Monday, 28 January 2013

Illegal Downloads vs Illegal Coffee

I was discussing with someone from work the recent UK tax scandals (essentially, how huge multinational businesses have found a loophole in the financial system to avoid paying tax), and it struck me how ironic the system is.

Think about it. Most people who live in the city alongside me enjoy rushing into their local Starbucks at some time or another. Whether it be that early-morning coffee grab, or a chilled frappuccino with friends in the afternoon, the three cafés that I pass on my daily walk are always brimming with customers.

Perhaps or perhaps not-so-unfortunately, this very same café has become the "face" of the aforementioned tax scandal, alongside the now not-so-trusty Amazon and the social media devil Facebook. So explain to me this:

Why do people prefer to support giant unethical corporations, over the small, hardworking artists and artisans of society?

The Internet is flooded with illegal music and film downloads. I've even seen people idolising musicians on Twitter while the illegal download link on their iTunes screenshot is perfectly visible! This, along with the stealing of others artwork or photography - or simply the art of not linking back - on Tumblr for example, has become a real issue!

I simply find it unfathomable that some people do not appreciate true talent, enjoy spreading that appreciation to others, and put into perspective that while it may cost a musician hundreds of pounds for that one crucial recording studio session, a cup of coffee costs pennies to make - and that money isn't circulating back into our economy. That, my friends, is the true irony of "Fair Trade".

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Adam Green & Binki Shapiro: Just to Make Me Feel Good

I heard this a little while ago, and sadly this is the only recorded-track video I could find (rather than live) - so please spare me for using an almost too-try-hard video, what with the cliché grainy grey-scale filmography, cliché breakfast room, cliché critique of themselves and even the cliché boy-girl duet  have now found the official music video!

Nonetheless, I am a new fan of Adam Green & Binki Shapiro, and am looking at purchasing their album when it comes out (hits the shelves - if there still are music stores by then - on 28th January). Perhaps if you close your eyes, and focus on the lovely, slightly sombre backing track, you'll understand the magic I felt the first time I heard it (which coincidentally was on the radio). Enjoy.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dawes: When My Time Comes

I don't think I ever really wrote about the love affair I've had with the music of L.A. based band, Dawes. It started a while ago, after (quite rightly) searching out a few of Mumford and Son's' recommended listens... Dawes have supported Mumford previously, hence the connection, but little really came of this first chance encounter; a "Favourite" on my YouTube channel, but nothing more.

So when I was invited to review them supporting Mumford and Sons at the LG Arena, Birmingham in November, I genuinely thought it was fate. Writing in the magazine I'm Editor of, I said: "for a concert with just under 14,000 fans, their music and friendly chit chat between songs somehow managed to restore the intimacy and connections"... and went on to lust over the astonishing guitar solo they finished on during "When My Time Comes".

But really, the epiphany of our relationship came when Dawes took to the stage alongside the Mumford boys to sing "A Little Help from My Friends". The emotions in that huge, huge, echoing arena were incredible, and were even slightly juxtaposed by the comic falsetto backing singing...

I'd go so far as to say they're Los Angeles' 
equivalent of Mumford and Sons

After all this then, it's the least I can do to recommend them to you. They're a band who deserve a lot more recognition, and if they ever hit the UK again, make sure you snap up some tickets. You won't be disappointed - and you might even see me there!

Friday, 18 January 2013

How to Tie a Bow Tie

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, one of the most mesmerising and useful stop-motion films out there.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Mynabirds: Body of Work

After looking through a long chain of blogs, I stumbled across another music blog (we may be far and few between, but we certainly are a passionate bunch!). Advance Copy's Kenyon Hopkin, who sounds to me to be some kind of radio disc jockey too, runs the place, and top of the page was Laura Burhenn (who toured alongside Bright Eyes)'s new* project - The Mynabirds. And what a great project it is too!

With echoes of Lykke Li in not only the song but the video too, I'm bopping around to it trying to hurriedly finish off the last few scraps of revision I've got to go. Exams are the worst but good music and lots of tea really does help!

*New-ish... starting in 2009, however the above single was released Nov 2012. Forgive me for being so slow on the uptake!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The End for HMV?

