Where did all the lefties go?

Anthony Mark Happel

Hello, everyone! Is there anybody out there? Have we all gone off the rails into catatonia? It seems like the massive wave of angry protest that was sweeping the nation just a couple months ago has not only subsided, it’s gone completely into hiding. While the right-wing, pro-Wall Street juggernaut races down the information highway, and the conservative talking points get hammered incessantly into the heads of otherwise independent-minded Americans, the people on the side of “justice for workers” are trying to find the keys to the car. To paraphrase Churchill, a lie is halfway around the world before the truth can get his pants on.

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The conservative propaganda machine has billions of dollars behind them with financiers like the Koch Brothers and well-endowed “think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation. They have also tapped into the technology available to us all and fine-tuned their messaging to the nth degree. The progressive community seems stuck in the 1960s, 70s or 80s. Other than Move On or Bold Progressive doing mass e-mailings, for example, I just don’t encounter enough public relations going on in the progressive realm. Where are the PSAs? Where are the press conferences? Where are the televised town hall meetings, to discuss what is happening in the states where Republican governors are trampling all over state constitutions and worker’s rights?

Conservatives have, by some weird alchemy, boiled the complex issues of the world down to a very simple black and white scenario where everything right of center is good and everything left of center is bad, and they’ve managed to create a formula that enables them to frame everything bad in the world as something caused by “liberalism,” an historical term that largely has no real meaning today because conservatives have abused it so violently.

And while the majority of TV/talk radio pundits and mass media “news” columnists are conservative or arch-conservative they get away with the constant lie about a liberal media that controls the messaging. It’s an absurdity so extreme it works as some kind of living oxymoron.

As a result, the progressive community fights an uphill battle just to get on equal footing with the conservative agenda in the mainstream media, or lame-stream media, as the right-wingers like to call it. This is a humble appeal to anyone who cares to have a little more “media democracy” in this monetary system we call a country. As corporations continue to gobble up media outlets in every corner of the globe, the people on this planet need to maintain some semblance of awareness.

Please support local, open-minded media outlets (like this web magazine you’re reading) as much as you can. We need the real grassroots voice of the people to be heard now more than ever. Send emails to bloggers and writers, post on social media outlets and talk to others about what you see. It’s essential to our survival as a species. That’s all the soap-boxing today. Thanks. Let’s talk music…

Dag For Dag, Boo (Ceremony)

If nothing else, the Swedes are some of the most prolific muthafuckas on earth, in more ways than one. The amount of quality bands/musicians/albums/songs that have emerged from that relatively small country in the last twenty years is absolutely mind-blowing. And they just keep coming. There definitely must be something in that gene pool. This is the Swedish brother/sister duo of Jacob (bass/guitar/percussion) and Sarah (vocals/guitar/bass/violin) Snavely. They also have a six-song EP on Saddle Creek Europe that mostly flew under the radar in the U.S., although they’ve toured with Lykke Li, Wolf Parade and the Shout Out Louds. The songwriting and arrangements have an almost demo-like quality, if you will, particularly in the sometimes “unrehearsed” and unpolished vocal delivery. “I Am The Assassin” pits a cool guitar figure against a snappy percussive backdrop. “Hands And Knees” takes it one step further and veers off into a Yo La Tengo-ish breakdown at the end . “Boxed Up In Pine” has some click-clack percussion pushing a relaxed male/female vocal that has its own odd rustic 4AD undertone and a crazy electrified violin solo that could be Papa John moonlighting from his day job. The organ takes over on “Wouldn’t You” and Sarah’s vocals drift more toward Sarah Cracknell. This hodge-podge of styles doesn’t overwhelm them, and while they don’t pop on every track, there’s something contained in nearly every song that sticks out from the others.

Falcon, Disappear (falcontheband.com)

Brooklyn’s Falcon has an interesting origin story. Apparently, singer/guitarist Neil Rosen and guitarist Shannon Ferguson started the band in ’04 so they could play the songs of their junior high school friend, Jared Falcon. The catch is that Falcon had been institutionalized at age 13, and he subsequently stopped writing songs. They had nothing but some tapes that had been abandoned in a storage locker in 1988. They delved into the material and, eventually, Christian Bongers joined on bass and Jason Molina on drums. Up to this point, they’ve recorded fifteen of Falcon’s songs, including an EP they released in ’08. Recently, Rosen wrote songs for a soundtrack to an illustrated book by author Daniel Wallace (Big Fish). Disappear also has a unique backstory, with songs that were inspired by the Sean Penn directed film, Into The Wild. Rosen explains, “During this time I was also expecting my first child… The idea of vanishing from NYC and my responsibilities was an alluring temptation to me at the time.” The rickety rock of “Say Goodbye” kicks things off with a bang and points the way for the rest of the album. It’s punchy and demands the volume be turned up. “Key Of Dreams” leans electronic, but retains some integrity, and the lo-fi mix on “Credit Cards” is tinny-sounding, but the song isn’t bad. “My Heart Is Good” labors with its droning, thrumming keyboard, but it pulls through okay in the end. A few songs fall short, but they fade into the background.

Witches, Forever (Bakery Outlet)

Witches hail from Athens, GA., but the central figure in the band is transplanted New Yorker Cara Beth Satalino. Much of the album is an enervating foray back into the early 90s (when AP was still a vital underground music vehicle and the Facebook zygote was yet to be conceived); a neo-jangly grrl power exercise that draws from the Breeders, Sleater-Kinney, et.,al., but also does more than that, and Cara Beth puts her own stamp on each of these songs. The first strains of a minor-key rhythm guitar part on “Creatures Of Nature” lets it be known that there may be some time spent in the basement or garage, as it were, with a cranky old tube amp and stacks of cool indie rock LPs lying about, and Cara Beth’s vocals and phrasing had me thinking of Scrawl right from the git go, which is A-OK. On “Good Ones” she finds the next rung on the vocal ladder, and “Black Dog” (not the Led Zep song) really sets her free to start singing her ass off, and, I will add, it compares favorably to Julian Hatfield’s earliest work, with less major-label style polish than an album like Only Everything, but with some of the same personality traits coming through. “Forget” stands on the shoulders of bands like Throwing Muses (and all the great lesser known “girl-fronted indie bands”), but, again, there’s much to like in these songs, with slippery guitar and trebly bass runs pulling against the clever rising and falling melody lines; there’s some good pop tension in there. They wander off-course a few times but always re-orient themselves.

We’ll be getting out of the box a little within the next few installments. Stay tuned.

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