On Tuesday, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender woman elected to state legislature with her win in Virginia, replacing a 13-year incumbent Republican who held an anti-trans bathroom policy. While her platform was pretty great – she wants to achieve health care accessibility, fix traffic issues, and raising teacher salaries – she’s also a musician who sings in the trash metal band Cab Ride Home. In New York, Justin Brannan, the former guitar player for hardcore groups such as Most Precious Blood and Indecision, won a seat on the city council. His campaign focused on issues like public schools, eviction protection, and improving public transportation.
Taylor Swift’s Lawyers Threaten Blogger
Taylor Swift’s long-awaited and much-discussed sixth album Reputation is out today, and as usual, the pop star is mired in controversy. Earlier this week, her overzealous lawyers threatened PopFront blogger Meghan Herning with a heavy-handed lawsuit for a two-month old post which mines Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” for alt-right Easter Eggs. It’s not the first time media insiders have drawn a parallel between Swift and white supremacists, some of whom uphold the singer as an Aryan idol; outright, Swift hasn’t done much more than participate in a little cultural appropriation, but she hasn’t gone on record to denounce white supremacy either, as Herning pointed out. Still, Herning’s piece was essentially an op-ed, hardly presented as fact, and may not even have had significant readership if not for the lawsuit threat, which claims the post is “provably false and defamatory.” It looks like a cheap scare tactic meant to ward off bad press for Taylor; the ACLU made a statement in support of Herning.
Madonna covers Elliot Smith, Tegan and Sara cover Hayley Williams of Paramore, Erykah Badu curates a Fela Kuti set, Jon Stewart flaunts his drumming skills with No Wine for Kittens to benefit Suicide Prevention, there’s a Jawbreaker auction for gun control, music streaming services get their own lobbying group, watch Angel Olsen perform “Sans” from forthcoming rarities release Phases, Rihanna will co-host the Met Ball this year, Ozzy is retiring, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood skewer Trump in a CMA Awards parody, Kimbra partners with Safe Horizon to raise domestic violence awareness, Priests’ Katie Greer on being heckled, Bikini Kill reunited last weekend, JAY-Z on Meek Mill’s sentencing, and a Stella Donnelly song that sums up recent events.
PWR BTTM Cancel Release Show Following Allegations
Over the past few days, allegations of predatory behavior and sexual abuse were made against Ben Hopkins of PWR BTTM, and an anti-semitic photo of Hopkins from 2011 has again resurfaced. While the former was previously addressed by the band, many fans were taken by complete surprise regarding the allegations of violated consent, despite the fact that some of their peers state they were warned about this behavior months ago. The Brooklyn band T-Rextasy is one of them, and has cancelled their July tour with PWR BTTM. Tonight’s Rough Trade release show for Pageant has also been cancelled.
While the band has not outright confirmed or denied these allegations, they’ve released a statement that includes the offer for victims to send an email to an account that will allegedly only be accessible by an as-yet unidentified mediator. This has sparked further criticism as well as a discussion about accountability; Jes Skolnik does an amazing job of breaking it down via Medium.
Meet The ACLU Employee Who Is Also A Rockstar
Pinky Weitzman is the deputy director of the ACLU, in charge of helping the organization adapt to the modern age. She’s been described as one of its “greatest digital minds.” She’s also a touring member of the Magnetic Fields, and performs with other big-name musicians and in musicals. Instead of taking a break from the ACLU to go on a Magnetic Fields tour, after the election, she decided to take on both roles simultaneously. Read the NBC feature on Weitzman here.
Pink Floyd’s Animals Inspires Protest Art
A Chicago architect wants to relieve the city- at least for a day- of seeing the Trump Tower logo. Jeffrey Roberts is still seeking the city’s approval for his “Flying Pigs on Parade,” which entails tethering several huge, gold, inflatable pigs to a barge to block the letters of Trump’s name. The project was inspired by Pink Floyd’s use of a pig balloon for their 1997 album Animals, and Roger Waters has given Roberts his approval and permission.
After the site announced it would donate its share(about 12%) of all purchases last Friday, music fans bought about $1,000,000 worth of music. According to Bandcamp, that’s “550% more than a normal Friday (already our biggest sales day of the week).” Combined with the many artists and labels that promised their 88% of profits would also go to the ACLU, the actual figure being donated is close to $100,000. Good job, music fans. And it’s not too late to donate! If you want to get some music out of it, check out the Our First100 Days compilation:
Market Hotel Offers Coworking Space, Hopefully Shows Soon
On 2/7, the venue tweeted that “All citations related to the October ‘gotcha’ raid on Market Hotel, particularly the ‘warehousing’ summons, have been dismissed!” The DIY space was forced to relocate shows in Fall 2016 after what many deemed an unfair police raid, around the time they were applying for a permanent liquor license. No official word on when the space will begin hosting shows again, but in the meantime, it’s being used as a coworking space.
Is Indie Rock Dead? Um, Probably Not
Yes, another debate about the life of a genre was started last night between David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors) and Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) on Instagram, for some reason. Longstreth wondered if the genre has come to be “boujee in the word’s negative sense: refined and effete, well removed from the raindrops and drop tops of lived, earned experience,” while Pecknold’s thoughts on the matter included nuggets such as “Also don’t rly know what counts as ‘indie rock’ these days… like, Whitney, Mac DeMarco, Angel Olsen, Car Seat Headrest? Idk if any of that has ‘cutting edge’ written into the M.O., even if it’s fun to listen to.” The rest of the conversation is mostly indecipherable, but maybe you want to take a stab at it.
Anyway, guys: no kind of music is dead (except maybe disco). This is 2017! The internet is a super useful tool when it comes to looking for great bands of all genres, or for realizing that genres can be meaningless labels. Better yet, get off the internet and go see a show this weekend.
While many artists are already pledging that the profits from their album purchase will be donated to a charity, Bandcamp has one-upped them all (not that philanthropy is a contest, because as long as people are contributing, everybody wins). Today, any proceeds the website makes will go to the ACLU. So get online, buy some great music, and support one of the most important organizations ever!
Musical Responses To The #MuslimBan
Last Friday Trump signed an executive order forcing airports to detain and deport immigrants and refugees entering from seven Muslim-majority countries, regardless of their immigration status. Protestors, lawyers and the taxi drivers weren’t having it. Neither were many musicians, who responded in various ways. Grimes and Sia announced they would match donations made to the Council on American-Islam Relations and the ACLU. Ethically questionable ride-share app Uber turned off surge pricing during a JFK taxi strike protesting the ban, which many interpreted as a way to profit from the taxi drivers’ act of solidarity. In response, “Uber Everywhere” artist Madeintyo said he would be switching to Lyft.
As for actual music, Spotify compiled a playlist of 20 songs from artists who were once refugees, including Queen, Regina Spektor, M.I.A and the Fugees. We also recommend NPR’s Music In Exile series, which tells the stories of musicians who are refugees.
With several events abruptly canceled thanks to police and fire departments raids, the DIY venue in industrial Bushwick is closing, hopefully temporarily. The venue’s Facebook page states: “In the face of recent challenges we’ll be dark for the next two weeks as we restructure and plan for the future.” Scheduled shows are being postponed and/or relocated to nearby venues, such as The Gateway, Silent Barn and Trans-Pecos. 2016 took a lot of important venues away; hopefully Shea Stadium won’t be 2017’s first casualty.