Gelato, Rock Stars and Eco-Hotels: Three Days in the Heart of West Hollywood

1 Hotel West Hollywood

 

Though we often refer to Los Angeles as a monolith (no one in New York says “I’m flying out to Bel-Air tomorrow”), truth is, it’s sort of a collection of fairly autonomous towns given an overarching “federal” government – which we must admit we’re not exactly sure is in charge of what.

For our purposes here, we’ll refer to them as neighborhoods – and those like Silver Lake and Highland Park have followed the typical hipster arc this past decade-plus…while Beverly Hills remains central command for all things posho, and Downtown, now a combination of business, trendy nightlife and upscale apartments, still struggles for an actual identity.

 

Maxfield

 

But for the dozens of times we’ve made the 3000-mile trip to LA, West Hollywood has generally acted as our spiritual home. No other ‘hood has remained so steadfast in its identity, while also never lapsing in its mission to stay dynamically current. It’s cool, it’s fun, and it actually looks more like everyone’s idea of Hollywood than Hollywood does.

We recently checked into 1 Hotel West Hollywood – a fairly new eco-luxe brand with a pair of sister properties in NYC, as well as one in Miami. With its sustainable chic, casual-cool clientele, and destination F&B offerings, it could not be more philosophically aligned with its 8490 Sunset Boulevard address (just east of La Cienega). And in keeping with WeHo’s “anything you want, it’s yours” agenda, the legendary Comedy Store is just a block up – we caught hilariously woke-defying sets by Whitney Cummings and Anthony Jeselnik – while directly across from the hotel is the equally legendary Pink Dot liquor store, for those late night “back to the room” party supplies.

 

1 Hotel West Hollywood

 

Of course, nobody walks in LA. But we figured we would at least ditch the gas guzzler and do a Bikes & Hikes tour of WeHo, which is ridiculously fun considering the “slopes” leading up to and down from Sunset. We opted for of-the-moment electric bicycles, meaning real cyclists were looking on at us with genuine disdain; and the range of old and new discoveries along the way included the city’s first marijuana-tolerant restaurant, the Lowell Cafe, and Elvis’ house, flamboyantly tucked away in the lower hills (though we’ve always preferred Little Richard).

We then headed for lunch at the exceedingly buzzy Gracias Madre (it translates to “Thanks mom” – aww…). Crowded since its opening in 2014, it boasts a gorgeous Oaxaca meets WeHo interior, with a tiled bar, and Colonial style hanging lamps. The cuisine was fancy vegan Mexican, and has also sated the likes of Liam Hemsworth, Amber Heard and Harrison Ford.

 

Gracias Madre

 

A brief stroll through the Design District took us to Maxfield, a brilliantly curated and very mod furniture shop – mid-century French is a thing there – which also stocks a smartly chosen selection of design finds and bleeding-edge fashion (Anne Hathaway, Lana Del Rey and Usher are amongst the steady parade of celebs that have been spotted shopping there). A separate gallery space has exhibited everything from Galliano-for-Margiela clothing to The Kills’ Alison Mosshart’s paintings to selections from the Daft Punk archives.

GM Nick Remidio then greeted us for a tour of the nearby Kimpton La Peer Hotel (named for its address). And we must admit, with hipster-style fatigue having set in years ago already, we loved that La Peer was a bastion of elegance and good taste, with plush furnishings fitted into a lobby space of Corbusian like understatement, a very nice-looking private pool area, and some gorgeous tile-work at the entrance. We returned that evening for dinner at the hotel’s Viale dei Romini restaurant, where charismatic Exec Chef Casey Lane dazzled us with his creative pasta dishes, including the Alla Piastra with “the world’s best bolognese.”

 

Gelato Festival 

 

The next day we went deeper into WeHo Italophile culture (trust us, it’s a thing) with a gelato making class at the charming Gelato Festival on Melrose. Founded in Florence in 2010, the festival itself now travels around the world, Berlin, Chicago, Yokohama…and West Hollywood, of course. The shop is staffed by real Italians, and they delighted us with their inimitable charms and delectable flavor creations – all of which are better for you than actual ice cream.

