Sunday, December 26, 2010

Favorite Music of 2010

It's so exciting to make a year-end list full of new artists and new projects by established artists. I'm not saying these are the best albums of the year, just the ones I liked the best. 

  • Jonsi Go
  • Clem Snide Meat of Life
  • Sleigh Bells Treats
I wrote about these three albums earlier in the year, and every single one of them held up. The Jonsi album offers more up for discovery each time I listen; Clem Snide still makes me feel like I'm the only girl in the room; and the Sleigh Bells concert was the most physically exciting and aggressive I've been to since I saw Rage Against the Machine.

  • Jenny and Johnny I’m Having Fun Now
  • Best Coast Crazy for You
Two shimmering, California-esque gestures to 60s girl groups. Jenny and Johnny's (that's Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Jonathan Rice) up-beat sound belies the economic and emotional turmoil evident in the lyrics, while Best Coast's sung sighs for loves lost or not yet gained is no less delightful for its lack of lyrical depth. 

  • Mumford & Sons Sigh No More
This album of hopeful Americana performed by a band of Brits took a while to grow on me, but then suddenly I was hooked. 

  • A Broken Consort Crow Autumn
  • David Karsten Daniels and Fight the Big Bull I Mean to Live Here Still
I once gave my students the assignment of making a soundtrack to their lives. They all made playlists that were very of this moment - who they are right now - but it got me thinking what I want the soundtrack of my future to sound like. Neither of these albums were out when I made my list, but they would have been featured prominently had they been. I love their sound that manages to be both discordant and symphonic. 

  • LCD Soundsystem This is Happening
James Murphy is still sounding fresh and inventive four albums in.

  • John Legend and the Roots Wake Up
Oddly the only political album on my list this year, Wake Up's mines lesser-known soul music from the 60s and early 70s for social justice songs that resonate for the second decade of the 21st century.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

RIP Captain Beefheart

Blog from the Vault: Where do you stand?

Drafted but never posted in 2006: 

Within the framework of an epic, action-packed story, X-Men: The Last Stand raises issues with strong contemporary relevance: Is conformity an antidote to prejudice? Is it cowardice to give up individuality to fit in and avoid persecution? Do ends justify means? Is great power a blessing or a curse? Can you work from the inside to make change, or is an oppositional stance always better?

Desert Island Records

Here are my responses to a recent NPR Music blog, Your Island Five: The Albums You Can't Live Without.

1. Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon: for comfort

2. Soundgarden Badmotorfinger: for the angry times

3. Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain: to create an instant party

4. U2 The Unforgettable Fire: to be transported by the sound of hope

5. Wilco: Summer Teeth: for the range of emotion, shared with friends
(tied with) Sleater Kinney Dig Me Out: for the voices that say as much as the words

The runners-up:
Sonic Youth Sister
Arcade Fire Funeral
Rage Against the Machine The Battle of Los Angeles
Van Morrison Astral Weeks
Blind Faith Blind Faith

Pop Culture Firsts

Inspired by a Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast

First favorite movieStar Wars
It was also the first movie I was allowed to see in the movie theater, so, yeah, holds a big place in my heart.

First album I bought with my own money: Journey Escape
I still unapologetically love Journey as readers of my blog may remember.

First adult book I read: Centennial by James Michener
Probably because I loved the 1978 TV mini-series so much.

First celebrity crush: Tom Wopat
Saw him live when I was 10 or 11 in Carousel at our local summer stock theater the summer after the first season of Dukes of Hazzard (which was also the first season I actually got to watch non-educational network TV). Pretty much about died when he strolled across the theater grounds in front of me!

Random Recommendation: The Wind That Shakes the Barley

I watched Ken Loach's 2006 film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, the other night, and found it to be a particularly potent rumination on the perils of stopping short of your ideals, especially in a pragmatic move justified as "we'll take this now and continue fighting for the rest later" (sound familiar?).

In coupling the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War,  Loach shows how a social revolution was sacrificed to a nationalist revolution that indeed led to a change in flag but not a change in fundamental structures of power. The film poses the stakes and the costs of both sticking to your principles and the practice of realpolitik.

We are living the consequences of both of these approaches today in American politics. Ideas that were once on the fringes of the right are now firmly ensconced in mainstream politics, precisely because there was a group that stubbornly persisted is promoting their once ridiculed agenda. At the same time, the left "compromised" away key principles in the name of short-term election gains. (I'm thinking here in particular of discourses of welfare reform and abortion, but it's happened in many other issues.)

What's more important? Concrete short-term change, or sticking to your guns however long it takes? Gaining access to power, or transforming the structures of power? Taking action only if it makes an impact, or dissenting no matter who sees it? What is the standard of effectiveness? These are all questions raised by the movie, and ones that I grapple with everyday.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Live for the People

And you have Fred out there rallying them, and he'd say, "All right, all right, all right, power to the people." Everybody'd say, "Power to the people." He'd say, "Now, I'm not going to die on no airplane." They'd say, "No." "I'm not going to die slipping on no ice." They'd say, "No." He'd say, "I'm going to die for the people because I'm going to live for the people." They said, "Right on." He said, "I'm going to live for the people because I love the people." And they'd say, "Right on." And he'd say, "I love the people, why?" And they'd say, "Because we're high on the people, because we're high on the people." 

And that was Fred Hampton. 

-Elaine Brown speaking in Eyes on the Prize


Related Posts with Thumbnails