Tag Archives: artists

These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

Mother Jones

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Each year, Mother Jones‘ favorite music critic browses through hundreds of new albums and pulls out maybe a couple hundred for his weekly reviews. But only a few can make the final-final cut. Below, in alphabetical order, are Jon Young’s super-quick takes on his 15 top albums for 2016. (Feel free to heartily disagree and share your own faves in the comments.)

1. William Bell, This Is Where I Live (Stax): The tender, moving return of an underrated soul great.

2. David Bowie, Blackstar (Columbia/ISO): The Thin White Duke’s eerie, haunting farewell.

3. Gaz Coombes, Matador (Hot Fruit Recordings/Kobalt Label Services): Grand, witty megapop from the former Supergrass leader. (Full review here.)

4. Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings (Columbia/Legacy): A massive compilation of every note from his notorious tour. (Full review here.)

5. Margaret Glaspy, Emotions and Math (ATO): No-nonsense relationship tales that rock out with insistent verve.

6. Hinds, Leave Me Alone (Mom + Pop/Lucky Number): Frayed, rowdy femme-punk straight outta Madrid.

7. Jennifer O’Connor, Surface Noise (Kiam): Tuneful, deadpan folk-pop with a cutting edge. (Full review here.)

8. Brigid Mae Power, Brigid Mae Power (Tompkins Square): Hair-raising solo acoustic performances by an Irish chanteuse. (Full review here.)

9. Dex Romweber, Carrboro, (Bloodshot): A colorful Americana kaleidoscope from a master balladeer and rockabilly shouter. (Full review here.)

10. Sad13, Slugger (Carpark): Sadie Dupuis’ solo debut, poppier than her band Speedy Ortiz, and exuberantly feminist.

11 & 12. The Scientists, A Place Called Bad (Numero Group); and Blonde Redhead, Masculin Feminin (Numero Group): The great Chicago reissue label scores again with retrospectives devoted to The Scientists, Australian trash-rockers from the ’70s and ’80s, and Blonde Redhead’s ’90s shoegaze-noise recordings amid the chaotic New York scene. (Full review here.)

13. Allen Toussaint, American Tunes (Nonesuch): The gorgeous final works of the New Orleans R&B genius. (And here’s our recent chat with Toussaint collaborator Aaron Neville.)

14. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic): The long-overdue return, and devastating goodbye, of a hip-hop institution.

15. Various Artists, The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe, 1970-1986 (Light in the Attic): An eye-opening survey of vintage new age music in all its oddball, unexpected glory.

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These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

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Meet the Guy Behind Your Favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs

Mother Jones

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Various Artists
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll
Yep Roc

“Invented” might be a slight exaggeration, but Memphis, Tennessee’s Sam Phillips discovered and/or produced some of the greatest voices in blues and early rock ‘n’ roll, releasing many of them on his own Sun Records label. This wonderful 55-track compilation illustrates the staggering range of electrifying music he midwifed, from Elvis Presley (“Mystery Train”) and Jerry Lee Lewis (“Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On”), to Howlin’ Wolf (“How Many More Years?”) and B.B. King (“She’s Dynamite”), to Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”) and Johnny Cash (“Big River”). Not to mention Roy Orbison, Ike Turner, Junior Parker, Charlie Rich, and many other lesser-known but vital performers. For newcomers, this is the perfect introduction to an essential body of work; for everyone else, it’s merely a thoroughly satisfying collection.

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll was compiled by journalist Peter Guralnick as a companion piece to his absorbing new book of the same name (to be published November 10 by Little, Brown, and Company). The author of the best biography of Elvis Presley to date, as well as a host of other excellent studies of American roots music, Guralnick is a captivating enthusiast and exhaustive researcher, who never lets a mastery of the facts obscure the visceral thrill of the art he celebrates. At 600 pages, his thoughtful account of Phillips’ complex life is not for the casual reader, but it’s hard to put down once you get started.

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Meet the Guy Behind Your Favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs

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Film Review: Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll

Mother Jones

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Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll

ARGOT PICTURES

On the surface, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is a film about the flourishing rock movement that emerged following Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953. Director John Pirozzi saturates the first half with vintage footage of Cambodia’s ’50s and ’60s music scene, interspersing it with interviews with musicians who survived the ensuing horrors and relatives of those who didn’t. The infectious music blends Chuck Berry-like riffs with haunting traditional melodies. And even though you know it’s coming, the progression of coups, bombings, and genocide is shattering. “If you want to eliminate values from past societies,” notes a member of the Cambodian royal family ousted in a US-sponsored coup, “you have to eliminate the artists.”

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Film Review: Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll

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Let the 2016 Presidential Poster Wars Commence!

Mother Jones

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Michael Mechanic

Is this the first salvo in the 2016 presidential campaign poster wars? This past week, somebody plastered this poster—guerilla style—at well-trod locations around San Francisco.

