Days after members of Pussy Riot were arrested for staging a protest during the World Cup, the Russian firebrands were awarded a settlement relating to their 2012 jail sentences for performing a “punk prayer” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. On Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia has to pay around $57,000 in damages to Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova for being unfairly imprisoned. Following the World Cup, Pussy Riot released a new music video called “Track About Good Cop.”
This week, another controversial female musician returns. M.I.A. has never been one to shy away from politics, forever finding a way to inject global news stories into earworm hooks. (“All I wanna do is bang, bang, bang, and get your money” has to be the most gangster satire on anti-immigrant sentiments, ever.)
Finally, fans of Maya Arulpragasam will be able to get an insider view into her life through an upcoming documentary. Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. will journey from her childhood among Tamil Tigers to her Super Bowl settlement. The film comes out this September.
That New New
It’s not just early aughts fashion that’s back, three of your favorite feely bands from the 2000s have dropped videos this week. Death Cab for Cutie and The Blow both released new clips that veer into art-student-film-project territory while Cat Power debuted the song “Wanderer,” featuring unlikely collaborator (and tour mate), Lana Del Rey.
Chance The Rapper announced his foray into media with a new track. “I Might Need Security” discloses his purchase of local news site, The Chicagoist.
Alt-rappers Brockhampton also entered new waters this week, the group dropped a music video for “1998 Truman,” their first release since the departure of ex-member, Ameer Vann, due to allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.
Pitchfork Music Festival is this weekend in Chicago. You can livestream many of the acts, including Lauryn Hill, Blood Orange, and Courtney Barnett on Pitchfork’s YouTube channel.
Fans who were worried about SZA can breathe a sigh of relief. After missing some dates on TDE’s Championship tour due to damaged vocal cords, the Drew Barrymore singer made a valiant comeback at Firefly Festival.
Jay-Z is disputing with Philadelphia mayor, Jim Kenney over the music festival that the rapper founded six years ago. Since its 2012 inception, Made in America Festival has been held in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but this may be about to change. Without talking to festival organizers, Kenney told local news that the fest’s busy location was inconveniencing the city and would have to be moved in 2019. In response to the mayor, Jay-Z published a statement in the The Inquirer to voice his disapproval. Maybe op-eds are the new rap battle?
Mad Decent Block Party returns to New York after taking a one-year hiatus from the city. On September 24, TroyBoi, Walshy Fire, and more will play at the Brooklyn Mirage.
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.
Kiran Gandhi (aka Madame Gandhi) has been making some serious waves in the past couple of years. By her own right, she is no woman to trifle with; her resume includes drumming for M.I.A., advising companies such as Spotify and Stem, and receiving an MBA from, oh, ya know, HARVARD. Last year Gandhi raised awareness for period stigma by free-bleeding as she ran the London Marathon. I think it’s safe to say that while Gandhi is many things, she is most of all a total badass.
But a badass with a mission. Gandhi’s website brandishes the phrase: “Music and Feminism” so how could we here at AudioFemme not instantly fall in love? While the artist currently resides in L.A., she is bringing her beats and wisdom to NYC this weekend for a couple of events in the name of sisterhood.
The first of which is Girl Power Fair, which will occur from 11-6 on Saturday (7/30) as part of Hester Street Fair. Gandhi will start her set at noon, so don’t miss it. A press release for the event states that:
“The Girl Power Fair will feature special events and programming such as a Zine Corner featuring independent female-centric magazines, a showcase on female founders and female led businesses, tabling from female empowerment groups, workshops and more!”
10% of proceeds will be donated to Lower East Side Girls Club. Other performers include Alix Brown, Ariele Max and Rachael Pazdan.
On Monday (8/1) Gandhi is teaming up with GRLCVLT NYC for Fuck Rape Culture: A Benefit for the Campaign to Unseat Judge Aaron Persky. The night will start at 8pm at Baby’s All Right. Persky was the judge that so insolently let Standford rapist Brock Turner off on a measly six month sentence, despite the trauma he inflicted on his victim. It will be an evening of action, support, feminism, and of course, music. Get your tickets here while you still can!
The fourth annual 4Knots Music Festival is slated to wash ashore at South Street Seaport this Saturday, July 12th, and we couldn’t be more excited. The festival, curated by The Village Voice, gets better each year, with Dinosaur Jr., Mac DeMarco, Re-TROS, Dead Stars,Those Darlins, Speedy Ortiz, Radkey, Viet Cong, Nude Beach, and Juan Wauters slated to grace the 2014 celebration – and it’s all FREE. There’s also an after party at Webster Hall following the day-long extravaganza, and you can get $5 off tickets with the code VOICE by clicking here.
Though 4Knots might seem relatively new, VV cut its festival booking chops on the now-legendary Siren Music Festival, held every summer at Coney Island from 2001-2010. As our anticipation grows for 4Knots 2014, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the best performers to grace 4Knots and Siren stages.
