Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie reviews)

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Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie reviews)

Post by noma » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:05 am

Les commentaires, s'il vous plaît !
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Billy's Little Trip » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:05 pm

Glenny, diggin' the art. Question. I see Charlie Brown, Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Watts and Charlie Parker. Who's the Charlie playing guitar, Paco? He did have that awesome purple guitar.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by glennny » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:31 pm

@BLT oui
Phillipso, Older Brothers, Semolina Pilchards, Zipline , Thank Glennny for the Frisbee, The Odoriferous Valley, The Worldly Self Assurance, Berkeley Social Scene, Very Gentle Knives, Daddy Bop Swing Set, GUNS, The Kraken Lives, Cavedwellers
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Billy's Little Trip » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:46 pm

Cartoon Paco is awesome! :D
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by noma » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:16 am

Berkeley Social Scene

This is probably my favorite song in this week's fight. It rocks, it has a good melody, a cool keyboard riff - what else do you need? I especially enjoy the staccato "What's in a name?" part in the chorus. Also, nice 6/8 part. I'm a sucker for changes of tempo or meter (if done well, which is the case here).

inflatable vegetables

Your melodies are very infective most of the time. I found myself humming this one immediately after first listen. I like your choice of synths - charmingly cheap-sounding, which I don't mean as an insult, but as a compliment. Especially because of the synths, your music reminds me of early TMBG or the Magnetic Fields. Also, funny lyric, though I'm not entirely sure in which parts you are being sarcastic or serious. "All the little fashionistas wear their JSC buttons", that was a good line.

Johnny Cashpoint feat. Noah Mclaughlin

I like the idea of the spoken word, especially since it's French (a very pleasant-sounding language, calming in a way). The way it builds up towards the end is cool, too. I'm not a big fan of the bit crusher effect, though.

Lands of Hum

Very Dylanesque. Your lyric is great, also reminiscent of Bob Dylan's early songs. I find the music a bit boring, but not so much that I want to skip. I like the way the soothing music contrasts the bleak lyric, yet I myself would add a bit of percussion to make it more interesting. (cf. the review for my own entry)
By the way, when you sing in that really deep voice at the end of each stanza, you remind me of Roger Waters, which is a good thing, too.

Michael Muranaka

The beginning is cool, but I lose interest soon. It's all a bit chaotic and unfocused. If you were going for a dark, unsettling vibe, then that didn't quite work, for me at least. It's an OK interlude though.

Mister Mann

Cool intro! Your French pronunciation is the best out of all these entries (not counting j$'s spoken word part). I like the combination of the melodica and the depressing melody. The a cappella part in the end, not so much. The rest is good though.

Nick Soma

I did not have a lot of time to finish this one, so I recorded it very quickly and did not add bass and/or drums, as I had originally planned. I still like the outcome - kind of a folk-punk vibe - but I think I could have done better with a bit more time on my hands. Not one of my best songs, but still good enough for a vote by myself. :D

Nu igen!

This plods along without leaving much of an impression. The instrumental is clumsy and the singer seems a bit bored. From the lyric, I guess this is meant to sound defiant, which it doesn't. I'd rather describe its tone as numb and weary, mostly because of the vocal delivery. Don't think it's a bad song though, it could surely be improved upon. I enjoy the lyric, nice French, again.

toby roktot

Cool percussion! What drums did you use? Sounds like a djembe, or maybe conga? The verses are very good and promising, but sadly the chorus does not live up to my expectations, mainly because of the background mumbling. I see what you were going for here, and I appreciate the effort, it just doesn't work for me. I think I could enjoy this one a lot more with just one vocal and maybe some harmony during the chorus (not falsetto, though).

WreckdoM

This could have been cool; good backing track, but the spoken word vocals do not fit here, IMO. If this had vocals similar to those in BSC's entry, I'd probably vote for it. Just as with Toby's song, the background mumbling is distracting to my ears.

----------

My votes go to Berkeley Social Scene and Inflatable Vegetables, plus a third vote for myself.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by j$ » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:23 am

W.A.I.L. I.A.A.C.

