Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Feral Youth

The Tory party has been waging a war against the youth since they came into power using the Lib-dems as their shield. First they took a hit at the already breaking education system with huge cuts and trying to open up the system to privatization. For a party that claims to be for education this truly spat in the face of the youth that try to get educated.

Furthermore the party and David Cameron himself have called for harsher punishments and benefit cuts to the "feral youth" after the riots. This is not only greatly insulting to the young that work their ares off to get where they want to but also ignores all of the contributing factors to the riots. These include things like the wealth gap widening faster and the closing down of many youth centers. This not only puts more young people on the streets and takes away vital parental roles many do not have but also leads to people becoming more disenfranchised leaving many with a feeling of having nothing left to lose.

By forcing things like free school breakfasts to stop and youth centers to close the Tory party have made it clear that they do not care about the young of this country. Many of the poorer need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet and this can lead to children not getting all the help they need, I realize that at times the parents may not care but a lot of the time it is very hard to look after a child when working for minimum wage, especially for single parents. The Tory party does not care for them rather for their own multimillionaire needs.

It is not only the Tory's that have been beating down on the youth alas, that would be a very wrong message to spread, they are just taking it to new extremes. Can you remember the last time exam results came out and you read or heard a story congratulating the students? Why does ever story of a young person doing something worthwhile need to include a section saying how it proves that not all young people are terrible? Why do we only ever see the young in shows like "Young, Dumb And Living Off Mum"? No the war against the youth started long before the Tory onslaught.

Is it because the older generations are scared of what we can do? Do they fear the day we realize we can make a difference. We briefly caught onto that idea and it left Parliament square and Milbank tower in rubble. The student protests are not over, and never should they stop. The fight over fees and education isn't over but it is not only that. People need to fight to show we have power to show we can make a difference and to stand up for our generation. This needn't be through simply marching. No, that will not have the full impact needed. We need to change attitudes by being proactive.

Rather than taking from society we need to give back. Many of us already do this, in many different and wonderful ways yet this is never what is shown. We must fight against the media Juggernaut and make it known that we can and do do great things. I haven't got all the answers, hell I'm just an annoyed young person but rather than let this get us down I say we bounce back. We can educate ourselves and organize ourselves, not just for protest but for community activities, for each other, for ourselves.

Time is not to be wasted, rather it is to be utilized. Read, watch and listen to things, education can be fun if you find something you are interested or passionate about. If you hated school then don't give up on educating yourself, we have these minds for a reason. Basically what I'm trying to say is, in the words of Scroobius Pip, "Get Better". I often let myself lull into a place of apathy and laziness, that doesn't mean doing nothing, I mean doing nothing constructive. I've lost my way here a bit but all I want to say is, fight back against the Tory cuts to the young and other sections of society, fight back against the media onslaught against the youth and get better.

Sorry this was a bit wishy washy but I just felt I needed to vent.

Stay Alert, Stay Free.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Operation Post-it

Recently I stumbled upon this website, The site is just a place where people send in pictures of encouraging messages about body image written on post-it notes in public places. A simple, yet wonderful idea. To many the messages may seem stupid and pointless but to the less cynical it can bring a smile to your face. Hell, making someone smile is a great thing to do even if you don't see it. A smile can brighten up your whole day and a little nice message can make you feel great.

I feel this is a wonderful idea and I encourage you to follow it and do your own nice messages. Yet I feel as though this idea has a greater scope and can be utilized to a greater power. If we were to put simple notes on advertising reminding people it was not necessary for happiness we could make at least some people think briefly about what they truly value. If there were messages of dissent about the banking system on cash points it would remind people of why we need to be angry.

Now before I go too far I want to set out now that I know simple post it notes will not bring down corrupt systems or change peoples lives but one message could start a person thinking. Thought is a powerful thing. Once an idea is implanted that resonates within a persons soul it can snowball with the person reading into the ideas more. It's simple really. If there are no messages then an idea cannot spread. One message has little power but many messages spread around can start to have an impact. Try posting messages with links to websites explaining thoughts in more detail. Alas this is not necessary, simply messages can help.

