Tough Chick Knows Vogue

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Angelina Jolie is gracing the 2010 December cover of VOGUE magazine. She speaks on raising six kids (and Brad) and she talks about her new movie The Tourist starring Johnny Depp. It’s a really cool feature explaining the other, off-screen Angelina.

NPR Feature: Florence And The Machine

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I first discovered Florence And The Machine after reading a great feature article from NPR in April 2010 titled, “Florence And The Machine: From Delicate To Fierce.” The feature talks about British lead singer Florence Welch becoming one of the newest music sensations. The feature does not list who the author is, but the author seemed to only use a little bit of research. This research included information on Florence + The Machines past albums, critic reviews and an actual interview with lead singer Florence Welch.

The feature is organized very well, but is lacking in the lead sentence. It doesn’t particularly grab the reader’s attention right away, but the body of the feature makes up for that minor flaw. The article describes how Florence Welch got discovered, and goes on to mostly talk about the influences on Welch’s style and the particular vocal sound that makes Florence And The Machines stand out among other new music artists. I think it’s unusual that this feature uses subheadings to separate topics, but it seems effective. It grabbed my attention, and I was able to follow along with the article better.

There are a lot of good-quality quotes from Florence Welch in this article. Such as when Welch talks about her musical style by saying, “It’s primal tribal bashing of percussion, mixed with the choral side of backing vocals.” Although the author included some good quotes, I think trying to get some quotes from Welch about her transition from London to America, as well as her thoughts on making it big in the American music industry would be beneficial to the feature.

One of the best parts about the feature is the author’s creative description of Florence And The Machines music. For example the author says, “The song’s evocative words channel the emotionally destructive nature of love.” These fluid sentences make the reader want to listen to the music. As for the final kicker, it is decent. The author ends off with a quote from Welch on how she feels about playing at concerts. It kind of leaves the reader hanging, but it also makes the reader want to know more about Florence And The Machines.

Feature Review – Melissa Auf der Maur

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The Vancouver Sun recently ran a feature on former Hole/Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur, who is currently on tour promoting her second solo album/short film/graphic novel, “Out of Our Minds.” At the core of the feature is an interview with Auf der Maur, but writer Mike Devlin also covers the struggles she went through in trying to get her multimedia project off the ground.

Auf der Maur is the only person interviewed for the article. It is not specified whether the conversation took place in person or over the phone, but she was at her New York home for it. There does not appear to be much, if any, outside research; the text either paraphrases portions of the interview or supplies basic information one could easily glean from Auf der Maur’s official website.

I would like to have seen Devlin dive into less familiar territory–there have been a number of Auf der Maur features this year in conjunction with “Out of Our Minds” but few of them offer anything unique. I appreciate that the Hole and Smashing Pumpkins material is kept to a minimum since it’s been done to death elsewhere, but there is still some ground that hasn’t been adequately covered. What exactly inspired this project? What were the years of uncertainty like, unattached to a label while trying to bring an admittedly difficult concept to fruition? I want to know more about the project itself rather than the world around it.

The introduction reminds readers what Auf der Maur’s claim to fame is before giving a basic tease to invoke curiosity. It’s followed by two quote paragraphs where the singer openly comments on herself and her artistry. The next paragraph mentions the album’s recent release, showing why this feature is relevant. That leads to a paragraph about the challenging aspect of the project, transitioning to two more quotes, the latter about her past musical experiences. The next paragraph takes that quote to show how those adventures led to “Out of Our Minds” and further explains what the project is about.

After that, Devlin rapidly covers the many changes in Auf der Maur’s life since the project’s conception, from moving multiple times to leaving her record label. Much like the intro, this takes an unexpected twist to show how all of this was “best thing that could have happened” to Auf der Maur, explaining how via a quote. Finally, Devlin inserts the obligatory Hole and Smashing Pumpkins references but rather than the typical “This is why she did not take part in either band’s recent reunion” commentary, he allows her to discuss her future plans regarding this part of her history, not the history itself.

Listen to “The Key,” a standout track from “Out of Our Minds”: