Music Review: Negativland – True False

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Negativland

True False

[Seeland; 2019]

Rating: 4/5

Cars were unsafe at any speed, and houses used to settle. Baseball was the thing that happened in the sun; the names etched into products were an enduring reassurance, bigger than Presidents. So, see: you can’t trust memory. All hewed to the texture of some collected knowledge, the big lies remain very much the same. But we, the creatures, with the sliest of shit-eating grins, are only slightly more (or less?) aware.

Three members now unfortunately deceased, Negativland enter the fourth decade of their existence this year. And so, here, ostensibly, comes a moment for unquiet reflection. But the Bay Area collective has never really been good at performing for ego’s sake, at least not without an Olympic buccal bulge. Like a museum of cultural detritus, they’ve never mistaken casual introspection for profundity.

Negativland have always been about an idea and, like the culture war cycle — itself a primary ammunition for the band’s high-caliber brand of subversive nosism — the idea has hardly died down. Between unpainted intervals, True False, Negativland’s latest, presents some of the band’s most potent, musical, and “popular” ideas in, I think, years.

So, where were we? Let’s see. Garbage, media, mass psychogenic illness… Among others, these themes have, over the years, threaded a neat motif through all of Negativland’s self-styled hideous triptychs. And so the band remains primarily concerned with the relationships people share with systems, as well as the means through which those relationships are expressed.

But what does it mean to be true? That question’s over my pay grade, but True False poses the question and invents a brilliant subversion of logic in response; “I don’t have a single American friend,” etc. So dedicated to freedom of misinformation — resolving opposites in some simple inverse amendment — True False attempts to expose false dichotomies. It mostly succeeds. It also feels like it’s speaking to me personally. (To be fair, it does open with an address to one “David,” perhaps a self-effacing reference to the late Weatherman, or maybe the Brom murders?)

In any case, “Discernment,” a mainstay of live sets for two decades, finally shows up here in studio format, reflecting a synthesis of pure maths. But, as we’re told toward the end: “Yesterday Hates Today;” and it could just as easily be the other way around. So True False isn’t at all like a clip show sketch, in form or in function. Instead, it feels mostly considered, genuine, and current. While the band has always risen to occasions of self-reference, these moments never descend into the languor of self-congratulation. And will you at least consider the sky’s burning algebra? Negativland were children of the radio era, and under a different sun, this album might be a solemn retread.

But True False is thankfully imbued with contemporary textures and references that ultimately reflect the newer issues. We hear the spliced phantasms of Ras Baraka and Barack Obama populated on the same track, “This is Not Normal,” in which the titular statement repeats, as if some perverse and obvious mantra for our times. A critical study of “normalcy” in general, the track manages to slyly avoid roasted fingers and bothesideism. Other entries, like “Melt the North Pole” and “Certain Men,” respectively touch upon climate change and the structural violence of male authority. Both are performed with equal humor and humility. There is also a song about bees.

The record’s climax arguably comes with “Fourth of July,” a searing and hilarious critique of internet slacktivism, outrage porn, and 21st-century right-wing entitlement. “I can make 15 fucking posts on Facebook, and not fucking one of you will share it!” an anonymous MAGA-inflected voice seethes, churchy organs a-whirring in the background. More prone to an obscurantist kind of dehydrated wit, Negativland’s “Fourth of July” stands out as one of the album’s truly laugh-out-loud moments.

And so, like some of the band’s best work, True False scans like a rapid-fire series of in-jokes. If you’re a fan, you’ll like it. If not, hard cheese. Regardless, the album is an often impressive, frequently funny interrogation of our thrownness. It’s like a flippant middle-finger aimed into the abyss of our past’s familiar matrix. Diffuse in nature, its obfuscation of character and argument seems to gesture, as is expected, at a kind of widespread dissociation, not to mention a generalized ignorance and complacency. Negativland have always set their sights on the deceptively anodyne, the “mostly harmless,” the suburban. But in lieu of headline thoughts or broad strokes, True False boldly attempts to address several questions at once, hopefully (or maybe hopelessly?) suggesting more than just a binary answer.

Listen to Selena Gomez’s New Song “Lose You to Love Me”

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Her first new solo single of 2019 has arrived

Sweetwater 420 Fest 2020

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Sweetwater 420 is a three-day festival taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2020 festival goes down April 24th-26th at Centennial Olympic Park. The event is put on by Sweetwater Brewery.

