A recent series of posts by sociologist Lane Kenworthy takes a sober look at the problem of income inequality and what policies might mitigate it. I’ll summarize the gist here, but obviously they should be read in full. Often income inequality is dismissed as irrelevant by conservatives, who regard it as the just outcome resulting from varying levels of individual effort. (The econojargon for this is a reference to “skill-biased technical change.” That basically means income distribution is biased toward those with socially necessary skills—you know, like creating CDOs and issuing subprime debt.)
Latest Blog Posts
Sonic Youth’s new record The Eternal releases 9 June in North America and a day earlier in the UK. There’s now an MP3 from the album available that Matador Records describes in the following manner: ““Sacred Trickster” is a 2:10 out-of-the gate hardcore matinee track with Kim singing salutes to French painter Yves Klein and Western Massachusetts noise artist Noise Nomads. It sets the tone for The Eternal, which comprises 12 tunes that are a fireworks display of Sonic Youth touchstones.”
“Sacred Trickster” [MP3]
Everyone knows that Herbie Hancock is one of the coolest men on the planet, and has been for almost half a century. Anyone who doesn’t know this doesn’t know much; all we can offer them are condolences. Only Miles Davis, with whom Hancock worked for several crucial years (in both mens’ lives) during the mid-’60s, can possibly be invoked in any discussion of popular musicians who consistently shaped, then challenged the vanguard over a substantial period of time. These artists not only made new music but changed music on at least a handful of occasions.
Most folks know, and love, Hancock from what was likely their first association with him: the song (and more significantly, the video) “Rockit”, which was prominent in the MTV rotation circa 1983. The import of this one song is impossible to overstate: it not only spotlighted black men on the then-lilywhite music video channel, it spotlighted a jazz band. On top of that, it served as a mainstream introduction to scratching and turntable pyrotechnics. To say the earth was no longer flat, sonically speaking, after “Rockit” is only hinting at its influence.
This past week, I spent my Easter Sunday at the Black Cat with the Wooden Birds, the latest project from American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny. AnAmSet fans will feel right at home with the Wooden Birds, as the band finds Kenny marrying his hushed delivery with dulcet tones and understated arrangements yet again. That’s not to say, however, that the Wooden Birds are just the American Analog Set with different players. Longtime fans will notice that Kenny’s latest vehicle favors acoustic over electric instrumentation and has a more rhythm-heavy bent (nearly every one of the band’s songs features maracas and tambourine).
Late Texas singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt was both a friend to Steve Earle also a massive influence on his artistic development. Fourteen years ago Earle said, “Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” So, it’s only natural that he would want to record a Van Zandt tribute album and we’re lucky for it. Earle sounds re-invigorated on this tour through his mentor’s songs released as Townes on May 12th via New West Records. Earle’s wife Alison Moorer joins in the harmony vocals on this track, “To Live Is to Fly”.
“To Live Is to Fly” [MP3]