There was nothing particularly healthy about lunch at Pizzana – but it certainly has done away with the notion that you can’t get great pizza in Los Angeles. We could safely say it is definitely not for purists, as these were distinctly high-concept pies – Vegan Funghi, Cacio e Pepe, the spicy salami Diavola…and were all far too decadent for a 1pm feeding.

 

Pizzana

 

We had to fit in some “old” West Hollywood, naturally – and the best place to do it was the Sunset Marquis hotel, which is like a little village tucked away behind Alta Loma Road – albeit one endlessly populated with rock stars. And indeed, we popped over for a visit only to find that Ringo Starr was having an exhibit of his photographs…an opening for which guitar gods Jimmy Page and Joe Perry would make appearances. Dining on the patio were Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, while Bono and Keith Richards anecdotes were amusingly shared. So…you get the idea.

But we were invited down to the hotel’s exalted Nightbird Recording Studios to have a look around – and were reminded that a new generation – Katy Perry, Rihanna, Drake – were now regularly making music here as well.

Fittingly we then went on to check out the recently revitalized Formosa Cafe, which once hosted the likes of Sinatra, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Now it feeds the cool kids a menu of hipsterized Chinese eats (the patio is a total scene) set to a very well curated soundtrack.

 

Sunset Marquis 

 

Back at the 1 Hotel, there was no discernible scenesterizing at the 1 Kitchen by Chris Crary, which is really all about the food, and hits all the right consciousness notes: sustainably sourced ingredients, with an organic garden and beehive on premises, and a good selection of biodynamic wines. A tequila-and-watermelon Quench cocktail paired beautifully with an heirloom tomato panzanella, and the Brandt Beef grilled ribeye was one of the best steaks we’d enjoyed in recent memory. Perfection.

Drinks at the absolutely gorgeous Harriet’s rooftop easily conjured that ever elusive vibe of classic Hollywood glamour, with twinkling lights reflecting on the elegant black and white striped sofas. But our Champagne cocktails also came with a striking view of Janet Echelmann‘s ethereal Dream Catcher installation, dramatically draped between the hotel’s two towers – the old and the new, just as we’ve come to expect of our beloved West Hollywood.

 

Janet Echelmann’s Dream Catcher

Listen: Alex McArtor’s Haunting New Single ‘Touch’

 

 

The kids are alright. Better than alright, actually – they’re kind of blowing us away.

Indeed, last week we made a big fuss over 10-year-old fashion illustrator Dear Giana. And now we can’t stop playing the chill-inducing new track “Touch,” by Texas songstress Alex McArtor – just 17 years of age. But she hasn’t grown up listening to fluffy chart fare. Rather, she claims to be influenced by The Doors and Jesus & Mary Chain; and her music generally sounds like it’s perpetually looking for a David Lynch scene to soundtrack.

“Touch” (from her debut EP Spoken Word) specifically recalls another favorite southern-gothic goddess, Chelsea Wolfe. But in its echo-drenched guitars, anxious atmospherics, and McArtor’s haunted wail, you can hear echoes of everyone from Sky Ferreira to Lana Del Rey to even the Bad Seeds.

 

 

“I wrote ‘Touch’ at 15, while I was in a really angry, confused mindset,” she explains. “The concept of the song is someone finally feeling at ease after a long period of darkness – yet the light feels as if it’s slipping away. During that period of time, I found my escape through music.”

The accompanying neo-noir video exhibits her equivalent flair for dramatic visual histrionics.

She recalls, “The video was just supposed to depict the angst of the song and lyrics that I wrote at that time. I was going to literally make the video just me yelling in the camera for four minutes straight, but then I decided probably not the best idea.”

