We first heard the music of Swedish band Little Children last summer and were immediately smitten. The songs are drenched in synths and hooky melodies, built on driving rhythms, and catchy as hell. Turns out, Little Children is the solo project of Stockholm-based singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Linus Lutti. After a string of singles and EPs over the years, Lutti’s released a new full-length titles f.f and it’s quickly become one of our favorite albums of the year. Lutti graciously made some time recently to talk with us about the new album and his musical career.

raven + crow: Alright, Linus, first off, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk. We’ve been listening to f.f pretty non-stop since it came out last month and are really into it. It strikes me as a pretty logical evolution for your music—you’ve always had a really breezy, driving sound; something that’s somehow tranquil and full of energy at the same time. Can you talk a little bit about what you were after with this new album or how you wanted it to be different from past work?

Linus Lutti: Thank you! Well I wanted it to be more (electric) guitar driven. I wanted to capture the core of the songs and instead of doing 20 synth overdubs, I wanted to try to keep it somewhat “clean.” Pretty much as it is recorded from the beginning; live with guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

But I didn´t want to make it a “rock” album. I wanted to keep the “LC” feeling on everything, which I think we managed to do pretty well in the end.

Yeah, totally—that makes sense. So, I don’t really like to play the comparison game, but I know a lot of people are hearing similarities to the most recent War on Drugs, which I get, but I also know you’ve been playing this music for a while now and it goes much deeper than that. Can you talk a little bit about your influences? I know there was a childhood love of Bruce Springsteen that you’ve spoken of before. And I feel like Europe + ABBA are really the only Swedish bands I knew of in my childhood—was there a lot of looking to American music for inspiration for you?

I grew up with my father listening to Swedish progressive rock such as Träd Gräs och Stenar and Kebnekajse but also a lot of Neil Young and Bruce. That´s what I was brought up with. I can´t change that. And I´m glad it wasn´t ABBA in a way. I don’t think LC would have sounded the same then.

I´ve always been more interested in what comes from America and a take on traditional music. But I also have a strong “baggage” with Swedish/Scandinavian music thats sort of in my DNA, with somewhat darker melodies, and tranquil feel to it.

Psyched or not psyched about the just-announced ABBA reunion shows?

I didn’t know it was happening—are they all still alive?

I won’t tell them you asked that. Two of my favorite tracks on the album come back-to-back—“Chasing the Sun” with Anna Levander and “Tear Us Apart Again”. The former changes the dynamic of the song early on by opening up the drums and building a more recognizably live sound over a flatter or electronic drum line. I feel like this is something you do to great effect in your music, playing with the scope and expansiveness and dynamic of the sound to affect and engage your listeners. Why do you think those kind of musical shifts evoke such feelings in us?

What I first decided when we started recorded the album was that I wanted the songs to sound as good live as on record. I wanted to capture that live feeling in a sense. I also wanted the listener to engage and activly listen to the music. I always want something to happen in the songs and build them up all the time.

I know that you pursued a number of seemingly less creative, or at least less musical jobs and careers prior to this—bartender, therapist; was the move to make music a later in life thing for you? And what brought you to make the move?

Well, yeah sort of. The last ten years of my life, I always wanted to keep playing music and have less of a “regular” job, but it’s been really hard. I’ve been working different bars with fellow musicians from Fireside, Teddybears, etc who’ve been in the same situation as me. I came to a point when I decided that I wanted to focus 100% on the new songs and the new record and I knew I couldn’t have a regular job. I wanted to write and record this album with no outside interference.

Was that tough, making such a drastic change in your life?

No not really. I knew I had to do it. I was a bit nervous, though, but it all ended up really good.

What came first for you, the singing or the guitar-playing?

The singing….BUT when I write songs it’s always the guitar first though.

Is the musical community pretty supportive there? Did they make that easier at all?

Yeah I must say so. All of my friends (real friends) who are in the same situation as me are and have been really supportive. But people who are in the same situation as me, see me as a “competitor” and that sucks in a way. Stockholm is too small for having too many full time musicians…

Someone’s gotta make the Glogg, I guess. But, seriously, Sweden’s one of those countries that seems to produce a ton of really great bands + musicians—Lykke Li, Shout Out Louds, The Knife, Miike Snow, Peter Bjorn + John, El Perro del Mar, the new collaboration LIV, you—any idea why that might be? Is it the cold weather and seclusive winters that breeds that creativity or something?

Yeah. When we grew up we had free municipal music school that we could choose to be a part of. I never was though (but I’m not a great musician either). But all the best musicians in sweden went to those classes when they where kids.

Also we have such a good heritage with great swedish songwriters who we grew up with. And also the long winters…. You can’t do much else than to play music.

