David Howard King @davidhowardking
Mess by Liars
Hopping from agressive and disjointed No Wave, to sophisticated electronic soundscapes–Liars have kept fans and critics guessing since their inception in the early aughts. Their latest single, an electro-clash stomper called “Cred Woes”, finds lead singer Angus Andrew moaning about working a minimum wage job, “with all of the management in their teens.” Its sexy, confrontational, and real. I was so jolted by the single that I’ve spent quite a bit of time revisiting their last LP MESS-an album that critics accused of struggling to keep up with current electronic music. But listening to Mess now I realize just how poignant it is. The thin electro instrumentation and odd samples create an very svelte urban soundtrack to Andrew’s half Beck, half Peter Steele vocal delivery. “Mess on a Mission” takes on particulary poignancy in 2017 with Andrew singing “Facts are facts and fiction’s fiction.” What may have brought Mess to the front of my mind is Arcade Fire’s latest album Everything Now. Arcade Fire, rather than fumbling their own way into dance music, hired the best producers–folks from Daft Punk, Portishead and the like. The result is the band spouting the same platitudes about detachment in modern culture over slick dance beats. It doesn’t work–especially in 2017–a time when the band could have helped itself by moving from solemn lamentation to real-world outrage, or even perhaps portraits of the people impacted by the horrors they long prophesized. But Liars, on Mess and on their new single, use the hollow and bombastic sound of electro to emphasize themes of detachment and hopelessness. Arcade fire just keep signing the same song with new producers.
Jaya Sundaresh @jayaist
This week, I’m all about my mother. It’s her birthday, and I’m back home in West Hartford, Connecticut, to celebrate with her. I don’t get to see my mom a lot. She lives, most of the year, in India. She’s leaving in a few weeks for a fellowship in Berlin, and when she’s done with that, she’s moving to India permanently, probably to Bangalore, where she’ll work.
My mom, in addition to being my mom, is Meera Nanda, renowned Indian academic, a historian and philosopher of science who spends her time fighting superstition and the Hindu right wing in India.
I clearly get my smarts from her. 😉
Luke Stoddard Nathan @lukestdnathan
The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger
“Today’s Department of Justice has lost the will and indeed the ability to go after the highest-ranking corporate wrongdoers,” ProPublica reporter Jesse Eisinger writes in the introduction to The Chickenshit Club, a new book about this very topic. “Prosecutors don’t simply struggle to put executives for ‘Too Big to Fail’ banks in prison. They also cannot hold accountable for wrongdoing executives from a gamut of large corporations: from pharmaceuticals, to technology, to large industrial operations, to retail giants.”
The book borrows its title from a speech given by then-U.S. Attorney James Comey to the Southern District of New York’s criminal division in 2002. Comey told the largely young group of prosecutors that if they had never lost a case, they belonged to the “Chickenshit Club.” But the entire DoJ, Eisinger shows, now seems to have joined the club, eschewing potentially thorny trials for deferred prosecution agreements.
Katie Cusack @katiecusackk
Playing with paints
I’ve had blank canvases in the back of my closet for years. I don’t remember when I bought them or why but I never got rid of them. After finding a set of oil paints and pastels in the basement, I figured it was high time I do something about it, seeing as I’m regularly fascinated and de-stressed by the old Bob Ross specials on Netflix. (What a guy.)
Even if you can’t draw a stick figure, I highly recommend throwing yourself into some paints. Maybe literally, it’s up to you. You might find yourself developing some real skills while taking a mental break from the day, or maybe you just swirl a few colors together on the canvas without any realized shape or form. That’s cool too–Google artists like Gerhard Richter, anything goes.