By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
B-Sides understands if you're feeling a little Grinchy about this whole America-lovefest known as the Fourth of July what with our rising deficit, diminishing health-care coverage and, oh yeah, war. Thankfully, for every tune such as Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." or Neil Diamond's "America," there exists, say, Bob Dylan's entire early catalog. But here are a few modern tracks guaranteed to get your phone lines tapped.
Song: "Self Evident"
Album: So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter (2002)
Sample Lyrics: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:/Number one: George W. Bush is not president/Number two: America is not a true democracy/Number three: the media is not fooling me."
Artist: Green Day
Song: "American Idiot"
Album: American Idiot (2004)
Sample Lyrics:"Don't wanna be an American idiot/Don't wanna nation under the new media/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?/The subliminal mind-fuck America."
Artist: System of a Down
Album: Mezmerize (2005)
Sample Lyrics: "Hangars sitting dripped in oil/Crying freedom/Handed to obsoletion/Still you feed us lies from the tablecloth.../Why don't presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?"
Artist: Bright Eyes
Song: "When the President Talks to God"
Sample Lyrics: "When the president talks to God/Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?/Agree which convicts should be killed?/Where prisons should be built and filled?"
Artist: Pearl Jam
Song: "World Wide Suicide"
Album: Pearl Jam (2006)
Sample Lyrics:"It's a shame to awake in a world of pain/What does it mean when a war has taken over/It's the same every day in a Hell man made."
Artist: Pink (featuring the Indigo Girls)
Song: "Dear Mr. President"
Album:I'm Not Dead (2006)
Sample Lyrics: "How can you say/No child is left behind?/We're not dumb and we're not blind/They're all sitting in your cells/While you pave the road to Hell."
Artist: Neil Young
Song: "Lookin' for a Leader"
Album: Living with War (2006)
Sample Lyrics: "Walkin' among our people/There's someone who's straight and strong/To lead us from desolation/And a broken world gone wrong/Someone walks among us/And I hope he hears the call/And maybe it's a woman/Or a black man after all." Michael Moore
Much has changed for Detroit's Slumber Party in the past three years. After a trio of CDs that fell somewhere between Galaxie 500's hazy somnambulance and Nico's icy vocals and presence, the group's lineup has almost completely changed; only lead singer-songwriter Aliccia Berg remains. Kill Rock Stars will release Slumber Party's next proper CD, Musik, in September although the band has posted one new track, "10987654," on its MySpace page (www.myspace.com/slumberpartyband); the tune suggests a continuation of the more uptempo and rockish direction the band was already pursuing, but with an oddly new-wave undercurrent of vintage synths and drum machines.
Meanwhile, Berg (under her solo moniker, Aliccia B.B.) has one track, "Best Friend Forever," on The Sound the Hare Heard, a new Kill Rock Stars compilation of solo artists. (The album's namesake tour also features Berg, Southerly, Lauren Hoffman and Thao Nguyen.) In honor of the St. Louis tour stop, Berg kindly answered some questions from B-Sides about her current projects, while hard at work at her day job as a research scientist. (For the complete interview, visit www.riverfronttimes.com.)
B-Sides: How do you know when a song is an Aliccia B.B. song rather than a Slumber Party song?
Aliccia B.B.: It is all in the way I imagine the preparation and delivery to best suit the song. It becomes obvious to me just like I think I know not to order Italian lasagna at a Thai restaurant, though I know everyone in the kitchen can boil noodles. For the collaborative efforts of Slumber Party, I take into account such things as whether the folks I'm working with, knowing them, will respond to a particular song in the way I'd like them to. In the end there is more individualism, sympathy and empathy in the solo stuff. They are more personal story-songs. The sad songs are more sad when there is only myself to sing them.
What can we expect from the next Slumber Party album?
Expect an album that is like a cousin to the others. It's still obviously related but raised in different parts. I'm told by folks around Detroit that it sounds like it came from somewhere among the recordings of the Raincoats, Young Marble Giants, John Cale and Suicide. Lots more drum machine on this one. My brother says he can't imagine where I came up with the sound.
Any particular reason the lineup has shifted so often? By design or circumstance?
There is no particular reason. It is generally by design of circumstances.
You're born and bred in the Midwest. To what extent does this define your worldview and/or music, especially as you've traveled and recorded for labels in other regions?
I think I still act and speak and think like I'm from Minnesota. And I think I probably shouldn't do that, or I'm bound to get hurt.
Tell us a little about Detroit. Is it really as crumbling and crime-ridden as its press would suggest?
Nah, it's not that bad. Your question brings to mind the phrase "If you build it, they will come." Detroit was built a long time ago by jazz musicians in Paradise Valley of the 1940s, country-western musicians and blues singers. They influenced rock & roll, and then Fortune Records and Motown. Whether musicians presently performing and living here know why they are here or not, certainly this continuum exists in Detroit and probably has influenced their place here.
What can we expect from your solo show? Are you performing with other musicians? All solo stuff or Slumber Party material as well?
Nobody but me. A little of everything. Mike Appelstein
8 p.m. Monday, July 3. Lucas School House, 1220 Allen Avenue. $6 to $8. 314-621-6565.
Yo La Tengo gets our vote for album title of the year. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass doesn't come out until September, but the New Jersey trio has already leaked the first single. "Beanbag Chair" might not conjure any bare-knuckled mosh pits, but it is surprisingly upbeat for the indie veterans, bubbling with trombones, piano and, of course, frontman Ira Kaplan's lethargic vocals. You can download it for free at the band's Web site (www.yolatengo.com), along with a few exclusive live MP3s or visit Matadorrecords.com, a freeloader's paradise of tracks from the label's roster. Andy Vihstadt