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by PopMatters Staff

17 Aug 2009

Releasing: 6 October (US)

Indie band Headlights recorded their upcoming record live. Tristan Wraight says, “On this record we just sang, that’s the take, that’s the part, there’s the vocals, here’s the mic, sing the song, done.”

01 Telephones
02 Secrets
03 You and Eye
04 Get Going
05 Love Song for Buddy
06 I Don’t Mind at All
07 Dead Ends
08 Wisconsin Beaches
09 We’re All Animals
10 Teenage Wonder
11 Slow Down Town

“Get Going” [MP3]

by Bill Gibron

17 Aug 2009

We all complain about talking in today’s movie theater experience, a combination of lax living room viewing habits translating over to the big screen scenario as well as that most senseless of addictionas - the cellphone. We crow about texting and other forms of technological shorthand, kids incapable of leaving their portable video game consoles long enough to absorb a 70 to 90 minute movie. But there are worse affronts to the sensibilities of a faithful cinephile, acts of egregious insensitivity and inappropriate behavior that, 100 years ago, would probably mark the difference between a civilized and callously uncouth society. While by no means all inclusive, here’s a list of 10 things that happen almost regularly in Bijous around the country that warrant a little more than a passing criticism. Sadly, strict laws against homicide keep film fans from resorting to outright violence, even if light of such affronts as:

Catcalls and Wolf Whistles
While definitely sexist and reminiscent of a time when chauvinism battled feminism for the proper way of dealing with a fetching guy or gal, aurally expressing your sexual approval of a star or onscreen sequence is just pointless. Megan Fox doesn’t want your horndog howl. She’s quite content with the million dollar salary your blind sense of beauty provides her. Besides, the only person hearing your approval of Eric Bana’s naked bubble butt is the un-attentive teenager zombie out in front of you. Also, when was the last time anyone acquiesced to physical congress with you based on a bleated sound of sensual acknowledgment. Thought so.

by PopMatters Staff

17 Aug 2009

Hugh Cornwell
(Invisible Hands Music)
Releasing: now (digital) / 8 September (physical)

Frontman of one of the original British punk bands, the Strangers, Hugh Cornwell is releasing a new solo album in early September that displays his life-long love of gritty rock and roll. But in a true punk twist, Cornwell is offering the album for free right now from his website www.hughcornwell.com. The head of Cornwell’s label, Charles Kennedy, explains the free offer as such: “Everything that’s ever been recorded or filmed is now online and free – whether the copyright owners like it or not, and any work of artists that is honest – either from decades ago or right now – has intellectual value that will always translate into monetary value.”

01 Please Don’t Put Me on a Slow Boat to Trowbridge
02 Going to the City
03 Delightful Nightmare
04 Within You Or Without You
05 Rain on the River
06 Beat of My Heart
07 Philip K. Ridiculous
08 The Pleasure of Your Company
09 Wrong Side of the Tracks
10 Banging on the Same Old Beat

by PopMatters Staff

17 Aug 2009

(Temporary Residence)
Releasing: 8 September (US)

The Athens, Georgia psych-dance rockers are releasing a collection of rarities this fall containing out-of-print vinyl songs from the past several years. Look for a new album from the group in 2010.

01 Join Us, Mystic Sister
02 No More Sages
03 Monoliths
04 Thieves
05 The World Outside (Thee Loving Hand Remix)
06 Inventions (Justin Van Der Volgen Remix)
07 Monoliths (Steve Moore Remix)
08 Do You Hear The Nightbirds Calling You?

“Monoliths” [MP3]

by PC Muñoz

17 Aug 2009

Nina Simone - “Mississippi Goddam”
Written by Nina Simone
From Nina Simone in Concert (Philips, 1964)
[Videos: Live / Live 2]

As her accompanists bustle along in a brisk show-time tempo, Nina Simone begins this song from her 1964 album Nina Simone in Concert by saying “The name of this tune is ‘Mississippi Goddam”. The drummer then drops a vaudeville thump accent on the kickdrum, and Simone pauses for audience reaction, which is laughter and a smattering of applause. Without changing the timbre of her voice, she quickly adds, “And I mean every word of it.” There is more laughter from the audience after that, but it’s more tentative than the first burst, and this time no one applauds. There’s no possible way the audience could have prepared themselves for what follows. “Mississippi Goddam” is a subversive tour-de-force, a highly sophisticated piece of musical signifying which mixes confrontational anger, point-blank accusation, and deeply felt frustration with a bouncy show-tune melody and a wonderfully expressive vocal by Ms. Simone.

I love “We Shall Overcome”, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “A Change is Gonna Come”, and all the other songs associated with or about the Civil Rights struggle of the American 1960s, but for my money, as powerful and accessible as those songs are, none are as emotionally immediate, or possess more unrelenting spiritual force, than “Mississippi Goddam”. The lyrics are a marvel, unraveling at first in a deceptively lighthearted strut (“Alabama’s got me so upset / Tennessee made me lose my rest”) before turning into the most solemn of lamentations around the middle ( “Lord have mercy on this land of mine / We’re all gonna get it in due time”), and then a full-on, unapologetic demand by the end (“You don’t have to live next to me / Just give me my equality!”

The most striking lyric arrives at around 1:44, just as Simone is starting to dig into the real intent of the song. Here, in a single line, Simone captures the dual existential uncertainty of living in a society which repeatedly pronounces you “other”, while also realizing you don’t really have anywhere else to go: “I don’t belong here / I don’t belong there / I’ve even stopped believing in prayer.” Like the song’s title, these lines are a deeply symbolic statement from a bona fide church girl (Simone’s mother was a minister), both a declaration of painful truth, and a plea for that truth to be heard, understood, addressed. By the time Simone murmurs “Bet you thought I was kidding, didn’t you?” after the refrain following those lines, the Carnegie Hall audience is dead silent.

Given Nina Simone’s undeniable prowess with bluesy tempos and songforms, demonstrated in countless later recordings, one has to wonder why she chose to deliver her most confrontational message in the vehicle of an upbeat songform more suited to a Rodgers and Hammerstein-style musical. The lyrics of “Mississippi Goddam” lyrically give voice to the contemporary concerns of African Americans, but ironically, there is not a lot of obvious church, blues, jazz, or R&B to be heard in the music here. The result is a somewhat dislocated sonic context, a feeling that you’re hearing something that just might be different than what it appears to be on the surface. Whether the African Trickster in Simone intended this or not is always up for discussion, but clearly, “Mississippi Goddam” is not meant to be comforting, uplifting, or reassuring in any sort of way; on the contrary, it is meant to be confrontational, discomforting, prophetic: a call to wakefulness in a dangerous time, and perhaps an apocalyptic warning of sorts, as well.

We celebrate and cherish songs and songwriters often because their words and music bring us joy, comfort, and feelings of empathy and belonging. In this case, we remember and celebrate Nina Simone and “Mississippi Goddam” because in 1964, amidst great turmoil in the country and unbearable race-related murders and violence, Nina Simone had the courage to stand on the stage of one of America’s most hallowed venues and deliver a song that expresses the dismayed yet indefatigable heart of a prophet.


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