Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Allure: Stella Artois | She is a Thing of Beauty.

Stella Artois | She is a Thing of Beauty

an ad review by Joshua P. Ferguson

Though Madmen will roll their eyes at us for beginning with an advertising truism straight out of Advertising for Dummies but, for the purposes of The Allure (a series of advertising critiques we're beginning), we'd like to start by making the following statement: Advertising is at it's most effective when it makes an emotional connection with it's audience. Duh right? Well, if you've spent an hour watching prime time television or flipping through popular magazines any time in the last, oh, ten years, then you're probably all too aware that this is not always the case. There are rare occasions, like those all-to-seldom instances when a song on the radio actually blows you away and suddenly you have a new favorite band, when an ad campaign actually makes you chuckle, reflect or, dare we say it, entice you into becoming a loyal customer.

We at Dialogue Inc make little secret our passion for quality advertising—a field we hope to enter one day—so we're launching The Allure as a way of documenting ads we think really do justice to the profession and its glorious roots in the tenets of capitalism. Yes, we said it, capitalism. When it functions properly, we think it's a beautiful thing. Capitalism—for better or worse—has a direct hand in many facets of popular culture, from music to movies to fashion to graphic design, and many of the other artistic movements we so adore. Of course, it's all personal expression, but a paid artist is all the more likely to continue producing that which we love him or her for. And yes, it may be tough to imagine a product like Stella Artois as a work of art (about as difficult as it might be to see the beer as a beautiful woman—which is what this critique will explore), the brew is a pillar of quality craftsmanship, and this most recent ad campaign, "She is a Thing of Beauty," gives it just the sort of voice it deserves.

Stella, for whatever reason, has incredibly prominent advertising in Chicago. What started as billboards educating on "the ritual" that accompanies enjoying a Stella (in nine steps no less) has morphed in the last month into "She is a Thing of Beauty," a print and TV campaign that gets us every time. It's premise is simple: Stella, like the finer sex, is a beautiful thing.

And in our favorite TV commercial in the campaign (below), based on a vintage radio drama, the implication is that Stella—and it's iconic goblet—is in fact the drama's female protagonist. It's a genius of implied metaphor, advertising gold.

"It was late..." the dialogue on the program begins. The bartender at a hole in the wall bar, presumably in Europe, has just tuned into a soap opera-like radio drama. The partons, snapping to attention as our female lead "slammed the door," are now fully engrossed in her every move, which plays out in tandem with the bartender pouring himself a frothy pint.

Her footsteps are realized as glasses being set down on the bar, her tilted head is the beer being poured. Then she sheds a single tear of remorse—the condensation from the glass's chill dripping down it's side—as she confesses to the men at the bar, so enamored with her (Stella's) beauty, that her heart belongs to another. Alas.

Thankfully in the life of a beer, and not in the life of a lover lost, we can always order another. And with Stella that's not a decision to weigh too heavily. Barkeep, one more round please! We can't speak for everyone at the bar, but with our beer, as with our lady friends, we want them to be a thing of desire.


In our search for this ad, we actually stumbled on other works of genius from Stella's ad team at Mother London that are riffing off the same concept. We're not sure if our "Radio Drama" is Mother London's work, but these lovelies (below) are:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DJ Mix | Telephoned "Keep Their Heads Ringin"

DJ Mix | Telephoned "Keep Their Heads Ringin"

If you're not familiar, Telephoned is Fools Gold Records artist Sammy Bananas and his right hand singing beauty Maggie Horn. As a a pair they reconstruct and cover popular hip-hop and pop tunes, giving them a tasteful-yet-cheeky bump into hipster territory. After the duo is done sending the likes of Drake, Rihanna and Gucci Mane through its musical game of telephone, the songs come out as bubbling house anthems, dirty dubstep stonkers and pretty much everything in between.

We can go on trying to put the formula into words, but its better heard in high fidelity. Hence this latest mixtape, "Keep Their Heads Ringin."

