W Un. Sq. Hotel Welcomes Swiss Chef for Exclusive Tapas & Tattoos Event

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The rather cool thing about having hotels dotted across several continents, is the international talent pool that comes with it. To wit, the W Union Square hotel (www.wnewyorkunionsquare.com), which itself boasts a restaurant (Oilves) run by The Gerber Group, has just recruited the Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola from its new Swiss sister hotel W Verbier for a rather unique undertaking.

The culinary master happens to also be known for his tattoos. And celeb inker Luke Wessman of Wooster Street Social Club will join him for a one-evening-only Tapas and Tattoos event in the Olives’ private room. Guests will enjoy special sips and Arola-prepared bites from 7-9pm, while also voting for one of three tat designs. Wessman will ink the winning design on the chef the next morning in his studio.

BlackBook readers can RSVP to WNYCHAPPENINGS@WHOTELS.COM.

 

LCD Soundsystem Exhibit Opens Today At Rough Trade NYC

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In a magnificent melding of “indie” icons, Rough Trade Records NYC Gallery in Brooklyn will open an exhibition today, April 7th, titled LCD Soundsystem: The Long Goodbye. It is a visual experience companion piece to the eponymous five-LP document of the band’s final 2011 concert series at Madison Square Garden.

The vinyl release is to be timed with the April 19 international Record Store Day event. And so thus, the exhibition offers a thrilling advance teaser for both fanatical fans and hipster historians alike.

Rough Trade’s Stephen Godfrey sees it as an opportunity to “celebrate music as art.” He enthuses that in the preceding decade, “few artists evolved music more as art form than LCD Soundsystem.”

Indeed, with DFA founder and producer James Murphy as LCD’s front- and main- man, the band not only acted as a startling “talent collective” for the post-Electroclash society—they also advanced the very notion of artistic postmodernism by incisively critiquing the very scene that they helped to create. In other words, they knew perfectly well that you just weren’t as cool as you thought you were. Sorry.

The exhibit will run through May 7.

www.roughtradenyc.com

DFA Electronic Stalwart Shit Robot Drops New Album This Week

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The brilliantly monikered Shit Robot is actually Ireland born Marcus Lambkin. But under his nom de guerre, he has trotted the globe as one of the more incessantly in-demand DJ talents

All the way back at the turn of the Millennium he struck up a musical kinship with DFA / LCD Soundsystem godhead James Murphy—and the collaboration has continued with little interruption. His latest release on with the by-now mythical label is actually only his second full album, optimistically titled We Got A Love (out this week). It is an exuberant mélange of disco, house and 80’s electro, all with a knowing sort of post-punk undercurrent

Hardly surprisingly for a DFA project (it’s as much a sort of socialist artistic collective as a record label), it flaunts an achingly hip guest list: LCD’s Nancy Whang, The Rapture’s Luke Jenner, Museum of Love’s Dennis McNany, cult diva Holly Backler and Chicago house pioneer Lidell Townsell.

BlackBook sat him down after a Euro-wide DJ tour that concluded with a record release fete back in Dublin.

Can you tell us about some of the collaborations on the new record?

Nancy, Dennis and Luke are all friends and we’ve been talking about doing something together for a while now. Nancy I obviously worked with before.

With Lidell and Holly, I just reached out. I’ve been a huge fan of Lidell since the early 90’s and I heard about Holly through a song she did with Manuel Tur a few years ago. I love Holly’s voice, she has that classic 90s diva sound.

You said it was not a difficult second album. What made it flow so smoothly?

Well, it wasn’t that it was not difficult; it just wasn’t as difficult as I thought the dreaded second album would be. There was a lot of pressure, as people have preconceptions from the first; but I made an effort to just write songs and see what happens.

How does it differ sonically from Cradle to The Rave?

I think it’s quite different, there’s a lot more in it this time. It was also mixed by a few different people, so it has a bit more variety in that sense. James [Murphy] mixed the first record and he likes to do things in mono a lot; there’s a lot more stereoscope in this record.

How did you come to have the artist Maser do the cover art?

I’m a huge fan of his work. He uses a lot of hearts and the word “love” comes up a lot in his work, so I thought it would be a perfect match for “We Got A Love”.

