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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Barftroop - Filthy girls doing foul things for fun

Tonight I'd like to introduce you to Babeo Baggins and the Barftroop whose motto is the brutally simple - "Fuck with us or don't, its that simple." That's right, if you want straight talking and in your face attitude then you've come to the right place. Do you remember back in January when I wrote about the sexily subversive hip hop of Lady Boners and their song Bacon Pancakes? Well, if you liked that then you're going to love this. Barftroop is five young women from the US who all met through being bloggers. Marshaled by the formidable Babeo Baggins they set about challenging the negative stereotype of the 'black female rapper' through their provocative and exciting music and art. The five members of Barftroop are;

Babeo Baggins
Babenstein
Baberella Fox
Babe Field, and
Justin Baber

I came across their music on bandcamp and soundcloud and I immediately found it arresting. It's loosely within the hip-hop tradition but is obviously much freer and playful than that genre normally allows.
I was also taken by the humour and the bold, explicit sexuality in the music and in the accompanying visual art (which can be found on the Barftroop tumblr page). It seemed to me that this playfully assertive attitude might be an aspect of the group's feminism and I put that question to Barftroop ringleader Babeo. She replied:

"When it comes to our feminism I'd say it's an EXTREMELY important part of our music.
Speaking for myself, my sexual content is greatly influenced by my feminism. As you can hear, my voice is very light and innocent. It's sort of me showing that you can be a sexual creature and not lose your innocence. Because innocence is held in some strange, important light when it comes to women, and if you have sex or talk about sexual things people deem it 'gone' as if it's a bad thing to be sexual. Or as if I have to be completely pure to still have a grasp on my innocence. As though my sexuality should make me feel guilty and ashamed so that there's no way I could still be innocent. I don't like that thought process. I just want anyone who listens to my music, mainly women, to feel like you can be sexual and sweet and innocent. You can be anything you want to be, no one has the right to tell you any different.
I think just Barf Troop as a whole, for all the girls-is just us expressing everything we want to express with no filter whatsoever."



I asked Babeo about the band's stated intention not to be confined by labels, especially that of 'black, female rappers'. Specifically, I wanted to know hat were the annoying negative aspects of that stereotype for Barftroop?  She replied:

"The negative aspects of the black female rapper would have to be that idea that we're all "rough" and "mean" or "rude". We're all different and we bring a different sort of rapping style to the "black female rapper" image and I'm excited about that. I'm happy to be able to say that I'm a (part) black woman and I'm rapping and I'm not being "hard". I'm rapping about nerdy things and sexual things in a sweet way and being shy and silly. You don't HAVE to be anything just because you're a black female rapper and I think that's what it's about for us. Breaking the stereotypes, but just being ourselves."

So, that's the Barftroop ideology and it serves them well. To hear how it feeds into their music, here are some of the tracks they've produced over the last year:





Hope you liked those. As you can see, all tracks are available as free digital downloads and there are plenty more great tracks like these on Barftroop's bandcamp page.

The last thing worth noting about Barftroop is the group's fantastically vibrant and colourful cartoon art, which I briefly mentioned above . These posters and covers are designed for them by artist and Barftroop fan Yuta Sakakibara and they are graphically, brutally, sexually explicit but with the cutesy overtones of Japanese pop culture. This bizarre combination somehow suits Barftroop perfectly.
Have a look:

























Griff
xx

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Everybody's got one - now you can get one too!



Everybody knows that the Streetlamp had a little bit of an infatuation with London's bentcousin last year, with the 2012 Streetlamp festive Thirty featuring no less than two of the band's songs.
If you've not had a chance to catch up with them yet, this week is the ideal opportunity as they release their 6-track EP, Everybody's Got One on Team Love records this Tuesday, February 19th.

As regards the music on the EP, the band range from a sweet, quasi-folk style to punk/glam rock stompers, so they can be quite hard to pin down (oooh, steady!).



Anyway, here's a quick round up of what to expect:

Track 1, bentpaperboy, is one of the folky ones with Amelia's soft vocals sparsely accompanied by a nicely-picked Paul Simonesque guitar. This has a clever lyric that is chock-full of English cultural references, which gives it a homely charm. I really liked this, as it is the closest in style on the EP to last year's I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You, which I was particularly taken with.

