Categories
Philosophy Politics

The Paradox Of Tolerance & Misinterpreting Freedom Of Speech

I’ve been seeing & participating in a lot of conversations recently which often accuse people on the left (often myself) of being intolerant when we call out people whose views we disagree with.

Many of these conversations will eventually boil down to the catchphrase “so much for the tolerant left”. I think it’s necessary to explain people who have that mindset that, as per the cartoon infographic above, tolerance of the intolerant is dangerous & even leads to the “extinction f tolerance”.

Furthermore, as Enrique Dans explains below, freedom of speech does not protect intolerant speech against anything other than prosecution for saying what you want. Private companies like Facebook, Twitter & YouTube are not bound by this. If you have content censored on one of these platforms the you have no legal recourse. The companies do not have to provide you a platform for your intolerant views.

Even in a country where the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, we should remember that this doesn’t mean anybody is obliged to listen to it, provide a platform for it, or be tolerant of intolerance. If, because of what you think or say, other people ignore, insult or exclude you, that’s your problem, not the state’s.


Enrique Dans
, Facebook Grapples With The Paradox Of Tolerance

Recently, impeached president Donald Trump has fallen foul of his misinterpretation of Freedom Of Speech when Twitter have added Fact Check warnings to one Tweet & flagged him for glorifying violence on another. These Trump Tweets broke the platforms community guidelines & were therefore challenged. Trump’s response to this was to declare social media companies instruments of the “far-left” & to threaten them with state intervention. Obviously this would be akin right-wing claims of state intervention in socialist countries. I wonder if his followers have noticed that?

In fact, no private individual is bound by law allow intolerant views to be aired unchallenged. It is our duty, as tolerant people (as paradoxical as it seems) to be intolerant of the intolerant. We must call out, boycott & where possible de-platform all far-right & far-right tolerant views we see.

xkcd Webcomic

My thoughts on this came about as a result of a couple of conversations I have had on Facebook with friends who I respect. We were discussing Krist Novoselic’s recent Tweets in support of Trump. I had posted a link to an article with the comment “Never thought I’d write this sentence but fuck Krist Novoselic”. Part of the conversation included my friend saying that “you cannot fight fascism with a ban on […] someone whose beliefs don’t align with your own.” Obviously I know this & don’t believe that is what I was doing. I was exercising my own freedom of expression to call out intolerance as & where I saw it. I was, per the webcomic above, calling Novoselic an asshole & showing him the door.

There is one other small thing to bear in mind too. Not everyone who shares these intolerant views is doing so out of malice. They are pervasive & often dressed up in reasonable & logical sounding language. This will nearly always crumble to nothing if subjected to even the slightest critical analysis. We need to remember though, that not everyone has been taught the critical analysis skills that many of us take for granted. Day 1 of University level study taught me ways to analyse the veracity of content found online as well as general critical analysis of evidence you’ll be using to back up what you say in your academic writing. This has become second nature to me (even though I sometimes slip up) & I have caught myself taking these taught skills for granted in discussions with people who haven’t being taught it. This can make me come across as a bit of an arsehole & I am trying to be better.

Here’s some good advice for spotting fake news.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Indie Rock Music

No Age – Goons Be Gone

Summer 2020, and No Age are back out on the street! Effortlessly raw and extravagantly indulgent in one practiced swoop, they set their live/bedroom internal clock and get out early into a glorious windtunnel of naked beats and sunbaked guitars, forming a wave from which they hang eleven tunes. A perfectly balanced set, ranging from their classic punk and indie to ever-evolving soundscapes, in their maybe their most direct statement yet.

Blurb from No Age Bandcamp.

This is an album that I have very much been looking forward to. The distinctive sound of No Age’s two-man wall of sound never fails to rouse me from the doldrums. Goons Be Gone is their second album to be release on the seminal Indie label, Drag City (home of, among others, David Berman’s Silver Jews & Purple Mountains). After the high quality of the previous album, Snares Like A Haircut, expectations are high.

Opening track, Sandalwood, ploughs a deep furrow of lo-fi noise rock with the kind of Pop sensibilities that made them a cult success in the first place. The choruses & vocals seem to lift the song up into some quasi-heroic Indie mythology. I think I described them, in another post, as being like the Ramones from a parallel universe where the Ramones were obsessed with Sonic Youth, rather than the other way around. I can almost hear the Ramones cover of Making The Nature Scene in my head right now.

Sandalwood ends with a wash of amp noise & distorted feedback which segues beautifully into the fist pumping opening riff of the excellent Feeler, which I reviewed as a single several weeks back. It’s stirring, Pop infected Punk music with swathes of swirling guitar noise & the catchiest chorus you’ll hear all year.

