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screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Rants (Page 1 of 2)

LegPuppy and their Nasty Masterpiece: Selfie Stick – Narcissistic Prick

LegPuppy

Selfie Stick — Narcissistic Prick. Well, isn’t this a timely piece of social commentary. And, much like the object of their vilification, the ubiquitous selfie stick, their deeply disturbing video for this scathing assessment of our narcissistic national pastime is something you can’t seem to turn away from, despite your better judgement.

LegPuppy is an electro punk quartet from South London. To get the inevitable “how did they get that name name” question out of the way, it was at a house party in Wales, with attendees name-dropping band monikers. Darren Laurence (songwriter, synths, drum machines, sampler and vocalist) tossed out “Leg” and Claire Jones (songwriter, vocalist, keyboards and acoustic guitar) fired back with “Puppy.” Fortunately, an equally acerbic band followed.

Claire is a classically trained guitarist, published author and solo artist. Oh, and she has a doctorate degree. Darren, no slouch himeself, is a freelance designer with a radio show on Artefakto Radio and DJing experience for some of London’s premiere clubs. The other two band members? A former touring artist and label executive and a trainee actor and performance artist.

Traveling around London and looking to give your twisted inner child a well-deserved night out? LegPuppy has some shows coming up in the U.K., so follow them on Facebook for more information. Word has it that they’re an amazing live band, and how could they not be?

web | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | bandcamp | spotify | google play

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Rock Chick: Sexism and Exploitation in the Music Business

The current pop wasteland. Clockwise from upper left: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the reinvented Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV VMAs and Taylor Swift, before and after.

The current pop wasteland. Clockwise from upper left: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, the reinvented Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV VMAs and Taylor Swift, before and after.

I was inspired by a recent Facebook post by Anna Bulbrook, who plays viola, keyboards and is a vocalist with The Airborne Toxic Event. She posted a link to an article about the rude and demeaning things said to female musicians, and voiced her own frustration with the music industry’s rampant sexism. I’d like to dedicate this to all working musicians out there (and music professionals who support and nurture them) who happen to be women.

Wow, You Actually Know How To Play That?

The object that raised Ms. Bulbrook’s wrath (and started me on my investigative journey) was titled “Infuriating Things People Say to Women Musicians”. It was written by Steph Guthrie, who performs with Toronto-based band Patti Cake. The cringe-worthy comments from male musical instrument store employees, sound engineers, managers and others “in the biz” read like something out of the 1950s, but sadly they’re not. They’re comments that were made in the present day to seasoned and experienced female musicians. Sexism, of course, exists everywhere. Men in the music business still can’t get their heads around the fact that there are plenty of serious women musicians who are proficient with a wide variety of instruments, music composition and recording technology — and this includes the sacred lead guitar, historically the machismo status symbol of the (male) rock god. “Take Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Only two women, Joni Mitchell and Joan Jett, were honored. In a Washington Post article written in response to Rolling Stone’s list, the writer suggests that as interest in electric guitar was revving up in the ’60s, women weren’t encouraged to step out of their ladylike gender roles, leaving them with an impossible game of catch-up to Jimi Hendrix and Page.” (from The 12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists – Elle, 2009). I can only assume that this disrespect stems from an inferiority complex, leading men to feel threatened by strong women. Regardless of how far we may think we’ve come in gender equality, clearly we haven’t actually progressed beyond The Flintstones.

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Musings about the Occupy Movement

Occupy Boston march on Global Demonstration Day, October 15, 2011

Occupy Boston march on Global Demonstration Day, October 15, 2011

It’s a sad fact that a bad situation usually has to get much, much worse before it can start to get better. Ninety-nine percent of this planet should be really pissed off right now, if only there wasn’t so much other stuff that gets in the way. If religion is the opiate of the masses, then so are radio talk shows and opinion columns, political pundits and proselytizers. All that noise, all those petty disagreements over social issues and divisive politics. What commentators call the “wedge issues” that cause people who have more in common with each other than they realize to bicker endlessly, while they lose sight of the main plot.

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Pearls Before Swine: The Airborne Toxic Event (re)Visits Pianos and The Mercury Lounge (5/2-5/3/11)

The Mercury Lounge

It is an odd paradox. The Airborne Toxic Event’s audience is getting larger, the hardcore fans more rabid, so many are now singing their praises; and yet, people seem to be actually hearing them less.

