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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Would Woody Guthrie Say about the Fascist Character of the Ukrainian "Revolution"?

I’m gonna tell you fascists
You may be surprised
The people in this world
Are getting organized
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us
This one thing we know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow
And greed has got to go
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose.

All of you fascists bound to lose:
I said, all of you fascists bound to lose:
Yes sir, all of you fascists bound to lose:
You’re bound to lose! You fascists:
Bound to lose!

People of every color
Marching side to side
Marching ‘cross these fields
Where a million fascists dies
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!

I’m going into this battle
And take my union gun
We’ll end this world of slavery
Before this battle’s won
You’re bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Few Covers that Are Better than the Original Song

Check out CHVRCHES cover of the Arctic Monkeys' "Do I Wanna Know?":
It's so much better. I couldn't stand the last Arctic Monkeys release.

Check out Haim's cover of Beyonce's "XO":
Again, so much better. I really feel no attachment to Beyonce's self-titled LP. Not that great. This is a nice rendition.

Check out Katy B's cover of another Arctic Monkeys "One for the Road/What I Might Do". Hot damn:
Damn good voice.

Finally, check out Grouplove's version of Cage the Elephant's "Spiderhead":
Oh and this too:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hot New Tracks Y'all Should Listen To and a Preview of Things to Come

Here are some sick new joints I've been jamming the last couple days. In the next couple days I'm going to do two album reviews - Dreamt's new EP Big Mean Sessions post-produced by one of my homies, and muh boi's album under the artist name The Social Union entitled Guessing Games. Looking forward to tomorrow, the new St. Vincent LP is out. The singles have been so good. Really looking forward to all that ish. Until then, jam some of these tunes!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Some Quick Reviews of Albums that Came Out Before I Started This Blog

Here are some one-shot reviews of LPs that came out earlier this year:

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything: I think this album has the best name ever. The politics are clearly Leftist as this has most of the same band members as Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The singing is much more bearable than previous releases with the psych-rock influence alongside the post-rock core. Vocals do wear on me sometimes, and the musicality isn't exactly virtuoso quality. Nonetheless, really great LP - 8.5/10

An Autumn for Crippled Children - Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love: Another album with a great name. I literally have no idea what the hell the vocalist is saying on any track. Nevertheless, my God a lot of this record is epic. I love the music on every song. This LP is a great, new installment in the "blackgaze"/post-metal movement, kind of a kindred soul to last years Deafheaven release - 9/10

Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire for No Witness: I really do try to take every album for-itself and only in relation to itself when I review or try to enjoy it. Sometimes, however, exceptions have to be made. This is just such a case. Angel Olsen's last release was an awesome piece of alt-country/rootsy goodness that simply is absent from this new album. I cannot help but see it as a regression. There is also nothing really of note to the lyrics for me - 5.5/10

Katy B - Little Red: in stark contrast to Angel Olsen's LP, I cannot help but see some seriously great progress with this new Katy B album. This thing is undeniably catchy and groovy. The lyrics are generally not great, largely politically neutral - with the notable exception of "Crying for No Reason" where Katy does a bit of psychoanalysis on herself, a standout track. Pretty good album - 7/10

Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo - I don't know exactly how I feel about this thing. I dig the shit out of some of these beats, really pretty great moods. RIP Kevin Miller is a sick track. But I think a lot of this demo sounds exactly like that: a demo, kind of half-cocked. Not sure how I feel about that, especially since Black Hippy has taken this dude under their wing. A couple good features by the Hippy crew does help the final track significantly. I also think this guy is way too politically neutral for Black Hippy, especially with Kendrick (whose album concept was about the dialectic of individual and society) and Jay Rock en-tow. Half-cocked album, half-cocked score - 5.5/10

Alcest - Shelter - this part black-metal band exorcises the lest remnants of metal from their sound and goes the full shoegaze. Some really nice moments on this album. But those moments are just that - fleeting, temporary, moments. This album, post-first listen, is so boring. I mean, really boring. Boring album, boring score 5/10