You’ve been DJing around Europe. What were a couple of the best recent gigs?

Panorama Bar [at Berlin club Berghain] a few months ago was a major highlight for me. [Music Box] in Lisbon was also great, as were Pratersauna in Vienna and Block Club in Tel Aviv. The record release party I just had in Dublin with Juan MacLean was pretty amazing too. I’ve been very lucky recently.

So…are you willing to tell us how you wound up with the name Shit Robot?

HA! Yeah, it all started as a joke many years ago. James Murphy used to make fun of my early days in Dublin when I was a raver. He used to threaten to hang out with me in the DJ booth with white gloves on, doing a real “shit” robot dance. Then we started doing a party together every now and then and we called it Shit Robot. I originally just made one 12”, and thought it would be fun to use the name. I didn’t expect to be stuck with it.

Artist Laura Flook On Her Creation For The Upcoming Faberge Big Egg Hunt

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Dressing up for Halloween has become as much a grownups’ activity as one for the kiddies. But decorating and hunting for Easter eggs—perhaps because the paint goes on the egg instead of your face—hasn’t quite made the leap to adulthood.

But Faberge have built a legend by artistically reinventing the little white orb. And this year’s Big Egg Hunt (www.thebigegghunt.org) saw them commissioning 250 large egg sculptures from internationally renowned artists and designers—to be stashed at various locations around the five boroughs of NYC. The hunt will take place from April 1st through April 26th, and proceeds will go to a number of different charities.

BlackBook was particularly taken with the egg done by New York artist Laura Flook, who presents her own rather unsettling image of that little bunny also known to be associated with the holiday.

“It was three months of splendid trial and error,” she elaborates, “smothered in arbitrary development. Upon finishing it, I experienced nine days of debilitating cluster headaches and probably slept enough to make an insomniac weep.”

She also created a stunning video, titled The ConFINEmeNT of Valediction, allowing for not-in-real-time glimpses into her process.

Langham London’s Star Mixologist Embarks On Stateside Cocktail Tour

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The Langham London hotel’s parade of famous faces reads like a veritable who’s who: Madonna, Lady Gaga, that Bieber kid. But its unerring sense of class and sophistication far transcends any gossip page column inches it may have racked up over the years.
Its impossibly chic Artesian Bar, named the world’s best bar in 2013 by Drinks International, epitomizes said sophistication. And within its sleek but opulent David Collins designed interior, the much-awarded mixology master Alex Kratena turns out some of the swankiest and tastiest cocktail creations on this planet Earth.
Fitting for a “rock star” bartender, the Langham is sending him off on a US tour which will take him to the hotel’s sister properties in Pasadena (March 24-26, The Tap Room), Chicago (March 27-28, Travelle at The Langham), Boston (March 31-April 1, Bond at The Langham), and New York (April 2-4, Measure at Langham Place, Fifth Avenue).
BlackBook loves the Artesian Bar. Can you describe the typical scene there?
“Artesian is perfect for an espresso in the morning, champagne in the afternoon and something spirited late at night. It’s really eclectic, very lively, but that’s what makes a great atmosphere. The rich and famous often favor it, because it’s very discreet. We don’t drop names.”
Are there certain drinks you find go over well with the London crowd?
 “The London crowd is extremely adventurous, looking to try new things all the time. But never forget there will always be the G&T.”
Everyone with a moustache and a few artisanal ingredients these days thinks they’re a cocktail wizard. What do you think of all this trendy mixology stuff?
“I think it’s great that people pay so much attention to cocktails; but at the end of the day it should really be all about the guest. Chefs don’t dress up like Escoffier, I see no reason why we should.”
How did you go about creating the special cocktails for the Langham hotels in Pasadena, Chicago, Boston and New York? What were the inspirations?
“The special menu I’ve created was directly influenced by the cities in which we have hotels. The cocktail I created for The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is called Social Club and I was inspired not just by the weather in Southern California but by Pasadena’s own roses. So I used citrus, rose water and vetiver to reflect those summery flavors. The inspiration for the Chicago cocktail was more historic. I’ve been told so much about the origin of the phrase Second City – how it is connected to the Great Chicago Fire. So I called this drink Back to the Future and incorporated richer styles of flavors: port, sherry, Scotch, with rich chocolate, raspberry and citrus additions. I consider Boston to be London’s sister city; they both have a rich heritage. I also think they have similar skylines. Thus the Skylines cocktail has flavors as rich as the histories of these cities: aquavit, fino, citrus, cedarwood and a touch of bitters. I specifically chose Lady Pink as the inspiration for the New York cocktail because she exhibits to me so many of the qualities I love about New York—fun, uninhibited expression and a rebellious spirit—all of which can be found in her graffiti. It has some unique components: fino sherry, rhubarb, citrus, agave and bitter orange.”
 What do you hope to get out of your “U.S. tour”?
I am very excited. It’s an amazing platform to exchange ideas and inspiration and learn from each other.”