At the tiny Pianos on NYC’s Lower East Side last Monday night, Mikel tried to joke about the situation – “Oh, I see the bar’s open… well, it wouldn’t be an Airborne show..”, but it had to suck for them. Eight days in to a 15-day-straight run of shows before a single day off, they were all visibly exhausted, and Mikel had observed a 24-hour “vocal silence” of no talking before the show, in order to preserve his voice. The setlist was drastically altered in favor of quieter ballads instead of vocal chord-straining all-out rockers, and that – along with sweet, sentimental introductions in between every song – should have made this an unusual and very special time for their most loyal fans. There were stories of the early days before Airborne – Mikel’s upstairs neighbor banging on the floor to get him to stop playing, and of previous band members saying “your band’s never going to make it.” Of dragging a broken amp down Ludlow Street, and thanking Pianos for “giving them a shot.” About their first single, “Girls In Their Summer Dresses,” and the tiny label that released it, Square Records. Of all the support they’ve received, the many letters, and the connection with their audience. It should have been an evening of beautiful music and shared experience. Except that the cast of Jersey Shore was in attendance that night.

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“Changing”… into what, exactly?

After posting about two massive fatal earthquakes, I am now following up with thoughts about a rock band’s 3:49 video. How incredibly stupid and unimportant in comparison. Yet I’ve been meaning to weigh in on The Airborne Toxic Event‘s official video for their new song, “Changing”. After seeing comments from two L.A. bloggers who have had a profound effect on the music I’ve been listening to since 2008, and then the L.A. Times (all of whom were among the first to introduce this great band to Los Angeles locals, long before anyone else knew about them), I knew the time was now.

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The Henry Clay People at T.T. the Bear’s Place ~ 10/17/10

HCP_InAction@TTs

As I told the Siara boys after their deeply gratifying set of life-affirming rock ‘n’ roll, “thanks man, I really needed that.” Yup, tough year. What can I say? Read more of my heartfelt gratitude on Ryan’s Smashing Life. I gave him the photos that didn’t look like I shot them in a dark underwater cave. Apart from the ridiculous volume level for two dozen of us in a place the size of a shoebox, they also have a rather creative lighting technique, whereby they illuminate the audience but leave the performers in semi-darkness. Actually, we later decided that was good for bands with bad hangovers; Joey said it was nice and subdued, and he could see all of us just fine. Awesome.

Joey raises his plastic cup to the 20 of us. No man, here's to <em>you</em>.

Joey raises his plastic cup to the 20 of us. No man, here's to you.

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Sometimes You’re Just Doomed – The xx @ Newbury Comics and with Friendly Fires @ The Paradise, 12/4/09

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The day started out innocently enough. Well, apart from only just having breakfast at noon, but that’s become standard operating procedure with my middle of the night paying job. I went into town to see my friend Mary who had come in from Washington, D.C. to see The xx at a Newbury Comics in-store, and to cover their show with Friendly Fires at the Paradise for There Goes the Fear and PopWreckoning.

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The East Coast Music Festival Blues (Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Move Rag)

After my failed attempt to win tickets to Coachella, and hot on the heels of recent announcements that The Airborne Toxic Event (and a host of other wonderful indie rock bands) are playing Austin City Limits and the Fuji Rock Festival this year, I find myself bemoaning the fact that the East Coast really doesn’t have a decent indie music festival. Well, apart from I guess what is now only the second annual All Points West in New Jersey, which seems to be the only festival Airborne Tox isn’t performing at. Of course. There are plans, apparently, for a festival in upstate NY, but that wouldn’t be until 2010, so who the heck knows. Yes, here it comes — it’s Julie’s weekly rant.

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Boubacar Diabaté of SambaLolo and Don’t Kill Antz @ Toad, April 17, 2009

Don't Kill Antz

Don't Kill Antz

I managed to get a Friday night off and headed to Toad again to catch a few bands. I’m hesitant to repeat what a nice, cozy place this is to see music in, because it gets packed enough as it is. But it is a cool little venue, and they have some really great performances – albeit some noisy and clueless patrons. But more about that in a minute [yes, it’s going to be another one of Julie’s rants, so buckle up.].

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Yay Coachella!

Embrace your pain; use it to create art. Ok, so I embraced my pain, and I created… something. The song is called “Yay Coachella!”, and it’s sung to Weezer’s “Troublemaker”, which WFNX has played, I think, about 500,000 times to date. Once would have been enough. In fact, once would have been too much. We put together this video for their contest to win a trip to the wonderful Coachella music festival out in Indio, California, April 17-19. A partial list of bands I would love, love, love to see: The Airborne Toxic Event, Leonard Cohen, The Cure, Conor Oberst, Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey, Silversun Pickups, The Hold Steady, We Are Scientists, Band of Horses, Bob Mould, Fleet Foxes, Glasvegas, Henry Rollins, M.I.A., TV on the Radio, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Lykke Li, My Bloody Valentine, Okkervil River, Public Enemy, The Orb, Throbbing Gristle (good heavens, Throbbing Gristle??), X, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. All except for Franz and TATE I’ve never seen before, and I’ve never been to a music festival like this (save for maybe one or two low-key things in Connecticut, back in the late ’70s). Wish us luck! (I really need a vacation…)

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