Props to Operation Beautiful, it is a lovely thing they are doing and I feel we need to remind people not to hate on themselves for being who they are. Positive body image is a great thing and people need to be reminded just how amazing our bodies actually are. I think the post-it idea is a wonderful, none evasive, legal way to spread none mainstream ideas easily.

I may start posting pictures of stuff I do. If it goes well it might become a regular(ish) thing.
A short post today I know and there is a lot of more pertinent news around but fuck it.

Stay alert, Stay free, Stay beautiful!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

We're Fucking Angry

I think I'm going to add a new dimension to this blog because I'll be honest, I find it therapeutic to write but sometimes I can't be arsed with researching and doing serious posts. Alas I don't want to stray from the base feel of the blog. Basically the credentials of protest music as a force for change is iffy at best but it's always nice to have something to will you on through the struggles and hell I love music! So with this in mind I think I'm going to start doing reviews of protest music that I enjoy. Now I have literally no credentials as a critic but fuck it, in the words of dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip "It's just rhythms and rhymes and melodies in time".

So yeah here it goes!

Today I'm going to go over the album Punk and Poetry by The King Blues. Now I'm going to admit I'm very new to this band but I have fallen in love with them. I found them via a Youtube video posted on an anti-cuts facebook group and well it was one of those moments when you know you are going to love a band. Recently I saw them at Download, they were in a tented stage and let me tell you, they tore that place up!

So let me begin... (click the titles to hear the song)

Last Of The Dreamers
An epic intro track. The synths and drum beat really build up the album and Itch (vocals) shows exactly where this album is headed. With lines such as "For the romantic killer that’s never been caught" and "For the pedophile suppressing his urges" it's obvious this album is going to be nothing if not controversial. Short and straight to the point.

We Are Fucking Angry
With a title like that you know this song isn't going to skirt around the issues. The end of the previous track crescendos out and this track brings you crashing down to earth with a meaty drum intro which gets the blood flowing. The synth in this song along with a heavy drum beat and distorted guitars really works well on this track, it raises up the anger in you and gets you ready to fight. The whole song is almost like a soundtrack to the Millbank and various other London riots. This is the first song I heard by The King Blues and I highly recommend giving it a listen. The lyrics also do not disappoint, they are powerful and easy to relate to. They serve to pick apart the current coalition government and give a voice to the anti-cuts movement. With cries of "We are fighting back and we are fucking angry" you really get the sense of desperation and anger on the demonstrations and the awakening of a group of, before apathetic, students to power struggles is summed up in the line "France, Spain, Greece we're joining you finally our time has come". There is so much good about this song that I can't sum it up in a small segment, I recommend just giving it a listen and checking out the lyrics from full impact, I assure you you wont be disappointed.

Set The World On Fire
A slightly lighter song this time around. The fury is let up from the music resulting in what I'm risking calling almost pop punk. An obvious single here with a nice radio friendly sound. With a slightly calmer sound one would be forgiven in thinking Itch would've softened up on the lyrical front but this is far from the truth. With an onslaught on the capitalist agenda as a whole this song turns burning the world down into something that sounds dangerously mainstream. With issues such as Israel, the media and plastic surgery raised this is far from brainless rock and it even gives us a little encouragement, "Fight the power? Man, we are the power!". A great single track.

A bizarre little number this one, a nice short poem over a nice little tune. I don't know what it is but I have a soft spot for this one.

The Future's Not What It Used To Be
A nice relaxed ska feel to this one. The brass section on this eases you in and the slow beat couple with the bass line really puts you in a chilled mood. A chilled out chorus of "Woah the future's not what it used to be" makes you feel almost as though it's all lost, giving this song a less optimistic feel. However things change at around 2:20 were the song suddenly takes a more sinister tone building up to an explosion of almost drum and bass at 2:30. A real curve ball this high energy section doesn't last long before returning back to the more chilled sounds of before but it is long enough to get into with shouts of "war" repeated many times it will get you up and jumping. A very good song overall, one of my favorites off the album.

