Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: A surprising number of best-of-2018 contenders, and it’s only February. It’s going to be a good year for music.
The Nude Dogs, We’re Girls, We’re Here
Rackett, Ready or Not
Wild Meadows, First Exit
Booji Boys, Pissicine Perfect
Civic, New Vietnam
Loveproof, Sister Moonlight
Dream Girl 88, Hits Me Like a Thunder
Chromeo & The-Dream, Bedroom Calling
Kimmortal, 88 and Beyond
Persons, Got Nothing For Ya
Tia Gostelow, Hunger
The Double Happiness, City
Camp Cope, How to Socialise & Make Friends
Election song of the week #2: Sonic Youth, Youth Against Fascism
In which I try to process my dread over the upcoming election into something useful. Two of five.
This song was released in 1992, some 24 years ago. How fucked is it that a song attacking Nazis and fascism is more relevant in 2016 than it was when it was recorded? Back then, the target was the Bush I Administration, and while Bush (and Reagan, and Nixon, and the Republicans in general) have been engaging in coded race-bating and appeals to white supremacy for decades, it’s only now, in the Era of Trump, that it’s 100% unarguably clear that Republican politics have descended into uncoded, straight-up white nationalism/white supremacy. White supremacy’s gone mainstream, and Youth Against Fascism is no longer a call to deal with the racist remnant of America, but a battle call to deal head-on with the existential threat of American fascism in full bloom.
Anyway, it’s also notable because Ian MacKaye plays guitar on it – it was the first time he’d appeared on a major-label project. Dude sure can pick his moments, can’t he? It’s a fierce barely contained guitar assault that does sound like Sonic Youth jamming with Fugazi, as it should. A battle song for wartime.
Damn, I hope Hillary wins on Tuesday.
Sonic Youth – Youth Against Fascism
Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I’ve been transfixed by the US presidential election. To their credit, it looks like the United States is going do what the UK didn’t manage, namely, avoid giving in to ultra-right white racist nationalism. But, man, what a slog it’s been, and one of the most discouraging parts of the whole endeavour has been the realization of exactly how much of the antipathy toward Hillary Clinton is driven by conscious and unconscious sexism. Many people I know say that they don’t like her because they don’t like her policies, but there’s hardly any difference between her and Obama, and they’re usually pretty willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, because they like him.
And of course she gets dinged because she’s “robotic,” or “not a natural campaigner.” But you can be sure that if she really let loose on the campaign trail, the same folks would start going on about how hysterical she sounds. (Also, you know what’s a more-positive adjective than robotic that describes exactly what’s going on for Clinton? Prepared. Does the world really need a Commander-in-Chief who’s all about indulging his improv skills?) That Hillary Clinton has managed to get this close to the presidency is a bit of a minor miracle, and a testament to her skill and, yes, temperament.
Anyway, after Donald Trump gifted us with “Such a NASTY woman” at the end of the third debate (though I prefer the more versatile “You’re the puppet!), most people’s minds immediately went to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty,” which makes sense. But my first musical thought was something more recent, Childbirth’s Nasty Grrl. For me, both this song and Clinton are the happy endgame of one of the more positive happenings in the 90s, the Riot Grrl movement. The next four years are doubtlessly going to be full of nasty, sexist, misogynistic attacks on Clinton and women in general, but I’m hopeful that the Clinton presidency will, in some small way, be the first Riot Grrl presidency, and that our kids (and the voting public) will increasingly see being a Nasty Grrl and a NASTY woman (in the Janet Jackson and Childbirth, not Trumpian, sense of the word) as the compliment it is. (Suicide Squeeze Records)
In this Brave New World of almost unlimited access to music and collapsing old-school business models, I’m still kinda flabbergasted that something as powerful as Heart Beach’s first album a) isn’t a worldwide chart-topper; and b) is available for free on the group’s bandcamp page. They came out of the gate fully formed, with spare, searing tunes of loneliness and alienation.
The great news is that the gloriousness of Heart Beach is looking to be anything but a flash-in-the-pan. Brittle is the first single off of their upcoming second album, Kiss Your Face, out Nov. 11, and it more than continues their winning streak, with emotive male-female vocals and an achingly harsh guitar line. Heart Beach are the real deal, and if we’re all very, very lucky, they will be around for a very long time.