Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sapokanikan

Stop the presses! Joanna Newsom has started making noise again! Gosh, how did I almost miss this one? Well, when an artist goes five years between albums (and doesn’t have any social media accounts or even their own website – just a page on their record label’s site), I guess it takes some time before the news reaches a fan. All I knew over those past five years was that she got married to Andy Samberg and bought a house in LA that Charlie Chaplin used to live in.

And so we have “Sapokanikan,” the first single from her upcoming album Divers!

It reminds me a lot of her very early work, at least vocally. There’s a lot of acrobatics and lilting and wild abandon going on here. Yet lyrically it makes me think of Ys. Though this track isn’t nearly as long as the shortest one on that album, it still has that epic poetic lyrical structure – there’s hardly a pause between verses. It’s really hard to pin down this one. It sounds like this album is going to be more experimental.

It’s hard for me to say what any Joanna Newsom song is about. This is usually because of that epic lyrical structure I mentioned earlier. It usually takes a lot of listens before I get a feel for it. And even then, a Joanna Newsom song requires more research, as she makes a lot of references to history, literature, and myths. Yeah, it’s a little hipstery, but if you can get over it, it makes for great music that transcends the casualness of most rock and pop. I’m sorry, that sounded pretty hipstery too. I can say that Sapokanikan refers to the Native American name given to the land that eventually became Greenwich Village in NYC. So it seems that this song is a musing on the history of the area. If you want a good breakdown, I’d head over to Genius. They’re usually pretty good about this kind of stuff.

As for the video itself, it makes me think of Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” but in NYC, of course. It’s somehow fitting for Joanna Newsom to be prancing and skipping through the big city as she sings. The song certainly doesn’t make me think of NYC, but that just makes it all the more interesting. She should seem out of place and overwhelmed (coming from the little bitty town of Nevada City, California) but she’s not phased at all and seems comfortable as she winds her way through shops and parks. I like it.

This is probably not a good starter Joanna Newsom song for a newcomer – but if you’re a fan and you, like me, have somehow missed out on it, get to listening! And prepare yourself for something very new and different. I’m excited to see what October 23rd brings.

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Girl Gang

Everyone has that one song (or more) they love and sing along to every time – only to finally look up the lyrics and realize they’re completely different. Not many people then go and make that song with their misheard lyrics as a cover. But that’s what Kate Nash did when she heard the song “Cocaine” by FIDLAR and turned it into “Girl Gang”!

Not much changes other than the name (and every instance of it in the song). It’s a straight up cover, and a great one at that. Definitely makes me want to don my old patch covered jacket, find some brass knuckles, and dare someone to mess with me.

I saw Kate Nash a couple of years ago at the Troubadour here in LA and she actually played this song. She even explained that the song did indeed result from misheard lyrics as I mentioned at the top of this post. She’s a big fan of FIDLAR, an LA based punk band, so much so that her bass actually has their inscription. Or did they give her their bass? I can’t remember exactly. But they’re well-acquainted with each other and she’s even performed on one of their songs.

Anyway, I love what she’s done with the song. It definitely fits in with her current riot grrl style/aesthetic/image. She even turns it into a sort of feminist track. I wish this one had made it onto a single as a B-side.

So it’s common knowledge these days that you should never look at the comments, and yet against my better judgement, I’ve done it anyway! They mainly consist of a three types of people:

  1. People who hate punk
  2. People who hate women
  3. People who miss “the old Kate Nash”

I’m really not sure who to roll my eyes hardest at here. Here is an example of type 1:

“She is trying really hard to sound ‘punk’ which kind of goes against the punk aesthetic, she has a genuinely nice voice and is just pushing really hard to ‘grunge it up'”

Also various disagreeable comments on how she “ruined” the original. Never mind the fact that this is a straight up cover and I’ve heard the original and they’re doing the exact same shouty/screamy thing so I guess you just hate punk – I don’t know what to tell you, Mansplainer McGee. (Yes, we’ve got some bonus mansplaining going on here!) This is just totally ignoring that the voice is an instrument, so she can (and SHOULD) test her range and push her limits and do whatever the fuck she wants which, last I checked, is pretty goddamn punk.

Then we have an example of type 2:

“No soy machista… pero esta canción en mi opinión no queda oara nada bien cantafa con la voz más fina de una mujer. Simplemente no me gusta”

Which basically translates to:

“I’m not sexist … vut in my opinion this song is not at all well sunf with the beautiful voice of a woman. I just do not like it”

I included the typos so you can get the full experience of Manly McWomen-Hater here. Do I need to say anything else? I really could have stopped at “I’m not sexist … vut”. There’s no need to go further.

And finally there’s type 3:

“As of late she’s gotten a little anti-man or something but her previous work is good, she’s awesome not this song. :p”

Here we have a superb example of “I Don’t Understand the Meaning of Feminism”, which is really a bonus to type 3. Yup, Kate Nash hates that fictional male character in her music video for no gosh darn reason! I mean, he looks like such a nice guy! Did anyone who listened to My Best Friend Is You really not see Girl Talk coming? Scratch that, reverse it: Did anyone who listened to Girl Talk not look back at My Best Friend Is You and say to themselves “Huh, guess I should have seen THAT coming”? Go back and listen again and if you don’t like it, you’re more than welcome to listen to Made of Bricks on repeat; your ignorant ass is forbidden from listening to My Best Friend Is You ever again.

Gosh, these are just a few precious gems. What’s that saying again – that every comment on an article about feminism only justifies the need for feminism? We’ve got poetry in motion right here, folks.

Anyway, enjoy the song and just imagine the duder in the video is one of these commenters. Check out the original FIDLAR track and video while you’re at, just for comparison! It’s silly (and NSFW) and it’s got Nick Offerman in it, which works perfectly. I’m off to rally up the girl gang.

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Swords

((Sorry for my two week absence! I had a really bad pain in my neck (literally) and then I came down with an awful cold. I’m taking it easy for now, so this will be a quick post.))

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Well, it looks like M.I.A. is back in the swing of things! I’ve been seeing these random teaser videos on her Facebook page, and a few weeks ago an actual song finally dropped. It looks like audio visual albums are the big thing now, as that’s what this next project, Matahdatah, is shaping up to be.

Right now, it looks like you can only watch the video on Apple Connect, but you don’t necessarily have to sign up. You can also just buy the thing on iTunes if you want. I just bought the single but the video is very cool and you should definitely go watch it. It also features a video she recorded for her song “Warriors” from her previous album Matangi.

The video for “Swords” is amazing. Not quite as jaw-dropping as “Bad Girls” but I’m still pretty flabbergasted at how deftly these young Indian girls handle swords (and staffs) that are nearly as big as they are – like they’re simply a third limb. Where did Maya find these girls???

There’s not a lot of information out there (the album only has an unlinked mention on the discography section of M.I.A.’s Wikipedia page – not even on the discography section itself), but this Stereogum article gives us enough for now. I’ve been through this audiovisual concept album thing before with other artists (iamamiwhoami in particular) so I’m looking forward to see what she does with it. Maya’s always enjoyed turning her camera on other people from around the world, specifically people we don’t see a lot in the mainstream (i.e. “world’s sexiest” A-list celebrities from developed Western countries). I’m pretty excited to see what other countries and people will feature in these future “scrolls,” as I’m guessing they will be called.

The song itself is pretty great too. I like that she recorded the sword strikes to use as a beat. If this is an indicator of the theme, then this album may turn out to be pretty upbeat, which is the mood she wanted Matangi but her record label didn’t like that. I’d like to hear an upbeat, empowering album from M.I.A. For now, we just have to wait and see what comes next!

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