So cool that you all have those musical programs integrated like that though. Back to  you, I like the new album’s cover—the paint over the photo, and that symbol in the corner. Who made that? And where was the photo taken?

It was the great artist Gustaf Von Arbin who made this cover. We wanted it to be 50% 80′s druggy LA and a 50% North African feel to it. The photo is taken from Marracech.

And what does the album name mean, f.f?

That’s a well kept secret.

Fair enough. Though, if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it might have something to do with your initials. Speaking of meaning, though, I get the desire to not just release and perform under your name as a solo artist, but where does the name Little Children come from?

It comes from one of my favorite songs with Ornette Coleman called “Little Children” who my father in law introduced me to.

Oh cool—totally not familiar with him, but I’ll check his stuff out. Any plans to tour soon for you?

Yeah, we are going to all the main Scandinavian cities this year and early next year. Hopefully we will come back to the U.S shortly!

Definitely. Will you be playing with a full band or more solo gigs?

Full band is what I prefer! I have som amazing musicians with me from bands like Dungen, El Perro Del Mar, and LIV.

Well definitely try to make it out to Los Angeles—we’d love to see you live.

Oh I’d love to come back soon!

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I didn't know it was happening—are they all still alive?
Little Children's Linus Lutti on the pending ABBA reunion.

Taking a break from politics (and from taking a break), we’re releasing our November mixtape today—the last of new music for the year since next month’s mix will feature songs from our top albums of the year.

The mix features some really great songs from artists new and not-so-new to us, starting with a brilliant one from Brooklyn’s Computer Magic (AKA, Danielle “Danz” Johnson, whom we interviewed on these pages a little while back); a hot-off-the-presses track from indie-art-dance band Rubblebucket; a boisterous one from Portland, Oregon’s Y La Bamba; an awesomely glitchy entry from newcomer Shaprece; downtempo, moving, folky pop from Sweden’s Many Voices Speak; a highlight from the welcome, post-record-contract-trouble return of longtime favorite Matt Pond PA (really ancient interview we did with him here); some hazy dream pop from Canadian band Teen Daze; one of our favorite tracks from the new Kate Tempest (who does not pull punches, to say the least); keeping with Tempest’s anti-gentrification theme and Pond’s welcome return theme, New Zealand’s Cut Off Your Hands is back with the single, “Hate Somebody”; a quietly clever song from an artist we don’t know a ton about, Chicago’s Show You Suck (but c’mon, a dude who name-drops Purity Ring and Daria in the same song has gotta be cool, right?); a beautifully beat-driven, slow-burner from NYC’s Elliot Moss; a brand new one from another New Yorker—Theophilus London (featuring LA’s Ariel Pink); some solid indie-pop from Sweden’s Mary Onettes; more great Swedish music from the Falun band Francis; and, finally, an epic new track from Nick Murphy, FKA Chet Faker.

Enjoy!

Continuing the post-election series we started Monday where we ask friends of the studio and those whose opinions we respect, basically, what now? Rather than curl into the fetal position and sink into our dark place, how can we take this massive shift in culture and politics and make it into something good. Today’s piece is from a longtime friend and fellow Brooklynite in Los Angeles, Danielle Fee. Danielle works for a New-York-based arts agency and mother to one of the cutest kids ever (that’s our take on it, at least).

I woke up on November 8th to the sound of my daughter’s excitement to get out the door and to go vote. We had been talking a lot about the election and about why we were making the decisions we were making as a family. Her immediate takeaway from watching the news and debates with us was that Trump is “a jerk. He always interrupts Hillary.” I found her opinion to be a perfect encapsulation of my thoughts about Trump as well. As we got ready to go, we both dressed in white. I talked to her about the importance of wearing white to the polling place and how this honored the women who fought for the right to vote. As we arrived, we found long lines outside our polling place. My daughter showed unusual patience, reading her favorite DC Superhero Super Girls comic book as we waited. In the polling place in my neighborhood, enthusiasm was high despite the temporary inconveniences of malfunctioning voting machines and long lines. The poll worker who signed us in periodically broke out in song and general cheering. As I entered the voting booth with my daughter, I teared up as I cast a vote for what I expected to be the first female President of the United States. We were part of history and it left me breathless that I was sharing this with my daughter. I did not, and do not, take those moments from Election Day 2016 for granted.

And now?

I’m struggling to process the emotions this election has left me with. How is it possible to feel stunned, rage, despair, sadness, betrayal all at the same time, all so intensely and just a few hours after I was filled with such hope?

I’m grateful for all the think pieces (and even the not-so-thought-out reactive pieces) but it’s time for action. The WTF word bubble that’s been following me around is starting to disappear and I need to do something positive. Here’s a few ways I plan to do that.

