Top 10 Protest Songs of the 21st Century


4. Talib Kweli & Cornel West - Bushonomics

Probably the least subtle of the songs on the list (except for 1 & 2) Talib Kweli has never pulled any punches as a lyricist. Kweli has always had a political aspect and a sharp opinion in his music so this song comes as no surprise.

3. Tom Waits - Hoist That Rag

Ah, good ole Tom. I would have an easier time figuring this was a politically themed song if Mr. Waits weren't so hard to understand at times. Included then are the lyrics to Tom's compelling War narrative.

"Well I learned the trade
From Piggy Knowles and
Sing sing Tommy Shay Boys
god used me as hammer boys
To beat his weary drum today

Hoist that rag
Hoist that rag

The sun is up the world is flat
Damn good address for a rat
The smell of blood
The drone of files
You know what to do if
The baby cries

Hoist that rag
Hoist that rag

Well we stick our fingers in
The ground, heave and
Turn the world around
Smoke is blacking out the sun

At night I pray and clean my gun
The cracked bell ring as
The ghost bird sings and the gods
Go begging here
So just open fire
When you hit the shore
All is fair in love
And war

Hoist that rag
Hoist that rag
Hoist that rag
Hoist that rag"



The Walkmen - You & Me

The Walkmen have been on my radar since their debut album. A good friend recommended 2002's Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone to me when it came out but I didn't really get into it at that time. Looking back now I think Everyone... is a truly great album and I didn't think they would be able to make a better one. Then came You & Me.

After seeing them open for Spoon earlier this year, I didn't have huge expectations for the new record. Their show was okay, but none of the newer songs hit me upside the head with how great they were. The album however, is fucking fantastic. As Kevin said to me about it, "it just flows". Definitely one of the best albums of the year so far...and here is a video for one of the best songs off the album, 'In the New Year':

The Walkmen Myspace



Top 10 Protest Songs of the 21st Century

The list continues...

6. Arcade Fire - Intervention

Arguably the most political tune Arcade Fire have released, 'Intervention' is most certainly a swipe at Bush. There is a fantastic version of a video for this song placed with scenes from Coppola's Rumble Fish that you can see HERE, but this one set to 1984 might be a little more appropriate (plus I can't embed the other one here, heh).

5. Kris Kristofferson - 'In the News'

I'm not going to lie, I had not hear this song until I read this list. I didn't even know Kris was still making music anymore, my only experience with him in the last decade was the fine Blade films. After checking out this song a few times, the old man's still got it. You knew he had to be a badass if Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson used to hang out with him. You can conveniently read the lyrics in the video for 'In the News' below.



Erykah Badu sings 'Tyrone' with My Morning Jacket in Dallas

If you have the two albums of b-sides, rarities and covers from My Morning Jacket or if you were at Bonnaroo this year, you know that MMJ does a mean live cover of Erykah Badu's 'Tyrone'. Saturday night Badu joined MMJ on stage in Dallas to lend her vocals to their cover of her tune. Damn.

You should also all check this out, because it makes me giggle.



New Music: Chairlift

I don't know too much about Brooklyn's Chairlift but I have a copy of their debut album, Does You Inspire You, and I have to say I like most of it so far. The one song I've been pretty obsessed with on the album is 'Planet Health'. The song makes me feel sort of trashy but in a good way. It also sounds like it could have been in some 80's flick with Robert Downey Jr. where he's addicted to coke and is friends with Andrew McCarthy...maybe Less Than Zero part II. Either way here is the video, which somehow makes the song feel even trashier!

Chairlift is currently on tour opening for Yeasayer, unfortunately they're coming nowhere near here.

Chairlift Myspace


Top 10 Protest Songs of the 21st Century

Continuing Under The Radar's list of the top 10 protest songs of the 21st Century, here are numbers seven and eight.

8. Elbow - 'Leaders of the Free World'

One of my personal favorites of the songs on this list, Elbow are one of the more under appreciated bands to come out of Great Britain in the past decade. There are a couple of fabulous protest lines in here ("I think we dropped the baton like the 60's never happened", "passing the gun from father to feckless son") but this is great song overall and not only a great protest song.

