Jules’s Jukebox: I’m Getting Re-Wired–It’s a Kasabian Kind of Night

Kasabian, the hard-punching guitar band from Leicester, England, is priming to release their 6th album, For Crying Out Loud, on April 28th. They tantalized me when they released the first single, “You’re in Love with a Psycho,” and played new music live in Australia last week. Guitarist Sergio Pizzorno has hailed this album as being about saving rock music and making a guitar record that is relevant (he is joined in the band by vocalist Tom Meighan, bassist Chris Edwards, and drummer Ian Matthews). I enjoy the band because of their ability to create a consistent sound that is distinctly theirs. I can hear a song and know it’s Kasabian. This ability to create an unmistakeable sound is what sets great bands apart from mediocre, dime-a-dozen bands. That’s what set bands like Oasis and The Verve apart from other bands formed in this same era (Kasabian formed in 1997, Oasis in 1991, and The Verve in 1990)–they weren’t grunge or indie knock-offs.

So tonight’s jukebox selections highlight how I discovered and fell for Kasabian’s easily distinguishable sound.

“Julie and the Moth Man” by Kasabian, the B-side to “Underdog.”

The 2011 Jason Statham/Paddy Considine movie, Blitz, introduced Kasabian to me with the hard, reverb-y, industrial guitar riff pounding over the end credits (yes, I know, I came to the Kasabian party a little late, but better late than never with this band). The song’s violent and seedy lyrics served the mood of this British serial killer/police procedural well. But suffice it to say, I like the music far better than the lyrics of this song–I guess the facts that my name is Julie and I don’t like the idea of f’n in alleys or getting hit by frying pans contribute to my dislike of the lyrics. One can argue, and I struggle with liking this song for this reason, that the lyrics glorify physical and sexual violence against women. That may or may not be Pizzorno’s intention. Lucky for him, I still like the song despite despising the lyrics…

“Re-Wired” by Kasabian, from the 2011 album Velociraptor!

“Re-Wired” is probably my favorite song by Kasabian because of its groovy, funky almost disco sound for the verses juxtaposed with the hard-rocking chorus. While the song most certainly alludes to drug use–again, I ignore the lyrics for the music’s aesthetics, the video is a fun ride through a high-speed car chase with the band that pays homage to many classic films, including Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

“You’re in Love with a Psycho” by Kasabian, from their upcoming album For Crying Out Loud.

The band released this song last week. This fun first single reads almost like Jabberwocky-style jibberish, but makes more sense as the song progresses with random references to Axel Foley (we’re not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe) and Charles Bukowski (“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead”). But the music is more “Re-Wired” than “Julie and the Moth Man.” It sounds almost like a mashup of Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boys stylistically.

Bonus Song: “Put Your Life On It” by Kasabian, from their upcoming album For Crying Out Loud.

This song was premiered live last summer by the band and is the closest thing to a power ballad I’ve heard from the band. I love that this song departs from their traditional sound and stretches into new territory for them.

Jules’s Jukebox: Musing about Muse & Politics in the Age of Resistance

When the Lollapalooza line-up was released today, I nearly fell out of my seat at the opening day’s line-up: MUSE, Liam Gallagher (Fuck Yeah!), Tritonal… so many I’d love, love, love to see. But tickets sold out before I could act–and I understand why. What a great way to spend a Thursday–and then catch a game at Wrigley on Friday. Talk about a perfect slide into the weekend.

Seeing the line-up took me back about a decade to when I really fell in love with MUSE. So tonight’s twofer (plus an extra for fun) features a couple of classics from Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme, and Dominic Howard.

“Citizen Erased” by MUSE, from the 2001 album Origin of Symmetry.

The first song I heard from this album was Paul Oakenfold’s remix of “New Born” from the soundtrack to the 2001 Hugh Jackman/John Travolta movie Swordfish. The remix prompted me to seek the original version, which led me to this hard-rocking reverb fest.  Finding this album sparked my interest in the trio from Devonshire, England. The song’s lyrics show Bellamy’s struggle with being constantly questioned by those around him. His allusion to Orwell’s 1984, particularly in the title and the lines “Wash me away/ Clean your body of me/ Erase all the memories/ They will only bring us pain,” remind us all that citizens can be erased and that lies can rule supreme, that innocence can be lost to experience only to be erased back to innocence. (Here is a great blog explaining this song much better than I.) The dichotomy and the dissonance in this song are compelling to listen to.

