My First Earthquake

MUSIC I ♥ BandMy First Earthquake

Tell me it isn't true... Has My First Earthquake really broken up? Such a shame, it's only a few months since they released their second album - the awesome 'Friction' - a polished, fun, electro-rock á la The Ting Tings (very á la The Ting Tings indeed). This San Francisco band have been (or is that had been?) making quirky weirdo music since 2006 and had been building up quite a following on the underground circuit.

The band cites a plethora of artists as inspirations from Blondie to ABBA but their music has been most heavily influenced by the darker wave and krautrock scene of the eighties coupled with elements of riot grrrl, all of it carried off with a glossy pop finesse. Their music is characterised by punchy drum patterns, post-punk guitars, shouty melodic vocals, dirty synth samples and funky bassline rhythyms which draw from the band's wide range of influences and culminates in a very contemporary sound. Lead singer Rebecca Bortman's voice is instantly familiar (resembling Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Katie White of The Ting Tings and vaguely reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel's performances with Von Iva in 'Yes Man').

The band met whilst studying in Pittsburgh but didn't establish My First Earthquake until they were all living in San Fran. Apparently the name comes from an incident that occurred during their first rehearsal - an earthquake struck the city. It was Rebecca Bortman's first earthquake.

The band have put out a number of recordings, including two full-length albums and two EPs. Their best songs to date, in my opinion, are 'Sack Lunch' off the 2008 'Tremors' album, 'Cool in the Cool Way' from 2009's 'Downstairs', 'Ice Queen' from 2010's 'Crush' and 'We Float' from their most recent album 'Friction'.

Their songs cover some pretty eccentric material that can best be described as eclectic in a similar vein to be your own PET.
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MUSIC I ♥ BandHurts

The cream of the crop of the new wave revival scene, Hurts is an English band that have been making eighties inspired pop classics since they formed in 2009, though the band's roots go back longer. In fact, the story goes, that the original line-up, then called Bureau, met whilst their friends were fighting outside a nightclub in Manchester. Bureau had some success but the band started to become concerned about their future and the direction that they were going in. Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson decided to go it alone as a duo and in 2009 Hurts was born.

I first came across this band after seeing the viral video for 'Wonderful Life' on YouTube (very Alphaville and one of their poppier tracks). I was suitably impressed, however I spend a lot of time sussing out new bands and often never hear them again. It was some months later that I heard another of their songs on a friend's iPod. The song was epic and I instantly became a fan. That song was 'Illuminated' which was later featured on an advert for Sky TV (so many of my favourite songs are featured on TV ads...).

The duo have experienced something of a meteoric rise since then, having gone from zero to hero in about 12 months with 2010's 'Happiness' album (one of our GA4Ls) receiving critical accolades from far and wide. It was one of my most played albums of 2010 and 2011... and probably will be for 2012 too!

The band borrow heavily from the synth-pop and new wave sounds of the New Romantic movement of the late eighties albeit a little less tinny sounding than their forebears. Nonetheless, their sound is very much reminiscent of that scene's italo-disco bands like Pet Shop Boys and Erasure and, while this is very much on trend at the moment, it remains to be seen whether the band will be able to build upon their initial success without simply reworking the same old formula. Music trends, like fashion, can change very quickly. The hipster snob in me is also somewhat concerned by the fact that my uncle likes this band as much as I do...

Stand out tracks, imho, are 'Illuminated' and 'Better Than Love' so make sure to get these onto your iPod if they aren't already.

I gather the band are back to the notepad and studio with intentions of penning album number two after completing their Happiness promotion tour. Fingers crossed we hear some of it soon. Maybe there'll be some darker tracks on it?

Be My Valentine ♥

LULZ | Be My Valentine 

So the old romantic in me isn't one for Valentine's Day. Meh. Soppy s@#t isn't my scene. Nonetheless, I had to get a card for the missus. Here's a few choice cards I came across on the weh weh weh. You like?



Sorry boys & girls, I've been away from the internets a while due to real life commitments... but I'm back! Yay! It's Valentine's Day so it's all about love here on ihearthipster. I'm starting with an artist I love at the moment - A.P. WITOMSKI. A.P. is an unsigned French artist who makes dreamy, electronic indie pop music with an edge. There's something different about his stylised, hazy sound that has me tingling when I listen to him. Clangy, synthy background noises add a classic French robotic dance feel to the music that transports me right up to Laputa: Castle in the Sky (has anybody else seen this movie? I loved this when I was a kid).

