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Best of 2016

Books

“Militant Modernism” and “Uncommon” by Owen Hatherley, “The Devils Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” by David Talbot, Kate Evans: “Red Rosa”, “Trotskyism” by Alex Callinicos, “The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy” by Donny Gluckstein, “Stone Male: Requiem for the Living Picture” by Joe Carducci, “1956: A World in Revolt” by Simon Hall, “Showa: 1926 to 1939” by Shigeru Mizuki, Vladimir Mayakovsky: “Volodya: Selected Works” (ed. Rosy Carrick), “Mayakovsky: A Biography” by Bengt Jangfeldt, “1966: The Year The Decade Exploded” by Jon Savage, “Lenin 1917 to 1923: The Revolution Besieged” by Tony Cliff, “Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan” by William Hjortsberg, “Critical Lives-Lenin” by Lars Lih, “Critical Lives – Alfred Jarry” by Jill Fell,

Exhibitions

“The Beholder’s Share” by Hwyl Nofio, “Night Moves” by Adam Keay at Spelman’s Bookshop.

Films (Cinema)

“The Black Panthers’ Vanguard of the Revolution”, “The Neon Demon”, “Hard Stop”, “The Confession: Living the War on Terror”, “Jason Bourne”, “I, Daniel Blake”,

Films (DVDs)

Jacques Rivette: “Out:1”, “Love on The Ground”, “Gang of Four”, “Histoire de Marie et Julien”, “Le Pont du Nord”, “Paris Nous Appartient”, Abel Ferrara: “Pasolini”, Agnes Varda: L’Une Chant, L’Autre Pas”, Alan Clarke: “Dissent & Disruption: Alan Clarke at the BBC”, Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo: “Winstanley”, Georges Franju: “Judex”, “Nuits Rouges”, Miklos Jancso: “Elektra, My Love”, Dziga Vertov: “Man with the Movie Camera”,

Gigs

Stand Up to Racism gig at the Crescent, York, February: Algiers at Headrow House, Leeds, 27th April, Common Eider King Eider/Gabriel Salomon/Earth Eater at Café Oto, London, 25th June,

Music (Old and New)

David Bowie: “Blackstar”, Savages: “Adore Life”, Tindersticks: “The Waiting Room”, Bernard Szajner: “Some Deaths Takes Forever”, Laddio Bolocko: “The Life and Times of Laddio Bolocko”, Deux Filles: “Silence & Wisdom”/” Double Happiness”, Steve Mason: “Meet the Humans”, Jenny Hval: “Blood Bitch”, Death Grips: “Bottomless Pit”, Common Eider King Eider: “Extinction”, Factory Floor: “25 25”, Scott Walker: “The Childhood of a Leader”, Emma Ruth Rundle: “Marked for Death”, Exploded View: “S/T”, Cuntroaches: “S/T” cassette, Leecher: “I’m All Wet”, HTRK: “Psychic 9-5 Club”, Adrian Belew: “Lone Rhino”, “Twang Bar King”, “Inner Revolution”, Anohni: “Hopelessness”, Bat For Lashes: “The Bride”, Halo of Flies: “Music for Insect Minds”, Helios Creed: “The Last Laugh”, Unsane: “Scattered, Smothered and Covered”, V/A: “Dope, Guns ‘N’ Fucking in the Streets volume 1 to 11”, Cows: “Daddy Has a Tail!”, “Cunning Stunts”,

Television

“Deutschland 83”, “Flowers”, “Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle” series 4, “Drifters”, “John Berger: The Art of Looking”, “Rich Hall’s Presidential Grudge Match”,

Highs

Finally meeting Andee Connors after 15 years of email friendship and seeing Common Eider King Eider play at Cafe Oto in Hackey/meeting Garret Hamill at the same gig along with so many amazing people/meeting Ken Loach in the foyer of York City Screen before a screening of “The Spirit of ‘45” and sharing his popcorn with him/attending the Stand Up to Racism conference in London in October/Marxism 2016/Standing Rock protests/Durham TAs on strike/activism on the rise everywhere

