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Category: folk music

A Lustrous Solo Album From Dobro Stylist Abbie Gardner

Abbie Gardner is one of the most distinctive dobro players in  Americana. She has a seemingly effortless grace and otherworldly precision on an instrument that often bedevils other acoustic guitarslingers. Despite her vaunted technique, she plays with a remarkable economy of notes. She may be best known as a member of well-loved harmony trio Red Molly. but she had fearsome chops before she joined that band. Her new solo album DobroSinger is streaming at Bandcamp

As with her other solo records, almost all the tunes are originals. The opening number, Down the Mountain is a steady coal-mining blues. Gardner’s liquid chords contrast with her stiletto-articulate fingerpicking and slithery slide lines. She sings in an expressive down-home delivery equally informed by oldschool gospel, blues and front-porch folk music.

The second track, Only All the Time is more enigmatic, a stripped-down throwback to the alt-country sounds of the 90s. Gardner slows down for See You Again, part sophisticated blues ballad, part country waltz, with a spare, suspenseful solo on the way out. Born in the City has more of Gardner’s signature, silken legato: the gist of the song is that urban people stick together just as tightly as country folks do.

Wouldn’t it be kind of cool if the next song, Three Quarter Time was in, say, 7/8? It actually isn’t: it’s in 6/8! The intimate arrangement is an artful approach to what’s essentially a vintage Memphis-style soul ballad. Gardner digs in hard for a wicked but nuanced vibrato for a starkly original, grim take of Cypress Tree Blues. Then she flips the script with the wryly aphoristic Too Many Kisses, which wouldn’t be out of place in the Amy Allison songbook.

The brisk, bouncily swinging Honky Tonk Song is the one number here where an overdubbed rhythm track would have come in handy: the absence of a band isn’t an issue anywhere else. Gardner interrupts the playful mood for the stark, understatedly harrowing memoir When We Were Kids: in a quiet way, it’s the most stunning song on the album.

Gardner closes the record with a couple of covers. The first one is a spacious, pouncing version of Those Memories of You, a minor hit for Pam Tillis in the mid-80s. And Gardner reinvents the proto-Lynchian Jo Stafford hit You Belong to Me with a distant, uneasily dreamy feel. If you play guitar, there’s plenty of inspiration here for you to take your chops to the next level. If you don’t, it’s a characteristically sharp, smart Americana record.

An Individualistic, Intriguing New Album and an Outdoor Afterwork Show From Singer Miriam Elhajli

Songwriter Miriam Elhajli has carved out a distinctive sound that draws equally on jazz, 70s South American nuevo cancion and levantine sounds, reflecting her Venezuelan-Moroccan heritage. She cuts loose with an expressive, constantly mutable voice, likes fingerpicking her acoustic guitar in odd tunings and writes intriguing, thoughtfully imagistic lyrics. Her latest album The Uncertainty of Signs is streaming at Bandcamp. She’s playing an outdoor show on May 19 at 6 PM at the secluded terrace at Pier 3, toward the southern tip of Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a good setting for her verdant, rustic yet original songs. When the park was first landscaped, there was a joke going around that it had been designed as a staging area for an invading guerilla army to hide in the shrubbery. Those in search of more peaceful pursuits here can take the A or C to High St., go down to the Fulton Landing and hang a left.

Interestingly, the first three songs on the record are in 6/8 time, more or less. When the Whirlwind Fades Out fades in with a whir from Cedric Easton’s drums, a growling drone from Ike Sturm’s bass and a brightly gorgeous, pointillistic solo from Firas Zreik’s kanun. Elhajli pulls the band into an elegant, anthemic sway with her steady fingerpicking and jazz-tinged vocals. “You should know better than to run toward that which falls,” she cautions.

There’s a subtle, conspiratorial mystery juxtaposed with a soaring angst in the second track, Tres Bocio, Elhajli’s voice rising from hints of the Middle East to a rousing, wordless crescendo, vibraphonist Chris Dingman adding lingering textures.