Smoothie does what it says on the tin. It delivers a downtempo, almost ballad-esque, tune formed form atmospheric, ambient guitar textures. It retains the purposeful & powerful drumming though. It’s dreamlike & almost psychedelic, revelling in reverse-reverb on both guitar & percussion parts.

Working Stiff Takes Break is almost a skit. A short experiment with delay & reversed sampled guitar parts, it leaves the listener feeling slightly uneasy .

War Dance is another stormingly strong single which I reviewed several weeks ago. Stirring, quasi-heroic sounding noise Rock.

Some of their effects pedals

Toes In The Water is one of No Age’s signature ambient noise jams. Modular synth arpeggios grating uncomfortably against a wash of guitar noise creates a surprisingly warm & inviting soundscape. Fans will be familiar with this kind of track.

Segues comfortably into another upbeat rocker which was released as a single, Turned To String. Uplifting vibes are enhanced by a neo-Ramones chord progression, swirling ambient guitar noise & purposeful, powerful rhythms.

A Sigh Clicks is droning, detuned guitar noise, slow drumming & shouty talk singing. Would fit perfectly onto Sonic Youth’s early, No Wave influenced releases.

Puzzled sees some more sampling experimentation, opening with some low pitch shifted vocals before it drops into a late ’80’s/early ’90’s alternative rock anthem. The spell is broken repeatedly by digital manipulation such as the digital delay employed on the vocals throughout. A highlight for me. Would have made a great single. If you can imagine SonicYouth’s Expressway To Yr Skull mashed up with Driveway To Driveway by Built To Spill then you’re close to imagining how this excellent song sounds.

Head Sport Full Face is the most recent single & it isn’t long since I reviewed it. It’s an atmospheric rocker with a four to the floor beat & swirls of noisy guitar underpinning Pop melodies & a No Wave sound palate. The retro, VHS-style, double exposure video is excellent.

The tempo takes a slight dip for excellent closer, Agitating Moss, which is more of the same Noise Pop or Dream Punk. This isn’t a bad thing & I’m left with a smile on my face & warm feeling in my heart that no matter how shit the world gets, No Age will always be there making their gloriously heroic Noise Pop.

Goons Be Gone is released today on Drag City. Why not buy it from Bandcamp as on Fridays, Bandcamp waive their fees. Artists get 100%.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Hip Hop Music Politics Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): NWA – F*ck Tha Police

Day 2. Fuck Tha Police by NWA is a furious slice of scathing political commentary. The lyrics detail the band members experiences of police violence & racist police attitudes. There’s a real palpable sense of anger & energy & maybe even youthful braggadocio in Fuck Tha Police. It’s refreshing & revolutionary.

As an interesting & pretty much unrelated aside, I was watching a livestream of protests in Minneapolis last week on Unicorn Riot & a car drove past the camera man with Fuck That Police blaring out of it’s open windows. The comments on the livestream quickly filled up with people acknowledging this. “check the car with Fuck Tha Police playing”, “mad respect to that Fuck That Police car” etc.

Edit: It has come to my intention since publishing this post that Fuck Tha Police has seen a 272% rise in streaming from 27th May.

Source: Rolling Stone

“Right about now, N.W.A. court is in full effect
Judge Dre presiding
In the case of N.W.A. vs. the Police Department
Prosecuting attorneys are: MC Ren, Ice Cube
And Eazy motherfuckin’ E”

“Order, order, order
Ice Cube, take the motherfuckin’ stand
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth
And nothin’ but the truth so help your black ass?”

“You god damn right!”

“Well, won’t you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?”

Fuck the police comin’ straight from the underground
A young n**** got it bad ’cause I’m brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
Fuck that shit, ’cause I ain’t the one
For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun
To be beatin’ on, and thrown in jail
We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell
Fuckin’ with me ’cause I’m a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin’ my car, lookin’ for the product
Thinkin’ every n**** is sellin’ narcotics
You’d rather see, me in the pen
Than me and Lorenzo rollin’ in a Benz-o
Beat a police out of shape
And when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter
Still gettin’ swoll off bread and water
I don’t know if they fags or what
Search a n**** down, and grabbin’ his nuts
And on the other hand, without a gun they can’t get none
But don’t let it be a black and a white one
‘Cause they’ll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showin’ out for the white cop
Ice Cube will swarm
On any motherfucker in a blue uniform
Just ’cause I’m from the CPT
Punk police are afraid of me!
Huh, a young n**** on the warpath
And when I’m finished, it’s gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops, dyin’ in L.A.
Yo Dre, I got somethin’ to say

Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the Police

“Example of scene one”

“Pull your god damn ass over right now”

“Aww shit, now what the fuck you pullin’ me over for?”

