After Marie Antoinette I couldn’t help but wonder, why I haven’t written anything about Gang of Four’s Entertainment! before. This is one of my most influential albums that is so bold in deconstructing our society and goes beyond the “everything sucks” ideology of many punk albums. This is post-punk, of course, and while there are other political albums in music’s history, at least for me nothing achieves what this album achieves. It’s angry without being loud, it’s intelligent and challenges the listener because it doesn’t provide easy answers. It’s simply brilliant, lyrically and musically. If I ever need inspiration for change, for doing something, I put this one on and get going.
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I almost couldn’t decide on an album to pick from 1980, not because there was no good music, but because there wasn’t much that spoke to me. There’s not a favorite album of mine from 1980 or something with a personal meaning. So I just picked an album I like and that I knew would offer me something to write about, Joy Division’s Closer, which was released two months after Ian Curtis had committed suicide. It is unsurprisingly dark and cold, yet undeniably powerful.
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Pulp’s This Is Hardcore, released in 1998, is a testament of anxiety in our culture, the diary of someone failing at life despite having success, a war report from the front of unsuccessfully battling to fill the void. Pulp, the Britpop band that had been releasing albums for over 10 years before suddenly having enormous success, published this album three years after Disco 2000 was an international hit and the fallout was wearing them down. Artistically I consider this album their masterpiece, despite its flaws. It’s a bit messy, untrimmed and unfocused at times, but when it hits its mark, it goes straight for the kill. It’s unflinching and bitter and cynical but always with a certain sense of humor and full of brutal honesty. And it’s brilliant. You might feel uneasy and slightly embarrassed while listening to it, but you might also get an idea of an artist struggling with life in this culture, but never stopping from telling us about it.
Continue reading Music Box: Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore”
Slut’s Alienation (released in 2013 on Cargo Records) is one of the most persistently favorite albums I’ve ever known. You know those albums that you listen to and you realize you like them and whenever you want to listen to music, it’s the first thing that comes to your mind? And how that, depending on the album, stays this way for some days, weeks, maybe months, but then the really big thrill has gone? I’ve got Alienation in September 2013 (as an especially pleasant birthday present, because I didn’t even know there was a new Slut album) and it’s still the first thing I think of when I want to listen to music. I don’t think that happened before over such a long period of time. The album is a variety of styles, reminding the listener of Radiohead and The Beatles at the same time. But to me, that obviously works, mainly because it’s the music Slut does best but in those different, often electronic, styles. I really loved their previous album StillNo.1, but four years later Alienation hits all the right notes for me. Continue reading Music Box: Slut’s “Alienation”
When I think of political music, I either think of the 60s and 70s, Gang of Four or hip-hop (at least some of it). I could think of Morrissey and the Smiths but it’s not the first thing on my mind, since Morrissey is more known for making political statements outside his music nowadays and Meat Is Murder and Margaret on the Guillotine are still in the minority compared to his other songs. So I was somewhat surprised to listen to his new album and realize, hey, for an old man he sure has some statements left to make. Maybe I’m just so surprised because his last albums didn’t feature many political songs in comparison. But here is his new album, after years of delay, and its title already makes some allusions that make you think: World Peace Is None of Your Business.
Continue reading Music Box: Morrissey’s “World Peace Is None of Your Business”