26
Jun

Spoon Releases Cool New Song “Bullets Not Spent” in Advance of Greatest Hits Album

Spoon is one of our favorite bands of all time. We just can’t shut up about the band and its discography, having devoted entire weeks and countless lobbed-lauds to the band and their crunching, snarling magnificence.

Spoon has now announced a greatest hits compendium (retrospective?) from their entire discography entitled Everything Hits at Once (check the songlist at bottom). It’ll be released on July 26th via Matador Records and will feature 12 of their best tracks. The huge bonus is that the album will also feature the fantastic new song No Bullets Spent. The song is classic Spoon with its cadence and crunchy guitars, and fits perfectly on their music shelf. It’s also culled from recording sessions that will result (hopefully near-term?) in a stellar new Spoon album.

About No Bullets Spent leader Britt Daniel has said: “I solo in it. I do two guitar solos. But don’t worry, they’re 10 seconds or less. The song is sort of a story/parable thing about an oppressive minister and fantasizing about how to get rid of him in the best way.”

Check the fantastic new song out below via its lyric video.

Spoon is also headed out on tour and you can check the dates and get tickets HERE.

Everything Hits at Once Songlist:
01. I Turn My Camera On
02. Do You
03. Don’t You Evah
04. Inside Out
05. The Way We Get By
06. The Underdog
07. Hot Thoughts
08. I Summon You
09. Rent I Pay
10. You Got Yr Cherry Bomb
11. Got Nuffin
12. Everything Hits At Once
13. No Bullets Spent

18
Jun

What We Wouldn’t Give: Feist Singing “One to One” To Audience Member

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All the tea in China? A landing on the moon? A free-fall dive over Niagara Falls? All of that and much, much more, to be sung to one-on-one by one of our all-time favorite musical artists, Leslie Feist. Watch below as a lucky lad, who has been plucked from an audience, is blind-folded and led to a seat on stage where Feist sings and loops to him her evocative gem, Baby Be Simple (lyrics at bottom, off of her last album Pleasure). Beauty abounds all around.

The performance is another in a series from La Blogothèque entitled One to One. In these performances a person in the audience is “kidnapped,” then taken to a secret room where a musical artist is waiting to perform a sing in front of the kidnapped person. There have been others in this charming series, including a majestic Heavenly Father and 8 (circle) from Bon Iver and this charmer from Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats. (By the way, Fruit Bats perform this Friday night at Soho in Santa Barbara and you can still get tickets HERE.)

To see another fantastic intimate performance (from 2011) from Feist, go HERE.

Photo at top by Steve Armstrong.

In and out
That’s my way in
I saw an old sign
When my world was way down
Quiet on the streets
So I climbed the stairs
To the rarified air
I’ve been on fire
Made from my thoughts
I thought up my life by
Out then back in
That’s the way to begin
But I had to climb down
Into today
And give up the pain
I held myself up by

Baby, be simple
Baby, be simple
Be simple
Be simple with me

Out, thicker skin
That’s no way to begin
Come with your true arc
To fall all the way down
Like an empire
Into a kingdom of guts
To become a rooftop
I built me from the bedrock
Made me right up
Ignited little tunes
While the wind was still
Trying to find a way to tell you
If I’m not the true arc
Is even there
Or on a pillow of air
Rip me apart by the lore
To become that rooftop
Had to fall all the way down

Baby, be simple
Baby, please be simple
Be simple
Be simple with me

4
Jun

Cause for Celebration: Bon Iver Releases Two Superb New Songs, Announces North American Tour

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We awoke yesterday to the great news that Bon Iver had released two superb new songs and announced North American tour dates for this fall. We are led to believe the two new songs will be featured on Bon Iver’s next studio album (only their fourth) and feature contributions from Jenn Wassner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes), Bryce Dessner, Moses Sumney, Bruce Hornsby, Elsa Jensen, Psymun, Phil Cook, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and others.

