What I’m Listening to Now – February 2017


Better late than never, here is the report of what I was listening to in February, a short month punctuated by a delightful vacation where I mostly listened to the laughter of my children.

Podcasts of the Month

Fresh AirThe History of US Intervention

A discussion of the United States involvement with the rest of the world from isolationism to the world’s police to the more sinister activities of imperialism and corporate hegemony.

Jacobin RadioWe Can Do Better

What is capitalism, what role does it play in our lives, and is it really the best we can do?

To The Best of Our KnowledgeA Borderless World

Borders and immigration are a key issue of our times.  These stories illustrate how the idea of borders is becoming an outdated one.

BackStoryWorld Apart

The divide between urban and rural populations is one of the major causes of political disagreement in the US today, and one that goes back throughout the history of the United States.

This American LifeIt’s Working Out Very Nicely

Stories of the confusion and struggle that arose in the wake of Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Twenty Thousand HertzAudio Descriptions

Movies have a track of audio description intended to help the visually impaired and this podcast describes the art of narration and how audio descriptions can benefit all viewers.

Decode DCHow cops can legally take your car, home, or cash

The chilling law of civil asset forfeiture that allows police to take property from suspects even if they’re not convicted or even charged with crimes.

Have You Heard?You’re Fired

All about why school turnarounds – a theory of fixing low-performing schools by firing the teachers and staff that has widespread, bipartisan support – is an idea that doesn’t work, and what actually does.

Song of the Month

Chicago singer-songwriter Zeshan Bagewadi (aka Zeshan B) provides a powerful interpretation of the 1970 protest anthem “Cryin’ in the Streets” by  George Perkins that ties together generations of protest for justice and equality in the United States.  Learn more about the song The World interview.

 

Albums of the Month

Artist: Tinariwen
Album: Elwan
Release Date: 10 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Sastanàqqàm,” Ténéré Tàqqàl,” “Assàwt,” and “Nànnuflày”
Thoughts: The Northern Africa Desert Blues band from Mali’s most recent release includes guest appearances by indie artists like Kurt Vile, but the band itself is the stand out performer of this collection of melodic, resonant, and politically-charged tunes.
Rating: ***1/2


 

Artist: Clap! Clap!
Album: A Thousand Skies
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Ar-Raqis” and “Elephant Seranade”
Thoughts: Clap! Clap! is a project of Italian producer Cristiano Crisci, who creates instrumental dance tracks relying heavily on indigenous percussion.  An earlier Clap! Clap! recording, Tayi Bebba,  made my 2014 favorite albums list.  While not as strong as its predecessor, A Thousand Skies is equally enjoyable as festive ambient music for a party or for getting through a gray day at work
Rating: ***1/2


Artist: Visible Cloaks
AlbumReassemblage
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Bloodstream”, “Place,” “Valve (Revisited)”
Thoughts: Somewhere between Phillip Glass, a church organist, and a lullaby lies this lovely collection of ambient tunes.
Rating: ***


Artist: Molly Burch
AlbumPlease Be Mine
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Fool”
Thoughts: A collection of retro, country-tinged tracks sung sweetly by a barroom singer.  It’s pretty and well-produced, and while there’s nothing wrong with Burch’s album it’s nothing we  haven’t heard before from Patsy Cline and singers produced by Phil Spector among others, so it’s just a tad bit dull.
Rating: **


 

Advertisements

Podcasts of the Week – Week Ending August 7th


Since I have some very basic instruction in being a mobility guide for a visually-impaired friend, I was interested in this story about a person who helps visually-impaired people to live independently by learning to use a cane.
There’s a fungus among us and it supports the Wood Wide Web.  Some startling discoveries of the interconnectedness of species believed to be non-sapient in a forest.
Another new podcast, this one focused on urbanism.  Appropriately the first episode discusses the legacy of Jane Jacobs.
Completely fascinated by the story of Rwanda where gender equality in the public sphere has been forced into being by a political strongmen as  a result of the loss of men in the 1990s genocide.  Also the sad truth that women’s subservience to men is still the expectation in the private sphere.
This American Life – “Are We There Yet?”
A snapshot of the lives of refugees in Greece – from the frightening to the frustrating to the completely boring.
Some historical perspective on one of the United States’ most contentious political debates.

Podcast of the Week: This American Life – 581. Anatomy of Doubt


I promise that I won’t recommend This American Life every single week, but this is an episode that I think many people should hear.  Be warned that the topic of this episode is rape and discusses in some detail what happens to some rape and sexual assault victims.  Anatomy of Doubt starts with the story of one woman who not only was doubted by the police, but the people closer to her turned against her, leading to the investigation to be shut down.  In another town, another woman got much more support and the police went out of their way to work with investigators in other jurisdictions to help solve her case.  Not to give too much away, but the two cases end up being related.

The Marshall Project and ProPublica have published a print story to go along with this podcast.

In our day and age, it is too easy for people to doubt victims of rape and sexual assault and put them on trial – at least figuratively – than to believe them and seek justice.  I hope listening to Anatomy of a Doubt will help people reconsider that attitude.

Podcast of the Week: This American Life – “579: My Damn Mind”


My Damn Mind” is an episode of This American Life that tells the story that ties together several topical issues: Alan Pean, an African-American man living in Houston suffers from a delusional episode but in his lucid moments has the presence of mind to go to the hospital for help.  Except, while at the hospital he doesn’t get a psychiatric evaluation and ends up being shot by the police!

The story is also covered by The New York Times.