Head over to Fools Gold's site to get a link to download the mix (they've even been courteous enough to break it down into individual tracks). Telephoned mix for Fools Gold

The mixtape's hightlights:

- takes on Big Boi's "Shine Blockas" and Chromeo's "Night by Night" (track 1).
- Rihanna a rude boy twist on, well, "Rude Boy" (track 3).
- Playful dubstepper becomes the backdrop for a cover of Gucci Mane's "Lemonade." (track 6)
- Young Money's bedrock is laid out as the bedding for The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love." (track 7)
- Switching to the dance world Simian Mobile Disco's sleeper hit "Cruel Intentions" gets a rerub. (track 9)
- Chelly's "Took the Night" gets its harsh mellowed. (track 13)
- Two of this year's best jams Yeasayer's "O.N.E." and Gyptian's "Hold Yuh" make a perfect pair. (track 16)

— Joshua P. Ferguson

Monday, July 26, 2010

Video Review: Holy Ghost | I Know, I Hear

With anticipation heating up for its forthcoming album on DFA, Holy Ghost just released a new video for "I Know, I Hear," which was released a few months back on a teaser EP. The Dialogue Inc office is still partial to "Say My Name," which we featured on our last podcast, but this song is yet another affirmation that Holy Ghost is moving beyond the confines of being a studio only project, and maturing into a full fledged live band.

Following in the footsteps of their wise, old labelmate, James Murphy, and ex-labelmate Tim Goldsworthy, Nicholas Millhiser and Alex Frankel have a healthy obsession with analog instruments and a fondness for obscure disco. Once filtered through the two of them, we're treated to delectable slices of pristinely produced indie dance jams. And some, like "Hold On," seem destined to remain staples in DJs digi-crates for years to come.

The video is modest, adopting an old school television motif and the help of Caroline Polachek, who's been busy lately, collaborating with Flosstradamus and Washed Out in addition to her work with her band Chairlift.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Check the video:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Article + Live Review: Robyn | Pop Machine

Pop machine

Robyn can churn out hits, but don’t call her manufactured.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originallly published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 07.15.10

TOC | Robyn: Pop Machine

Currently one of Sweden’s biggest musical exports, Robyn has been navigating the mainstream music industry for just shy of half her life. She was discovered at age 16 by the Swedish pop star Meja, who recognized her considerable talent while participating in a music workshop at the teenager’s hometown high school in Stockholm. That was 1996. Just a year later, Robyn, born Robin Carlsson, hit it big with “Do You Know What It Takes” and “Show Me Love”—not to be confused with the house anthem of the same name by Robin S. Now, at 31, Carlsson has released five albums internationally; the tour for her latest, Body Talk Pt. 1, sees her performing on the main stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Friday 16.

With so many years dedicated to pop music and two actors for parents, you’d think that Carlsson was groomed for stardom at an early age. But, when we reach the silky-voiced chanteuse at her Berlin hotel room, she sets the record straight. “It’s very different from what it might sound like,” she says. “My parents had an independent theater group when I was a kid, but it wasn’t really commercial at all.” Though she dreamed of being a singer as a child, she says her discovery during that fateful workshop was a happy accident.

The meteoric rise Carlsson saw after her debut record, Robyn is Here (1997), proved difficult to maintain. A combination of physical burnout and head butts with her record label, BMG, stunted her popularity here in the States. It took some time, but in 2005 Carlsson broke free of her corporate contracts and launched her Konichiwa label, giving her the creative freedom she’s always craved. “I spent ten years in the industry trying to figure out how to make pop music my own way,” she explains. “I definitely got to a point where I didn’t feel like it was worth it anymore.”

The new label proved to be her saving grace. Carlsson’s first record there, 2005’s Robyn, served as an international comeback. The album received numerous award nominations in the U.K. and at home in Sweden, and her playful rap on “Konichiwa Bitches” garnered healthy hipster cred.