I feel strongly about what happened in Paris, so if my review of your song appears to be nothing but a thinly veiled excuse to rant at you about how I disagree with the opinion you have expressed; I apologise in advance, not trying to cause offense - lucky we live in a world where the right to have a reasoned debate can be taken for granted, right :(

Tuesday, I'm off down to Angoulême for the Bande Dessiné Festival - so if I don't respond to any questions / complaints about my reviews, it's because I am not near a computer, not because I am ignoring you. I will respond on my return (assuming we don't get murdered, of course. If we do, so be it. Ils ne gagneront pas).

Michael Muranaka - what a great track and your voice works well on it (though I don't see the point of the pitch-shifted harmony) and it's not one thing or another, subject matter wise. It's either too short or too long, I can't decide. I really enjoyed what I listening to, really interesting, then it stopped and it was gone from my memory. I will definitely watch for more!

Mister Mann - you can't beat accor'tronica :) The slightly wobbly vocal works especially well on this. You definitely pronounced "purpose" as "poopose". Just sayin'. Overall sounds great, a little plodding and could do with a big chorus / something a little more contrapuntal to offset the rigid chord structure. I like the a capella ending.

Lands of Hum - As an irregular reader of Charlie Hebdo, I absolutely refute the idea that it was in any way islamaphobic, homophobic, anti-semitic, or racist. That's taking single cartoons out of their context, both comedic and cultural. Putting aside the White middle class self-loathing of the lyric, I like a good protest song, but I didn't find this clever enough musically or lyrically to get past my own "I don't agree with you" bias. Sorry about that, the song's not bad, mine is just a limited response as criticism.

Nu Igen - What an odd song! I can't decide if i love it or to give it a mighty francophone "bof"! It's an interesting lyric, with some good phrasing. It could do with an arrangement that makes it sound a little less samey? The various sections sounded a bit similiar on first listen, but it's the arrangement, not the writing that gives that effect. Enjoyed the listen.

I Veg - The argument you raise is one that I have seen a lot, and one I find particularly inappropriate, unless you see murder as an acceptable critical response. Simply saying "I don't condone murder but ...". There is no "but". People who try to draw some line over who they feel more sorry for is at worst cowardly, victim-blaming and at best just missing the point. Freedom of Speech is not the reserve of easy decisions. The song itself as usual is lovely! Also I have yet to see a "Charlie Hebdo" "button" and wearing one wouldn't make you a "fashionista". For me, that's a thoroughly fatuous, unpleasant argument and therefore I don't really want to listen to the song again. Sorry. Harsh, I know. Don't worry, I won't come gunning for you ...

Toby Rokot - Another very pleasant listen. I don't get this need to translate all the French (like Wreckdom do). If you fear people won't understand it and like your song less as a result, don't sing in French in the first place. There's no need to use French, this is a world problem. Some wobbly singing and not really my preferred style of music, but overall it has a great mood to it and I like the drums with all that tasty reverb on them.

BSS - damn if you haven't nailed it. Top tune. Well done, gentlemen. *VOTE*.

Nick Soma - Oooh, that's an earnest lyric - (I avoided same issues by leaving it *all* in French. Heh.) That's a lovely melody for the French sections. I wish this was punked up in the arrangement. It sounds a bit "Levellers" as it is. It's a good song, for sure, though the acoustic guitar / harmonica = protest song is a bit old. I just really hate the harmonica TBH. I am not sure how memorable it is but I enjoyed the listen.

j$ - That's me. I am super-proud of this one. Noah did a brilliant job of recording the spoken word blind (which is from a newspaper editorial published the day of the attacks) - I wanted to capture the "French society" angle, which is being studiously ignored in the social media "Freedom of Speech or Double Standards?" internecine fighting over the attacks. I didn't really want to do a "protest" song (my first idea was to sing about a French cocaine addict) - but I'm glad i did. A rough translation and a link to the original article is in the lyric thread.

Klownhole - The guitar riff sounds a bit familiar. As I said to Toby Rokot, I don't understand the need to self-translate. See my review of that song for further ramblin' on the subject. It's good Klownhole, doesn't really leap oout of the headphones - needs a strong chorus, to my mind, or at least the guitar riff louder in the mix to give it a bit more ... ompfh. I like the way that you could take anything in the news and make it Klownhole.

I'm voting for BSS and me&noah and Michael Muranaka, for the experimentation.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by iVeg » Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:54 pm

@ Nick. Thanks! Glad you liked it.
@ J$. Thanks! Glad you thought the song was lovely even tho you didn't like my point of view.

