Dear American Apparel,

While we have been together for more than a year now you’ve managed to mutilate my feelings. I am inseparable with your Almost Black Slim Slack and Deep V-necks.

I have been eyeing your coral Pinpoint Oxford Long Sleeve Button-Up. The shirt just looked great on guys, girls, folded and even on the hanger. Moreover, that coral just flattered my skin tone so well. So, I justified the $54 price tag, and with good reason, it is the sort of a shirt one could could sport in the office, or on a spring weekend, alfresco. When I tried it on, I was in form-fitting heaven. The shirt, which is also darted and its sleeves ended just before my hands began. It was the perfect end to a horrible rainy weekend on that Sunday afternoon in SoHo.

When I got home I noticed a flaw in the shirt, the fabric had a small patch that looked worn out. Gutted, I returned it to the nearest American Apparel for an exchange. Later that night, I noticed another defect on the collar. Vexed, I managed to exchange it again the following day. Excited to be reunited with the shirt that I adored, I noticed a small rip with the collar’s button hole. Was this mere coincidence? Was finding a shirt that finally fit so perfectly too good to be true? Don’t get me wrong I’m on board with your “vertically integrated manufacturing,” and how each piece takes 56 sweatshop-emancipated L.A. hipsters to sew an inseam. I also get that each piece is never identical to another, however, when this philosophy you market is in reality defective over-priced apparel, we have a problem. Now I am stuck with store credit and a lot of uncertainty.

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Melanie Blatt | Shine

I have always been a girl band fanatic. Ever since the Spice Girls graced the 90’s with light-hearted pop and merry kitsch, I’ve indulged in the deluge of girl bands that came to follow, particularly All Saints. On the surface, many have dubbed the band as a hardly perennial pop act, albeit with a bit more sophistication than the standard. Truth be told, there’s a lot more to uncover. Melanie Blatt, a former band member has always had an understated appeal to her. Sultry, Blatt’s croons made up for some of All Saints best moments, and on her own she’s managed to craft some really good French House beats.

Unfortunately, Blatt has worked on two solo records that never really saw the light of day. The second, Shine, recorded in 2005, isn’t your conventional All Saints pop at all. A polar shift from songs like, “Do Me Wrong”, “24/7” or “Dreamin’ About Tomorrow”, Shine, perhaps dry on its first spin, is in fact a dreamy, sun-drenched melancholiac, evocative of a great impressionist painting. It is bathed with sullen vocals and great tunes. This has only made me admire Ms. Blatt more, dreaming up her potential. Perhaps she should consider a collaboration with the phenomenal Zero 7.

Jean-Marie Riachie’s Belaaks

Riachie’s latest, Belaaks (On the contrary), is a smart mélange of jazz, bossa nova, and oriental standards. Reminiscent of Ziad Rahbani’s Monodose and Wala kif, the record shapes a comfortable sound, blurring jazz, and bossa nova, as Arabic lyrics and instruments embrace uniquely French, Portuguese, and English contexts.

Highlights of the record are “Shefto Min Ib’id” (I saw him from afar), featuring the angelic Yara and “B’hibik” (I love you), featuring Lebanon’s fresh talent, Abir Ne’me.

Gin Wigmore

Gin Wigmore

Soul is basking in a new kind of vogue, and it seems logical for that soul-funk-retro machine we now know so well, to spit out another prototype for us, no? After all, Amy Winehouse is yet to release a follow up to Back to Black, and Adele and Duffy are yet to assert their presence on the music map. Meet Gin Wigmore. A Kiwi who lives in Australia and is currently touring the United States, peppering late night television with live appearances and promoting her debut release, Holy Smoke (that just saw the light of day, this side of the pond).

It’s hard to really pinpoint what Gin has to bring to the table. Apart from summoning the aforementioned artists, Gin certainly has a raw edge to her vocals. At her best she hints at acts like Skunk Anansie or even Macy Gray. In a spontaneous instance or two she gives us a taste of something completely unique, as the gal hardly sticks to one set genre. That is, she’s a bit of jazz, soul,and even rock.

For a sip of some top-shelf Gin listen to “Golden Ship” and “Hey Ho”.

Natalie Imbruglia: Want

Natalie Imbruglia Want

The first single from Imbruglia’s latest album, Come to Life, is a refreshing spin on the artist’s standard indie-pop discography. Prepossessingly refashioning Imbruglia’s Torn aura, “Wantis a great track. It’s not going to rival what put the Aussie songstress on the music map, but the track works, amazingly well. With lyrics like “I hope you get all that you want, ’cause I didn’t,” pulsating layered vocals and an infectious beat, Imbruglia channels a sophisticated dance anthem that you’ll be grooving to for quite sometime.

Marina and The Diamonds

The Family Jewels

A part Welsh, part greek outfit that channels a much less annoying Regina Spektor, Shakira (think warbling), Fiona Apple and even Kate Bush. This is exceptional pop, a scattering of intellect and sophisticated tunes, cinched in a pretty impressive act. The Crown Jewels, Marina’s debut album is a bit of a schizophrenic in a good way. It has everything; flamboyance, theatrical ballads and disco-drenched anthems. Moreover, it’s presented with outstanding an vocal range that eliminate all suspicion of pegging Marina as a synthetic pop prototype. Standout tracks are “Obsessions, an emotive ballad that tries to make sense of an abusive relationship, “Hollywood which is really witty, and the peculiar “Mowgli’s Road”.