Lows

Bryan Danielson forced to retire from professional wrestling/ROCK-A-ROLLA magazine goes under (2005-2106)/paroxysms on the left over Brexit, personal and professional relationships breaking down in the aftermath/lack of understanding/the entire audio-visual media failing us all in every possible way with regard to news this year (a failure sure to continue into 2017)

RIP

In the immortal words of Warren Oates, “too damn many” …

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Dale Griffin, Jacques Rivette, Franco Citti, Axl Rotten, Trifon Ivanov, Andrzej Zulawski, Frank Kelly, Eiji Ezaki (Hayabusa), Barry Hines, Johan Cruyff, Zaha Hadid, Tony Conrad, Howard Marks, Balls Mahoney, Kris Travis, Prince, David King, Muhammad Ali, Dave Swarbrick, Peter Schaffer, Kimbo Slice, Peter Owen, Hector Babenco, Alan Vega, Davey Hopper, Gene Wilder, W P Kinsella, Andrzej Wajda, Steve Dillon, Tom Hayden, Raoul Coutard, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, Leon Russell, Dario Fo, Fidel Castro, Greg Lake

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Cuntroaches interview

Cuntroaches are one of the best bands I have ever had the pleasure to discover in all my time as a music writer. Brutal, funny and fearless, their self-released cassette is my easily one of the best things I’ve heard in all of 2016. It was my eternal regret that I didn’t to get to see them on their recent UK tour, where by all accounts they terrorized and enthralled a new layer of fans in equal measure. As you will read in this excellent interview with the band, there is a lot more to come from this exceptional group in the very near future>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>ctrlive

When did you first get together as a band?

Last year?

Where did the band name come from?

Martina’s heavy drinking. Now we’re stuck with it.

What is Berlin like as a city for making and playing the type of music you do? Is there is a vibrant scene there?

Berlin is fine: we give 2 out of 4 farts!

How happy are you with your cassette release, and what has been the response to it from those who’ve bought/heard it?

Very happy. We ran out of cassettes a few times and had to produce more, which was totally expected. We were surprised that a lot of hardcore music magazines wanted to review it! The folks that don’t get us are super supportive. Great comments on our sound, such as “broken vacuum cleaner,” etc. Get your ears flushed and ready for the new EP, COMING SOON!

How has the tour you’re on currently been going? Is there a network of venues across Europe that you can rely on as an underground group or have things become more difficult?

The UK tour in May was great! It rained every single day. We’ve built up a network of dedicated promoters through intense touring in the last years under different projects. Seriously, big shout out to all the losers organizing shows for yahoos like us!

What bands have you been playing with and which ones have stood out the most so far?

Anxiety, Leecher, Mr. Marcaille, PISS, Baton, Commiserations, Virgin Dad, Kaspar Hauser, Lugubrious Children, Fetus Christ, Hyäne, G.A.U., Härda Ut, Orden Mundial to name a few!

Your four track cassette is one of the harshest and noisiest I’ve heard in a long time. How did you record the tracks?

Thanks. We used a 16-channel digital sound card and whatever $5 microphones we could find in our rehearsal space the size of a box and full of garbage. The demo was mixed in Reaper by Suckles and mastered by a handsome Goth named SARIN.

What is the song-writing process for your band?

Martina presents a riff she’s hummed and recorded on her phone and we work on translating this mess into something even worse. Otherwise, we group-poop a song out together diarrhea-style: hard to explain the magic.

 

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“Confer” by Sever

 

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Electrically narrow and vogueish sectarian, explainingramme shad-turn around attendance, ideologing fruit.

