20 BEST RADICAL MUSICAL RELEASES OF 2017

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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.
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THE CULTURAL IS POLITICAL – THE REUNIFICATION OF LEFTISM AND CULTURE

by Chris Jarvis

Culture and politics are inseparable. Culture is more than mere entertainment, more than escapism. Culture is central to how we understand the world, build our value sets and perceive our fellow people. It stirs human emotion in unique ways, pulling different levers in the brain. Sometimes overtly, sometimes with subtlety, the dominant cultural practices, institutions, icons and outputs are used to reinforce the dominant political system and defend the status quo. Establishment weaponise culture as a means of influence.

But this isn’t the sole preserve of the political right.

Looking through history, many of the most important moments of popular revolt have an accompanying soundtrack. The resistance to the Vietnam War had the protest folk singers. Rage Against the Machine were agitators of the US anti-globalisation movement. Riot Grrrl acts built feminist infrastructure, led pro-choice campaigns and brought ‘the personal is political’ sentiments to the fore of a cultural phenomenon. And so on, and so on.

This isn’t coincidental.Continue Reading

CUT THE CRAP AND STICK TOGETHER: INTERVIEW WITH KILL BITCHES TO DRESS FOXES

by Tim-F

One of the bands appearing at ROAR on April 28th in aid of Norwich’s local Women’s Refuge, Leeway, is London based all girl H/C punks Kill Bitches To Dress Foxes.

I first came across KBTDF on one of those meandering journeys through the internet.. Previously known as Medication Time, this London based three piece is comprised of Ale on bass, Itxi on drums and Turko on guitar. With a variety of musical backgrounds and citing influences as wide as Municipal Waste, Emma Goldman and Andy Stanton, they kindly agreed to an interview about punk, politics and other stuff.Continue Reading

LEFT WING CHRISTMAS SONGS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE

by Chris Jarvis

On Friday it was revealed that this year’s Christmas Number One was Clean Bandit with Rockabye, their names forever written into the record books, joining some truly excellent pieces of music that have shared the top spot over the years. The Beatles scored a hat-trick in the 1960s. Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ beat Wizzard’s festive effort in 1973. Queen managed it twice, with Bohemian Rhapsody, some 16 years apart. We’ve had Spice Girls, The Human League, and Elvis Presley – all deserving the accolade.Continue Reading

PUNK AND ERASURE: 40 YEARS LATER

by Chris Jarvis

Anniversaries are strange things. Almost exclusively, they consist of rose-tinted, uncritical and nostalgic assessments of whatever they seek to commemorate. 2016, forty years since the ‘birth’ of punk, appears no different. Expect Union Jacks, safety pins galore and excessive images of John Lydon in BBC sanctioned documentaries. Expect descriptions of how important Malcolm Mclaren was to punk’s success, claims that New Rose was without contention the first punk rock single and a neat lineage where pub rock became punk – a very British phenomenon.

Inadequate as such histories are, they are demonstrative of the problem we have with understanding punk as a cultural occurrence. Debate rages amongst fans about whether punk was ever grassroots, whether it was ever political, whether any of the anti-establishment ethos was ever genuine, or instead fabricated by an astute record industry seeking to find the new zeitgeist. Adherents to either theory will read selectively into the evidence and ignore anything which would disprove their dogma.Continue Reading

A NEW WAVE: FEMINIST PUNK

by Mike Vinti

Feminism has been in the news a lot recently. Whether it’s Femen’s brand of topless demonstrations, protests at the premier of the film Suffragette or straw-man attacks on the movement in the Spectator, for a movement that’s been active for some decades now, its seems that 2015 was the year the cause really broke into mainstream circles.

Pop music in particular has been significantly influenced  by feminism this year. Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj established themselves as sex positive feminists and two of the biggest musicians on the planet, bands like Catfish & the Bottlemen are publicly derided for the kind of indie-lad-band antics that would have been celebrated in the NME five years ago and Whirr pretty much just wrecked their career by slinging misogynistic insults at the trans-fronted, feminist punk band G.L.O.S.S on Twitter. Two years ago we had ‘Blurred Lines’ – now we have clearly defined boundaries of consent.

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A KIND OF RIOT GRRRL POETICS

by Emily Critchley

My situation as both a writer and a feminist involves my trying to think carefully about how interior/private and exterior/public ‘realms’ constantly mutually inform one another.

Though I am sceptical about the explicit social/political power of poetry, I believe the thinking done by and through it, and other art forms, may have implicit and incremental social effects; as Leslie Scalapino put it: ‘poetry is society’s secret interior’.Continue Reading