“‘Cause I feel like it!
Just sit your ass on the curb and shut the fuck up”

“Man, fuck this shit”

“Aight, smart ass, I’m takin’ your black ass to jail!”

“MC Ren, will you please give your testimony
To the jury about this fucked up incident?”

Fuck the police and Ren said it with authority
Because the n****s on the street is a majority
A gang, is with whoever I’m steppin’
And the motherfuckin’ weapon is kept in
A stash box, for the so-called law
Wishin’ Ren was a n**** that they never saw
Lights start flashin’ behind me
But they’re scared of a n**** so they mace me to blind me
But that shit don’t work, I just laugh
Because it gives ’em a hint, not to step in my path
For police, I’m sayin, “Fuck you, punk!”
Readin’ my rights and shit, it’s all junk
Pullin’ out a silly club, so you stand
With a fake-ass badge and a gun in your hand
But take off the gun so you can see what’s up
And we’ll go at it, punk, and I’ma fuck you up!
Make you think I’ma kick your ass
But drop your gat, and Ren’s gonna blast
I’m sneaky as fuck when it comes to crime
But I’m a smoke ’em now and not next time
Smoke any motherfucker that sweats me
Or any asshole that threatens me
I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope
Takin’ out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me
The motherfuckin’ villain that’s mad
With potential to get bad as fuck
So I’ma turn it around
Put in my clip, yo, and this is the sound
Yeah, somethin’ like that
But it all depends on the size of the gat
Takin’ out a police would make my day
But a n**** like Ren don’t give a fuck to say

Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the Police

“Yeah man, what you need?”

“Police, open now”

“Aww shit”

“We have a warrant for Eazy-E’s arrest
Get down and put your hands up where I can see ’em”

“What the fuck did I do, man, what did I do?”

“Just shut the fuck up
And get your motherfuckin’ ass on the floor”

“But I didn’t do shit”

“Man, just shut the fuck up!”

“Eazy-E, won’t you step up to the stand
And tell the jury how you feel about this bullshit?”

I’m tired of the motherfuckin’ jackin’
Sweatin’ my gang, while I’m chillin’ in the shack, and
Shinin’ the light in my face, and for what?
Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt
I kick ass, or maybe ’cause I blast
On a stupid-assed n**** when I’m playin’ with the trigger
Of an Uzi or an AK
‘Cause the police always got somethin’ stupid to say
They put out my picture with silence
‘Cause my identity by itself causes violence
The E with the criminal behavior
Yeah, I’m a gangsta, but still I got flavor
Without a gun and a badge, what do ya got?
A sucker in a uniform waitin’ to get shot
By me or another n****
And with a gat it don’t matter if he’s smaller or bigger
(Size ain’t shit, he’s from the old school, fool)
And as you all know, E’s here to rule
Whenever I’m rollin’, keep lookin’ in the mirror
And ears on cue, yo, so I can hear a
Dumb motherfucker with a gun
And if I’m rollin’ off the 8, he’ll be the one
That I take out, and then get away
While I’m drivin’ off laughin’, this is what I’ll say

Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the Police

“The verdict
The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck
White bread, chicken shit motherfucker”

“But wait, that’s a lie!
That’s a god damn lie!”

“Get him out of here!”

“I want justice!

“”Get him the fuck out my face!”

“I want justice!”

“Out, right now!”

“Fuck you, you black motherfuckers!

“Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the police

Looking for some great music? Check out the Song of the Day (BLM) playlist.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock Music

Worlds Of Possibility – Domino Records 10th Anniversary Compilation, 2003 [disc two]

Disc two of Worlds Of Possibility brings us a bit closer to the present. Well, 2003. Which in a lot of ways feels very new & recent for me.

We kick off with energetic Bluesy Garage Rock from The Blueskins with User Friendly. Sonically enhanced by liberal use of harmonica, User Friendly has a polished production feel & the “ooh-ohh” melodies make me think it may have been used in a TV advert at the time. I’m going to Google it now… Ah, right band, wrong song. It was a different song, Change My Mind, which was used in a 2006 Lynx advert. I remember seeing them at the now defunct Fibbers venue in York. They were on some kind of MTV2 tour, Futureheads were headlining & Zane Lowe was there as compere/DJ. I went to shake his hand & he grabbed me in a bearhug. Interesting times.