Track 2, Slade, sees Pat take over vocal duties. This is one of the rockers on the album and although it has British musical antecedents, imagine the Jesus and Mary Chain playing glam rock (if you're imagining The Damned then that's about right), Pat's Richard Butler-like vocals stray a little too much into mid-Atlantic waters for my taste.

Track 3, I Quit You, is my least favourite track on the EP. Its meaty guitar riff keeps reminding me of Transvision Vamp, which is something I don't like to be reminded of. Sorry, guys.

Track 4, F.O.R.G.E.T., is my favourite new track from this lot. This has a funky/indie feel that evokes São Paulo's CSS, or for people of a certain age, is very reminiscent of Orange Juice. In particular, Pat's vocal, like a young Sarf Lahndan Edwin Collins is spot on.

Track 5, Glittery Joe, Is another punk/glam rocker this time filtered through a Britpop influence. Think Blondie meets Elastica with a hint of Suede.

The EP ends with Track 6, I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You, with which you should all be familiar. This is the band's calling card and it really is a wonderful track with Amelia's vocals set off by a great folk/jazz guitar accompaniment. It is available as a free download from the Team Love site.


This new EP sees bentcousin retain those aspects that we love, the playful, witty overtones and the mischievous, sleazy sexiness and it takes those and mixes them up with folk, punk, Britpop and glam to fun, but variable, effect. Where this band really hit the mark for me though is when they hit their funky, indie Orange Juice evoking stride on F.O.R.G.E.T. This sound is hinted at elsewhere on here and its this, I think, this genre-hopping band do best.


Griff
xx

Monday, 11 February 2013

Scrap Trident - Scotland's April 15 moment!


Most people with an active interest in Scottish politics will now be aware that this April we will see an unprecedented weekend of protest and action in this country, demonstrating the opposition of the ordinary people of Scotland to nuclear weapons.
There have been protests in the past, of course, but I deliberately suggest that this particular weekend of action, from the 13th to the 15th of April, is unprecedented for two reasons.


Firstly, in responding to the fact that the Scottish independence movement has put Trident in the forefront of political debate in Scotland and beyond, the Scrap Trident protest is being organised by a broad and diverse coalition movement that brings together virtually all of Scotland's radical, grassroots, political activists into one united movement. Some of the organisations currently involved include:

Scottish CND,
Trident Ploughshares,
Faslane Peace Camp,
Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
Stop the War Scotland, (Edinburgh site), (Glasgow site),
Radical Independence Campaign,
Scottish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,
Scottish Greens,
Scottish Socialist Party,
Socialist Workers Party, and the
International Socialist Group (Scotland)  

The second and, to my mind, more important reason that this weekend is unprecedented is that this weekend of action has been deliberately designed to demonstrate to the people of Scotland the power that currently lies with them, and not the politicians, in deciding the future of nuclear weapons in Scotland and, beyond that, throughout the world. 

The people of Scotland are in a privileged position right now as they have the ability to create an extra-parliamentary, mass movement, that can not only act definitively on Trident removal but can decide, away from the corrosive influence of self-interested party politics, on their own vision for the future of this country. 

And they don't have to wait until next year's referendum, they can start to show, as soon as this April, that power resides with the people and not the parliamentary institutions by, not just attending the national demonstration in Glasgow on April 13th, but by signing up for the workshops, meetings and direct action training on April 14th and then the mass blockade of the Trident base at Faslane on Monday 15th.

In this writer's opinion, it is this aspect of the weekend which holds the greatest promise. For here, is an opportunity to solidify our message in the most positive and empowering way. Those people who, as a very first experience of direct people power, take part in this blockade will never be the same again. For with participation will come the realisation that they can begin to write their own political agendas, that they can find a nurturing, encouraging place that gives voice to their concerns and, that they never need seek the permissions of unyielding self-serving elites again. Only with that sort of entitlement can the people of Scotland, and the people of the whole world, begin to make the changes that allow us to become a society united in trust, compassion, hope and generosity rather than one riven apart by fear, greed and deceit. 

So, Scotland stands on the brink of great change and this small country can seize the opportunity to lead the whole world in nuclear disarmament. That in itself is momentous and significant. But, as students of the global anti-war movement may know, there is an extra significance to the date of the blockade - April 15th. By accident or design the choice of that particular date ties our anti-war struggle firmly into the rich, world-wide anti-war tradition. I'd like to take you now on a little trip, illustrated throughout by some of the iconography of the past, that highlight the connotations of the April 15th date.



