Good news. In a goodwill maneuver, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an amnesty for a slew of prisoners, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, both of the punk rock band Pussy Riot.
The women were sentenced to two years in prison for staging a protest performance in a Russian church. Over the last several months, Tolokonnikova, known as Nadia, has been the subject of intense international concern, first for her health as she staged a hunger strike, and then for her safety as she disappeared for several weeks during the course of a transfer. She later turned up in a Siberian prison colony.
It’s easy to see this move as a public relations tactic in advance of Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, and the president was very clear that amnesty was not granted because of the specifics of the cases (30 Greenpeace activists will also be freed), but rather in honor of the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. He said, “I was not sorry that they (the Pussy Riot members) ended up behind bars. I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women.”
Lawyers for the Pussy Riot members hope the women, who were scheduled for release in March 2014, will be freed within the next few days. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was convicted along with her bandmates but had her sentence suspended on appeal.
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February is surely the shortest month of the year for a reason. Lucky for you, there’s a whole new slew of great albums to help you through the winter doldrums. Check out this week’s new releases.
The Bronx “ The Bronx (IV)
It’s business as usual for these LA punks on their fourth album. Though The Bronx have spent time in their mariachi alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx, the band is back to full rock form on this release with brash, abrasive vocals that ride on jagged waves of distorted guitar. Read a full review here. (more…)
It’s that time of the year again: gearing up for the inevitable onslaught that is the South by Southwest schedule. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. To make it a little easier to pick through the massive amount of events going on, we’ve highlighted the five best music-related films for you to check out, along with a handy “when to watch” guide to enhance your viewing experience.
It’s a two-for-one deal for Green Day this year, so we’re grouping the dual documentaries on the band into a single punktastic category. Broadway Idiot focuses on Billie Joe Armstrong’s transition to the Broadway stage for the theatrical rendition of the band’s 2004 rock opus American Idiot, while ¡Cuatro! focuses on the making of the band’s recent trilogy of albums.
Watch it after: Missing your favorite punk band’s set in favor of that “awesome new shoegaze, EDM meets post-punk” act that your friend misguidedly recommended. (more…)
With the return of hipster favorites Ra Ra Riot, Toro y Moi, and The Joy Formidable, this is an especially fertile week for indie rock releases. Also on the menu are new offerings from classic punk stalwarts Bad Religion and OurStage’s own rising star Tyler Bryant.
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown “ Wild Child
We’ve been fans of Tyler Bryant’s barn-burning blues guitar skills for years, and now, with the release of Wild Child, Bryant and his band are poised to take the national scene by storm. Their new album has enough plaintive slide guitar, ripping solos, boot stomping and gang vocals to last you a lifetime. Or at least until their next release comes out.
By the way, the single “Say A Prayer” is currently iTunes’ Free Single Of The Week.
Ra Ra Riot “ Beta Love
Ra Ra Riot are back with an album of danceable minimalist synth pop that also manages to incorporate more organic sounds from swelling string arrangements. Strong echoes of David Byrne are still recognizable in frontman Wes Miles‘ voice, but he generally sounds much more self-assured and in reach of a true personal vocal style this time around.
If you were to ask a dedicated fan what “punk” means in 2013, you would probably receive a long-winded dissertation on innumerable subgenres. Make no mistake: this conversation might be interesting, but it is not informative. At its core, the spirit of punk has always entailed “ in one form or another “ the forging of an individual path in the midst of a sea of conformity. It has reveled in a promised escape from the drudgery of the nine to five existence, a comfortable suburban home, and the meaningless trappings of a materialistic middle class life. It rejects the enforcement of the status quo. It pushes ceaselessly back against mindless repetition. That is what punk still is.
What happens, then, when a punk band turns that same critical eye on its own career; a career built upon the inevitable and predictable annual cycles of album releases, touring, and promotion? The result is The Bronx (IV), if not the most ferocious album that Los Angeles’ The Bronx have released to date, then certainly the most self-reflective. Thankfully, singer Matt Caughthran‘s throat-tearing screams remain intact on this release. There is no restrained breathing, no Zen of Screaming here. Only what sounds like Caughthran practically bleeding through the microphone in feral glee. (more…)
Hey punks! The legend that is Bad Religion is ready to release their 16th album studio album, True North, on longtime label Epitaph Records. The actual release date isn’t until January 22, but a full-album stream is now available HERE. Accompanying the new album will be a massive tour through the US, Germany, Italy, France, and Sweden.
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