Continue reading: TOC | Pop Machine

photo by Kate Gardiner

Live Review: Robyn | Pitchfork Festival 2010 Chicago

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog | TOC: Robyn Live Review

Though tempting, it’s a backwards juxtaposition to say Robyn reminds you of La Roux. Really, for all the coiffed hair and electro pop, it should be the other way around. If you made the comparison to her, she’d probably say “Konichiwa bitch. I’ve been at this for fifteen years.” And she has. Her Bambi-legged British counterpart has maybe 24 months under her belt. Seeing Robyn live at Pitchfork tonight, for the first time, you realize how much of a pop star performance veteran she really is.

Sauntering onto the stage to “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” and bleeding straight into “Fembot,” the debut single on her new album Body Talk Pt 1, Robyn had a strong ’90s air to her, like something out of Back to the Future 2. Her platinum blonde ‘do cut high and tight, she sported a grey mini dress with leather shoulder pads, sections on the back cut out in all the right places. In comparison to when I spoke to her—recently, during a long day of interviews—for our recent feature “Pop machine,” she was all energy. Alongside her band, fresh off the plane from Sweden and dressed all in white, they kicked through maybe twelve songs. A good portion were from the new album, but that didn’t mean there weren’t highlights from further back in her career as well.

The pace of the show stayed upbeat and highly danceable. She covered all the hits including her latest album’s highest highlights, “Dancing on My Own” and 2008’s “With Every Heartbeat.” Flipping things into half time, she even had everyone skanking to the Diplo-produced “Dancehall Queen.”

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get this hot in Sweden. This afternoon’s temperatures soared into the low nineties. Regardless, her elfin face red from the workout, Robyn and co. killed it tonight, marking a great start to what is sure to be a most memorable weekend.

— Joshua P. Ferguson

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Video Review: Skream | Listenin' to the Records on my Wall (NSFW)

Chicago is just coming off the latest edition of Pitchfork's annual summer music festival, and the local blog cognoscenti is officially burnt out (but hopefully not sun burnt). We have a new series of blog posts we want to unleash this week, but it's not quite ready for launch. In the meantime, we've been itching to post up Croydon dubstep wunderkind Skream's newest single, "Listenin' to the Records on my Wall."

Departing from his dominant sound, Skream's been speeding up the breaks lately and dabbling in more traditional drum 'n' bass rhythms. And we like the results. This one in particular also shows his growth as a song writer; there's a stronger melody and song structure here. It seems that Skream has long since graduated from the bedroom and has his sights set squarely on gaining his production bona fides. If he hasn't already. With "Listen' to the Records," we get a strong sense that Skream has found his sweet spot and that he'll be hanging out here for a long time to come.

Beyond the production itself, his label Tempa has clearly stepped up his budget for videos. Playing out like a modern twist on the story of Adam and Eve, a boy is born into a desolate world of charred earth before his chest opens up—with cool clay and multi-colored paint effects—and a star that becomes his soul mate bursts into the sky. Forget the rib, in this telling Eve is born straight from Adam's soul. From there, heavy petting and clay morphing into the worlds vegetation ensues. There's a bit of nip in there so take caution if playing at the office.

— Joshua P. Ferguson

Friday, July 16, 2010

Album Review: James Holden | DJ KiCKS

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 07.08.10

James Holden


!K7 Records

chillout \ chil-aût \ vb + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n

In 1999, at 19, British electronic-music prodigy James Holden released “Horizons,” a hyperspeed trance production embedded with a fist-pumping euphoria that’s light years from where his music is currently. As one of the U.K.’s brightest and boldest techno minds, the genre-defying label !k7 has handpicked Holden to contribute the latest DJ-KiCKS, a series of mix-CDs that’s seen installments from many of electronic music’s most talented stars.