Focus
The number and range of organizations that will need assistance is staggering. It’s honestly overwhelming. As adults, my husband and I have our own specific causes we support. But as a family we decided to focus on one particular area: empowering girls and women to have a voice. Running Start and She Should Run are two organizations we contributed to that inspire women to become political leaders.

Use My Voice
I will not normalize racism and misogyny. Complacency allowed many people in this country to legitimize hate when they chose to ignore Trump’s rhetoric. I have a responsibility to call out the “locker room talk” or “jokes,” to not ignore and brush off those remarks as just insensitive when I hear them from coworkers, friends and even extended family. I need to use my voice. Yes, it’s a small act. But it’s one that will hopefully open dialogue and lead to bigger acts.

Show Up
Most of all, I don’t want to forget that feeling of pride I had when voting. I’m taking my daughter to the Women’s March on Washington (in Los Angeles) not as a protest but to emphasize the positive for my daughter. I explained to her that we’re going so we can remind the next president that he needs to respect ALL the people in this country. I want to show her how proud I am of millions of women in this country and those who support women’s rights. Most of all, I want her to see the people behind the vote and that our responsibility to each other doesn’t end on Election Day.

Safety
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this past election year, it’s that maintaining a safe space for dialogue online is increasingly difficult. It’s bewildering how fast discourse can deteriorate into violent threats—usually seeped in racist and sexist language. Anonymous comments casually threaten sexual assault against those with different political opinions. It’s no wonder so many women joined secret Facebook groups so they could be included in the political conversation without fear of someone else’s high school acquaintance threatening to sexually assault them for their beliefs. These secret groups were formed out of fear, but I am grateful for them. And the positive take-away? I’m still working on that. But I’m inspired to do more to support legislation against online harassment and to call out this unacceptable behavior when I see it.

When my daughter is old enough to vote I want her to have multiple female leaders to look up to and I want her to be able to voice her opinion online and IRL without fear of violence. For now, she doesn’t know if I’m posting information online to support a cause or engaging in a dialogue on Facebook. She can only see my actions. It’s time for me to be an example she can actually see and hear.

When my daughter is old enough to vote I want her to have multiple female leaders to look up to and I want her to be able to voice her opinion online and IRL without fear of violence.

Continuing the post-election series we started Monday where we ask friends of the studio and those whose opinions we respect, basically, what now? Rather than curl into the fetal position and sink into our dark place, how can we take this massive shift in culture and politics and make it into something good. Today’s piece is from Damien Carroll, who contributed some pre-election insight on the many California propositions to us recently and acts as 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley.

It’s hard to overstate all this country lost on Election day by voting in (though the antiquated electoral college, but still) an abusive, vindictive, amoral dunderhead as our next President. A man who no decent parent would hold up as an example for their children. A man whose biggest business accomplishment was losing enough money to avoid paying taxes for 18 years. A man who we know full well doesn’t even want the job. Donald Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and already this election is enshrined as the most self-destructive act of a great nation since the Trojans pulled a wooden horse into their city and left it out overnight.

So far be it from me to sugar coat. This is really, unbelievably bad. This is like if the Goonies ended with the kids drowning in the underground cavern while Mama Fratelli walked into the sunset with a bag of pirate gold… bad. I’m not going to tell you it’s raining… sorry, that is indeed piss on your leg. And in your hair. It’s piss from floor to ceiling.

But… now that it’s happened, what are we going to do about it? Mope around for four years? Spend our energy on woulda shoulda arguments about Bernie or James Comey? If you are reading this, chances are you are understandably bummed out, but not among the most powerless people in America post-election. If you are a Syrian refugee, an undocumented child, or a diabetes patient on Obamacare – OK, you get a pass. But for the rest of us: it’s time to fight. Here’s how:

1) Right now, Google your Congressmember’s office and write down, on a Post-It note, their DC and District Office phone numbers and their mailing address. Stick it by your computet. If they have an email newsletter, get on their list. Then start communicating. Let them know how you feel about issues of the day. Be polite, well informed, and don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. Look for opportunities to meet in person, like Town Hall meetings or constituent days. No Congressmember, Republican or Democratic, likes angry constituents, especially ones with a trusted network of friends. Let them know they aren’t acting in the dark.

2) Sign up for a daily newspaper, or two or three. We’re going to need real reporters in this era, who will investigate and take risks instead of just rewriting press releases (or reprinting Trump’s tweets.) That’s not free.

3) Make a plan to join a Democratic club in your area. The activists running these clubs just worked like hell to oppose Trump and got beat. They are exhausted and demoralized, and they’ll need fresh faces with ideas and energy. Don’t be too hard on them if they seem a little grumpy. Think of yourself as the person who can warmly greet the next new person coming through the door.

4) Get out of the house and meet some of your neighbors. The ones you already know will be happy to see you. The ones you don’t know yet may be feeling scared and appreciate a friendly face. The ones who just voted for Trump need to meet some real life Democrats that aren’t demonized on Fox News.