Aussie Indie Sensations The Jezabels Launching US Tour

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Despite their name (misspelling intentional), Aussie synth rockers Jezabels aren’t likely to shake the very foundations of society. But they have shaken up the generally conservative Australian pop charts. Debut album Prisoner shot all the way up to No. 2 in 2012, despite its sometimes rather gothic undercurrent.

Their shimmering sophomore album The Brink has just done the same, cementing their superstar status Down Under. Still awash in ethereal guitars, atmospheric synths and heavenly pop hooks, it is somewhat brighter in tone than its predecessor, especially the soaring, exuberant single, “Look of Love.” Vocalist Haley Mary (get it?) is surely leaving a trail of broken indie boy hearts behind her, with her sensual, impassioned trilling.

BlackBook caught up with the band’s Sam Lockwood on the brink of their arrival again on these shores.

The new album seems a little less dark. Was there a different mindset when recording it?

“Hayley and I were talking about this the other day. We felt that because we were feeling a bit down and out in London after being on the road for such a long time, our music had to offer us something more positive. I think that happy people make sad music and sad people make happy music.”

Mary had described songwriting as a process of dealing with self-loathing. Has that changed with The Brink?

“I think you deal with a lot of things in the writing of a song, though I don’t know if self-loathing is a good way to describe it. It’s more a process of breaking through inhibitions. You never feel that anything you are doing is worthwhile when making something you care about. I guess that’s where self-loathing comes into it.”

How has your homeland following reacted to second record?

“Really well. We’ve just played some festivals in Australia and the new songs went down a treat.”

Is there anything in the name Jezabels that says something about the band members’ personalities?

“Not so much. Jezebel is a just very interesting character. It’s more about the vibe surrounding her I think than anything else.”

You just toured with Depeche Mode and The Pixies–any particular highlights? Do you feel a kinship with those bands?

“It was really eye opening to play with a band like Depeche Mode to begin with. It was a mammoth operation, but we were still treated so well. Same with The Pixies. And yes, I’d like to say that we share musical kinship with those bands.”

What are you most looking forward to on the upcoming US tour?

“I actually love America. I love being there and the feeling of the place. It’s kind of a wonderland in many respects. Australians grow up drenched in US TV and culture, so it’s almost like stepping into the television.”

Can you tell us what were some of your fave places in America that you discovered on your last US tour?

“My favorite American city is Chicago. After we played the Double Door we got some Mexican at Flash Taco just up the road. In LA, I love Swingers cafe underneath the awesome Beverly Laurel hotel. We also always go to the Mission Cantina on Sunset. For New York I’d have to say Weatherup in Brooklyn for the best cocktails in the world. Then I’d head over to Fat Cat’s for some jazz and ping pong.”

The Jezabels Tour Dates

May 31st @ The Starlite in Edmonton, AB
June 1st @ Republik in Calgary, AB
June 4th @ Casbah in San Diego, CA
June 5th @ El Rey in Los Angeles, CA
June 6th @ Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA
June 8th @ Neumos in Seattle, WA
June 9th @ Imperial in Vancouver, BC
June 12th @ The Triple Rock in Minneapolis, MN
June 13th @ TBD in Chicago, IL
June 14th @ Lee’s Palace in Toronto, ON
June 15th @ La Sala Rossa in Montreal, QC
June 17th @ Brighton Music Hall in Boston, MA
June 18th @ Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington, DC
June 19th @ Johnny Brendas in Philadelphia, PA
June 21st @ Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY

 

DIFFA Dining By Design Event Kicks Off This Thursday

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DIFFA’s 17th annual Dining by Design will start this Thursday, March 20, and run through March 24th. The event brings together exalted design talent—David Rockwell, Diane von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren, Kati Curtis, etc.—and such high-profile epicurean destinations as Indochine, Mari Vanna, Asellina, and scores of others, all in the cause of raising funds to fight HIV/AIDS.

