Over the past two weeks, in the wake of the U.S. presidential election, I’ve seen/watched/heard terrible news being shared on Facebook and other social media. Rising anti-Semitism garnered by the alt-right. Intimidation of journalists and free speech. Derogatory language regarding Muslims, African-Americans, the LGBTQ community, etc. It’s gut-wrenching. Horrifying. Paralyzing.
A great number of us feel like we’ve lost our country. But in fact, 2016 has been a year of many losses, particularly musical. Prince, Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and Sharon Jones come immediately to mind. Yet I keep coming back to another musical icon who passed away: the boombox-carrying “Radio Raheem” (played by Bill Nunn) from Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated Do the Right Thing. Given his character’s poignant message, expressed in the clip below, I don’t think it’s any coincidence we lost Mr. Nunn this year, too. HATE has won, at least temporarily.
As for 2017? Here’s hoping LOVE makes that comeback you predicted, Radio.
I haven’t posted in about a year – just been too busy – so I thought I’d breathe a little life into the blog with a snippet about what I’m listening to these days … and the funny ways whereby one hears about new music. Anyway, here’s the list:
The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy. These Scots are playing their classic ’85 album in full at a Miami concert on Friday, so I wanted to brush up on the disc.
Lykke Li, I Never Learn. Heard it on a plane while traveling overseas. Needed a break from watching, er, suffering through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Wildcat! Wildcat!, No Moon at All. The self-titled EP is slightly better, but to me, these guys still sound like the second coming of MGMT (who are really just derivative of a number of ‘60s psych groups). Recommendation from a friend.
n. Lannon, Falling Inside. Heard “Another Love” on a local college radio station and was hooked on this ex-Film School guitarist’s brand of electronic-folk. Why are so many great artists coming out of San Francisco right now?
Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth. Minimalist release from obscure Welsh band that was suggested to me by a student and apparently gave birth to modern “twee.” The kid also tells me it was an influence on Kurt Cobain, but then again, he’s in high school, so…
Kurt Vile, B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down. Super-excited for the new record from Vile, who made my personal Best of 2013 list with Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze (#1, in fact).
Amy Winehouse, Frank. I’m still reeling somewhat from the Amy documentary. A fine reminder of her talent before all the hoopla set in and did its damage.
P.S. I know this collection is particularly white, and I know I should use Spotify, Pandora, etc., more, but I’m never on my laptop or phone for long-enough periods of time. Any other suggestions out in the Webosphere?
The reason I’ve punctuated this post with a question mark is because I don’t think La Roux ever really needed to make a comeback at all. For starters, she (I’ll use La Roux and Elly Jackson interchangeably, since – in my mind – they’re essentially the same entity) has released only one full-length album so far, the chart-topping, single-laden, Grammy-winning La Roux, in 2009. So why does mainstream media keep framing her sophomore release, July 2014’s ironically titled Trouble in Paradise, in terms of a “comeback” narrative?
Certainly, the five-year gap between records spawned some listener concern, which intensified following news that Jackson had split (rather bitterly, according to this report … and this one) with longtime collaborator Ben Langmaid. Then a Guardian feature published in May detailed revelations about Jackson’s struggles with severe panic attacks and performance anxiety, conditions that developed in the wake of La Roux’s meteoric success.
Yet the fears were unwarranted. Trouble in Paradise has exceeded my expectations and offers a warmer, soulful, more instrumentally varied version of La Roux audiences haven’t heard before. My favorite tracks after a few listens are probably “Uptight Downtown,” “Cruel Sexuality,” and the subtly catchy first single, “Let Me Down Gently.” Not to sound fanboy-ish, but Jackson’s just a wonderful artist, one who sounds stronger after all that she’s been through. Still, in the immortal words of LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback!”
Are you excited for the Paul McCartney-Ringo Starr special tonight on CBS? I know I am. Paul and Ringo will be “reuniting” as the Beatles to honor the 50th anniversary of their first Ed Sullivan appearance, and a number of contemporary artists (Alicia Keys, Gary Clark, Jr., the Eurythmics) will be paying tribute. If you’re still not psyched about it, here’s a clip that may entice you: Broken Bells playing “And I Love Her” (feat. Ringo Starr) on Letterman last week, in the same theater that once housed The Ed Sullivan Show…
Check out the new Clips section for a little extra reading!
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