April 15th 1967, in the US saw the first mass burning of draft cards as 400,000 anti-war activists marched in New York City and 80,000 marched in San Francisco to oppose the Vietnam War. These mass marches were the culmination of the Spring Mobilization Committee's April 10-15th Vietnam Week of protest. This protest saw draft card burnings and turn-ins and anti-draft recruiter demonstrations all over the country. In New York, the speakers at the rally included Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Benjamin Spock.

The preparations and plans for the historic April 15th demonstration brought many new organizations and forces into action and the student wing of the antiwar movement really blossomed into a powerful force for change and radicalisation. Moreover, the April 15th action had a tremendous impact on American opinion. Half a million Americans, from all walks of life, made dissent from the war and opposition to the government legitimate. April 15 was a demonstration by the antiwar movement of the breadth of mass opposition to the war and the possibility of organizing it. Furthermore, it convinced previously uninvolved groups, tendencies and individuals to participate in and build the antiwar movement.




Once the antiwar movement had helped to make dissent legitimate, public confidence in the government was shaken. The precedent for aggressively disagreeing with and challenging the government had been established. That there now existed in the country a large movement, encouraging, even demanding, that people speak out and act in a radical manner, had a profound effect on the political consciousness of the American people. Indeed, it had the potential of preparing and promoting a mass radicalisation of almost the entire populace. 




The Spring Mobilisation Committee, and associated groups, held further mass demonstrations on April 15th almost every year subsequently, right up until 1972 where, between April 15-28, the US experienced a wave of antiwar protests on campuses and outside military and defense-industry installations resulting in hundreds of arrests across the country.









And it isn't just in the US that April 15th carries no little significance for the anti-war movement. In the 1980s, Australia experienced a significant growth of nuclear disarmament activism. On April 15th 1984, 250,000 protesters attended nuclear disarmament rallies all across the country. That same year, The Nuclear Disarmament Party was formed and won a Senate seat.

Unfortunately, the Australians rather missed a trick on the old iconography front by failing to include the date on their badges. Ah well, here are a couple of examples from the period anyway:



So, where stands Scotland now?  Can we build a mass anti-war movement that will bring thousands on to the street? Yes, I believe we can, and we will, this April. What is more, we can do something that the protesters, unfortunately, couldn't achieve despite their heroic efforts in the US and Australia - we can unilaterally disarm a nuclear power.

The menace of Trident has been with us for too long. We now have a unique and unmissable opportunity to end our complicity in the active deployment of these abhorrent weapons. To that end, ordinary people who hope for a peaceful world have to keep the pressure up and ensure that this issue is at the forefront of everyone's mind as they decide on the future of Scotland.


We now need to be be mobilising for this event in every corner of Scotland to create a mass movement, extra-parliamentary, insurance policy to ensure that Holyrood has the impetus to act definitively on Trident removal, whether we get independence or not. Together, we can make the Scrap Trident weekend shake the very foundations of the establishment and, together, we can make our very own April 15th moment echo long and proudly down through the ages of history. 


And here's a little something I put together to inspire us:


Supporting the weekend:
You can add your name or the name of your organisation to the list of individuals and groups supporting this demonstration at the Scrap Trident website or by contacting info@scraptrident.org.





If you have a blog or website, you can show your support by getting a blog badge like the one above by visiting 'here' to get the code you need.Even better, you could write a blog in support of the Scrap Trident weekend.


Getting involved:
Please get in touch to find out more or get involved. Come to the Plenary Meeting in Glasgow in the STUC Building, between 7-9pm, on Tuesday 12th February or help mobilise for the event at stalls in town centres across Scotland this Saturday, 16th February.


If you want to take part in the blockade, you can request free direct action training any time between now and the event. Also, everything you need to know for the blockade will be covered during the workshops on Sunday 14th and there will be a detailed blockade briefing pack available on the Scrap Trident website



Basic accommodation and catering will be provided in Glasgow for all three days of this event, for the price of a donation. There will also be transport arranged to Faslane for the blockade for a small fixed price. If you are planning to come, you need to register for the accommodation and transport. Please see the contact details below to request a registration form.