Though “Horizons” is more than ten years old and trance no longer holds the appeal it once did, the track is still an indicator of the Oxford graduate’s talent. It encapsulates the nuance and understated intensity that spans Holden’s work. That said, Holden never sits still for long, and on this mix—in a similar style to the output from his indie techno label Border Community—he navigates through 20 of the most challenging and varied digital compositions to be found in one place.

In the first 15 minutes, he swings from field-recording atmospherics (Piano Magic’s “Wintersport/Cross Country”) to blissful Balearica (Music Cargo’s remix of “Disco” by Grackle) to dubby techno breaks (Mordant Music’s “Olde Wobbly”), and it feels completely natural. Then, from Caribou’s “Lemon Yoghourt” on, the selections settle into Holden’s current forte, a mix of emo techno—syncopated tribal rhythms and droning shoegaze melodies—like his exclusive contribution to the mix, “Triangle Folds,” and indie-electronic experimentation, like that of L.A. sound engineers Lucky Dragons. House and techno’s telltale four-on-the-floor thump finds its way into the final quarter of the mix, but in a manner too subtle to inspire the vertical knuckle sandwiches made popular by Jersey Shore, and this is a very good thing in our book.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Live Preview: All Systems Go! | Smart Bar Chicago

All Systems Go! | 07.14.10 | Smart Bar Chicago

Special Guest | Yazi the DJ + Residents | Scotty Brandon & Mister Joshua

Part of SmartBar's "Home Schooled" Wednesday Night House Music series, All Systems Go! pushes the boundaries of House Music in addition to showcasing the classic form that Chicago put on the map. With a complete sensory experience combining custom visuals mixed live by Hey Cliche and the bumpin', deep underground house and techno sounds laid down by residents Scotty Brandon, Mister Joshua and guests, All Systems Go! is a monthly party not to be missed!

This Month's Guest:

Chicago's own Yazi The DJ will be joining us this month bringing with her an exquisite taste in House Music bred by this city itself. Her love for the scene has led to amazing sets and local events like Respect The DJ (RTDJ) and more. Having played alongside premier DJs all over the city and beyond, her sets are full of artistic expression and a passion for music only a select few DJs can match.

"As scientific and as delicate as the marriage of Chicago house and hip-hop, Yazi The DJ is a fierce musical personality with a sincere sense of elegance and integrity. A female DJ navigating through a male dominated maze. She has overcome circumstance by melting the aggressive stance of her peers with her intensity and determination. Her gift as a dancer of structured classical expression is evident as she reveals inner expressions through her art that erupts across the dance forums throughout Chicago. She has graced the turntables alongside premier DJ's at some of Chicago's nightlife pulse points. Her goal: to take her audience to new musical plateaus. Standing as a vibrant figure representing people of color and global landscape."

Our stunning visual artist, Ryan "Hey Cliche" Garvock, produced a little video advert to help wet your whistle for tomorrow:

All Systems Go! at the Smartbar from Hey! Cliché!!! video club on Vimeo.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: Thomas Pynchon | Inherent Vice

Being the author that he is, Thomas Pynchon is not known for his brevity or linear narrative. Pynchon has been writing since the '60s is characterized by verbose, meandering and postmodern prose, and over the course of his illustrious tenure as one of America's great literary men he's touched on pretty much every issue known to Americans since we "lost our innocence" during the World Wars. I begin with all this biographical background becuase, having just finished his most recent work, Inherent Vice, I have no intention of falsely boasting a literary pedigree of a high enough order to review this book.

Instead, thanks to the technological advances of the ARPAnet a.k.a. the Internet—which makes an appearance in the novel—I have stumbled across this Inherent Vice Wiki page and in turn, I found the thorough and most enlightening "Call It Capitalism," a review written by Thomas Jones for the London Review of Books. I refer you to his review over my own because, as Jones points out:

"We’re not even 25 pages in, and Doc [the protationist] hasn’t yet been contacted by the widow of Coy Harlingen, who used to play the saxophone in an experimental surf band called the Boards, and who may not in fact have died of a heroin overdose, as everybody supposed, but be working as a counter-revolutionary triple agent for the FBI or some other, even more secret government – or possibly supra-governmental – agency. Phew."

