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Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon: The End of Day

js_kidcudialbum.jpg Kid Cudi’s first album (if you don’t count the 10.Deep mixtape) “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” just dropped and it is certainly meeting expectations. The 25 year old from Cleveland, Ohio rose to hip-hop stardom after being handpicked by Kanye West to appear on 808s & Heartbreak, lending his voice as well as garnering writing credits. Soon after, his anthem “Day N Nite” could be heard on the airwaves and clubs worldwide. His enunciation and flow is reminiscent of some of the best in the game and the tone of his voice garners respect but not fear. He’s someone you want to listen to, like a friend and while both Kid Cudi the rapper (as well as the man), gets a little emotional at times, he still keeps it fresh and interesting. His style is hard to categorize; “rap” is a safe bet but he has a knack for dragging out verses, turning raps into catchy songs that appeal to a broader audience. Take a listen to “Pursuit of Happiness” and of course the first single “Make Her Say” for a look at how diverse of an artist Cudi is.

Luke Vibert: We Hear You

51zHJXQZoBL._SL500_AA240_.jpg Under various names and through numerous styles, Luke Vibert has produced some of the best electronic music around for over a decade. Sticking to the format of simply good beats, he’s brought us masterpieces with every alias. Wagon Christ’s sugary yet dark trip hop grooves, the jungle stylings of Plug and Amen Andrews, acid of the Ace of Clubs, and dance floor candy of Kerrier District (not to mention a few others). Continuing under his given name and Planet Mu records, Luke is back with We Hear You , an album further extending his excursion into grime, yet retaining the straightforward goodness of all his previous work. If you haven’t heard of him, this is one record that will spark an adventure in digging back.

Antony & The Johnsons: Aeon

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Antony Hegarty’s voice will give you goosebumps guaranteed. The tremolo and emotional croon is the kind of thing that can sound cheesy and over dramatic if it’s not done perfectly. Thankfully, it is done perfectly. Antony and the Johnsons showcase the frontman’s ability to sing us an honest and sad, yet uplifting song, the single entitled ‘Aeon’. The true stunt, however, is the B side that sideswipes you. Equally somber is the band’s cover of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy Right Now’, a pop hit turned inside out, making a perfectly played out song listenable again. Remember the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules cover of “Mad World”? Exactly.

Japandroids: Post-Nothing

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We often have to throw out our expectations when it comes two piece rock bands. From the circular smash noise of Lighting Bolt, to the dance pop vibe of Death From Above 1979, to Hella pre-expansion, there’s clearly a lot you can do live and on record with just two guys. There are countless and ever varying examples. In most cases, however, the stripped down composition is apparent. The effort is placed in utlizing the lack of manpower and not in building it into grandeur that sounds like more than eight limbs are doing the work. Canadian duo Japandroids call themselves ‘garage rock’, that vague description more applicable to a style than a sound, but carry big punch. It’s not so much the songwriting as the creation of big sound that drives their debut LP Post-Nothing. A thorough listen to a couple of tracks will give you the idea- check it out.

The Opus Hotel: Vancouver

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On my last night in Vancouver I had the opportunity (really, the pleasure) to stay at The Opus Hotel, located in the up-and-coming Yaletown district. I’ve stayed at hundreds of boutique hotels around the world and was really quite surprised with how well this property was put together and run.

The building itself is very well done and features 96 luxury guest rooms inside"“ each with all the top details and modern amusements you would come to expect. iPod docks, a great mini-bar (even with some oxygen if you’re feeling tired), comfortable modern furnishings, soaker tub in the bathroom, etc. And most importantly, a great bed! My room had a small but nice balcony that let in some fresh Canadian air.

Rooms are designed around five unique themes from modern and minimalist to daring and dramatic"“ with really everything in between. Each room corresponds with one of the personas from within their Lifestyle Concierge"“ a really great idea that gives you recommendations for your visit tailored to your personality and mood. The idea is fairly simple"“ 7 different personas that just about everyone can identify with. Into arts and culture and want to see what the city has to offer in those realms, check out Susan’s recommendations. Want to go off the beaten path? Billy’s the man, and so on.   Good for food, shopping, entertainment and so on.

I would definately give them a nod for an up and comer in the area, and a brand to keep your eyes on in the future. They’re even on Twitter!

Yew Restaurant: Vancouver

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Vancouver is a fantastic city to explore and discover new restaurants "“ especially if you like seafood as much as I do. The access to quality ingredients would make any food connoisseur drool. It certainly had me blissed the whole week I was there.