7. Sleater-Kinney - 'Combat Rock'

Sleater-Kinney give a nice little wink to The Clash in the title of the number seven protest song on the list. The album this if from, One Beat, was released only a year after 9/11 and although other songs touch on the subject of the country at that time, none are as in your face as this one. My favorite lyric has to be "I love my dirty Uncle Sam".



Top 10 Protest Songs of the 21st Century

The Summer edition of Under the Radar released a Protest Issue dedicated to intersection of Music & Politics. In that issue they released a list of the Top 10 Protest Songs of the 21st Century. I thought with the election a few months away, now would be the perfect time to post these. I'm going to break it up and post two at a time.

10. Bruce Springsteen - 'How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live':

Number 10 on the list is Bruce Springsteen's version of 'How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live'. Of course, Bruce being Bruce, he can explain the meaning behind this song much better than I can.

9. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - 'What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes':

The 9th best protest song of the 21st Century is Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings with 'What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes'. Once again, the lyrics really speak for themselves, but try hard to ignore the annoying animation that was added to this perfectly fine live video.



Grizzly Bear play new Song, 'Two Weeks', on Letterman

Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear are a band I might have overlooked a bit. I bought their 2006 release, Yellow House, after hearing it hyped so much. Although there were a few songs I loved ('Knife' and 'Little Brother' in particular) overall, the album just didn't grab me. Then I saw them for the first time at Lollapalooza and was blown away. It made me go back and realize how incredible Yellow House is and look forward to their newest album, due out sometime in early 2009. Here is a performance from a few weeks ago on Letterman...the band is playing a new song, 'Two Weeks', which is one of the songs I saw them play in Chicago. It's pretty fantastic...



Isaac Hayes - Walk On By (RIP)

Fleet Foxes Concert Update

So, the Fleet Foxes show that we had originally reported at The Bottleneck may not be happening anymore. The October 13th date has been taken down off The Bottleneck's website. Let's hope that they are just rescheduling or moving the show rather than not coming through at all. Their Myspace page shows a large gap in dates from late September to late October so they may still be able to get a date in the Lawrence/KC area in there. I'll keep this updated with any news I hear.


Show Review: Lollapalooza - Sunday

What Made Milwaukee Famous - Citi Stage - 1:00

I would have felt bad if I didn't go by and at least check out a few songs from Austin's What Made Milwaukee Famous. After all, I did name this blog after my favorite song of theirs. The new album is fantastic and if I hadn't already caught them a few times in the past years I would have stayed for the whole show. Instead I had to check out The Whigs, who I hadn't see live before.

The Whigs - Myspace Stage - 1:15

It was most certainly one of the hottest sets of the weekend, but that didn't stop Athens, Georgia trio The Whigs from playing the asses off. Their new album, Mission Control, is a breath of fresh air and possibly the re-birth of the true rock trio. Live, The Whigs bring a ton of energy to their show and the drummer is a madman. They are yet another band that would fit better in a club setting, but the performance was still extremely solid.

Saul Williams - Citi Stage - 5:00

I've been a huge Saul Williams fan since I saw his movie, Slam, almost a decade ago. Saul Williams seems to be a poet at heart that just happens to be a talented MC/Musician as well. Although I though his Trent Reznor produced The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust was a bit disappointing, it was refreshing to see someone put so much of themselves into a show. It was also weird to see a few long haired metal kids in NIN shirts rocking out to a socially conscious act like Williams. I can only assume they are consuming anything that Reznor puts his stamp on. Either way Saul put on the best performance of the day, he never stood still and the fact that him and his band were all decked out didn't hurt. The highlights were definitely 'List of Demands' and seeing his 12 year old daughter sing back of vocals and dance around on stage with her Dad.

The National - Playstation 3 Stage - 7:15

The National were another can't miss show for me. I've been a huge fan since Alligator and they've been on the top of my "bands I need to see" list for a few years. Although their albums can be somewhat mellow their live show is anything but boring. First off, the band sounds absolutely flawless live and singer Matt Berninger is a great frontman. The highlight of their set was definitely the set closer 'Mr. November', which was (according to Berninger) "not dedicated to John McCain"...which makes sense considering one of The National shirts for sale at Lollapalooza was a shirt with Barack Obama picture with Mr. November written under it.

