Sunday, 6 March 2011

Political music in the present tense, Part I

Enter Shikari - 'Fanfare for the Conscious Man' (2009)

Learned about these via some of my sixth form students; it is the sort of symphonic rock that ELP could never have advanced - informed by electro and righteous politics. It has been rare to hear such an estuary accent (they are from St Albans) declaim such socialist sentiments. Perhaps the sign of changing times.

Devlin - 'Community Outcast' (2010)

I'd be interested to hear whether there is much more politically conscious British music in this vein. The R&B and grime genres have rarely seemed to yield much political insight in previous years, but surely this has to change.

Digital Mystikz, feat. Spen G - 'Anti-War Dub' (2006)

Was speaking to a second-year A Level student recently about how to answer an exam question that concerned the interaction of pop music and politics. The article (from a recent past paper) concerned Cameron's quotes on the Smiths and mentioned the likes of Bragg and Weller. I asked the student about dubstep and he didn't seem to think it could be political, or that the audience could be politicised. This track seems to suggest at least an anti-imperialist current within the genre, and a BBC journalist seems to have picked up on some dubstep influence within the student protests last year:

Chris T-T - 'A Plague on Both Our Houses' (2005)

'The house of money and the house of God' - an earnest attack on fundamentalist belief in religious and in the neo-liberal market.

Future of the Left - 'Fuck the Countryside Alliance' (2007)

Dan Le Sac Versus Scroobius Pip - 'Stake a Claim' (2010)

Civil disobedience.

Rude Corps - 'Imperfect (But Alive and Trying)' (2010)

Toddla T, feat. Benjamin Zephaniah & Joe Goddard - 'Rebel' (2009)

Humane Sheffield electro with Hot Chip singer Goddard and Benjamin Zephaniah. Wise call to rebellion.

The Unthanks - 'The Testimony of Patience Kershaw' (2009)

The good old days.

The Durutti Column - 'How Unbelievable' (2009)

That great European elegist Vini Reilly and, movingly, the late Anthony Wilson, lament twelve wasted years.

Suburban Kids with Biblical Names - 'Europa' (2009)

The evocative sense of a continent held together by 'people being terribly nice to each other'.

PJ Harvey - 'Let England Shake' (2011)

Martin Parr-like video; this is the title-track (previewed last year on the Andrew Marr show in front of a transfixed Gordon Brown) from a fascinating, meticulously constructed new album.

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