Released on the seminal Trax Records in 1986, Marshall Jefferson’s pivotal “Move Your Body” single was a smash success and helped put Chicago’s dance music scene, already thriving locally for years, on the map. “Move Your Body” may also be responsible for popularizing the term “House Music”. Although the tag was in use within the scene, Jefferson’s song made the term available for any one who did not personally attend a set by Frankie Knuckles, Chip E, or Larry Heard. Anybody who has had even passing exposure to house in techno will recognize the tune (it’s been sampled and referenced myriad times), but few have heard it in all of its rapturous glory. Here’s your chance.
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On Thursday of last week I received one of those emails that usually cause me to wince. A colleague had sent me a link to a YouTube video that he wanted me to watch. I was all set to hate it because it was going to be political, or about 2012, or have some kitten frolicking in a cardboard box. But, since I knew he would ask me about it later I clicked on the link. Apparently I did the same thing as almost three quarter of a million people have since.
I will freely confess that initially I thought my associate had sent me the wrong link. The video, made by a fan of the indie music group Bad Lamps, had a bunch of close up shots of what seemed to be TV or movie actresses that looked like they were pulled from some VHS tape circa 1987. I didn’t understand what the big deal was until I started reading the comments. Those hadn’t been actresses I was watching. They were adult film stars.
“I was born on the Cambodian New Year in a refugee camp,” narrates Socheata Poeuv. “But my parents never told me much more than that, only that I was the lucky one.” As she goes on to explain in her remarkable documentary, New Year Baby—airing this week as part of Global Voices—her mother and father, along with her sisters and brother Scott, survived the Khmer Rouge genocide, escaped Cambodia, and moved to Texas while she was still an infant. Socheata’s childhood memories were shaped by her parents’ efforts to give “us a normal American life”: family photos show the children celebrating birthdays and smiling in amusement park rides.
Her family’s experience is good for everyone to remember during the Memorial Day holiday. Poeuv’s film is punctuated throughout by provocative, assured images, asking viewers to consider their own relationships to this difficult history and the future that stretches before us. While the film doesn’t probe the complicated and frankly shameful U.S. part in that history—including so-called “secret” bombings in Cambodia and Laos—it does reveal, quietly and insistently, the ongoing effects of war trauma. While it is wretchedly familiar in its broad outlines, the story here is both devastating and detailed, personal and resonant.
Here’s a playlist of tunes to keep the idea that hope springs eternal into the transition of summer. Every week in May seemed to bring another solid release into the music stream and new tunes were ripe for the picking. Enjoy!
1. Toro y Moi/Still Sound
Chazwick Bundick is the mastermind of Toro y Moi (which loosely translates to “Bull and Me”), creating electronic pop that became an integral part of the chillwave movement. (He is a good buddy of like-minded artist Ernest Greene of Washed Out from days at the University of South Carolina). This bouncy tune “Still Sound,” is off his second release, Underneath the Pine.
The Wild Swans are one of those bands whose legend is several times bigger than its discography.
In 1982 the Liverpudlian band, led by singer Paul Simpson, released “Revolutionary Spirit”, which has been called one of the best British indie singles ever. The lineup fragmented, and the band didn’t reappear until they released the wide-eyed cult favorite Bringing Home the Ashes in 1988.
Again, there were lineup changes, with Simpson teaming up with the Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie for the psychedelic pop of Space Flower in 1990.