“Map of the Problematique” by MUSE, from the 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations.

This song continues to display the band’s ability to write layered lyrics that can be seen through a variety of critical lenses. While one person may read the lyrics to this song as being about a man’s inability to move on from a failed relationship, another reads a far more political message (which the band is known for) about war and world chaos that causes us to lose ourselves–like The Lost Generation of WW1. In the verse “Life will flash before my eyes/ So scattered almost/ I want to touch the other side/ And no one thinks they are to blame/ Why can’t we see/ That when we bleed we bleed the same” I can read both of the above interpretations. But my surface reading is this: We wreak havoc on each other, accept no responsibility or blame for our abuses of each other. We want to see the other side’s perspective. We want to reach out to the other. But we have so enabled ourselves that we can only see how right we are rather than find our common ground–that we bleed the same regardless of right and wrong.

“Uprising” by MUSE, from the 2009 album The Resistance.

This song has particular meaning for me right now in light of current world politics–the move toward nationalism, isolationism, authoritarianism. Bellamy has long been a critic of collectivism, but it’s interesting that this progressive liberal finds common ground with his more libertarian views–we both want to be free of mind control and manipulation in an information age rife with propaganda and fake news, kleptocratic rulers, and over-reaching, profiteering, capitalist elitists; we both want the world to be free from tyranny. And if any song is an anti-tyranny song, it is this song. This song is an anthem for resisters. The chorus reflects how when we stand together and rise up, we will win against the tyrants. “They will not force us/ They will stop degrading us/ They will not control us/We will be victorious.”

Ok. I’m throwing a Liam Gallagher song in for fun. Just because I love Liam Gallagher and am anxiously awaiting his new album…

“Rockin’ Chair” by Oasis, the B-side of “Roll with It” (“Roll with It” is from the 1995 album What’s the Story, Morning Glory?, but “Rockin’ Chair” did not make the cut for the album); featured on the 1998 album The Masterplan, a compilation of B-sides not featured on albums. “It’s hard enough sitting there/ Rockin’ in your rockin’ chair/ It’s all too much for me to take/ When you’re not there…” I just love LG’s voice. Here’s to hoping he’ll add more U.S. dates besides Lollapalooza in the near future.

Jules’s Jukebox: It’s a Beady Eye Night

I’ve been in a Beady Eye mood for days now–probably because I’m anxiously awaiting Liam Gallagher’s first solo album to be released followed up by his brother Noel’s third solo project. While Oasis and NG’s High Flying Birds frequent my playlist, I’ve really been hankering for Beady Eye’s eclectic sound. Beady Eye’s mix of psychedelia, adventurous edginess, and Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano riffs hit the spot whether I’m on a walk at the beach or curling up on the sofa with the fur-baby.  So tonight’s jukebox features a mixture of songs from the two Beady Eye projects: Different Gear, Still Speeding and Be.

“Shine a Light” from the album Be.

This gem of a song (okay, pun intended, as Beady Eye songs are written by Gallagher, Gem Archer, and Andy Bell) features a barely suitable for work video full of bare ladies and a cross-clad priestlike Liam Gallagher (a rather ironic image)  juxtaposing saintliness and sin while making a hedonistic statement of how thin the line is between pleasure and transgression. The percussion drives this song, which has been compared to U2’s “Desire” in sound and theme. “Shine a Light” and “Desire” do offer some interesting comparisons. Consider the following verses:

from “Shine a Light”

“…Rising fast on my feet, let me breathe, let me speak
I’m at home, I’m alive, both in veins above the size,
Crystalline in the dark, all you see is the spark
All you feel, you don’t speak, me and you born to see…”

versus

from “Desire”

“…She’s the candle burnin’ in my room
Yeah, I’m like the needle
The needle and spoon
…”

“Four Letter Word” from the album Different Gear, Still Speeding.

This song’s hard horns and psychedelic tone contrasts sharply with the guitar rock Oasis mainstay “Live Forever” in sound and word with the refrain “…nothing ever lasts forever.”

“Flick of the Finger” from the album Be.

Beady Eye reworked an abandoned 2004 Oasis song by adding new lyrics and ominous horns. The song opened the album showcasing the group’s willingness to take chances and wax experimental.

