Sunday, March 25, 2007

American Appalling

I was browsing through Dog Eared Books the other day when I came across a calendar entitled "American Appalling". It is a culture jam of the provocative American Apparel ads that seem to be popping up everywhere as of late. Instead of featuring scantily-clad hotties, the creators of the calendar took pictures of goofy looking people that dress awful and, in one hilarious photo, have mustard slathered all over their face. The point of the project is to dispel the socially conscious image that American Apparel has built up around itself and draw attention to the fact that the company is using sex to sell their clothing just like some of the unethical brands they are trying to distance themselves from.

I can see why some people consider their ads to be tasteless as well as sexist. American Apparel advertisements represent the latest update of the fashion industry status quo; the celebration of sex appeal and good looking people. For many of the young, socially aware consumers that make up American Apparel's demographic this represents a step backwards. Aren't we supposed to be changing paradigms instead of supporting the same old shit?

I'm not a fan of American Apparel advertisements because I consider them to be a highly unoriginal attempt at parody (I agree with the American Appalling project on this point). From a business standpoint though, they make perfect sense. The sex appeal and hipster posturing of the ads do a good job at grabbing the attention of the less critical members within Generation Y. As a result, these people end up buying products from a retailer that creates jobs within the US while seeking to maintain decent labor standards.

Does the end justify the means here? Leave me some comments.

Oh, and here's the American Appalling website.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Menomena- "Friend or Foe"- The latest album from the Portland, OR based trio is... well, pretty damn good. They manage to cover a lot of ground with this effort, moving through different styles with ease. A delicate piano loop floats in and out of the mix while glockenspiels twinkle in the background during "Wet And Rusting", a track that displays the band's softer side. The pounding drums that course throughout "Weird" show that the group is adept at laying down some heavy grooves. The disc falters when the vocals become too histrionic but thankfully this only happens on a few songs. This is the kind of indie rock that I like- adventurous, mildly psychedelic, and well produced. The cover art and booklet are extremely well done so you may want to pick this one up at your local record store.

Deerhunter- "Cryptogram"- This band has been causing quite a stir lately with their insane live shows and wild sound. Deerhunter plays noisy, fuzzy, psychedelic rock that bears some definite similarities to shoegazer bands like My Bloody Valentine. I was a little underwhelmed by this album to be honest. I enjoyed the ambient tracks but I found many of the rock-oriented, vocal songs to be pretty aggravating. For example, "Spring Hall Convert" starts off with some ethereal singing and nice guitar work but then quickly builds into this repetitive wall of sound that goes nowhere. I get the feeling that I would like these guys a lot better in a live setting.