The golden age for HMV
His Masters Voice, a gem in the crown of the music market, has gone to the administrators. But with this, I'm struggling to really see why no-one has quite put their finger on the cause of death yet.

It may look like a simple "economic crisis" failure, another Woolworths (sob!), but I've always been a little worried for HMV. Shopping there, in recent years, has caused more of a grimace than a grin - the high prices sometimes took the shine off the excitement of buying new releases. Why not wait an extra three days and order it on Amazon instead?

This, combined with their inability to take to online sales (I questioned myself today, with wind of the news - "Do they even sell music online?"), has made them the Neanderthal in the face of Homo-Sapiens Amazon and iTunes. And like Everything Everything so rightly pointed out on the Channel 4 news tonight (please note my pleasant surprise at how well they did alongside Jon Snow), HMV spread itself too thinly across the market, branching out into films, games, tickets, merchandise, sound systems...

The one thing I'm desperately, desperately praying about now is the survival of Waterstones, a member of the HMV group. I don't know if I could handle another great british institution closing down, let alone a guardian of books.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Great Gatsby

The buildings were higher, the parties were bigger; the morals were looser and the liquor was cheaper

Sorry folks for the recent lull in posting - it's been hard to keep up, especially with it being my exam period. So much work, so little time!

I hope you're all keeping well and looking out for the snow - it was lovely and thick last night, but it had all been washed away by the rain this morning. No crunching around in wellington boots for me! (At least, not yet... still crossing my fingers for another bout tonight!)

Tom (Buchanan!) Hardy 
As a small way of apologising for my absence, here is the trailer for what looks to be my film of the year (although, having said that, I do love finding little surprises along the way...). Leonardo Di Caprio and Carey Mulligan, in a film by Baz Luhrmann? What could be better! (Well, I have to admit that if they'd cast Tom Hardy as the raging Tom Buchanan, the film would be a perfect translation of my interpretation of the book, but I'll give Joel Edgerton a chance).

I'm going to say something almost sinful now too, but I don't even mind that Kanye West's No Church in The Wild is becoming The Great Gatsby's signature song... Roll on 17th May 2013!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Shannon May

I was scrolling through my little self-accumulated library of art and illustration when I came across the pieces above, and didn't know who had created them. Taken from one of my popular haunts, Design*Sponge, I managed to track down the artist and her website.

Her name is Shannon May, and although the Music for Airports piece has remained unpublished, it's one of my favourites, along with the lovely pastel Rural Water piece and now her geometric experiments too. I need to express how much I really like the pieces and in fact, the composition of the above two together. In a way, it seems very aspirational - to jump into the air with technicolour friends and to fly away on a beam of radio waves.

Shannon also has a blog and an etsy store with many more geometric experiments. Take a peek! I'm keeping her under my "Art" tab in case I can one day buy a print, and also, I hope she doesn't mind that I'm using her art for my Twitter background!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Liebster Award

The lovely Yasmin of YW Beauty has nominated Bonjour Mademoiselle for the Liebster Award (meaning "Dearest" or "Favourite" in German, which is nice).

I completely love the concept - little things that deserve to be big is very akin to the idea behind it - so I'm going to take part in the little tasks a winner of the award must do:

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated me
2. Write 11 random facts about myself
3. Answer the 11 questions set for me
4. Write 11 questions for my nominees, all of which must have under 200 followers.

Jump across with me to read all of the above, and find out who my nominees are...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Stornoway: Knock Me on the Head

Stornoway are back! The lovely boys named after the little town on the Isle of Lewis have recently announced they will be releasing their next album in my birthday month; March 2013. So keep your eyes peeled, it'd make the perfect present... hint-hint!

It seems to me that their sound has gone a little more The Doors on us with the electro-keyboard, but retains their cutesy, small-town sound (which I adore!). The Japanese-style intro works pretty well with the album art, which looks akin to Hokusai's The Great Wave.

Hoping to tick them off my list of bands to see this year pretty soon - however their upcoming tour lasting 25 nights sadly doesn't include Birmingham. Anyone living near these places, I envy you! Visit their website here to find out more.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

That or Which?