Franz Ferdinand

Ah, another excellent band I’ve seen play at the Fibbers venue. Franz Ferdinand were at the very start of their career here & Worlds Of Possibility includes their original demo recording of their Post-Punk athem, Darts Of Pleasure. It doesn’t sound a million miles away from the final album version, such is the high standard of the demo. Easy to see why Domino were so keen to sign them. Love the lyrics too. Especially the German language outro: “Ich heisse Superfantastisch!
Ich trinke Schampus mit Lachsfisch!” Seriously, the demo’s Franz Ferdinand recorded were so ridiculously good that nearly all of their early hype in the music press was based entirely on them.

Next up we have Us by Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks (yep, Malkmus is back, he appears on 3 songs across both discs of Worlds Of Possibility). Us was my Song of the Day for the letter U in the A-Z series. This isn’t a million miles away from his output with Pavement, sonically speaking, & to be honest, would you want it to be? It’s excellent off kilter Indie Pop.

The Kills drop the excellent Wait, a slowburning, Indie stomper built around lo-fi guitar patterns & masterfully programmed drum machine beats. There’s a distinctly bluesy atmosphere so it’s no surprise that vocalist Alison Mosshart would go on to form The Dead Weather with White Stripes vocalist Jack White.

Clearlake deliver some fairly decent Indie Pop with I Wonder If The Snow Will Settle. Pitched somewhere between The Smiths & the excellent ’90’s band Gene, this is decent stirring stuff.

Hood

Hood’s They Removed All Trace That Anything Had Ever Happened Here is Trip-Hop influenced, Folktronica. Skittering drum machines & reversed samples rub up against clean bass & organic strings to create a pretty soundscape with, and this is important for electronic music, a great title. The Rap-ish vocal that drops in just after the 3 minute mark is perhaps a little ill advised though.

Following this we stick with experimental electronica in the form of genre veterans, the legendary Four Tet. She Moves She is a gloriously hypnotic jam built around glitchy beats, digital noise & organic acoustic sounds.

St. Patrick by James Yorkston is downtempo folk melancholia with traditional vibes added by fiddles & accordions. The composition builds from a minimalist drone at the start to an almost Spectre-esque wall of sound toward the end.

Here She Comes by Archie Bronson outfit is fuzzy, Indie Garage with with harmonica & bluesy vibes. Seems to be a common theme of the early ’00’s. Jason Lowenstein continues this with Codes. More fuzzy Garage with soaring chorus & catchy leads. No harmonica this time though (I almost expected a harmonica solo to begin as soon as I’d finished typing that sentence).

Quasi

We’re in extremely analogue synth territory with Hot Shit by Quasi. An Indie Rock two piece consisting of keyboards & drums. I can’t be sure but the keys on Hot Shit sound like an original Mellotron to me, complete with the warbling tape effect. There’s a psychedelic feel, reminiscent of madcap American Indie oddballs, The Flaming Lips. Vocalist, Sam Coomes, has more than a little Wayne Coyne about his vocal style.

U.N.P.O.C. drops some lo-fi Indie folk with Been A While Since I Went Away. There’s a cinematic, surfer quality which I find it hard to pin down. Maybe some of the chord progressions & vocal melodies seem to have a Beach Boys vibe to them. This is followed by more widescreen cinematic Pop music from, the aptly named, Movietone with the swooning lo-fi of Ocean Song. Sloppy percussion & choppy guitars almost seem to mimic the motion of the ocean waves. No doubt an intentional sonic choice.

Mangled vocals & electronic drum patterns are the order of the day in Max Tundra’s madcap electronica of lights. The pitch shifting on the vocals has a similar disconcerting effect to the ubiquitous autotune effect which permeates modern music. It’s slightly less grating (opinion alert) than modern autotune though.

Adem

Everything You Need by Adem is footstomping singer songwriter folk music with acoustic guitar unusually accompanied by dusty, bleepy synth noises & recorders all embedded in a lo-fi soundscape. It’s there’s a hint of melancholia but overall upbeat vibes carry the day. Reminds me a little of American Folk singer Willy Mason, who was also active around 2003, if memory serves. The Mason comparison is particularly noticeable on the soaring chorus. Perhaps a touch of Neutral Milk Hotel too?

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (the moniker Will Oldham was using in 2003) brings The Way, a hushed folk ballad. It’s pretty, melodic & slightly off-kilter. Slightly unrelated, but I’ve just remembered that Palace Music from disc one is another Will Oldham moniker. I can’t believe I forgot that yesterday.

Rock On, Lovers by To Rococo Rot is more oddball electronica. Solid, Hip-Hop influenced beats, wobbling analogue synth parts & synthetic strings. Another synth string part that I’m fairly sure is a Mellotron. This is minimal & melodic. More about listening than dancing. The strings lend it a cinematic, 1940’s Hollywood feel which is quite jarring with the ultramodern sound of the rest of the track.

