Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Is the microphone on y'all?

R&B Revisioned and Distinctly White

Ok ... while I exorcise the new Human League album from my stereo with the comforting sound of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's newie, I turn my attention to what has been on high rotation on my Ipod of recent times ... James Blake, Jamie Woon & How to Dress Well. Its the new face of R & B and with the exception of Jamie Woon who must be of mixed heritage, it is distinctly caucasian and in many instances heavily auto-tuned. But this does not diminish the emotional and sonic impact that their music brings to the pantheon of a style that has always claimed authenticity through its African American roots. But the Apollo Theatre in its heyday has taken risks in its inclusivity ... David Bowie anyone? So maybe its time for these "pale Pubescent boys" (yes there's that phrase again) to have their day in the sun. With the exception of Jamie Woon whose long player will drop soon, both James and Tim Krell's "How to Dress well" have full-lengthers out that have seen reviewers slobering over their Macbooks ... strangely no one has mentioned next big thing ... yet. Warning .... this ain't no dubstep, ukfunkygrime, nu-soul, hip hop conglomerate ... it isn't exactly easy listening .. so discernment is required.

James Blake- young londoner received acclaimed for dubstep revisioning of Feist's Limit to your love now receiving heavy rotation on Temasek's ipod, particularly the track "I Never learnt to share"

Jamie Woon - another young brit who cut his performing teeth supporting Amy Winehouse with the best pop presentation of the three ... expect celebrity collabs in the near future.

How to Dress Well - Tom Krell the man behind the moniker divides his time between Brooklyn and Germany and is from the turntablist school of electro, i.e. lots of vinyl static and phasing .. addictive in an odd narcotic sort of way - current fave track is the opener You Hold the Water

PS ... what's with all these 80s comebacks? Human League, OMD and hello ... Blancmange?? Those 80s promoters, financial svengalis that they were must have ripped these guys off something shocking!! Time to work for that pension.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Island City ... Once again

Ok ... you may have noticed that there have not been any new posts lately ... dear readers ... I have been living life!! I was fortunate enough to have another 10 days in my old hometown courtesy of the company I work for. I spent the 2 bookending weekends with the fam and managed to catch up with my bff's during the week. This time round I did the posh diner's tour of the island!!! Starting with Jim Thompson Restaurant at Dempsey Hill.

Dempsey Hill is a veritable playground for the well-heeled Singaporean and Ex-pat, housing numerous restaurants and bars and a calvacade of European cars. Jim Thompson is housed in what used to be the old Central Manpower Base ... and mere mention of this should call up a vomitous riot of panic nervousness amongst male Singaporeans of a certain age, unless of course you're a little wierd!

Aah but what a difference an interior design house makes. Gone are the harrowed halls of military bureaucracy replaced by iconic modern lighting and antique friezes and gut-wrenching prices. But I must say that the food loses none of its authenticity in such opulent surroundings.


We began the night with Verve and Mieng Kham, which is a Thai snack of peanuts and assorted vegetables wraped in Betel Leaves. Jim Thompson's version does not include the small dried prawns but has this heavenly dipping sauce that is apparently not such an easy thing to make.

We also had some Satays which were served with a divine Green Papaya salad ... hands down the best I have ever tasted.

And also these delightful Prawn cakes ... not rubbery at all, but soft and succulent and terribly moreish.

The inevitable tom yam followed which could have been a little spicier.

We also had a Duck Massaman (I think ... it was definitely Duck in some kind of Thai Curry sauce), some grilled Wagyo sirloin with a piquant dipping sauce (TDF peops TDF!) and spicy basil fish.

The vegetable component comprised of stir fry kangkong and to soak all this goodness up, we had a serve of Pineapple rice, which people were a little trepidatious of because apparently the hollowed out pineapples are re-used ... and to that I say Eeww!! But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I had no room for sweets but the others indulged while I watched snap happy punters taking pictures of the lone Thai dancer providing light entertainment between courses.

Thoroughly sated, we headed a little further down the road towards the White Rabbit, and had a couple of cocktails to see the night out in their outdoor garden bar called the Rabbit Hole.

The restaurant itself is well worth a visit. G recommends the grilled sirloin to share. Its housed in this beautifully restored chapel and the interiors are stunning, although I am told the acoustics leave alot to be desired. Plus it has the coolest website!

On my last weekend in Singapore, the bro and co took me to PS Cafe on Ann Siang Hill (locally referred to as ASH). Ann Siang Hill in the Chinatown area along with Haji Lane in the Arab Street (Malay) area are 2 of Singapore's hottest hipster enclaves. PS Cafe itself is located in an old gay sauna with killer views at the top floors and lush tropical surroundings in the smokers area out the front.

It is surprisingly inexpensive, well comparatively so. Mains are more or less around the $30 mark. I didn't take any photos as we were in an area that was relatively dark, but I dined on a beautiful Cod and Caper Rillette (S$18) as a starter and a sumptously rich Crab Tart (S$29) for a main.

G knows the owners, well one of them anyways from his Boom Boom (might have to probe you for some old tales from the heyday G) days. They started with the Project Shop Blood Brothers clothing chain, which used to be my favourite haunt back in the days when one was skinny and everything fitted!! They are the quintessential Urbane Singaporean males, well educated, expensively (but not showily) dressed and most of all, able to indulge in witty repartee. And so welcoming!! It is a definite recommendation from me, you have to go even if its just for drinks. And if you're lucky to have a cool night its bliss!

