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The Pop Group meet the Bomb Squad: Stream new album ‘Honeymoon on Mars’—a Dangerous Minds premiere
10:53 am


The Pop Group
Hank Shocklee

The Pop Group emerged from relatively out-of-the mix Bristol, England in 1977 with a devastating mix of noisy art-punk with straight funk and dub that underpinned strident and often just flat-out hectoring leftist lyrics. While both the music and singing were often pointedly tuneless, the band’s jagged rhythms and allegiance to dancefloor sounds set in motion a scene in Bristol that reached an apotheosis in Trip-Hop, and continues today with Grime and post-Grime. The band’s singer/polemicist/leader Mark Stewart has a kind of godfather/elder statesman status, and keeps closely engaged with those scenes’ developments, and the second new Pop Group album since their 2010 reconstitution, Honeymoon on Mars, reflects that continued engagement.

It’s DM’s pleasure today to debut the stream of that entire new album; digital and physical will be available for purchase on Friday. It shows a band completely reinvigorated by the new—contemporary underground beats and electronic experiments dominate the songs, and it’s a much more daring LP than its predecessor, their comeback Citizen Zombie. The lead-off single, “Zipperface,” has been out for a minute, and it’s already been remixed by Hanz, and an intense video was made by Bristol videographer Max Kelan Pearce. But to produce an album that pushes into new territory, the band recruited some old hands. Dub producer and Matumbi bassist Dennis Bovell, who produced the band’s first album Y, has returned to collaborate with TPG again, but perhaps the more exciting news is that they also worked with a producer for a very different band, which also combined energetic and noisy music with heavy politicking—the legendary Bomb Squad mainstay Hank Shocklee, who of course is best known for his dizzying and utterly groundbreaking work with Public Enemy. It was my extreme pleasure to talk to both Stewart and Shocklee about the collaboration’s origins and their creative process.

MARK STEWART: This is the story—the Pop Group, straight out of school, were flavor-of-the-month in New York, us and Gang of Four. We were out there all the time, playing in the No Wave scene with DNA, Bush Tetras. I was constantly trying to dig out things I was interested in in New York, and one of our roadies and I, we had these ghettoblaster radios and we were recording things, and suddenly we heard these huge piledriver noises—it was the first scratching I’d ever heard, and it completely blew my mind. It was DJ Red Alert, from Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, doing an early hip-hop show. I’d heard rapping before—Bristol had a good import shop—but this was the first live scratching I’d ever heard by a proper DJ. We took those tapes back home—we’d recorded like 14 or 15 shows—and duplicate, duplicate, duplicate on our double-cassette machines, and that kickstarted the scene that was to become Bristol trip-hop.

For me, I was enabled by punk, but I was given a real shiver down my spine by deep roots dub music. That’s why we worked with Dennis Bovell when we were kids, and when we were trying to think of who could pull things together for us now, when we’re trying to pull in all these newer influences like post-grime, trap, Goth-Trad, The Bug—we’re getting all this kind of new rhythmic programming. And who could pull this together? And I remember what Dennis did for us when we were kids, all running off in different directions, and I thought he could help get these new songs together. Then, I thought some of the hard rhythmic stuff, was very hip-hop sort of stuff, and by chance, Dave Allen from Gang of Four was at South By Southwest when we were there and he asked if he could bring Hank Shocklee to one of our shows. I nearly wet my pants.

HANK SHOCKLEE: I saw the Pop Group at South By Southwest. I was introduced to them by Dave Allen, the bass player for Gang of Four. And it turned me on, man! They only played for like five minutes, because the sound wasn’t right, then they got cut off for cursing at the sound guy, then it got to be a fight with the sound people, and I was just like “WOW!” The energy was reminiscent of the early days of hip-hop. [laughs] The attitude was straight punk. Then I saw them another night, and they were really great musicians, it was an eclectic mix of dub, and punk, and funk, they can go into a little bit of jazz. They have that ability, like a traditional classic band from back in the days, when even though bands were into rock ’n’ roll, they’d have other disciplines like classical or jazz, so this way they could go into other variations. I thought that was interesting so I talked to Mark, and said “You know, if you guys ever want to do something, I’m interested.” And lo and behold, he reached out and said he wanted me to do something for the album.