I didn't need to go far from my hotel for my first big dinner, and the experience at Yew Restaurant was certainly worth celebrating. After undergoing a massive renovation in the lobby of The Four Seasons ($4 million Canadian dollars for the restaurant alone, I'm told), a dramatic space was born, seating more than 128 guests. You're dazzled in this gorgeous space by its massive 40 foot ceilings, a floor to ceiling fireplace, and a communal table formed from a single piece of western maple.

The Executive Chef, Oliver Beckert launched a dinner menu he calls No Passport Required, a way to lead his guests on an enticing culinary journey to far away destinations — all without the need to leave their comfortable downtown Vancouver seats. April was "Japan" month (my favorite, of course) so I gave up the reins and went for it.

My Japanese adventure started with King Crab Soup, a Sake based broth with Daikon and Shiso. Very simple, light, and tasty. Large chunks of King Crab which tasted like they’d been lifted out of the sea a few hours earlier. Soup was followed by a Miso-Marinated Black Cod served with Asparagus, Edamame and a Kombu Broth — a classic. Dessert was a Pink Grapefruit Parfait with Ginger and Vanilla Consomme and Almond Milk Caviar.

My guest loved his dish from the daily menu"“ the fresh wild Salmon, miso-broiled with Chinese Broccoli, Baby Shiitake Mushrooms, Squash and a Plum Puree. If you're not up for food from the sea, they offer Wild Boar, Venison, or a pasta dish for the vegetarians.

There's also an impressive wine selection with more than 150 bottles available by the glass"“ (yes, one hundred and fifty) and they'll open nearly any selection you might want to sample.

Our Parfait was an ideal ending for us, but if you’re feeling especially brave, finish off with a selection of their Homemade Ice Cream and Sorbet's "“ Nutella, Carmel Honeycomb, S'more Ice Cream — and then call the cardiologist! Delicious.

Bonobo: Between the Lines/Recurring Remixes

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British producer Bonobo first made waves at the tender age of 18, when his first record, Animal Magic, had the down-tempo scene buzzing. His compositions landed him in the big leagues a year later when Ninja Tune picked him up. With three records under his belt, the last one of which came out nearly three years ago, it’s about time we heard something new. Between The Lines/Recurring Remixes is a 10″ featuring remix work by Nostalgia 77 and Mice Parade of Bonobo’s tracks from Days to Come. If you’re not yet familiar with his work, check out his most recent release. You might recognize some of the tracks from your favorite TV shows.

Keen Harvest Bag

Keen, a company that started with the question, “can a sandal protect the toes?”, has gone on to expanding their product line well beyond just active sandals. Admittedly, I have not checked out their site since I was shopping for my trip to Kauai a few years ago, but a few weeks ago I pointed Firefox their way and was impressed with what I saw. Their Harvest Collection of bags is particularly noteworthy.

One model, the Cornell, is a unisex messenger bag made of 100% reclaimed rice paper. For those of you who have ever bought large sacks of rice from an Asian market, you know exactly what that is. The design and graphics on each bag are completely unique, the bottom is made of 100% recycled rubber (from tires), and there is a lushly padded 17.4″ notebook sleeve built in. I will not say it’s perfect, however. The front zipper on mine gets stuck, and repeated pulls are slowly ripping the pouch from the bag. My only other complaint is a small one – occasionally the strap folds up onto itself within the metal loops. Other than these small quibbles, the Cornell gets my vote if you are looking for a comfortable, unique, and green bag.

The Luxe Manor: Hong Kong

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On my recent trip through China, I was lucky enough to be a guest at The Luxe Manor hotel in Hong Kong. Even despite the typhoon, I had a very nice stay and would absolutely recommend this hotel to anyone visiting the city — if you want to get away from the main island and stay somewhere a little bit quirky. The hotel is located on Kimberley Road in the very busy Tsim Sha Tsui district in Kowloon, but it’s very much a breath of fresh air amidst the ruckus of shopping, etc on the streets below.

The Manor is a reinterpretation of a European mansion, with lots of mythical character and a very modern twist. It also has all the luxury you would expect, with wireless VoIP Telephones, WiFi, very impressive security keys, flat screens, HD on demand, and the like.

I stayed in a deluxe room (pictured above) and found it to be very comfortable– but the real gem of the hotel are the six themed suites on the top floor, which I was given a tour of. Some were more my style than others, but I applaud them for their creativity. My favorite was the Safari themed room (secret fantasy maybe), which has an intricate lighting system which allows you to lay back on the couch and see a faux sparkling night sky.

More pictures after the jump.

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