Stevie Weinstein-Foner – Promised Land
I like novelty songs. And, I don’t just mean Disco Duck. Frankly, I think that all bands should strive to write novelty tunes. The greatest kind of music is the one that can surprise. This is the reason why, for example, Steeler Wheel’s Suck in the middle with you was chosen to soundtrack one of the most violent scenes in a Quentin Tarantino film.
And, for all the intelligent lyrics and personal, home movie approach to Bob Dylan, many of his 1960s oeuvres can be categorized safely as novelty music. Again, it’s not the Macarena. But, it is the sort of novelty music written by a highly intelligent songwriter that knows how to easily get bored and how to learn to avoid it.
Stevie Weinstein-Foner’s Promised Land feels like a song cut from that cloth. Yes, there is something absolutely classic about the folk-rock approach, the upbeat tempo and the smart lyrics. But, it also feels like the sort of tune that the songwriter may have come up with on a dare, or as a way to satisfy a director friend asking for material that could soundtrack a strange nature documentary. It’s quirky and conservative at the same time, and we enjoy it.
Iraqis in Pajamas – Mahalnu
Andrei Tarkovsky, the famous Russian filmmaker that everyone claims to love, once said that the only measure by which an artist should judged is honesty. The director believed that it’s not an artist’s job to ensure the financiers of the project’s success, and it’s not even his duty to make sure that the public has understood what the project was meant to represent.
As long as there is honesty in how the work is created, this should spill over into what the public can perceive, regardless of barriers such as language, the art form being used, etc. In a Western music world as sterile as a Swiss hospital, the issue of honesty is not often brought up.
I believe that were you to know nothing about the meaning of “Mahalnu“, that Iraqis in Pajamas describe in the liner notes, the intention of the song would not be lost. The tune itself is a powerful, pushy mixture of punk-rock anger and traditional chanting. It dares to ask questions about people’s faith, their willingness to forgive, and what the fate of millions may end up being what with seemingly endless cycles of violence and destruction. You’re unlikely to get this from your radio.