Alex McArtor will play the Annie O Music Series series at The Penthouse at the Standard East Village hotel in New York this Monday, November 11.

 

Fabrizio Moretti x 2 – Sotheby’s Teams w/ The Strokes’ Drummer For Old Masters Exhibition

 

 

One of the key component’s of the intelligently crafted rock & roll life is knowing when to get in, when to get out…and knowing when to get back in again.

An so it is that the upcoming mini-tour by The Strokes – kicking off November 16 in Mexico City – is very much about knowing when to get back in. Yet still, all the greatest rock stars are also savvy enough to have it going on elsewhere, while, you know, waiting to get back in. To wit, Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti has just hooked up with the renowned art collector of the exact same name, for a new exhibition at Sotheby’s that seems at once inevitable and also curiously unexpected.

Indeed, Fabrizio Moretti the art collector is staging a show of 20 Old Masters paintings at the exalted auction house, with each being showcased in immersive / interactive installations designed by…naturally…the rock star Fab Moretti.

 

 

But hey, what’s in a name?

“I was attracted to this project by this idea of perspective,” explains the latter Moretti. “It is pervasive throughout all aspects of this exhibit, starting simply by the fact that it involves one name but two pairs of eyes. The goal is to construct a process of orientation that abstracts and individualizes the experience of witnessing its art. By building a circuitous path that explores modes of limiting or expanding the way the work is observed, the viewer is urged to consider another form of interaction with any given painting or sculpture.”

My my, how we love a credibly intellectual rocker. But what he’s really trying to say is that, despite the contemporary world’s many and sundry attempts to obliterate human history, the great paintings of yore – here by the likes of Matteo Cesa and Taddeo di Bartolo – still resonate with a keen cultural relevance to this day.

 

 

The show will open November 15 at Sotheby’s New York, and run through December 18 – offering all manner of opportunity for posh sorts to plow through those Christmas gift lists (though we’re personally hoping to find an authenticated Bernini in our stocking this year).

Or as Fabrizio the collector puts it, “I am thrilled to be collaborating with Sotheby’s on this innovative exhibition to present Old Masters through a new perspective. I have always been drawn to their timeless appeal, and remain passionate about communicating the relevance of these works through enriching dialogues and partnerships.”

It’s almost like Fluxus never happened.

 

George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’ Present: Sultry New Single ‘This is How (We Want You to Get High)’

 

 

When George Michael shockingly passed away at just 53 years of age in December 2016, the monumental outpouring of grief went beyond just the loss of a treasured pop star. So many stories of his selfless generosity, all of it purposely unpublicized, were at last revealed – making it all the harder to accept he was no longer with us.

In perhaps one final act of generosity, however, he has now posthumously gifted us this previously unreleased single – “This is How (We Want You to Get High)” – just in time for the holidays, which is fittingly also included on the soundtrack to Paul Feig’s new film Last Christmas. Starring Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, along with Emma Thompson, and Maxim Baldry, Thompson’s co-star in the recent HBO mini-series Years and Years, it is sure to be the season’s runaway hit.

Regardless, a new George Michael song is the best present we could possibly hope for – and “This is How” (recorded in 2012) is him at his absolute best. To be sure, with its calypso groove and sultry atmospherics, it’s both comfortingly familiar and distinctly surprising.

George, of course, dramatically passed away on Christmas Day, 2016. So, in return for this wonderful new song, do give a very special thought (and more) – as would have he – for those less fortunate this holiday season.

 

New FKA twigs single ‘Sad Day’ is Hauntingly Beautiful

 

 

We’ve not made a secret of our undying love for FKA twigs since she debuted with LP1 in 2014. But new single “Sad Day” strikes a particular chord, since it very much recalls another songstress who has long held our adoration.

Indeed, the hauntingly beautiful new track seems nothing if not a unabashed homage to one Kate Bush – with its breathy vocals, sensual harmonies, lilting piano and convulsive dynamics. Ms. twigs is also herself a master of lyrical melancholy: “Every time you look outside your window / Everything is just the same as before / You are turning round and round / You see, it’s a sad day for sure.”