To close out disc two, and Worlds Of Possibility , we have Matt Elliot’s The End. Appropriately titled I suppose. It’s dark instrumental Folk Music which begins minimal but builds in sonic intensity throughout. Most components of the soundscape are organic like guitar, accordion & piano, but there is a synthetic element right at the end when the plaintive warble of a theremin rises out of the reverby murk. You can almost picture end credits rolling as you’re listening to it.

There ends my celebration of Worlds Of Possibility. I’m really not sure about the availability of it now, in 2020, but if you can get your hands on it I would completely recommend it. It’s an extremely eclectic mix of genres & would be suitable in anyone’s record collection.

Additionally, since Worlds Of Possibility is a celebration of Domino Records, I cannot recommend their catalogue enough.

Support Indie Labels (even ones who’ve grown quite big these days)

& remember

Ich heisse Superfantastisch!
Ich trinke Schampus mit Lachsfisch!

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Funk Literature Poetry Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Day 1 of using Song of the Day to celebrate African American music culture in solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement & support for the protests against racist police violence currently gripping America & the solidarity protests taking place all over the globe.

Gil Scot-Heron’s revolutionary poetry, set to a live funk band backing track, was one of the fundamental building blocks of Hip-Hop. Scathingly political, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, chronicles an imaginary uprising and skewers countless sacred cows of American culture.

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials, because
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you
By Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle
And leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams, and Spiro Agnew
To eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre
And will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because
The revolution will not be televised, brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mae
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner
At 8:32 on report from twenty-nine districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still lifes of Roy Wilkins
Strolling through Watts in a red, black, and green liberation jumpsuit
That he has been saving for just the proper occasion

“Green Acres”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, and “Hooterville Junction”
Will no longer be so damn relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane
On “Search for Tomorrow”
Because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb or Francis Scott Keys
Nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash
Engelbert Humperdinck, or The Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back
After a message about a white tornado
White lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
Will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run, brothers
The revolution will be live

Stuck for something to listen to. Here’s a playlist of the Song of the Day (BLM) series.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock Music

Worlds Of Possibility – Domino Records 10th Anniversary Compilation, 2003 [disc one]

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THE BEST ASS IN SHOW BUSINESS you’ve come to the wrong place. Or for doors to places for which there is no way back. They’re not here either. No one is making claims about recalibrating the paradigm or uniting the taxonomies of teenage castes under one mighty sound. These are the Foxfire Midlands they are. Near Snowrat Illuminated Church. Specifically we’re beside the Timesicle at Clover 4. Perhaps this is a return to just saying things. That sounds like it’s in the area of right. Good songs build rooms in time. Think of “Tacoma Rain” or “Woodchilde Masquerade”. And no one’s even written them yet, for goodness sake! Yes there are second aspects to all this. Good times will turn lies into the truth, and advantage still pours haltlessly into the hands of the untrue, boring and useless but we’ll keep at this basically moral work, until these garnet palisades are flush with exits and our eyebrows have become like snowy ledges because there is nothing like your love in all this world.

David Berman, Worlds Of Possibility Liner Notes, 2003

Worlds Of Possibility, the 2003 compilation album celebrating the 10th anniversary of, much loved Indie label, Domino Records feels, to me, like an old friend. I’ve recently unearthed it form my box of CD’s which hadn’t been opened since before a house move three years ago. It feels a little like a relic of a bygone age. It’s nicotine yellowed & scuffed at the corners. A time capsule from a time when I didn’t treat physical music media with the respect it deserves. An age of cracked CD cases & coffee stained lyric inserts. I haven’t used a CD player for years. Except the USB one that plugs into my laptop, and which I use solely for burning CD’s into my music library. Most of my music these days is streamed digitally. I still love the physicality of a CD or an LP though. I like the sense of ownership I feel over such things.

The first exciting discovery – or rediscovery – I made when I opened the case was that it had a beautifully poetic liner note written by the late, great & sadly missed David Berman. Early readers of my blog will be aware that I love David Berman. This is typically Bermanesque. Reading it feels like gazing into a magical carnival hall of mirrors which only reflects parallel universes back at you. You marvel & wonder at the unwritten classics “Tacoma Rain” & “Woodchilde Masquerade”. Your brain tries fruitlessly to decode the location of the “Foxfire Midlands” or the “Snowrat Illuminated Church”. You find yourself staring at what you imagine a “Timesicle” to be in your head. A frozen, elongated piece of time which tapers off to a point. Would it be the perfect crime to stab someone with one? What about if you committed the crime at “Clover 4”. These are questions we can only wonder at. But the impression we’re left with from this surreal & pretty piece of writing is one which seems to encapsulate the sound of Domino Records generally, & the collection of songs on Worlds Of Possibility specifically. Even if you can’t say quite how this is so.