“I know the kingpin is an illusion, and I know we must not forget to sing in unison,” she asserts in Grayscale, which begins as a stark, Appalachian-tinged ballad and drifts further into an enigmatic contrast between dramatic vocals and a hazy backdrop. She revisits that same dichotomy a little later in Marble Staircase, Zreik’s rippling kanun setting up an otherworldly, tremoloing hulusi flute solo from Jake Rudin

Locusts Circumference is closer to Joanna Newsom-style freak-folk: it’s not clear what “quiet implosion” Elhajli is referring to. The strings of the Kasa Quartet waft and sail over Elhajli’s lattice of acoustic guitar and her full-throated, crescendoing vocals in Gold & God, an allusively jubilant salute to genuine human kindness.

The flute returns and flutters in Spiral Solutions, a brief, energetically circling number where Elhajli seeks to “recognize the unrecognizable.” Bracing, swooping strings permeate Bulk Flow: “Got two scissors and a match…I lost my spirit so I split to another land,” Elhajli relates over a lushly rustic, open-tuned, antique Britfolk-style melody.

She picks out a ringing web on electric guitar in Another Butterfly Ordeal. The next-to-last track, Cosmos is more of a jazz tone poem: “The unseen stays unseen,” Elhajli sings, “Pay attention, the cops encircle us, they don’t know what we’re up to.”

She winds up the record with In Your Arms, Familiar, a mutedly unsettled tableau reflecting a “state of utter hypnosis” where “everything is crushable” – sounds a lot like 2022, doesn’t it?

A Hotrod of a Band Headlines This Year’s Greek Jewish Festival

More about today’s annual Greek Jewish Festival at the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum at 280 Broome St. in Chinatown: the headliners, Pontic Firebird, hit the stage at 5 PM. Not only do they have one of the coolest bandnames ever, they’re also a party in a box. They play a wildly adrenalizing mix of traditional Greek Mediterranean dance tunes that sometimes echo the eerie chromatics of rembetiko gangster music, and the Smyrnika sounds that permeated the underworld in that part of the globe in the decades after World War I.

This blog most recently caught Pontic Firebird in action at the 2018 edition of Golden Fest, which for years has been arguably the most exciting annual concert in New York (the 2020 edition took place as usual. that January; there was also an abbreviated, outdoor 2021 edition, but none so far this year). You can download the band’s 2018 set there at the recently and unexpectedly restored Free Music Archive, as well as a longer show from four years earlier. Let’s give that one a spin, shall we?

Frontwoman/violinist Beth Bahia Cohen first leads the group through a raw, rustic, trickily rhythmic dance that veers from minor to major and back and sounds more like Greek hill country music than it does Mediterranean. The group members aren’t listed, but there’s also oud, boomy standup drums and bass in the mix.

Oud and violin double the melody line over pouncing syncopation in the next number, followed by a hypnotically loopy one where Cohen goes flying into some spine-tingling spirals when least expected. The fourth track starts starkly and auspiciously and suddenly cuts off – hey, it’s a field recording, that happens sometimes. The group wind up the set – or at least what’s here – with their edgiest, most chromatically bristling number.

The rest of the bands on today’s bill are also excellent. If you can get out of the house early enough, you can catch the whole lineup, which starts at noon with the bouncy Elias Ladino Ensemble, followed by the Greek American Folklore Society band, the Noga Group featuring brilliant oudist Avram Pengas, bellydancer Layla Isis and then psychedelic Middle Eastern oud player and bandleader Scott Wilson & Efendi at 4. Take the B or D to Grand St.