The track is taken from new album Magdalene, to be released this Friday via Young Turks. She also kicked off a select North American and European tour this past weekend, which takes her from Vancouver to Amsterdam’s Royal Theatre Carré on December 3. Not to be missed.

 

BlackBook Rooms w/ a View: The Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis

 

 

 

Like Kafka and Prague, John Waters and Baltimore…the public image of Minneapolis is inextricably linked to The Purple One. But unlike so many other American Midwestern cities, the Minnesota capital had always seemed to exhibit a kind of effortless cultural cred, from hosting proto-career-girl Mary Tyler Moore to birthing Prince and the Twin Tone / post-punk music scene, and on up to being home to one of the country’s most challenging contemporary art museums, the Walker Art Center.

But, well, once it was mostly known for…flour. And like most great American centers of industry, it took a dive in the mid-20th Century, with the factory buildings mostly getting shut down and business grinding to an almost halt. As happens, though, old factory buildings (see: Ancoats, Manchester, UK) make excellent apartments for 21st Century creative sorts – and once in awhile, are even expertly converted into an unexpected hotel.

Now, Hilton had introduced their Canopy marquee in 2014, and the new brand has since successfully endeavored to shake off the business-y image of the mothership. Their first in Minneapolis, just opened in May, is fitted into early 20th Century building that did, in fact, operate within the business of flour – and thus has great architectural bones.

We’ve spent quite a lot of time in the Twin Cities’ most recognizable twin. But with the purpose of checking into, and checking out the Canopy, we made a recent early autumn visit – here’s what we came back with.

 

 

The City

Minneapolis built a virtual (graffiti?) bridge from Prince and Hüsker Dü to young foodies and the primacy of Target to its local culture, and has thus managed to retain a significant level of cultural relevance. Once known for its provocative music scene, now it is a city that absorbs creative types not impressed enough by New York to pay its ridiculous rents, many of whom come to work for the “bullseye” retail giant with the seemingly endless credibility capital. Alas, climate change is already starting to negate the “it’s too cold” argument: we were there in early October, and it was 95 bloody degrees fahrenheit.

 

 

The Mill District

It’s a curious phenomenon, there is now such an influx into American cities / urban centers that the real estate is evolving before the surrounding infrastructure manages to even get established (meaning, the formula of coffee shops / art galleries / condos has literally lapped itself). This seemed to be the case in the Mill District of Minneapolis, where scores of handsome old industrial buildings have been converted to architecturally hip new apartments; yet one would have a hard time finding even a pharmacy within walking distance of said apartments. Still, the neighborhood boasts the excellent Mill City Farmers Market, as well as the ability to go for a casual jog over the Stone Arch Bridge, against a spectacular backdrop of St Anthony Falls – all included in the price of the rent.

 

 

The Hotel

One of our fave features always is a hotel lobby into which pours energy from several different points of entry. And the lobby at the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District sprawls out in several directions, so one can veritably choose a number of different public experiences: a cozy corner lounge, an energetic main seating area, and a pair of restaurants that seem to be hopping at various times of the day.
Aesthetically, one’s first impression is a lobby full of cleverly repurposed old timber – i.e. beamed ceilings everywhere you look – apparently shipped in from Portland, because, you know, that’s where there’s a lot of old timber. The hotel also boasts an extensive but unshowy contemporary art collection, mostly focused on local talent.
An extremely thoughtful feature? A shower area with lockers – so one can clean up and run straight off to a meeting, even if one’s room is not yet ready.

