Politics

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Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Bandleader Jon Batiste on How Music Can Unite America Right Now

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Perhaps even more than Michael McDonald, Jon Batiste’s whole thing revolves around taking it to the streets. The Stay Human bandleader and come September, the official “musical friend” on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show has built his career around the kinds of performances that are common in his hometown of New Orleans. But his spontaneous shows aren’t not some flashmob gimmick: Batiste grounds his approach in pure humanism, so much so that it borders on political.
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(JiHAE, by Paola Kudacki)

Flavorwire Premiere: JiHAE’s “Brave Ones” Gives Voice to Her Father’s Vietnam PTSD

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The Vietnam War inspired some of the most powerful songs of its era, but it’s rare to hear it discussed by younger artists in the 21st century. This generation’s got its own political battles to fight, but from where New York rocker and multimedia artist JiHAE stands, our present is more connected to our wartime past than we want to acknowledge. It’s why she wrote “Brave Ones,” off her forthcoming album Illusion of You, after watching her father struggle with PTSD in the decades following his service in Vietnam.
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Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photos of a Bizarre College-Age Fan Club That Worships Putin as a Pinup

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Most Americans seem to know Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, from the controversial, anti-Putin Pussy Riot protests and the many GIFs that mock his absurd attempts at establishing a hyper-masculine image in the media. But there is a segment of the Russian population that idolizes the political figure, including a group of teens and 20-somethings who look at Putin as a kind of pinup.
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‘Salad Days’ Is the Documentary That Will Make the Mainstream Understand DC Hardcore

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If there was ever a testament to punk as an evolving document, forever building on its past, it was the Washington, DC hardcore scene and the growing pains its experienced in the mid-’80s. Nothing makes that more clear than Scott Crawford and Jim Saah’s exhaustive new documentary Salad Days, which premiered late last year in DC and makes its New York premiere this week at the IFC Center. Though Crawford’s personal history with DC punk began when he was the preteen writer of MetroZine, his documentary is more for the hardcore novice — the person who recognizes the significance of the DC hardcore scene but couldn’t name more than a few Dischord bands.
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50 Essential African-American Independent Films

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While there are still too few African-American voices being recognized in Hollywood, recent films like Ava DuVernay’s Selma and Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus speak to a vital tradition of black independent filmmakers. Many pioneering African-American directors, like Melvin Van Peebles and Julie Dash, were trailblazers who found funding for their fiercely idiosyncratic visions. They defied expectations and proved that there was an audience for films about black characters as told by black artists. In celebration of Black History Month, Flavorwire has compiled a list of 50 essential African-American independent… Read More

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It’s On Them: The Grammys Need to Practice What They Preach About Domestic and Sexual Violence

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Following last year’s mass gay marriage, the Grammys got political again during last night’s ceremony. Beyoncé, Common, and John Legend honored Selma and all that the film represents, while Prince shouted out “Black Lives Matter” from the stage. Sam Smith thanked the man who inspired all his love songs, in the process acknowledging his sexual orientation in pop’s most public arena. Most pointedly, Katy Perry, President Obama, and activist Brooke Axtell presented a three-part PSA and performance against domestic violence and sexual assault. It was a touching gesture, but with Chris Brown, R. Kelly, and Eminem all up for (and, in some cases, winning) awards last night, it also felt disingenuous coming from an Academy — and an industry — that continues to support real assailants.
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jason molina

The Power of Mournful Music in Tragic Times, From Jason Molina on 9/11 to Nina Simone on MLK

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On 9/11, the late, great Jason Molina was supposed to be recording with Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts at Oldham’s brother Paul’s Kentucky farmhouse. Instead, they spent all day watching the news, distraught, terrified, and lost. By night they put to tape some reckoning with what they had just seen. This song, posted online last week by Molina’s label Secretly Canadian with a brief introduction from Roberts, is titled simply: “September 11, 2001.” It is in many ways absolutely remarkable. Though oblique, Molina’s images cannot belong to any other moment. He describes the “pre-world dark,” conjures ash on “a weeping wind,” asks, repeatedly, about the “blue gospel flames.” At various points he exhorts the other players to “cast your offering,” Roberts scraping a bow against dulcimer strings, Oldham stumbling over piano chords. Even now it is frequently a painful listen.
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