Letters 11-30-2015

“Snapshots” of Islam Offensive  In his latest effort (Northern Express Nov. 23 - Nov. 29, 2015,) David Kachadurian provides a jumble of FYI disclosures pertaining to Islam and Muslim societies, and posing as if providing a public service announcement, he advises the readers to ponder their import and to “make of them what you will.”

Not Another War To these people who believe we need to be at war in the Middle East all the time: try thinking about getting the countries that are in the area to take care of these bad guys instead of us. We are almost in constant war and have been as long as most can remember...

The Unvaccinated Are Punished Pulling healthy children from school due to a so called “outbreak” of a mild childhood illness isn’t for the safety of the community, as we’re being led to believe. It’s to prove a point that the health department will follow through on their threats to exclude the unvaccinated from all school related events, whenever they see fit...

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4Play: Beastie Boys, Friendly Fires, Panda Bear, Fleet Foxes

Kristi Kates - May 2nd, 2011
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 - Capitol
Not since the late ‘90s have the Beasties made such a festive, sassy racket. Opening with first single “Make Some Noise,” the Beasties are back in grand form, modernizing their production values while (thankfully) sticking masterfully to their own brand of retro hip-hop sound - no need to conform when you’re this cool. That aforementioned opening track has synths and knows how to use ‘em, while other influences surface, too, just for texture, such as the punky rhythms on “Lee Majors…,” the shoutouts to classic rap on “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” and the intergalactic funk of “Here’s a Little Something For Ya.”

Friendly Fires - Pala - XL Recordings
Electro-art-popsters Friendly Fires recorded their sophomore set in a pair of studios in France and London, doling out their already-expected catchy choruses into a brew of NYC-influenced postpunk strumming, grand pianos, and busy beats. Huge drums anchor songs like “Hurting” and “Pull Me Back to Earth,” while standouts like “Live Those Days Tonight” and “Chimes” lean more towards radio-pop than art club. Tribal rhythms and undertones play a role in a few of the other songs, including “Running Away,” “Hawaiian Air,” and the darker, ominous title track; closer “Helpless” brings back the thick synths for a thoughtful finale.

Panda Bear - Tomboy - P Tracks
Since PB played the majority of these songs live before they were recorded, there was likely a pretty good idea what would succeed on-record and what wouldn’t, hence this very focused tracklisting. It’s much the same Panda Bear of yore, with the droning, cyclical song patterns that fans have learned to expect (and look forward to), but there are a few flourishes here, such as effect-laden percussion and guitars taking many of the sampler roles, that add new layers of interest. Stnadouts include the huge focus and atmospherics of “Scheherazade” and the shoe-gazy, downhearted meditation of “Slow Motion.”

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues - Sub Pop
Recorded in Woodstock, NY and Seattle, folk-rockers Fleet Foxes have pulled sounds from a variety of insightful peers for this set, including The Byrds, CSN, and Van Morrison, among others. Actual blues are scarce, but the harmonies will be instantly recognizable to music-history aficionados as arriving from that same timeline, especially on tracks like “The Plains/Bitter Dancer,” “Montezuma,” and “The Shrine/An Argument” - although the latter throws in some jazzy experimentation that seems a little out-of-place; other tracks worthy of highlighting include the island flair of “Lorelai” and the mysterious strings of “Bedouin Dress.”
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