5) Give yourself permission to laugh (black humor is the fuel of the opposition), to enjoy art (how about an open mike night? Supporting people’s free expression will help you feel better, guaranteed), to cry when you need to, and to walk in the park.

6) Right now, block out three weekends on your calendar in the October before the 2018 election, to go volunteer.

As we say goodbye (with one of those hugs where you can’t let go) to President Obama, let’s not forget his words from the 2008 election: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” History is watching. All we have is each other. That will have to be enough.

As we say goodbye (with one of those hugs where you can't let go) to President Obama, let's not forget his words from the 2008 election: "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

Following up on yesterday’s piece, we’re continuing our post-election series, asking friends, basically, what now—what can we do to promote positive change in the coming days, months, years. Today’s piece is from Paul Singh, Principal at the bi-coastal creative collective Pel, of which we are part.

I am not a politician or political commentator. I am not an expert on these matters. I am not even a writer.

I am an American who cares deeply for his country and tries his best to pay attention and contribute to the political process.

As someone who believes strongly in progressive policies, this election has left me reeling and I realize that I must come to terms, not just with Trump’s win, but with my own failure to do enough to prevent him from reaching the Presidency.

These are the ten main lessons that I am taking away from this election.

There is no bubble.

I live in New York City and on a daily basis I interact with people of dozens of different ethnic backgrounds, religions and native languages. I interact with immigrants, children of immigrants and red-blooded Americans whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago. I interact with straight people, gay people and transgendered people. I interact with poor people, rich people and what’s left of the middle class. I interact with tourists from Europe, Asia and everywhere else.

We are all Americans and no one’s experience is more legitimate than another’s. Urban areas are no more a bubble than anywhere else.

Democratic politicians need to speak to rural voters.

Rural America has been decimated over the last several decades and we need to elect candidates who can speak to these voters. Progressive policies would significantly benefit the people in these areas and, in large measure, Republican policies are creating the hardships they face. Our candidates need to communicate this better.

…but not at the expense of minorities, women and LGBT communities.

There is clearly a disconnect between the social outlook of the Left and the Right. In an effort to reach more voters and accomplish the above, we must not sacrifice our policies of inclusion towards all Americans. We have no need for more Blue Dogs.

Don’t blame the poor.

Trump won because of rural America. But it wasn’t poor rural America. Exit polls show that Trump won the majority of voters who earn over $50k per year and Clinton won those who make less. Trump won the Republican base just like any Republican candidate before him. That’s it.

We didn’t vote.

So if there was no Trump surge? Why did Clinton lose?

Democrats lost because we didn’t show up to vote. That’s the ultimate takeaway.

If this is because Bernie supporters didn’t want to vote for Hillary, then shame on them. The strength of the Republicans is that ultimately they tend to come together — even when the candidate is overtly racist, misogynistic and xenophobic.

We must find ways to energize and select the most progressive candidates during the primary. And then we must get excited and fight for the candidate we select because the alternative is much worse.

Electoral college has to go.

Of course, Hillary Clinton did win.

When all the votes are in, Clinton will win the popular vote by approximately 2 million votes. More Americans want her to be President but because of the archaic Electoral College, which disproportionately rewards smaller states, Trump will be President. With over 120 million votes cast in this election, if less than 54,000 voters in 3 states had voted for Hillary instead of Trump, she would be our President.

The last two Republican Presidents lost the popular vote and will have come into power despite the fact that fewer Americans voted for them than the Democratic candidate (George W. Bush won the popular vote only in his second term).

If all Americans are equal, then there is little justification for the electoral college. Amending the Constitution is a daunting task that will likely never happen because it would require the vote of smaller states and they will not want to lose power. But there is an alternative approach called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and it’s gaining momentum. Essentially, if enough states pledge to give all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote (rather than the winner of their state) then the Electoral College is effectively abolished. Currently, states representing 165 EC votes (out of the necessary 270) have already made this pledge and bills are currently being debated in Michigan and Pennsylvania. I need to research and support this initiative more and would encourage you to do the same.

Supreme Court is not doomed. But it’s up to us.

One of the scariest aspects of a Trump Presidency is the potential impact on the Supreme Court which could last for decades. Because of Republican recalcitrance and their refusal to vote for Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, Trump will fill the current vacancy. Since the appointee will replace Antonin Scalia, who was a stalwart conservative, the new Justice won’t shift the balance of the Court.

If there are no further vacancies in the next two years, Democrats will have an opportunity to once again take back the Senate, and possibly even the House of Representatives (if we are smart about redistricting), thereby assuming the Congressional power needed to block any new Trump appointments. This only happens if we come out and vote in the 2018 mid-term elections.

