Stuck in a rut? Dose up on some outsider opinion in our column dedicated to outspoken tunes
The internet has become the perfect place for everyone from your boss-eyed aunt to Pope Francis to personally push their agendas on you – and music has always been there to subliminally force your hand. So what happens when those worlds collide? A political platform is formed, and it’s one nearly everyone has the power to use. There’s a wave of new opinions pouring in at every angle, every second of the day, and it’s up to you to strain out what’s worth listening to.
This column is meant to act as a helping hand. By filtering through the best of punk, post-punk, hardcore, electronica, whatever – I’ll be seeking the best of bands and artists speaking from the heart about things most people would rather not look in the eye.
Larkin GrimmI Don't Believe
After Larkin Grimm posted a Facebook entry describing how Swans’ Michael Gira raped her at the beginning of last month, there was a cacophony of voices talking about sexism, power and misogyny in the music industry. Then, as quickly as the flurry of thinkpieces and Twitter posts descended, they thinned and disappeared.
Grimm posted this song in response to that reaction: a way of recapturing her voice, not just as a survivor shaped by media coverage, but as a musician and woman with her own agency and story. The refrain of “I don’t believe you” is repeated over and over again against delicate, spindly harp, and lyrics that touch on depression, anger and despair in the aftermath of the whirl of opinion (“I wish that I could die, I wish that you would die too”) bob above the pretty sway of sounds.
The Spook SchoolSpeak When You're Spoken To
Here’s an adorable video for Speak When You’re Spoken To, one of many indie pop hits taken from DIY queer punk band The Spook School’s excellent second album of last year, Try To Be Hopeful.
Requested as something “a bit more alternative” from a pet shop manned by the hilarious Josie Long, the band are taken in by a lonely bloke who, despite being woken up by their nocturnal gigging, forms a strong bond with the Edinburgh quartet – though watch out, as the end might have you hotfooting it down to your local rescue centre.
This super lovely but super unassuming lo-fi psych pop track from Andy Molholt, AKA Laser Background, doesn’t immediately scream ‘pain’, but the story behind it is fraught. Detailing the story of how Molholt’s friend is being abused by her partner, it conveys the horror of the tale in a gentle, coaxing manner. “I can’t explain how much it feels like you’re sleeping with the enemy,” it opens. “Let me into your apartment so I can set you free.”
Molholt tells the full story to Impose: “I watched, as one human completely exploited and manipulated another for self gain. Mercilessly, and blatantly. It was truly tragic. I watched this person borrow my roommate’s car for days without asking, return it with no gas & park it in a bad spot so it got a ticket & then never pay the ticket. I listened to my roommate tell me stories about this person being a real true abuser. Inevitably, they would still welcome this person back with open arms no matter what the circumstance… This song is a shattering call to free yourself from the toxic boundaries that we create for ourselves. Life is too short! Don’t waste it.”
Yet again, I fish out a random album from the depths of Bandcamp and can’t find anything about them on the World Wide Web. What am I doing wrong? Even a reverse image search brought up zilch. Anyway, this self-titled, stomping hardcore LP from Chicago four-piece CHEW bangs. Vocalist Doris Carroll edges the relentless aggression that cuts from all angles with gritty wails that throw punches at the police, rape culture, and antipsychotics.
This LP from Eureka California deals with a few things that have been rattling around my brain recently: going sober, not ever feeling like yourself, and how to deal with it when a bad day turns into a bad week, which turns into a bad month, which then turns into a very sucky year (so far).
The duo specialise in hummable riffs, and catchiness of the tunes and the unmistakable echoes of a pop punk past make these tough subjects easy to listen to, however hard they are to say.