 

 

The Rooms

Despite the fascinating visual layout, the rooms are surely the pride of the Canopy Minny, handsomely brick walled spaces, some on the 6th floor boasting dizzying 19 foot ceilings (really, you must request one of these). Throughout, they’re remarkably good looking, with patterned rugs, mod canopy headboards, blond wood floors and furnishings that exhibit an overall low key elegance. In essence, they’re kind of like a more rustic version of Ligne Roset.
As well, being so ideally positioned with the Mill District, massive factory windows frame captivating views of the century-plus-old industrial landscape that surrounds the hotel – visually connecting guests with the architectural heritage of the city.

 

 

The Restaurants

One surely needn’t even leave the hotel for quality sustenance, with the Bacon Social House and Umbra restaurants located right on the premises. But a few absolute standouts gave us a genuine sense of the current Minny dining zeitgeist. Brenda Langton, for one, was an exalted pioneer of vegetarian cuisine; but her latest, Spoonriver, is a cozy, sophisticated spot with plenty of meat on the menu. Simplicity reigns, and farm / Asian influences mean indulging in everything from tempeh udon salad to Sunshine Harvest grass fed beef.
Over in the happening North Loop hood, Chef Ann Kim’s Young Joni is a total scene, with a hipstery waitstaff serving up to-die-for Korean BBQ pizza, bibim grain salads, and kimchi oxtail sugo meatballs. The photo booth is located just outside the bathrooms, making for some amusingly awkward encounters.
But what seemed to us to be one of the city’s most populated weekend rituals, was Sunday brunch at Spoon & Stable, also in the Mill District. Industrial-farmhouse-chic provides the stunning scenery for decadently prepared duck egg omelettes and bison tartare. And the crowd is as interesting as the sustenance.
Back at the Canopy, don’t expect to bump into Moby or Morrissey at the Bacon Social House. Indeed, there’s piggy art all over the walls, and an excellent weekday happy hour that pairs Blood Orange IPA and Hogwash rosé with bacon deviled eggs and bacon sliders. And bacon and bacon and bacon.
But the hotel’s signature restaurant Umbra finds rocker chef Kevin Aho bouncing between bourguignon sliders, beets carpaccio and fettuccine frutti di mare without missing a beat. The Pirate Jenny cocktail, with habanero-infused Tattersall Aquavit, carrot & lime juices and Grand Marnier, is the unmissable specialty of the house. We had a few, before finishing up the night at Betty Danger’s Country Club, a bar, complete with ferris wheel and shuffleboard table, just waiting for a David Lynch movie to star in. SO very Minneapolis.

 

Top image: Spoon & Stable; bottom two images: Umbra

 

 

The New Underworld Single ‘Listen to Their No’ is Proggy, Exuberant

 

 

Ever the conceptual chaps, Underworld‘s highly ambitious new album DRIFT SONGS (released October 25) was the end result of the unprecedented 52-week DRIFT Series. During that time, the exalted electronic duo of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith published snippets of music, film and text every Thursday, leading up to piecing it all together for the final product.

We’re particularly excited for a new double A-side single which has also just been released: the proggy, psychedelic but exuberant “Listen to Their No,” along with “Soniamode (Aditya Game Version),” a dark, slightly ominous synth stormer.

Seemingly tireless, the pair had been doing the (mostly European) festival circuit all summer, including headline slots at Sonar, Latitude, Lollapalooza and Vivid, for which they played a four night run at the Sydney Opera House. But hop a flight across the Atlantic, and you can still catch them at Antwerp’s Lotto Arena, November 22, Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, November 23, and London’s Wembley Arena, December 7.

 

Trending Cities: Is Columbus, Ohio as Hip as The Hype?

 

 

In 2017, a Yelp analysis deemed Columbus, Ohio to be the nation’s #1 market for the cultivation of the more and more vaguely defined…”hipster” market. This sort of meant that if you intended to open a millennial-friendly business, or were hoping to peddle apartments (preferably in converted warehouses) to said demo, this was pretty much the place to do it.