An Urban Country Legend Makes an Unlikely Stop on the Lower East Side

Alex Battles may have earned a place in New York music history as a bandleader and scenemaker in what was once a thriving Americana music scene, but he wouldn’t have reached that point without some good songs. With his wry, aphoristic lyrics and unpretentious baritone, the frontman of the Whisky Rebellion was a fixture for years at places like the old Hank’s and Sunny’s, just to name two of the more popular joints he could be be found at. It may seem a little odd that he’s playing the small room at the Rockwood tomorrow night, May 14 at 9, but these are weird times. As a bonus, all-female, soaring front-porch Americana harmony band the Calamity Janes play beforehand at 8. It’s a pass-the-tip-jar situation, and there are no restrictions on entry.

Battles’ catalog is well capsulized by his single A Perfect Game For Lenny Barker, an older song which is up at Bandcamp. It has a lot less to do with the big, burly Cleveland Indians pitcher’s wicked curveball on the historic night of May 15, 1981 against the Toronto Blue Jays than simply the civic pride he brought to a decaying rust belt city whose population was leaving in droves. These days, the same could be said for this city, although there hasn’t been any rust belt here to speak of since the 1960s.

Battles’ 2011 album Goodbye Almira has also been fairly recently digitized and is up at Bandcamp. You can hear his voice suddenly toughen up as he takes control on the mic on the one full-band song on the record, Tom Sawyer’s Island, over the fiddle and the honkytonk piano. Otherwise, it’s something of a change of pace for Battles, a mix of solo acoustic songs and a handful of fetching duets with Aiofe O’Donovan, long before she got off the bluegrass circuit and started playing shows with symphony orchestras.

Battles gets a lot of credit for helping to jumpstart the urban country sound here, and there’s a lot of the pull of the devil city on innocent, goodnatured out-of-towners here. Marilyn Monroe hits the road to get away from two of the main sophisticates who chased her. A nameless Nebraska girl finds out the hard way that being queen of the prairie doesn’t mean anything to the wolves of Wall Street. The two singers shoot for a low-key Gram-and-Emmylou vibe when Battles isn’t painting wistful and sometimes sharply evocative scenes of late-night battles of the sexes, a sad post-carnival tableau and a couple of tales where the big takeaway is what’s left unsaid.

This blog hasn’t been in the house at a Battles show in ages: the last one wasn’t actually his show, it was a birthday party at 68 Jay Street Bar in Dumbo where all his friends from the Roots and Ruckus scene gathered together to sing his songs. Memory is foggy on that one, but it was definitely a party. As for the Calamity Janes, it’s also been awhile; back in 2016, they battled an inept sound mix at a Williamsburg gig and emerged with a decisive victory. That won’t be a problem at the Rockwood.

Violinist Lily Henley Reinvents Haunting, Ironic Ancient Ladino Folk Tunes

Like most good violinists, Lily Henley has been called on to play all sorts of different styles of music. She got her start in New York playing bluegrass and front-porch folk, but also gravitated toward klezmer music. On her latest album Oras Dezaoradas – streaming at Bandcamp – she takes a deep dive into original Ladino songcraft.

There’s actually plenty of historical precedent for Henley’s decision to take a bunch of old ballads and set them to new melodies: until the advent of recording technology, folk musicians had been doing the same thing, largely uncredited, for thousands of years. One of the main themes that runs through the record is female empowerment, underscoring how important women musicians have been in keeping the tradition of Sephardic Spanish Jewish music alive since the terror of the Inquisition.

For the uninitiated, Ladino is to Spanish what ebonics are to English, more than what Yiddish is to German, so Spanish speakers won’t have a hard time getting the gist of these songs. Henley sings the first of several new versions of centuries-old lyrics with clarity and an airy understatement: the humor and irony in these songs is no less resonant today. The wistful, gently swaying tale that she opens the album with is a prime example, a mother confiding to her child that dad is sneaking home in the middle of the night from his girlfriend’s place. Henley fingerpicks a delicate lattice of guitar on this one; Duncan Wickel adds airy, atmospheric fiddle over the terse pulse of bassist Haggai Cohen-Milo.

