Some thoughts on Rage Against The Machine

I put the TV on this afternoon and The Matrix happened to be on. Since one of my favorite movies of all time was effortlessly available, I had no choice but to lock myself on the couch and watch. I’ve always been attracted to the film, but for various reasons. I remember watching it with my parents as a tween, enamored with the visual spectacle it threw at my impressionable. As a young man, I saw the film again and was drawn into its mystical, nightmarish atmosphere. Now, as a pretentious college student, I identify very strongly with the film’s purpose. The plight of the characters is far removed from anything that any of us have experienced in our lives, but is yet still relatable. That seeking, that constant nagging that something isn’t quite right with our life. As Morpheus tells Neo at their first meeting: “Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind – driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” Even the most unreflective person experiences this feeling, even if once for a fleeting moment.

And yet, as the last moments of the film play out, I’m most struck by the song chosen to represent the ending: “Wake Up,” by Rage Against The Machine. It’s sort of funny to me that I like the band now, because I remember that The Matrix was the first time I was ever exposed to the band. The song has a unique quality to it. At times, it’s almost cheesy; crammed full of faux badassery and pseudo-political lyrics. But closer inspection reveals the song to in fact be just awesome. Indeed, a perfect fit for the end of The Matrix. It captures the style of the film along with the intensity of its message. Indeed, it was The Matrix that first led me to Rage Against The Machine’s debut album, a self-titled album released in 1992. I think that one interesting factoid about the self-titled album is their claim that no electronic instruments were utilized in the production of the album: only unaltered vocals, guitar, bass and drums appear. This is certainly no revolutionary concept – much of American rock ‘n’ roll music was completely analog in this way. However, the assertion points at what I think one of the band’s real aspirations: authenticity. “None of that bullshit, just real rock telling it like it is,” we can imagine them saying. That’s really all they care about. If we take lyricist/vocalist Zack Le Da Rocha as a representation of the band’s collective ideology, all they really care about is telling it like it is.

The band’s political nature is both well-documented and obvious, so it feels almost tired, or pointless, to describe it in any detail. Suffice it to point out one specific indicent that seems to define Rage Against The Machine as a band. In 2000, they filmed a music video for their song “Sleep Now In The Fire” in front of the New York Stock Exchange. After the shoot, the band attempted to enter the building but were denied entry from security. They started a shouting match and were forced out of the building. Nobody was arrested, but it symbolized the band’s down-with-the-system intention. They’re unabashed revolutionaries with outspoken views on the government, the police, and society in general. Though I confess that I don’t much agree with the band’s political message, I’m nonetheless sympathetic to the band’s efforts. I feel like the believe really strongly in what they say, and there’s something to be positive to be said for that.

The album cover comes from a famous photograph of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thích Quảng Đức who burned himself to death in protest of the South Vietnamese government’s oppression of the Buddhist religion. I find it interesting that the band thought it appropriate to utilize the image for their purposes. The spirit that it invokes – an infinite willingness to protest injustice – is exactly what the band attempt to evoke with their music. And for what it’s worth, I’m enamored. It’s quite a task for a communist musical collective to interest to someone who believes, with good philosophical grounding, strongly in free market economics. Regardless of political orientation, Rage Against The Machine have a message that they refuse to allow to go unnoticed. And that’s exactly why it was chosen for the ending scene of The Matrix. Because the auters of that film refuse to allow their message to go unnoticed. Question everything. Be sure of nothing. Be mislead by nothing.

It’s amazing that music can do that.


Setlist 4/27/2012

So I just found out that next week, May 4th, will be my last show ever on 90.3 The Core. It’s the end of an era, in a way. I’ve occupied the Thursday night timeslot for almost 2 full years, as Midnight Metal Massacre and Art For Art’s Sake. It’s been a great ride. I’ve  discovered an absurd quantity of new music, made some lifelong friends, and even found love… I’ll miss bringing tons of new music to the airwaves on a weekly basis. I’ll never forget my time here, and I love anyone who has ever listened. I decided to split the setlist up into two sections, once again: the first half was punk/indie and the second half was electro/hip-hop. Here’s my second-to-last setlist ever:


The Waffle Stompers – Serious {Words With Enemies EP}

Cephalopods And Their Allies – Illusions, Confusions, Allusions {Robots About It EP}

Arctic Monkeys – RU Mine? {Single}

JEFF The Brotherhood – Ripper {We Are The Champions}

Hunx – Do You Remember Being A Roller? {Hairdresser Blues}

Feedtime – Motorbike Girl {The Abberrant Years sampler}

The Front Bottoms – Rhode Island {Live At 90.3 The Core}

Maps & Atlases – Winter {Beware and Be Grateful}

Cats In The Basement – King Max {Doo Be Do La Dee Day Dum Dee Dum Drink Your Blood}

