Reviews

On Speaking to Southerners About Southerners

The Liberal Redneck Manifesto is poised to really put a dent in this mess that landed that creepy moneybag in the White House.


The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie Outta the Dark

Publisher: Atria
Length: 352 pages
Author: Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester, Drew Morgan
Price: $25.00
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: 2016-10
Amazon


I hate being told what to do. Raised hell on my parents, then loafed around partying a long while (known as college), then moved to Atlanta to try to rise above my station. Though I spent my first 17 years in Chicago, adult life has been spent on three years in Louisiana and a dozen in Georgia. As I have no intention of ever moving north of the Mason-Dixon again, we ort consider me a voluntary Southerner. A part of it is: I like living some place where a bunch of folks happen to disagree with me, because I like shooting my mouth off and pushing up against those that would judge me so’s I help them broaden their horizons. Which is to say: I'm a redneck.

It’s an ugly word, though people that would rather die than utter the N-word have no trouble using it in public, similar to its close relative, “hillbilly”. First and foremost, being a redneck means you’ve got white skin, which indeed I do. The second criteria is that you don’t have a lot of money, to say the least. These are working class people, like my parents. My public school teacher salary makes me look rich by comparison. Most might say that I can’t be a redneck because I’m disqualified by having too much education and too progressive politics. Y’all are wrong and that’s what I want to discuss today.

During my life in the South, I have met many intelligent and kind white people what thinks of themselves as card-carrying Republicans and Christians. I wasn’t born or bred to be either of those things, but it’s weird how, after talking to somebody a long while, you begin to see how much there is in common between you to agree upon. For example: drinking beers is awesome and so’s listening to the sweet sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Everybody in the South can be proud of throwing a good party. We gave Prohibition what for, and on the last day, NASCAR was born. Skeeeew, fast cars are real fun!

But in my 14 years down in the deep and dirty, I’ll tell you what: there’s a lot of Southern shame, too. Slavery and segregation, y’all. The stars and bars run up high on the pole by some racists peering through some sheets, y’all. We got major prison over-crowding, substance and spousal abuse problems, and the last decade has seen the worst quality country music ever in history. May Dolly Parton never go to meet Dale Earnhardt. And look, nobody ort be hunting with an automatic. Southerners got loads of common sense, except when it comes to voting against their own interests all the time.

Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States, y’all. I mean, what gives? Everybody’s saying that white evangelicals voted him in, that white women fearing for their working class families voted him in. But I know plenty of liberal rednecks who’re frothing at the mouth as much as I am about this because the South is full of smart, decent people -- as well as a goodly number of folks wanting to get smart and get decent but haven’t had much opportunity to do so because of the color of their skin or the contents of their wallet. If only there was a book we could put in the hands of all these interested, capable people to aid them in doing better. Well, there is: The Liberal Redneck Manifesto, by Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester and Drew Morgan.

Don’t just read it for yourself; be sure to share it around a bunch after church and turn your auntie’s book club on to it. Heck, it’s written by three comedians and is plenty funny enough that you could leave it on the toilet tank so’s your daddy might pick it up for a minute. Each chapter takes the good with the bad in Southern culture -- the pecan pie with the diabetes, if you will. This book celebrates what we do absolutely right, from a killer football tailgate to our fierce loyalties of family. But it also honestly addresses our conflicts and failures, notably rooted in racism and poverty. The South doesn’t have a monopoly on discrimination or cashflow problems, by any means, but that’s no excuse for not helping to make right what we can make right.

So these three hilarious do-gooders, with plenty of personal experiences running from Tennessee to Alabama and from Georgia to North Carolina, have set out to do what sure as hell needs doing right now. They speak to Southerners about Southerners with their combined Southern voice, making clear and comprehensible arguments about the parts of this heritage that really hit and the parts of it we got to let go. No, nobody is going to come to Jesus about abortion in this book. But it’s got many sensible talking points. For example:

“Men claiming superiority over women because men make more money than they do is like claiming you’re stronger than a lion that you tranquilized and put in a cage. Sure, you’re in a better spot now -- but how ‘bout you unchain the beast and see what happens?” (229).

There’s also a bunch of pretty sweet graphics in this book, including What Wouldn’t Jesus Do and Rebel Flag Replacements. The entire thing is in bite-size chunks, as it’ll be too much meal for some mamaws and papaws to digest all at once. But look, everybody agrees we ort start talking to each other and finding a way past what seems like insurmountable cultural differences, yet nobody knows how we should proceed to actually talk that talk.

So here comes three comedians who luckily have an earnest belief in the progressive side of things already anyway, and The Liberal Redneck Manifesto is poised to really put a dent in this mess that landed that creepy moneybag in the White House. That man don’t sit right with many a fine Southern figure I’ve met in my time, and it’s high time we heard from some characters who can build an argument and turn a phrase at the same time. No offense to Jeff Foxworthy, but there’s a new game in town. The Liberal Redneck Manifesto is gonna help us get our healing on, y’all. Talk ‘bout rockin’ the vote.

9

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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