Music

Stephin Merritt- who's a racist?; DJ Star- who's a criminal?

Way behind in my media coverage (lots of other projects eatin' up time) but I just wanted to give a brief shout-out to this stalwart article in Slate:Blacklisted. Racism is an ugly thing indeed but throwing around the term recklessly is ugly and hurtful also. The tabloid smearing of Stephin Merritt isn't something you'd expect from writers that are usually much more thoughtful (Jessica Hopper, Sasha Frere-Jones) but the piece lays out the details quite nicely. As an addenda to that, Sasha F.J. offered something of an apology based on that article. Hopefully, in the future, JH and SFJ will be a little more careful before they tar someone with a tag like that and other scribes will take that as a warning too.

Speaking of unwarranted behavior, if any 1st ammendent supporters are shedding a tear for fired-then-arrested NYC radio DJ Star for threatening a rival DJ and his family on-air (including putting a bounty on their head), I'd ask if any supporters would feel as sympathetic if they were being called out on the radio and having their family threatened. Star likens himself to Lenny Bruce but I doubt if he himself thinks that he's a sly provacateur who's toying with society's conventions. He's an egotistical ratings-hound who wanted to push his rivalry up another level and get a response. He did but not the type he probably anticipated though his joly demeanor after his arrest means that he knows something. This notoriety is going to help his rep as someone else will no doubt hire him eventually.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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