Music

Revisiting Protest Songs of Yore, Americana Musicians Build Upon, and Add to, Canon

Anthony D'Amato. Photo credits: Sachyn Mital

Anthony D'Amato and River Whyless tackle classic protest songs while recently reunited The Mammals address cultural divisions with a new tune.

Brooklyn-based roots musician Anthony D'Amato and his band recently performed an acoustic set at the Rubin Museum to celebrate the release of his latest EP, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, a set of seven original and cover songs (proceeds from sales will support the International Rescue Committee). It was inspired, of course, by the current President.

The first track on the EP is D'Amato's take on Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land is Your Land", placing original lyrics from the 1940s song against audio clips from Trump, Dubya and others. "This Land" features guest vocals from Josh Ritter, while other contributors to the EP include Lizzie No, Sean Watkins and more. The audio for this song and photos of D'Amato's show at the Rubin can be found below.

River Whyless, a four-piece folk band that hails from Asheville, North Carolina, revisited Creedence Clearwater Revival's powerful "Fortunate Son" in the context of this administration. Their video utilizes footage from the Women's March (both in D.C. and in Asheville) to "help speak truth to power, not for the sake of perpetuating our country's present divisiveness, but as a way to support and encourage the need for an open, honest, and compassionate conversation about our universal rights and freedoms". Listen to their take below.

Meanwhile, Woodstock, NY area duo Mike & Ruthy reunited their band The Mammals for the new year to tour and put out some new material including a couple of political songs. The Mammals played a set at Rockwood in April where they performed their new song "Culture War", which finds Mike Merenda singing about being divided, like America, by politics. (The song calls back to "This Land...").

The band also released the plaintive song "My Baby Drinks Water" (available at name your own price on Bandcamp) featuring Ruthy Unger incanting a quiet lullaby originally for her children but given new meaning by the "bravery of the Standing Rock water protectors". The lyric video for "Culture War" and photos from the band's Rockwood show are below.

Anthony D'Amato, 16 June 2017, Rubin Museum

The Mammals, 27 April 2017, Rockwood

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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