Cooly G is really too relaxed, too Schmoov Bruv, to be peak hour dancefloor fodder. But hers is the proper pop delineation of dubstep and UK Funky, an alternative to the Katy B version of such with the edges smoothed out and syncopation depleted into standard four-to-the-floor house. Instead, think of her hits like “Love Dub” and, now, “Landscapes” (out soon on Hyberdub) as beginning of the night pieces, warm up tunes that truly make you feel warm.
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This year finds Lovedrug reintroducing themselves to the music community. Since lead singer Michael Shepard put the group together after trying his hand at film school, the band from Nashville, Tennessee by way of Ohio, met with success in 2007 with Everything Ends Where it Starts, based on the strength of singles like “Happy Apple Poison” and Ghost By Your Side”. Their last full length project, The Sucker Punch Show includes producing credits to Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mew). The March 2012 release of Wild Blood, however, takes Lovedrug in a new direction. In addition to being the group’s first independent full length release, a “live-to-analog-tape” recording style gives Wild Blood a truer rock sound.
For a taste of what’s to come, Lovedrug released the split single “Dinosaur/ Pink Champagne” in September 2011. Shepard and company continue injecting a home grown feel to the new material; first by using a video written and directed by Shepard himself, and now, in a PopMatters premiere, with the home footage vibe to the accompanying video for “Pink Champagne”.
When Jessie Littledoe enrolled in MIT’s linguistics program, she was hoping to recover, or at least trace, the origins of her people’s lost language, Wampanoag. Here she met professor Ken Hale, a white man who turned out to be as invested in her aim as she was. Littledoe’s story forms the center of We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân), the fascinating documentary premiering on Independent Lens 17 November. It’s a center from which multiple other stories emerge, traversing borders of time and place, communities and individuals.
The film traces the initial encounters between the Wampanoag tribes (which currently number five) and white settlers, in the area that would become Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, during the early 1600s. As Jessie and other Wampanoag individuals come together to learn, speak, and keep the language, they forge a new sense of community and also show how others can benefit from such recovery. For it’s not only the Wampanoag who learn about themselves in this ongoing process. Descendents of white settlers can also rediscover their history, as it is entwined with others, as all stories, communities, and histories are connected.
See PopMatters’ review.
Pray The Devil Back to Hell traces the Women’s Peace Initiative’s evolution, recounted by founders and active members. These include Leymah Gbowee, who helps to bring together women of diverse backgrounds and faiths, whose stories are conveyed here in thoughtful interviews and sometimes harrowing footage drawn from the many years of Liberia’s civil war. In 1989, Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) assassinated Liberian dictator Samuel Doe and took over the government; warring factions varied in name and number. By 2002, the sides were using similar tactics—a group of warlords who called themselves LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) and Taylor’s private army (ironically titled “The Anti-Terrorist Unit”) were using similar tactics to compel citizens into compliance: kidnapping children to drug and deploy as soldiers, looting villages, raping women, and marauding over the countryside, as lawless and brutal as their victims were quietly resilient. Gbowee says her inspiration came in a dream: “Someone was actually telling me to get the women of the church together,” she remembers, “to pray for peace.” When she did, more and more women began coming to meetings, including Asatu Bah Kenneth, Assistant Director of the Liberian National Police. Thrilled by the women’s energy and dedication, she spoke passionately, and identified herself upfront as “the only Muslim in the church,” and was immediately accepted (“They said ‘Oh hallelujah,’ they were so happy that I was there”). This would be a coalition of women, all with one goal, peace.
Sometimes you hear something new, fresh, and it reminds you of why music is, as the philosopher Eric Olson once said, “The sound of life”. “Champion Sound” by Crystal Fighters did that for me today.
Imagine Stereo MCs covering Fleetwood Mac via Empire of the Sun—those are the touchstones. It’s odd, but still within stroking-distance of convention; there’s some bizarre sunshine in there (that’ll be the Fleetwood Mac, or if you prefer, Empire of the Sun) and it’s the kind of record you never want to end. It takes you places and sends you leapfrogging up and down your memories, remembering all sorts of luscious occasions – usually to do with love and summer and girls (or boys).