What was the artist thinking? Was this a subtle jab at Cruz’s hubris or a bona fide attempt to promote the guy—or just a cool design? I could see it psyching up the GOP base in Kevin’s Orange County stomping grounds. But in San Francisco? Only 13 percent of this city voted for Romney. A Ted Cruz fan hoping to boost the Texas senator’s presidential hopes would be wasting his time posting these around here—even if they are pretty cool looking.

Maybe the message was meant to reach rich tech libertarians who have moved north from Silicon Valley and might be game to donate. You know, the crew who admire Ron and Rand Paul and seem to have forgotten that the tech industry was built on massive government funding. Then again, given Cruz’s head-scratching position against net neutrality—he’s called it “the biggest regulatory threat to the internet”—he’s not likely to get much love from the tech world. Even the Obama-haters on Cruz’s Facebook page had to ridicule his position.

My favorite Cruz poster to date went up last March around Beverly Hills, where Cruz was slated to appear at the annual dinner of the conservative Claremont Institute. (The artists, being artists, got the hotel wrong.) But Cruz was indeed, as the poster joked, “loving it.” Here’s what he tweeted:

I just hope Bernie Sanders, the left’s favorite bomb thrower, decides to run. I’m dying to see what street artists will make of him.

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Let the 2016 Presidential Poster Wars Commence!

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Welcome to the Manosphere: A Brief Guide to the Controversial Men’s Rights Movement

Mother Jones

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Mad Men: Inside the Men’s Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned

Men’s Rights Movement (mrm): A loose-knit network of groups and activists (MRAs) who believe men are an oppressed class. Most adherents consider Warren Farrell to be the intellectual father of men’s rights.

Fathers Manifesto: An early MRM website that combined calls for paternal custody rights with claims that blacks should be exiled and Catholic priests were sexually abusing children as part of a plot to spread AIDS.

A Voice for Men: Founded in 2009 by truck driver Paul Elam to “expose misandry on all levels,” the site, now a hub of the movement, is aimed at those turned off by the fringe politics of other men’s rights forums.

Register-Her.com: An offshoot of A Voice for Men, an “offender registry” purporting to track female murderers and rapists as well as women who make false rape accusations.

National Coalition for Men: A nonprofit group that “raises awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys.” Its leaders have filed lawsuits challenging registration for the draft and seeking to defund shelters for battered women.

Fathers 4 Justice: A British paternal rights group that gained notoriety in the mid-2000s after activists, some dressed as superheroes, scaled public monuments, allegedly threatened to kidnap the prime minister’s son, and defaced a portrait of the queen.

Red pill: In the classic sci-fi film The Matrix, the hero must choose between swallowing a blue pill, which will allow him to remain in a pleasant illusory world, or a red pill, which will open his eyes to the reality in which he is enslaved. In men’s rights parlance, “red pillers” realize that men, not women, are oppressed.

Pickup Artists (pua): Self-proclaimed or aspiring “alpha males” who attempt to seduce women through a system of psychological gambits called “the game.” Notable PUA figures include Roosh V (Daryush Valizadeh) of the Return of Kings website, who has published a collection of sex travel guides such as “Bang Brazil,” in which he writes, “Poor favela chicks are very easy, but quality is a serious problem.”

Anti-Slut Defense (asd): Tactics that Pickup Artists believe women use to dodge responsibility for sex, such as offering “token resistance” or claiming afterward that they were too drunk to say no.

Incel: A man who is “involuntarily celibate” and feels that women owe him sex. Mass murderer Elliot Rodger described himself as one.

puahate: A site for those who feel disillusioned by the PUA movement. Rodger, who blamed women for his sexual frustration, was a frequenter; Roosh V concluded about him: “Until you give men like Rodger a way to have sex, either by encouraging them to learn game, seek out a Thai wife, or engage in legalized prostitution… it’s inevitable for another massacre to occur.” (PUAhate shut down shortly after Rodger’s rampage.)

Gamergate: An ongoing conflict that pits “traditional” video game enthusiasts (mostly white males) against feminists and others who call for game culture to become more inclusive. Misogyny and violent threats are a hallmark of the online controversy.

4chan: An anonymous and often graphic online forum; used by Gamergaters to strategize about revenge tactics and by hackers who posted stolen nude photos of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence.

8chan: An anonymous forum that Gamergaters started using after 4chan banned their threads.

Subreddit: A forum on the social sharing site Reddit, a.k.a. “the front page of the internet.” Gamergaters, PUA followers, and others congregate in dedicated subreddits.

Honey Badger Brigade: A group of mostly female supporters of the men’s rights movement; its weekly online radio show features such topics as “the top 13 creepiest feminist behaviors,” including “humorless vagina art.”

Mangina: What some men’s rights activists call a man who supports feminism.

Social Justice Warrior (sjw): What MRAs and Gamergaters call someone who advocates equal rights for women and minorities.