We must root for Trump. But must not forgive.

We have to do all we can to help President Trump succeed. As one person put it, the opposite would be to wish that a pilot you dislike fails when you are on the plane. That doesn’t mean we have to accept and normalize the hateful manner of his campaign. We have to hold him accountable (as well as the politicians who supported him). We must be the resistance.

Silver lining? Infrastructure.

Infrastructure improvement was one of the only substantive agendas Trump mentioned in his victory speech. Progressives have pushed for more investment here for decades but the GOP has allowed little progress. Obama has had some success but not nearly enough. Perhaps with a Republican President, Congress will now allow these bills to pass, which will ultimately benefit the country and the economy, while creating new jobs.

Silver lining? Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act was a monumental first step in the fight for universal health care but it does suffer from many issues. Trump has started walking back promises to gut the act completely and has mentioned he wants to keep provisions which require insurance companies to offer coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and allow young Americans to stay on their parents’ policies until they reach 25 years of age. In order to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions, providers need to bring healthy members into the plan, which is currently accomplished by mandating that everyone purchase insurance. Otherwise the system would require huge premium increases or risk insolvency.

Maybe the GOP will see an opportunity here to make some necessary modifications while keeping the basic system in place. They can then claim victory and the “new” plan as their own. A loss perhaps for Obama’s legacy but ultimately beneficial for us all.

More likely, I’m being rather naive and the GOP will use the opportunity to privatize and destroy Medicare.

Organize. Make a plan!

We must channel the anger and frustration we feel now into sustained action. It’s not enough to make some donations and post in the Facebook echo-chamber (I’m guilty on all counts). We must make a plan on how we will contribute in the long-term.

Personally, I’m starting by organizing seasonal fundraisers, looking for volunteer opportunities with some key organizations and researching how to get involved with the effort to eliminate the Electoral College via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact mentioned above. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Some organizations I recommend include ACLUSouthern Poverty Law CenterPlanned ParenthoodEverytown for Gun SafetyMuslim Community Network and The Sikh Coalition.

We have to do all we can to help President Trump succeed. As one person put it, the opposite would be to wish that a pilot you dislike fails when you are on the plane. That doesn't mean we have to accept and normalize the hateful manner of his campaign. We have to hold him accountable. We must be the resistance.

So now what?

Americans (and the rest of the world) have had nearly six days to process what is, for many of us, a shocking, frightening result in the election for the highest office in the land. One can make the argument that we shouldn’t have been shocked at the result, that this shock is just further evident of the massive disconnect between those of us who live in urban centers and those who don’t—which I largely agree with. But, reasonless or not, many of us have nonetheless essentially been moving through the various stages of grief since Tuesday night.

There seem to be myriad reasons that things went the way they did, but beyond email servers, or low voter turnout, or outright fear of the other in all its various forms of phobias + isms, I see a great fatigue in the American public—we as Americans are tired of, exhausted by, and done with politics as usual and politicians as usual.

In the long-term, I hope that ends up being a good thing; that we have candidates on all sides that more truly represent their constituents and that we start to shed this falseness, this dishonesty that’s so prevalent in politics today. It may be naive to say out loud (and sounds it as I do now), but that’s my hope in the long-term.

Regardless though, in the short-term, in the here and now, it means we’ve elected someone into the presidency who is, at worst, a racist, xenophobic, woman-hating man who willfully spreads fear-mongering and hate, urging our general population to do the same; and at best is simply a power-hungry, highly egotistical individual primarily concerned with everyone seeing him as the most powerful man in the world…which he now is.

So my main concern circles back to—now what?

In all my thinking about this late at night and talking with friends as we all essentially turn every possible real-world meeting into a massive group therapy session, I keep coming back to two things that loom large for me as action items in the (let’s hope) four years ahead. And, it should be very keenly noted that I am by absolutely no means an expert in any of this, merely one of many people who is navigating relatively unchartered, extremely rough, gigantic-murder-shark-infested waters.