I had extremely mixed emotions. Murder is NOT an appropriate critical response. No ...buts... about it. It was a tragedy, and I'm sad they were shot.
What is the line between bravery and foolhardiness? I'm not sure. It's blurred some times, and you only can decide after the fact. Maybe not even then.
All the little fashionistas wear their JSC buttons. I saw ONE starlet on ONE of the US awards shows with a JSC button on her purse. The Clooneys both had, but I thought this was someone different. I wondered if people were wearing buttons because they really supported the magazine, or if they were making a political/ artistic statement, or if they were just doing it because it was the cause of the week.
I had never heard of or seen CH until after the shootings. My first exposure was seeing some of the "most offensive" covers. Second exposure was a translation of Dr Elsa Cayat's final Charlie Divan column, which forced me to reevaluate my first response.
I decided I didn't know CH well enough to say I AM A CHARLIE, and be honest about it. I did know enough about innocent people being killed by extremists. I'm standing for them.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by j$ » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:33 pm

iVeg wrote:I decided I didn't know CH well enough to say I AM A CHARLIE, and be honest about it. I did know enough about innocent people being killed by extremists. I'm standing for them.
No worries, and I am glad you took my comments in the spirit they were intended - and not as a blanket attack. I think your last sentence is self-contradictory. If you know enough about innocent people being killed by extremists then you know enough to say I AM CHARLIE. But that's your opinion and I respect it. You don't have to be Charlie but making a point of pointing out you're NOT takes you somewhere else.

The particular lines I am still having trouble with (although this is out of context and probably misquoting you) "I have more sympathy / For the innocents in the Deli". Which is a horrendous, meaningless comparision to make, and serves no-one. And also, prior to that how dare you assume that "nobody cares" until white people die? Murder is murder, it's atrocious - there are no levels of innocence here, unless you are indeed claiming the CH cartoonists were "asking for it" - with all the implicit weight that statement carries. In which case, go for it all you like, the conversation's over!

But yes it was a lovely tune, well performed. If only it hadn't been draped with ill-thought-through reaction (or at least, the ill-thought-through reaction that isn't mine, right?) I would have voted for it. Ah well there's always next time.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Jerkatorium » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:46 pm

I'm somewhat reluctant to review - I'm a new-ish presence around here and I don't feel like I'm in any position to judge (especially in light of my own musical limitations). On the other hand, I appreciated reading all reviews of my submissions, both positive and negative, so here goes:

Berkeley Social Scene - Solid. Except for that 80's synth tone maybe.

Nick Soma - G&G by a real ringer. Well done.

WreckDom - Nice idea, but I think it suffers a little from the lack of vocal melody.

Michael Muranaka - Art of Noise meets Flying Lizards meets the Residents. Interesting and well-layered.

Lands of Hum - Great tune. The lyrics are begging for some metaphor/simile action a la Phil Ochs or Don McLean. Still, very nice.

toby roktot - Interesting tone on the instruments. Heavy lyrics. Somewhat undercut by the unintentionally hilarious pronunciation of the French parts.

inflatable vegetables - Hard to imagine me not voting for iVeg, but the lyrics are way too thoughtless and short-sighted. Just. Awful.

Mister Mann - Immediate points for the accordion. I also like the one-per-verse accordion/drum/bass/synth/violin buildup. Worth repeat listens.

Nu Igen - Okay I just dug this song, I liked the drive and the instrumentation. I'm also interpreting (maybe misinterpreting) the lyrics as an atheistic screed, which is right up my alley.

Johnny Cashpoint feat Noah McLaughlin - My French isn't good enough to understand the words, but I like the overall effect and I really enjoyed this entry. Why do I like this song despite criticizing WreckDom's entry for lack of vocal melody earlier in this same review post? Hard to tell; I just like the feel of it better.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by iVeg » Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:54 pm

@ Jerkatorium - Thanks for review. I appreciate them. That's how you learn.