Henley and Wickel swap instruments for a mashup of klezmer and Appalachia on the second track, jumping from a brightly waltzing intro to a biting, dancing escape anthem. Henley follows that with a defiant party-girl’s tale set to stark, bouncing minor-key tune with Wickel’s cello front and center.

There’s a cruel undercurrent to the broodingly fingerpicked, minor-key Alta Alta Va La Luna – “how high the moon,” basically. It’s a mother telling her child that they might be better off if they hadn’t been born. From there Henly goes back toward brisk, moody bluegrass for Arvoles Lloran Por Lluvia (Trees Cry For Rain), a bitter tale of exile common in much of diasporic Ladino music.

The album’s title track – meaning “Timeless Clock” – features the first of Henley’s original Ladino lyrics, a melancholy if energetically picked seaside tableau echoing a pervasive sense of abandonment. Esta Noche Te Amare, with equal hints of simmering flamenco drama and rustic Americana, is a fabulistic tale of a fair young maiden who sees her knight in shining armor revealed for what he really is.

The three musicians bounce darkly through the album’s lone instrumental, Muza de la Kozima: the acidic bite of the violin and cello is luscious. In La Galud, Henley paints an aching portrait of celebrations and traditions left behind, maybe for forever, set to a fast, steady waltz. She winds up the album, her anguished voice reaching for the rafters over a bass drone, a young woman recounting her boyfriend’s grim demise. It’s the most distinctly klezmer-adjacent melody here and a spine-tingling closer to this fascinating, imaginative record.

Starkly Powerful Tunesmithing and Loaded Metaphors on Abigail Lapell’s New Album

“Time may judge this a classic,” this blog enthused about Abigail Lapell’s 2019 album Getaway. Raves like that as rare here as integrity in the Justin Trudeau cabinet. The small handful of albums which have earned that distinction include Karla Rose Moheno‘s Gone to Town and Hannah vs. the Many‘s All Our Heroes Drank Here, to name two of the best. How well does Lapell’s latest release Stolen Time – streaming at Bandcamp – stack up against her previous achievement? It doesn’t always have the same seething intensity, but Lapell’s songwriting is strong, and she has an excellent band behind her.

She opens it with the hypnotic, sparsely fingerpicked, subtly aphoristic Britfolk-flavored Land of Plenty. Dani Nash’s mutedly ominous, swaying drumbeat anchors the second track, Ships, Christine Bougie adding snarling electric guitar and sparse lapsteel alongside violist Rachael Cardiello and bassist Dan Fortin. It’s a metaphorically loaded departure ballad echoing a big influence in Lapell’s work, Sandy Denny.

Lapell moves to piano for Pines and its allusively ominous nature imagery. Scarlet Fever has stark oldtime blues inflections and plaintive viola from Cardiello. With “silver needles on the wall,” is this a subtle lockdown parable? Maybe.

All Dressed Up, a nimbly fingerpicked acoustic tune, may also have post-March 2020 subtext: “No way out of here, wake me up when the coast is clear,” Lapell instructs. I See Music, a stately piano waltz spiced with Ellwood Epps’ trumpet is next: “There’s no danger in a major key, there’s no harm in a harmony,” Lapell asserts.

She goes back to guitar for the similarly graceful Waterfall and follows with the album’s title track, Stolen Time, a swaying, crescendoing anthem lit up by Bougie’s incandescent lapsteel. “I dreamed I saw my baby, sewage in his veins, a rotten apple in his chest,” Lapell recalls in the next track: is this a tantalizingly brief, disquieting shipwreck tale, or is there more to the story?

“Dance in the ashes, gasoline and matches” figure heavily in the otherwise lilting, catchy nocturne Old Flames. Lapell winds up this often riveting, enigmatic album on an optimistic note with I Can’t Believe. It’s inspiring to see one of the sharpest songwriters in folk-adjacent sounds persevering under circumstances which have been less than encouraging for artists in general. Barring the unforeseen, Lapell’s next gig is an evening performance on May 21 at Paddlefest in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Some Takeaways and Tunes From Yesterday’s Defeat the Mandates Rally in LA

In early March 2020, if someone had told you that the crowd at a daylong outdoor concert in Los Angeles would have saved their wildest applause for the truckers, doctors and cops onstage, you would have figured that the music must have been pretty lame, right?

