The new Brian Just LP is without a doubt one of our favorite records of 2017, although it hasn’t actually been released yet. He has released a couple videos to tease fans in advance of the release show at the Turf Club in just a couple weeks (details here). We have been fortunate enough to have a copy of this future classic burning up the needle on our turntable for a month now, and we still can’t pick a favorite song.
The new single out on Bandcamp couldn’t have arrived on a better day. Here’s a song to enjoy while you’re watching the eclipse beginning shortly, for those readers here in Minneapolis. Brian tells us all sales of the single on Bandcamp will go to the Climate Reality Project.
The Supreme Court announced a decision last month in a case brought by an Asian American rock band, the Slants, who were denied the right to register their name by the U.S. Copyright and Patent Office. The reason cited was that the name was disparaging and violated the Lanham Act. The band’s lead singer, Simon Tam, was quoted by NPR as saying he wanted “to change [the term] to something that was powerful, something that was considered beautiful or a point of pride instead.”
The case will have far-reaching influence in effectively striking down the provision from the Lanham Act, which was intended to prohibit copyrights that could disparage an individual or group. The most notable case may be that of the Washington Redskins football team. The Washington Times reports that “trademark law is full of confusing cases. The television show ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ was registered by the trademark office, but ‘Clearly Queer’ was rejected. ‘Permachink’ was accepted, but ‘chink proud’ was rejected.”
The case establishes, after some years of uncertainty, that the government’s stamp in the form of authorizing a trademark registration does not constitute government speech. In remaining private speech trademarks and copyrights, even the Washington Redskins’ arguably offensive one, are protected under the First Amendment.
In a Daily Show segment, Ronny Chieng (our favorite correspondent) points out the band could have chosen a much more offensive name and suggests a shocking but hilarious list: Ching and Chong Sing-a-Longs, Gook Face Killas, Wok and Rollers, and Vanilla Rice. This reminded us of a couple other bands with names which could be seen as slurs, whose records we found below.
Maybe the Wongs, whose single is credited to “Ancient Chinese Secret Music,” took their name as a tribute to Esther Wong, the promoter who is sometimes called the Godmother of punk.
And the Chinkees play on another Asian stereotype by adding a karaoke track at the end of each side of this single. It’s worth noting that this band featured Mike Park, and their records were released on his Asian Man label.
Some ghastly Halloween news from yesterday’s performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera: ashes thrown by an audience member into the orchestra pit may have been human. According to the New York Times, the incident unfolded during the second intermission of an anticipated afternoon performance of Rossini’s “Guillame Tell.”
The NYPD’s Emergency Services unit has cordoned off the orchestra pit for the ongoing investigation. The Met’s Twitter account noted that all of the orchestra’s instruments remained there. At a press conference, the Deputy Commissioner for intelligence and counter terrorism, John Miller, said the suspect likely violated the city’s health code but that there was no criminal intent.
The suspect told several audience members that he was there to spread the ashes of his deceased mentor. There was only one musician in the orchestra pit at the time of the incident, and that was who alerted authorities. Two porters, wearing gloves, and an audience member may have come into contact with the powder, but were tested by authorities and released.
The Met was forced to cancel its first performance of Rossini’s famous opera in eighty years, as well as an evening performance of the composer’s earlier “L’italiana in Algeri.”
The New York Daily News identified the suspect as Texas resident Roger Kaiser, seen here in a photograph found on his Facebook page. We are not making this up.
Cancellations at the Metropolitan Opera are fairly rare, although the most recent was during the January 2015 snowstorm which forced much of the city’s transportation to a halt and before that during Hurricane Sandy. The Met’s most macabre cancellation in recent years was after tenor Richard Versalle suffered a heart attack in the first act of Janacek’s “The Makropulos Case” in 1996. He had just sung the line, “Too bad you can only live so long.”
There seems to be no slowing to the police killing of African American citizens, with two alarming incidences this past week. The rapidity with which the Tulsa County prosecutor has charged officer Betty Shelby in the shooting of Terrence Crutcher is progress of some kind, but somewhat of a pyrrhic victory in that the 40 year old Crutcher did not survive. In issuing the charge, the prosecutor said in part that Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation.
Police in Charlotte, North Carolina have taken a different — and if we have learned anything from the past couple year, divisive and potentially harmful — approach by refusing to release video of the killing of 43 year old Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. This, naturally, has led to widespread protests in the city of more than 800,000, which is about 35% African American. The city is also the site of the terrifying and tragic mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last June.
Protest and unrest in Charlotte recall the powder keg climate of the late sixties, and police and city leaders there seem unaware their response is likely to, in the words of Tulsa County prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler, “unreasonable … escalate the situation.”
This title song from former Count Basie Orchestra saxophonist Frank Foster’s 1972 album, The Loud Minority, seemed fit for today’s paper. We can’t say we always agree with the tactics chosen by protestors, but we can say with certainty that we agree with the urgency with which their voices should be heard. To turn a deaf ear has become tantamount to escalating the situation.
Over two decades and a dozen albums, Lambchop has been one of the most inventive bands making new music. Each record seems like a re-invention. Their next album is due out in November, but this week they posted the eighteen minute closing track, “The Hustle,” on Youtube.
It appears their latest interest is minimalism and electronic music along the lines of composer Terry Reilly. We are very excited to hear the rest of the new album.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have explored our passionate relationship with music with a new approach — they have taken scans of the brain’s auditory cortex and put together groups of cells which have similar reactions. There are specific neural pathways in our brains that react almost exclusively to music.
It doesn’t even matter if you like what you’re hearing, there’s a set of neurons in your auditory cortex that do just about nothing but respond to music. They tested all kind of music, from Bach to hip hop. They also tested other sounds — a dog barking, etc — and found no response in the same region.
The study by Sam Norman-Haignere, Nancy Kanwisher and Josh H. McDermott was published in the scientific journal Neuron in December. In a New York Times story, Josef Rauschecker of Georgetown University explains that the study suggests “that the brain gives specialized treatment to music recognition, that it regards music as fundamental a category as speech.” He points out that there are theories that human speech evolved from music.