Giving a neighbourhood a lick of paint is something many a town planner has thought of boost an ailing district, but one pair of Dutch artists have taken this to a whole new level. Journalist Dre Urhahn and designer and illustrator Jeroen Koolhaas, who comprise the Haas&Hahn partnership, embarked on two community projects in Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro, where their creative vision, combined with the passion and interest of the local people have helped transform two down-on-their-luck neighbourhoods.
The first subjects of Hub Footwear‚Äôs ‚ÄúChallenge The Obvious‚ÄĚ documentaries, Urhahn and Koolhaas are followed as they arrive, firstly, in Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, a particularly troubled part of the city, with a plan to transform a drab stretch of the high street through the introduction of colour on a grand scale. Mapping out a graphic overlay of contrasting shades over the existing buildings, they face the task of persuading smallholders one by one to give up their shopfronts to the scheme, which is then painstakingly drawn out and painted by volunteers. The Rio de Janeiro scheme is even more ambitious, the duo employing the same love of colour to two huge concrete structures in a favela visible from the city centre, the idea to be to give visibility to the district by transforming the area into a living artwork.
The documentary charts the highs and lows of both projects as the different communities are brought together by a shared vision for the area. There‚Äôs a lot to love about the duo‚Äôs effervescence even in spite of the difficulties they encounter, while warm moments of camaraderie between the locals and the newcomers give it a strong human narrative that makes the film uplifting and engaging.
Watch the documentary here: http://vimeo.com/49757568
From Jay-Z to Justin Vernon, Minneapolis band Poli√ßa have been gathering high-profile fans at will following a series of breathtaking performances at SXSW earlier this year. Swiftly backing this up with the release of the critically adored debut album Give You The Ghost, Polica‚Äôs two-night residency at London‚Äôs City Arts and Music Project finally gave the capital a taste of just what the fuss has been all about.
Fronted by the beautifully elfin singer Channy Leaneagh, Poli√ßa‚Äôs deeply atmospheric R&B makes for an engaging live show. Two drums kits add significant weight to the sparse, synth-driven soundscapes, while Leaneagh‚Äôs ice-cool vocals are heavily overdubbed, shaped using distortion pedals on stage to haunting, robotic effect. And with set highlights from the call-to-arms urgency of ‚ÄúViolent Games‚ÄĚ, the off-kilter cool of ‚ÄúLay Your Cards Out‚ÄĚ ‚Äď which plays out with an explosive percussive frenzy ‚Äď and the bass-heavy set finale ‚ÄúAmongster‚ÄĚ, this was a display that more than affirmed their position as one of 2012‚Äôs most exciting new acts.
Give You The Ghost is out now.
Watch the video for Lay Your Cards Out:
After putting out a couple of knockout singles in 2011 and backing them up with a series of cult live shows in the States, the Brooklyn band with the anti-Googleable name have been amassing column inches like there‚Äôs no tomorrow. Next week sees the release of their debut album Manifest!, which, given the wind of hype in their sails, is a surefire success.
And deservedly so ‚Äď it‚Äôs a stunning first album, bursting with energy and quirk, updating the off-kilter art punk of the Bronx‚Äô ESG with the band‚Äôs healthy love of the percussion cupboard and fronted by the empowered vocals of singer Samantha Urbani.
By way of a tester, check out the dystopic, Hiro Murai-directed video to brand new single ‚ÄúMind Control‚ÄĚ:
Manifest! is out on Monday 4 June.
See Friends on tour:
Jun 2 ‚Äď Field Day, London
Jun 2 ‚Äď Dot to Dot, Bristol
Jun 3 ‚Äď Dot to Dot, Nottingham
Jun 4 ‚Äď Rough Trade East Instore, London
Jun 6 ‚Äď Dingwalls, London
Jun 8 ‚Äď The Kazimier, Liverpool
Jun 9 ‚Äď Parklife Festival, Manchester
Aug 17 ‚ÄďSummer Sundae, Leicester
Aug 19 -‚Äď Greenman Festival, Glanusk Park
Aug 24 ‚Äď Reading Festival, Reading UK
Aug 25 ‚Äď Leeds Festival, Leeds UK
Sep 6 ‚Äď Bestival, Robin Hill Park, Isle of Wight
'Can we get it dark and smoky and scary in here please?' asks South Dakota's Erika M Anderson, or EMA, as she arrived on stage at London's Scala. Yet as establishing atmosphere goes, the dry ice and dimmed lights that resulted took a distant second to the vivid set that followed, her spectral, whispered vocals and delicate song structures that build to huge crescendos and cathartic outbursts creating an energy that needed no additional theatrics.
Topping the US lists of 2011's most blogged-about artists following the release of the nihilistic Past Life Martyred Saints, EMA's haunting folk-meets-lo-fi-rock is made all the more powerful by her
poignant, troubled lyrics. From the barely there vocal, 'I wish that every time you touched me left a mark,' on ‚ÄėMarked', to the pain-inflicting imagery of 'Butterfly Knife' and the resigned beauty
of ‚ÄėAnteroom‚Äô, each track feels a little like sitting in on a psychiatric session, yet with a defiancy that prevents it from all getting too much. And with Anderson's dramatic tendency to go from quiet to loud, coupled with her bold stagemanship - patrolling the stage draped in fairy lights and swinging a glitterball at one point - mean that her blog column inches are sure to stack up this side of the Atlantic, too.
Listen to 'California'....
via London - New York - New Orleans