@ J$. I like a good discussion...
I admire CH for the guts to defy the threats. I felt more sympathy for the people in the deli, because they were just normal people going about their day. They had no warning, no threats.
What makes a story newsworthy? Timing/ timeliness, significance/ # people affected, proximity/ how close it strikes to "home", prominence/ famous people, human interest/ emotion. After the shootings, this was a hugely newsworthy story, because it was fresh, 12 people had been killed and the killers were still loose in Paris, and it struck very close to media people because it was media people.
I was working 14+ hour shifts, away from computers/ tv/ media for the most part. My boss told me that there had been a shooting in Paris. When Spud posted the title, I thought it was bad translation of "Je m'appelle Charlie", and didn't find out until a day or two later that it was about the shooting. I missed all the #JeSuisCharlie #IAmCharlie social media. So for me, I looked at some CH covers online, and said "I don't like it." I think I read a short article about the shootings, saw 10 sec vid of them shooting the policeman, and maybe 60 sec vid of the shootout with French police. Later in the week I read Elsa Cayat's column, which I liked.
So I apologize for being ill-informed about CH and JSC. I thought it was something over-reported because the media said "This could have been me". A friend posted a cartoon of the people killed in Nigeria saying "Who's standing for us?" So that's where I was coming from. Sorry for any offence I may have caused.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by j$ » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:41 pm

Jerkatorium wrote:Johnny Cashpoint feat Noah McLaughlin - My French isn't good enough to understand the words, but I like the overall effect and I really enjoyed this entry. Why do I like this song despite criticizing WreckDom's entry for lack of vocal melody earlier in this same review post? Hard to tell; I just like the feel of it better.
If you're interested, I put a rough translation and a link to the original article in the lyric thread. They are wonderful words, worth checking out, in my opinion ...

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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by j$ » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:52 pm

iVeg wrote:I admire CH for the guts to defy the threats. I felt more sympathy for the people in the deli, because they were just normal people going about their day. They had no warning, no threats ...
No apologies required, you're just expressing your opinion, to which you're entitled, and responding to something which is nigh-on incomprehensible. Same here.

OK, well, as to the 'contentious' couplet, I am still very uncomfortable with it and your explanation. For me everyone who died were 'just normal people going about their day', except for the lunatics who abused religion far worse than CH ever did, to justify their bloodlust. There is no pecking order of innocence. Any attempt to install such, I interpret as trying to take back control of an uncontrollable situation, instill some sense in the insensible. Which is a waste of good passion. However I don't want to bang on about it [anymore!].

When I get back from France I'll try and hunt down an article that nailed what CH is about for me; what they were trying to achieve, and a little context for those who just see what appear to be racist cartoons and thus understandably think "why would I nail my colours to *that* mast"? In the meantime this website has some fantastic cartoon strips from all sides of the spectrum, and I recommend it to anyone who has the time and inclination to further their research.

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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by iVeg » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:21 am

Loved the cartoons. Thanks.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by iVeg » Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:33 pm

BSS - loved the intro. Much tighter than Three Stars. Wasn't sure about the vocals in the verses. Like the "What's in a name" part, and the change in the feel of the "Je suis Charlie" part.
IV - If I was Charlie, I wouldn't have tried to explain myself or apologize.
J$ - Like how the music and Noah's spoken word part worked together emotionally. Like the underlying structure. Interesting article, too.
Lords of Hum - Said a lot of the same things I did, but didn't get as much crap for it.
Michael Muranaka - Creative, but a bit hard to listen to/ follow. Really liked some of the parts.
MisterMann - Kudos for using real string instruments, bit pitchy at times, tho. Liked the lyrics, not the drums so much, but the other parts.
Nick Soma - Very good G+G+Harmonica. Some awkward phrasing, but I really like the emotional changes between the parts. Solid song.
Nu Igen! - Liked melody at beginning of phrases "Any talk.." but then you would seem to lose the melody? Maybe at times you were trying to fit in too many syllables?
Toby Roktot - I think I would have preferred the English part sung, not spoken. Maybe instead of the French, in most of it?
Wreckdom - I don't know why they call you Klownhole. Wreckdom is much more melodic, and funnier. And about 8 minutes shorter. The lyrics are very nonsensical, like they were taken from a textbook or weird phrasebook. I would have liked them sung, or maybe a sung chorus, so it wasn't all the same tone.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by PlainSongs » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:07 am

Jerkatorium wrote:I'm also interpreting (maybe misinterpreting) the lyrics as an atheistic screed, which is right up my alley.
Glad to hear it. That's about right, Occam's razor etc. The point was not so much to argue for that (worthy though it is), but to explore the '(perceived) insult argument' from an oft-ignored angle. Rationalists have feelings too... indeed rather more than imaginary beings... and mortal bodies of course.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by PlainSongs » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:10 am