It wasn’t. But at yesterday’s Defeat the Mandates Rally at Grand Park in downtown LA, the rockstars were the dudes from the Freedom Convoy, the physicians from the Front Line Critical Care Coalition, and an energetic group of cops and firemen who’d been fired, or whose jobs were imperiled by Governor Gavin Newsom’s Covid shot orders.

What was most apparent was how much the crowd skewed female – and how mainstream, and LA-diverse they turned out to be as the Highwire‘s camera panned the park. Mama bear has been poked and she doesn’t want her kids in any genetic engineering experiment. One particular sign in the crowd spoke for everybody: “There’s a new variant spreading around the world, it’s called freedom and I hope you catch it.”

You may have heard about the ten bills currently on the table, in one place or another, in the California legislature. Word on the street is that they’ve been masterminded by State Senator Richard Pan, a shill for big pharma since he was first elected. He’s on the way out, so this last-gasp batch of Orwellian proposals runs the gamut from the codification and prosecution of thoughtcrime, to weaponizing law enforcement to carry out health department orders. The way that bill works, money earmarked for police gets diverted to the health gestapo if the cops stand down. Recipe for murder and mayhem? Hey, nobody’s taking the shot anymore, so Klaus the Louse and Bill Gates have to go to plan B.

And that’s not working either. The cracks in the oligarchs’ united front, which was never as united as many thought, are showing. And that’s in stark contrast to the energy and discipline of the left coast freedom movement. Amy Bohn, tireless leader of Parents For the Educational Rights of Kids, a.k.a. PERK, has been on the front lines of the fight and made an early appearance. Her group has all kinds of useful resources, including a concise guide to stopping this tarnish on the Golden State. “If you negotiate with tyranny, you’re not going to get anywhere,” she warned.

It was another tireless activist, bestselling author Naomi Wolf of Daily Clout, who drew the most thunderous roars of applause. If you’re open to the idea that these days, we may be getting some help in mysterious ways that we don’t quite yet understand, you should read her latest Substack – it will blow your mind. Expertly sussing out her audience, she spoke to the collective wrath of the mom contingent, relating how her crew are currently digging through the latest Pfizer document dump and have found all sorts of incriminating evidence of fraud.

Just as dynamic and perceptive a presence as Wolf was ten-year-old New York activist Jayla, who offered plenty of common sense in her moment in the spotlight: “How am I supposed to enjoy my childhood when I can’t go anywhere?” she asked. She thought it was equally implausible that kids shouldn’t be allowed to join the fight, considering that it’s their future which is most at stake. Echoing her later on were a very popular crew of LA-area high school kids who’d been booted from classrooms for random acts of self-preservation.

FLCCC doctors Richard Urso and Ryan Cole were the first to specifically call out the World Economic Forum, underscoring how what was widely considered conspiracy theory in 2020 is now accepted as gospel truth. Cole, always a sage presence, was especially amped: “I prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery,” he enthused. He also was the first on the program to acknowledge openly that what Sage Hana calls “OG Covid” has been extinct since 2020. Dr. Robert Malone seconded that without actually speaking the forbidden word.

Filmmaker Mikki Willis proudly announced that his 2020 documentary Plandemic has become the most-watched film in the history of the internet (Plandemic 3 is coming on the Fourth of July, and in the meantime you can get a free audio download of his new book). Willis shared that his brother died of AZT poisoning in 1994, and three months later his mom died from the effects of chemotherapy. The second that Willis mentioned AZT pusherman Anthony Fauci, the crowd spontaneously burst into Dr. Paul Alexander’s, “Lock him up!” chant. The colorful, philosophical Alexander – who refused to take a multimillion dollar Pfizer deal to just shut up and go away – energized the troops with a characteristically uproarious appearance a little later on.

