This is a good outfit with styling moves you should copy this fall: the long t-shirt layered underneath the shorter sweatshirt and jacket; the apparent socklessness; the rolled cuff, high enough to show a full commitment to rolled cuffs and not some lame half-measure.
But enough about the outfit. Let’s focus on the sweatshirt.
Designed by Japanese streetwear legend and DJ Nigo, this is a sweatshirt to listen to. Yes, listen. Because it’s printed with graphics ripped off from ’80s rap, made into adidas logos.
Which ’80s rap logos? Step into the old-school, below.
The next evolution of our custom-curated Pop-In Shops is now live online and in selected stores. In stark contrast to our previous Pop-In, French Fling, which was a wistful homage to Gainsbourg ballads and Godard films, this one is more like a monstrously cool mash-up of a mad scientist’s laboratory and 1982 sci-fi epic Tron.
Last week, we offered an overview of Sub Pop’s greatest hits, both legendary and recent. Today, in our continuing tribute to 25 years of Sub Pop, we dig deep into the rocky underground that gives the Northwest label its name (Sub Pop = Subterranean Pop). We can think of no better tour guide than Robin Stein, a killer photographer here in Seattle, a good friend of Men’s Shop Daily, and a lifelong follower of Pacific Northwest music.
[Above: Earth photographed by Art S. Aubrey.
Below: U-Men by Rachel E. Tillman.]
While Sub Pop is widely known for its massively successful releases from bands like Nirvana, The Shins and Fleet Foxes, the legacy and scope of the label cannot be simply summarized by those artists alone. Sub Pop has long been a true promoter and purveyor of the decentralized underground world of Subterranean Pop. Here are some highlights from their back catalog that you may have never heard—but should. They’re selected to represent the legacy of music in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the grand scope of Sub Pop’s output. In no particular order:
1. The U-Men – ‘Dig It a Hole.’ Performing throughout most of the 1980s, The U-Men predated anything that anyone would or could call Grunge. Their song ‘Gila’ is featured on the first Sub Pop compilation, Sub Pop 100. The U-Men draw on the sludge and aggression of LA hardcore bands, the jarring start-stop rhythms from post-punk bands like Wire, and the wacked-out insanity of twang-weirdos The Cramps. ‘Dig It a Hole’ is on the aggressive side of the U-Men, and was never released by Sub Pop until many years later on the soundtrack to the film Hype. Nevertheless, this particular track foreshadows much of the aesthetics embraced by many Seattle bands in the years to come.
2. Green River – ‘Ain’t Nothing To Do.’ Green River might be the best example of the musical tension that went on to form the style that came to be known as Grunge. They’re a fast, heavy, punk band but with an overlay of glam-metal guitar solos. While this tension was ultimately the band’s demise (Mark Arm and Steve Turner went on to form Mudhoney, while Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament formed Pearl Jam), it just might be that Green River is the perfect blend of punk’s aggressive carelessness and metal’s heavy virtuosity. ‘Ain’t Nothing To Do’ is a classic teen-boredom anthem. Listen for the lyric that calls out being bored by the University of Washington’s old college radio station, which is now KEXP: “… I’m so sick of FM, even KCMU…”
3. Girl Trouble – ‘Wreckin’ Ball.’ Go back into the history of music in the Pacific Northwest, and you’ll find it deeply rooted in classic garage bands—The Sonics, The Wailers, The Kingsmen, Lollipop Shoppe—mostly coming out of Tacoma, Washington. Twenty years later, Girl Trouble continued this tradition of Tacoma’s classic Northwest garage rock. ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ comes from their first Sub Pop release, Hit It or Quit It from 1988. Also worth checking out is their song ‘Neko Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ about their good friend, former Girl Trouble go-go dancer and Tacoma native, Neko Case.
4. Steven Jesse Bernstein – ‘Come Out Tonight.’ Bernstein was essentially the poet laureate of Seattle’s music community throughout the 1980s. While suffering from mental illness and drug addiction, Bernstein gained legendary status as an intense and outrageous performer and poet. His writing reflected the gritty character of Seattle before the tech boom of the ’90s. Bernstein often took up residence in the hotels and boarding houses of Georgetown, the location of this year’s Sub Pop Silver Jubilee. This recording, featured on Sub Pop’s 1988 compilation Sub Pop 200, is a filthy pop-culture diatribe with the repeated, haunting refrain of “Cheri, Cheri, baby, won’t you come out tonight?” and the wonderful, barked line: “I am secretly an important man.”