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fresh Track Friday: A Winged Victory of the Sullen - Atomos VII Track Review

Zizek likes to say that we cannot properly dream about a future society because global capitalism and democracy shape the conditions of possibilities of our dreams. We cannot think beyond a capitalist lifeworld. What we need is a great momentous, systemic change that will allow us to dream different dreams. I tend to agree. What is not banned, however, is the ability to dream about what it would be like to dream different dreams. That awareness is what I take to be the subject matter of A Winged Victory for the Sullen's new track "Atomos VII." A collaboration between Adam Wiltzie, of Stars of the Lid fame, and post-classical composer Dustin O'Halloran, A Winged Victory falls somewhere between the Sigur Ros of Valtari and Max Richter (with more pronounced strings).

The band's name is suggestive of the overall mood one comes away with when one listens to A Winged Victory for the Sullen: a warm feeling of satiation. As far as the music goes on this track, it's a better-than-standard meditation on being weightless. The strings come through nicely, and the swells of lush harmony add to the gorgeous atmosphere of the track. What's odd is that I undeniably want this song to go on longer, much longer than its 8 minute run time. But perhaps that's a testament to A Winged Victory's effect on our ears, overall - we desire to be in the lap of their beautiful music all of the time. I do wish there were a few more ear catching points to this song. I also wish that the arpeggiated, quasi-staccato strings toward the middle of "Atomos VII" took more of a backseat to Wiltzie's ambience. I can forgive those transgressions, though. I mean, the band's name alone might make up for them.

Look out for the band's Atomos EP coming out this spring. Should be an enjoyable listen.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Godspeed You! Black Emperor - The Dead Flag Blues

"The car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows

The government is corrupt
And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

It went like this:

The buildings, tumbled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair

The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I said: "kiss me, you're beautiful-
These are truly the last days"

You grabbed my hand and we fell into it
Like a daydream or a fever

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down-
For sure it's the valley of death

I open up my wallet
And it's full of blood"

One of my favorite songs ever. Enjoy:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pussy Riot Were Savagely Attacked Today in Sochi

Horse whips, pepper spray - post-communist kleptocracy at work. Is capitalist Russia really doing better than the Soviet Union? I think not. Moreover, the Olympics are not a celebration of the human capacity to achieve great things - it is rather a massive show of financial investment funding a faux sense of internationalism. Pussy Riot continually confronts this type of ideology - may they live forever.

UPDATE: Success.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

St. Vincent - Digital Witness Track Review

I just listened to St. Vincent's new LP and it is awesome. Some distinctly political flare here: exemplary is the second single from the album, "Digital Witness." Annie, the songwriter/main performer of St. Vincent, clearly understands the disquieting toll that social media and the "selfie" culture of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al. takes on a society in desperate need of change. In a recent interview with Quietus, Annie explains,

"Anything that knows it is being watched changes its behavior. We are now so accustomed to documenting ourselves and so aware that we are being watched and I think psychologically that takes a strange toll, which is going to show itself more and more as we progress. In some cases, we have this total connectivity via the internet, but if we are not careful, it can actually disconnect us more than we know. I’m curious as to what that is going to lead to… It’s the fact that we cannot just have a meal – a nice, quiet, private meal – and that we have to take a picture of the food and put it on Instagram and make sure we get a round of tiny applause, and then maybe make a Facebook post about how good we feel afterwards, and then go on Yelp and recommend the restaurant, makes this a strange time we are living in. I’m not arguing to be a Luddite or anything like that, I’m just asking the questions about, 'Where are we now?' and 'Where are we going?'"
"Digital Witness" explores this topic. Cf. the last chorus:

"Digital witnesses, what's the point of even sleeping?
If I can't show it, you can't see me?
What's the point of doing anything?
What's the point of even sleeping?
So, I stopped sleeping, yeah I stopped sleeping
Won't somebody sell me back to me?"
It's also interesting that, though the choruses are intoned from the position of a subject interpellated by ideology, the verses are actually intoned from what seems to be the non-existent super-egoic position of ideology itself. The call of the dis-embodied voice here is "I want all of your mind." I adore this detail.