Adam McHeffey – Wishful Thinking On Seagrass Shoal {Let’s Kick Fire}

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt – Ride Friendship {I Love You}

The Mars Volta – The Malkin Jewel {Noctourniquet}


Black Dice – Rodriguez {Mr. Impossible}

Huoratron – Cryptocracy {Cryptocracy}

Actress – Maze {Splazsh} *****REQUEST

Does It Offend You Yeah? – We Are Rockstars {You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into}

Jef Stott – The Promise {Arcana}

Shabass Palaces – An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum {Black Up}

Battles – Ice Cream; Brian DeGraw and Gang Gang Dance remix {Dross Glop}

SImian Mobile Disco – Seraphim {Single}

Shekel – Bullies Riddim (Old Skool Joint) {Rise Of The Persian Prince EP}

Doomtree – Bangarang {No Kings}

Bisco Smith x Peter Jay – SOS {Jackson P EP}

Bassnectar – Empathy {Vava Voom}

DJ Shadow – Scale It Back ft. Little Dragon {The Less You Know The Better}

Skrillex – Breakin’ A Sweat {Re:Generation EP}

Setlist 4/20/2012

Bad Weather California – Let It Shine {Sunkissed}

Caravan Of Thieves – I Can’t Behave {The Fun House}

Cats In The Basement – Indignant King {Doo Be Doo La Dee Day Dum Dee Dum Drink Your Blood}

The Mars Volta – The Malkin Jewel {Noctourniquet}

Silversun Pickups – Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) {Single}

Mirrors & Wires – Meet Me In Cape May {Live At 90.3 The Core}

JEFF The Brotherhood – Hey Friend {We Are The Champions

Mind Spiders – Play You Out {Meltdown}

Monster Rat – Bag Of Bones {Monster Rat EP}

The Menzingers – Sun Hotel {On The Impossible Past}

Arctic Monkeys – Evil Twin {RU Mine? EP}

Cotton – Aces {In The Basement}

Peace Mercutio – Chicago {Weather The Storm}

Cursive – The Sun And Moon {I Am Gemini}

M83 – Midnight City {Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming} *****REQUEST

Andrew Bird – Things Behind The Barn {Break It Yourself}

The Lords Of Liechtenstein – Do You {Live At 90.3 The Core}

Good Old War – It Hurts Every Time {Come Back As Rain}

Hunter And Wolfe – Build Me A Boat To Nowhere {Hunter And Wolfe EP}

Anthony Green – Get Yours While You Can {Beautiful Things}

Tenacious D – Rize Of The Fenix {Single}

We Are The Union – War On Everything {Who We Are}

The Waffle Stompers – Serious {Words With Enemies EP}

feedtime – Hear Me Calling {The Abberant Years sampler}

Patrick Watson – Step Out For A While {Adventures In Your Own Backyard}

River City Extension – Mexico {The Unmistakable Man}

Go Back To The Zoo – Beam Be Up {Benny Blisto}

Say Anything – Sheep {Anarchy, My Dear}

Devin – Born To Cry {Romancing}

Setlist 4/13/2012

This was a very interesting show, once again. I challenged myself to connect some very disparate music – atmospheric electronica to classic rock/blues rock. I was somehow able to do it, too! Skim the setlist and check out how it all happened!

Skream – Blue Eyez {Skream!}

Doomtree – Little Mercy {No Kings}

The Sound Of Animals Fighting – My Horse Must Lose {Lover, The Lord Has Left Us…}

Tobacco – Truck Sweat {Fucked Up Friends}

Grimes – Oblivion {Visions}

Clark – Open {Iradelphic}

Radiohead – Kid A {Kid A}

Aphex Twin – Green Calx {Selected Ambient Works 85-92}

Skrillex – Ruffneck (Full Flex) Munchi Anonymous Revolution remix {OWSLA Presents Free Treats, Vol. 2}

M83 – Midnight City {Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming} *****REQUEST

Headphone Party – Worth By Currency {Headphone Party}

Aesop Rock – No Regrets {Labor Days}

Wiley – Evolve Or Be Extinct {Evolve Or Be Extinct}

Skrillex ft. Foreign Beggars & Bare Noize – Scatta {Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites EP}

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – We Are Rockstars {You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into}

Death From Above 1979 – Little Girl {You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine}