First, I think we have to stop with the finger-pointing and name-calling and, just in general, the real-world and computerized screaming at each other. Yes, I’m fucking mad, but calling some dude I went to high school with who didn’t vote how I did a racist bigot and asking him to unfriend me on Facebook or wherever doesn’t do anything constructive other than allow me to vent, which is what I have real-world friends for. And maybe he’s not a racists bigot—I don’t know, I haven’t seen the guy since we all thought acid wash jeans were cool (the first time). Maybe he’s just tired of not seeing his every day reflected and acknowledged anywhere else, Washington especially. But the point is, I don’t know, because on the macro level we just don’t talk to each other any more, we instead try to get the last word in on gigantic, time-consuming back-and-forth social media rants and feel like we’re the ones in the right. And that greater ill is seen mirrored back at us at all levels of representation too. Senators in Washington used to spend their entire day fighting tooth-and-nail against each other on issues and then those same people would go get a drink together afterwards and shoot the shit. That doesn’t happen any more. We’re programming ourselves to hate the other; hate and fear any ideas or opinions that aren’t our own, and I think that’s toxic. We’re poisoning ourselves. And we’re also insulating ourselves, less geographically, more with the opinions we come into contact with on a daily basis; with the news agencies we choose to play audience to and our social media habits, building up these yes-networks where all we hear is what we already think and we’re constantly reassured that, yes, we are right and they are wrong. I think every single one of us, myself very much included, needs to work to change that; needs to work to talk with everyone, because there are clearly a lot of people with a lot of opinions in this fine country and it’s dangerous to write everyone else off as racist or woman-hating or un-American or elitist and not listen.

Then, second, I fear that there are many worthy causes and movements and issues that are going to need us to fight for them in the coming years. If this administration does half of what it promised in its campaigning, many of what I consider friendly causes and their recipients are in very real danger. For us and a lot of people we’ve been talking with over the past days, that means donating to the causes we both believe in strongly and believe will be endangered by this seismic cultural shift. We’ve also reached out to some to offer design services and are working now to figure out other ways we can volunteer. But we need to support our local leaders who we do believe in too because A) we’re all on fixed budgets of money and available time, and B) that’s exactly what they’re there for, to represent us and fight for what we, their constituency, believes in. I for one am super-excited that we elected Kamala Harris to Senate last week—she’s exactly who we need right now.

We’re not even six days in, and, technically, the guy’s not even President until January 20th of next year. All that to say, we don’t exactly what’s down the road. I get how it’s easy to slip into a feeling of despair and powerlessness. I also get that we’re all at different stages as we work through all this. I personally tend to be a short griever; I’m ready to get some shit done and am doing my best to channel my anger and anxiety into constructive action that will have positive result in my community. I’m ready to fight. And I don’t think I’m alone.

In that spirit, I’ve asked a number of friends and acquaintances—people whose opinions I respect—to share what they’re doing post-election and how, in their view, they can positively affect change in the near- and long-term in light of last week’s results. I hope to share those thoughts in the coming days and weeks in an effort to both inspire action in others and allow us all to process and open up discussion beyond the social media shouting.

I am by absolutely no means an expert in any of this, merely one of many people who is navigating relatively unchartered, extremely rough, gigantic-murder-shark-infested waters.

We have many thoughts we’re still processing about what, before last night, could have succinctly and unambiguously been referred to as “What Happened This Week,” which we’ll get to. In the meantime though, last night, in a week that’s been painful for many of us and in a year that has seen far too many losses of significant cultural contributors, it was announced that we had lost another—seminal singer, songwriter, poet, and writer Leonard Cohen.

Mere weeks after the release of the 82-year-old’s  fourteenth studio album, You Want It Darker—upon which the artist was quoted as saying he was ready to die, but then rescinded that statement saying he intended “to live forever”—Cohen passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home.

Risking hyperbole, this has been the shittiest year ever.

We don’t want it darker anymore, Leonard. Come back.

You can listen to Cohen’s touching, heartfelt, and insightful final interview, held at the Canadian Consulate on October 13th with KCRW’s Chris Douridas.

Below, a fairly fitting song for those of us who view Tuesday’s national election as a call to action. It sounds like one that, despite being over forty years old, was written for us just this week.

There is a war between the rich and poor,
A war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
And the ones who say there isn’t.
Why don’t you come on back to the war, that’s right, get in it,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, it’s just beginning.
Well I live here with a woman and a child,
The situation makes me kind of nervous.
Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says “I guess you call this love”
I call it service.
Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be a tourist,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, let’s all get nervous.
You cannot stand what I’ve become,
You much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn’t even know there was a war.
Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be embarrassed,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, you can still get married.
There is a war between the rich and poor,
A war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
A war between the black and white,
A war between the odd and the even.
Why don’t you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, let’s all get even,
Why don’t you come on back to the war, can’t you hear me speaking?

Below, Cohen this year, in his Los Angeles home (photo: Graeme Mitchell for The New Yorker).

leonard-cohen-2016

There is a war between the rich and poor, A war between the man and the woman. There is a war between the left and right, A war between the black and white, A war between the odd and the even.

When I was a kid in the 90s, our high school introduced us all to the semi-educational, oft-laughable television programming of then fledgling Channel 1. One such laughable segment was on the “new” musical trend of something called techno music and included the reporter (who may or may not have been Lisa Ling, if recall correctly) deconstructing the music, its performers, and events called “raves.”

