Music News: The Orwells break up in wake of abuse allegations

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Mario Cuomo of The Orwells performs in The Current studio
Mario Cuomo of The Orwells performs in The Current studio (Luke Taylor | MPR)
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Orwells break up; DJ Khaled launches furniture line; politician's punk past resurfaces
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Above, listen to an episode of The Current's daily Music News podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts.


The Orwells have announced their breakup as a band, after three members of the band were accused of sexual abuse. A brief tweet — "The Orwells have disbanded" — broke the news shortly after the band responded to a Reddit thread accusing band members Mario Cuomo, Henry Brinner, and Grant Brinner of sexual abuse and other misconduct. In a previous statement, the Chicago-area band acknowledged some "callow altercations" but called the sexual abuse allegations "completely unfounded." (Pitchfork)

Gaslight Anthem respond to audience assault reports

The Gaslight Anthem have responded to reports of sexual assaults and harassment among members of their audience. "From the very beginning of this band, we have strived to create a positive and safe environment for our fans and this kind of abhorrent behavior cannot and will not be tolerated at our shows," the band wrote in a series of tweets. The band didn't share specific details about the reports, but they say they're working with venue staff and law authorities to address the alleged incidents. (Pitchfork)

Kanye apologizes for slavery remarks

There's another chapter in the Kanye West story. In a Wednesday interview on a Chicago radio station, West apologized for calling slavery a "choice," and belatedly responded to a previous question from Jimmy Kimmel about why he believes Donald Trump cares about African-Americans. "He wants to be the greatest president, and he knows that he can't be the greatest president without the acceptance of the black community," said West. "So it's something he's gonna work towards, but we're gonna have to speak to him." (Billboard)

West has been caught in a swirl of controversy over various remarks he's made in interviews and on social media since re-emerging into the public eye earlier this year, after taking time off to look after his mental health. He addressed his struggles on his recent album Ye, on songs like "I Thought About Killing You."

DJ Khaled launches furniture line

Music artist, social media star, and entrepreneur DJ Khaled has launched a furniture line: "We the Best Home."

"My home is my castle, and it's a sacred place," said Khaled in a statement launching the line, which officially debuts Thursday at El Dorado Furniture in Miami. "I am involved in every aspect of the creative design process — choosing colors, fabrics, styles. So I give my fans a piece of Khaled in every item." (Billboard)

Punk rock politician alternately celebrated and scorned

Until now, the early 1990s El Paso, Texas punk band called Foss has been best-known as the early band of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who would go on to front the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. Now, though, another Foss member is in the news, and his musical history is being dragged up — for better or for worse.

The band's bassist Beto O'Rourke is now a U.S. Representative, and he's the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat currently occupied by Ted Cruz. His musical history has been well-documented, but it wasn't big news until on Tuesday the official Twitter account of the Texas Republican party tweeted a photo of Foss with the caption, "Maybe Beto can't debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans..."

The caption referred to the candidates' dispute over the terms of potential debates; O'Rourke says the terms proposed by Cruz are too restrictive, specifying moderators and talking points.

So, will O'Rourke's rock history be a liability in the fall election? Seemingly not with Democratic voters, who've spent much of the week tweeting about how cool it is that O'Rourke was in a band, pointedly comparing his youth to his opponent's comparatively staid past. (Mashable, Rolling Stone)

Matt Groening shares story about MJ's Simpsons appearance

On what would have been Michael Jackson's 60th birthday this Wednesday, Simpsons creator Matt Groening shared a story about the King of Pop's appearance on the 1991 episode Stark Raving Dad.

"We really did have him," Groening said, explaining that Jackson himself reached out and said he wanted to be on the show, saying he specifically loved Bart. Jackson ended up playing a white man who's under the delusion that he's Michael Jackson, and helps Bart write a birthday song for his sister Lisa. While Jackson provided the character's speaking voice and wrote the song, contractual restrictions prevented Jackson from singing on the episode.

"When it came time to sing the songs, he had a sound-a-like singer," said Groening. "He stood there and watched the guy, who was so nervous who had to sound like Michael Jackson, and then he giggled."


Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Kanye West: "I Thought About Killing You"
DJ Khaled: "No Brainer"
Foss: "Rise"
Michael Jackson: "Happy Birthday, Lisa"


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