Who:First conceived in the summer of 2009 by Toronto-based multiplatform artist John O, while on a break from his post-punk band the D'Urbervilles (Matters), Diamond Rings burst onto the scene with a series of singles and videos featuring green screen camera trickery, over the top choreography, and daring androgynous outfi ts and makeup. The videos received international praise from both the online media and fashionistas alike. The singles, pressed to limited edition vinyl, sold out in a matter of weeks and received critical praise including "Best New Music" honors from Pitchfork. O'Regan says he came up with his new image and performance-art style in part to present his songs live in an entertaining way. Audiences soon began to identify with Diamond Rings' uniquely lyrical brand of pop songwriting and his overtly glamorous live sets. Showcasing real human emotion and honest vulnerability is rare enough for a 24-year-old let alone one who matches his eye shadow with his Air Force Ones while dancing about onstage with the reckless abandon of a teenager in the bathroom mirror. But there's something surprisingly mature shimmering beneath the glamour, hidden in John O's immediately iconic voice, and whip-smart lyrics.
Sounds Like: Blending a wide range of styles and soundscapes. Spacey slow jams give way to aggressive guitar rock that leads seamlessly into shuddering club beats and soaring synth lines, Special Affections delivers on all Diamond Rings' expectations. Tying everything together are the heartfelt lyrical sentiments of a young artist interested in far more than getting his audience to "just dance." O'Regan contrasts his deep, sad, handsome voice with uptempo synthpop arrangements, resulting in tracks that could pass for dance remixes of the National or Leonard Cohen. "The way I sing is the way I sing, and fortunately or unfortunately for me, the kind of music that I enjoy making and that I listen to usually isn't sung in that way, " O'Regan says. "Chicago house, Grace Jones, Janet Jackson's Control, anything that I'm into is usually sung by women. I enjoy that stuff sonically, but I can only sing it in my own style."
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