STEWART: When Public Enemy broke in England, it was a sea change. For a place like Bristol, where it’s very multiracial, suddenly loads of people I knew, a couple years younger, had an identity. What Hank was doing with these kind of sheets of noise, when I first heard Public Enemy, I stepped back and nearly kind of gave up, because he was doing similar kind of experiments in a slightly different way that I had only dreamt of. But for this album, nobody was trying to reproduce anything from the past. This is the first time since we’ve re-formed that we’re really what we’ve wanted to be, sort of pulling on things and reacting, and feeding off the now, to try to occupy the future with my brain. Not the whole future, there’s room for other people. [laughs]

Since the beginning of the band, I’m kind of a hunter-gatherer. I just kind of collect bass lines and play with musique concrète, trying to throw loads of stuff into the pot, it’s always cut-and-paste and juxtaposition. Then things would evolve live, and then we’d twist them again. On our album Y, we suddenly started doing loads of editing, we’d have 80 pieces of tape up on the wall for these mad mushroom editing sessions. This kind of evolves again—I’m executive producer, it’s me pulling in all these things and trying to focus on different directions, but I find that you get the best out of people if you don’t tell them what to do too much. In the end, if you look at it like a prehistoric burial site, there’s bronze age things, iron age things, and I throw some dice into the procedure, then they pick up the dice and start doing something, while me and Gareth [Sager, guitarist] have always got our ears open for mistakes. If something interesting is happening, we’re not focusing too much on that. We’re aware of a machine breaking down.

SHOCKLEE: Once they got it all together, they sent me stuff they were working on where they didn’t have an idea where to put it, where it would fit, what it would be. They were ideas in development. I just said send me the stuff that you have, and it was over 40 tracks of ideas that they was trying to put together, but they couldn’t get it all together. I listened to most of the stuff, and I just said “Wow, they have something here,” so I organized it, stripped it back. I brought in my engineer Nick Sansano, who worked with me on all the Public Enemy records, and he partnered up with me in helping produce and shape the tracks and try to create a theme, try to create a story, and try to move it into an area where it becomes a little more cohesive.

I wasn’t able to be there in England to work with the band face to face, but it was very similar to the P.E. process, where I’m going through records and organizing them in terms of samples and arrangements in order to make it fit the agenda that I’m trying to get across. So I looked at the tracks like I had a bunch of samples and a bunch of records, and I just shaped them, and chopped them up, straighten out the bassline, emphasize the beats more, and arrange the tracks to they have, to me, a more consistent flow. I wanted to bridge the gap between what you would hear in electronic music and what you would hear on traditional pop records.

Listen to ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa wants you to ‘vote like a beast’
01:50 pm


Frank Zappa

Vote suppression is in the news again. In August, Donald Trump, likely recognizing that he was going to lose the election, started talking about the need to prevent voter shenanigans in “certain sections” of Pennsylvania—“you know the ones,” he told them—clear code to his supporters that black people in Pennsylvania’s urban areas were plotting to steal the vote on behalf of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.

The truth is something like the opposite. Acutely aware that it has a purchase on a dwindling minority of voters, the Republican Party has for some years used the specter of vote fraud to enact legislative measures that would require increased documentation at polling places, measures that are likely to have the effect of limiting the turnout of low-income and/or minority voters, both of which are reliable Democratic constituencies. The “voter fraud” scare is now widely seen as itself to be a voter suppression gambit, as some high-level Republicans are sometimes unwise enough to actuallly admit to in public.

The crucial importance of the vote can be seen in the centuries-long struggles over who gets to vote and who does not. In a sense, artificial or scarcely justified limits on the franchise are as American as apple pie, as Your Vote, a 1991 program for The Learning Channel hosted by none other than Frank Zappa, explains.

Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, after the disease had progressed unnoticed for roughly a decade. Obviously, as he neared his untimely death, which eventually occurred in December 1993, Zappa’s illness restricted his ability to travel or undertake arduous projects. Zappa is hardly the vigorous figure here that he had once been, but his commitment to the cause of participatory democracy was such that he did the project anyway.

