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by Brice Ezell

14 May 2015


Of the many issues facing modern liberal democracies, economic inequality, also known as the problem of the “wealth gap”, is undoubtedly one of the most challenging. Although many cite Western countries like the United States as “lands of opportunity”, that claim is becoming less credible when, as Oxfam reports, the world’s one percent are getting to the point where they hold more wealth than the remaining 99 percent combined. Such inequality might be productive for small, extremely moneyed classes, but for the overwhelming majority of the populous, such wealth disparity is a meaningful roadblock to class mobility.

It’s this vexing issue that Nobel Prize winning (2001) economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz tackles in his newest volume, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them. In the video below, Stiglitz visits the independent Washington D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose to talk about his findings, and how, per the book’s title, we could go about remediating the problems of inequality.

by Brice Ezell

14 May 2015


Earlier this week, the Manchester-based duo of Bernard + Edith had their debut LP, Jem, released in the United States. Already, other artists have found the young group’s music ripe for interpretation, as the remix you can stream below evinces. This remix, done by the Icelandic electronic trio Samaris, removes the original vocal from Bernard + Edith’s tune “WURDS”, stripping it down to a pulsating electronic instrumental that’s ideal for the darkest hours of the night. In changing what began initially as a somewhat dramatic song into a moody and pensive little number, Samaris highlight both their own creativity and the strength of the material that they were working with.

by Brice Ezell

14 May 2015


MacGillivray, a singer and protest poet who hails from the Scottish Highlands, has crafted a unique take on the image of Marilyn Monroe with her tune “Night Skin”, which features on her forthcoming Once Upon a Dirty Ear LP. Over layers of lush electronic textures that form the ambiance of a nocturne, MacGillivray’s echoey vocals unfold evocative lyrical images like, “She went swimming in diamonds / A thousand glimmer scratches to the skin / Peels it off at night time / Wears it just for him.” The spacey flow of the tune is then capped off with a brooding drum sample, one that gives the music a Massive Attack-esque twist.

by Brice Ezell

14 May 2015

Photo: Swans performing at CBGB on 22 April 1983, by
Catherine Ceresole

The Swans you see in the photo above, the Swans that rose to prominence in New York City’s famed “no wave” scene in the early ‘80s, are not the same Swans that have been rising to popularity over the past five years with megalithic double LPs in tow. Although the plodding rhythms and earth-rumbling heaviness that Swans have recently perfected on LPs like The Seer and To Be Kind can be heard in the band’s early music, the Swans of the ‘80s are an entity unto themselves. Gira wasn’t being glib when he called Swans’ 2010 return a “reconstitution”, not a “reunion”. A lot has changed since the no wave days.

One foundational early work of Swans’ is Filth, their 1983 debut. The band recently announced a reissue of the record, both in deluxe 3CD and vinyl treatments, both remastered by Doug Henderson, who mastered The Seer and To Be Kind). This reissue will mark the album’s first vinyl pressing in 24 years.

by Brice Ezell

13 May 2015


There still is a year and a half to go before Michelle Obama bows out of the White House, but that hasn’t stopped writer and reporter Peter Slevin’s from writing a lengthy examination of the life of this fascinating woman. Michelle Obama: A Life traces the many aspects of Obama’s life, including her youth in Chicago, her time at Princeton University and Harvard’s law school, and her unique take on the role of the First Lady. Washington, D.C.‘s Politics and Prose hosts his reading, here.

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