As far as the music goes - we get some ultra-catchy horns with a well placed unison melody of Annie's voice and synth throughout. More to the point, this thing grooves. I really have nothing much bad to say about it. Perhaps the vocals aren't the best ever - but I'm not too concerned with that, there are some very difficult intervals to hit in the melody. Give this song a listen or twenty.

She can do no wrong:


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Have a Nice Life - The Unnatural World Album Review

I'm somewhat glad that Have a Nice Life kept their sophomore album under 50 minutes: if they hadn't I might have become far too depressed to enjoy the LP as much as I did. The very name, The Unnatural World, hints at the darkness encompassed in its post-punk turned drone and noise tinged tracks. And believe me, it is one dark, gloomy album. The lo-fi quality of the recording and screwed production fit well with the darkwave vibe here, gripping the listener with a certain feeling of vast blackness - I like to describe the music here like an unceasing haziness that occasionally turns on the listener to become a crushing oppressive fear of an inevitable future doom. 

On first listen, what first struck me musically was the continuity of the album - I want to say it's elegant, but I'm not sure if such a positive word would fit the arc of this nearly-nauseating collection of songs. The album is not only musically speaking a single sonic piece of writing, but also lyrically it harps on repeated images and themes. From what I can tell, the songs largely deal with death, hopelessness, and tortured souls. Beyond that, there is an implied social critique throughout. Something that any socialist/left-anarchist can dig. In the songs "Burial Society," "Emptiness Will Eat the Witch," and "Guggenheim Wax Museum" there is repeated imagery of digging/soil and impending death. Connect this with the title of "Burial Society" - a song, that this reviewer takes to be set on the top of building whist the narrator considers jumping off (imagery of suicide is repeated throughout the song) - and we get the hint of a social critique: society makes people this way. In "Cropsey," I hear support for this reading.

"Cropsey" opens and ends with narration that sounds like it's straight out of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor song. The narration comes from a documentary about the Pennhurst State School for Children. It's quite unsettling. Again, the implication here is a social critique. I think that the entire song is written from the perspective of a child living there: 

"And I’ve been waiting on everyone
I’ve been waiting on
Cause I’ve been waiting on anyone
To show up and throw me out of here"

You can view the video about the state school here:

Soot is another recurring theme, along with soil, death and earth - suggesting to my ear, along with some imagery of "Burial Society," a sort of mutilated Urbanism like that of Lynch's Eraserhead or Scott's Blade Runner. The message of this album might be summed up thusly - "this place is destroyed and so is our lives, when I look inside myself all is see is a horrible emptiness that I would like nothing more than to negate. We are all doomed." A sort of nihilism that sees no hope. The music fits this theme, save for "Cropsey" and "Music Will Untune the Sky" there are barely any major chords at all. And in "Music Will Untune the Sky" what we receive is a sort of tortured cry for repentance from a God that doesn't exist - hardly something to rejoice about. Moreover, there are hardly any clean guitar tones on the entire LP - with the notable exception of the closer, "Emptiness Will Eat the Witch." Most guitars, bass, synth, anything really is distorted and tortured like the characters that narrate the songs on the album.

Exactly what is causing society to produce the depressed, hopeless, doomed people that populate the narrators in this release is left a mystery - but those of us on the Left need not wonder. What we get with this album is an explosion of the current coordinates of the worst of our society and the darkest possible portrayal of those most completely ran over in the steam-roller that is capitalist production. The last thing that these characters will do is have a nice life, especially in the Urbanism of an unnatural world. 

Essential tracks: "Burial Society," "Cropsey," "Dan and Tim, Reunited by Fate," "Emptiness Will Eat the Witch"

Rating: 9/10