The show begins with footage of George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees for the most recent national election in 1988. It would be easy to frame the story of franchisement in the United States as an optimistic one, with the vote being granted to ever more groups, but that is not the tone adopted here. In this program, the emphasis is squarely on the unjustifiable shenanigans that prevent people from exercising one of the most basic human rights.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Artist erects naked Hillary Clinton statue in NYC; fight erupts
11:43 am


Hillary Clinton

Photo by Geńenne on Instagram

Perhaps inspired by all the naked Donald Trump statues popping up all over the United States, 27-year-old artist Anthony Scioli created his own “naked Hillary Clinton” and placed it outside Manhattan’s Bowling Green subway station (in the heart of the financial district) this morning.

Onlookers were apparently not amused.

It appears the large breasted Hillary statue has devil-like cloven hooves for feet. A Wall Street banker-type fondles her. It also looks like she’s stomping all over her deleted emails. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here.

Below, a video of passerbys’ reactions to the statue:

A video posted by Michael (@michael.o_brien) on

via Gothamist

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Reagan’s Raiders’: INSANE ‘80s ultra-patriot superhero comics

People who claim that Barack Obama is the most divisive president ever may lack either any sense of historical perspective or any idea that beliefs other than their own have existed before the 21st Century [see also: racism]. Ronald Reagan divided 80s USA into two bitterly opposing camps—a significant minority saw him as a reckless destroyer of the Social Contract between government and populace, who trafficked in simplistic homilies and racist dog-whistles, and who exploited the decoupling of left politics from the labor movement, securing near-fatal hits on both entities in the name of a lite-fascist union of the state with the corporate sector. But a majority of Americans at the time believed him a messianic redeemer of the Goldwater ethos in American conservatism, arisen to rescue us all from the brink of New-Left disaster and to renew American optimism after years of economic turbulence, post-Vietnam malaise, and the troubled Carter era. He remains something like a Christ figure to American Movement Conservatives who’ve moved so far to the right that Reagan himself wouldn’t recognize them as conservative—or even sane.

And in re-reading my old Reagan’s Raiders comic books, I’m finding it pretty funny how extremely difficult it is to tell whether the writer thought Reagan was America’s salvation or whether he thought the man was fucking preposterous. Poe’s Law has some mighty long arms.

Reagan’s Raiders was a 1986 ultra-patriotic superhero parody comic book that cast Ronnie and his cabinet as a red, white, and blue spandex clad machine-gun totin’ team of superheroic globo-cops—imagine Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, but all dressed like Captain America. In fact, the origin story is 100% derived from Captain America, with a silly twist. A super-strength process has been developed, and it works perfectly, but only on old dudes. Reagan and several cabinet officials, for the good of the country, of course, submit to the procedure, becoming buffed-out supersoldiers with the strength of 20 men. Each. Also they seem to be bulletproof. Take THAT, John Hinckley, Jr.!


More Reagan’s Raiders after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Trump Has A Huge Night at the Second Presidential Debate’: Genius funny new Vic Berger supercut

Once again Vic Berger comes through with the goods. Here’s his latest supercut of the most recent Trump/HRC face-off. I was shrieking with laughter throughout it.

The master’s “artist statement” follows:

After the release of those scandalous tapes, the pressure was on for Donald Trump at the second debate. But the presidential nominee proved he doesn’t need the support of his party, or women, or pretty much anyone else – so long as he believes in himself.

Press play. Do it now.

After the jump, watch Vic Berger’s take on the first one, ‘Trump Has A Total Meltdown At The First Presidential Debate’

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Talking animatronic ‘Zoltar’ Trump machine mysteriously placed on street corner in Brooklyn
09:59 am


Donald Trump

Photo by Camille Dodero
There’s not much to say about this talking Trump animatronic as no one knows who’s behind it (yet). It just showed up this morning on a street corner in Greenpoint.

Camille Dodero caught everything on video and posted it to Twitter.

Apparently after Camille shot this footage of the “All-Seeing Trump,” he was packed in a van and driven away. Maybe he’ll be making appearances around the city today. Only the “All-Seeing Trump” knows for sure.