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Leecher: “I’m All Wet” (cassette)

Evolving out from the smouldering embers of the illustrious Glasgow band Divorce, Leecher are the new brutalist sound on the block. Their debut cassette “I’m All Wet” is a thorough, not to say ruthless introduction to their manifest strengths. The rib-shaking bass of VSO keeps the low-end fiends in check with “Bottomless Swamp”, propelling an inviolable wall of noise. “Night Sweats” is a febrile fever dream, compelling in its peak vs trough atavism. The gut-wrench vokills are a noxious touch of genius, spilling over the cassette’s content like an unshakeable virus. Vickie McDonald’s scything guitar wrenches and rejects rhythmic order, writhing over everything in defiant mood. The heavy-hitting continues with “Arboretum”, a grisly, growling blast of crawling ferocity. Its epic frame will put you out for the count like a punch to the temple. Finally, “Pubic Louse” brings this bilious collection to a close, a noise nugget comprised of pure viciousness and sweet stealth delivered with a manic grin. Limited to 100 copies. Avail yourself of one immediately – it is not be missed.

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Cuntroaches: “S/T” (cassette)

In the sphere of underground music, there are many surprises lurking, awaiting your discovery. The very latest of them is Cuntroaches, a visceral trio from Berlin whose debut cassette is one of the best underground releases of the year so far. Cuntroaches are Claire, David and Martina, three musicals tearaways with talent to burn – David Hantelius has a previous pedigree from his former band, the immortal BATALJ, and Cuntroaches are fast approaching their levels of viciousness. Four full-blooded tracks explode from within its agreeably analogue casing, each of them bitten off and spat out with thunderous aplomb. The fulminating blasts of “Scum Patrol” and “I Tell Ya” are a grievous sensory assaults, with searing feedback grafted on, mutating in real time. The fiery vocals are almost divorced from human form, reverbed within an inch of their lives. “Lumber Jane” careers to an intimidating end, and the monstrous “Hard Stool” is as devastatingly putrid as the title suggests. Transgressive and delirious, Cuntroaches are on tour in a country near you soon. Get with it, and buy this utterly feral tape while you can.

cuntroaches.bandcamp.com cuntroaches.tumblr.com cntroaches@gmail.comCuntroaches

 

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Best Of 2015

BEST OF 2015
BOOKS
Gary Webb: “Dark Alliance”, Judith Orr: “Marxism and Women’s Liberation”, Owen Hatherley: “Landscapes of Communism”, Tony Cliff: “Trotskyism After Trotsky”, “Lenin: All Power To The Soviets”, Bobby Seale: “Seize The Time”, Chris Hedges: “Days of Destruction, Days of Rage”, John Newsinger: “The Blood Never Dried”, Ian Birchall: “Tony Cliff – A Marxist For His Time”, Terry Eagleton: “Why Marx Was Right”, James Baldwin: “Giovanni’s Room”, Kim Gordon: “Girl In A Band”, George Breitman: “The Last Year of Malcolm X”, Mark Curtis: “Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World”, Richard Brautigan: “Sombrero Fallout”, Julian Petley, “Censorship”, Jeffrey Haas: “The Assassination of Fred Hampton, Kevin Ovenden: “Malcolm X – Socialism and Black Nationalism”, Peter Kennard: “Unofficial War Artist”, Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein: “The Labour Party: A Marxist History”, Emile Harsch: “Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary”, Stephen Tuck: “The Night That Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union”, Curtis J. Austin: “Up Against The Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party”, Jean Patrick Manchette: “Fatale”.
EVENTS
Algiers at The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington, London, Bad Guys at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, Acid Mothers Temple at The Fulford Arms, York, “With Banners Held High”, Unity Works, Wakefield, Stand Up to UKIP public meeting with key speaker Amal Azzudin, Shami Chakrabarti On Liberty at Friend’s Meeting House, Marxism 2015, supporting the National Gallery strikers during their successful action against victimization and privatization, the local and general election campaigns for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in York.
FILMS
“The Duke of Burgundy”, “The Falling”, “Violette”, “Selma”, “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”
DVDS
Maria Metszaros: “Diary for My Children”, Goran Olsson: “Concerning Violence”, Milos Forman: “The Firemen’s Ball”, Barbara Kopple: “Harlan County U.S.A.”, Michael Cuesta: “Kill The Messenger”, Peter Strickland: “Katalin Varga”, “Hesher”, Andrzej Wajda: “The Promised Land”, Penelope Spheeris: “The Decline of Western Civilization” parts 1 2 and 3, Raymond Bernard: “Wooden Crosses”, Haskell Wexler: “Medium Cool”, Abel Ferrara: “Pasolini”, Kelly Reichert: “Night Moves”,
MUSIC
Algiers: “S/T”, Lonelady: “Hinterland”, Goatsnake: “Black Age Blues”, Zombi: “Shape Shift”, Torche: “Restarter”, With The Dead: “S/T”, SUNNO))): “Kannon”, Nile: “What Should Not Be Unearthed”, Corrections House: “How To Carry A Whip”, Grimes: “Art Angels”, The Clientele, “Unreal and Alone”, Leviathan: “Scar Sighted”, Black Breath: “Slaves Beyond Death”, Bad Guys: “Bad Guynaecology”, Luke Haines: “Adventures in Dementia”, Rolo Tomassi: “Grievances”, Bardo Pond: “Record Store Day Trilogy”, Workin’ Man Noise Unit: “Play Loud”, Rose McDowall: “Cut With A Cake Knife”, Pig Destroyer: “Prowler In The Yard”, Swans: “Filth” deluxe reissue, Punk 45: “Burn Rubber CityBurn!” and “Extermination Nights in the Sixth City”.
TELEVISION
“Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death”, “Broad City”, “Luther”