2001 – Peaches
We’re sure Rainer Maria, Guided By Voices and Superchunk were all lovely, but come on… at the time, the gender-bending, sex-positive performance artist was riding on high on the release of The Teaches of Peaches, her debut album that featured hits like “Fuck the Pain Away” and “Set it Off.” The quirk and kitsch of Coney Island was a perfect backdrop for Peaches, who looked every bit the part of sideshow provocateur in her bright red lingerie.
2002 – Sleater-Kinney
2002 was kind of THE banner year for Siren Fest, helped in part by the fact that there was a dance-punk renaissance happening in NYC. We can just picture Karen O smooching Angus Andrew at the top of the Wonder Wheel (they were deep in lurrrrv when their bands – Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars, respectively – played the fest), and I’m sure like-minded rockers Les Savy Fav, Mooney Suzuki, The Donnas, and Rye Coalition tore shit up, while The Shins mellowed crowds out with “New Slang” years before it rocked Zach Braff’s world. But Sleater-Kinney is the best band EVER, and their live performances were unparalleled. Even some dude who writes about music a lot agrees.
2003 – !!!
No, I’m not so excited about the history of 4Knots/Siren Fest that I’ve resorted to superfluous punctuation – !!! (usually pronounced Chk Chk Chk but otherwise represented by any three repetitive monosyllables other than Yeah Yeah Yeah since that was taken) gave every ounce of energy they had into converting a boring old rock show into a full tilt dance party. The band had a rotating, often huge lineup of talented musicians, fronted by lead singer Nic Offer, whose spastic showmanship mimed the outsized gestures of arena rock performers like Mick Jagger, but in a weirder, disco-punk context. !!! were known to encourage audience participation, adoration, and most of all satisfaction – you could rest assured they’d at least give you your money’s worth. But Siren Fest, just like 4Knots, has always been free.
2004 – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
TV on the Radio were still a baby band, Mission of Burma were already and aging punk dad band, Har Mar Superstar probably grossed everyone out (that was his thing), and Death Cab for Cutie probably made everyone too sad. Blonde Redhead is an amazing band that almost no one appreciated or remembers. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead smashed their gear and dove into the audience.
2005 – Dungen
While Q And Not U kept dance-punk alive, and Spoon continued the mellow indie dude vibes set forth by Death Cab the year before, Swedish psych rockers Dungen, who had apparently just visited Other Music, like, that day, must have thrown the audience for a real loop. Ta Det Lungt had just begun to help them establish an international reputation, and even though none of their songs were sung in English, there’s no doubt the weed cloud hanging over the Cyclone after their set helped with the language barrier.
I bet Celebration was so, so fucking badass that year because Katrina Ford is a goddess and I’m excited for their upcoming album and I’m excited for their show at Baby’s All Right on July 25th but Jake Shears literally stripped down to a Speedo.
2007 – M.I.A.
Just look at how sweet M.I.A. was before all the Vanity Fair hoopla, before the SuperBowl middle finger, before H/Bollywood got its hands on “Paper Planes,” before the trainwreck that was /\/\/\Y/\… M.I.A’s music has evolved a lot over the years, but she’s always been one of the “Bad Girls,” with enough swagger to last for decades. Though we couldn’t have known it then, her Siren appearance was a rare treat, free of backlash and media sniping and all about the jams. The Black Lips put on a great live show, and are also no stranger to controversy, having recently talked shit on Drake and Lorde, that one time Jared Swilley and Nathan from Wavves got into some fisticuffs in a Brooklyn bar… and oh yeah maybe they’re racist? 2007 Siren, you were a real breeding ground for dissension.
2008 – Times New Viking
While Broken Social Scene is great at cramming a ton of talented musicians on stage, I have to hand it to my Columbus, Ohio hometown heroes Times New Viking for blasting such a huge crowd with their lo-fi gems. I have super fond memories of seeing them play dive bars and basements and living rooms, but their gloriously dingy pop songs harbor all the rickety charm of Astroland, where any ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl in 2007 might have been your last ride on anything, ever.
2009 – Monotonix
When Monotonix crowd surf, they don’t just flop along in a sea of sunburned arms like most bands. First of all, these dudes get pretty much naked except for underpants, socks, and copious amounts of body hair. Second of all, they spend the majority of their set in the audience, as opposed to the casual one-and-done method of even the punkest punks. Third of all, they take their instruments into the crowd with them. These nutso Israelis played over 1000 shows in five years, 400 of them happening between 2006 & 2007, so fourth of all, setting themselves on fire and shit was routine for them.
2010 – Screaming Females
The thing about festivals is that sometimes they’re less than ideal scenarios for the bands that play them. It’s hot, it’s bright, and the sound engineering can be really questionable. After insisting on using his own drums rather than the rented kit Siren provided, Jarrett led Screaming Females on a rambling pre-set jam session to ease any jitters. They also turned their monitors off, because according to this adorable blog post he thought it “better to have no mix than a crazy one.” Anyone who’s heard Marissa Paternoster playing guitar knows she shreds; I can’t imagine headliners Matt & Kim (the only band to play Siren twice!) played a better set than Screaming Females in their 2 o’clock slot.