5. Dead Moon – ‘Johnny’s Got a Gun.’ The members of Dead Moon have been playing in bands throughout every era of Pacific Northwest music, starting with Fred Cole’s 1960s psych-garage band Lollipop Shoppe, to their most recent incarnation Pierced Arrows. What’s most notable about the band is that Fred and Toody Cole, both grandparents in their 60s, are still one of the best touring rock bands out there, possessing a rabid and dedicated fan base all over the US and Europe. Most of the Dead Moon catalog is recorded, pressed, and released on their own label, Tombstone Records (they run their own record cutting lathe). Sub Pop released a posthumous Dead Moon discography, Echoes from the Past, covering highlights from the band’s nearly two-decade run. ‘Johnny’s Got a Gun,’ sung by Toody, is a revolutionary warning song. Also check out the hard-to-find Cat Power cover of the song above, a 7″ definitely worth digging for.
6. Hazel – ‘Day-Glo.’ Hazel was a band from Portland, Oregon, featuring the paired vocals of Pete Krebs and Jodi Bleyle (Team Dresch, Free to Fight), along with bassist Brady Payne and full-time, free-form dancer Fred Nemo (I was once told that Fred could recite vast James Joyce passages on request). Hazel played throughout the Northwest all through the late ’90s. I probably saw this band perform more than any other while growing up. Side note: My first AOL screen name (dayglo269) is a reference to this song—perhaps embarrassing, but telling.
7. Eric’s Trip – ‘Girlfriend.’ This track is from the first album I ever bought on vinyl. Eric’s Trip (named after the Sonic Youth song) was a fuzzy four-piece from Moncton, New Brunswick. Their simple, distorted pop songs encapsulated a low-key blissfulness. This band always made me idealize the magic of Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Julie Doiron and Rick White of Eric’s Trip each went on to release music individually in later years; both of their solo albums are well worth a listen.
8. Beat Happening – ‘Red Head Walking.’ While Sub Pop is known for being a Seattle record label, all of this really started in Olympia, Washington, around the Evergreen State College’s free-form radio station KAOS. Bruce Pavitt started writing his Subterranean Pop ‘zines and releasing tapes with Calvin Johnson as a contributor. Johnson’s pivotal lo-fi group Beat Happening released several records on Sub Pop over the ensuing years. His iconic vocal style and the simple instrumentation from collaborators Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford embraced the DIY methods and ideals of punk, and transposed it into something far less aggressive, yet still transgressive. Beat Happening laid the groundwork for so much music to come; their influence is unmeasurable. Johnson continues to run Olympia’s K Records, and maintains a complete online digital version of all of the original Sub/Pop fanzines.
9. The Monkeywrench – ‘Great Down Here.’ If there ever was a ‘supergroup’ for Seattle, it was definitely The Monkeywrench. Featuring Mark Arm and Steve Turner (Green River, Mudhoney), Tom Price (U-Men, Gas Huffer), Tim Kerr (Poison 13, Tim/Kerr Records) and Martin Bland (Bloodloss), The Monkeywrench is a straight-up garage-punk band. Awesome. If you’re on the tour of ‘grunge supergroups,’ by all means start with The Monkeywrench—and you might as well forget about Temple of the Dog.
10. Earth – ‘Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine.’ While Earth maintains a legendary status amongst fans of Drone and Doom Metal, the average Sub Pop fan is likely unfamiliar with the long legacy and influence of Dylan Carlson’s musical career. I’d recommend approaching this 27-minute track more as a meditative and minimalist dirge. Earth is truly a product of the environment here in the Pacific Northwest—reflecting the wet and uniform grey skies of winter, with a slowly roiling undercurrent of volcanic activity. We are living on the Ring of Fire after all…
Kanye West has been compared to Pink Floyd, Steve Jobs, and even Mozart. (That last article drew a lot of fire in its comments section, of course…as well as a few lucid arguments from music majors who backed their opinions up with historical facts and classical theory.)
Whatever you think about the man and his music, you have to admit that he’s been influential—in pop culture at large, as well as in the realm of menswear. GQ ran a retrospective on West’s style today, which points pretty clearly to the fact that (ethical qualms with floor-length fur aside) the rapper/producer’s present-day wardrobe choices are his wisest, and most relevant to the rest of us, to date.
See above. West’s tough, monochromatic minimalism seems right in step with the bluntly reduced electro thump of his new album, Yeezus, out today. In his recent NY Timesinterview, West says a lamp by minimalist architect/designer Le Corbusier changed his entire point of view. He also says it takes him a fraction of the time to get dressed these days—proving what we’ve known for a while now: Throw on a leather jacket with anything, from a T-shirt to a tie, and you’re good to go.
The image up top is from West’s performance on Saturday Night Live last month—one of the darkest, most jarring, and most fascinating things that’s happened on that show maybe ever. (Well, there was this.) We can’t exactly show the video here, but if you can handle some controversial political topics, click here.