The first song (listen below) is Hey, Ma, a comparatively straightforward (though “looks is deceiving man, don’t underrate no man“) song from Vernon that seems to look back on his youth, his relationship with his mother (and others), and cataclysmic growings-up. The lyric video below ads to the heft with what appear to be old home movies from Vernon. Though Vernon always sells his songs with lyrical crypto-currency, we will forever buy the weight and weft of their worth. ‘Cause the songs always allow light to leak in. “Tall time to call your Ma.” Dang. Do so if you can!

The second song is U (Man Like), which opens with Chance the Rapper undertones and Bruce Hornsby on piano. The song cryptically (natch) explores current social issues (lyrics at bottom), with allusions to the under-wealthed, the opioid crisis (the “domer” and “rot”), homelessness, the over-wealthed, and the potential resulting comeuppance thereto (“Let ’em eat cake!) as projected in Brecht/Weill’s seminal Pirate Jenny (and the Black Freighter). U (Man Like) was arranged by Bryce Dessner and features affecting backing vocals from Jenn Wasner, Moses Sumney and Elsa Jensen. While sounding the warning, the message is delivered in a sweet-sounding package. Keep cueing Justin, compassion’s bound to take at some point!

Bon Iver has also made reference to icommai.com, a nebulous website with hints about the band’s upcoming recording (fourth studio album?).

Check out both lyric videos below. Superb songs yet again from Bon Iver!

As for the fall tour, Wasner will also join Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, Matthew McCaughan, Michael Lewis, and Andrew Fitzpatrick on stage, together with supporting acts FeistIndigo GirlsSharon Van Etten, and Yo La Tengo. Tickets go on sale on Friday, June 7 at 10:00 AM local time HERE. The dates are listed below. Catch them if you can!

06/04 – Esch-Sur-Alzette, LU @ Rockhal
06/08 – Aarhus, DK @ Northside Festival
06/12 – Bergen, NO @ Bergenfest
06/14 – Malmo, SE @ Mölleplatsen
06/29 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
07/07 – Montreux, CH @ Montreux Jazz Festival
07/11 – Madrid, ES @ Mad Cool Festival
07/13 – Oeiras, PT @ NOS Alive
07/16 – Lyon, FR @ Les Nuits De Fourvière
07/17 – Verona, IT @ Castello Scaligero, Villafranca di Verona
07/19 – Wiesbaden, DE @ Schlachthof
07/21 – Gräfenhainichen, DE @ Melt Festival
08/31 – Missoula, MT @ KettleHouse Amphitheater*
09/02 – Vail, CO @ Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater∞
09/03 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre∞
09/04 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Maverik Center∞
09/06 – George, WA @ The Gorge Amphitheatre∞
09/07 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum∞
09/10 – Portland, OR @ Theater of the Clouds∞
09/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Chase Center∞
09/15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum∞
10/03 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy Center†
10/04 – Rosemont, IL @ Allstate Arena†
10/06 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena†
10/08 – Columbus, OH @ Schottenstein Center†
10/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center†
10/11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center‡
10/15 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden†
10/17 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem†
10/19 – Raleigh, NC @ PNC Arena†

*w/ Indigo Girls
∞ w/ Sharon Van Etten
† w/ Feist
‡ w/ Yo La Tengo

U (Man Like) lyrics:

“Mmm, mmm
I will see you off now
Down the back of the ridge
There’s just something that I got to show you
There is domer and there’s rot
And the common case
It ain’t nothing what you say is true

With your long arms, try
And just give some time
Presently, it does include my dues
Ain’t your standard premonitions
All this phallic repetition
Boy, you tell yourself a tale or two

Man like you
Man, improve

Well, I know that we set off for a common place
(And the lines have run too deep)
How much caring is there of some American love
When there’s lovers sleeping in your streets?

So Cerberus Ride!
Bring those dead alive
Like Pirate Jenny on the Black Freighter
It’ll be a long day of fixing
Make something else your mission
Boy, this shit’s so hard to cue

Man like you
How you do?

