This Week's Mixtape of Music that Moves Us (Election Edition)
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Written by Ida V. Eskamani
Bandifesto is a home for music that moves us. Music that shapes the most impactful moments in our lives and the most powerful movements in our communities. Keeping up with the infinite amount of frontier-forging, soul-stirring, movement-making music is certainly an overwhelming challenge. But beyond any challenge, we cherish the exchange of meaningful music. From our hearts to yours, here’s our mini-mixtape of music that’s moving us, presented by Ida V. Eskamani. We hope it moves you too.
I acknowledge this mixtape is late, but we’ve been a lil’ busy with historic victories (#OnwardWithAnna) and all-too-familiar narrow losses with the extraordinarily overwhelming possibility of transformative wins (#FloridaRecount).
While Florida teeters between two drastically different futures, Donald Trump continues to flagrantly undermine our most basic democratic principles. America is bitterly divided and acts of violence, particularly against marginalized communities, are on the rise. At times, it feels as if steps forward land us directly in quicksand. We’re exhausted and carrying an immense weight on our shoulders. But in this moment we can’t stop, because everything is on the line.
It is with this context that we turn to tunes for comfort and inspiration. Here is this week's mixtape of music that's moving us during this wild week.
Break-Thru, by Dirty Projectors
Bless Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors. Their sound is iconic and their shows rejuvenate our tired souls. In my heart, their song Break-Thru will always be dedicated to all the exceptional women in my life. For the purpose of this piece, let's talk about my twin sister Anna Vishkaee Eskamani (while strategically inserting some of my favorite lyrics from this amazing song that fills my heart with joy).
She is an epiphany, against all odds this incredible woman won a historic election as the first ever Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature. She keeps it 100. Anna built a machine in sixteen months, cultivating incredible new leaders, empowering over 550 volunteers, and raising $500,000+ from over 4,000 grassroots donors. Anna faced ridiculous attack ads; attempts to assassinate her character and diminish her nearly ten-year career in nonprofit management and grassroots organizing.
But nobody stops her, and no one can lock her down. As a candidate, she led with her values as an unapologetic advocate who strives to build bridges, while fighting fiercely when necessary. She worked harder than any other candidate in the state, and she's going to make us proud in Tallahassee. In all her ways, she’s a break-thru.
Hopefulessness, by Courtney Barnett
In times of distress, we must turn to our indie rock queen. Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett adopts an optimism outlook in Hopefulessness, the opening track of her record Tell Me How You Really Feel. She opens the song with an essential expression “Y’know what they say / No one’s born to hate / We learn it somewhere along the way.” The song grows in confidence with each verse, as Barnett embraces the things we are not supposed to talk about. We find power in pain, “Take your broken heart / Turn it into art” and embrace strength in fragility “Your vulnerability / Is stronger than it seems.” The track cumulates with a spiraling guitar solo that you get lost and found in. This track recenters our tired spirits.
Bottom of the Hill, by LONE WOLF
My current music crush is a punk band from the Netherlands called LONE WOLF. The first time I heard them was live, and it was love at first sight. This band has everything that we crave in melodic punk: riffs you can groove to, lyrics that are equal parts catchy as they are cathartic, and hearts of pure gold.
The band released their first record this September, and it’s full of treasures. Considering the state of our current affairs, Bottom Of The Hill is the most fitting. The track launches with velocity and speaks to the resilience found in knowing struggle.
Frontwoman Merel Schaap sings with assurance “I’m not afraid / Cause I know how it feels / To be at the end at the bottom of the hill.” Once you’ve lost is all, you can survive anything. The track also provides a loving nod to chosen family, “I know where I belong / I know this is all right / I got all my friends to back me up this time.” It’s comfort music to power chords, and it’s fantastic.
Bad Year, by The Spook School
Self-described as a “queer indie-pop punx” band from Edinburgh, Scotland, The Spook School are trailblazing musicians, with songs that deconstruct the gender binary and set toxic masculinity ablaze by the means of sincere lyrics, exhilarating arrangements, and earnest vocals.
Written following the UK's Brexit vote, “Bad Year” pairs pain with positivity. The lyrics gently assert “I admire your optimism, but sometimes I just need to feel it.” Though a simple concept, we seldom hear that it is okay to be miserable. The permission granted by this song is an important reminder that sometimes, everything does indeed suck. In The Spook School’s quintessential form, the track concludes with assurance, determining “It's been a bad year / Tomorrow we'll wake and keep on going.” In the face of loss, Bad Year is a song that lets you fall, and dusts you off.
Pa’Lante, by Hurray for the Riff Raff
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra is a musician born and raised in the Puerto Rican Bronx who came to age on the streets. Segarra’s track Pa’Lante is an anthem for our intersectional struggle and the resilience of the Puerto Rican people. The song’s title is a Spanish affirmation that translates to “onwards or forwards."
The track progresses through themes as flawlessly as the medley on the Beatles' Abbey Road, beginning with unadorned piano keys and lamenting lyrics “Well lately / It’s been mighty hard to see / Just searching for my lost humanity / I look for you, my friend / But do you look for me?” Yet with a few defiant chords, the pace shifts to brisk optimism, “Oh, any day now / I will come along.” Segarra also incorporates a powerful sample recording of Nuyorican poet and playwright Pedro Pietri’s 1969 poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” which speaks to the loss of humanity caused by a rigged system designed to disconnect marginalized people from their ancestors. The track concludes this evolution with an empowering embrace of generations of struggle, and the strength that comes from it.
Segarra declares "To all who had to survive, I say, ¡Pa’lante!"
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.