Clef Notes: The Suspicious Edition
Every Friday, or at least until his spectacular rock star flameout, Giovanny will be dropping a week’s worth of music knowledge on you with Clef Notes, proof positive that he’s a one man music magazine.
The British hate hoodies too: Those of you who make even the faintest attempt at keeping informed are surely already aware of the senseless, tragic, and complicated death of Trayvon Martin. Over the last month, the controversy surrounding this possibly (probably) racially motivated Florida shooting has become one of the nation’s most divisive and gripping stories. I myself have been dying for an excuse to write about this topic (much like I am dying to share my opinion about how racist girls in America don’t know how to read), but because I make an effort to only write about socio-political issues when they have a musical link (I waited until a CD distribution warehouse was burned down to write about the London fires of 2011), I've had no real opportunity to address the Martin incident.
Thankfully, musicians are a passionate bunch.
As you know, the Trayvon Martin murder (I'm comfortable calling it that) has inspired many Americans to take action, raise awareness, and in some cases, pay homage, to the deceased teen. Everywhere you look on the internet you can find celebrities, politicians, sports figures, even normal folks like you and me, pleading for people to sign petitions, attend marches, and wear hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin was wearing- which is what may have led to an overzealous, self-appointed, armed neighborhood watchmen to consider Martin suspicious... A suspicion which ended up costing Trayvon Martin his life. Among those who've been engaging in such hoodie-centric behavior are some notable music luminaries, like Diddy, Frank Ocean, Swiss Beatz, Nelly, Ludacris, and Jaime Foxx (What? He totally dropped a record).
As I stated earlier, taking a picture of yourself wearing a hoodie and posting it to your twitter account isn't the only way some have raised awareness of the Martin case. A number of musicians like Janelle Monae, Cher, John Legend, Macy Gray, and Wyclef have signed and tweeted links to the Change.org petition requesting the Florida Attorney General (at the very least) bring up charges against George Zimmerman for his involvment in the shooting. According to Change.org, the petition, which already has more than two million signatures, is the fastest growing the site has ever seen. Other efforts by artists to shed light on the Martin case include tumblings by Frank Ocean, and an open letter written by Sinead O’Connor to Martin’s family, though I am sure that there’ll be countless more similar endeavors before the day Martin’s family gets justice in court.
One last thing... It’s important to remember that even if Zimmerman gets put on trial, no justice this human existence can offer will be able to give Martin’s family their son back. Which is why what they are fighting for is more than just the memory of Trayvon; they're fighting for the life of every minority who decides to wear a hoodie on the way to 7-11 to buy Skittles and a can of Arizona.
Madonna 1 - Morgan 0: Piers Morgan is a British curmudgeon who fancies himself to be a combination of Simon Cowell and Larry King (the fact that he inherited King’s late night CNN time slot hasn't helped this delusion). In a recent attempt to garner some publicity, Morgan supposedly banned Madonna from his television show because she was “too vegan for TV” and now that Lady Gaga exists there is no reason to speak to Madge anymore. Well, in an attempt to get some mileage out of a banning no one cared about, Morgan reminded Madonna about it this week during her one-day-only Twitter-fest, firing off this gem: Welcome to Twitter @MadonnaMDNAday - you're still banned from my show. Love Piers x.
This time Morgan pushed Madonna too far, and her manager responded to Piers' bating by posting a PDF version of an email invitation Morgan sent to Madonna’s camp, requesting her appearance on his UK show, which was written 10 months after Morgan let the whole world know how awful he thought Madonna was, and that she was “banned” (BURN!!!). Morgan immediately tried to both save face and split hairs as he took to Twitter to explain that Madonna was only banned from his American show - not his U.K. show - but now, because of the PDF fiasco, she is banned from both (puh-lease).
Look, I am by no means a blind Madonna supporter (read on for my review of MDNA), but Piers Morgan HAS to realize that this situation makes him look like a disingenuous moron of the highest order. Not only would Morgan trade all of his memories and probably most of his organs for the tiniest sliver of Madonna’s success, but this makes him look like a pathetic amateur. Besides, do you really think Madonna gives a fuck that she is “banned” from Piers Morgan?