Na-na-na-na-na-na
Na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na
Hey”

31
May

Sufjan Stevens Releases Two Plainspoken, Love-Filled Songs

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One of the best songwriters extant, Sufjan Stevens, has again graced us with new songs. Both are lyrically plainspoken and forthcoming, stripped of artifice and unencumbered. While the lyrics are effortless, the compositions, performance and production are weighty and enormous. Praise be.

According to Stevens’ press release: “In celebration of Pride Month, Sufjan Stevens is releasing two new songs on the topic of love: “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart,” available on limited-edition 7” vinyl in late June and on all digital platforms May 29, 2019.”

Listen below to the first song, Love Yourself, a newly-recorded, fleshed-out version of an old 1996 demo. The demo can be heard following the new version. The new release is heartfelt and wondrous, reminding us at moments of an older Stevens’ medley in which he melds his ebullient take on Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Also released is a brand-new song, With My Whole Heart, which Stevens wrote in an attempt to “write an upbeat and sincere love song without conflict, anxiety or self-deprecation.” Mission accomplished. Musically, the song is massive and aspirational, serving up a love-feast of sounds. Simply put, it is one of the Best Songs of 2019. A “short reprise” of the song follows to end the new release.

You can listen to all four tracks below. A 7-inch record will be released in late June, along with a Sufjan-designed t-shirt, both of which you can obtain HERE. Portions of the proceeds will go to the Ali Forney Center in Harlem and the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit.

1
May

A Must See: Lauren Ruth Ward at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara Tomorrow Night (Thursday, 5/2)

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Talented up-and-coming Los Angeleno artist Lauren Ruth Ward is playing at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara tomorrow night (Thursday, May 2nd).

Our collaborator and pal from LA, LA Music Scene provides the apt encouragement below.

“You should be there. Why should you be there? Because Lauren Ruth Ward is special.

What makes Lauren Ruth Ward special? Certainly her deft songwriting and empowering humanist lyrics, her beautifully raspy and throaty vocals, her full-of-energy-and-love and exuberant-abandon live performances, and her knack for surrounding herself with exceptionally talented collaborators.

But what makes Lauren Ruth Ward really special is Lauren Ruth Ward herself. Self-confident and self-assured without the slightest hint of arrogance, Lauren is exactly and completely the unique individual she was born to be. She’s a smart, charming woman, and an artist and performer driven with boundless energy. She’s “Mom” to her band and a huge supporter of the LA music scene, and just about the most-comfortable-in- her-skin person you’ve ever met.

The LA music scene is as good as it’s ever been because of the wealth of extraordinarily talented women populating it. At the very top of that population is Lauren Ruth Ward.

Lauren Ruth Ward with LA friends Laura Jean Anderson and Cosmo Gold Thursday May 2 at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara. You really should be there. “

We strongly concur and recommend HIGHLY that you get tickets for the show HERE and check Lauren Ruth Ward out tomorrow night at Velvet Jones! Check out First Thursday downtown and then saunter on down to Velvet Jones for a complete night.

To get more of a feel for Lauren Ruth Ward, check out a couple of her official music videos (starting with great new songs Valhalla with its Janis Joplin-inflections and brand new Hungry Barber) below followed by LA Music Scene’s recent live video of Ward in action on Valhalla.

30
Apr

Watch Jenny Lewis’s Superb Unplugged Set for The Current

Excuse us, but we have gone down the rabbit hole and been deeply immersed in Jenny Lewis’s new album, On The Line, a ten-furlong front-runner for Best Album of 2019 so far. Lewis’s new album is stupendously well-crafted and, despite its sing-song melodies, manages to convey a wonderwall of hurt behind its Brill-building facade. Such has been the case with Lewis for over 20 years, beginning with her seminal band Rilo Kiley in 1998, but On The Line shows Lewis at the height of her artistry. Simply put, Lewis is one of the best songwriters and artists extant and deserves every accolade she receives. If you haven’t, we recommend you immediately dive deep into On The Line and look out for her upcoming shows (including at San Luis Obispo’s Fremont Theater on May 25th) HERE.