I Want You
Another more pop punk song on the albums line up. A simple love song, I Want You will not fail to put a smile on your face. A very cute song with some more poignant lines such as "[I want you] like a Palestine wants to be free" and "I want you like the people want to see change, I want you like the government want us the same". Generally a very happy song with a tinge of political thought sprinkled on top.

5 Different Bottles Of Shampoo
A truly epic track this one. I can't really find a way to describe this track properly. A simple backing track boosts up what is live an Acapella performance. The track charts Itch's thoughts about women, a powerful message of respect and admiration that should be instilled in all young mens hearts. Check this track out for yourself and see what I mean.

Sex Education
The tone of the album suddenly changes again when you are lead into this song with a vocal lead of "sex, sex, sex". At first I was put off by this song due to this aspect but the song is much deeper then that. An exploration of the sexualisation of the youth through pornography and the damage that it beings. This is explored with lines such as "It weren't his mum that enlightened this lad, it was 'Indiana Bones and the Temple of Poon'". Itch explores how the internet's generation's view of what is normal in sex has been distorted due to the ease of access to porn. An interesting song.

Shooting Fascists
Another short but sweet song here. The use of the ukulele gives this song a sweet sound which is in contrast to the lyrics telling of how "Grandad didn't vote for Fascists, he shot 'em down".

Hitting in straight away with punky guitars and a hard drum intro this is like a love song coupled with a punch to the face. Some synth and piano add wonderfully to this song, especially in the breakdown where the piano comes into it's own. The lyrics are fresh and tell of romance in our age, "when she kissed me it felt like a headbutt". A nice song with nice lyrics.

Does Anybody Care About Us
Another song born out of the anti-cuts movement. This song is a call to arms, "Is anybody gonna fight back?". The song plays on the betrayal felt by the young affect by the education cuts and the violent crack downs by the police, "we bear the scars from you're cuts". A good song and this really does display the down right dissolution felt by many of the youth of today.

Everything Happens For A Reason
A softer song than the majority of the album, this song has an almost radio friendly sound. Less political than the majority of the album but that doesn't mean it lacks the same heart. An autobiographical song telling the story of Itch and his partner having a baby. You can feel how personal this song is and it is quite moving. Lyrics such as "My mum gave me the best advice that I'd ever had, she said if you're gonna be a dad just don't be like you're dad", "She was scared and worried, we might of lost it all" and "I realized for the first time that I'd become a man" really send chills down your spine. A beautiful song I really recommend you check it out.

Overall the album is wonderful and contains powerful lyrics that can really get you thinking. It's just let down by tracks like Shooting Fascists that, while enjoyable, do feel like filler. The lyrics are very fresh it just feels as though maybe a little bit more time spent on the album could have negated the need for filler and made this album even better. Don't get me wrong I do love this album, it's often on repeat, just maybe removing some filler and maybe even adding the Holiday single would have helped.

Now a common criticism of this album is that it is not punk enough. Now while it is easy to point out that the song is not harsh on the whole I don't feel it is enough to not call this album punk. The punk movement was a more than the harsh guitars, it was almost simplistic music of the people and more importantly it was a giant middle finger to those who fucked you off. Now anyone who listens to this album and actually takes in the lyrics will realize that whilst this album doesn't have the harsh "punk" sound it certainly has the attitude.

This is one of my favorite albums and one of my favorite bands. I would very much recommend you check them out, I'll put links at the bottom of the page. I hope you enjoyed reading this and more importantly enjoyed the music. I may do more reviews in the future but probably more just songs than entire albums.

Stay alert, Stay free.

Official Site
Tour Dates

And just because it feels weird not to have a video at the end:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

No Justice, No Peace

Two years ago on the first of April Ian Tomlinson was struck to the ground by police and later died from his injuries [link]. There is currently an enquiry taking place into whether any charges should be placed upon the offending officer. However I feel as though I should backtrack and outline what actually happened surrounding the death of Ian Tomlinson.