Pond – Fantastic Explosion Of Time {Beard, Wives, Denim}

Franz Ferdinand – Cheating On You {Franz Ferdinand}

Cursive – The Sun And Moon {I Am Gemini}

Polar Bear Club – See The Wind {Chasing Hamburg} *****REQUEST

Monster Rat – No Snitches {Monster Rat EP}

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Another Morning Stoner {Source Tags & Codes}

feedtime – Shoeshine Shuffle {The Abberant Years sampler}

mewithoutYou – Paper Hanger {Catch For Us The Foxes}

Mind Spiders – Beat {Meltdown}

The Waffle Stompers – We’re In For A Long Night {Words With Enemies EP}

La Dispute – Harder Harmonies {Wildlife}

Say Anything – Sheep {Anarchy, My Dear}

Oberhofer – HEART {Time Capsules II}

Portugal. The Man – Dawn {Church Mouth}

The Menzingers – Nice Things {On The Impossible Past}

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Backstreets {Live At The Hammersmith Odeon, 1975}

The Kooks – Sway {Konk}

River City Extension – South For The Winter {The Unmistakable Man}

Bob Dylan – Ballad Of A Thin Man {Highway 61 Revisited}

Anthony Green – If I Don’t Sing {Beautiful Things}

Bayside – The Walking Wounded {The Walking Wounded}

Cursive – Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me? {Burst & Bloom EP}

Yukon Blonde – Stairway {Tiger Talk}

The Black Keys – Sinister Kid {Brothers}

Song Of The Week: mewithoutYou – “February 1878”

Any time a new mewithoutYou tune comes out, my life improves substantially. This track was released just a few hours ago and I’m already in love. For those of you who are mwY fans, this will remind you of their older work, which I think is both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright was an unbelievable record which displayed a rare depth of songwriting and emotional insight, but it lacked a lot of the intensity of their earlier releases. This song, however, oozes that confessional, expressive musicality that dominated Catch For Us The Foxes. Full of musical references to one of their seminal songs, “January 1979,” this song needs to be heard to be believed. Look for their new record, Ten Stories, in stores May 15th.


Setlist 4/6/2012

My time on air is winding down. On May10th, I will do my final show on 90.3 The Core, as I’ll be graduating from Rutgers later that week. I only have 5 more shows in between now and then – gotta make them count, I suppose. Tonight’s show was split up into two sets: one punk/metal, and one electro/hip-hop. Here are the lists:


Cats In The Basement – Peanut Butter {Doo Be Doo La Dee Day Dum Dee Dum Drink Your Blood}

Cephalopods And Their Allies – Illusions, Confusions, Allusions {Robots About It EP}

A Need For Reason – Let’s Talk Humanity {In Every Aspect}

The Mars Volta – The Whip Hand {Noctourniquet}

feedtime – Shoeshine Shuffle {The Abberant Years sampler}

Junius – Dance On Blood {Reports From The Threshold Of Death}

Tom Waits – Bad As Me {Bad As Me}

Bayside – They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns {The Walking Wounded}

Queensryche – Speak {Mindcrime At The Moore}

Meshuggah – The Devil’s Name Is Surveillance {Koloss}

The Menzingers – Sun Hotel {On The Impossible Past}

Dirty Dishes – Hush {The Most Tarnished Birds EP}

Anthony Green – Get Yours While You Can {Beautiful Things}

Go Back To The Zoo – Beam Me Up {Benny Blisto}


Clark – Com Touch {Iradelphic}

SBTRKT – Hold On (feat. Sampha) {SBTRKT}

VCMG – Single Blip {Ssss}

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Trouble {Single}

Tobacco – Truck Sweat {Fucked Up Friends}

Bisco Smith x Peter Jay – Stardust {Jackson P EP}

Simian Mobile Disco – Seraphim {Single}

Onra – Words Of Encouragement {Chinioseries Pt. 2}

The Robert Glasper Experiment – Afro Blue {Black Radio}

ECID – Back From Japan {Werewolf Hologram}

Doomtree – Bangarang {No Kings}

Nick Thayer – Wake Up Call {OWSLA Presents Free Treats Vol. 2}

The Alchemist – Lullaby {Rapper’s Best Friend 2}

Moon Hooch – Number 1 {The Moon Hooch Album}

Song Of The Week: Meshuggah – “Behind The Sun”

The new Meshuggah record, Koloss, which came out last week (3/27/2012) is currently blowing my fucking mind. This song definitely stood out to me. It has a nice balance of speedy metal riffs with super technical polyrhythms and Meshuggah’s trademark grinding, chugging rhythm section. The whole album is amazing, though, and needs to be heard by any metalhead. Find more information about the band on their Facebook page.