To get a feel for Lewis’s manifold gifts, check out below the superb unplugged (mostly) performance by Lewis, band and string-players as captured by The Current days after the new album was released. Watch as Lewis commands attention throughout, performing and singing with the feel and vocal aplomb of the likes of Mitchell (Joni), Sinatra and [pick-a-totem-of-taste]. There is magic at every turn.

Lewis answers the set’s opening bell wearing a boxer’s robe and playing piano on a particularly moving Heads Gonna Roll, and then segues into knowing winks at the camera and plucked/pizzicato strings on the forlorn Wasted Youth. The loping arrangement and her phrasing on Party Clown are beguiling throughout. Red Bull & Hennessy benefits from her crystalline vocals (that high note at 18:58!), the downshifted mien, and guitarist Dylan Day’s subtle, note-perfect accents.

As great as the songs are from On The Line, the tour de force here is her cover of Bob Dylan’s Standing in the Doorway. With its Joni-like arrangement (circa Hejira/Hissing of Summer Lawns) and vocal- inflections, together with the letter-perfect support on violin, upright bass and guitar, the performance is breathtaking. Dylan Day’s solo at the 24:00 mark (wow!) is magnificent in its skilled subtlety. Day even manages to out-channel “the channeler” himself (the other Daniel–Daniel Lanois, who produced the original version of the song for Dylan on Time Out of Mind). The set closes with a stunning, upbeat Rabbit Hole, featuring mostly finger-plucked strings and violin. Honestly, does it get any better?

We can’t wait to catch Lewis and crew in May. Brava!

5
Apr

Highly-Lauded Weyes Blood Plays Mesmerizing Set at Velvet Jones

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Confession: we here at Lefort have gone from one to 100 in Weyes Blood appreciation in the last 48 hours. While previously only catching snippets of songs and inklings of the oeuvre of Natalie Mering (dba “Weyes Blood“), we have suddenly grown wise to the artistry in Ms. Mering’s music. Much better late than never.

At the onset of their big upcoming tour in support, Weyes Blood today is releasing its justly-lauded new album Titanic Rising, and we have been listening to it intently since finally cracking the code. The album is a must-hear, rife with complex, string-laden pop melodies and lush production (think “dreamy” ’60s-’70s productions) that manage to deftly tug at your heartstrings. Throughout, Mering rollercoasters lyrically from low heartbreak to high hopes and back again (file under “life”). If you aren’t already, get wise to Weyes Blood today via the new album at all the usual sources. You can pick up the preferred vinyl HERE.

As luck would have it, Ms. Mering came to Santa Barbara Wednesday night and, decked in a bright white pantsuit, held sway at Velvet Jones with a mesmerizing set comprised mostly of songs off Titanic Rising, but also including a couple of older gems and a great cover of the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows. While they couldn’t possibly match the orchestral majesty of the new album, Mering was backed by a fab foursome of phenomenal musicians/vocalists (apologies for the namelessness) who managed (with Mering) to recreate both the sheen and drive, but also the nuances, of Titanic Rising. An early highlight was the ebullient Everyday (off the new album) with its sunny Mamas & Papas inflections straight outta Canyon (Laurel). Andromeda also swept up the crowd with its Patsy Cline-as-interpreted-by-Aimee-Mann leanings. The emotional Seven Words (from 2016’s Front Row Seat to Earth) followed, packing its devastating punch, before ceding to additional melodic masterworks from Titanic Rising. As you can see from Mering’s handwritten setlist below, they closed out the set (or so we and she thought) with the serene, expectant “anthem” Generation Why (YOLO why?) to the crowd’s delight. So delighted was the crowd that they would not relent and Mering reappeared with acoustic guitar to perform solo her beautiful ballad Bad Magic. You could hear a pin-drop in the venue until she finished her evocative song and the crowd erupted again in appreciation.

Don’t miss Weyes Blood the next time they come to a town near you.

You can check out the other dates of their tour and buy tickets HERE.