Berkeley Social Scene

Maybe it's the headphone listening, or the to me whiney style (you're in the company of some big alt-rock bands there), but I find the vocals rather buried behind the guitars; less so in the chorus. In the end I don't quite get the point. But the French+instrumental bridge is very interesting. Well made, not my taste exactly.

inflatable vegetables

It's a fun, engaging melody. None of the instruments really grab the front position and that works very well together. Pity I can't understand all of the quieter lyrics but I get most. As to the message: good on you to call attention to the unlamented masses, and to the media circus / superficiality aspect. But the 'you should have known' seems unempathic - it comes across as if one should not bother bullies. Presumably they did know, but stood their ground (no idea for what mix of reasons exactly - but many folks with buttons are probably not supporting those specific reasons, but a general 'free speech' value - though perhaps superficially... etc :\ ) Good that you tried to tackle the knot from various sides.

Johnny Cashpoint feat. Noah Mclaughlin

Straight from the horse's mouth. Makes for an interesting angle amid the (potentially also interesting) viewpoints of outsiders. I hadn't read (or heard) this declaration before (low media diet), so, good to know. Competent declamation and fitting musical overlay, although I find it working better where it's lighter. When it's more prominent it's not clear anymore if we're supposed to still follow the words, which gets hard - I sort of want the words to be either clearly understandable, or clearly muffled, maybe switching back and forth.

Lands of Hum

Well, mixed thoughts... the first is that it sounds nice and Dylan-&-Garfunkel like... "and the second of a complicated nature" (very nice line, of which you have a bunch). Content-wise I applaud the same aspects as in the Inflatable Vegetables tune (see there), but the second last verse seems unsure whether it wants to open a risky door of (political) correctness. I understand wanting to express unease in having to judge such a situation, other than the 'no' to murder, but I wish you had developed things more - the music itself also; it becomes vaguely repetitive. A multifaceted sketch with merits, but uneasy.

Michael Muranaka

Full of interesting sounds and a cool mix, this grabs my attention -- only it's more of an intro than a song. The bell-like sound at the minute mark comes in well and suggest a groovy melody is around the corner, but then the tune ends. Enjoyable, thanks.

Mister Mann

Neat accordion, fluent French, nice singing (sweet end of the chorus), clearly understandable vox, well-placed rests... and the beautiful vocal layering at the end surprises. So it's full of admirable pieces, and yet oddly, the whole leaves less of a mark than I want it to. I'd guess I'm missing a part where things break loose. 3:13? It feels shorter, as if there were something yet to come. Still, very nice work.

Nick Soma

Sounds earnest and sparse, but also like a busker trying to be loud and simple enough and thereby a bit pushy. The chorus in French is not like that, and somehow does more justice to your voice. But then you probably don't want all of the song to be melancholy chorus - there must be combative verses too. I don't know, maybe some effect on the verse vox would make it warmer and rounder - or added instruments? But then you'd leave the pure G&G form.

toby roktot

Absolutely sweet drum groove. Nice voice, in a Joe Strummer way. French that sounds bizarre enough that the message is lost on me, so it ends up a vaguely El Condor Pasa like tune with a great drum groove and a simple 'screw this' message... maybe you meant more?

WreckdoM

Daft... you get a smile. It feels like any comment on this song would be taking it too seriously. Nonetheless: if there were a bit more melodic variation it would make a more captivating platform for the daftness, but whatever. Most humorous song of the lot. That makes it fit the title even if it does not really address the title in the lyrics. Savoir ce que je veux dire?
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Madren » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:31 pm

Wow there's an interesting mix for such a loaded title

Berkeley Social Scene: Comes in with a bang! Love the sound and the message. Rocked it.

Inflatable Vegetables: Nice bubbly feel in the instruments. Hard to make out some of the lyrics - mostly because the rhodes piano and your voice are fighting for the same frequency at roughly the same time. The lyrical tone strikes me as very callous, arrogant, and myopic - it feels like a combination of victim-shaming ("they were stupid and asking for it") and false equivalencies (other tragedies are more deserving of sympathy). Trying to equate tragedies is a big no-no in my book: violence is violence. The violent taking of life is never okay. The grieving of lost life is not to be mocked as if it is no more than a trendy thing for "fashionistas"

Johnny Cashpoint: I love the spoken word against the instrumental background. I'd love to hear this after a few more mixing sessions to balance some of the instruments a little more than the songfight deadline really permits anyone to do. A little more variance and distinction in the instrumentation would really make this shine (thin out the instrumentation in some parts and really lush it up in others!)