The political spoken word piece ending the song is performed by Kayvan Novak, who reads from a piece by Tariq Ali (who was quoting from the 1963 play Marat/Sade):

Spoken word part: “Don’t be deceived when our revolution has been finally stamped out and they pat you paternally on the shoulder and say that there’s no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason for fighting, because if you believe them, they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretense of bringing them culture…
Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them, they’ll send you out to protect their gold in wars, who’s weapons rapidly developed by servile scientists will become more and more deadly, until they can, with the flick of the finger, tear a million of you into pieces.”

“Wigwam” from the album Different Gear, Still Speeding.

This song reminds me of the more Beatle-esque qualities from the group’s Oasis days. The “…I’m coming up…” refrain at the end hearkens back to the “na na na” of “Hey, Jude.” Considering that this song is one of the safer sounding songs on the duo of Beady Eye albums, it highlights just how exploratory and innovative the band was. Because of the risks taken by Gallagher, Bell, Archer, and Sharrock on their Beady Eye outings, I’m hopeful that Liam Gallagher’s new solo project will show he is continuing to explore and show a novel and fresh innovative streak as well. While I can always count on Noel to provide some safe (and brilliant) radio-friendly tracks, I’m hoping I can continue to count on Liam to stretch and push the envelope.

The DeVos Way: Choosing Profits Over Children

Our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is very enthusiastic about virtual charter schools, even though the research shows that students don’t learn much while enrolled in them. Apparently, good works mean less than good profits. In Arizona, a new online high school is returning remarkable profits. Jim Hall, retired educator, started an organization called […]

via Arizona: Online High School,Collects $10 Million Profit in One Year, and DeVos Wants More of Them — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Research Shows What Teachers Have Long Known–Again…

This finding has been reported time and again. The best approach to college admissions testing is to make it optional, as nearly 1,000 colleges and universities already do. Or eliminate it. Contact: Allyson Hagen, allyson.hagen@educationnorthwest.org, 503.275.9189 Study Finds High School Grades are a Strong Predictor of College Readiness for Recent Graduates from Both Urban and […]

via New Study: High School Grades Predict College Success Better than Scores of College Admissions Tests — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Democratic Women to Wear White to 45’s Joint Speech

Democratic women in the House are planning to wear white during President Donald Trump’s first major Congressional address on Tuesday evening. The heads of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, including Chair Lois Frankel, (D-Fla.), penned a letter to members Monday–asking them to where wear white to honor of the suffragette movement. However, their motive goes…

via Why Democratic Women Are Wearing White to Donald Trump’s Congressional Speech Tonight — Fortune

 

DJT’s Short Reading List: Aliteracy Abounds

President Donald Trump doesn’t read books. At least that’s what everybody says. I don’t trust what everybody says anymore because everybody seems to be wrong all the time. Everybody said that Donald Trump would never be president, but everybody was wrong about that. That’s one thing I’ve learned recently; everybody is an expert, but nobody […]

via Donald Trump’s Reading List — Dysfunctional Literacy

*Jules’s Note: I would not disavow a book because someone I don’t like read it and liked it. As for All Quiet on the Western Front (yes, I just linked the entire text for you to read if you haven’t yet), I teach it every year to sophomores. It is a well-written, even poetic, piece of melancholy that anyone contemplating war (starting one, joining up to fight one, etc.) should read. Regardless of whether President Obama’s lists were pretentious or not, the lists promoted works of literary merit worthy of consideration for anyone’s nightstand–alongside the JK Rowling and Stephen King. I can only hope that DJT does read. Research shows that people who read fiction have more empathy. Now if only our POTUS believed in science, but that if for another post (about my next round of marches and resistance–Earth Day, here we come!).

Jules’s Jukebox: Lady Gaga’s Subtle Protest Rocked Super Bowl LI

Tonight’s jukebox is dedicated to Mama Monster!

Lady Gaga took to heart the fact that she was performing for all of America in her halftime show for Super Bowl LI, but her message of support for immigrants and the LGBTQ community still rang loud and clear.

Her opening with “God Bless America” segueing into Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” spoke to all of us in organized labor, but it also spoke volumes to those who have spent the past week resisting the Muslim Ban. Guthrie’s lyrics highlight that our land and freedom to roam it belongs to all of us–even immigrants and those enslaved by poverty and hunger, not just those who are wealthy or have plenty.

