Twisted History of the Right Wing
Though mentioned below (and mentioned in this bit on conspiracy theorists I wrote last year), I want again to draw attention to Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” an era-defining essay whose relevance has not wavered at all. His importance and skill as an historian might be disputed, but his diagnosis of a disease in American discourse is nothing short of brilliant, and it’s elegantly written to boot. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself if you’re not already.
MOURN – Mourn (Captured Tracks): Very young Barcelona-based punk group, primarily female, led by Carla Perez and Jazz Rodriguez Bueno, have a Ramones visual aesthetic but gothy postpunk sound. They think boys are cunts, say ‘go fuck yourself’ a lot (“Jack”), know a decent groove when they catch one (“Marshall,” “Squirrel”), can whip up sustained tension without sweet release (“Your Brain is Made of Candy”), drop juvenile metaphors like “Misery Factory” for capitalism, runs lengthwise about the same as it takes to read all the reviews about it (~20 mins). Considering they look like they’re all fifteen years old, the veering between playfully dangerous and laughably serious perfectly summates the naivete of youth. I like it. A MINUS
THE PARANOID STYLE – Rock & Roll Just Can’t Recall (Worldwide Battle EP): DC punks and ex-lobbyists Elizabeth Nelson Bracy and husband Timothy take their name from Richard Hofstadter’s seminal 1964 essay on the state of American politics, one that presciently portended the shitstorm of conspiratorial thinking that had infected (and would grow exponentially in) Washington. But don’t get too cozy with the idea that this is down-your-throat political rhetoric unless you think winking and nudging at themes like “phony culture wars, ostensibly ‘perilous’ threats from foreign extremists, the excruciating pieties of the left, the willful myopias of the right” are too political. Just kidding. “National Sunday Law,” a nod to Jan Marcussen’s obscure and frankly bizarre anti-Catholic book, sounds like a lost Blondie single had Debbie Harry ever entertained a political thought. “New Age Tricks” flies in the face of hippies whose hope and mysticism have undeniably failed while “Bound to Be Vacant” blames the non-future on hedge fund hoarders oblivious to their own bullshit. Harsh as all that sounds, Rock & Roll Just Can’t Recall is far funnier than I make it out to be, proving The Paranoid Style as the best kind of punks: rage articulated in a specific direction, not in a vacuum. A MINUS