Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Review)

I hate political angle in music. But I tend to enjoy punk rock music, probably in its lightest version. And it’s true that most punk rock songs take a political stand, which is what makes them so successful. Besides, when there’s a cause behind a band that represents a whole idea, then it gives us even more reasons to listen to it.

Two days ago, I watched this documentary film about Pussy Riotthe feminist punk rock group that staged a performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior back in 2012. Three of the members were then arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The film narrates the whole story, from the formation of the band until the verdict of their trial, shedding light on the philosophy of Pussy Riot in a very simple and honest way. The band’s (approximately) 11 members protest against Putin, against the church and state union and against women being deprived of their rights, in a conservative society which still sees them as inferior.

Many Russians were offended by Pussy Riot’s performance inside the Cathedral. But the girls wanted to fight for what they believe in. And I find it really odd that in times like these, we still have to fight for the freedom of speech, let alone be imprisoned for it.

Of course everything is about politics and leaders and authority games. But still, these women stood their ground and kept smiling, even during their trial; with lawyers who kept manipulating them, without actually representing them, and judges who blatantly applied the letter of the law.

What made me admire them was the fact that inner freedom seemed so true and obvious to them that they wouldn’t think for one second to abandon their beliefs; jail or no jail.

However, Katia, one of the three girls, gave an apologetic speech during her appeal hearing and was eventually set free. As the directors of the film stated during the screening at the Frontline Club, she had already talked to the other two about her decision and they were very supportive. She now continues to perform with the remaining members of the band.

Apart from the haters, Pussy Riot managed to gain massive positive response through protests from people around the world, as well as artists, such as Madonna, Green Day or Franz Ferdinand. And I guess this was their goal: a wake-up call towards an open minded society. Their mission is yet to be accomplished…

*  Nadia and Masha are still serving their two-year sentence and Nadia recently declared a hunger strike over harsh jail conditions.


Avril Lavigne’s new single adds to the misery

I am not very fond of Avril’s latest work. I mean, she started singing at a young age and her music has certainly gone through many stages so far. I’ve always loved her voice and her songs, while every album sounded more and more mature. But this time, it’s just a bit different.

Lavigne’s new album is due November 1 so I cannot really have an opinion about it, but I have to admit: First signs… not looking good. The first three singles are fine, but, as you know, fine is not acceptable for a fan. The excitement is gone and it seems as if Avril is taking some steps backwards.

Her debut, Here’s To Never Growing Upas well as the second single, Rock N Roll, both sound nice, but they remind us too much of that teenager who sang Sk8er Boi back in 2002. And sadly, I don’t mean that in a good old school kind of way.

(I wouldn’t even bother commenting on the Rock N Roll video, since it would take ages to justify its weird-as-can-be “concept”…)

Then, here comes Let Me Go, which features Avril’s husband Chad Kroeger and it sounds like… well, like a ballad. It’s just a ballad. Somehow it’s meant to be moving, but I’m not feeling it.

I don’t want to state the obvious here, but I can’t help it. Wtf is wrong with this guy? I don’t like Nickelback for various reasons and that’s my prerogative. However, I honestly tried to see the good in this personal and professional collaboration.

Eventually, I came to a very simple conclusion. Avril’s music became uninteresting to me, ever since she started dating Kroeger. I don’t know… coincidence?? Either way, I’m not counting on a good album and it’s such a shame.

Let’s hope she proves me wrong…

Are today’s bands easily exhausted or are we the ones to blame?

It’s always a bummer (and sometimes more than that) to hear that one of your favourite bands spilt up. Lately, it seems that more and more bands decide to call it quits and follow the “solo path”. This is of course a very usual phenomenon in the history of music. The problem is that today’s bands don’t seem to last at all.

Is it overexposure that would lead to a band’s break-up? The internet has totally made it possible for every single artist to put their music out there and let the world know everything about their career and sometimes their personal life, too. However, this exhausting set of interviews and special appearances in TV shows or extensive touring so as to promote a new album (sometimes even just a single) might be draining the creativity off the artist.

My Chemical Romance decided to stop making music almost seven months ago, through a very sudden announcement which led fans to a total despair. For the band, as I imagine, it wasn’t sudden at all. Sometimes, it’s not disagreements within a band that lead to the end. It’s just things piling up. The need to always meet the demands of fans, of music companies and finally of themselves as artists, can turn out to be pretty hopeless.

But is this all necessary? People keep expecting too much of musicians, sometimes pushing them to the edge. More performances, more albums, more autographs. They are building this monster of them, which gradually devours the artists themselves.