WEBSITES
The Juice Rap News (RIP), Act Out!, The Stimulator/SubMedia TV, The Empire Files with Abby Martin,
HIGHS
Disovering the best band of 2015 by a country mile, Algiers, a band of such undeniable strength and invention that the sky is literally the limit for them. Their powerhouse performance at the Waiting Room Stoke Newington was a thing of wonder, transfixing everyone who was lucky enough to witness it. Their debut album, to quote Godard, is not the promise of something, but the thing itself; bristling with political articulation and aural sophistication, avowedly experimental yet completely immediate, theirs is a singular vision that brings together so many revolutionary elements that it truly is rebel music for the new century. It has been my privilege to write about them in my first pieces for “Socialist Worker” and “Socialist Review”.
LOWS
The sad and untimely deaths of beloved friends. Being made redundant for the fourth time in ten years. Too many cultural events missed. Too little writing completed.
R.I.P.
Steve Cox, Paul Van Linden, Francesco Rosi, Edgar Froese, Andre Brink, Robert Stone, Andy Fraser, Gunter Grass, Eduardo Galeano, Ornette Coleman, Morris Beckman, Dieter Moebius, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Chantal Akerman, Steve Mackay, Corey Lander, Maureen O’Hara, Philip French, Gunnar Hansen, Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor.

