I'm really sick of music videos that utilize war and protest imagery to no discernable purpose. I probably shouldn't complain since for once they're showing up BEFORE the election rather than after. I probably shouldn't complain since it looks like discontent and refusal to submit is going to be "cool" rather than Alex P. Keatonism.
Desaparecidos, Read Music/Speak Spanish
Conor Oberst feels less and less like a guy I want to defend, but my favorite album of the decade so far is easily his rawk-out side project. For once his shrieks of discontent are delivered in a specific cultural, political context. It's as if Rivers Cuomo showed up at the sessions for Pinkerton
with something more on his mind than that foreign exchange student he'd really like to bang. It's as if Ian MacKaye regained his Minor Threat-era love of the specific and Guy Picciotto had it in the first place. It's as if a oversensitive indie shmuck with a overactive sense of entitlement decided to dignify his bitchfits by describing the oppressive swirl of homogenization, downsizing, commercialization, gentrification, commidification, franchise expansion, compromise, cynicism, resignation, capitulation, indifference, selfishness, lies, ignorance and all that other shit in crystalline, humanized detail rather than just making it clear he's against it (cuz we all think we are). This isn't some kid yelling "Reagan Sucks!" This is a kid starting with his own frustration and letting camera zoom out from that focal point as far he can, using his powers for good instead of ego. There was supposed to be a follow-up called Payola
in April, but it looks like Conor's too busy making aural woodcuts of himself and song-arranger Denver Dalley's too busy making worthless attempts to prove that Desaparecidos is a side-project for him too. Sum 41's new single is exactly the kind of wack style-bite ("Supersize my tragedy!") you get when the decent band refuses to get off their duff and take the spotlight. I hope it gives Oberst an ulcer.
Travis Tritt & John Mellencamp, "What Say You"
Ok I only heard it for the first time yesterday but Jesus Christ if I don't realize some faults soon this could be my favorite single of the year. John Mellencamp wins the election by voicing his disdain blind patriotism and by looking into the camera and saying "I refuse to criticize what I don't understand" like a Clinton with nothing to hide, with the willingness to pin down what "it" is (even if he's still picking his words with the utmost of care). At first it sounds like Travis Tritt has nothing more to offer than defensive refusals to apologize, but eventually you realize that he subtly dismisses the concept of people being "evil" and that BOTH want to know what your opinion is. Both don't assume you're going to immediately going to abandon your perspective. It's the first political song I've heard that neither indulges in whimpering helplessness or oppressive certainty. Maybe it's the shock of the new but this song gives me chills and I hope it's a huge fucking hit.