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    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Let's go!: The Shondes MP3s

    I have trouble reading the newspaper everyday. Each morning is yet another document of worldwide degradations and wide-scale horrors. Rather than finish my coffee and head into the city, I'll want to storm the streets, bombard my Congressmen with letters, organize mass protests until the worst of the problems are solved. But I won't. I'll just drink up the brown-black dregs, board the subway and try to stow away all that anger and outrage in some leftover compartment. I'll spend more energy inventing excuses than affecting change.

    That's why I'm so glad there's a band like The Shondes, purging their outrage with some blistering punk. This Brooklyn-based quartet, named after the Yiddish word for "shame," "disgrace" or "outrage," revels in tackling the political and the radical. Their passionate vocals and triumphant, stomping rock could alone testify to their power, but they go a step further by delivering raw, critical protest music. For example, "I Watched The Temple Fall" recontextualizes the melody of "Lamentations," a text about the fall of the ancient Jewish temple, to condemn the current "apartheid state." It's a song with an unmissable message, but rousingly glorious music to match and lyrics (
    "You watched Schindler's List this morning/ To create generic mourning/ Where the state means salvation") that are as thought-provoking as they are provocative.

    The Shondes follow in the rich tradition of feminist rockers like Patti Smith, Bikini Kill and most closely and excitingly, Sleater-Kinney. However, there are some distinct differences that set them apart. For one, their music loudly and proudly explores their (three-out-of-four members) Jewish heritage while criticizing Zionism and calling for an independent Palestinian state. Three of four are also transgender, doing their part to keep the outspoken lineage of queercore alive. But if you think you have The Shondes figured out, there's also something as subtle as Elijah Oberman's violin, which adds a stirring new voice to the rallying battlecries. It may not be as thundering as Temim Fruchter's drumming, as urgent as Louisa Solomon's bass, or as noisy as Ian Brannigan's guitar, but it demands to be heard all the same, a fact we can all gain inspiration from.

    The Shondes will be playing The Annex on January 21st and The Delancey on February 10th.

    * MP3: "Let's Go" - The Shondes
    * MP3: "The Mother and the Colony" - The Shondes
    * MP3: "I Watched The Temple Fall" - The Shondes
    * Band Website: The Shondes

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