by Chris Jarvis
It’s a common cliché that the quality and abundance of political and protest music is directly proportionate to the awfulness of the broader political landscape. The Vietnam War gave us the great American folk singers. The stagnation, unemployment and neoliberalism’s cusp of the 1970s bred punk. Thatcher’s Britain brought us the motley crew of rebels surrounding Red Wedge. The rapid and destructive spread of militant capitalism and imperialism at the end of the Cold War bore Rage Against the Machine. Apartheid in South Africa swelled a wonderful mix of pioneering sounds and firebrand resistance.
Unsurprisingly, 2017 was one of those years – a terrifying political context coalescing into a bumper crop of fantastic radical releases. So with a withering nod to the year that was and with a glint of hope in the sounds of revolution, here are the very best radical musical releases 2017 had to offer.
By Chris Jarvis
Yes, yes, we all know that 2016 has been an unmitigated cluster-fuck, with rising fascism, worsening humanitarian crises and intensifying conflict. In moments of darkness, many of us turn to the arts world – especially music – for comfort, for release, for explanation. With David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Erik Petersen, Leonard Cohen, Nick Menza, Greg Lake, Sharon Jones, and too many others all having passed away, many have found music to have also fallen on dark times.
That notwithstanding, 2016 has been a year of some undeniably and uniquely brilliant music too, especially music that espouses messages of a better world, of political analysis, of radical alternatives. Here are the 20 best of those radical releases from the past year.
by Chris Jarvis
Last week, Music That Matters looked at the 40th anniversary of punk and how our understanding of its history is typically one which erases the efforts and achievements of women musicians and people of colour. Today, the scene is often still seen as a male and white space, with punk shows frequently having male dominated crowds queuing up to see white men thrashing on guitars in shabby venues.
But it looks like things are changing. 2016 feels like it is becoming a rebirth of women in punk, and critically, as if it is women of colour who often are leading the way. More women are touring, more are getting bigger stages and longer sets, and more are getting the media coverage that they deserve. Among the nostalgic reflection, this year, dozens of punk albums will be released. Some will become instant classics, others will fade from memory as quickly as they came. Here are 10 bands leading the British punk scene this year, and the women that are making them shape the future of the genre.Continue Reading