“This Land Is Your Land”
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Coupling the few lines from Guthrie with her own song, “Born This Way,” added a little gravitas to her set of dance favorites. Singing “Born This Way” in front of VP Mike Pence, a pro-conversion therapy politician, paid direct homage to the LGBTQ community along with the immigrant communities of our nation. (Here’s the official video:)

“Born This Way”
[Intro:]
It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
’cause you were born this way, baby

[Verse:]
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

[Chorus:]
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

[Post-chorus:]
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t be a drag ‒ just be a queen [x3]
Don’t be!

[Verse:]
Give yourself prudence
And love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice your truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M (Hey hey hey)
I love my life I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah (Love needs faith)

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Bridge:]
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.

[Repeat chorus + post-chorus]

[Outro/refrain:]
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I was born this way hey!
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way hey!

[Fade away:]
Same DNA, but born this way.
Same DNA, but born this way.

Lady Gaga managed to stage a mainstream, prime-time show for a wide audience while embedding a subtle, but clear message of acceptance in the face politicians who would work to strip rights from Americans. Her entertaining performance will long be remembered for its nonpolitical skin with a political heart.

Here’s her entire Super Bowl LI performance:

Braving the New World of Alternative Facts

In the NY Times Charles Sykes explains how he and others worked hard to ensure that people like Trump (and Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway and many others) can simply repeat outright lies with no real penalty: If President Trump’s first tumultuous weeks have done nothing else, at least they have again made us a […]

via Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying — Later On

*Jules’s Note: At some point, facts must trump ideology if the U.S. Constitution is to survive this test. These “alternative facts”, propaganda, and ideological echo chambers supported with fake news do nothing but destroy the fabric of our American Dream.

I continue to resist by contacting my elected officials often on a variety of issues. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where my congressman is making nightly news with his anti-Trump resistance messages, but I have plugged all of my elected representatives’ phone numbers, addresses, and emails into my contacts list on my phone. They will continue to hear from me. 

I continue to resist by joining marches on issues of great importance. Two weekends ago I proudly marched in the Women’s March in downtown Las Vegas. Last weekend I joined in an educators press conference to denounce Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education (and I am still urging people to call their senators to vote in opposition to her this next Monday when her nomination will move to the floor of the senate–right now Pence is expected to cast the tie-breaking vote to approve her. We need just one more republican to oppose her nomination!). I’m closely monitoring the situation with the Muslim ban and the detentions at airports (LAX is about 10 miles from my house). I’m looking to participate in the Tax Day and/or Earth Day marches that are currently being planned (Tax Day march is a march to protest that DJT will not release his taxes while the Earth Day march is the Scientists March on Washington to denounce DJT’s anti-science stance and actions). 

Jules’s Jukebox: Richard Ashcroft

This evening I splurged on a weeknight out for myself come April by purchasing a ticket to go see Richard Ashcroft in concert. I rarely venture from the Beach Cities to go to LA/Hollywood proper on a weeknight because traffic + late nights make for a cranky morning at work the following day. But when I heard that Ashcroft, former lead singer of The Verve, would be playing The Wiltern, I threw caution to the wind. I’m going to have an epic Monday night to carry me through that early April week.

So here’s a pair of Ashcroft’s solo songs for tonight’s jukebox picks:

“Hold On” by Richard Ashcroft, the second single from his 2016 album These People.

This single speaks to my current political mood as I resist in today’s post-US inauguration landscape. These lyrics, originally written about the Arab Spring uprisings, particularly stood out to me:

“…Until you get some pepper spray
And water cannons on the way
Fighting on your own
Can turn your heart to stone

And truth is on the march again
Wipe those tears away
Apocalyptic mind…”

 

“Words Just Get in the Way” by Richard Ashcroft, the third single from his 2006 album Keys to the World.

This ballad holds a touch of symphonic melancholy that gives way to hope as Ashcroft velvety voice offers to support during stormy times. Magnificently penned lyrics are the highlight of this song.  It connects thematically to the first song for me in that it is easy to lose hope in a world so full of chaos and despair. It is easy to feel that we may have outlived our usefulness in this mess of a world, but this song speaks of friendship, lending a helping hand, of finding that human connection that gives hope when words just can’t explain or make meaning for us.

The lines that stand out mid-song pointing out just how devoid of hope the person he sings to has become. His refrain of “if you want it/ you know I’ve got it” closely follows to show his commitment to being that silent rock of support:

“When you’re feeling like you’ve lost
When all your hope is gone
And the bridge above the river
Is only the beginning of your fall…”

I highly recommend giving Ashcroft a listen if you’ve not listened to anything other than The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”