I wouldn't class myself as a Grammar Nazi (anything to do with Nazis really makes my skin crawl), but I am and always have been a strong believer in good grammar. The kids at my little school used to call me "Human Dictionary", if that's anything to go by.

It's appears however, with days and days of revision behind and indeed in front of me, this passion for the English Language's rule book doesn't seem to be as widely shared as it should be. I have one lecturer in particular who seems to adore the misuse of "which". I can handle the odd "which" or "that" out of place in some of the articles I edit for the University magazine, but this guy is serial offender.

So, in a way to make myself feel a tiny bit better, I'm putting the rule on here in the hope of simply publicising that there is a difference. For those of you out there who don't quite recognise that difference, here's the rule of thumb:

"That" is used for anything that is necessary to the main clause - the main clause doesn't quite make sense without it:
"I threw away the bit of cheese that had gone mouldy."

"Which" is used for any added extras to the main clause - the main clause does make sense without it:

"I threw away the mouldy cheese, which meant we had none."

There are of course some places where you can interchange that or which, but not in the instances described. I hope this helps someone out there - if anything, it certainly helped me from sending an email of blind rage to my lecturer!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Foody Friday: Chicken Caesar Salad

My Chicken Caesar Salad - and it tasted great, if I do say so myself!
Revision can get pretty dull, so I decided to try something a little healthier, but also a little tastier than normal - which has led to my first Foody Friday blog post! There's something really fulfilling about cooking healthy and tasty food.

After consulting some blogs (chiefly Savoury Sweet Life) I decided to add homemade croutons into the mix too. And what a lovely outcome! I'll definitely be adding the recipe to my mental cookbook - relatively cheap, healthy, and tasty, it fits right into my student lifestyle. I did, however, use Caesar Dressing, which may be a slight cheat, but I digress; the meal still does require some culinary skill! See the full recipe after the jump...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Matt Corby: Made of Stone EP

I burbled about Matt Corby a while ago, mostly in amazement after his performance at HMV Institute Birmingham, but never really let you all know that you can try before you buy!

Yes, yes, I'm back to my student-y ways with some free download recommendations. And first on the list this year is Mr Corby's Made of Stone EP. The title track really is a gorgeous piece, if not a little over-simplified in the lyric department.

Simply go to the website and sign up to the newsletter to get your free download!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


"Should we really be making resolutions?" Was the first question that I thought about, when I got asked what my resolution is this year. Like a very wise man once told me, you should celebrate every day, grow every day, and not need an excuse such as New Years to make resolutions.

On top of this, my lovely grandma told me hers was "to be more tolerant". The same as last year, and the year before - perhaps indeed one long pathway to reach to enlightenment. Whether it's the right track or not, it got me thinking: my resolution should be a personal promise to myself. No gym sign-ups, or saving for a rainy day financial rubbish, but an aspiration:

To do what truly makes me happy.

However selfish sounds, I've found that it's something that takes a lot more effort than it should; I'm quite an open, happy, optimistic person, but I do sometimes find myself wondering "Why on earth am I doing this?!". Last year I wasted a good few hours of my life in market research groups - for no pay - or bulking up numbers for things I myself didn't want to attend. What with university, two jobs, a magazine and eating/cleaning/sleeping on the agenda, what I should've been doing is pencilling in a few hours to simply relax and do nothing.

Read, write, listen... that's always been the motto, so why not put it into practice?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bienvenue 2013!

I'm welcoming in the wonderful, slightly ominous-sounding year of 2013 surrounded by my family and wishing everyone who isn't here a truly happy twelve months to follow!

Thank you to everyone who's moulded 2012 into my most enjoyable year to date, and to all you reading this specifically - thank you for taking the time to browse through my blog. My promise to you is that I will blog much more frequently from now on, to which I hope you'll enjoy - rather than run away screaming!

I'd also like to tell you all my recent big news at this moment in time; this coming summer I will be moving to Paris for a year! It's been a long time coming, and I'm still a little nervous over my French skills, but I can't wait to experience and document it all here!

So, here's to a sparkly, amazing 2013!

- Besma x