Liner Notes | April 2017

At least four international bands were denied entry into the U.S. in early March on their way to SXSW. None were from countries targeted by President Trump’s second travel ban–SOVIET SOVIET is Italian, UNITED VIBRATIONS is English, MASSIVE SCAR ERA is Canadian/Egyptian, and ELOQ is Danish—but nevertheless people have been drawing that connection on social media, including the bands themselves. The artists have cited injustice and discrimination in U.S. border policy and have voiced their frustration on Facebook.

Customs, however, released a memorandum about the specific kind of visa needed to play SXSW and other festivals like it. In years past, there have been similar issues but they did not draw the same attention because they didn’t seem to reflect the political climate. Pitchfork points out that “even ADELE had to cancel a 2009 SXSW appearance” because of a visa issue.

Heightened political times reach musicians and celebrities in many ways. CHVRCHES, along with ST. VINCENT, Kristen Stewart, JOHN LEGEND and Zach Galifianakis are working on a musical collaboration to raise money for Planned Parenthood, which Trump said he wouldn’t federally defund if they promised to stop performing abortions. Planned Parenthood refused. Similar requests have been made before by Republican lawmakers and have been similarly refused.

The White House has also been worried about leaks, hacks and wiretaps. Kellyanne Conway even insinuated that people might spy on Trump through microwaves. It turns out that they should be worried about anything with a good backbeat instead. Researchers, including Kevin Fu from the University of Michigan, have found that phones, tablets and even cars can be hacked using sound waves. The hackers can get in through the device’s accelerometer using a sound file containing a virus.

Fu told the New York Times that “It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words. You can think of it as a musical virus.” Now you have even more reason to leer at your whistling co-worker or the person on the subway playing music from their phone without earbuds.

FEIST and THE SHINS are releasing new albums soon. It’s the early 2000s again. Let’s grab Zach Braff and yell into an abyss. This is not sarcasm or snark. It might be fun.

NICKI MINAJ and REMY MA continue to feud through music. Ma released “Shether” and “Another One.” Now Minaj is firing back with “No Frauds,” featuring LIL WAYNE and DRAKE. The lyrics of these songs do not need to be reprinted in these pages. Just believe me when I say that each is very critical of the other’s sexual desirability and the skill (or lack thereof) with which the other is able to successfully rap.

DAVID BOWIE, who we should all refuse to stop talking about, is being commemorated in stamp form by the Royal Mail of England. That’s not the fun part, though. They launched a few sets of the stamps into space. One can only imagine the surreal quality of being in the ground control crew of such a launch.

Lastly, several artists have been discussing mental health issues in recent years, especially in relation to the demands of touring and the availability of drugs. PATRICK CARNEY, drummer for THE BLACK KEYS, recently said, tongue somewhat in his cheek, that he feels like he has PTSD after touring so constantly for years on end.

CHANCE THE RAPPER used the same war lingo to describe how he’s felt after a few friends dying in recent years and how he’s tried to “self-medicate” with cannabis, among other things. Chance is concerned about taking new drugs, even prescribed ones, to deal with the anxiety of the music business and other aspects of his life. He tells Complex, though, that he puts his faith in God to get him through it.

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