Monday, February 26, 2007

Rage Add New Dates!

It looks like now that Chris Cornell has left Audioslave, the space has been opened up for a full-fledged reunion. With these added dates, talk about such a reunion has increased. Here's to keeping our fingers crossed! -AB


Rage Against the Machine, who previously announced a one-off reformation to headline the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, have confirmed Rock the Bells, a three-date mini-tour with the Wu-Tang Clan, reports. The announcement is the latest news from the RATM/Audioslave camp since former Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell issued a statement Feb. 15 announcing his departure from the band, which includes three former RATM members, due to "irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences."

A RATM spokesperson says the band's Coachella slot and three-date mini-tour will be the extent of the reunion, but the fresh gigs have prompted online chatter that RATM's reformation could be permanent, especially in light of Cornell's departure from Audioslave.

Rock the Bells tour dates:

7/28, New York, NY (TBA)
8/11, San Bernardino, CA (TBA)
8/18, San Francisco, CA (TBA)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Music Companies Targeting Colleges

When I went to college, my friends and I were barely scraping enough money to eat, let alone go out and buy an 18 dollar CD! Are the RIAA saying that we didn't deserve music? Ordinary people (students included) will be a lot better when we do away with the whole industry altogether! -AB

From the Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) - Cracking down on college students, the music industry is sending thousands more complaints to top universities this school year than it did last year as it targets music illegally downloaded over campus computer networks.

A few schools, including Ohio and Purdue universities, already have received more than 1,000 complaints accusing individual students since last fall - significant increases over the past school year. For students who are caught, punishments vary from e-mail warnings to semester-long suspensions from classes.

The trade group for the largest music labels, the Recording Industry Association of America, identified at the request of The Associated Press the 25 universities that received the most copyright complaints it sent so far this school year. The group long has pressured schools to act more aggressively against online pirates on campus.

"It's something we feel we have to do," RIAA President Carey Sherman said. "We have to let people know that if they engage in this activity, they are not anonymous."

The top five schools are Ohio, Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee and the University of South Carolina. The RIAA complained about almost 15,000 students at those 25 universities, nearly triple the number for the previous school year.

"They're trying to make a statement," said Randall Hall, who polices computers at Michigan State University, seventh on the list with 753 complaints. Michigan State received 432 such complaints in December alone, when students only attended classes for half the month.

Hall meets personally with students caught twice and forces them to watch an eight-minute anti-piracy DVD produced by the RIAA. A third-time offender can be suspended for a semester.

"I get the whole spectrum of excuses," Hall said. "The most common answer I get is, 'All my friends are doing this. Why did I get caught?'"

At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst - which received 897 complaints - first- and second-time offenders receive escalating warnings about piracy. After a third complaint, the school unplugs a student's Internet connection and sends the case to a dean for additional punishment.

Each complaint represents an accusation that a student was identified sharing a single song over the campus network. Egregious offenders, who make available hundreds or thousands of songs to other students online, are targeted by the RIAA in expensive civil lawsuits. Unlike lawsuits, formal complaints are typically sent to colleges every day by e-mail.

The music group said each university should set its own penalties for stealing songs and said campuses are rife with such thefts. "When we look at the problem, it's particularly acute in the college context," RIAA chief executive Mitch Bainwol said.

The music group said popular software programs it has targeted at schools include AresWarez, BitTorrent, eDonkey and other programs that operate on the Gnutella and FastTrack services.

Under federal law, universities that receive complaints about students illegally distributing copyrighted songs generally must act to stop repeat offenders or else the schools can be sued. The entertainment industry typically can identify a student only by his or her numerical Internet address and must rely on the school to correlate that information with its own records to trace a person's real-world identity.

Some schools aggressively warn students after they receive complaints. Others don't. Purdue, which has received 1,068 complaints so far this year but only 37 in 2006, said it rarely even notifies students accused by the RIAA because it's too much trouble to track down alleged offenders. Purdue said its students aren't repeat offenders.

"In a sense, the (complaint) letter is asking us to pursue an investigation and as the service provider we don't see that as our role," spokesman Steve Tally said. "We are a leading technology school with thousands and thousands of curious and talented technology students."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rudy CAN Fail!

