Monday, September 28, 2020

Amanda Shires

 

This is a benefit single and is worth a moment of your time.

Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell have teamed up for a powerful new duet released in conjunction with International Safe Abortion Day, with all proceeds going to the Yellowhammer Fund, an "abortion fund and reproductive justice organization serving Alabama and the Deep South."

 [...]

Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of Yellowhammer Fund, added, "'The Problem’ tells a story that’s rarely heard or discussed—especially by southerners—and we are grateful that Amanda is shining a light to keep the conversation going. With the 2020 election looming, we want to continue destigmatizing abortion and we hope that normalizing conversations around it will help folks feel more comfortable seeking the essential health care they need… We at Yellowhammer Fund deeply appreciate that Amanda understands why accessible abortion for all is so essential and we’re beyond thrilled to join her in this venture."

 "The Problem" is a gorgeous, melancholic, alt-country song that leaves its impact on first listen. Its message comes through loud and clear, and Amanda has crafted the perfect musical backdrop to match.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Michael Kiwanuka Wins the Mercury Prize

 

This is very well deserved:

Singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has won the 2020 Mercury Prize for his soul-searching third record, Kiwanuka.

A lush, immersive album of politicised soul, it sees the star exploring themes of self-doubt, faith and civil rights.

Released last November, Kiwanuka beat best-sellers like Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia and Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head to win the £25,000 prize.

"It's blown my mind," said the singer. "Music is all I've ever wanted to do, so I'm over the moon."

Kiwanuka won on his third attempt, having been nominated for each of his previous albums: 2012's Home Again and 2016's Love & Hate.

"I was kind of resigned to the fact [that] if I don't win one this year, probably I'll never win one," he told BBC 6 Music.

Watching someone win something they've always wanted is rewarding in and of itself. In the world of music prizes, I would put the Mercury Prize above a Grammy because I don't think there's any appreciation for artistry in winning one. There is an aspect to winning the Mercury Prize that says that your artistic achievement is paramount; we don't care if your record didn't sell many copies. In the case of Kiwanuka, his album was not a runaway best seller but it landed with authority. It is a dense, multi-layered effort that rises to the moment and to the occasion where we find ourselves.

And it's well deserved because we need to hear someone sing from their soul. No plastic emotions, no cutting corners to let the business people move some widgets. Just old fashioned art in the recorded sounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Blue Hearts


Blue Hearts is the new album from the great Bob Mould and he makes one hell of a resistance fighter:

“All I have to do is wake up in the morning and take a look at what’s happened while I was sleeping — that’s enough to scare me every day into saying something,” Mould tells SPIN.

His outrage is especially potent on single “American Crisis.” He wrote the song two years ago during the sessions for his previous album, 2019’s Sunshine Rock, but decided it was too dark to fit that project’s more optimistic outlook. However, the track felt too relevant to pass over again.

“American Crisis” reminded him of being a young musician trying to figure out his identity in the early ‘80s. While not normally one for nostalgia, Mould has been in a particularly reflective state: He recently helped compile the 24-CD box set Distortion: 1989-2019 (out Oct. 2), which chronicles his 30-year post-Hüsker Dü career, including his work as a solo artist and a member of influential alt-rock band Sugar.

How many artists are putting out 25 CDs worth of music this year?

Everything that I've heard so far is classic Mould. The power and the prestige that he brings to a straightforward protest song is enough to make you want to venture out into the world and wave a sign in some asshole's face. This is the energy we need right now and this is the moment for definitive statements. You can't sit on the fucking fence anymore. You have to get engaged and you have to start giving a shit about the world. Bland resignation and indie hipster detachment is what put us in this place to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sometimes the People You Like Are Idiots

 


Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher have revealed themselves to be ignorant jackasses and that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Noel Gallagher has said he refuses to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, complaining that it is a violation of his liberty.

Speaking on the Matt Morgan podcast, the former Oasis guitarist said: “It’s not a law. There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away from us now … I choose not to wear one. If I get the virus it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else … it’s a piss-take. There’s no need for it … They’re pointless.”

Gallagher said he had resisted calls to wear a mask on a train and in shops. “I was going up to Manchester the other week and some guy’s going, ‘Can you put your mask on,’ on the train, ‘because the transport police will get on and fine you a thousand pounds. But you don’t have to put it on if you’re eating.’ So I was saying: Oh right, this killer virus that’s sweeping through the train is gonna come and attack me, but see me having a sandwich and go, leave him, he’s having his lunch?

Oh, and there's also this gem:

Gallagher is not the only Mancunian indie star to have voiced doubt over the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown tweeted: “No lockdown no tests no tracks no masks no vax,” later adding: “So im a Conspiracy Theorist HA! a term invented by the lame stream media to discredit those who can smell and see through the government/media lies and propaganda #researchanddestroy.”
You can safely ignore their advice as far as it relates to protecting your health and staying alive. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and get tested if you can. If you test positive, do what you can to avoid spreading the virus.

