KT Tunstall Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon

As another year draws to an inevitable end, convention prescribes that we meditate, reflecting on the horde of events, current and private, that make up our full year. The advent of social media has turned this exercise a little more sensory and a little more definite, with algorithms that archive our holidays, parties, and milestones through photographed memories and commentary. And in the process, a soundtrack to document these moments can be a crucial element to the experience that is looking back.

KT Tunstall Invisible Empire Darabzine

KT Tunstall returned in the summer of 2013 with a record that may have disappointed some, but for others remained an exemplification of a talented lyricist and musician. Unlike her previous albums that always made a conscious attempt to include something a little more pop centered or electro, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon confronts a context that is more heart-rending, absorbed with the ideas of mourn, loss, and death. Its result is a distillation of Ms. Tunstall’s musical nucleus: airy, beautiful, and hauntingly expansive.

The opening song of the record, “Invisible Empire” showcases Ms. Tunstall’s ability to croon softly, with a notable succession of repeatedly changing notes. Touching and introspective, it’s a perfect track to listen to when thinking of the past, present, and future.

“There’s No Better Shoulder” is a guitar-driven number with only one verse. “There’s no better shoulder, there’s no finer place, but one word of warning, you’ll never be replaced”, concentrically ripples alongside thrums of acoustic and electric guitars. The track focuses more on the passage of music through its 5 minutes and 27 seconds, crescendoing at the storm of sound created by the speed of which the instruments begin to interchange. Evocative of the Arizona landscape, where much of this album was recorded, the track is suggestive of the infinite horizons of desert, rims of canyons,  red rocks, and cacti that define Ms. Tunstall’s emotional terrain. “How You Kill Me” is hard to forget. The cymbals and bass in this song alone are enough to send you into serious thought and consideration, pondering the fine line between love and hate.

Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon is not a dejected or apathetic collection of songs, but rather a demonstration of Ms. Tunstall’s delicious musical idiosyncrasies. And in the fullness of time one can realize the majesty of this record, where it becomes an ideal backdrop for looking back, reminiscing, and considering cathartically, the loss, triumph, and the numerous odds and ends that made up 2013.


Celebrating Marc Jacobs: Style No Chaser


A series of illustrations created for a Style No Chaser editorial covering the style breadth of Marc Jacobs and his evolving fashion risks. The sketches mark his fashion splashes with Perry Ellis from the early 90’s, to his most recent significant event, that is leaving Louis Vuitton.

Marc Jacobs: Style Portrait


Perry Ellis: RTW 1990’s


Perry Ellis: Grunge 1990’s


Marc Jacobs Bang


Leaving Louis


© 2013 Faris Habayeb for Style No Chaser

Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird Darabzine

Nettled by its tone of trend and superiority, Charlie Bird, the hottest new restaurant in SoHo may end up as a momentary fad, nestling in that list of places to take dates and impress out-of-towners. A neon sign hangs vertically calling out the name “Charlie Bird”, in an electric yellow, attracting a certain type of crowd that is mostly young and good looking, with a penchant for a fashionable dining experience.

But for now Charlie Bird’s blemishes are tolerated. For example, the early 90’s rap is no longer played at excruciatingly high decibels. The tie-dye gradient on the fold-out menu calls attention to the establishment’s fondness for the New York hip-hop scene. Moreover, the employment of a condensed version of the Impact typeface, remains, a refreshing departure from the generic menu designs of city dining. The music is a little louder in the diminutive bathrooms, with large jars of mint Life Savers offered to patrons who appreciate a sugary mint or two. And so, Charlie Bird seems to have enough going to keep the crowds thronging.

If you can manage to get a reservation, you’ll note that the service errs on the side of the handsome and immaculate. Most of the wine varieties can be ordered as half a bottle. The expansive list runs the price and region gamut, securing appropriate pairings for every meal and budget. Moreover, sharing is encouraged. Pasta orders are instinctively divvied up―should you choose to go halfsies. The brief but comprehensive menu spans the sea and turf with good variety, including plenty of vegetarian options.

Welfleet oysters with tomato vinegar are pleasant, with a fresh, mineral finish. A bright mélange of green and grain is a must try for those who enjoy a good farro salad. Nonetheless, it is also an extended invitation to those who usually find salads, or farro for that matter, to be underwhelming. Basil, mint, arugula, and apple-cider soaked farro, intermingle with chopped tomatoes. It’s a fresh grain salad, underscored with luxurious glugs of olive oil, pistachio, and freshly shaved parmesan. Melissa Clark of The New York Times has a recipe for it here.

The Tuscan chicken liver is worthy of comment. It was the first time, for as long as I could recall, I was able to enjoy an ingredient I usually find too brash with its sharp, iron taste. Balsamic raisins, chopped walnuts, and capers, stud the plate, rendering the dark reddish brown pâté creamier, sweeter, and aromatic, than I could have ever imagined chicken liver could taste.

The Chitarra Nero is an unadulterated, black pasta dish with crab and zucchini. The pasta is delicately boiled and tossed with bread crumbs and Calabrian chiles. It delivers both delight, crunch, and just the right touch of heat.

For dessert, opt for the lemon cake. It comes with a dollop of pistachio gelato. It’s a radiant, delicious finish to a meal. It’s perfect to share but best eaten solo.

Charlie Bird
5 King St
(between Mac Dougal St & Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10012

La Esquina Brasserie

La Esquina Corn Darabzine

Fans of HBO’s How to Make It in America, will recall that one of the show’s greatest achievements was its ability to weave the spirit of the New York culture scene within its storyline.

In one episode, a birthday dinner is celebrated at La Esquina Brasserie, the concealed restaurant tucked underneath the street level café and taqueria of the La Esquina enterprise. A recent birthday celebration allowed for life to imitate art involving dinner and libations at the taco speakeasy. Toggling between the exclusive and elusive, the crowd, music, and food, all worked in unison to deliver a Manhattan restaurant experience that was memorable.

Veal tongue tacos, octopus with saffron aioli, and crab tostadas are great selections to share. But surprisingly the roasted Mexican corn stole the show. At $5 an ear, it promises to please. Warm butter, salt, cheese, and lime—slathered on a fresh ear of roasted corn, are irrefutably, the best way to usher the rest of the Mexican-inspired menu.

La Esquina Brasserie
114 Kenmare St
(between Mulberry St & Mott St) 
New York, NY 10012

© 2013 Faris Habayeb