Lands of Hum: Woody Guthrie and company would be proud. :-) I would love to hear if you can master a few more chimey highs out of that guitar track. Lyrically - Again with the false equivalencies of trying to measure immeasurable tragedies against each other! Again with the victim blaming and shaming! Sorry folks, I really don't get it. Once upon a time I've said things like this, but having worn the victims' shoes for a few miles in my life, I've found that on the other end of the message, these comparisons don't elevate the importance of under-recognized tragedies, but simply devalue and trivialize all tragedies and shame any response given to them.

Michael Muranaka: Bold. Very very bold. Nice sampling work.

Nick M. Soma: Nice 90s-2000s alt. rock acoustic! You really picked an arrangement that complements your vocal quality quite nicely. Love this track.

Nu Igen: Kind of They Might Be Giants-ish. If you pulled the drums forward in the mix that would REALLY make this track pop. The horn synth would work great as an accent, but feels like it gets a little wandering and lost with the way it persists in the track.

toby roktot: LUSH REVERB! You're really nestled tight in the spacious spacious sounds like Of Monsters and Men and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. The drums and guitar are parfait. Your pronunciation makes me wonder if you are singing about a man named Jesus Charlie.

WreckdoM: A punk rock song that TOTALLY sidesteps the seriousness of all the other tracks in favor of something completely different! The concept is great, but some more mixing is needed to split the French and English - I don't always "understand you".
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Lands of Hum » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:43 pm

Hi all. Thanks to everyone who has submitted their thoughts so far. Given that my song, in part, challenges the concept of "Je Suis Charlie" and that this contest is populated by people who just composed such a song, the reviews for the most part have been quite civil. I thought I would take a moment to respond to some of them.

Firstly, to Johnny Cashpoint, I'm certain that you have a lot of opinions that are worth sharing, but you denigrate them by shrieking that others who don't share your point of view must be filled with self-loathing. In fact, there are billions of people who disagree with both of us who do not actually have mental conditions.

To Eldredge, thank you for your thoughts but I respectfully disagree. You write, "these comparisons don't elevate the importance of under-recognized tragedies, but simply devalue and trivialize all tragedies and shame any response given to them." My song is predicated on the notion that listeners can hold onto more than one grave concept at a time. The first: what happened at Charlie Hebdo magazine was a horrible tragedy; the second: the fact that we are all mourning this tragedy while ignoring others is indicative of structural racism. I am not comparing the tragedies themselves; they are equally awful. I am comparing the reactions of Western whites to these tragedies and I think the hundreds of relatively ignored corpses burned by Boko Haram the same week as the Hebdo massacre deserve that.

Finally, I would argue that criticism of Charlie Hebdo's work is definitively not victim blaming. The intention of such criticism is not in any way to vindicate terrorists. It is simply to provide a rationale for why many people would not identify with the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan. I have read in a number of publications that his magazine did not poke fun at everyone equally, as is widely supposed, that in fact he and the other French whites operating his magazine inordinately targeted Muslims, brown people living in large part on the outskirts of French society, still suffering from the effects of the French colonial period. Again, I credit people with being able to maintain multiple concepts at once. You can mourn Charlie Hebdo's death while still maintaining that he does not represent you.

So, those are my thoughts. Good work on the songs everybody!
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by jb » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:34 pm

Lands of Hum wrote:I have read in a number of publications that his magazine did not poke fun at everyone equally, as is widely supposed, that in fact he and the other French whites operating his magazine inordinately targeted Muslims, brown people living in large part on the outskirts of French society, still suffering from the effects of the French colonial period. Again, I credit people with being able to maintain multiple concepts at once. You can mourn Charlie Hebdo's death while still maintaining that he does not represent you.
Who is "he"? It sounds like you think that Charlie Hebdo was a person. Am I misreading that?

I think you can mourn the tragedy, consider that it does partially represent you, and also consider that it partially does not represent you. As a representative example of this sort of thing, and a rallying point, it should certainly serve a purpose that anybody I'd care to actually know would believe worthwhile.