Contact:

Leonna O'Neill Faslane Peace Camp 07511793227

Keir McKechnie Stop The War 07773815073

Donations:

Mobilising to create this mass movement and action against nuclear weapons is an expensive operation and every little helps! If you wish to contribute financially, please send donations to: 

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
 St. John's Church, 
Princes Street, 
Edinburgh, 
EH21 2DP. 

Please indicate clearly that your donation is for the “Scrap Trident” event and make cheques payable to “Trident Ploughshares”. You could even hold a fundraiser or do a collection in your work place or amongst friends.


Griff


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Eats, shoots and plays indie-pop


 While Griff is away storming the barricades of the establishment etc etc, it's up to me to keep the flame of twee indie-pop flying high. I'm going to do that with a song from a few years ago, but which I never get tired of hearing. As you, no doubt, know by now, we here at The Streetlamp love our furry little friends, none more so than the panda, which is our totem animal who came to us in a collective hallucination in Gordon's house one night. 
So, the other day, whilst meandering through the enchanted musical forest of Last FM, I came across a secluded clearing that I had not visited in many years. Fate must have guided me here. My heart leapt as once again I was greeted by the poptastic sound of Papa Topo and their signature tune Oso Panda, blasting from my speakers like an exotic bird calling to its mate across the jungle canopy (you've tortured this jungle metaphor long enough, Ray. Let it go! - Griff).

Here it is now, and as befits a great pop song it has a great pop video:





So who are these half animal, half human hybrid musicians? 

Papa Topo was originally a Spanish indie pop duo formed in 2008 by Adrià Arbona Orero and Paulita Demaiz Since that time, Paulita has left and the band has expanded into a six piece. Oso Panda was Papa Topo's debut single and it is a perfect encapsulation of the Spanish twee pop sound. It was released in 2010 by Elefant Records with whom the band are still signed. Whether they'll ever match the perfect pop vibe of their debut though I just don't know and I don't suppose it really matters - with Oso Panda they have made just about as good a pop song as anyone ever has. You can download it for free too 'here' .

Ray

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Get your own Scrap Trident blog button!

You may have noticed that the Streetlamp now comes decorously fitted out with its very own Scrap Trident hyperlink button (see our sidebar, to the right). Naturally, if you have your own blog, you'll want to show that you too support 2013's most important radical event - a chance over three days in April for the people of Scotland to demonstrate what they really think about the weapons of mass destruction parked on our doorstep. Well, now you can. Below, is a rather nice 125 pixel square badge for your own use. The code you need to display it is provided right alongside. Just copy and paste it into your own HTML editor and Hey Presto! Clicking the button will take you right on to the ScrapTrident home page where your webpage visitors can sign in to show their support or donate to the cause.

If you have a webpage, make sure it has its Scrap Trident button in place this Spring. It's what all the best websites are wearing!

If you have any bother with the HTML code provided, please get in touch with me at the sadpanda email adress above and I'll see if I can help.

Griff

 ScrapTrident” /><div style=<a href="http://scraptrident.org/" target="_self"><img src="http://i1308.photobucket.com/albums/s603/scraptrident/scraptridentbadge_zpsf947d82f.jpg" alt="ScrapTrident" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Private Life of A Cat

Griff mentioned in a recent post that I'm a big fan of vintage movies, and I won't deny it. If its black and white and/or features no audible soundtrack then, generally, I'm all over it. Recently, I've been reappraising the work of Alexander Hammid, the Czechoslovakian photographer and film-maker who, along with his wife, the luminously beautiful Maya Deren, became an icon of avant-garde cinema in the US. Both are most well-known for their collaboration on the ground-breaking surrealist movie Meshes of the Afternoon but I wanted to write about another, more domestic, and less famous production that the couple collaborated on, which is once of the most beautifully photographed short films that I've ever seen. 


The film in question is their 1947 production 'The Private Life of A Cat'. This 22 minute, silent movie has a beautifully simple premise - it shows the courting of two cats, the birth of their five kittens, the kittens' gradual maturation and first attempts at exploration and, finally, the moment they grow independent of their doting parents. That may not sound particularly action packed but, the way that Hammid and Deren get intimate shots of the cats and then carefully edit these into a human-like narrative, makes for a genuinely heart-warmig and captivating work of art. See for yourself:



Amazing and touching. Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, you're in luck as I'll probably feature more of Hammid and Deren's work over the next few months.

Ray