A long time swing state, Ohio seems to have troublingly tipped a bit over into the Red recently – though that doesn’t seem at all apparent in cities like Cleveland and Columbus. The latter has poured civic financial support into programs for the arts (surely much to the horror of local 45 supporters); and, well, the city is ever excitingly abuzz with university students. These days, Short North / Clintonville is where most of the action is.

Into all this hipsterifficness has recently debuted the extravagantly named Canopy by Hilton Columbus Downtown Short North. It’s the 12th entry into the hotel giant’s new-ish boutique brand, which takes a particularly artful approach to 21st Century hospitality – evident to us as soon as we entered the cavernous lobby, with its lively Central Market House restaurant greeting guests with an immediate dose of dazzle.

 

 

Short North is characterized by an astonishingly long stretch of North High Street, which seemed to be home to about 450 restaurants and bars. Naturally, for a town full of students, there is a fussy coffee culture – which meant our first stop on our recent visit would be One Line Coffee, where we learned the rarefied but approachable art of “cupping.” It’s rather like wine tasting, except the people doing it (in this case, One Line partner Mark Forman) actually seem quite a bit more serious about it. As several of their top – and quite aromatic – varieties were put before us, we detected notes of flowers, fruits and nearly anything else you can imagine, thus coming to more deeply appreciate the fragrant qualities of really, really good coffee. The honey latte was a particular fave.

The aforementioned support for the arts was evident straight away in the so many public murals lining Short North’s main drag. Featured artists included Andrea Meyers, April Sunami, Melissa Ayote and the ideologically driven Omar Shaheed, born in nearby Youngstown. We were most taken with Terry Norman’s vivid portrait of Richard Pryor, who seemed to be stuck somewhere between laughing and wincing – which is really just what you’d expect of him.

Columbus also has destination worthy exhibits going on at any given time. At the nearby Hammond Harkins Galleries, a text based show by Jenny Holzer was/is currently running. And the Dublin Arts Council is showing Cuba in Columbus, an homage to the cultural exchange the city shares with the controversial Caribbean island, until November 15. Also worth a stop are the Sean Christopher Gallery and Studios on High Gallery.

 

 

The sheer number of restaurants along North High was nothing if not apoplexy inducing. For lunch we opted for Harvey & Ed’s, which was something of a groovy take on the classic Jewish deli; but to give one an idea of the pace of change in Columbus these days, the 16 month old eatery is already temporarily closing, to be morphed into a new concept by its owners.

But local epicures have been congregating in great numbers at North Market, which is humming away at any time of the day, and is actually about to expand into nearby Dublin. Of course, food halls can be crowded, dimly atmosphered places, where the sights and smells sort of blend together and overwhelm each other. Yet this one was very much a civilized affair, with space to move around, and plenty of light flooding in from all sides.

Being early afternoon, we were tempted to settle into the Barrel & Bottle wine bar – but opted instead for a fix on another kind: lavender ice cream at Jeni’s Splendid. which we quickly added to our last-meal-on-earth list. One should make a point to stop at Hoyo’s Kitchen, a popular Somalian spot in the market that stands as a symbol of the 60,000 strong local Somali population.

 

 

Just up the street, the chic little MMELO was an absolute treat, literally, for our Belgophilic hearts. A chocolate shop with a level of creativity and style (this was basically confection as fashion) as to surely have them upping their game in Brussels and Zurich, they were so of-the-moment as to feature KETO, vegan and gluten free options; but their wildly designed and ridiculously decadent Chocolate Tea Cakes exhibited little concern for all that trendy tweeness. Carmelized Banana Caramel with Pecan? Why of course.

Later, we found the late afternoon scene at Seventh Son Brewing Co. to be impressively energetic – and the Qahwah Turkish coffee stout, as well as the Goo Goo Muck tart IPA very much to our liking. The latter, named for the Cramps song, hinted at their excellent taste in music – which was confirmed by several obscure new wave gems coming over the soundsystem, including Devo’s “Pink Pussycat.”