Happily, much of electronic music has evolved past that phase, integrating with analog sounds and incorporating what draws many of us to other pop music, namely melodies, musical hooks, humanistic vocals, and far more depth in song-writing. One band that’s doing all of that superbly of late is Maryland-based trio Prinze George, who’ve just released their debut full-length and a short lister for our top albums of the year, Illiterate Synth Pop.

We took a few minutes to talk with the band’s singer Naomi Almquist (right) and producer/instrumentalist Kenny Grimm (middle) as they wind down their national tour and prep to play a sold-out show at Los Angeles’ storied Troubadour tonight.

raven + crow: Alright, let’s start at the beginning—who makes up the band?

Naomi Almquist: Prinze George is Kenny Grimm, Isabelle De Leon, and me.

I’m originally from Virginia and lived in DC for a while, so I get the name, but what made you want to name the band after PG County?

Naomi: Kenny and I grew up together in PG County. It’s where the project was conceived and it’s also where the three of us met.

Makes sense. You all have always had a sound that I thought showed depth and maturity beyond your years and I feel like that’s illustrated even more strongly on the new album. Was that a big step for you all in terms of evolution, both personally as a band and in terms of the music you were producing before Illiterate Synth Pop?

Naomi: Thank you. I have always felt older than my age, even if I don’t always act in a way that reflects that. My lyrical writing was definitely less cryptic on this record; I opened up about a lot of my own past/present experiences/relationships in a way that I never had before in previous releases. Sonically, we were trying to go for more of a live feel anyway, especially with the combination of acoustic/electronic drums for the first time. We were also really wanting to incorporate Isabelle’s drum ideas more. I guess what was happening sonically from an evolutionary standpoint was happening simultaneously with the lyrical writing, and I think that everyone involved in the making of this record was trying to honor the rawness/freshman nature of it too; which affected the music even further.

Where does the album title come from?

Naomi: The album title actually came from one of the earliest blog reviews for “Victor.” It was a smaller blog that had reposted the song with the tagline “Illiterate Synthpop”. We assumed it was a dig at the way we spell our name and we loved it. I knew immediately it would make a great first album name, and we didn’t come up with anything better after we made the thing, so there you go.

Nice. I feel like I hear a pretty wide range of influences in your music, from dance to electronic pop bands to more analogue ones—who are some bands or musicians who are doing things you really admire or are impressed by these days, whether you feel like they direction inform your sound or not?

Kenny Grimm: Naomi and I are extremely obsessed with The National. There is something about their sound both lyrically and musically that is so honest. I read an interview talking about how they hit a point where they stopped emulating bands that they wanted to sound like or be like and just embraced their own sound. I think it’s very difficult these days not to compare yourself to other artists and criticize the things that you do not bring to the table. As a producer especially you are constantly analyzing other people’s music. You spend your time wondering how they created that synth patch, or got that great vocal reverb. While making this first album we spent a lot of time perfecting the songs and the sound but at the end of the day really tried to go with our gut and just be honest with how we were feeling and tell our story the way we tell it. The National helped us to embrace that.

Man, yeah, we’ve long loved The National. I’m sure the guys would be pleased to hear they inspired you in that way. Ya’lll are just wrapping up a tour supporting Lewis Del Mar, right? How’s that been going?

Naomi: It’s been awesome! They are really great guys and we have been having a blast; it’s gone by super-fast. It’ll be weird not ending the night listening to their set, it’s good shit and they are really fun live. It’s been an awesome experience.

Are you all excited to get home or more forlorn to have the tour draw to a close…or both?

Naomi: Well, our bodies are pretty tired at this point, but our spirits are inspired. We are all sick right now from these crazy climate changes we’ve been dealing with every day for the past couple months. It will be nice to be home for Thanksgiving and sleep in our cozy beds…but we typically prefer to be on the road.

I’m sure. We first heard you all back in the summer of 2014, when MS MR included your song “This Time” on their regular Track Addict mixtape. Was that a big break for ya’ll and any idea where they heard you first?

Naomi: That was really awesome of them. They put us on early and got in touch with us to let us know about it and to keep encouraging us to continue making music. It was so sweet. I’m sure that they helped bring awareness to what we were doing early on, but they are also very plugged into the New York-electronic-music scene, so I think that Hype Machine/NYC were probably where they heard us first.

I think that track’s the only older one that makes an appearance on the new album—did you all just feel the desire to re-introduce it to the world in a way?

Naomi: Actually, “This Time” and “Make Me” are both older releases that we re-released on the album. They were included on the record because we and everyone on our team agreed that they were strong enough to make the cut. I actually don’t love “This Time”, but I was outvoted and understand that it is a good dance track. I’m glad it makes some people happy.

Definitely does me. What are some post-album-release, post-tour hopes/dreams/fears/desires/plans for world domination?