2011 – Titus Andronicus
Though it made everyone a bit sad when Village Voice moved their annual shindig from an awesome beachfront amusement park with tons of history to, well… a mall with an Uno’s Pizzeria, they at least had the respect for tradition to rename the fest 4knots (the speed at which the East River flows) and booked another expertly curated lineup, which included headliners Titus Andronicus. Their appearance came just after gaining tons of recognition for their intelligently rendered album The Monitor, loosely based on Civil War-inspired themes, not to mention their aggressive live shows. The lineup has since changed but our favorite incarnation of the band featured Amy Klein on violin and guitar. Ahhh, memories.
2012 – The Drums
We’ve always appreciated the swagger of Jonny Pierce, and his band’s beachy vibes practically scream outdoor dance party, so The Drums were a perfect fit with 4knots. 2011’s Portamento saw the group shift from surfy to synthy (the title is a tribute to the analogue settings Pierce and bandmate Jacob Graham bonded over as kids), so we couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming release of their latest album, slated for sometime this year.
2013 – Parquet Courts
There’s a reason these Brooklyn punks quickly gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the best live bands to see, and their ultra-sweaty performance at last year’s sweltering 4Knots is a perfect example. The two things I remember most about last year’s 4Knots were The Men covering Iggy Pop with a rousing horn section, and Andrew Savage extending “Stoned & Starving” with a ten-minute long rant about social media and commodified music that felt both prescient and tongue-in-cheek. You really never know what to expect from a Parquet Courts set except that it will be rowdy. Similarly, we never know what to expect from a Village Voice music fest – so make sure you’re at South Street Seaport on Saturday for this year’s 4Knots!
From elaborate roll-outs to surprise releases, 2013 was a banner year for comebacks, break-outs, break-ups, and overnight sensations. The fact that the most oblique content could cause rampant controversy to reverberate through the blogosphere turned every song into a story and made every story seem epic. At the heart of it all are the sounds that defined this particular calendar year, from electronic pop to punk rock to hip-hop to hardcore and everything in between.
Everyone in the entire world has heard “Paper Planes” and is fully acquainted with M.I.A (a.k.a. Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam). She has claimed that guerrilla art is a huge influence on her style, and her musical influences range from Madonna and Bjork to the Clash and Public Enemy. The result of these far-ranging inspirations is more of a mélange of jumbled sounds and lyrics. However, there’s something that glues you to your headphones, anticipating the next mishmash of whatever soundboard M.I.A. decided to use that day. Her talent is evident in the leap to fame that produced her critically acclaimed second album, Kala, and various awards and nominations.
M.I.A. was born in London in 1975 but raised in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Civil War was taking place, which caused much disruption and confusion in her world. Her political activist father was, as a result, often away from home, creating displacement in M.I.A.’s life. Her family eventually moved back to London where she attended art school. There she found her voice through film production, fashion and painting. She was soon showing art in galleries and having big name directors asking her to work with them. Her roommate convinced her to start recording music, and she did so on a 4-track tape machine, a groovebox, and a radio microphone. She came up with a 6-song demo which included “Galang”, a hit from her debut album Arular. Thanks to the popularity of Napster and other music-sharing programs, M.I.A. quickly became known before the album was even released. Once it was, it garnered critical acclaim and ended up on many Top 10 lists at the end of 2005.
And then there was 2007’s Kala, M.I.A.’s pièce de résistance. An amalgam of dance and world music, Kala included significantly more diverse instrumentation than previous work: traditional folk music from various countries, live instruments, and music snippets from bootlegged Indian films. She teamed up with producers Timbaland and Diplo, stars in their own right, along with Switch, her faithful co-producer. The opener “Bamboo Banga” showcases M.I.A.’s signature chanting, sometimes bordering on shrieking. “Bird Flu”, hits you like a hive full of rabid bees. Or, more appropriately, a flock of crazed birdies. Her repetitive beats get stuck in your head and provide a medium in which you can really enter the frenzied mind of M.I.A. Her flat, droney vocals make sense of her music, especially on “20 Dollar”. The song “Paper Planes”, as mentioned before, is the seventh best-selling song by a British artist in the digital era. Considering most, if not all, of our music is digital, that’s an esteemed accolade to have.
The album Kala, although not terribly old, changed the way we experience music. M.I.A. pushed the boundaries of acceptability and etiquette by today’s standards. The fact that it came out in the digital age is so appropriate, especially for her style. Would an album like this have gone over as well in 1993? Do our attention spans, historically the shortest they have ever been, have something to do with that success? We jump from idea to idea, and so does M.I.A. with her sound. Still, there is always a concept that she’s pursuing in her songs. Sometimes her music may sound dissonant to the listener, but it always comes full circle at the end.