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SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY
This interview with Sweep The Leg Johnny singer/saxophonist Steve Sostak was conducted in late 2001 and published in SALT issue two, which appeared in early 2002. It is no exaggeration to say that Sweep The Leg Johnny were a band that changed my life. In the wilderness years of the late 90s music press, an ecstatic review by Tommy Udo in the NME convinced me to buy Sweep’s then new album, “Tomorrow We Will Run Faster”. Its impact on me was extraordinary: the bruising, post-hardcore guitars, the plaintive saxophone figures, the dynamic four-square tempos, the elliptical lyrics all wove their spell upon me. All of these elements were best demonstrated on their masterpiece “Rest Stop”, a fifteen minute work of genius that remains one of my all-time favourites to this very day. I interviewed Steve in anticipation of their album “Sto Cazzo!”, which was released on the eve of a UK tour that turned out to be their last visit to this country. Their gig at the Adelphi in Leeds in early March 2002 was incredible. The band played with their back to a fireplace with a giant mirror, lit from below so everyone could see their reflections as they drew closer to them. They played with fervor and passion, and wrung every last drop of energy from us. Before the show they could not have been nicer to me as I presented them with copies of my zine. Some of my questions are naïve but they were replied to with considerable eloquence by Steve, for which I will always be grateful. It took me years to get hold of their final album “Going Down Swingin’”, but it proved to a wonderful epitaph for one of the finest bands I ever had the privilege of including in the pages of SALT.
First of all, is it true that you took your name from “The Karate Kid”?Steve Sostak: Is it that obvious?
How long have you been together as Sweep The Leg Johnny? Were you all in bands previously?
The core of the band has been together for five years, although John (M. Brady, bass) has been with us for two. John played in Spanakorzo and The Swing Kids, whereas the rest of us were in a bunch of lame rock bands growing up.
Coming from such a vibrant city for music as Chicago, which bands/sounds were most influential to you?
I don’t think any one of us would choose the Chicago scene as a direct influence. I believe Chicago can bring about the best in compositional ideas. There is quite a lineage of bands using different time signatures, dynamics and song structure but as far as having a specific band that we all draw influence from…there really isn’t one. We seem to allow ourselves room to do different things on each record and within each song. That is more emblematic of our diverse influences. Punk, goth, classic rock, noise, even hip-hop.
What I found most remarkable about “Tomorrow We Will Run Faster” was the contrast between the very eloquent and tender lyrics, mostly about love, set against an explosive musical barrage. How did you develop this volatile approach?
It seemed simply to derive from my limited ability as a vocalist and naïve sense of song-writing that such a style came about. I always have known that I have a weak speaking voice and found it difficult to go out of my way to write and sing in a particularly aggressive fashion…I have always enjoyed my writing, which tends to be mildly poetic as opposed to musically lyrical, so I think there was always a sense of apprehension. My goal became trying to fund placement, where the words and my voice could find room to be more natural. That ended up being within the storm of the music…within the “barrage”. It was comfortable.
Steve, how demanding is it for you to sing at full tilt and then play saxophone with the same intensity?
Each year it gets harder. My body isn’t too happy after 600 shows.
My favourite track is “Rest Stop” which sustains incredible tension over its fifteen minutes. Impressive enough for me as a fan, but what is it like to be inside that sound, creating it?To this day, I think this is the best story we have written. The first time we played the song perfectly, I was quite moved. A song like “Rest Stop” makes you feel good about being an artist and I think it was extremely pleasing for us all to be in tune with each-other in such a composition. You feel close and dramatic. Good to be alive.
I noticed you name-check the wrestling legend Ric Flair in the notes of “Tomorrow…”: are you big fans of ‘The Nature Boy’?If you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man, you got to walk that aisle.
Was the “Sto Cazzo!” album an attempt to capture the power of your live shows?
I think it was more of an attempt to have fun in the studio. It just tended to coincide with a number of songs that were more chaotic. I like the record because if you turn it up it will bowl you over like our live show. It can be powerful
What have been the highlights of your recent US tour?
Sharing the stage with the great Rumah Sakit. Huger turnout.
The song “Columbus Day” refers to the colonization of America and its history of murder and oppression; what motivated you to write it?
Catching up on American history. I never had a good history class in high school or college so I tried recently to read more. The song is a simple anecdote to a specific historical incident. Again, just something that was sad and I thought was worth mentioning to Sweep’s listeners.
Do you have a very committed fan base in the US? How do European fans compare?
Our fans are extremely committed everywhere. The base is small but they are so loyal. They seem to really identify with our live shows and we love to see so many familiar faces. Most of the kids are regular kids that love music and are not concerned with being cool. They fucking rule.
Finally, what is the future for Sweep The Leg Johnny?
We are breaking up pretty damn soon so you should come out quickly and see us to believe it.

sweep photo

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