It's a trend as familiar to pop music lovers as the sound of a guitar tuning. A band come along, make a splash, release an album and impressive handful of singles. They tap into exactly how the kids feel, and gain a loyal following as a result. Then, without warning, they break up and recede into the shadows.
Plenty of graphic content can be found on YouTube. From executions by firing squad to clips of Vietnamese children covered in napalm, the blood and gore seem in no short supply. What might be harder to find, however, is the new video from M.I.A. The British/Sri Lankan artist (whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam) is no stranger to controversy. She's also no stranger to choosing sides.
"Jan Brewer's decision to sign the Arizona immigration bill into law is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen. The power that this law gives to police, to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented, brings racial profiling to a new low.
A funny thing happened on a recent trip to my local record store. Surrounded by a smattering of my fellow music aficionados, I was leafing through the vinyl jazz collection when an all-too-familiar tune began wafting over the speakers. It was the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be."
It has been said that one should never speak ill of the dead. And with the death of Malcolm McLaren on April 8th of mesothelioma, most of the artists who once worked with him seem to be abiding by that old adage.John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of McLaren's flagship Sex Pistols, declared the day after the late svengali's passing that he was "always entertaining and I hope you remember that...
The return of Lilith Fair to the summer festival circuit after a ten year absence is definitely good news.
The initial response to The Brutalist Bricks is something akin to coming home after a long trip. It's all familiar, everything is just where you left it, but somehow, it all still feels so strange--comfortable, yet fresh and new at the same time. It's a feeling that fans of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are quite used to by this point.
Another St. Patrick's Day has come and gone. The green beer hangovers have subsided, the countless renditions of "Danny Boy" have been sung, and many are no doubt asking whether all the swill actually amounted to a real recognition of Irish culture.
Fear of a Clear Channel Planet, the debut digital mixtape from Chicago rap trio BBU, is an act of cultural terrorism in the best possible sense. What else could you expect from a group who named themselves Bin Laden Blowin' Up? Even the "safe" version of their name, Black Brown and Ugly, screams that the three members--Illekt, Epic and Jasson Perez--are not ones to be fucked with. Check out, for example, these rhymes from "Somebody Watchin' Me" (which yes, samples the Michael Jackson joint... and seamlessly to boot):"See I'm a product of slavery
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
In this day and age, when the answer to the question of "who rules?" is so glaringly obvious, a victory for our side is worth savoring, no matter how small. And so it is with the recent decision that, for once, a company like Ticketmaster actually owes us something!
Over a twenty year career, Massive Attack have repeatedly defined and redefined what is possible in electronic music. Few in any genre can claim their ability to deftly change with the times while remaining so profoundly true to themselves. It's a formula that's kept them relevant even as others in their style have faded into the background. With their new albumHeligoland, the group seem to have done it again. Most reviews consider it a fine piece of work, and there's no argument here.
Any band that experiences such a meteoric rise in popularity like that of Vampire Weekend is bound to provoke a backlash. And that's exactly what's happened. Since their new release rocketed to number one last month, a veritable arsenal of pen-ink has been directed against the group. It's certainly an odd about-face. This time two years ago, the New York-based quartet were the darlings of the indie world. Their 2008 self-titled debut, with it's fresh injection of African pop, made almost every "best of '08" list one can locate (including at Rebel Frequencies).
"'Oh, why won't anyone give me an award?' 'You won a Grammy.' 'I mean an award that's worth winning.'" -Exchange between Homer and Lisa SimpsonThis past Sunday, Lady Gaga's outrageously over-the-top opening number loudly declared "here comes the fame monster." It's an apt description of this year's Grammy Awards. Unfortunately it was also the highlight of the show.
So far, the count is $58 million. That's how much has been raised by this past Friday's "Hope For Haiti Now" telethon. The event was impossible to ignore. Every major television network broadcast it, and if you had even a basic cable package, then your options were somewhere around twenty channels.