I mean, what a bunch of fucking idiots. We're still having this debate?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

John Fogerty Explains Why Trump is a Fortunate Son

 

[On] September 10th, Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump held a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. He de-planed to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s anti-war classic “Fortunate Son”, and if you’ve ever paid the tiniest bit of attention to the lyrics, you’ll agree with singer John Fogerty that it’s a “confounding” choice.

The moment was recorded in a tweet by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, who called it “an entry for the ‘nobody listened to the lyrics’ hall of fame.” The tweet quickly went viral, and today Fogerty issued his response. In a Facebook video called “Meaning behind Fortunate Son,” the legendary rocker broke things down so even a very stable genius could understand.
In Fogerty's own words, the comparison is devastating:
“The very first lines of ‘Fortunate Son’ are, ‘Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh their red, white and blue. But when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief,’ they point the cannon at you.’ Well that’s exactly what happened recently in Lafayette Park. When the President decided to take a walk across the park, he cleared out the area using Federal troops so that he could stand in front of St. John’s church with a Bible. It’s a song I could’ve written now. So I find it confusing, I would say, that that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son.”

There's nothing ambiguous about a John Fogerty song. He lays it out for you. The idiot who played that song before the Trump rally, thinking it would stick it to the libs has to be some sort of unwitting resistance fighter. That's the only thing that makes sense, other than the fact that Trump and his ilk know nothing about American culture.

I find it striking that there aren't already a million kids packed into the open spaces of Washington D.C., demanding an end to the Trump regime. In Fogerty's day, someone like himself had to put on the uniform and be subject to the draft for a war that was opposed at home. That war had to end because the country lost the political will to continue it and this was largely due to the coffins that were coming home and the young people who protested it.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has killed far more Americans than the entirety of the Vietnam War and yet, here we are in relative comfort and security, watching our democracy die before our eyes. There are protests being met with the most severe repercussions imaginable and this has not caused more people to step out into the fray. Trump is driving people away from the political process by making it as sickening as possible. 

I have to believe that the votes will be there in November. To consider any other possibility is too difficult.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The World is Always Going to Push Back



System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan has hit back at fans who have criticised his controversial political opinions.

The musician sparked outrage back in June when he spoke out in praise of Donald Trump, describing him as “the greatest friend to minorities” in the US. He later targeted Black Lives Matter, saying that the movement “never had legitimacy” and calling it a “propaganda tool” for the Democrat Party.

Taking to Instagram yesterday (September 8), Dolmayan shared a negative online review of his Las Vegas comic book store, Torpedo Comics, in which a man named Jeff Jones called the drummer “a fascist sympathiser who pedals [sic] in racist conspiracy theories”.

Dolmayan can say and believe whatever he wants. He can put all of his beliefs out there and he can submit them to the marketplace of ideas. What happens after that is entirely up to the people who can either buy in to those ideas or reject them. 

Why is he surprised to find out that nobody wants to listen to his pro-Trump bullshit? Does he think that what he believes is beyond reproach?

Musicians who have liberal or centrist beliefs are subjected to criticism and online nastiness all the time. Standing up against racism has literally ended musical careers. Taking a stand has usually meant being savaged by the people in your fanbase who don't agree with what you're saying.
I mean, grow up, dude.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

David Byrne is Not Racist


I am not a huge fan of what David Byrne did to Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth when they were in Talking Heads. I am pretty sure that I fall on Chris and Tina's side of things when it comes to how they experienced David's unique form of human interaction.

However, I will defend David from any charge that he is racist. I'll take up that cause any day of the week. 
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has apologized for wearing black and brownface in an unearthed promotional video, calling it a "major mistake in judgement."
In the clip for the rock band's concert film 1984 "Stop Making Sense," the star is shown interviewing himself, while donning black and brown face to impersonate several non-White people.
The 68-year-old musician took to social media on Tuesday to express his regret after the vintage clip resurfaced online.
"To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brownface, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgment that showed a lack of real understanding," he wrote in series of posts shared on his Twitter page.

"It's like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else -- you're not, or were not, the person you thought you were."
Virtually every attempt to wear black or brown face is reprehensible and ignorant, and so I commend him for apologizing. In the context of Stop Making Sense, this was an inclusive set of songs that traversed multiple genres of music, much of it steeped in other cultures. You could criticize them for appropriating those cultures, but you'd be wrong. Talking Heads brought people onto the stage with them that would normally have been excluded.

I think what David was going for was a more inclusive, shared experience that was meant to bring people together to enjoy things they would not otherwise have been exposed to. We know from Chris's book that the band added musicians so that they could bring in a wider audience and make what started out to be four white people playing an eclectic mix of musical genres into a truly integrated and inclusive experience. There is no punching down here.

And it is true that he was and still is a person with quirks and strange ways of behaving and interacting with people. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to speculate on that. I know what has been written about him, and I don't think that's the way to frame this. What I think is more true is that there was no harmful intent, no desire to render another group of people as irrelevant or to make it so that they are no a part of the songs or the presentation. This seems like an awkward effort to elevate and hear other voices and not much more than that.

Now, will people forgive him for it? I sure hope they will and I know there are other artists who need to have this reckoning.