Journalist Lara Logan emceed the latter half of the bill and spoke eloquently to the impact of divide-and-conquer schemes. Dr. Bob Sears underscored how much “Our country has been discriminating against people of a certain medical persuasion for decades now.” He’s been fighting pharma-funded mandates and the marginalization of the vaxx-injured for a quarter of a century: one suspects there were others in the crowd with as much experience.

The most entertaining and utterly fearless of the several political candidates on the bill was Dr. Michael Huang, who as he tells it is the one remaining doctor in the state who writes medical exemptions to lockdown and jab orders. “I am the Chinese version of Del Bigtree,” the affable family physician boasted. Having successfully treated two thousand patients for Covid, then helping over a thousand school kids “come off face masks,” as he put it, he’s running for state Senate to represent the district situated around the park. He deserves our support.

Bigtree, whose weekly news program The Highwire now has three times the viewership of every nightly tv news show, was as much of a firebrand as he was at the January rally in Washington. “Senator Richard Pan wants to kill your children,” he asserted, “We will not recognize any leader again who will not stand for freedom.” Words of wisdom for any candidate running this fall. Ultimately, Bigtree said, the only thing in this moment that we have to fear is fear itself.

Attorney Leigh Dundas, longtime crusader against sex trafficking and leader of Freedom Fighter Nation, was also on fire. “Two years ago, on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, I said we are on a bullet train to Auschwitz if we do not course correct. Well, we did not course correct.” She also asserted that “The Third Reich will not rise on my watch….the Third Reich wasn’t over when World War II ended. The Third Reich ended when we put the criminals on trial and then put them to death.”

There’s more to unpack and a lot of takeaways here – as historic a moment as this was, this blog doesn’t recommend spending eight straight hours in front of a screen even if you’re getting paid for it. The Highwire has archived the whole thing if you’re feeling ambitious.

Carina Powers, founder of Latinos For Medical Freedom reminded that in California alone, that demographic numbers almost sixteen million, most of them Mexican-American. It would be wise for the movement as a whole to reach out and embrace this population. Inflammatory rhetoric about border closures is not a way to win the support of millions of America’s most unselfconsciously patriotic people.

It was stunning to watch the elegant, articulate Dr. Christine Parks completely drop her guard for once: “It’s time to stop the fucking gaslighting and it’s time to stop the mandates!”

Best joke of the afternoon was from Kevin Sorbo, who deadpanned that “If you want to get rid of Covid, tell the Clintons that Covid has something on them.”

A close second came from actress Leigh-Allyn Baker, who via uplink explained that “I’m just your average, run-of-the-mill. everyday domestic terrorist…I mean mom.”

Oh yeah – there was intermittent music, most of it acoustic or semi-acoustic. Protest song maven Five Times August – whose hit Silent War topped the list of best songs of 2021 here – debuted a defiant, catchy, Tom Petty-esque new tune, Fight For You. And he got the crowd singing along to his bestselling hit Sad Little Man, a corrosive portrait of Fauci: “I released this song in November…in an ideal world it would be irrelevant by now.”

Former Mighty Mighty Bosstones frontman Dicky Barrett offered a message of unity, then turned the stage over to his guitarist bud Grant Ellman of roots reggae band Prezence, who delivered one of the night’s smartest, most aphoristic numbers. “We’re dying to get better,” was the chorus.

There were also low-key cameos by theatrical rap-rock band Sonic Universe and cinematic disco loopmusic violinist Dpak, as well as a couple of moments where it was obvious that rap duo Hi-Rez and Jimmy Levy were lipsynching. Dudes, you are perfectly competent at what you do, you don’t need that backing track. Just let it flow. By the way, Hi-Rez, that was ballsy of you to propose to your girlfriend onstage. The two of you won’t forget this day, ever.