Plus Bad Magic

5
Mar

Cause For Celebration: The National Drops New Song–New Album/Film/Tour Imminent

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Anybody who has read these pages knows we are huge fans of The National. From the day we started this modest enterprise (nearly nine years ago) we have written incessantly about the band. In the process, we have found that young and old have loved and revered the band. Apparently we have published 157 posts on the band. Such is our ardor. And here we go again. Momentus news came today in the form of a new song from The National, with the promise of new 16-track album and film and gigantic tour to follow. There is joy in Mudville.

On May 17th, The National will release I Am Easy To Find  on 4AD . I Am Easy To Find evidently evolved out of a collaborative effort with Academy Award-nominated film director Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. Mike Mills, but instead the director of 20th Century Women, Beginners and countless music videos and commercials). Mills has apparently produced a short film (starring Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander) inspired by the album and to be released with music by The National.

Today the band gives us a good flavor for the album with its opening track, You Had Your Soul With You, which you can listen to below. To our ears its the usual great composite sound we’ve come to expect from the band except that around the 2:00 mark the band backs off, strings (evidently featured prominently throughout the new album along with choir) hit the fore and the voice of Bowie-bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey then takes center stage before Matt Berninger joins back in on harmony. The female solo vocal is unprecedented in the band’s discography and it may take some getting used to (due respect, but we will take Berninger’s baritone any day). But we can appreciate the desire to evolve, branch out and include others. We look forward to hearing other similar female contributions to the album, in particular the incredible Sharon Van Etten, our fave (Irish) singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, the uber-talented Kate Stables of This Is the Kit, and others.

After the song (and Mills’ trailer for his film featuring unreleased fan-fave song Rylan), check out the song’s lyrics, the album’s tracklist (we can’t wait to hear Not In Kansas) and the band’s tour dates. And you can get tickets to all of The National’s upcoming dates here.

You Had Your Soul With You

“You had your soul with you
I was in no mood
Drift away and I could forget
I had only one last feather left
I wore it on the island of my head
I had only one thing to do and I couldn’t do it yet

You felt like heaven stood up in you
You said love fills you out
It moves you from the skeleton and pulls you around
I got it worse than anyone else
And I just can’t find a way to forgive myself
I had only one thing left and I couldn’t see it yet

I have owed to my heart every word I’ve said
You have no idea how hard I died when you left
If I yield to my trances, will I get up close again?
I had only one thing to do and I couldn’t do it yet
I had only one thing left and I couldn’t see it yet

You had your soul with you
I was in no mood
You had your soul with you
I was in no mood”

I Am Easy To Find tracklist:

  1. You Had Your Soul With You
  2. Quiet Light
  3. Roman Holiday
  4. Oblivions
  5. The Pull Of You
  6. Hey Rosey
  7. I Am Easy To Find
  8. Her Father In The Pool
  9. Where Is Her Head
  10. Not In Kansas
  11. So Far So Fast
  12. Dust Swirls In Strange Light
  13. Hairpin Turns
  14. Rylan
  15. Underwater
  16. Light Years

