Music

Songs for Our Mothers

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If you haven’t yet been exposed to Fat White Family, they are a South London six-piece that have gained prominence in the last two or three years, mainly through their energetic (and very, very messy) live shows.

Known for their low-fi, dirgy sound, they seem to aspire to the filthy style, shocking lyrics and chaotic atmosphere of bands such as The Fall, Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, Butthole Surfers and certainly Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. If that’s what you’re into, they do it pretty well.

Art Angels

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Pop music is political again. If it’s not that X Factor alumni Little Mix tweeted against the bombing of Syria, it’s that one of the most critically acclaimed records of the year is about climate change. Art Angels is Canadian Claire Boucher’s fourth studio album, and certainly her most ambitious to date.

On this, her first self-produced album, vocals are layered on top of each other, creating an otherworldly electropop. Sounds of the rainforest and the natural world are heard over energetic beats.

A brief history of seven Bob Marley songs

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Marlon James’s wonderful novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was the worthy winner of last year’s Man Booker prize. It takes as its starting point a dramatic real life event — the attempted assassination of Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley in December 1976.

Marley survived the attack, defiantly performing at the open air benefit concert which sparked the controversy that led to the shooting. Later he addressed his assailants in the song “Ambush in the Night”.

HITNRUN Phase Two

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Unlike September’s poorly-received Phase One this surprise end-of-year release is a step away from digital production and back to the classic funky analogue sounds that Prince does so well.

This is not an entirely new album. Some of the tracks have been released already and can be found for free online, some have been performed in recent live shows and some are from Prince’s archive of thousands of songs he has previously recorded — but it doesn’t suffer for all that.

Iron Cages

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Rizzla is a New York-based DJ and producer of electronic music, a well known figure in the city’s vibrant underground club scene, part of “queer artist collective” Kunq, and resident at innovative nights like Ghe20 G0th1k and “queer dancehall party” Reggay.

The Iron Cages EP on the Fade To Mind label is his first “official” release, though he has been producing for several years and DJing for longer. It serves as a great introduction to a fascinating artist and music scene.

Revolution Girl Style Now

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“We are Bikini Kill, and we want revolution girl style, now”, screamed lead singer Kathleen Hanna on the band’s 1991 debut album, announcing the Riot Grrrl movement had arrived.

The reissue of Bikini Kill’s first album, which includes tracks that have previously been unreleased on CD, reflects renewed interest in ideas from 25 years ago that have re-emerged in recent times.

From Kinshasa

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Kinshasa is the capital of the long suffering Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and From Kinshasa is the latest remarkable music to emerge from it. It is a startling mix of innovation and tradition. The music is recognisable yet new. The album’s cover shows a spaceman in Kinshasa exploring new places and new soundscapes. His suit is a patchwork created from recycled materials.

Given how long DRC has suffered under colonialism — Cold War dictatorship and one of the world’s most brutal and least known wars — the quality and breadth of music it has produced is astounding.

Key Markets

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I asked a friend, whose opinion I generally rate highly, what he thought about Sleaford Mods. “I’m glad I went to see them. But I’m not sure I’d go again.”

Nevertheless, in a music scene that often seems crammed full of bands manufactured for reality TV or straight out of public school with shiny new guitars, Sleaford Mods have made a bit of an impression.

Sleaford Mods is Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn, two men in their forties with a line in angry, sweary banter that means newspaper interviews are a sea of asterisks.

The Epic

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Jazz is a mercurial form of music. Separated from the mainstream by the stamp of “abstract obscurity”, it remains constantly changing and shifting.

Change is generated from the music’s roots in African-American life and culture. It lives and breathes in cities and communities, so it moves alongside all our social lives, loves and struggles.

Jazz follows the contours of struggle, both for freedom and from racism and oppression. It is linked to the struggle of classes.

So when changes start to happen within society generally, this emerges in the music.

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