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by Sally Fink

27 Oct 2011

Trouble has a habit of shaping the culture of nations. Slavery in the United States resulted in the birth of the blues, and with it, the rise of artists like Robert Johnson and Son House whose influence is still present in music today.

South Africa has had its own share of troubles. Apartheid lasted from 1948 all the way to 1994, drawing a solid line between white and black communities. Today, the country is a democratic rainbow nation of different cultures doing their best to coexist, and it’s this yearning for symbiosis that has resulted in a pop culture that is completely unique. Where else in the world would the choice of presidential candidate be dictated by whether he can do the kwasa-kwasa?

Music and dance is an essential part of the South African cultural identity. It’s this almost fervent need for self expression that has forged the youth identity and music trends of the present.

by David Ensminger

13 Oct 2011

Years ago, the lore of Dischord Records and Washington, D.C.-area punk filtered down into the vocabulary of a worldwide audience that avidly locked onto terms like straight-edge and emo, both slang and now genre, that stemmed from a clustered scene jolting the music world in the early years of the 1980s. The Faith was a bit of both: a gritty, nuanced “heartcore” punk band with succinct, potent lyrics that emoted irascible punk sentiments long before emo became just another overplayed youth brand.

Dischord’s new Subject to Change Plus Demos collection combines both demos recorded prior to the Faith’s split LP with Void and a re-issue of its superb Subject to Change EP, coveted by fans, enthusiasts, and critics as a bedrock slab of Washington D.C. hardcore (promulgated as “harDCore”). To this end, people routinely point out that singer Alec MacKaye’s trademark warbly howl is often overlooked in favor of another MacKaye—brother Ian, the gruff singer for Minor Threat.

by Sally Fink

5 Oct 2011

Whatever you do, do not call them modern. Joshua Third (or Joshua von Grimm as he used to call himself) is clear that the Horrors are anything but. “I don’t like the word modern. We’re futuristic. That’s where our focus is; on the future.”

The British post-punk band recently released their third album, ambitiously entitled Skying, resonant of reaching new heights, and—in the case of the Horrors—new sounds as well.

Skying is that feeling of being elevated; like you’re constantly moving upwards”, says Third.

Skying is experimental by nature, with plenty of melodies and synthesised beats to cement its place as essential indie listening. It’s a far cry from the band’s black-as-tar goth-punk days.

by David Ensminger

18 Aug 2011

Adored by egghead critics and leathered punkers, the grizzled UK punk veterans in Leatherface offer another live album, Live in Melbourne: Viva La Arthouse (No Idea), that’s a sizzling tour de force of both newly-minted tunes and others that delve deep into their ample catalog. As always, the band’s tunes highlight singer Frankie Stubb’s gravelly-voiced, poetic lyricism and unabashed pop-on-the-sleeve tendencies. In fact, the group has tackled Cyndi Lauper, the Police, and Elton John without even a wink of insincerity in the past, but this album doesn’t revisit such fare.

Luckily, guitarist Dickie Hammond has re-joined the ranks, so Leatherface’s mature mid-1990s output (like the swaying charred innocence of “Summertime” and the blitzkrieg “Not a Day Goes By”) comes to the fore and holds hefty sway. Meanwhile, Stubb’s wit and wordplay fill in the spaces between the music’s dense and robust rumbles, invoking a free association-style rambling resembling Michael Stipe’s (R.E.M.) own non-linear prowess. Tunes like the newish “God Is Dead”, the second track out of the gate, finds Stubbs philosophically conjuring dogs, God, and 1970s socialist hero Victor Allende. It all makes sense, though, for he moves from personal to international affairs, examining both people’s daily habits and the ways ideologies shape undercurrents of history.

by Suzanne Enzerink

4 Aug 2011

White female rapper Kreayshawn is this moment’s It-Girl, but could not be further away from the term’s current connotations of Hilton-esque socialites or affluent girls who are simply “famous for being famous”, as Wikipedia has it. In fact, Kreayshawn’s big breakthrough came by openly denouncing such girls in her viral song “Gucci Gucci” with the catchy hook “Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada / Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother”

Now she’s directing the video for “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, the first single of the hotly anticipated Red Hot Chili Peppers album I’m With You, and she’s nominated for a Best New Artist award at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. So who is this 21-year-old self-labeled prodigy, and where did she come from?

//Mixed media

Trevor Noah on the Biracial Divide

// Re:Print

"The indelible experiences of Trevor Noah's past have been parlayed into his memoir, Born a Crime, a history of a life living under racial divide.

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