The National on Tour:
4/16 – Paris, FR @ Olympia SOLD OUT
4/18 – London, UK @ Royal Festival Hall SOLD OUT
4/22 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre SOLD OUT
4/24 – Toronto, ON @ Roy Thomson Hall SOLD OUT
4/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Orpheum Theatre SOLD OUT
6/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Mann Center*
6/12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Prospect Park Bandshell*
6/15 – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
6/16 – Atlanta, GA @ Coca-Cola Roxy*
6/17 – St Augustine, FL @ St Augustine Amphitheatre*
6/19 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem*
6/20 – Portland, ME @ Thompson’s Point*
6/21 – Montreal, QC @ Place des Arts
6/22 – Hamilton, ON @ Pier 8**
6/24 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live*
6/25 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Hill Auditorium*
6/26 – Indianapolis, IN @ Lawn at White River*
6/28 – Chicago, IL @ Northerly Island**
7/10 – Manchester, UK @ Castlefield Bowl
7/12 – Madrid, ES @ Mad Cool Festival
7/13 – London, UK @ Hyde Park
7/15 – Frankfurt, DE @ Jahrhunderthalle
7/16 – Hamburg, DE @ Stadtpark
7/18 – Rättvik, SE @ Dalhalla
8/4 – Waterford, IE @ All Together Now
8/6 – Glasgow, UK @ Summer Nights at the Bandstand
8/7 – Glasgow, UK @ Summer Nights at the Bandstand
8/9 – Sicily, IT @ Ypsigrock
8/10 – Budapest, HU @ Sziget Festival
8/11 – Buftea, RO @ Summer Well
8/14 – Paredes de Coura, PT @ Paredes de Coura
8/16 – Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop
8/16 — 8/18 – Biddinghuizen, NL @ Lowlands
8/18 – Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop
8/28 – Vancouver, BC @ Deer Lake Park**
8/29 – Seattle, WA @ Marymoor Park**
8/30 – Portland, OR @ Edgefield**
9/1 – Stanford, CA @ Frost Amphitheater**
9/2 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre**
9/3 – Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre**
9/5 – Odgen, UT @ Ogden Amphitheater**
9/8 – Santa Fe, NM @ Santa Fe Opera House**
9/10 – Austin, TX @ 360 Amphitheatre**
9/11 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall**
11/25 – Warsaw, PL @ Torwar Hall
11/26 – Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
11/27 – Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
11/29 – Copenhagen, DK @ Royal Arena
12/1 – Bochum, DE @ Ruhrcongress
12/2 – Cologne, DE @ Palladium
12/3 – Zurich, SW @ Samsung Hall
12/4 – Munich, DE @ Zenith
12/5 – Stuttgart, DE @ Porsche Arena

*w/ Courtney Barnett
**w/ Alvvays

28
Feb

Watch Sharon Van Etten Perform “Seventeen” (Best Song of 2019 So Far) on Ellen, Coming to Sold-Out Ace Theater in LA on Friday

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As we have with each of her albums over the years, we have been obsessing over Sharon Van Etten’s new album Remind Me Tomorrow. With its big heart and bigger production, it’s our current front-runner for Best Album of 2019 and its song Seventeen is our Best Song of 2019 So Far (though the new album’s Stay is a very close second). To get a feel and to prepare for her show this Friday night at the Ace Theater in LA, check out Van Etten’s performance of Seventeen aired today on Ellen. Watch Van Etten and her phenomenal band’s (we always love Heather Woods Broderick’s vocals) explosive performance of Seventeen below, with its Patti Smith/Springsteen echos in which Van Etten assays her NYC teenage-self and her current state. Stunning!

Van Etten then came back on Ellen for a web-exclusive performance of her superb 2015 song I Don’t Want To Let You Down. Another searing performance by SVE and band! Watch it after Seventeen.

Afterwards, watch a similarly-gripping, maracas-gripped version of Seventeen performed previously on Kimmel.

7
Feb

Today is “International Clash Day”–City of Los Angeles Adopts Resolution in Honor of “The Only Band That Mattered”

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Photo: Pennie Smith

The Clash was simply one of the greatest bands to grace this planet (and nonpareil live). We were in attendance for their second U.S. show ever at the Santa Monica Civic on February 9th, 1979 (nearly 40 years ago), and it was easily the best concert we have witnessed in our lives (and we’ve seen a few). The Clash raged through the show while still managing to care for their fans. Anything and everything felt possible during and after that show.

Entire books, movies, encyclopedias, and websites have been devoted to “The Only Band That Mattered.” And rightly so.

Today, February 7th, has been designated “International Clash Day“, and the City of Los Angeles has rightly adopted the resolution you can read below, joining with the band in proclaiming “we know our rights, and we are not afraid to use them in the fight against hate, tyranny, and ignorance.” Well done Los Angeles!

If you haven’t ever seen the band, below you can watch a (grainy) video of their incredible performance of The Magnificent Seven on the illustrious Tom Snyder Show.

On International Clash Day, we say long live The Clash, and RIP Joe Strummer!