There were few more resilient opponents of Trumpian values than Seeger, who weathered FBI investigation, blacklisting and a jail sentence on his way to becoming the godfather of folk protest. Giant Steps’ 60th anniversary is celebrated this month by Rhino’s CD, vinyl and download release, including 40 minutes of outtakes, and illuminating liner notes by Coltrane authority Ashley Kahn.
The other inspiration she cites is Sigmund Freud.
Together, they conjure an arrestingly melancholic mood, a sonic impression of erosion smoothing a seabed, and of change being as inevitable as it is imperceptible. The last two episodes are where everything happens - the rest of the episodes are a waste of time. That's why I like this show. It’s a trick that’s played throughout, with the lo-fi, endearingly cutesy Beautiful Superstar (“you’re beautiful, you’ve got it all”) followed not long after by the abrasive techno instrumental of Airhead. I fell in love with Herizen's acting skills from seeing her in The Get Down. The acting is pretty decent, especially from the main cheerleader girl. However with this series I'm not sure how much longer I can wait, in the preview it said and I quote "A cheerleader in her senior year of high school plots revenge against the clique that expelled her".
The uprising came as a response to the increased teaching of Afrikaans in schools, a move seen to further subjugate the black population during apartheid. Whether experienced alongside the confronting documentary or listened to alone, Uprize! Certainly, it allows Murphy’s talents to shine far more clearly than its sprawling predecessor. While there are moments when things buckle under the weight of experimentation – Monk Mode is a terrifying metal cacophony in search of a tune – My Agenda is further proof of Electra’s ability to make thought-provoking protest pop that sounds like a proper riot.
Kingdom of Ends, meanwhile, is a song about frustration, a theme that seems to run through Róisín Machine, the lyrics usually vague enough to make you wonder if the songs’ protagonists are singing about romantic failure, the current state of Britain, or indeed the career frustrations Murphy has articulated herself: “Why do you have to make me wait?
How then to explain 26-year-old Amanda Koci, AKA Ava Max, an uncomplicated throwback to Fame-era Gaga, saddled with a gimmicky lopsided wig? Map of the Soul: 7 was a blockbuster, 75 minutes of music apparently inspired by Dr Murray Stein’s book Jung’s Map of the Soul. The show’s biggest gamble is that it doesn’t even reveal its biggest narrative twist until deep into the season, after it’s already laid an intricate web of groundwork. “Life and listening have become too complex for 2D”, claimed The Atlantic, with the “costumed fictions” of Perry, Lady Gaga and dollar sign-era Kesha dismissed as passé.
Working Men’s Club: Working Men’s Club album art work, Novák: Piano Concerto; Toman and the Wood Nymph, Róisín Murphy: Róisín Machine album cover, John Coltrane: Giant Steps 60th Anniversary Edition album cover, Stille Liebe: Lieder by Robert Schumann album cover. They trash-talk their enemies, perform handsprings in the halls, and are confrontational with their pom-poms. Brought up in New York by adoptive parents, Diana Jones later traced her birth family to Tennessee and a musician grandfather, and her records have, appropriately, had a spare, back-country atmosphere and told tales of hard times and dislocation. The former offers eight minutes during which Murphy manages to sport four different, preposterous headdresses and execute a mid-song costume change from late-80s raver in puffa jacket, beanie and KLF T-shirt into a glamorous red dress and feather boa. Pop stars love to say they’re finally “the real me”, although the declaration often straddles some pretty generic music. After Trump’s election, her roots called, and her fourth album was written between New York and Hong Kong, two worlds undergoing great change. It’s a finely wrought piece of work, tender in its treatment of bruised lives, but unflinching in its gaze. As it begins, a string orchestra joins in, playing the melody so quietly it’s almost subliminal. The Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy has been building an international opera career for well over a decade but remains relatively little known to UK audiences, though she’s just been announced for the title role in the Royal Opera’s concerts of Ariodante next month. Before that, she wrote four novels she categorizes as noir – the mean streets, circa mid-century, which is not an obvious steppingstone to the world of Mean Girls. Watching the footage of her performing her former band’s 2003 single Forever More at Glastonbury, or the videos she posted from her living room during lockdown, you can see what they mean. You can see where the rivalry has come from. Aggressive opener F the World skews the loneliness of “incels”, while Ram It Down fuses lyrics about latent homophobia with twisted, steroid-injected happy hardcore. It's incredibly slow paced which is making me want to switch off. As the season progresses and those nightmares become a little more literal, the cuts between hallucinations and reality become slightly less effective.