 

 

Nearby Wolf’s Ridge was actually a pretty sophisticated affair, at whose Taproom we sampled a very strong (10.4%) Coffee Vanilla Dire Wolf Stout and a Hefe & Wedge Orange Hefewiezen, both of which will forever alter your notion of creative brewing. The elegant but energetic dining room turned out international fare like Sakura Wagyu strip steak, Chinese 5 spice duck, braised oxtail, and Faroe Island salmon with roasted root vegetables. They weren’t at all offended when we ordered up a a few bottles of wine with dinner.

No surprise, cocktail culture has reached Columbus, and Antiques on High is Seventh Son’s urbane spot for artful tipples like the Draft Punk (cognac, Lillet Rose, orange blossom, tonic) and Yuzu That You Do (tequila, mezcal, Choya Yuzu, sherry-vermouth, grapefruit, citrus, orange blossom water).

Which brought us full circle back to the Canopy, and its new Goodale Station rooftop bar – where we were given a little pre-opening preview and mixology class. Created in partnership with NYC’s exalted drinks alchemists Death & Co, it offered heart-racing views of the dynamic city below – a city which had intrigued us enough to want to return sooner than later. Especially if it involves more chocolate.

 

 

Canopy by Hilton Columbus Downtown Short North

Perhaps Hilton’s most intriguing new brand, Canopy has been populating the international hospitality landscape from Portland to Iceland with a singular panache. Not at all attempting to be scenestery, rather they build hotels around the local DNA, making for a unique experience from city to city.

In Columbus, however, they might not be able to not make a scene, with the October 17 debut of the hotel’s much talked about rooftop bar Goodale – and those aforementioned Death & Co created cocktails. Though we departed before the opening, we were more than satisfied with the feasting we undertook at Canopy’s Central Market House restaurant, where chef Tripp Maudlin (a Michael Mina alum) focuses on simplicity and flavor. So unfussy dishes like sweet potato & coconut soup, ricotta & shishito tartine, spiced lamb flatbread and the curry chickpea bowl all seemed as exciting as much more complex fare.

Elsewhere, the hotel is rife with thoughtful amenities: to wit, a dedicated shower area, should your room not be ready upon check-in; and the Retreat lounge, complete with brick-walled terrace – which feels more like a living room than a shared work space.

The stylishly un-showy rooms had attractively muted color schemes, and carpets flowing into wood floors, giving them a bit of a comfy, residential feel. Prodigious windows framed the handsome downtown Columbus skyline.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: French 79’s Cool, Neon New Wave Video for ‘By Your Side’

Image by Cauboyz

 

 

When making musique, Marseille Monsieur Simon Henner prefers you know him as French 79. And with three years having passed since his debut album Olympic, those who were charmed by his proggy sounding electronic compositions like “Between the Buttons” and “DDROPP” are understandably excited for the release of the follow up full length, Joshua, this November 8.

As a tantalizing preview of what to expect, he’s just released the cool electro stunner “By Your Side.” With Sarah Rebecca’s breathy, alluring vocal performance, and some very chunky ’80s synth riffs, it very much harkens back to the likes of Yazoo and Human League. The accompanying video, which BlackBook premieres here, nods to that same dazzling decade, with its neon ennui and Cold War intrigues / aesthetics.

 

 

“The video sticks to the story of the album,” Henner explains, “the notion of trajectory in a life: where we come from and where we go despite hardships. It is inspired by French movies from the ’80s and ’90s, like Bertrand Blier’s Evening Wear with Gerard Depardieu. It is nocturnal but very luminous, a bit supernatural.”

Or as singer Rebecca – who also stars in the clip – puts it, “The video is a neon fever dream that I never want to wake up from. It really catches the feeling of freedom through friendship and the lyrics and how we can strengthen the bonds of love.”

French 79 will play several European live dates between November and February, with stops in Berlin, London, Paris and at January’s Eurosonic Festival in Groningen, Netherlands.