Sebadoh fan art by Ian J Dodson

Worlds Of Possibility kicks off with the earthy, warm tones of Sebadoh track, Soul And Fire. It’s a kind of lo-fi update of ’60’s jangle Pop but with oodles of atmospheric melancholia & Lou Barlow’s hurt sounding voice. Similar ground is tread with The Spectre by Royal Trux but with less melancholia & a darker sound palate. There’s a reverential tone to The Spectre. The subtle distortions & the unconventional percussions taking on an almost chant-like quality.

Laidback Indie Pop with a soulful swoon greets us in Palace Music’s More Brother Rides. There’re hints of Beck to this, but it’s hard to draw a comparison to a particular song or album. Things become even more lo-fi with Standard 8 by Quickspace. Mumbled, barely audible vocals embedded deep in a crunchy melody which Mark E Smith wouldn’t feel unwelcome in. Maybe a touch more in the direction of Guided By Voices.

Flying Saucer Attack turn in a thrillingly noisy cover of Wire’s melodic New Wave classic, Outdoor Miner. Layers of shoegazing fuzz & reverse reverbs form a trebly wall of sound which, due to a weaker low end, falls just short of what it could’ve been. This transitions, far better than it should, into the sunny, upbeat Pop of Worlds Of Possibilities by The Pastels. Head nodding is not optional.

Plush

Plush bring some bluesy, fuzzy, downtempo Indie Rock with Three Quarter Blind Eyes. It’s roots lie in ’60’s classic Rock. Neil Young playing guitar solo’s for Lynrd Skynrd maybe? Strong, clear vocals which almost break up as it moves into falsetto ranges. Following track, Held by Smog, actually pairs quite well with the prior track. It’s a melodic, lo-fi slacker ballad from the same parallel universe as David Bermans’ Silver Jews (who we’ll hearing from later).

Neskwik by Woodbine is sweet sounding, home recorded twee pop in the vein of The Vaselines or Beat Happening but with edgier guitar sounds. Elliott Smith Elliot Smiths his way through the Indie Folk standard Speed Trials. Loping rhythms & unusual vocal melodies tie it into the Domino style. There’s a demo quality to every element but the vocals, which sound much more professionally recorded.

Clinic’s Distortions is slow & purposeful Psyche Pop built around atmospheric organ sounds, lazy rhythms & melancholic falsetto vocals. Ghost Ship In A Storm by Jim O’Rourke is pleasant enough Indie Folk with nice foot tapping rhythms & lapsteel guitars giving it some nautical, surf-ish vibes.

Pram in 1994

Sleepy Sweet by Pram starts off with some chirping crickets & swampy background effects before dropping into a bass driven, lazy Pop song. It’s hard to pin down it’s influences exactly but it’s gives an impression organic Trip-Hop, led by thick, warm hammond organs. There’s an almost tropical, Reggae feel to it so I was surprised to see Wikipedia lists Pram as a Post-Rock band. I guess I need to check out more of their material.

Papa M’s Plastic Energy Man seems to belong to a genre which was fairly popular around the turn of the century, but which you never hear mentioned anymore: Folktronica. One of the British music press’s horrible portmanteaus I’ll wager. Used to describe what was essentially acoustic guitar noodling over minimalist electronic percussion, bass & synth layers. I’m actually quite a fan. I remember the legendary Four Tet (later) been described this way too.

Preston School Of Industry

Whale Bones by Preston School Of Industry (side project of Pavement’s Scott Kannberg aka Spiral Stairs) is the perfect balance of sunny Indie Pop melodies, lo-fi production values & off kilter vocals & lyrics which I’d expect from a member of the band who pretty much defined the sound of modern Indie Rock. Personally, as much as I love Stephen Malkmus, I think Spiral Stairs is Pavement’s best kept secret & I really love Whale Bones & pretty much all of his output.

Fresh from his appearance at the start of this compilation (Sebadoh) one of Lou Barlow’s other bands, Folk Implosion, contributes Free To Go. Anthemic bedroom Pop almost too perfect for radio.

Speaking of too perfect. The penultimate track of disc one takes us back to those beautifully written liner notes. David Berman’s Silver Jews classic Random Rules is an absolute gem of a song. Perfect lyrics sung in Berman’s lowkey, underdog drawl & a backing band featuring Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus & Bob Nastanovich (these guys get everywhere on this compilation) playing the lowkey, underdog Indie Rock which made Silver Jews such a touchstone of the Indie Rock canon.

