The ALA has a big list of books that have been banned or challenged in countries around the world, but especially the US.  You’ll notice the most common countries to ban books besides the United States were fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Ireland, and Middle Eastern countries (concerning Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses).  It’s pretty obvious that most parents and the others who complained skimmed snippets of the book with a pretty selective memory (the best example is how Of Mice and Men got banned by both parents concerned with racial slurs and the KKK.  Yes, the Klan banned a book banned for racial slurs).

‘Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because “Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude.” In addition, “he was very questionable as to his patriotism.” ‘ I have a hard time believing this isn’t a fictional world already.

“He seems to be implying that businesses are weak and unstable!”

“Well, it is the Great Dep–“

“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BAN IT!”

So I usually start blogs and then leave them like a cold-shouldered lover within a few weeks, but a friend was like, “Steven, what’s in your head is so astonishingly brilliant and sexy and riveting it needs the ADD attention of the internet RIGHT. NOW.”  I paraphrase, but the original point was somewhere in there.

So anyway I guess I’ll start with something that will interest me (that’s what’s important here, after all)–here’s a list of artists that I like as I scroll down my iTunes library (psh, so mainstream), and why I like them, and why you should too unless you’re a corporate marionette of the pop industry </sarcasm !–but seriously!–>. Each artist is followed by a song that I think is a pretty good example.

Adele, “One and Only”Not the most original or innovative, but she has a great voice and has some nice blues/jazz influences in many of her songs.

Anathallo, “John J. Audobon”Beautiful percussive folk-rock, with a lot of piano and guitar.  The lyricism is sometimes astounding–its poetry doesn’t need music to support it, but since it does it may as well be brilliant too.

Animal Collective, “My Girls”Not immediately accessible, and sometimes critic-targeted, but they always make new sounds that build on themselves in spacy, textured environments.  Sometimes pretty catchy, too.

As Tall As Lions, “Song for Luna”A rock band that probably reminds you of one you’ve seen locally, but better.  Energetic percussion, with good use of secondary vocals.

Astor Piazzolla, “Libertango” – Try driving down a country road listening to this and not feeling like you just shagged another Bond girl (while blowing up a bomb factory).  Tango with jazzy elements.

Bat for Lashes, “Glass” – A haunting voice with some fantasy-like songs made to feel epic, or very personal, usually dark, with a very rhythmic bent.

Battles, “Tonto” – What’s known as math rock–jolting rhythms and spastic guitar that will end up making you tap your foot.  Mostly instrumental, with gibberish vocals used more as instruments than anything else.  Almost always catchy, which is why you’ll recognize “Atlas” from LittleBigPlanet if you played it.

Beirut, “Nantes” – Built off romantic notions of eastern European music, with a lot of french horn, clickety percussion, piano, and gypsy-life themes (not the racist kind).  A really talented young guy who I think plays most of the instruments himself and has a really good deep voice.

Bon Iver, “Wash.” – Exactly what you want to hear when the windowpane is dusty with frost, and you can see your breath outside.  Simple, elegant, vocal-centered songs that paint a midwest winter like none other.

Bonobo, “Animals” – Awesome jazz/electronic, mostly instrumental.  Great for doing homework to.

Claude Debussy, “Prélude À  L’après-Midi D’un Faune” – One of my favorite composers. His most famous work is probably “Clair de Lune” (you heard it at the end of Ocean’s Eleven).  Always incredibly expressive and beautiful sounds that were considered ahead of his time.

Clint Mansell, “Death is the Road to Awe” – About half of that grating intensity you feel in any of Darren Aronofsky’s films can be attributed to Mansell’s soundtrack.  “Lux Aeterna” is responsible for making thousands of normally unimpressive people look like Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.  He’s also doing the soundtrack for the upcoming Mass Effect 3, in case you haven’t already voided your bowels.

So that’s probably enough for now, and I have to go.  So maybe check them out on YouTube or sommat if you value my opinion.  Or do it anyway, and then decide to value my opinion from now on.  Your choice.

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