Here’s a few more live music performances, some from Kanye, some from SNL, and some from 20+ years ago, whose style tips you can take to heart today:
Kanye West famously wore a women’s blouse by Céline at Coachella a couple years ago. Bold move—and we won’t fault him for it. For the rest of us though, vintage grunge heroes like Pearl Jam, promo’ing and dress-rehearsing for SNL in 1992, are probably better role models for summer FESTIVAL STYLE.
The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is the largest and most highly-attended event of its kind (and, in our opinion, the coolest—screening everything from alluring art flicks to twisted sci-fi). During the 39th-annual fest, now through June 9, we’ll be sharing favorite films hand-picked for us by the SIFF team. Today, cult classic sci-fi by the director of Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet. Think of it as Star Wars’s troubled cousin.
Between month-long radio takeovers and the inescapable audio inside your office’s elevators, Christmas music can become one of the least-merry aspects of the holidays. As a personal gift from us to you, we combed the internet (and picked our office-mates’ brains) for under-the-radar Xmas gems to put you in the holiday spirit this weekend. Pour some eggnog, hit play—and take a well-deserved break from The Chipmunks and Zooey Deschanel.
Run DMC. Remember when rap was almost wholesome? Here, the guys save Christmas and praise Mom’s homecooking, all with signature attention to detail (note the Cadillac logo on Santa’s sleigh). Extra style shout-outs for DMC’s dapper DB coat and Run’s Portland Trailblazers jacket.
Wham! As unlikely as it seems—for a Christmas song, a Wham! song, and especially a Wham! Christmas song—a small, completely unscientific poll in our office found very little to be annoyed about by this song. It’s kind of catchy, but not cloyingly so. Oddly soothing. Do you agree, or have we had too much fruitcake?
Boyz II Men. Remember that time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will ruined Christmas by not getting the world’s favorite ’90s R&B group to sing a capella at baby Nicky’s christening? Us neither, because it never happened. Miracles are real! Especially on sitcoms.
Band Aid. OK, this one might qualify as over-played this time of year. And has some truly mood-dampening lyrics if you listen closely (everyone, please do something charitable this yuletide). And ranks high on the A.V. Club’s list of most-hated holiday tunes. BUT: It’s worth watching just for the all-star ’80s lineup’s throwback hair stylings. Subtitled en español for a feliz Navidad.
David Bowie x Bing Crosby. The Thin White Duke has done more than a couple surprising collaborations over the years, but…come on. Worlds collide, minds blown. Are we the last to know about this? Click to about 1:48 if you prefer to skip the stilted banter—not that you should, it’s TV Christmas-special solid gold.
Dogs. To the uninitiated, this kitschy Christmas classic probably comes off as just another entry in the vast canon of cute cat videos, baby sloths, bunnies riding goats, and hamsters on pianos that now saturate the internet. But get this: The original recording was created by a Danish ornithologist in the 1950s, and was one of the first examples of modern-day pitch manipulation and audio splicing. We chose to show the “cover version” above because it looks like dogs are actually performing it live (they’re probably all computer-animated robots, who knows)—but to hear the original ’50s version, click here.
Thanksgiving is next week, and there’s pretty much no better time to wear a sweater: The weather’s finally nice and crisp, the vibe is quasi-dressy but comfortable—and a soft, forgiving knit lets you load up on yams without popping a shirt button.
The festive occasion (coupled with the fact that you’ll be surrounded by friends and family, rather than the judging eyes of strangers) means the time is also ripe to break out something more…obscure. And when it comes to sweater inspiration, Bill Cosby is king. For proof positive, visit The Cosby Sweater Project, an ingenious mix of TV nostalgia and original artwork by Chicago illustrator Kelly Tucker. Here are a few of our favorite recent entries:
To find sweaters with Heathcliff Huxtable levels of swagger, you might need to hop a time machine to 1985 (or at least locate your nearest thrift store). But we have hundreds of modern interpretations, from eye-catching to classic. Here are some ideas to get you prepped for the big day next Thursday:
Fair Isle. This pattern has been quote-unquote “on trend” for a few seasons now—but given that it’s derived from a Scottish island that’s been occupied since the Bronze Age, you can bet it will stick around for centuries to come.
Shown: Topman | Jack Spade | Grayers
…And if you’re up for a second helping of Thanksgiving spirit,
check out these appetizing pants by Bonobos:
[Artwork by Kelly Tucker, via The Cosby Sweater Project. View more of Tucker’s work at i draw pictures. Cosby Show stills courtesy of Carsey-Werner, Viacom and Paramount. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]