Coming up next - a round up of some fashion purchases and the generosity of a well off brother-in-law.

I bring you love and deeper understanding!

Ok ... Are we excited yet??

I sure am!!!!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I'm moving closer to the action

Ok ... as I prepare to leave for my homeland once more, I turn my thoughts to the devastation in Japan, and wonder in quiet awe at the diginified stoicism its people have in the face of total and utter destruction. Mourning and grief are private occasions in this culture, as it should be. There are no fights or looting, but orderly queues and miraculous patience. It is truly heartbreaking.

In honour we had Japanese at our favourite local EBI ... a simple meal of grilled fish with mushroom on rice.


Then I watched 2 horrific videos on the tsunami hitting a town. The power and force and above all else the speed of the onslaught of waves is frightening to behold. We should take some time out today for a moment's pause and be thankful for all the good things in our lives.

Japan, my heart breaks.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

MissChoo ... m-i-s-s you much!

Ok ... so these western styled izikayas are springing up all round melbourne ... well this one is a vietnamese yum cha style variant ... and once you overcome the naffness and ignore the fact that you can get better and cheaper at dingier climes, MissChoo ain't half bad!

Plus its close to work so perfect for a spot of lunch, or for an inbetween (as in inbetween finising work and going to the movies/theatre/fancy dinner/getting lucky ... you get the pic) snack and bevvie.

I went there twice in one day. The first being lunch with the indomitable MamaT and then it was a quick meal and glass of Pinot Gris before an excruciating work thingey.

I believe Miss Choo started in Sydney (correct me if I'm wrong), but it now has a branch on Exhibition Street, a little up the way from Trunk and in the strip with Sally's Kitchen and 65 degrees ... a tricky possie if you're looking to tempt the drinking and dinner crowd.

You fill out a little order sheet with these adorable little pencils that look better than they work, then take this to the front and the helpful man keys it into the register and pretty soon your food arrives at the table at a fairly brisk pace.

At lunch I opted for the Duck rice paper roll and Mama T had the vegetable dumplings. She fared better as my duck was a little dry but it came in this cute little takeaway container including a yummy dipping sauce in its own little plastic bottle.


We both had some passable peking duck and also pork and prawn dumplings that were moreish.

At dinner, I went for something a little more substantial and had the beef vermicelli salad whilst my companion opted for the salmon version. These were yummy and well worth a return visit.

We shared the vegetarian rice paper roll option which far far far surpassed the duck I had at lunch.

I wouldn't make a special trip here but if you are in the vicinity, you could do far worse. Don't set your expectations too high, but the place, when not packed, or snaking a queue for the takeaway window, is a great choice for a light nosh and quick bevvie.

And I don't know why but every time I think of the name MissChoo I think of this song. Its just how my brain works.

They Played Another Sunny Day at Belle and Sebastian

Ok ... if you could bottle up goodwill and cheer and all round niceness you would have the Belle and Sebastian gig at the Forum on Saturday night.

I've never been completely a fan of this brand of twee english rock. Its all a bit too Cherry Tree records for my liking. But I have always loved "Another Sunny Day" because if you are going to go all the way, you might as well go all the way.

The ingredients on this bottle should read includes string quartet, flute, recorder, pianica and harmonica ... you getting the general idea now? Everyone and their dog on stage? Literary and verbose? What Neil Hannon would call "pale pubescent beasts"?

Well, it would be a really hard heart that couldn't find some soupcon of conviviality amongst the Belle and Sebastian canon, and it is a large one comprising of much the same in timbre and context.

And if you really weren't into this scottish folk rock lark then you wouldn't have been at this gig, would you? Gigs at the Forum don't come cheap!

All in all it was a most enjoyable night, we danced, laughed (Stuart is an all round entertainer in that respect), contemplated and left with smiles on our faces.

Oh and if you ever want to see a straight man dance like a gay boy, Stuart's your guy!

Oh and bless them but try as hard as they like, this is not a band that can rock out! But I appreciated their cover of the Kinks (or the Fall's depending on how old you are) Victoria.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Recycling - another use for empty cans

Ok ... dinner at the N's is always a treat ... we have yet to have a bad meal there and even the most prosaic of repasts is lifted by the culinary skills of our hosts ... and lets face it with great company like this, you could slap kraft cheese and tinned tomatoes on some stale pita bread and we would still have a good time.

Anyhow, MN took a leaf out of an Andrew O'Connell recipe and showed us the new fangled technique of gentle pressing by tin can (or as babel likes to call it - pressurage par la boƮte):

And the final result was texturally worth the wank .. erm, I mean effort involved. But MN, easy on the rum next time ... I think I was 70% proof when I left the house ... dear readers, I sincerely hope you have friends who are gourmands too!!!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

An Autumn Man

Ok ... welcome the southern March ...

I'm looking for my Autumn Man
With sombre wit he understands the whips
and lashes of life's fickle whore
As colour drains onto the floor

My Autumn Man will wax and wane
sometimes sweet, sometimes vain
The breeze once warm turns hurriedly cold
"I just want someone to hold"

A fleeting riff, a sad refrain
a snatch of lyric belying pain but
as we rust, if its all the same
I'll have my Autumn Man again

(so it doesn't scan ... sue me!!)

Honey You'll Hurt Yourself!

Ok ... Vale Jane Russell!!! The star of motionless pictures ... motionless!!

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