Men Going Their Own Way: A faction that vows to avoid contact and relationships with women because they think women will inevitably treat them as “disposable utilities.”

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Welcome to the Manosphere: A Brief Guide to the Controversial Men’s Rights Movement

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7 Pieces of Timeless Wisdom From Maya Angelou

Mother Jones

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Maya Angelou, acclaimed poet, author, and civil rights activist, died Wednesday at the age of 86. Mother Jones had the opportunity to interview Angelou almost 20 years ago. Our reporter, Ken Kelley, wrote that she “speaks in the lilting cadence of the dancer she was trained to be. She moves with the sure grace of the poet she was born to be.” Her words of wisdom are as true now as they were in 1995. Here are seven excerpts from the interview:

1. Not everyone can pull themselves up by the bootstraps:

The powerful say, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” But they don’t really believe that those living on denuded reservations, or on strip-mined hills, or in ghettos that are destinations for drugs from Colombia and Iraq, can somehow pull themselves up. What they’re really saying is, “If you can, do, but if you can’t, forget it.” It’s the most pernicious of all acts of segregation, because it is so subtle.

2. Life isn’t about material things:

Somehow, we have come to the erroneous belief that we are all but flesh, blood, and bones, and that’s all. So we direct our values to material things. We become what writer Beah Richards calls “exiled to things”: If we have three cars rather than two, we’ll live a little longer. If we have four more titles, we’ll live longer still. And, especially, if we have more money than the next guy, we’ll live longer than he. It’s so sad. There is something more—the spirit, or the soul.

3. It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing:

I married a man once because of something he said. We were in England, and somebody said that women should always expect to be raped if they wore very short pants and low decolletage and acted “fast.” So this man, whom I knew slightly, said, “If a woman has no panties on and sits with her legs wide open, no man has the right to assault her. When a guy tells me, ‘I couldn’t resist because she did sit in such a provocative way,’ all I want to know is if four of her brothers were standing there with baseball bats, would they have resisted?”

4. America is making progress in the fight against racial discrimination, but there’s more to do:

We’ve made a lot of progress—it’s dangerous not to say so. Because if we say so, we tell young people, implicitly or explicitly, that there can be no change. Then they compute: “You mean the life and death and work of Malcolm X and Martin King, the Kennedys, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, the life and struggle of Rosa Parks—they did all that and nothing has changed? Well then, what the hell am I doing? There’s no point for me to do anything.” The truth is, a lot has changed—for the good. And it’s gonna keep getting better, according to how we put our courage forward, and thrust our hearts forth.

5. Black children are the representatives of us all:

Those black children are the bravest, without knowing it, representatives of us all. The black kids, the poor white kids, Spanish-speaking kids, and Asian kids in the US—in the face of everything to the contrary, they still bop and bump snaps fingers, shout and go to school somehow. And dare not only to love somebody else, and even to accept love in return, but dare to love themselves—that’s what is most amazing. Their optimism gives me hope.

6. Artists and writers must fight to be heard:

What we ought to be doing is singing in the parks, talking to children, going to gatherings of parents, doing whatever it is we do—dancing, reading poetry, performing—all the time, so that people know, “These artists are my people—you can’t kill them, you can’t stop them.” We then reestablish our footing with the people. All artists must do that, or we will be defanged.

7. Progressives must confront themselves:

We will have to confront. I don’t only mean external confrontations. We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay—and rise!

Read the full interview here.

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7 Pieces of Timeless Wisdom From Maya Angelou

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"Songs for Slim" Is an All-Star Benefit for the Replacements’ Ailing Guitarist. It’s Good, Too.

Mother Jones

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Various Artists
Songs for Slim
New West

This dandy two-CD set is subtitled Rockin Here Tonight: A Benefit Compilation for Slim Dunlap, which says it all. Former Replacements guitarist Bob “Slim” Dunlap suffered a severe stroke in early 2012, prompting friends and admirers to launch a fund dedicated to his care. Songs for Slim is one part of their efforts. Most of the cuts are covers of little-known, ’90s-era Dunlap compositions, which are raucous, funny and tender, and well deserving of belated discovery.

The first disc compiles the 18 tracks originally featured on limited-edition 45s that were auctioned earlier this year. Among the highlights: the reunited Replacements’ “Busted Up”; John Doe’s stomping “Just for the Hell of It”; the swaggering “Ain’t Exactly Good,” from underrated, long-running Australian band You Am I; and Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood’s poignant “Hate This Town.” (There’s also Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and more.) The second disc offers previously unreleased performances, including a dreamy reading of “When I Fall Down” by Replacement Chris Mars, and for you old-timers, there’s “Love Lost,” by The West Saugerties Ale & Quail Club, with none other than Lovin’ Spoonful leader John Sebastian on harmonica.

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"Songs for Slim" Is an All-Star Benefit for the Replacements’ Ailing Guitarist. It’s Good, Too.

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