By Antonino D'Ambrosio and Alexander Billet

Published on Znet

More than a year away from the elections, and we are already subjected to the bumbling attempts of candidates trying to be cool and interesting. In the February 10th edition of The Caucus (political blog for the New York Times), blogger Richard Perez-Pena points out the laughability of former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s use of The Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail” during a campaign appearance in California: “A punk band that smashed guitars and sang about riots seems like an uncomfortable fit for the law-and-order former mayor,” he points out.

Yet while Perez-Pena is right to point out the laughability of Giuliani’s use of the song, he sadly misses the bitter irony. The Clash were far from thuggish punks as Perez-Pena alludes to. The group represented a significant turning point in the merger of politics and popular culture in music history, building on a legacy that began with Woody Guthrie and flowed throw Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash while inspiring Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy, and U2. While at first glance comical, this move is in reality painfully hypocritical, as Giuliani, a politician who made a name for himself by turning the New York Police Department into a feared death squad, chose a song from a group that stands in stark contrast to his ideals and policies.

The Clash rose out of 1970s London, caught in the grip of racism, police brutality and joblessness. As the English government did little while working peoples faced mounting poverty, the Clash’s emotional sound and call for humanist social change motivated a generation of youth to seek something better. They were central in forming the Rock Against Racism shows to combat Neo-Nazi groups like the National Front, and spoke out in favor of democratic movements in the third world.

Giuliani, on the other hand, does not have so admirable a record. During his tenure as “America’s mayor,” Giuliani made life even more difficult for the poor by reducing the level of low income housing, creating a horrid welfare-to-work program, and slashing social safety nets for the homeless, indigent, and handicapped. City schools became the most overcrowded in the country even as Giuliani refused to give teachers a raise. And his greatest legacy of all might be the overwhelming number of gruesome police brutality cases that occurred under his watch.

Yet Giuliani’s use of a popular band such as The Clash is something we’ve seen before. It is eerily reminiscent of the same action taken by another wolf in populist clothing. During the 1984 Presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan appropriated Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” It is still something that haunts Springsteen who recently described the act as “one of the worst things that could have ever happened…the song was about the forgotten vet, low wageworker, the single mother—the forgotten people of this country—specifically forgotten by Reagan” but nevertheless exploited when necessary for political cachet.

Giuliani should take a trip down to what used to be the Lower East Side-a neighborhood where he led the charge to bulldoze community gardens, seize low-income housing and community centers, and suppress artists – to check out two murals dedicated to the late Joe Strummer, former Clash front man. One mural is titled “Know Your Rights,” another classic protest song that the Clash directed at Reagan and English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

And what exactly do these two “Rudies” have in common? The Clash’s Rudie was a young man struggling with joblessness and racism. New York’s Rudy told and angry unemployed woman that her “behavior” was the reason she didn’t have a job.

The Clash’s Rudie was a reference to the reggae-listening, anti-racist Rude Boys who fashioned a loose knit counterculture resistance. New York’s Rudy defended the police officers that murdered Amadou Diallo and tortured Abner Louima.

The Clash played benefits for striking firefighters. Giuliani had firefighters arrested for protesting him at Ground Zero.

So, while Giuliani tries to slither his way into the Republican Presidential nomination, the Clash's music is seeing a resurgence in popularity, at a time when there is a growing global movement against the status quo. The group’s message of rebellion and social change is resonating with a whole new generation of ordinary people fed up with the policies of poverty, racism and war. And it's these people who deserve the inspiration of the Clash's message, not Giuliani.

Joe Strummer, ever the clever musical rebel, addressed Giuliani directly with a special performance of “Rudie Can’t Fail” while on tour in NYC in 1998. Strummer changed the famous refrain to “Rudy Giuliani gotta gotta get away!”

Antonino D’Ambrosio is the author of Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer and the upcoming Politics in the Drums; A People’s History of Political Popular Culture.

Alexander Billet is a music journalist. He maintains the blog Rebel Frequencies (, and is the author of the forthcoming The Kids are Shouting Loud: The Music and Politics of The Clash.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Anti-War Playlist

By Alexander Billet

So it's official, and has been for some time: most people think the war sucks! The US is undeniably mired in a Middle-East version of Vietnam; Iraqis clearly don't want troops there, soldiers and veterans alike are starting to speak out publicly against the occupation, and the unpopularity of the war is so solid that a quarter million marched on DC last week. Ehren Watada, the first West Point graduate officer to refuse to go to Iraq, goes on trial this week. His case is getting worldwide attention, and really makes it clear how profoundly wrong this war is. It looks like we might actually have the beginnings of an anti-war movement on our hands!

