Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Monday, Nov 10, 2014
The prolific New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile trades in his rock and roll lineup for a set of piano ballads with his latest album, If I Was a River. "Once in a Lullaby" beautifully distills the album's ethos.

Willie Nile is well known as a singer/songwriter and a rock musician, which is why over 30 years into his career, an album like If I Was a River might come as a surprise to some. The LP finds Nile trading in a guitar for a piano, writing tunes centered on the ebony and ivory keys. Of course, Nile has played piano on his records since his 1980 self-titled debut, but never has his music been so rooted in keyboard composition. It’s a move that doesn’t fundamentally change the sound he’s come to build over his lengthy career; rather, it offers a new look at things that have always been present in his style.


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Monday, Nov 10, 2014
More so than any other member of the Beatles, John Lennon wrote about himself. Through his songwriting, he described nearly every aspect of his personal life in a way that no professional biographer could.
 

“Mother”


John Lennon was born in 1940 during a WWII air raid. His parents, unready for the responsibilities of parenthood, divorced when he was four years old, leaving him in the care of his Aunt Mimi. When he was a teenager, his mother tragically died in an hit-and-run accident shortly after re-entering his life. His relationship with his father didn’t develop until much later, leaving him with the feelings of rejection and abandonment described here.



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Saturday, Nov 8, 2014
Watchers of the Sky screens at the Doc Yard on 8 November.

Watchers of the Sky focuses on a daunting insight, that brutality can take many forms, from war making to banking. Just so, it revolves around the concept of genocide, as complicated as it is horrific. The film follows the decades-long effort of activist Raphael Lemkin—who invented the term “genocide” in order to make it a legal and political as well as moral issue—to convince nations that it’s in their interests to institute a tribunal to hold accountable those who commit the atrocity, even if this means all other nations might monitor their internal affairs. Inspired by US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell, Edet Belzberg’s documentary includes as well the stories of humanitarians including Luis Moreno-Ocampo (working on behalf of the International Criminal Court to prosecute Omar al-Bashir in Darfur) and Emmanuel Uwurukundo, working on behalf of Rwandan genocide survivors.


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Friday, Nov 7, 2014
On his first solo release, Epic (from the Chicago hip-hop maestros BBU) obliterates the boundary between personal and political.

His mother named him Richard Wallace, but to you he’s Epic, one of the most exciting, talented and fearless artists making music in Chicago. Best known as a member of the legendary rap trio BBU, he’s been busy since their last release, 2012’s bell hooks. For the past two years the artist, rapper and community activist has been hitting the studio with producer Stefan Clark and artists such as Tomorrow King, Kool A.D. (of Das Racist), and Show You Suck to create a batch of newer, more introspective songs.


Tagged as: bbu, chicago, epic, hip-hop
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Friday, Nov 7, 2014
The latest video from "the high priestess of feminist folk" Ani DiFranco pairs a tune from her latest LP, Allergic to Water, with intriguing linear imagery.

In her PopMatters review of Ani DiFranco’s latest album, Allergic to Water, Annie Galvin called her “the high priestess of feminist folk”. Having been putting out records on a consistent basis since 1990, DiFranco’s credentials are beyond reproach, as are her commitments to human rights and justice, both of which remain key lyrical themes of her. Allergic to Water carries on in DiFranco’s legacy, and it finds DiFranco taking the helm on nearly the entirety of the project; it is the first LP of hers in ten years that is completely produced by her.


Below you can watch the new video devised for Allergic to Water‘s “Careless words. In her review of the album, Galvin writes that “Careless Words” documents “the difficulty of maintaining clear communication and physical intimacy in long-term relationships.”


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