back for more!

Upcoming #URBANACCESS Soundcheck sessions:
10/1 Phosphorescent - Los Angeles, CA
10/3 Baths - Burlington, VT
10/10 Phosphorescent - EMO's in Austin, TX

*Please note the previously announced Delorean soundchecks in Minneapolis (10/14), NYC (10/23) and Bloomington (10/30) have all been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trend: Lace Up Boots


Autumn is here! Time to get those lace-up boots on your feet, because we all know they're the perfect boot for the new season. I know that when I wear a killer pair of lace-up boots, I feel feminine but badass at the same time. Since there are so many variations of boots like these, you can wear a boot that will say, "I love hiking!" or wear a leather pair that make you feel like the coolest person in this room. It's always nice when your shoes can figuratively speak to the masses. So many options - combat boots, roper boots, treaded boots, you name it! It's time to invest in a lace-up boot to suit your mood, ladies! Maddie

Inspiration:













Get the look:


Deena & Ozzy Mariah Heeled Boot


Shellys London Pilikova Lace-Up Boot


Steve Madden Rawling Lace-Up Boot


BDG Kiltie Pole Climber Treaded Boot


Jeffrey Campbell Wyman Lace-Up Platform Boot


Jeffrey Campbell Hood Croco Boot


UNIF Gamma Ray Holographic Platform Boot

Shop boots

Girl Power: Adri Law

23-year-old photographer Adri Law is able to showcase the beauty of both California normalcy and the L.A. fashion and music scene in a clean and eloquent way. The palette of her art is gentle, dreamy and cohesive, giving her work a classic feel.

Girls can look just as pretty behind the camera as they do in front of it!

Check out some of our favorite shots from her official website and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter. —Alex









Trend: Halloween Inspired

We all know that Halloween is the time for costumes, but why limit Halloween to one day a year? Why not SPICE UP YOUR LIFE with some fun, Halloween-themed clothes the rest of the month, too? (Ribcage shirts should be worn year round, TBH.) C'mon! Here are some of our fave Halloween inspired clothing items to keep you lookin' and feelin' casually spooky for the entire month of October. —Katie

Get the look:


Urban Renewal Vintage Halloween Sweatshirt


CEA & JAE Skull Tank Top


Fang Sweatshirt


Feather Hearts Witching Hour Tee


Urban Renewal Vintage Halloween Sweatshirt


Deter Rib Cage Tank Top


Sparkle & Fade Black Cat Pullover Sweatshirt


Urban Renewal Vintage Halloween Sweatshirt


Character Hero X-Ray Tee


Katie Gallagher x UO Skulls Muscle Tee


Original Cult Skeleton Maxi Dress


Skeleton Unity Tee

Shop Halloween

Sky Ferreira's "You're Not The One"

Sky Ferreira's new music video for "You're Not The One," directed by Grant Singer, lets you see an abusive relationship through a hallucinogenic lens. Her tongue-tied lyrics are refreshingly human as she reinforces New-Wave swagger, switching between powerful shouts and serene hums. It's the perfect medicine for your annual 3:00 AM crying session. ("It's the middle of the night and I'm so gone!")

Who will die in this game of cat and mouse? You'll just have to watch and see. 

If you like what you hear, "You're Not The One" is now available on iTunes! —Alex