Is Banksy behind this?

UPDATE: The All-Seeing Trump was later dropped off for a bit outside of Trump Tower:

via Gothamist

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Trumpkins: Make Halloween horrifying again with these Donald Trump pumpkins
04:04 pm



So obviously “Trumpkins” are going to be YUGE for this Halloween. I mean, tremendous! So if you don’t want your Trumpkin to be a complete low energy loser like Jeb Bush or “Little Marco,” here are some tips:

First off, of course you’ll want to get an orange pumpkin. This part should be relatively easy.

When you do the mouth, try to make it look as much like an angry anus with teeth as possible.

I guarantee your Trumpkin will be amazing!

Image via Facebook

This one with just a wig and a butthole where the mouth normally is, is a decidedly minimalist approach, yes, but I really feel what the carver is going for, don’t you?

via Bits and Pieces
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Your pre-debate musical playlist inspired by Donald Trump!

Hey America! Here’s a wild Donald Trump-inspired playlist that all the hip kids are tuning into! I did an expanded version of this on my Intoxica radio show on This should keep you in “the mood” until the debate!

And here we go!

More Trump-inspired music for all you hepcats and pussycats after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Playground Bully: This BRILLIANT anti-Trump video needs to be quietly POSTED ALL OVER FACEBOOK NOW!

At this point, it’s a question that’s been pondered—quite a lot—by the professional political pondering class:

Is it even possible to change the mind of the hardcore Donald Trump supporter?

Is there any argument whatsoever that would sway the steadfast fan of the anus-mouthed orangey-faced bellowing billionaire fascist blowhard who sits atop the Republican ticket? Stupid is gonna stupid, and if there is one thing that this year’s election has accomplished it’s demonstrating that the American electorate is—scientifically speaking—much dumber than many of us would have liked to believe. There’s no other way to explain it. Why bend to political correctness—the great bugaboo of reichwingers everywhere, of course—when the simplest and most obvious statement of fact will suffice:

Trump voters are fucking idiots, if they weren’t idiots, they wouldn’t be Trump voters.

Sorry, but Aristotle himself couldn’t have put it any more succinctly than I just did. Not Wittgenstein either.

Oh yes, the Great IQ Stratification©—as I like to call it—has already occurred. It’s been pretty obvious to anyone with a functioning brain since at least Sarah Palin was unleashed foaming at the mouth with her unique form of racist dog whistle glossolalia that only stupid people can hear, that we’re well past that point.

Think about it: In THIS spacetime continuum, the real-life inspiration for Back to the Future‘s caricature bully Biff Tannen is the Republican nominee.

If Trump wins, Amy Goodman will have to change the name of her NPR show to “Idiocracy Now.”

Ha ha ha ha ha. If you get these jokes, and of course you do, you’re not a Trump voter—amIrite?—and that’s the problem, the self-reinforcing echo chamber of the Internet. Hell, I’ve written some nasty shit about Trump for years on Twitter and on this blog, and all I ever get are “atta-boys” from people who also hate Trump and his incoherent minions. Even when I am trying my level best to be condescending and deliberately rude, no one within the sound of my tweets ever disagrees with me. They feel about the terroristic man-toddler©  (thank you Charles M. Blow) the same way I do. “We” all loathe Trump. I’m just tweeting to the choir.

[Amusingly one of the rare times that anyone whatsoever has sent me any pushback on any of my anti-Trump tweets and retweets was none other than Trump advisor, frequent guest on The Alex Jones Show and complete shithead Roger Stone, who must search for his own name constantly. Then I sent him this. It was fun. Bigly fun. I love Twitter!]

But going back to the original question, is there anything—any fact, TV commercial, slogan, viral video, bumper sticker—whatever—that would change the minds of soft-brained morons who would happily line up to vote for Biff Tannen? Something that you could make them watch, with eyes pinned open like Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange that would get through to them or make a difference?

Maybe there is. The video below, made by the Patriotic Artists & Creatives PAC—which features an actual terroristic man-toddler standing in for the one who used to host The Apprentice—might be able to pry even the tightest shut minds open for a second.