Kanye West - AT&T Stage - 8:30

Let all the haters say what they want about Kanye West. Sure he's an egomaniac and is constantly saying things that bring criticism at every turn. I don't care. I think he's an brilliant producer/MC and I think he's great for the music business and pop culture in general. Oh yeah, he also is one helluva live performer. Although the girlfriend and I were way back it was perfect to take in the huge light show he brought along. The first half of his set was essentially a non-stop medley and he played just about every song you'd think he would. Overall, I had as much fun watching his show as I did all weekend. It was an absolutely perfect way to close out the Chicago weekend with the hometown boy making 40,000+ shake their asses for an hour and a half straight.

Other shows we saw on Sunday: Black Kids, Love and Rockets, Nicole Atkins & The Sea



Show Review: Lollapalooza - Saturday

Witchcraft - Citi Stage - 12:00

Witchcraft was the only band I saw that I hadn't heard a single song from. All I knew is that they are from Sweden and sound kinda like Black Sabbath. While both of those things are true the two songs we watched of theirs were pretty good. It's always entertaining to watch hard rockers look all awkward playing in the daytime (see: The Gutter Twins). I wanted to check them out at The Jackpot last night, but there was no way my body was going to another show right away after this weekend.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - Myspace Stage - 12:15

Indianapolis' Margot & The Nuclear So and So's are another band that are playing in support of album that isn't out yet (two actually). They still played plenty of songs of The Dust of Retreat which got the biggest crowd reactions.

The Ting Tings - AT&T Stage - 12:45

This was a band I definitely thought I'd hate. The name alone is reason enough but also because the one song I'd heard on the radio was kinda annoying. My Girlfriend really wanted to see them and I obliged, but by the time they were three songs in i was into as much as anyone. Sure there isn't much depth to it but it's fun and everyone around us was enjoying the hell out of it too.

Dr. Dog - Myspace Stage - 1:30

Philadelphia natives Dr. Dog were on my list of bands to check out if there wasn't anyone else I'd rather see at the time, until they released one of the better albums of the year so far, Fate. Dr. Dog look like they might be having as much fun on stage as the audience is. They were one of the most energetic acts of the day and drew a decent crowd as well.

The Gutter Twins - AT&T Stage - 2:30

The Gutter Twins were a must-see show for me. If you aren't familiar Mark Lanegan (lead singer of The Screaming Trees/part time Queen of the Stone Age) and Greg Dulli (lead man behind The Afghan Whigs/The Twilight Singers) are the men behind The Gutter Twins. Even though the two are basically alternative rock royalty they seemed really out of their element playing to a big festival crowd in the middle of the afternoon. They looked pretty bored and limp on stage but it was a flawless sounding show. I'd imagine seeing them is a dark smoky bar would make it all that much better.

MGMT - Myspace Stage - 3:30

The most disappointing set I saw of the entire weekend went to MGMT. It wasn't bad by any means, just really boring. Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, is a near-brilliant pop tour-de-force spanning every genre from dance pop to glam rock and punk. The problem is they either don't have the musical chops or energy to match the record live. I will admit that 'Electric Feel' and 'Kids' did close out the show on the right note, but by that time I had already lost interest.

Battles - Citi Stage - 6:30

Seeing Battles over Broken Social Scene and Lupe Fiasco was one of the more difficult decisions of the weekend, but after the amazing show at The Record Bar I knew choosing to see them again wouldn't be a bad decision. Battles music is a described as math-rock which is a mix of prog/electronic/post-rock/whatever else you want to throw in there. I like to describe them as dance music for nerds. They are also an incredible live band. Battles performance of 'Atlas' was easily one of the highlights of the entire weekend.

Other bands we caught on Saturday: Spank Rock, Jamie Lidell, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Wilco (we left the Wilco show after three songs to make it to the Broken Social Scene/Yeasayer aftershow at the Metro...which ended up starting over an hour late anyway).



Show Review: Lollapalooza - Friday

Holy Fuck - AT&T Stage - 12:15

We made sure we got out to Grant Park early on Friday to catch the early set by Holy Fuck. HF were a late replacement for Noah And The Whale and after their fantastic show at The Record Bar earlier this year, I didn't mind one bit. It was a hot and sweaty way to start out the day, but it's impossible not to dance and have a good time when they're on stage.