Sweetwater 420 Fest 2020
Alex Young

Listen to Courtney Barnett’s New Cover of Loose Tooth’s “Keep On”

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A new single from the new Milk on Milk compilation

Miley Cyrus Responds To Backlash Over Controversial LGBTQ Comments

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Miley CyrusAs Miley Cyrus herself sang in the past, “Everybody makes mistakes.” Now, the singer is trying to take responsibility for one of her more recent mishaps. More »

Boris Brejcha Releases Staple Track “Never Look Back”

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Like many artists this past weekend, Boris Brejcha was tied up with the Amsterdam Dance Event, in his case playing at Gashouder. Boris was also one of the few artists who also dropped new music that same weekend. “Never Look Back” dropped on Friday and lives up to the German techno titan’s trademark brand of

The post Boris Brejcha Releases Staple Track “Never Look Back” appeared first on EDM Sauce.

Courtney Barnett – “Keep On” (Loose Tooth Cover)

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Milk On MilkIn addition to consistently kicking out top-shelf indie rock, Courtney Barnett runs Milk! Records, a record label focused on promoting musicians from her native Australia and nearby New Zealand. Milk is releasing a compilation next month featuring various artists on the label covering each other’s songs. Naturally, this comp is called Milk On Milk. Artists … More »

Conan Mac crafts temperate visual for ‘All Again’ [Watch]

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Conan Mac crafts temperate visual for ‘All Again’ [Watch]2 Press Shot

There’s a warm sense of nostalgia that permeates Conan Mac’s visual for “All Again,” which begins with a fateful knock at a lover’s door. As luck–and the developmental arc–of the music video will have it, the female flame answers.

And, in what is both a reversal of the male protagonist’s initial fortuitousness and the first gesture to the tenuous nature of the couple’s relationship, with a negating shake of her head she closes the door. A moment’s rumination prompts her to haphazardly pack a bag and dash out the door to the forest green Fiat parked in the driveway. Here, the adventure begins.

‘All Again’ was written about a make or break weekend – a final chance to fix things up and forget the past….the video [tells] a story of a struggling relationship held together by hope, one last chance, and a convertible Fiat.

-CM

“All Again” traces the pair’s as they galavant across the sand on the beach, speed through the streets, windows down, roast marshmallows, and whimsically explore the boardwalk arcade. The visual fittingly ends with a vibrantly hued sunset that provides the finale to the video and, as the production suggests, to the relationship that it chronicles. The video arrives as a satiating narrative extension of the story that Mac tells on “All Again.”

Shorties (Carmen Maria Machado’s Introduction to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019, A New Janis Joplin Biography, and more)

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The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019

Tor.com shared Carmen Maria Machado’s introduction to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019.


Holly George-Warren discussed her Janis Joplin biography Janis with Fresh Air.


October’s best eBook deals.

eBook on sale for $1.99 today:

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson


Kim Gordon discussed her new solo album with The Current.


The Oxford American shared a new comic from Van Jensen & Nate Powell.


Stream a new song by the Orielles.


The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Eleanor Davis about her new graphic novel.


Jason Isbell covered Dire Straits’ “Helplessly Hoping.”


Bookforum interviewed poet Natalie Diaz.


The Hold Steady visited KEXP for an interview and live performance.


A short story Advent calendar.


Stream Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s demo for “Wanted Man.”


Brock Clarke reviewed Jami Attenberg’s new novel All This Could Be Yours at the New York Times.

That’s the novel’s through line — Victor lies in a hospital bed in New Orleans while everyone else waits for him to die — and in lesser hands this might be static. But Attenberg gets so deep into the psyches of her characters that the story ends up seeming electric with ruin, and with possible resurrection.


Stream a new song by Sorry.


Deutsche Welle examined the #bookstagram phenomenon.


Liz Phair discussed her memoir Horror Stories with Vogue.


Tessa Hadley talked to the New Yorker about her story in this week’s issue.


Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviewed author Paul Crenshaw.


The Millions reconsidered metafiction.


also at Largehearted Boy:

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previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week’s best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists

Khruangbin Gear Up for South America & European 2019 Tours

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The post Khruangbin Gear Up for South America & European 2019 Tours is published on LIVE music blog.

🇵🇪🇨🇱🇦🇷🇧🇷✈️⁣ Hello, South America!

The post Khruangbin Gear Up for South America & European 2019 Tours appeared first on LIVE music blog.