Starsailor is in extended hiatus, Good Charlotte seems to be taking a break, while 30 Seconds to Mars had thought about quitting a year ago, being overexhausted by almost three consecutive years of touring! (Eventually they came back with a new album, but that’s due to Jared Leto’s perfectionism I guess – he always comes back for more!) Now, The Killers’ guitarist Dave Keuning admitted to NME that “he is sick of touring”, and who knows what follows?

The truth is I’m tired of short-lived bands… I’m not the one to judge, but it’s so frustrating to “lose” one… And I can’t help but wonder, when everything is all out in the open, are we the ones who push the curtains down?

Throwback Thursday!

Such a sad but beautiful song by Starsailor, off their debut album Love is Here 12 years ago.

I love these guys and it’s a shame they’re not making music as a band anymore. We still enjoy James Walsh’s divine voice through his solo work, though.

Guess who’s back… Back again!

I swear Eminem’s new tracks give me the chills. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is due November 5th but the rapper has already given us a pretty good taste of what to expect.  After setting the bar really high with lead single Berzerk , there comes Survival.

The video is clearly inspired by Em’s troubled years in Detroit. It’s one of those fortunate times though, when music speaks even louder than the clip. Classic old school Eminem rhyming angrily at the mike is what makes Survival so special.

(That and the fact that it keeps us wondering how a 40 year old man can look like 25. If you’ve found the elixir, man, don’t keep it to yourself.)

As with Berzerk, but in a more serious tone, hints of guitar and drum beats surround successfully the rhymes, which is something we hadn’t heard before from the rapper. Marshall Mathers is experimenting and this time it’s not with catchy pop-like tunes but with straight hip hop and just a touch of rock.

Eminem goes back to his roots and somehow manages to redefine them. Innovative and familiar at the same time… What’s not to like?

“Let’s take it back to straight hip hop and start it from scratch”, because Shady’s back.

Is Spotify more legal than free downloading?

I’ve never been an online-music-streaming kind of person. I am one of those geeks who would prefer to spend most of their money on an album rather than clothes, just because I sincerely believe that an artist’s work should somehow get recognised. Free downloading is obviously illegal and though some might find it conveniently useful to just obtain music without paying for it, actual people with actual jobs and actual tremendous effort put on every piece of music, are undervalued with just a click of a button. But what happens when downloading is not free?

Spotify is one of the biggest online music streaming services, which allows people to have access to a wide range of albums with the maximum subscription of ten pounds. In return, it promises to compensate artists for using their rights of intellectual property. However, as it turns out, a great number of artists is dissatisfied with the (under)payment and with the way this system works. One of them is Radiohead and Atoms for Peace front man Thom Yorke.

The singer has attacked Spotify several times in the past through his twitter account or in interviews and lately decided to remove all of his music from the service. This time he got really angry and stated that artists don’t need Spotify to get their work promoted, since they can do everything by themselves. In an interview with Mexican website Sopitas he stated: “I feel like as musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing.” And then, he addressed Spotify saying “We don’t need you to do it. No artist needs you to do it. We can build the shit ourselves, so fuck off”.

I couldn’t agree more. Sure, albums can be expensive, but music is not only art. It is also a job, just like many others and these artists are professionals who need to get paid in order to continue entertaining their audience. Besides that, what happened to being excited with a new release? What happened to communicating with the artist not only in concerts but through the cover of their album?

Music diffusion has changed in so many ways since Internet appeared in our lives. But to me, some things can and should stay traditional. No one has the right to undermine a person’s work by selling it for the lowest price possible; especially if they have no intention of paying the artist. If Spotify does not pay for copyright, then in what way does it differ from illegal free downloading? I know. In the way that Spotify somehow manages to make money out of it! Get some perspective, people. If you’re planning to be illegal, do it the old fashioned way, don’t pay these guys! Just saying…

When Justin Timberlake met Jimmy Fallon

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

J.T. and Fallon’s friendship dates back to 2002, when the comedian and T.V. host met the singer during the MTV VMAs. Just a year later, the duo started a very exciting professional collaboration. During Saturday Night Live, then hosted by Jimmy Fallon, they presented their first sketch, which was called The Barry Gibb Talk Show.

But the fun didn’t stop there. In 2009, Timberlake appeared in the premiere of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and keeps coming back ever since for all kinds of stand-up comedy stunts, a lot of singing tributes, as well as sarcastic sketches with lots of social media references. The History of Rap, The Ragtime Gals and the most recent Evolution of End Zone Dancing are some of my favourites.

Fallon’s comedian and vocal skills combined with Timberlake’s endless talent in any task that he decides to carry out, turn this pairing into an ingenious partnership!

Who’s up for some J.T. – Fallon moments?

Image property of hollywoodreporter.com