Wisdom from the mouths of babes? It’s perhaps the only thing that would work on the simpleton Trump voters. Best that I’ve seen, anyway. So post it everywhere. The video, I mean, probably don’t repost this blog on Facebook, that’s just being mean (and they won’t get the jokes anyway)

What country do you want your children to grow up in?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Of Skittles and Skypes: Shocking codewords ‘Racist Trump Twitter’ uses to avoid account suspension

This fucking election. I’ve heard that exact phrase so much more this year than I ever have before. The rise of Trump’s racist, sexist, illiberal id within the Republican Party has been depressing to watch. We’re all holding our breath to see where all of that unruly anger goes after (please God) Trump loses the election on November 8. 

In the meantime, the mainstreaming of Trump (our own American Mussolini®) and his politics of racial resentment, the KKK’s David Duke (whose name I’ve heard more in the last week than in the previous 20 years combined), and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon has also meant an inevitable education in the loathsome habits of the overtly and proudly racist part of America that is normally kept under wraps. I don’t want to know this stuff, but have learned about it via a sort of toxic, brain-damaged cultural osmosis.

So here’s something I learned this year. In white supremacist quarters the number “88” has special significance, because “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet and so it can be taken to mean “HH” = “Heil Hitler” (also “8” kind of looks like an “H” if you think about it). It took the political rise of Trump to bring that to my attention. Fun stuff!

If you see the number 88 being thrown around by people who probably hate blacks and Latinos, it’s not an accident, it’s a dog whistle to the people who (wink) think of themselves as understanding the “true America” in which immigrants and blacks always win and white people and Christians never get an even break.

You may have seen the triple parentheses, also called “echoes,” around people’s names, which look like this: (((Martin Schneider))). That’s white supremacist code for “Jewish.” (Fortunately, Twitter users are now adopting the practice voluntarily in order to defuse it of its meaning.)

And the innocuous word Skittles is a racist dog whistle because that’s what Trayvon Martin had on his person when George Zimmerman shot and killed him for no good reason.

Some of you might recall that Trump’s son Donald Jr. recently unveiled an ugly metaphor having to do with the number of poisonous Skittles could be in a bowl before you’d make a decision to stop eating them, the idea being to communicate the advisability of a zero-tolerance policy on Muslim immigration.

That metaphor has roots in Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher—in more recent years the concept has been used against Muslims and black people using M&Ms as the candy, but the switch to Skittles was surely done as a conscious shout-out to Zimmerman. It’s astonishing how few news reports noticed this aspect of the metaphor, but the governing logic of an effective dog whistle is that most people—non racist people—can’t hear it.

On Saturday Buzzfeed ran an item by Alex Kantrowitz alerting “normals” to some new codewords the white supremacists on Twitter are using to evade detection. I heard about it via this tweet from Alex Goldman, who describes the groups using the terms as “Racist Trump twitter.”

Here’s the ugly list of words and their “true” meanings among white supremacists. Notice the presence of that loaded word skittles to mean Muslims or Arabs:

nigger = google
Jew/Kike = skype
Spic/Mexican = yahoo
Gook/Chink = bing
Muslim/Arab = skittle
gay (men) = butterfly
lesbian = fishbucket
tranny = durdens
liberals/dems = carsalesman
conservatives = reagans
libertiarian = a leppo

Here’s Kantrowitz on the reasons for the subterfuge:

The code appears to have originated in response to Google’s Jigsaw program, a new AI-powered approach to combating harassment and abuse online. The program seems to have inspired members of the online message board 4chan to start “Operation Google,” using Google as a derogatory term for blacks in an attempt to get Google to filter out its own name. The code developed from there.

This is obviously an elaborate game of whack-a-mole, but just because it’s kind of futile in no way diminishes the importance of letting some daylight in on these creeps. If they have to go through a hundred iterations of inventing some whole new elaborate code to enjoy their twisted, simple-minded hate among themselves, then maybe eventually they’ll get the message that society is not going to put up with it.

Here’s an example of the code in use. It don’t get a whole lot clearer than this, does it?

Here are a couple of other examples:


Ugh! This fucking election? How about This fucking country???

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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