Soundtracking the Resistance - Fighting Floods

Hurricane Harvey, North Korea, Tax Reform, Coldplay, Wolf Parade, Yeasayer, and More

Sep 01, 2017 Web Exclusive By Stephen Mayne Bookmark and Share


Texas dominates this week as Hurricane Harvey continues to cause mass suffering. Humanity shows its ugly side in such moments, but also its best face. We also include North Korea, tax plans, Russia, and Yeasayer.

The Big Event

Some things make other things seem insignificant. All the political bickering doesn't stop, but there's only so much that can be done when nature intervenes. Texas is feeling that right now as Hurricane Harvey wreaks destruction, forcing desperate evacuations and wiping out homes, possessions, and ways of life.

Texas has been hit by a once in a 100-year flood, a misunderstood term that refers to annual risk percentages rather than the expectation such an event can only happen once a century. That alone is the kind of misperception that leads people to feel safer than they should. But none of that matters much once the rain comes and the water rises.

So far more than 30 people have been killed, while tens of thousands are in shelters, a large number requiring rescue. The National Guard is out in force as well, helping beleaguered emergency services working around the clock.

Pictures of flooded highways, submerged houses, and unstoppable washes of water have been beamed across the world. Distraught residents have given their views, dislocated and cut off from the land they've lived in, and for some have never left before.

Like every event, it's brought the best and worst out in people. For every story of stores gouging desperate locals by raising prices of essential items like drinking water to obscene levels, there is footage of human chains spread into flooded areas to rescue stranded citizens, or members of the emergency services flat out on the ground having worked days in a row to save as many people as they can.

Unfortunately for everyone in the area, the end remains out of sight. Texas Governor Rick Abbott has declared "the worst is not yet over," and flooding in some areas may last for another week. A chemical plant has exploded and supplies are at a premium.

Even as blue skies return to Houston, the weather is heading east, bringing chaos in the direction of Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. A flash flood warning went out as far as South Ohio.

Further bracing, and further support will be needed yet. Many eyes have turned to Texas. Flood aid arrived from Mexico, despite simmering tensions between the two countries. President Trump himself turned up, excited by the size of the crowd out to greet him, but even he managed to sound the right note occasionally, although he has since been claiming to have seen things he didn't see.

Texas is also a land full of music, and many of its musicians have heeded the call and signed up to come to the aid of fellow citizens. Over 300 performers have offered to play for those trapped in shelters, a sign of the good things music can bring, and the sense of community fostered in the face of disaster.

Others, alongside messages of support, have been doing what they can. Coldplay performed the song above while Solange announced a benefit show. Artists have been donating and encouraging people to join them. We end with a few examples from those doing what they can to help save and make comfortable as many people as possible. Alongside the bigger names, whole labels like Carpark Records which includes the likes of Toro Y Moi and Cloud Nothings on the roster, have pledged to donate profits from music sales. It won't undo all that has been done, but it can help.

Beyoncé:

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Aug 27, 2017 at 6:11pm PDT

Chris Young:

Lady Gaga:

The National:

Carpark Records:

What's Going On

Tensions continue to rise between the United States and North Korea in the light of further missile launches. The President has been back on Twitter, broadcasting to the world that "talking is not the answer." At least his Defense Secretary James Mattis seems to be made of more sensible stuff, promptly contradicting his boss by stating "we're never out of diplomatic solutions." This is definitely the kind of situation where it's better if cooler heads prevail.

Trump is also back out pushing his tax plans again, eager to make progress on this issue after healthcare descended into an ongoing farce, and his regressive ideas involving immigration bans and giant walls remain bogged down. Just what his tax plans are is a mystery, as the principles the President has set out offer little in the way of substance. About the most anyone can tell is he's talking lower taxes, and based on previous suggestions, it will be those with the most who benefit the most. Funnily enough, Trump and many of his friends are those with the most.

At least it seems there will be a reaction to Russia kicking American diplomats out of the country after all. The Russian Consulate in San Francisco is to be closed in order to achieve parity. For a while it looked like nothing would be done, other than the President seeming to thank Putin for saving him a bit of money on staffing costs.

Speak Up!

Portland band The Domestics have walked away from their label because of a publicity stunt conducted seemingly without their knowledge. Cassette tapes postmarked with return addresses for the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church were sent out, confusing recipients, and causing the band to leave label Tender Loving Empire.

Canadian band Wolf Parade, making their long-awaiting return with a new album (Cry Cry Cry) at the start of October, have also been busy this week, putting out a new song inspired by the 2016 Presidential Election, "You're Dreaming."

Song of the Week: Yeasayer - "Sunrise" 

Sometimes we just need the next day to come so we can move on from all the troubles going on today. That's certainly the case for Houston and other parts of Southeast Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. To welcome that next day, we look to the sunrise, and a Yeasayer track stretching back a decade now.

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