Yeasayer - AT&T Stage - 2:15

The festival atmosphere might not be the best stage to see Brooklyn's Yeasayer. They are a fantastic live band but they are more suited for a small club then the main stage at Lollapalooza. Regardless they played a solid set and proved why they've been getting so much exposure the past year. I got to catch them again at an aftershow on Saturday when they opened for Broken Social Scene and they were definitely more in their element there.

Mates Of State - Myspace Stage - 5:15

We only stayed for about half of Mates Of State's performance but what we saw was pretty good. I haven't heard the new album yet but the songs off it sound great live. It was also nice hearing familiar tunes like 'Fraud in the 80's' and 'Like You Crazy'.

Grizzly Bear - Citi Stage - 5:45

One of the unexpected surprises for me was Grizzly Bear. I'm a casual fan of their last album, Yellow House, but getting to hear 'Little Brother' and 'The Knife' live made me come back to it and I realized how brilliant these guys are. Once again, they are just a fantastic live band who's best setting would be a dark club and if I hadn't wanted to get a good spot for Radiohead, I would have stayed for the whole set.

Bloc Party - AT&T Stage - 6:15

I was a bit apprehensive about seeing Bloc Party live. I love 2005's Silent Alarm but last year's A Weekend in the City bored the crap out of me. However, they're live set was energetic, engaging and just all around great. The songs that bored me on record I found myself nodding my head to in concert. Even though I may not seek them out on their own, I'm really glad I got to see them live.

Radiohead - AT&T Stage - 8:00

Of course, the highlight of the day/weekend/month/year (most likely) was when I finally got to see Radiohead live. Like many others, I think Radiohead are the greatest living band today and now I can say with certainty that they are the best live act around too. Radiohead played unopposed at the South end of Grant Park as close to 75,000 packed in to see them. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to see them play, but it won't take me that long to see them again. They played songs off every album except Pablo Honey and played almost all of our favorite album of 2007 In Rainbows. The highlights for me were 'Airbag', 'Reckoner' and 'Idioteque' which closed out the show. Without a doubt Radiohead are better than your favorite band.

Also, I know it was a coincidence and the fireworks were being shot off at Soldier Field, but how cool is this video below? I obviously didn't take the video, I took the photo above....where we were there weren't any douche bags talking during the end of 'Fake Plastic Trees'. It was eerily quiet up front, even between songs. It wasn't quiet because of boredom or disinterest but more of a excited-anticipation sort of quiet.

Other bands I caught but didn't get pictures of: Gogol Bordello, Rogue Wave, and Bang Camero


Fleet Foxes on Letterman

Below youi'll find the video of Fleet Foxes playing on Letterman last night. They perfomed 'Blue Ridge Mountains'...it was absolutely stunning...what's new. The Bottleneck has them listed as playing there on October 13th and hopefully that's confirmed with a date that tickets will go on sale soon.



Concert Announcements: David Byrne, Jenny Lewis, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and more...

I've been away this weekend at Lollapalooza (write up and pics soon...I'm too tired to tackle that now) and came back to see a few exciting concert announcements. David Byrne (formerly of Talking Heads) will be playing the Uptown on October 19th according to Pollstar. No word on tickets yet but be sure to get them quick because I imagine this will sell out quickly...and for very good reason.

Jenny Lewis will be playing at The Granada in Lawrence on September 18th. Once again this is according to Pollstar, so no word on when tickets will go on sale. As always, with any Jenny Lewis news, I like to take this opportunity to post photo's of Jenny (formerly of The Wizard).

Other notable concert updates: Another former...Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks will be playing Liberty Hall on November 5th with Blitzen Trapper opening.

The fantastic live act The Avett Brothers will be at Liberty Hall as well on September 16th. Rick Rubin is producing their new album for his label, American Records, which could be a great thing (the last 5 Johnny Cash records) or a horrible thing (Weezer's Make Believe).

Ray LaMontagne will be at The Uptown in KC on October 21st.

Al Green will be at the Midland Theatre on November 29th.