On the first of April 2009 there were mass protests in London surrounding the G20 protests with some violent elements [link]. The reasons for the protests were many, some over the unfairness of the globalised capitalist agenda, some over climate change and some over the war in Iraq and Afghanistan [link] people spread out into the streets and brought London to a standstill.

It's not the actual protests however that are important for this discussion, it is the death of an innocent man and the subsequent cover up that is important. I've always been left and had a small ember of activism in my blood, a gift passed down from my parent, but this single even is something that truly changed my viewpoint on the world. Up to this point I viewed the police force as infallible and as being in the right in all cases. I still hold on the whole the police force is necessary and a force for good, don't misunderstand me as an anarchist and someone who wants the police to be dissolved, it is just my view that the police need to be held accountable for their mistakes.

The first news to hit the headlines was that of a protester dying in clashes with the police [link], this is not malice but shows that when looking at events such as these the news can often be incorrect, especially close to the time. This is when things became ugly.

At first it was claimed that Ian Tomlinson had tried to break through a police cordon as projectiles were being thrown at police [link]. It became evident, however, as amature footage surfaced that this claim was ridiculous [video below] and it became evident later that Tomlinson was not even a protester, he was simply walking back from work [link]. Moreover the footage shows Ian Tomlinson walking away from police with his hands in his pockets, being just about as nonthreatening as humanly possible. Alas this is not the end of the suspicious reports from the police.

Warning: Not for the weak of heart.

The first post-mortem on Ian Tomlinson claimed that he had died from natural causes linked to coronary heart disease, this was later retracted as a further two post-mortems claimed a heart attack [link] which could easily have been brought about from the assault. The pathologist who carried out the first incorrect post-mortem has since been suspended for other such inaccuracies [link] which suggests that the police as a force are not always as thorough as we would hope.

It has come to light recently in the enquiry that when the footage was shown back that the offending officer said "I think that's me" to which he got the reply "No, no it's not", he then said "I'm not chomping, I think that's me". The replying officer has reported to the inquest "I can't remember the exact words I used but he was wrong, he was being stupid" [link]. It has been shown that the offending officer was in fact responsible, these words echo with malice, they make me feel uncomfortable and angry. Now it is possible that the replying officer really didn't think it was him but in the face of such evidence it seems as though this cannot be the case and is evidence of a kind of systematic cover up.

With the evidence stacking up against the offending officer and with shadows of an attempted cover up showing it really makes you think. An innocent man has died and the police force rather than carrying out justice has taken many many steps to cover it's own arse. It has already been stated that the offending officer will not face criminal charges but may lose their job [link]. It is said that criminal charges cannot be pressed due to the conflict in the post-mortem reports which again puts doubt on whether the first post-mortem was mistaken or purposefully wrong. The fact the officer will not face any kind of criminal charges laughs in the face of justice and shows how the police force easily find themselves above the law in many cases. If the police are above the law then we are not free and there is no justice.

Now it would be very wrong and short sighted for me to claim that the police are often above the law and basing this claim on the Ian Tomlinson case. To further this point consider the cases of Jean Charles de Menezes [link], Chris Alder [link],Cherry Groce [link] and Forest Gate [link] to name but a few. There are uncounted cases of rape and abuse to minorities at the hands of police. They are not perfect.

Now as I stated earlier I believe police are very necessary but they need to be more transparent and we should hold them accountable for any crimes they commit. There is no doubt in my mind that the great majority of police work is beneficial to society and that many police people are upstanding citizens but this cannot be used to defend those police that do go to far and do abuse the system. We cannot accept another police murder to go unchallenged for if we want to say we live in a free country then any authority needs to be accountable for it's actions.

I hope for justice for the family of Ian Tomlinson and my heart goes out to them. May he rest in peace and may they get the closure they very much need.

Stay alert, Stay free.