Nuff said. If not, check this youtube video—narrated by Pynchon himself—that sets the stage for his '70s-beach-bum-PI-pothead-mega-conspiracy-crime-caper-against-capitalism story.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Article: WhoMadeWho | Rock the house

Rock the House

WhoMadeWho rocks, but that doesn't mean you can't dance.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 06.24.10

TOC | WhoMadeWho

We call it German foot,” explains Jeppe Kjellberg, songwriter and guitarist for Copenhagen indie dance trio WhoMadeWho. “In the German scene, they have all these different styles of techno and electro, and the main thing is the foot. You have it under every four notes of the bar, like thmp thmp thmp thmp.”

In 2003, Kjellberg and drummer Tomas Barfod, a longtime friend and bandmate from various other projects, formed WhoMadeWho to give their rock background that German foot, translating the sound for dance clubs. “Barfod, when you translate it, it’s barefoot,” Kjellberg says of his drummer’s last name. “Naturally, he’s also got a very German foot. He feels so comfortable putting those four notes down on the bass drum.”

WhoMadeWho, its name lifted from an AC/DC song, has been an overnight success in Europe. “The whole idea was that we could stand in the middle of a club and just jam and improvise instrumental music, reacting to the crowd with our music and communicating like a DJ.” In the early aughties, that was still a fresh concept. Dance-rock bands like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip were just emerging, and the formula hadn’t yet crossed into the U.S. rock-music sphere. It would be a few years before MGMT and Passion Pit won acclaim.

Despite its popularity overseas, WhoMadeWho is only now gaining steam stateside. If not for the band’s much-talked-about South by Southwest set this year, it wouldn’t be embarking on its current U.S. tour.

Speaking from his backyard patio in Copenhagen, as birds chirp in the background, the mustachioed 34-year-old tells us about studying music at the Danish Rhythmic Conservatory, also in Copenhagen. While there, he met the band’s vocalist and bass player, Tomas Hoefding. “I played with him in different groups and enjoyed his extremely skillful disco bass playing and his voice. So when [Barfod and I] needed a bass player, it was very natural for me to call him.”

Continue reading | Rock the house

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Live Review: WhoMadeWho | Schuba's Chicago

photos | Rodolfo Hausen

WhoMadeWho + Gemini Club | Schuba's Chicago
(photos by Rodolfo Hausen)

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog | 07.02.10

Dance-rock juggernauts LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture aren’t exactly hurting for fans, but Europe’s live dance-rock bands haven’t yet taken hold here. Copenhagen, Denmark-based dance rock outfit WhoMadeWho is just starting to build up steam in the States. An extremely well-received show at SXSW has garnered the trio its first real attention here and has subsequently led a handful of North American dates, including one in Chicago.

This past Wednesday a respectable little crowd gathered in front of the quaint backroom stage at Schubas to cheer on local indie electro fave Gemini Club through a set that was mostly highs, but had a low point or two as well. Respect must be paid for the enthusiasm and forethought put into the performance but a couple of loose wires and unexpected technical difficulties left the band improvising and cracking jokes about Russian spy sabotage. Jokes that I’m sure frontman Tom Gavin would have preferred not to make, considering the band’s aim was to keep the music flowing. Emulating a DJ set, Gemini Club maintained sound non-stop, letting one track feed into the next. That fun concept that was going without a hitch until Gordon Bramli’s drum machine set-up came unplugged. Oh well, the crowd took it as well as the band did, and the rhythm barely skipped a bit. We can hardly let something like that taint our opinion of a band that’s working overtime to fast track its music career. (Unfortunately we didn't nab any Gemini Club photos, so all those here are of WhoMadeWho).

