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by Jane Jansen Seymour

27 Jul 2011

Billy Bragg was in New York City recently spearheading “The Big Busk,” a musical collaboration at Lincoln Center with acoustic guitar wielding members of the public as well as a few dates at the City Winery. While in town he appeared on WFUV with morning DJ Claudia Marshall, playing some tunes and pumping up the events before heading out on a family road trip which includes a stop at a favorite American city, Asheville, North Carolina. But the showstopper was a song recently written in reaction to the Rupert Murdoch scandal back home in England.

It eloquently gives props to the people of Liverpool, who have been boycotting The Sun ever since the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster killed almost one hundred people and injured hundreds at a football/soccer match. The skewed sensationalistic reporting of the incident horrified the port city. Bragg reasons in the song, “Never Buy the Sun”, that the Scousers (as the Liverpudlians are known after a local dish) are the only ones who can “can hang there with their heads high”. Bragg marveled at the simple YouTube video gaining an audience before a studio recording is even released, a new tool he welcomes to get his message out. Bragg wrote the song on a Friday and performed it on a Saturday at the Garforth Arts Festival. He also told Marshall that there’s a long history of topical songs that the next generation needs to carry on.

by PopMatters Staff

27 Jul 2011

POPMATTERS SPONSOR—New York-based, but British born, Alberta Cross specialize in an updated version of classic Southern rock and are heavily influenced by the Band and Neil Young as well as younger contemporaries like My Morning Jacket. It’s a music rooted in the lonely sounds of the blues spun filtered through a European lens. British bands have, of course, been doing that for decades in most excellent fashion. Of their 2009 debut release, Broken Side of Time, NME raved that the album was “an intoxicating mix of apocalyptic riffs, sob-worthy singalongs and brooding blues” and slapped the record with an 8 out of 10.

The band is currently working on their follow-up, but in the meantime they have teamed with Ketel One (who happens to make one of the yummiest vodkas on the planet), for the beverage-maker’s “Gentlemen, This Is Vodka” campaign. Academy Award nominee David O. Russell (The Fighter and Three Kings) has directed a three-part series for the campaign which features Alberta Cross playing their tune, “Money for the Weekend”. Russell has also directed a six-video series for the band featuring new music from their upcoming ATO album release. In the meantime, you can check out the Ketel One spot with “Money for the Weekend”.

by Jessy Krupa

27 Jul 2011

Anyone who keeps in touch with current events could tell you either one of the two stories of Amy Winehouse’s life. She was a retro-styled singer who was admired by critics and fans, who wrote her own songs about her own life. In a time when a vast majority of female singers got a record contract because they either starred in a TV show or was related to the right people, she marked a trend towards a refreshingly old-fashioned type of recording artist. Unfortunately, there was also the other side to her fame, which kept her as “the bad example” in countless media reports. Every other week there was a new story about how many bars she had gone to, what kind of drugs she was said to have taken, how unhealthy she looked, her ongoing medical problems, canceled tours, and a follow-up album that would never seem to get completed due to her addictions. A stint in rehab along with a scheduled world tour seemed to signal a return to the proper spotlight for Winehouse, but a botched Serbian concert where she was reportedly booed offstage for erratic behavior led to a cancellation of the entire tour.

by Timothy Gabriele

26 Jul 2011

In recent months, the Flaming Lips have released songs on a USB encased in a gummy fetus, recorded a cover version of The Dark Side of the Moon, collaborated with Prefuse73 and Neon Indian for EPs, toured their 1999 album The Soft Bulletin, released a song in 12 parts on YouTube, performed at Lollapallooza in Chile, reissued their Zaireeka 4XLP to be played simultaneously on mobile devices, and handed over their long-delayed Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Broadway play to the guy who did Jersey Boys. Not every one of these ideas may be a goldmine (who can keep track of them even?), but no one could accuse the band of a dearth of creative juice, even as they trek on into their 50s. Their latest is an EP with Providence, Rhode Island noise duo Lightning Bolt. You can view their video for their latest “I Want to Get High, But I Don’t Want Brain Damage” below. Judging by the video, it may be too late though.

by Cynthia Fuchs

26 Jul 2011

The legalization of medical marijuana in California has led to a Green Rush, or, as attorney Bill Panzer puts it, a “wild, wild west.” As revealed in Frontline: The Pot Republic, premiering 26 July on PBS, an expansion in production, in Oakland specifically, led to political and legal controversies. Reported by KQED’s Michael Montgomery, the show tracks the ways that Prop 215 has been used as a cover for non-medical use growers and dealers, who regularly ship product out of state. As sheriffs and other local authorities try to keep track of who’s growing what, they’re typically frustrated by legal “grey areas.” The program follows enforcement officers who seek to stop Mexican growers who are not working for cartel bosses per se, but come to California and then leave on a seasonal schedule. In Mendocino County, Sheriff Tom Allman has been trying to differentiate between growers who have been “tagged,” or have proper paperwork, and those who are skirting laws to make major profits. “We’re not a bunch of Cheech and Chong law enforcement officers that are encouraging people to grow marijuana,” Allman insists. And yet, he knows his enforcement of local laws may also come under scrutiny by federal agents. “If they can give me a rational alternative, I’ll be their best friend. But there’s not,” says Allman. “The voters have approved medical marijuana. I haven’t seen it going the other way by the voters.” And so he waits for the laws to become coherent. As this report suggests, he may be waiting for some time.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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