“When we are home, we won’t even know what to say to the kids.” As Chen Suqin imagines the holiday visit she and her husband Zhang Changhua will make in a few days, she’s hardly happy. Some 16 years ago, the couple left Huilong Village, Sichuan Province to find work in the city. As they head home, along with some 130 million other migrant workers during the Chinese New Year, they ponder their decision. “We were very poor when we left,” Suqin remembers. “My mother held our baby when I left. Qin was only one year old. I was crying when I left.”
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During the heady days of the electro revival a few years back, Anita Blay—aka CocknBullKid—looked set to make her mark. I saw her in Sheffield in 2008, where she won over a fractious crowd with nervous charm and a distinctive brand of stomping, instantly catchy electro. An appearance on British music show Later… With Jools Holland happened at around the same time, along with several nods to her talent in end-of-year ‘ones to watch’ lists. Then - nothing.
Luckily for us, she’d gone nowhere. Taking time out to rethink her sound and sign to Moshi Moshi, she burst back on to the scene with an impressive debut album, Adulthood, in April this year. With her brutally honest, self-deprecating lyrics, quirky visual style and sense of fun, she’s a cut above the usual pop-electro hybrids. The video for single “One Eye Closed” says it all—brilliant and bonkers. Watch and love.
Like a cross between Vandaveer, the Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens, Brooklyn songwriter Argyle Johansen (a.k.a. John F. Wentz) hammers his way into your ears with the multi-layered textures from Inner Demo(n)s, his latest EP. Johansen argues that “a free man on earth ought to make his life worthwhile, and [my] music is an attempt at a means to that end.” Self-aggrandizing pretensions aside, the music’s actually quite solid. “You Try”, a live version of which you can hear in its entirety below, showcases his psychedelic folk sound in full force, a frenetic wheels-on-train-tracks percussive propulsion system atop which guitars, accordion and echoing vocals are layered. Fans of Vampire Weekend’s Contra will know the sound pretty well, and are likely to find plenty to enjoy here. Inner Demo(n)s has been available since 6 September, and though there hasn’t yet been a groundswell of mainstream acceptance, this is music which fits into the groove alongside the best of 2011’s folk-pop newcomers. You just haven’t heard it yet.
New TV series were hyped at an all time high in 2010, only to see disappointing ratings and early cancellations. As a result, this fall will see more new series debuts than last year. But what will stay and what will get cancelled before Christmas? Looking at a show’s premise and competition, I previously predicted the demises of Running Wilde, Detroit 1-8-7, My Generation, and Outlaw, so let’s see about this year.
(The listings shown are for the Central Standard time zone.)
NOVI, aka Carolyne Neuman in real life, is an up-and-coming electro-pop artist originally from small town Oregon, but now based in the big city (Los Angeles). NOVI previously had a tune (“All the Way”) on the hit show One Tree Hill, which brought her some early visibility and now she is about to release her debut EP, Now I’m Here, this fall. “Blackbirds” is the lead-off single, which was mixed by Brian Malouf (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince), who says, “When I first heard Novi’s music I was struck by the strong originality and the defining musicality. They are great and very original sounding songs and her voice soars! I love listening back to these tracks now—they really hold up.”