From New Sounds: “Weekly Music Roundup: Pussy Riot, Tinariwen, and Yo La Tengo”

New Sounds
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Week of March 19: This week, musical reactions to a troubled world from Pussy Riot, Roger Waters, and Yo La Tengo. Plus new videos from Tinariwen and Courtney Barnett.

Russian Music Of Resistance From Pussy Riot

The Russian-based feminist art/punk collective known as Pussy Riot was unimpressed with Vladimir Putin’s re-election bid on Sunday. “You should not be deceived,” they wrote in a press release accompanying their new single; “this event on 18th of March is not elections.” With the outcome a foregone conclusion, the band released a song called “выборы” (“vybory” in our alphabet – the Russian word for elections), essentially a softly-chanted or rapped incantation over a spare but relentless beat that calls out the corruption, fear, and intimidation of Putin’s reign and promises 6 years of resistance. The video features artwork drawn by Oleg Navalny, “a political prisoner,” they explain; “who was convicted to 3,5 years in jail because he’s a brother of Alexey Navalny, Putin’s fiercest political opponent. We contacted Oleg in prison and he agreed to give his pics for “выборы.”

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ Controversial New Collaboration

“Supremacy” is a work by Palestine’s Trio Joubran and Pink Floyd singer/bassist Roger Waters, in which Waters reads some of an epic poem by the late Mahmoud Darwish, generally considered to be Palestine’s national poet. The story is told from the point of view of a Native American speaking to the white man who is about to take over his lands, but it clearly references the West Bank settlements, and was recorded in the days after President Trump’s declaration that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It’s not the first time Waters has used a Darwish text (in an English translation), nor is it the first time he’s waded into the turbulent waters of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. His support of Palestinian causes, including a boycott of Israel by touring bands, cost him some major tour sponsorships a few years back, and drew accusations of anti-Semitism. But this shouldn’t overshadow (though it will, inevitably) the work of both Darwish and Trio Joubran. The trio of brothers from Nazareth play the oud, the classical Arab lute, which is normally a solo instrument. In bringing three of them together, and adding touches of Western production, they’ve created a striking new sound for these old instruments. And Darwish’s lines, especially the closing “where, oh white master, are you taking my people…. And yours?” have a resonance that goes beyond the particular place and time in which they were written.

Yo La Tengo’s New Album Reacts To Troubled Times

The veteran indie rockers Yo La Tengo are not just a band – they are a walking encyclopedia of pop music of the last half century. As fans know, the band will often take requests – not for their own songs, but for any song – and figure out a way to play them on the spot. So when they chose There’s A Riot Going On as the title for their new album, their 15th, they were clearly pointing back at Sly & The Family Stone’s classic 1971 album There’s A Riot Goin’ On. That earlier disc was also recorded at a time when America felt divided and uncertain; but where Sly Stone created a dark, challenging album, Yo La Tengo offer us instead something gentler, something that acknowledges dark times but seems to suggest that one way to respond is to just chill out. And so there are tracks like “Ashes,” which come wreathed in a kind of sonic haze that offers a bit of respite from all the noise out there.

Courtney Barnett Needs a Little Time… In Outer Space


Australian indie-rocker Courtney Barnett has become such a popular figure in the last few years that it’s surprising to realize that her next album, called Tell Me How You Really Feel, will only be her second solo LP. Courtney has just released a new track from the album, called “Need A Little Time,” and it finds her in a more inward-looking, emotional vulnerable place. Don’t get me wrong, it still rocks, once the song gets going, but the lyrics reflect on needing a little time away “from me and you.” The video finds her in a very different place – being examined by aliens who look like they just stepped off the cover of the David Byrne/St. Vincent album Love This Giant, and then floating off into the cosmos. But Courtney Barnett also hints at more earthly concerns – on the left arm of her jumpsuit is the rainbow flag (I’m pretty sure the female alien at the beginning is her wife, the gifted songwriter Jen Cloher), and on the right arm is the Australian Aboriginal flag.

The album is due on May 18, and she’s touring to support it, but all of the shows are sold out.

A New Animated Video From Tuareg Rock Band Tinariwen


The musicians in the band Tinariwen were Tuareg rebels in northern Mali who traded in their guns for electric guitars and helped give birth to the “desert blues” that has become such a vital part of the world music scene in the past twenty years. Marrying ancient Saharan rhythms to modern instruments, Tinariwen has become a globetrotting ensemble that attracts rock royalty from Robert Plant to TV On The Radio. On their most recent album, Elwan, they collaborated with guitarist Kurt Vile and singer Mark Lanegan on a track called “Nannuflay”; now they’re released a lovely but nostalgic animated video that imagines an older musician revisiting the land of his youth – a land that in real life has become a war zone.

This Brian Eno Cover Simply Shouldn’t Be This Good


Before he moved into ambient music, sound-and-video installations, and the various forms of conceptual art that have occupied much of his time for the past 40 years, Brian Eno – the English producer, singer, synth player, and songwriter – created four “song albums” in the 1970s. The song “Julie With…” comes from the last of them, Before And After Science, and is full of layered instruments that somehow sound weightless, and evocative lyrics that somehow sound distant and adrift in time. Its opening, with backwards synth and bell over a steadily approaching piano, seems to materialize out of the ether (and served as the opening theme music of my New Sounds program until the 1990s). There is simply no way that a clarinetist and a pianist could recreate those textures, nor, one would think, that mood. And yet clarinetist Stephen Black and pianist Paul Jones, recording under the name Group Listening, have done it. Using some fairly subtle effects on the clarinet and swapping the repeated piano riff of the original between the two, Group Listening manages to capture the floating, enigmatic quality of Eno’s original. Accompanied by some equally enigmatic video imagery, this Group Listening track is our first glimpse of their forthcoming project called Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol. 1, which will also include surprising arrangements of music by Achim Roedelius (half of the krautrock duo Cluster), Arthur Russell, and Robert Wyatt. That album is due on May 4.

See the full article here .


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