There were many, many others on the bill. In the interest of brevity, too many to enumerate. Marines facing discharge over the Covid shots, heartwrenching survivors of Covid vaxx injury and ubiquitous Constitutional scholar and Arizona sheriff Dr. Richard Mack.among them.

And did anybody notice, toward the end of the night, how The Hill’s Kim Iversen was trying to play both sides of the issue? Changing jerseys, but leaving the old one on underneath just in case? In insisting that there were still good journalists in the corporate media, and that she always stuck to the facts, she never once enumerated what those facts were. Her closing ad-lib spoke volumes: “Party at my house! Just kidding. Don’t show up at my house!”

A Horrifying Audio Memoir of the Kosovo War

The new compilation A Lifetime Isn’t Long Enough, by the War Women of Kosovo – streaming at Bandcamp – might be one of the most chilling albums ever made. It’s a recording of several Croatian women speaking and occasionally singing, anonymously, about the atrocities they survived during the war in Kosovo in the 1990s. Author Ian Brennan and filmmaker Marilena Umuhoza Delli produced this spare, stark album.

One of the spoken-word clips is titled I Was Twelve Years Old When They Raped Me (I Was Covered in Blood). In the space of a few, brief, haggard, microtonal bars of what seems to be a completely improvised melody, a woman explains how “I Searched the Prisons for My Husband for Two Years After the War.” That theme could have been sung by millions of women throughout history. For that matter, the same could be said for I Was Already Pregnant When I Was Raped (They Killed My Family Before I Fled).

There are no shrieks of anguish and few sobs in these brief accounts. They are all the more harrowing for being so straightforward, especially since some of the recordings were made in the survivors’ homes, where they were attacked and still reside. Some of them strum on an acoustic guitar, a couple others tap out a beat. None of them are professional musicians; it’s likely that few if any are performers. Although the audience for this will no doubt be limited to Croatian speakers, the historical value is incalculable.

Where was the United Nations while all this was going on? Raping and pillaging along with the Serbian invaders. And also working with the administration of Bill Clinton – a World Economic Forum collaborator – to bomb Serbian civilians with tons of depleted uranium. Times may change, but genocidal sociopaths remain until they’re stopped.

Singles For Today: Laughs, Raised Middle Fingers and Moody Mystery

More protest songs, epic darkness and riotously vindicating laughs at the end, Click on the artist name for their webpages, click on song titles for audio.

Rap artist Lukas Lion‘s biggest hit is 1984, which was censored by youtube, so you know he has to be good. He’s brilliant, actually.

Fear is their greatest tool.
Fear can turn the brightest minds to fools
Televise endless lies, keep people terrified
That’s the way they maintain their rule.
Fear is the prison that they want us all to live in
And ever since the beginning this has been their only mission….
A real pandemic doesn’t need advertising…

One good song deserves another, so he came up with 1984 Part 2 (scroll to the bottom of the page after Margaret Anna Alice’s eloquent and meticulously referenced takedown of Kathy Hochul’s fascist end run around the New York State legislature).

The Ministry of Truth has taken over.
There’s a reason that they chose Corona.
Corona means crown, work it out man
It’s all symbolism from the beginning they told ya.
A virus of the mind, infecting your thoughts.
But enough is enough. Now we’re saying no more.
The emergence of apartheid, creating segregation
That’s the road that they’re paving.
Cuz if you’re not jabbed then it’s you that they’re blaming.
It’s you that is dangerous. Mass manipulation.
Coercing you to get penetrated.
What’s the difference between that and a rapist?

Lion’s latest release is The Great Puppet Show, a circus rock hip-hop parable: “Our magical screens will make you believe anything that we please.”