All was especially forgotten when WhoMadeWho hit the stage. Known for its outlandish stage costumes (baby diapers, angel’s wings anyone?), the trio was especially low key tonight, performing in dress shirts, suspenders and hipster-slim slacks. Loud, tight and seemingly having more fun than the audience—at least until we all realized what was unfolding before us—WhoMadeWho has all the qualities to bump it up to larger venue the next time it makes it to town. The band effortlessly bounced from upbeat post-punk disco like its cover of Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” and on to midtempo chuggers like “Keep Me In My Plane.” With each passing track the crowd only seemed to grow larger and dance harder. Clearly comfortable with each other band members Jeppe Kjellberg and Tomas Hoefding harmonized and danced together as they played and joked with the crowd during the interludes. There was no shortage of beer swilling either, as Kjellberg used his pint glass for a mean bit of slide guitar at one point. These weren’t the only antics. Hoefding performed one song from atop a ladder and at the end of their first set drummer Tomas Barfod kept the beat going for a full five minutes after his mates left the stage.

People in the audience may not have been familiar with WhoMadeWho at the onset of the gig but it was clear by the end—and from the line of girls waiting to talk to them after the four-song encore—that the trio left with a substantial batch of new fans. Well deserved.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Stay tuned till tomorrow, we'll be posting up our full interview with WhoMadeWho's Jeppe Kjellberg.

Myspace | WhoMadeWho

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Article: Hood Internet | Mature Mash-Ups

Mature mash-ups

Hood Internet has turned remixing into a full time job.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 06.03.10

TOC | Hood Internet

In the early Aughties, while still attending college in Madison, Wisconsin, I worked with a guy named Steve Reidell at the college radio station there. On the side, he was emulating Master P in the most tongue-in-cheek way possible. He was gathering his—no doubt sometimes stoned—buddies to sample their favorite rock records, create a rap beat with the samples, and then, well, rap over it. The sessions were then packaged in the most outlandish No Limit-looking covers they could create (Reidell is a whiz with Adobe design). Now, with production partner Aaron Brinx, he is Hood Internet, a full-fledged touring act that’s performed at Lollapalooza and South by Southwest, and it continues to churn out mash-ups weekly, each earning a frenzy of praise from the blogosphere.

Though Brink, 30, works in higher education in Charlotte, North Carolina, Reidell, 31, has remained in Chicago, quitting his day job as Metro’s in house designer last year to focus on Hood Internet. It’s paying off: These guys snare new fans by the hour. They’ve also moved into original productions, with a new 7" featuring Kid Static due out this summer on Whistler Records (yes, from the same Whistler you’ve been drinking at all these nights). We caught up with Reidell recently to discuss how far he's come and how much further he plans on going.

You’ve had a lot of success recently, but your fondness for mash-ups dates back to your University of Wisconsin-Madison days. 
All of my friends were in bands. We would cook up beats and do stuff that was pretty similar to what the Hood Internet does now, sampling and constructing music beds from songs we like. We would take the shit we were playing or listening to and chop it up. Aaron was doing the same thing in Ann Arbor.

Are you surprised it’s grown into the career it has since then? 
We had never intended to be live DJs. When we started, Aaron and I didn’t have a ton else going on other than working and hanging. We were hearing tracks by Sammy Bananas and Them Jeans and we were like, dude, we were doing this years ago. Why don’t we pick it back up, and instead of having our friends rap, we’ll mix it with some shit that people want to listen to? Without our history in music, we would have already passed our blip-on-the-radar moment with this.

Continue reading: TOC | Hood Internet

Just over a year ago, Hood Internet did an exclusive DJ mix for us, you can hear that here: Hood Intrnet DJ mix for Dialogue Incorporated

Here's a recent fave of theirs to check out (or download):

The Hood Internet - (This Shit Was) All I Know [Drake x Free Energy] by hoodinternet