It's pretty amazing looking back on the past five years and remembering the atmosphere of jingoism and fear that sprung up after 9/11. From the beginning, there has been opposition to the so-called "war on terror." People worldwide weren't all so keen on the idea of endless war. But the feelings of fear and defeat was big, and made it easy for the Bush gang to do as it pleased. Not so true anymore. So, in honor of the great potential out there, I have put together a short list of songs released since 9/11 that have openly took on the US' drive to war. Some have been massively popular, others underground hits, others outright banned and vilified by the record industry. But all have done what music does best; spoken the truth and kept people strong. The best song pulls you out of your isolated, alienated place and tells you to keep going, even in the face of all odds. These did that. If you don't know these songs, go download them. If you do, listen to them again, take their message, and go build a better world with them.

In no particular order:

1. MIA-Bucky Done Gun
Who knows better what military aggression looks like than the daughter of a Tamil rebel? MIA has it all: musical ability, a flashy attitude, and the heart and soul to speak up when she thinks something ain't right. All of these have made her music so popular that US immigration banned her from entering the US last summer! Now that's power!

2. Bloc Party-The Price of Gas
Kele Okereke has come under scrutiny ever since he decided that he didn't have to be mindless just because he's a musician. The gay-baiting hasn't stopped since he came out, and now he's apparently coming under fire for criticizing Jack White's complete apathy to the world's social ills. Forget that; these guys are one of the most important bands in rock music right now and Okereke is completely right! Bloc Party's lyrics are so metaphorical and poetic that it's sometimes hard to pull a message from them, but it's pretty clear that this song takes on the connections between consumerism and war. Fuck you, Jack; I'm with Kele!

3. Michael Franti and Spearhead-Bomb the World
"You can bomb the world to pieces/you can't bomb it into peace." Franti has that rare talent to take anger against war and turn it into simple yet eloquent gems like this one. Though I may get some criticism for not including something off of Spearhead's more recent album "Yell Fire," I truly think that this song is one of the best stated cases against this whole war. Franti and co make it clear how upside down priorities are in a world that can spend on war but not on schools and food, all wrapped up in a unique blend of soul, funk, hip-hop, and folk. Unforgettable.

4. Sage Francis-Makeshift Patriot
Banned from radio after 9/11! And it's easy to see why. A month after the attacks, and Sage has the guts to question the imminent wars and rollbacks on civil liberties that were being whipped up in the public's mind. I think even the skeptics would have to say that five year later everything this intelligent and gutsy MC talked about was proven right as rain.

5. Steve Earle-Rich Man's War
There are times when I truly believe that this man is the reincarnation of Woody Guthrie! This folky-country ballad states it like none other. "Just another poor boy going to fight a rich man's war." It's class analysis minus the textbooks, and merely reiterates what we all know; that wars are declared by the rich and fought by the poor. The song is simple and straightforward, but it's hard to think anyone would have any real argument agaisnt what he says in the lyrics.

The list is far from done. As a matter of fact, I've barely scratched the surface! I know I've overlooked a lot, so let me know what exactly I've missed! Come on, we sure as hell can't stop a war by ourselves, so let's make this list a collective effort too! Send me your suggestions. Only qualification is that it be written since 9/11 (in keeping with the idea that resistance to this war has been brewing for five years), and that it be relatively well-known (please, no emailing me and saying "my band and I wrote this anti-war song, and it's really good, so can you include it?"). I'll post people's suggestions periodically.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bloc Party Call Jack White "Treacherous"

There has been a lot of baiting against Kele Okereke for this. The NME definitely took this quote out of context, and now Bloc Party are bearing a backlash-including a good amount of racism and homophobia. I'll be reviewing their new album (released on Feb. 5th) right on this blog, so stay tuned. -AB

From the NME

Speaking in this week's issue of NME. the singer had a go at White for not speaking out on political matters.

Okereke said: "It was amazing when Jack White said it wasn't his job to be critical about foreign policy because he was being paid to be an entertainer. I thought that was treacherous because it's complicit with the capitalist society.

"Selling more records is the only thing that's important to him, not provoking debate."