Irish folk-rock songwriter Dantom a.k.a. Daniel Thomas Dyer has a couple of spot-on, sarcastic protest songs from his album Root of the Root up at Odysee. The funnier one is Talking Covid Attack Blues (aka Sleeptalking Blues), a full-band Subterranean Homesick Blues for the twenties,  with pricelessly amusing backup vocals:

Spread the facts from the BBC, most trusted source in the world to me we should al live i fear
PCR, they say it’s the best, gold standard, 40 cycles…
Been on Facebook most of the time, we need more censorship there I say

He’s one of the few to make the connection between 9/11 and the plandemic in a solo acoustic tune, Breathe. Thanks to Mark Crispin Miller for passing these two along

On the more expansive side, Darkher’s new single Where the Devil Waits has stately ominous High Romantic angst rising over a cello drone and spare acoustic guitar

The big epic on this list is the new single by New Zealand band Die! Die! Die!, This Is Not an Island Anymore, rising from a drony intro punctuated by percussive blasts. It sounds like peak-era Sonic Youth with Kim Gordon out front, but much noisier and postrock-y

Let’s end this with a good vindictive joke. This isn’t a music video: it’s what tyrants look like once the mob outside the castle has busted down the gate. Here’s Boston Mayor Michelle Wu going into full panic mode once she realizes that her Twitter chat is not turning out the way she planned. The people have spoken!

A Playlist Inspired by and in Support of the Freedom Convoy

The Freedom Convoy to our north has triggered more than just a global revolution. There’s also been an explosion of genuine folk music in support of the heroic Canadian truckers. As just one example, give a listen to Daisy Moses Friends & Kin doing Keep On’ Truckin’ Against Tyranny. Just a family sitting around somebody’s phone, everybody joining in, somebody playing the melody to Neil Young’s Heart of Gold on an acoustic guitar. This is the future of music.

Somebody else who’s looking to the future while looking back is dancehall reggae artist Remeece, who has lyrical skills to match his political fearlessness. And his videos can be pricelessly funny. Watch him as he fires off the lyrics to Don’t Tek Di Vaccine while completely unmuzzled on the London tube, right in the face of a bunch of muzzled passengers. Now, they might be actors, but you have to admit it’s a beautiful image.

Remeece has more than just one pro-freedom song, too:

Big Pharma dem a thief and government are losers
Kick Pfizer in de batty with size 17 boota…
Babylonian play tricks, remove them from your playlist

That’s from the song Boosta. The third and final song on this video page is Choose Your Side: “Goodbye to de billionaires queues yeah, Bill Gates don’t get it confused yeah, we’re coming for you and your crew yeah.”

The truckers’ theme song is We Drive, by Larry Beckstead. It’s a CW McCall style country anthem:

It was jab or job that in was their log on the day it all began
When those diesel dudes had a change of mood and drew a deep line in the sand

Download it here; thanks to novelist and freedom fighter John C.A. Manley for passing it along

Aussie exile singer Paul Seils’ Hold the Line echoes that fearlessness: “Never to be enslaved again, billions of us rising, united to the very end.” The video is awesome.

Penny Little of the Away Team was inspired to record her solo anthem Stand Up for Freedom, which also has an inspiring and spot-on video pastiche. “It’s a slippery slope and we can’t go back, we’re the tip of the iceberg I’m telling you that.” Thanks to the irreplaceable Mark Crispin Miller for passing this one along, along with the Remeece and Daisy Moses clips. His daily News From Underground listserv has been a useful and often prophetic source for years, but in the past several weeks it’s become a second New York Music Daily. If you like what’s on this page, you may want to subscribe to his.

Let’s end today’s playlist with a somber, twelve-minute dirge to remind us that our job is not over yet and that we still have grim realities to confront. Eight Bells’ The Well is twelve minutes of otherworldly, close-harmonied vocals over a backdrop that sounds like the Cure circa Pornography with more of a metal influence and a woman out front

In an amusing and unexpectedly heartwarming development, an “unacceptable” Canadian judge ordered the Ottawa police to return the cache of fuel they’d stolen from the convoy on Tuesday night.