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SOTD: Warren Zevon, “Keep Me In Your Heart”

26 Jun

 

You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while.

Hold me in your thoughts
Take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes
Keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you.

Getting my post-bac in A – &$*@!#^ – merica, flinging myself across the continental 48, prone to loving the new, but missing my friends, and probably being farther away from my family than I can justify, things get complicated.

Nothing like a little Zevon to put it in perspective.

SOTD: Fiona Apple, “Every Single Night”

12 Jun

“I really like snails” – Fiona Apple

From the new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.

If you eat one thing today, eat fresh corn because it’s in season now and it’s like DAMN. If you call one person today, call your senator about the Paycheck Fairness Act.

4 Jun

Okay, so actually I really hope you eat more than just a cob of corn today, and I think it would have more of an impact to call both of your senators (if you live in the U.S.).  But either way, the corn is juicy and it’s impossible to ensure fair wages in the workplace without payroll transparency!  Which is what the Paycheck Fairness Act calls for (the transparency, not the juicy).

So please, take a few minutes to chow some cobs and call your senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act today.  But preferably not at the same time.

You can call 1-888-876-9527 to get easily connected to your senators.  Native Georgians like me, please confirm or deny my suspicion that you have to have a ridiculous name to be a Georgian senator.  Saxby Chambliss? Johnny Isakson?? Chocoball Mukai?!  Okay, one of those isn’t real.

Earning less than someone doing the same work is buuuuullshit.
Call your senators today.

If you want it enough, their band could be your life

26 May

wake up in the van
drink a beer
write a song
mail the fuzzy tape of it to your sound engineer- who’s your cousin
drive 8 hours to the next venue on the tour
eat a slice of pizza purchased for you by one of your few fans, knowing you wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.
blow fan’s ears and what was between them to smithereens at your show
give an interview for a hardcore music ‘zine
fight with your bandmates
get drunk together and make up (unless you’re straight edge, in which case you might just sulk) 
get back in the van
do it again

The period from 1981 to 1991 was dominated by Reaganism, new wave, punk bands knocking off one another, and musical acts that were more about style than about substance.  But for the bands profiled in Michael Azerrad in Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, it was a time to incubate true independence- to learn to live as an artist and a human being without the gilded trappings of shitty mainstream music.  It was not the birth of the American Underground, but it was a damned significant period of music and scene-making for bands in the punk, art rock, noise, hardcore, experimental and downright undefinable scenes.

The 2001 tome’s title Our Band Could Be Your Life comes from a lyric in The Minutemen’s subtly funky punk song “History Lesson Part II.”  The Minutemen are a working class band from San Pedro, California, whose career was depressingly cut short by the death of bandmate D. Boon in a car accident (fuck those, man).  Their aesthetic was to “jam econo,” that is, to do everything as cheaply and affordably as possible.  They lugged and set up their own equipment for their whole careers, and kept day jobs for most of them.

That concept of jamming econo, of doing it yourself from the album art to booking the tours to writing the songs to fixing your van to starting your own record labels (see SST and Dischord, among others), is what allows the scene to get by.  Not to flourish, mind you, but to start a club of people who could get a casette tape from a friend or hear a totally new sound on a college radio station, who appreciated creativity without definitions, a club who reconvened in all the smelly clubs for all the rocking shows.

The scene was about originality.  Profiling Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr, Fugazi, Mudhoney, and Beat Happening, among other bands, Azerrad depicts a collaborative, broke, highly artistic musical underground that doesn’t exist in the same way today.  Yet ask many musicians currently working, and they’ll tell you how much the legacies of these bands (a few of whom are still playing today) and the knowledge from this book influenced them to start bands.  Admittedly short on women, Our Band Could Be Your Life can be read well with books like Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front– in terms of timelines one leads into the next.

Which is to say, we couldn’t have the American Indie (and semi-independent) scene we have today without ’80s and early ’90s predecessors.  Thanks for forging ahead, and teaching us how to jam – and live – econo.

Recommended read, though maybe a bit too hefty for a beach read.  Have a rocking holiday weekend everyone!

Video

Sam’s SOTD: “24,900 Miles Per Hour” by 7 Year Bitch

15 May

Hello from Seattle!

In keeping with the riotous spirit of the PNW, here’s a super90s SOTD and music vid by Seattle’s own 7 Year Bitch.

ANY DAY NOW: Audience Award Winner at Tribeca

30 Apr

ANY DAY NOW (2012). Image via www.tribecafilm.com.

Travis Fine’s fine new film Any Day Now, starring Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, and Isaac Leyva, is the moving tale of a gay couple living in 1979 West Hollywood who adopt an abused boy with Down syndrome.  The film won the Audience Award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival— and renewed discussions of whether Dillahunt and Peter Krause are secretly the same person.

Dillahunt can also be seen with hilarity as Kristen Wiig’s tacky husband in dark hit men comedy Revenge for Jolly!, which had a run of its own at Tribeca.

But seriously, Any Day Now is incredible, and totally deserving of its accolades.  Fine and co-writer George Bloom’s script could easily be a maudlin story too heartrending too connect with most audiences.  But through careful editing, separating emotion from sentimentality, and writing a work that is as often hilarious as it is tragic, Any Day Now‘s creative team elevate their story into a beautiful portrait of a loving family and the necessary struggle for what is right.  Also worth note is the film’s music, remarkably evocative of soulful yet disco-drenched late ’70s L.A.:

Not to give anything away, but the film’s closing song is a doozy.  Picture Alan Cumming, no longer in drag by this point, but quite theatrical, lit up on club’s stage and pouring his heart into this Bob Dylan tune.  Listen, picture it, and as soon as it hits a cinema near you, see this film.

RUSSIA: Guarantee Free Speech, Release Pussy Riot!

23 Apr

Pussy Riot member arrested outside cathedral.
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev.

Members of grrrl-led punk band Pussy Riot were arrested in Moscow this spring for an incendiary performance in a Russian Orthodox church.

The band, part of a large collective of feminist punk musicians, were protesting the patriarchal Russian political system and its connected cousin, the Orthodox Church.  According to this Al Jazeera report, the church has come under fire in recent years for its close ties to President Putin and the wealth of the church leaders.  See badass video below.

Pussy Riot perform their song “Holy Shit” at a Moscow cathedral in February.

For their brief overtaking of the cathedral, the band were arrested immediately.  Now Pussy Riot members face prison sentences of up to seven years for ‘hooliganism.’

Perhaps the group should face some repercussions for their scuffle with the Moscow police, but seven years seems absurdly harsh.  Feminist groups throughout Europe are calling for the group’s immediate release.  FreePussyRiot.org has begun to organize benefit concerts for the Pussy Riot legal defense fund.

The Russian Federation has been playing at increasing democracy and transparency since the fall of the USSR, but clearly, it still has a long way to go.  Where diplomacy rarely works, perhaps protest punk songs can.