I've been a fan of artists like Daft Punk, Cassius and Air for a long-time and I reckon that A.P. WITOMSKI must be too, as there are definitely elements of these great electronica bands in his music, albeit that his style is very much more contemporary, fusing this classic French sound with futuristic shoegaze.

My personal favourite track to date is 'Shin Junk Prototypes'. It's a bit more synth-pop and reverb heavy than some of his other tracks and this is much more my kind of thing. 'Zenith October' and 'Holger Danske' are cleaner, poppier sounding tracks though and seem to be the more popular for it.

The most recent album, 'Nine Melodies & Other Visions', is available for free download on his bandcamp page. If you like what you hear then why not consider making a donation to his cause by buying the album. Every little bit helps great artists to keep doing what they do.

Go Outside & Play

LULZ | Go Outside & Play

I recently came across this picture on tumblr and I loved it. My parents used to badger me about going outside to play right after I'd pick up a new game for the playstation... as if I was going to go outside then. 

Norse Projects

FASHION |  I ♥ BrandNorse Projects

One of the best labels out there at the moment has got to be Norse Projects. This Danish brand oozes cool with clean lines and simple colour schemes that suit just about everybody. The focus here is on quality,  simplicity and comfort. A streetwear brand, undoubtedly, but you won't find oversized graphic tees, shiny studs and s@#t like that on their gear.

The Spring/Summer 2012 Collection has recently been revealed and there are some tasty bits in it. More athletic wear than casual wear in this collection, but even the sweats are cool and presentable (you'd expect as much given the brand's pricing scales). As always, the beanies and snapbacks are where it's at, and Norse Projects always deliver here. I've chosen some of what I reckon are the best bits from their collection and the other lines currently available to purchase through their online store. The parka is a definite buy for me... where's that credit card?

Norse Projects also works on a number of... um... projects with other designers to come up with awesome ltd edn pieces, such as the shoes above made in collabo with Keds.

The Red Crayon Aristocrat Club

MUSIC I ♥ BandThe Red Crayon Aristocrat Club

I'm a big fan of and especially like the free download recommendations based on my listening habits. A band recently suggested to me was The Red Crayon Aristocrat Club, a new wave/electroclash band from Spain. I really liked what I heard, as I knew I would because I like the band's name! Good names make for good bands, right?

This particular band has been doing what they does for a while now and what they does is synth heavy, bassline driven darkwave with gothic overtones. Eighties style 808s, drum patterns and guitar rhythyms are used to great effect ensuring that their music doesn't have the sense of impending doom that on typically finds in this genre. In fact, it rather feels like something from the eighties underground scene and comes off sounding a bit like Ladytron. The band members, Hélène and H. Zombie, make for an interesting duo, who have clearly been influenced by industrial music and the sounds of Fischerspooner and Celldweller. Is it just me or does Hélène sound like Kelli Dayton, one time vocalist for the Sneaker Pimps?

The band released a self-titled EP some years ago on Zorch Factory Records and have recently self-released their album 'All Our Little Monsters'. All of their songs are performed in English.

'Lone Lines', 'Another One' and 'Not for This World' are the songs that are worth checking out first, letting you know what the band is all about - dark electropop. 'Heartbreak' is a bit of a surprising tune which sounds a lot more like the post-punk bands of the early 2000s (it brings The Hives to mind) and is a song that is likely to appeal more to the guitar band purist..

Chapel Club

MUSIC I ♥ BandChapel Club

I'm a little ashamed of myself for not knowing about this band sooner, despite the continuous plays on the radio (I don't listen to the radio) and the band being bigged up by various high profile DJs, critics and bloggers. In fact, I was blissfully unaware of this awesome post-punk/shoegaze, indie rock outfit until a rare evening in watching 'Later With Jools Holland' (don't judge me). Chapel Club were one of the feature bands and played 'Surfacing' live on the show. Wow. That's a choon!

I have, of course, remedied my poor knowledge of this band and have picked up their album, 'Palace'. It's fantastic. Songs such as 'All the Eastern Girls' and 'The Shore' are heavily on rotation on my iPod but it's still all about 'Surfacing', sampling 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'. Lewis Bowman, has a great deep voice that plays gently over the instrumentals (in a very Morrissey-esque way) with a lazy playful swing that is instantly agreeable and adds depth to what are anthemic, stand-out songs in the shoegaze revival scene. Could this band be the Joy Division for the young generation?

The band, based in London, are signed to Loog Records and have recently completed touring.