Naomi: I don’t feel the need to dominate, personally. I just want us to be writing/touring full time and keep making music that reflects who we are and what we have learned so far. I am really into movies and theater, so my dream is getting to hear our music be a part of the soundtrack to a movie I love, or featured in a kickass play.

I love that aspiration. Switching tracks, are ya’ll political at all? Worried/excited about next week’s election?

Naomi: If by political you mean do we read the news and do we vote…then the answer is fuck yes. We’re from PG County and politics is part of the environment we’ve grown up in; a lot of our best friends work in government and/or education. My dad worked for the government my whole life. This is my second election. I voted for Obama when I was 18 and was in Grant Park in Chicago the night he was elected. I voted for Hillary in the primaries and we are all voting for Hillary in the general election from the road tomorrow. Got the absentee ballots on lock. We are hopeful but aware of Trump’s appeal to certain voters, so of course were worried.

Likewise. Worried but hopeful. Well enjoy these last few shows and thank you so much for taking the time to talk.

Prinze George is playing the sold-out Troubadour tonight before moving on to Santa Ana + San Diego and then heading home. Catch ‘em if you can and give their excellent Illiterate Synth Pop a listen.

If by political you mean do we read the news and do we vote...then the answer is fuck yes.
Naomi on the coming election.

On top of this confounding, bizarre national election season, Californians have a deep, somewhat confusing pool of state and local ballot measures on which to vote this year. We reached out to friends for a little guidance through the murky flood of information, and they answered. Damian Carroll is 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and a self-described a progressive activist and proposition nerd who helps us all keep a cool head as election day approaches with his proposition haikus, yoga poses, and zen mentality, to which we lent a little graphic rendering.

guestIs that 224-page voter guide sitting in your mail pile stressing you out? We all want to do our civic duty, but researching and deciding how to vote on this year’s 17 state propositions (and added local ballot measures!) is making us clench up in anticipation.

It doesn’t have to be so. Here are some easy resources and practices you can use to get up-to-speed on the state props without raising your blood pressure.

HAIKU the PROPS
Start by getting acquainted with each of the seventeen propositions, summarized below in just seventeen syllables.

ca-prop-51 ca-prop-52-53 ca-prop-54-55 ca-prop-56-57 ca-prop-58-59 ca-prop-62-66 ca-prop-63-64 ca-prop-65-67 ca-prop-A-M ca-prop-HHH-JJJ ca-prop-RRR-SSS ca-prop-CC

YOGA the PROPS
Got the basics? Great! Now use these classic yoga poses to quickly get up to speed on how to vote, without losing your chi.

downward-facoing-dog-california

Downward Facing Dog: Stretch out in front of ballotpedia.org and look down, down, down, at the bottom of each proposition page, at the list of supporters and opponents. As you open up your hips and ribs you’ll also open your eyes to how leaders and organizations you trust are voting on the issues.

upward-facing-dog-california

Upward Facing Dog: Gracefully curve your torso upward as you glance at the top of the ballot descriptions for short summaries of what a “yes” or “no” vote means. Some propositions are written confusingly, where a “yes” can mean “no” or vice versa. Particularly on referendums that seek to overturn existing legislation (like this year’s Prop 67), make sure your vote will accomplish what you think it will.

warrior-pose-california

Warrior Pose: Don’t be a pushover! Many propositions are placed on the ballot by special interest groups who want to sidestep the state legislature. If you’re not convinced this issue needs to be addressed through direct democracy, it’s better to stand your ground, vote “no,” and let our elected representatives do their jobs.

mountain-pose-california

Mountain Pose: Stand tall, breathe easy, and assess the landscape of newspaper editorials around you, from the San Francisco Chronicle to the San Diego Union Tribune. Editorials can often provide crucial context, insider information and background that doesn’t make it into the ballot guide.

bridge-pose-california-bear

Bridge Pose: As your shoulders and feet support your torso, consider what funding sources are supporting each proposition. For example, Prop 65 is largely supported by the plastic bag industry, while the prison guard union is funding Prop 66. Ballotpedia lists the industries and organizations spending their money to influence your vote.

ZEN the PROPS
After you’ve done your research, fix a cup of hot tea, find a comfortable chair, and mark up your sample ballot. You can relax in the knowledge that you don’t have to know every last detail to be a responsible voter. These issues are complicated, and the onus is on backers of each proposition to convince you their approach is the best one. There’s no penalty for voting no, or even leaving an issue blank if you’re unconvinced. Don’t let the complexity of the propositions intimidate you from adding your voice to our democracy. Bubble in your ballot, mail it in (or make a plan to cast it on Election Day), then go get a foot massage. You’ve earned it.

These issues are complicated, and the onus is on backers of each proposition to convince you their approach is the best one. There's no penalty for voting no, or even leaving an issue blank if you're unconvinced.
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