As for Boko Haram, your implication that people simply don't care is a little accurate but also a little unfair. Accurate information is hard to come by, there are no media outlets on the ground who are able to actually report what is going on, and even so it *is* being reported. That the children who were kidnaped haven't been recovered is a saddening reflection of the 24 hour news cycle and our general appetite for things that are happening on the other side of the planet-- things generally far removed from us.

One might wish it were different, but *everyone* reacts more strongly to things that happen to people who seem to be "like" them, in a context that they relate to. Gunmen rushing into an office building is pretty easy for us to relate to, considering our entertainment media. Gunmen rushing into our village and carting off our children? Less so. Our society cares, but doesn't have the same intensely visceral reaction, because it's so far removed from our context. That's why those NGO commercials take pains to show the village, show the suffering children, and dredge $0.49/day out of your pocket. Sarah Maclachlan uses the same technique with puppies.

We cared about Ebola to the extent that it might actually have come over here. I say "we" in the societal sense. I'm sure you are more compassionate than I.

I know that I feel a terrifying empathy when faced with war footage taken in a modern city. I think that's why so many war movies concern themselves with jungles and fields and small quaint French towns. The movies that really want to freak you out put it all in the context of your daily life. Depending on how well they're done, they fail or succeed. "Red Dawn" debate, anybody?

I am likewise pleased with the civil debate, and I'm happy that the songs generated by this title were not uniform. But I'm sure Deep Throat expected no less!

JB
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by Lands of Hum » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:06 am

I kept hearing interviews with French people stating that Charlie Hebdo had been a cultural fixture for so many years that the attack was akin to Woody Allen being gunned down. I assumed that there must have been some member of editorial who was founder and namesake but apparently not. Excuse me.

I think you have a point that people have natural visceral responses to violent tragedies when these tragedies reflect the circumstances of their own lives. I think that does play a large part in people's reaction to the Hebdo shootings. I think though, that we can hold our media, whose job it is to report significant global events, to a different standard. In the Boko Haram incident that I was referring to at least 150 civilians were murdered in Nigeria the same week as the Charlie Hebdo shootings. I think that the Western media, with its disproportionate coverage of the Hebdo shootings, was in part catering to their readers/viewers visceral reactions and displaying their own horror at journalists being murdered. However, I think they were also displaying a broader bias that values the lives of certain groups over others. Looking at the coverage of the conflict in Israel, while every innocent Israeli death is a tragedy, those deaths make up a small proportion of innocent lives lost in the conflict. Most civilians deaths are Palestinians killed by Israel but these deaths receive relatively minimal coverage. I think that these kinds of biases are common in the media. While our natural identification with people who we view to be like us shape our reactions, I think elements of structural racism in the media and in society in general also influence us.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by jb » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:01 pm

Perhaps, but you didn't address the issue of access. Western media simply isn't THERE in Nigeria, and can't be (basically on pain, or at least extreme risk, of death).

Vs. in western-media-saturated Paris.
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Re: Be careful, they might have pens (Je Suis Charlie review

Post by j$ » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:21 pm

Lands of Hum wrote:Firstly, to Johnny Cashpoint, I'm certain that you have a lot of opinions that are worth sharing, but you denigrate them by shrieking that others who don't share your point of view must be filled with self-loathing. In fact, there are billions of people who disagree with both of us who do not actually have mental conditions.
Been away, back now! Sorry to take so long in replying.

a) If you think I'm "Shriek"ing here, you should read some of my *other* posts :)

b)Seriously though, although I don't quite follow your argument through to its conclusion (do you mean "mental conditions" in terms of medical conditions? I don't think "self-loathing" counts as a medical condition, at least in the UK)..., I am willing to concede in retrospect, that referring to "Middle-Class White Self-Loathing" is a potentially fatuous catch-all. Why, almost as fatuous as, say, "his magazine's inordinate targeting / of brown folks at the edges of French cities" ;)

c) Just got back from France, and the city i was in you couldn't move for #jesuischarlie posters and CH covers, in cars, shop windows, three metre high posters hanging off the side of the city hall listing *everyone* who died, under the heading "Died for freedom"! They even renamed a square "Charlie Square" while we were there. I take from that that while the French have their problems with intergration and immigration, the vast majority seem united against the killings still.

Just to further colour in the picture, so to speak ... c'est tout!

j$
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