“This is a special year for DIFFA, which has made a huge difference for a cause that has deeply affected the design community,” says Rockwell, founder and President of the Rockwell Group. “For this year’s Dining by Design, we’re deemphasizing the dining environment, including the furnishings, materials and table setting, in order to focus on what matters most: celebrating DIFFA’s 30 years of improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.”

The event has raised more than $14 million since its launch, and now also includes a student initiative, involving the Pratt Institute, FIT and the New York School of Interior Design.

Public viewing of the always-spectacular installations will take place on Friday, March 21st and Saturday, March 22nd
from 11am to 7pm, as well as Sunday, March 23rd
from 10am to 6pm. Tickets are just $30.

 

Cafe Cambodge Arises From Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

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Though it’s not visible to the everyday eye, there are those still coping with the wake of October 2012’s brutal Hurricane Sandy. Benjamin Alter’s East Village French-Caribbean restaurant Arcane was one of those locations hit hard, and after a year of struggles, it was shuttered in early 2014. But in a flash of determination, he recruited a new chef, and has just opened the Café Cambodge (www.cafecambodge.com) at the same Avenue C location. It is, for all intents and purposes, the only authentically Cambodian restaurant in the city. (Who knew?)

At the culinary helm is Eric Meas, once a young refugee from the Khmer Rouge, who became a teenage wunderkind, doing high-profile time in the kitchens of such glamorous NYC locales as the Hotel Plaza Athenee, The Royalton, and the exalted Daniel. Menu items at Cambodge are as exotically baroque as might be expected: Pumpkin Stuffed Tilapia Banana Leaf Wrapped in Kaffir-Leaf and Coconut Red Curry Sauce; Braised Ox Tail in Pernod, Honey, Tamarind and Ginger…all an alluring riposte to so much popular but dull comfort food worship. Interiors are fittingly transporting and romantic. We sense a trend…

Armory Show Official Hotel Langham Place Plans LittleCollector Tour

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It can be reasonably argued that the only people who experience art on a significant level of purity are children—those not subject to the celebrity, sycophancy and monetary corruption of its essential value. Of course, quite a bit of money will be changing hands during this year’s edition of New York’s annual Armory Show (March 6-9, www.thearmoryshow.com). But the Langham Place Fifth Avenue (http://newyork.langhamplacehotels.com), the event’s official hotel, has teamed with LittleCollector to give the little ones an opportunity to engage with the art on their own unspoiled and guileless terms.

LC founder Chrissy Crawford observes that, “kids are not influenced by the artist’s reputation or perceived importance. They are purists and have very strong opinions and tastes based entirely on the image itself. It’s fun to watch their first experience with a Koons, LeWitt, or Navarro.”

And so on March 9, she will lead artistically-inclined families from a special breakfast in the Langham’s Measure Lounge on to a special LittleCollector tour of the show. Since it’s the final day of the event, Crawford expects the dealers to have their biggest worries behind them, leaving them open to welcoming the innocent inquiries of the possible next generation of art world influencers. But far from just a groovy way to spend a day with the brood, Crawford expounds on the educational significance of the concept.

“Arts curriculum is disappearing from schools,” she frets, “and art gives the entire spectrum on a society: religion, politics, values, folklore, family structure, and human relationships. If children want to understand history, they should start with the art.”

The Langham Place’s charmingly conceived Little VIP Armory Show Package includes accommodations, an exclusive framed print and storybook, as well as other special art-related goodies. Of course, for those without little ones in tow, the hotel offers a fully grown-up VIP Armory Show Package, including Chinese culinary treats by chef David Vandenabeele.