A few months ago, I read a lovely post on country music by Garland Grey over at Tiger Beatdown, and I was quite enjoying myself until he included Johnny Cash as a "toxic model for masculinity" and I hit the roof internally*.
Because Johnny Cash may be the only model for masculinity I turn to. (Well, aside from Springsteen, about whom more later!)
And now again, as the U.S. writhes under the weight of its own myths, I go back to Cash as well.
On election day I was cheerily envisioning a future beyond hate and war with Robyn and Janelle Monae. Yesterday and today I woke up and the future looked impossibly angry and male and white, surging up from the past, all grudge-guns firing.
MTV has been long dead as a go-to for watching music videos. That doesn't mean they've stopped being made! Or being awesome! Click through for four new videos by stellar artists that are as fun to watch as they are to listen to...
I've written about Robyn a lot, I know. This has, as I've mentioned, been the Year of Robyn for me. But this video hit last week and aside from being steamy, sent me spiraling off into a train of thought that I couldn't keep to myself.
Talking with a friend about the video and the tubes full of liquid that Robyn is wrapped in, I used the term "abstract futurism," which is totally me being pretentious. And yet, the tone of a lot of Robyn's songs, both on the Body Talk recordings and her previous work, evokes a world of robots and a world of love--the visual best suited was maybe already snagged by Bjork for "All Is Full Of Love".
If you happen to follow me on Tumblr, my obsession with Alison Mosshart is no secret. The witchy-haired singer/guitarist/all-around rock superheroine from The Kills and The Dead Weather probably occupies more space on my Tumblr than anyone aside from David Bowie and Paul Simonon of the Clash (about both of whom, more later). Videos after the jump!
By the end (I'm hoping not for good, but for now, anyway) of Sleater-Kinney Corin Tucker's voice was a finely honed weapon, full of deep, slow, sexy soul and capable of an earsplitting wail, a bonechilling snarl, a rock'n'roll howl that didn't so much as defy gender as rip the guts straight out of it.
Her new record, 1,000 Years puts that voice front and center, without the thrash that made The Woods so threatening at the time.
Creating art is walking through a minefield, especially in a society like this one that doesn't really do much to support said art. And since many of us critics are also creators, we know that we don't want to discourage creation, we want to make it better.
Because I'm not a musician, I'm a writer, I tend to like and analyze and pick at the lyrics of songs. But at the same time, to be any sort of a pop music critic I have to look at the whole package, not just the lyrics. Each part of a pop song is a deliberate choice, and sometimes those choices deliberately contradict one another, undercut one meaning and substitute another, add layer upon layer and give you things to think about with each listen.