Like so many, I am angry, confounded, saddened by the state of the world. 2016 just keeps kicking us in the arse. I won't spill any trite words about the power of music in troubled times. I don't even think making ourselves feel better is entirely the point. I'm wary of self-tranquilising to the point of becoming numbed or complacent; we need that sense of horror and anger to foster meaningful action. Anger, I think, is not something to be afraid of if it is not hateful or violent or self-destructive. That said, I'm aware good people need to draw strength from where they can – to be inspired, to experience catharsis, to feel soothed, to preserve their mental health – in order to be effective, to go on, to heal. And that's where music can come in. What I like to turn to runs the gamut from angry and cynical, to inspiring and thought-provoking, to calming and reassuring. Here are a few songs I thought I'd share.
Starting at the angry, cynical end of things, Jarvis Cocker's blunt song 'Running The World' from 2006 pulled no punches in describing exactly who has the power in the world, and is unfortunately truer than ever. The song is an incisive, darkly funny critique of capitalism and politics.
Barry McGuire's classic scathing protest song, 'Eve Of Destruction', perfectly captured the countercultural mood of its day. Written by nineteen-year-old P.F. Sloan, it was a number one hit for McGuire in 1965, and it's hard to imagine anyone spitting out these lyrics of disgust and frustration better than he does in his blistering growl. Many of the lyrics are, obviously, specific to political circumstances of the time, but much of it still resonates and could apply as readily today. Particularly potent is McGuire's delivery of the line about religious hypocrisy: "Hate your next-door neighbour / but don't forget to say grace." Also, message aside, I am a fan of the fact the word 'coagulating' is incorporated into a rhyme.
It's interesting when a work of art's message feels relevant again and you find its meaning becomes clearer than before. I guess I always saw this as a somewhat fatalistic song about impending doom in an age of atomic fear, but now it's hitting me as a rebuke against complacency, against refusing to see potential catastrophe, and against the normalisation of things that should rightly invoke alarm. Sloan saw it as "a love song to and for humanity" and "a prayer" and hoped it would help "open a dialogue", but instead he and McGuire were ousted from the music industry.
"This is a cold war, you better know what you're fighting for" sings Janelle Monáe so powerfully on 'Cold War', from her 2010 Afrofuturist pop masterpiece, The ArchAndroid. The line 'I was made to believe there was something wrong with me' always chokes me up, and now more than ever, too many are afraid of their children growing up to feel like this. Monáe has said of this and other songs of hers: "I try to create songs that are uplifting because this world can drive you insane". 'Cold War', though it faces a sense of pain and injustice head-on, is not a bitter resignation; it ultimately uplifts:
This blog has gained many new readers since I first posted my Spiked Candy Canes mixes in 2005, so I thought I'd share them again for anyone who missed out the first time around. Hopefully they'll give you an idea of the abundance of lesser-known but fun, interesting, weird or sometimes beautiful Christmas songs that are out there, and maybe introduce you to some artists you haven't heard before. If you're looking for more info and links to purchase anything that's still in print, have a look through the December 2005 and the December 2006 archives.
If you haven't already, please be sure to visit Filles Sourires and check out the excellent Christmas Project that Guuzbourg has put together. Almost all the songs were recorded especially for Filles Sourires, which means it's the first time they've been heard anywhere. The only track that's not new is Watoo Watoo's, but it's still a very worthy inclusion that suits the mix nicely. All up, that's nine Christmas-themed songs featuring, bien sur, lovely female vocals in French, with an interesting array of styles represented. What a treat!
Of the new songs, my favourite (at least today) is probably Hektor's cover of Les Wampas' 'Ce soir c'est Noël'. This is a sophisticated, satisfyingly fizzy piece of electropop, with some chunky electric guitar riffs that stop it feeling too lightweight. I love the cute-but-slightly-aloof voice of frontwoman Carine Péralba (pictured), whose delivery here has a deadpan quality to it that suits the feel of the song.
Watoo Watoo's gentle pop never fails to impress me, and their 1999 song ' Les Visiteurs de Noël' is another highlight for me in this collection.
Head there now! -> Fille Sourires Christmas Project
Heading this list are a trio of Swedish pop girls - Kin, in her uniquely cute and slightly batty way, asks Santa what it takes to make his 'nice' list; El Perro Del Mar brings to her Christmas tune her signature style of creating a haunting, melancholic atmosphere using cheery 60s girl group sounds; and Bobby Baby surprisingly refreshes a tired old standard, making it pretty and icy, yet somehow warm and cosy too.
I think I've hit on a plan to let me keep blogging without exhausting myself and then subsequently losing interest. I'm going to keep things as simple as possible with just pictures and the song and probably not buying links, although I feel a bit guilty leaving those out. But you should be able to find any albums from the vendors in my sidebar. If you've searched high and low and can't find where to buy something, you can always ask and I'll help you out.
Please use the comments section to ask me any questions. I've taken down my email address, but if you still have it, please don't use it to ask me questions you can easily find answers for on a search engine. I'm also unable to send out anything individually, even for a trade. Nor am I taking requests or band submissions. Unless you're a band in my myspace friends and you want to send me free stuff? Eh? Eh? Can't blame a girl for trying.
I'm excited to be adding
Radioblog*, which I discovered on the gorgeous blog Pop 'N Cherries. I've been trying to find a free way to do something like this for ages, but had no luck so it's a happy discovery indeed. This is my exception to my no requests policy; you can ask me to post an mp3 if you like anything on there. And I'm hoping that will make the blog a little more interactive and I'll get some more feedback on what people like. Remember, feedback keeps your widdle bloggers happy and makes them want to go on! Even just a 'thanks' or 'you rule the school' or even 'you suck!' (no just kidding, please don't) is great to hear.
I did think of starting up a forum where readers of this blog and the others that post French 60s stuff regularly could talk about what they love and any new discoveries, or trade stuff, but again I'd be biting off a bit more than I can chew. But for anyone who'd be interested in such an idea, please join the last.fm groups I have, French 60s and Ye-Ye Girls and maybe you could liven those up a bit. Even if you don't use the other last.fm features, the forums have the potential to be a great meeting place for fans.
And don't forget
Spiked-Candy Last.fm Radio is still chugging away, churning out lots of aural treats and free to listen to. If the player has let you down before, try the beta for the upcoming release. As long as you have a decent connection, it should work a charm. And I know the 2 separate downloads for the Audioscrobbler plug-in and the Last.fm player are confusing to some; this download has them both in one and guides you through everything you need to do.
Merci, and I'll be back with some tunes very soon .
out of print
- February 19 2017
- February 2 2017
- December 24 2016
- December 23 2016
- November 25 2016
- November 19 2016
- November 11 2016
- October 29 2016
- October 7 2016
- September 1 2016
- August 29 2016
- July 30 2016
- July 19 2016
- July 14 2016
- Tue, Jun 14 2016
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