MDNA is only slightly better than Hard Candy (Madonna’s last release), but that isn't saying terribly much. The truth is, Madonna has been incapable of casting off the shackles of mediocrity for quite some time, ever since Confessions On A Dance Floor to be exact, and those shackles have now become a permanent accessory (like a Life Alert bracelet or something)... [Full Review]
In news that makes me giddy, Drake has decided his next music video will be a reenactment of his actual Bar Mitzvah. There are some pictures from the set on the Internet, and they pretty much indicate this will be the year’s best music video... Humanity shed a collective tear this week when it learned Australian garage-rock revivalists Jet broke up. I hope you're all observant enough to detect the sarcasm in that last sentence... Music’s best dressed band, The Walkmen, have announced the release date for their upcoming follow-up to Lisbon. I hope that each CD comes with a band approved pocket-square... The California punk-pop outfit known as Dum Dum Girls have revealed some tour dates. You should go check these ladies out, just try not to drool... If you would like to make the women in your life happy, I suggest you point them in the direction of this clip of Andrew Bird performing on Fallon. Before you even ask: Yes, there is whistling, and yes, it's annoying... The Smashing Pumpkins are set to release their first record since 2007 on June 19th. Apparently Corgan reads my emails... After finding out that the term “bender” is a derogatory word for homosexuals in Europe, The Morning Benders have officially changed their name to Pop Etc. Wait till they find out what Etc. means in Mandarin... Honorary Haitians Arcade Fire have released a video clip for Sprawl II, which they made while engaging in their tireless charity work within Haiti. There is no joke here; the video is endearing at times, and these Canadians are doing good work out there...
Top Ten List:
Eric Clapton has two extremely famous nicknames. One is Slow Hand, a nickname he earned while playing with John Mayall & The Blues Breakers in the late 1960s, and the other is God, a nickname he earned partially because of a famous act of vandalism... and partially because he is one of the greatest guitarists to ever live. As a member of the The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes, and as a solo artist, Clapton has composed, performed, and recorded some of the greatest riffs, songs, and solos the world has ever known. Many years ago I read somewhere that Eric Clapton is who Jesus turns into when he picks up a guitar, and to this day that line brings a smile to my face. Today is Clapton’s birthday, he is now 67, and these are some of his best songs of all-time.
10) Tears In Heaven
9) For Your Love
8) Strange Brew
6) I Feel Free
4) Sunshine Of Your Love
2) White Room
Clip Of The Week:
Although the Clip Of The Week is a new segment, it has quickly become one of my favorites. So far, I've provided you with clips showcasing concert insanities of all sorts, amazing Kanye freestyles, and historic jams involving former Beatles. All of those clips have been entertaining but today, friends, I'm bringing you the best clip in the brief history of Clip Of The Week.
Allow me to take you back for a moment, to the horrible transition period that was the late 80s/early 90s. Twas a time illuminated by neon, a world dealing with Bush the father, and a highly embarrassing era for anyone “on the scene” at the time. The success of television shows like American Bandstand and Soul Train had spawned numerous clones and every weekend viewers at home could tune into a plethora of programs which starred awkward teenagers dancing to the latest and hottest music. Back then, landing a spot on one of these TV shows could do wonders for an act’s career, so all sorts of artists made their way to these television studios in order to pantomime and lip-synch their tunes, just praying that kids in America would go out and buy their latest cassette tapes (you totally read that right). One particular band who made such a journey was a then-little-known industrial band from Cleveland named Nine Inch Nails, which leads me to what you are about to watch.
Below is a COMPLETELY AMAZING clip of Nine Inch Nails performing their debut single, Down In It, on the TV show Dance Party USA, which surfaced on the Internet this week. Everything about this clip is priceless: Trent’s hair and scrunchie, the awful attempts at faking the track by everyone in the band, and most of all, every facet of the people in the audience (from their fashion to their dancing). I promise you dear reader, this will be the greatest thing you have seen all week. Enjoy!
It should be noted that even Trent Reznor was amused by the recent unearthing of this video, and he took to Twitter to share his thoughts:
“Many years ago, a young and naive Nine Inch Nails were asked what TV shows they'd be interested in appearing on. As a joke (and likely drunk), they thought of the most absurd choice they could come up with at the time. They were then informed their bluff had been called and were actually booked on said show... They hopped in their Honda Civic touring vehicle (hatchback) and travelled many miles to (I think) NJ for the big show. They had a laugh making fun of the people, their fashion choices and hairstyles. Life was good. Years later, the internet is discovered... There's a moral in there somewhere. Come to think of it, Skrillex may indeed owe me some publishing on that hairdo...”
I repeat... AMAZING!!!
Track Of The Week:
The House That Heaven Built - Japandroids: Over the course of my tenure as Culture Blues music czar, I've had the distinct pleasure of exposing both my internet haters and devotees to songs, bands, and records they maybe weren’t all that familiar with. While that aspect of my calling is very rewarding, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that even I, your humble narrator, have experienced some similar discoveries over the years. One of my favorite such musical revelations came in the form of two Vancouver natives who go by "Japandroids" and have a penchant for melting off faces with their high-energy brand of rock. Recently the 'droids have announced that their second LP, Celebration Rock, will be dropping in June. In order to whet our appetite they've unveiled The House That Heaven Built, the album’s first single, a five minute ear-bleeder that'll make you want to break everything in your room. In a good way.