Anyway, before we get to the end of disc one, here’s Pavement again. This time in their own right with the epic The Hexx. The Hexx was recorded twice. Originally for Brighten The Corners but this version is taken form their farewell album Terror Twilight. Produced by Nigel Godrich (of Radiohead fame) The Hexx is an absolute classic Pavement song with obscure lyrics, oddball Indie melodies & oddball guitar jams.

Since we’ve reached the end of disc one & this post has already become longer than I originally imagined, I think I’ll cover disc two in a followup blogpost tomorrow. Sitting and listening to a fantastic compilation album while writing about it is no great chore, after all.

Categories
Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Debrief

Choosing a Song of the Day for every letter of the alphabet was particularly fun & I believe I got a really good Spotify playlist out of it too.

It’s a good way of giving myself something to do every day, especially during lockdown, so I’m going to keep it going for now. Instead of A-Z I’ve decided to give Song of the Day themes that I hope will make great playlists which I can share with you too.

During the latest civil unrest in the states I have been attempting to express solidarity with African Americans who are a victim of police racism & racist violence in any way I can. This has got me thinking that, over the years, I have taken a great deal of enjoyment & comfort from African American culture. I have enjoyed Hip-Hop & Rap music since I was a child & let’s not forget some outliers we might not necessarily think about at first like Jimmy Hendrix & Bad Brains.

So for the next 20 days (I think 20 is a good number of tracks for a Spotify Playlist), Scruffy Theory will be posting Song of the Day (BLM). I hope you enjoy it.

In the meantime, listen back to my Song of the Day (A-Z) playlist.

Feel free to comment ideas for future themes.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Indie Rock Music Politics Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): The Cranberries – Zombie

As we reach the end of the alphabet I’m glad to finally come to a political song. Zombie by The Cranberries is a brutally real & honest art. It’s an ode to The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the armed conflict between Catholic & Protestant militias which was aggravated, & worsened at every step interference from the British government, military & Police.

Zombie paints a vivid picture of the bombed out streets, killed children & selfish indifference which characterised the bloody conflict.

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence, caused such silence
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head they are crying

In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie, oh

Du, du, du, du
Du, du, du, du
Du, du, du, du
Du, du, du, du

Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken

It’s the same old theme
Since nineteen-sixteen
In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head, they are dying

In your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie
What’s in your head, in your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ie-ie oh

Stuck for something to listen to? Why not wrap your ears around this playlist of my Song of the Day (A-Z) series.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00

Categories
Politics

No Justice, No Peace

Protesters after overrunning & burning down the 3rd Precinct, Minneapolis, 28 May 2020

This post is to express solidarity with the thousands in the USA (& allies worldwide) who are protesting against the racist, white supremacist police system. These protests, referred to by some as revolution, uprising or an insurgency, were sparked by the murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of black man, Georg Floyd. Chauvin murdered Floyd by kneeling upon his neck causing him difficulty to breath. Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe. This murder was committed in front of members of the public, who filmed the crime, & three other police officers (Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng & Thomas K Lane) who either stood idly by or helped restrain Floyd.

George Floyd mural painted on Pensacola’s Graffiti Bridge

Scruffy Theory, as I’m sure you know, is not politically neutral. Black lives matter. “All Lives Matter” cunts can get in the fucking sea. All lives cannot & will not matter until Black Lives matter. “Blue Lives” don’t matter because they don’t fucking exist. Being a cop is a JOB, a choice. You are not born a cop. If you have any self-respect, you don’t define your identity as being a cop. To quote the excellent visual artist, Teenage Stepdad, “Imagine having one life to live and deciding to spend it being a cop.”

Teenage Stepdad

ACAB, All Cops Are Bastards. Yes ALL cops are. The ones who you might define as “good cops” are standing by & allowing the white supremacists to murder Black people for the crime of being black. Many insist that most cops are good & only a small majority are bastards. This logic is ridiculous. A popular rebuttal against this is that if you have 1000 good cops & 10 bad cops, but the 1000 good cops don’t stop the 10 bad cops, then you have 1010 bad cops.

Another organisation hitting the nail on the head here is Existential Comics. They are posting regular facts & rebuttals to those who are supporting the police. Or bootlickers as they’re technically known. This is a favourite. These so-called “good cops” should probably find a useful job which supports communities rather than continuing in theri roles as antagonistic wreckers of communities.

Another disingenuous & morally reprehensible tactic for defending police & attacking protesters is to say something along the lines of “it’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop”. Obviously, as any rational human being can see, the linguistic framing used here is designed to engender support for the police & hostility towards the protesters (who are simultaneously being painted as “rioters” or “looters”). By framing the issue the other way around we can get to a more morally positive take on this. “It’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop”. By reordering the priority given to the two supposed wrongs by the importance of human life over property, we reach a much sounder conclusion.

