Monday, October 11, 2004

Maddening Monday: The truth keeps calling me.

Sage Francis - Slow Down Gandhi - Sage Francis is one of my favorite MC's, with a style that is at once confrontational and inquisitve. Often derided as 'emo-rap,' the term sells short francis vicious and incisive politics, and unfairly attacks his somewhat meandering style - Francis tends to move across subjects, free associating, either with the vitriol of most of this track, or as he does at the end of "Slow Down Gandhi," when he starts talking about the specifics of modern politics. "'Friendly fire' - thats a funny term - like 'civil war'" - a classic Sage line, at once cutting to the core, and dancing around the heart of things. But what I find most notable about this track is the subject matter - it's a direct attack on a certain breed of stereotypical liberal activists - people who aren't quite so committed to their cause as they are to a self image as some sort of heroic rebel. We all know the self-righteous, not fully informed sorts that tend to be a bit more dogmatic than they are effective - Sage is just here to call them for their shit - for the fact that if you can't make even a serious attempt at swinging a local election, why do you think you're enough to change the country?

This is from Sage's new album, which will be out in February on Epitaph.

The Congregation of Vapors - With Love From America - On Friday, I was sufficiently lucky to attend Be Well - The Ramones Beat on Cancer a benefit in memoriam of Joey, Dee Dee, and the recently departed Johnny, and a rocking party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time. The show was opened by NYC based Singer/Songwriter Jed Davis, who performed in front of the band Bandcamp. More on that in a minute. First though, I want to share a track from Jed's band, The Congregation of Vapors. Because it's political. Because today is Maddening Monday. And because it's a fantastic fucking song. This is the sort of protest song we've needed for sometime, the sort of thing that David Byrne hit on with his Future Soundtrack for America track (Buy that from the Music For America Unstore), and the sort of thing that people can sing along to. It's a unifying song, full of references to great songs of ages past (and if you don't catch them, the Congregations website includes some incredibly detailed "Hubris Notes" full of detailed lyrical explanations), and a powerful message. While the sarcasm of "I'll Make you Love Me" in a song about anti-americanism is a bit bitter, theres a desperation to it as well, a crying out that we, as Americans, need to show that we are not the bombs, we are not the CEO's. They may not care, but we do. The Congregation of Vapors have a full length album due out in December.

[In the meantime, check out their website, pick up the "With Love From America" single, and check out them "Hubris Notes"]

Jed Davis, with CJ & Marky Ramone and Daniel Rey - The Bowery Electric - I mentioned that there was a reason that Jed opened that Ramones tribute show last week. It's because a few years back, not long after Joey Ramone died, Jed wrote this song. It's the sort of thing Joey would have written, considerring that Joey always was the great balladeer of punk rock. It's a horribly sad, and utterly beautiful tribute to the king of New York punk, as he undoubtedly was. At Fridays show, Jed gave out copies of the CD that this song was from. It was a CD, produced by marky Ramone, of the songs he would play during his opening set (Hint to bands playing CMJ showcases. This is a good idea and CDRs are cheap). Produced by Tommy Ramone not long before the show, and hastily pressed and handed out, all Jed asked for in return was a donation to the Lymphoma Society that Friday nights proceeds benefitted. If there's a problem with this song, it's that listening to it, I can't help but think of how it would sound with Joey Ramone singing it. Sorry Jed, but you probably know as well as I do that the man would have done this song right. New York City, Let's Rock.

I'm not one to post the full lyrics to a song, but in this case, i think I'll make an exception.

"The Bowery Electric"

I got so lost in thoughts of you
I missed the F at Second Avenue
I came in from the rain
And heard it pull away

I stepped back out into the street
And with the Bowery beneath my feet
I squint to see it as it was
When this neighborhood was yours
It never seemed so distant
All that's clear is something's missing

New York City is a little less warm tonight
It's a little less cool tonight
New York City is a little less kind tonight
And a little less rockin tonight

Debbie's hanging on the phone
Danny's speechless, and hey hey, Arty's home
And now the Bowery Electric crew
Shines a spotlight star for you
While on the streets below
We wander slow, already lonely

New York City is a little less warm tonight
It's a little less cool tonight
New York City is a little less kind tonight
And a little less rockin tonight

I still get lost in thoughts of you
And in those moments, I know what to do:
I put my headphones on
And you are never really gone

Do you remember "Hullaballoo"?
"Upbeat", "Shindig" and Ed Sullivan, too?
You know that I remember you
Yes, I still fuckin remember

New York City is a little less cold tonight
It's a little less lame tonight
New York City is a little less cruel tonight
New York City, let's rock tonight!

[And please, donate to the Leukemia/Lymphoma folks. Don't let another person die from this horrible crippling disease.]

Also, New Yorkers - What are you doing during CMJ week? I haven't hammered out my schedule yet, but I'm curious as to what you people think is worth seeing. Let me know! (and if you happen to be an artist or with a label or venue, and can give me a hand with a badges only show, be sure to drop a line - I couldn't scrape the 300 bucks this year, and won't have time to volunteer.)


At 10/12/2004 01:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Congregation of Vapors song is fucking amazing. And Sage is always great, I have tons of songs of him just shutting other MC"s down. Him at the Scribble Jam beating Akrobatix was aamzing. THat congregation song is hauntingly good though. Fucking amazing post. Also this is the best music blog online. Just letting you know.


At 10/12/2004 01:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow that Bowery Electric song is amazing too. Brought a slight tear to my eye.

I honestly believe this si the best post ever, on any blog. Kudos to you, and keep up the good work. And i'll keep teaching my indie friends to dance to your music.


At 10/12/2004 01:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2004 01:38:00 AM, Blogger Keith said...

Thanks Jared! If you're interested in more of Jeds work, check out his website @ - the song 1991 is especially good.

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