Their often troubled world hardly seems the work of a joyful newlywed at times, and occasionally they reveal Schumann’s debts to Schubert and to Beethoven’s An die Ferne Geliebte. So the airy, Ash-referencing, acoustic-led opener Oh Yeah is immediately exploded by Xxoplex, an unholy alliance of pummelling beats, choral chants and pitched vocals. The guitar solo, by Anthony Wilson, is a simple, elegant improvisation; the strings are there to prevent the melody from getting lost – an old trick, dating back to the 1920s, done here with great subtlety. Streams of Thought Vol 3: Cane & Able is out 16 October. Being true to the hearts of teens means ignoring other gods.
Sometimes, it’s straightforward. “I’m not even interested in our lives.” To be just interesting enough to see how uninteresting you actually are: this is the predicament of the 15-year-old. Not what the show is about at all. Even at its most basic, however, the melodic infrastructure is impeccable, plus there’s something glorious about its dogged aversion to anything other than 2D escapism. Some of the music on Song Machine was evidently made in reaction to 2020 itself: “surgical glove world, bleach-thirsty world”, Albarn sings on Strange Timez, which features Robert Smith looking sorrowfully down at the Earth, amazed it’s still spinning, while a piano scampers randomly around, a subtle nod to the Cure’s The Caterpillar amid the four-to-the-floor house beats.
And yet, a comparison of The Album with BTS’s last album reveals them to be very different propositions. The Fever tells the story of a peer group of girls in the fictional town of Dryden, USA. Its overt effort to bring in a black character with Kat’s manager Marcus (Mitchell Edwards) results in him getting (sorry) spun out into his own completely isolated storyline in which every beat feels like a beg for inclusivity points. As with Flamboyant, Electra digs into notions of masculinity and queerness, but this time they uncover murkier territory. Latched on to by the burgeoning black consciousness movement, the protests were met with police brutality and the deaths of at least 176 people.
Beth, a master at emotional manipulation, keeps everyone in their place, until the arrival of a new cheerleading coach, the attractive and inspiring Colette French. “How pathetic,” says a high-school cheerleader in Abbott's novel Dare Me, from 2012, to an adult who wants to get to know her. Some of it feels weirdly potentiated by what happened after it was recorded. Great show! If you stick to it, I promise it's worth it. Tenacity sometimes feels like an idiosyncratic birthday party, not just for Bird and Bates, but for a liberating century in the world’s music-making, too. In some benighted corners of the internet, the big news a couple of weeks ago was the latest battle in the ongoing war between fans of South Korean boyband BTS and fans of fellow K-pop stars Blackpink. At times the set seems to unite the cultural implications of Bird’s meteoric 40s/50s flight through Harlem with the global and contemporary-classical scenery opening up to Bates and his peers in 80s London. Boring, unrealistic, bad acting, and not one single character is likable. Vienna Blood review – so much like Sherlock it seems like a spoof 3 / 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars.
A heaviness permeated the summer, one laden with the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the consequences of George Floyd’s killing by Minnesota police in May. “If I’m a walking institution, I’m an HBCU (historically black college and university),” he offers on Thought Vs Everybody, one of two politically charged tunes already released. Buckley’s vocalist is Iarla O’Lionaird from US/Irish folk group the Gloaming, whose tender, unwavering voice handles these songs about love and loss, stemming from ancient Gaelic poetry, with directness and care.Buckley creates an immersive sound-world of electronic and acoustic drones behind him. There’s her keen pop sensibility, which fuels Shellfish Mademoiselle and Murphy’s Law, fabulous songs both, and her innate understanding of dance music, which extends to occasionally taking a back seat. On 2019’s Samsara, vocalist Larissa Stupar covered issues such as forced surrogacy (Uterine Industrialisation), gaslighting abuse (Sadistic Rituals) and the perils of internet status obsession (Asura’s Realm) with her perfectly pitched guttural delivery, cutting through the layers of adrenalised riffs. All this without it ever becoming clear what Gorillaz is supposed to be. This show is fantastic. This song cycle about the plight of refugees resonates with her previous work, although its genesis stems from a friendship with the actor and human rights activist Emma Thompson, who, Jones says, “called me out of writer’s block”. This carefully planned recital disc from the German baritone Samuel Hasselhorn, with Joseph Middleton as his unfailingly perceptive pianist, concentrates however on some of the other products of that extraordinary Liederjahre – settings of Heine, Kerner, Chamisso and Hans Christian Andersen. Alas, not much can be done with We Shall Overcome, that anthem of triumph that sounds like defeat, but the primary feeling in play here is a fearless, defiant joy. In fact I only ever write reviews for things that not only I enjoyed but I feel are getting a lot of hate for no reason. You get the feeling Damon Albarn isn’t entirely sure himself how to define Gorillaz, which makes Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez an oddly perfect way to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary.
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