The framing of protesters as “rioters” or “looters” is probably the biggest problem, public opinion-wise, that we face right now. From my own observations of watching the protests (by live-streams on Unicorn Riot, Redfish & others), they are largely peaceful affairs. They remain peaceful until the police begin aggravating & threatening the crowds. There is at least one case where St. Paul police officer, Jacob Pederson, was filmed in plainclothes vandalised a branch of AutoZone. Just before this he spray painted “Free shit for everyone zone”.He was identified from the video by his ex-partner. Right-wing authoritarian governments have always relied on the use of Agent Provocateurs to rile up crowds of protesters & to incite violence. A simple Google search of the term “Agent Provocateur” will lead you down a rabbit hole of both anecdotal & hard evidence for this. [editorial note: I have taken the editorial decision to report that Umbrella Man was Jacob Pederson because a) I believe it to be true & b) various American news services reported the Saint Paul Police’s denial of it as fact, without evidence.]

As for “looting”, there are genuine legitimate arguments for expropriation of goods from the ruling, capitalist class (which helps to maintain the systematically racist status quo) into the hands of the working classes & marginalised groups. I have heard reports of people expropriating things like car baby seats, nappies (or diapers since this is the US), children’s clothing & other things which improve the quality of their lives. In addition to this, water, milk & food which was expropriated from stores such as Target & Walmart, have been redistributed throughout the crowd & used to protect themselves against the police violence. Many people wash out their eyes with milk after being targeted with teargas or pepper spray (Sometimes colloquially referred to as Mace, after a popular brand). A famous example of this is the 9 year old girl who was pepper sprayed by cowardly Seattle police officer, Jared Campbell (badge #8470).

There are also strong arguments that expropriation & redistribution of goods like this actually helps communities economically. Rick Sauermilch, Green Party Candidate for Michigan’s 110th District, argues this so eloquently that I’m just going to quote it entirely:

A lot of people have been talking about the effects of looting on “small businesses” and the general economics of the community and I think a big piece that’s missing from this conversation is that there are positive effects of looting for the people who are involved in it.

When Target loses goods they don’t just disappear from the economy. People take them home and use them. This has widespread economic effects in the community. 

It’s been said that Hip-hop would have never existed if it wasn’t for the 1977 New York blackout and the looting that followed it because overnight the neighborhoods went from having one DJ to 20 or so DJ crews, all that gear they stole got turned into a business prospect. You can talk about all the economic activity that was “lost” but do we talk about how much money has hip-hop made for that community since?

How many young people just started a new business today in Minneapolis?  
How many people woke up today and can finally start being a real photographer, or start coding on a laptop that finally has the specs, or finally got that sewing machine and can start working on their fashion career?

Please stop acting like looting is “destruction of property” and start looking at it for what it really is, a wealth transfer from corporations to the poor in the form of property.

Rick Sauermilch, Green Party Candidate for Michigan’s 110th District.

So, in respect for Black people fighting for their lives against the murderous police force & corrupt authoritarian government, I stand in solidarity with them & their allies on the front lines.

No Justice, No Peace.

Black Lives Matter

All Cops Are Bastards

Categories
Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Manic Street Preachers – You Love Us (Heavenly Version)

Day 25 (Y). Before it was rerecorded with a massive Guns & Roses type production for their debut album, Generation Terrorists, Manic Street Preachers released this rawer, punkier version of their live anthem You Love Us on, Indie label, Heavenly Records. This is my favoured version of the song, particularly because I love the rawer production & the Iggy Pop Lust For Life outro.

Check out the awesome video for the Heavenly version of You Love Us. They really are, to quote from another early tune, “a mess of eyeliner & spraypaint.”

Love…We are not your sinners
Our voices are for real
We realised and won’t be mourned
We’re gonna burn your deathmask uniforms

We won’t die of devotion
Understand we can never belong
Throw some acid into your face
Pollute your mineral water with a strychnine taste

You love us…

Till I see love in statues
Your lessons drill inherited sin
Parliament’s a fake life saver
You better wake up and smell the real flavour

Control

You love us like a holocaust
Same marketing problem as E.S.T.
You love us like a holocaust
Same marketing problem as E.S.T.

You love us…

Love
Check it out
One Two Three Four Five

Fall out scream
Death melody
Maggots in your culture scene
Fall to pieces
When you can’t buy
Hey passive electorate
Die die die

Stuck for something to listen to? Why not wrap your ears around this playlist of my Song of the Day (A-Z) series.

Buy Tom a coffee?

Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.

£3.00