Music

Cultural questions for the next prez

- The FCC has leveled a series of hefty fines against the networks and assorted radio broadcasters in the last few years for content which they have deemed inappropriate. What's your opinion on the effectiveness of these fines and the presumptive problems that they're trying to solve? Are there better ways to address these issues than these fines?

- Another issue that the FCC has been wrestling with is media ownership and how many outlets one company can own in a broadcast market. Chairman Kevin Martin has been pushing for a relaxation of ownership rules arguing that the media landscape has changed so much (especially with the Internet) that these rules must change also. The opposing viewpoint is that this kind of consolidation means that fewer independent voices are available and only a few companies will decide what we see and hear in the media. Which viewpoint do you subscribe to and why?

- Do you believe that the current rating system for movies and labeling system for music releases is adequate? Why or why not? Ideally, how should such uniform standards be decided for every community in this country?

- NEA funding has been a hot button issue for decades now. Do you believe that the NEA serves an important purpose for this country? If so, what should that be? If not, why would you end it?

- The RIAA has pursued a campaign of lawsuits against web users that distribute copyrighted music material on the web. Do you believe this is the right course of action and that it has been effective? Why or why not?

- Do you believe that this is a real or imagined link between violence in media (movies, music, videos) and real violence crime itself? If so, what is the government's role in taking action against this problem?

- Currently, many schools are doing away with music programs to meet their budgetary needs. Should it be a priority to reverse this trend? If so, how would you do so?

- Musicians who sign contracts with record labels almost never receive any health care or benefits as part of their package. Do you believe that government should push the labels to include that as a standard part of artists' contracts? Why or why not?

- What are your thoughts on cultural exchanges with other countries? Do you think it's right to have the State Dept. sponsor American musicians touring overseas? Also, what's to be done about the current difficulty that foreign musicians have in obtaining timely travel visas to tour America?

- The recording industry has been asking Congress and the FCC to implement measures to have radio stations pay royalties for music that they play. Should radio broadcasters pay royalties to recording artists when they play their music on the air?

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


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Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

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The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

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6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

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