Charli XCX's Mixtape 'Number 1 Angel' Is a Fantastic Pop Diary

Charli XCX.

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While we patiently await the follow-up to 2014’s brash and bubbly pop smash Sucker — “Boom Clap” is still bedazzled on our hearts — Charli XCX has released a mixtape ahead of her as-yet-untitled third album. Over 10 tracks, Number 1 Angel plays out like a pop diary of the London songwriter’s past few years, indulging in the margins of slinky R&B, hip-hop and bizzaro electro-pop. But it’s also just a really stellar group of songs, tossed out like she hasn’t written more pop hits.

The late-night lovers anthem “3 a.m. (Pull Up)” (featuring MØ) has the kind of giant candy-coated hook that’s become Charli XCX’s calling card, as does the twinkly, aerobics-ready “Babygirl,” which features Uffie in her first release since 2011. “Roll With Me” is the mixtape’s club banger, the most direct nod to last year’s Vroom Vroom, the collaborative EP with pop deviants PC Music (A.G. Cook, SOPHIE, and Danny L Harle co-produced several of the mixtape’s tracks). Tracks like “Dreamer (feat. Starrah and RAYE)” and “Drugs” are fascinating outliers, soaked in syrupy trap beats and heavy synths. In the latter, Charli finds a sympathetic collaborator in the Atlanta-based Abra, who makes dark R&B that’s as soulful as it forward-thinking.

While Charli XCX says that LP3, which has been “kinda finished for a while,” is most akin to “3 a.m. (Pull Up),” she truly rethinks pop music with the mixtape closer “Lipgloss,” a hell of an introduction to Chicago rapper cuppcakKe. With thick, chiptune-style production and a rap feature that’s fully integrated into the digital bliss, “Lipgloss” bangs on euphoria like a row of cherry cola Lip Smackers.

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A.B. Original Are The First Indigenous Artists To Win Annual Australian Music Prize

Briggs, one-half of A.B. Original, in the video for “ICU” (feat. Thelma Plum).

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This year’s winner of the Australian Music Prize marks an important milestone in Australia’s musical history. The winning album — Reclaim Australia, by the hip-hop duo A.B. Original — is the first in the prize’s 12 years to have been made by indigenous artists.

The $30,000 prize, announced yesterday, is similar to Canada’s Polaris Music Prize or Britain’s Mercury Prize; a panel of experts from around the country are assembled to debate the year’s best (unlike Polaris, the AMP tends to lean a little further afield in the records it selects).

A.B. Original is made up of Adam Briggs, who raps as Briggs, and Daniel Rankine, who raps and produces as Trials; Reclaim Australia is an anthemic and golden-era-referencing punch of political polemic. The album’s title refers to the far-right Reclaim Australia movement, an anti-Muslim and anti-immigration group which has held rallies throughout the country. (The group’s full name: All Black, Original.) The album’s lead single, “January 26,” is a reference to the country’s Australia Day holiday, when the first fleet of British ships arrived on the continent in 1788 — hardly a cause for celebration for the people already there. “That’s that land-taking / flag-waving attitude,” goes one lyric.

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Reclaim Australia was released by independent label Golden Era Records, which released Homemade Bombs, Brigg’s debut EP, as well as The Hangover, the debut of Funkoars, the originating group of Trials, in 2009. Briggs also runs his own label, Bad Apples Music, which puts out records from other indigenous artists. Speaking to Rolling StoneAustralia about its formation, Briggs said: “There hasn’t been a wide spectrum of ideas and stories” in Australian rap, “especially from a black point of view.” (Imagine hearing that sentiment stateside.)

Briggs was also awarded song of the year last August by the National Indigenous Music Awards for “The Children Came Back,” a spiritual sequel to the 1990 Archie Roach song “They Took The Children Away,” about Roach’s experience of being taken away from his parents by authorities and placed in a mission home, a stolen child. (A similar program was implemented in the U.S. which saw Native American children sent to schools for “re-acculturation.”)

Speaking to The Guardian of the group’s win over the other nominees, which included Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds and DD Dumbo, Briggs said: “It sucks to be them … Normally it sucks to be us!”

A post shared by Hilltop Hoods (@hilltophoods) on Mar 9, 2017 at 2:19am PST

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Lost Your Dog? These People Feel Your Pain

The author's wife, Katelyn Parady, reunites with Bisbee on Christmas morning after a young boy tracked the 10-pound Chihuahua through the streets of Phoenix. (Facebook)

You lost your dog. The pain is real.

To ease the anxiety, you can put 100 fliers on lamp posts or report her missing to the microchip company. You can dutifully search the kennels at the pound to console your weepy 6-year-old, or to console your weepy self.

But if you’re like me, you’ll need something else. You’ll need

The author’s wife, Katelyn Parady, reunites with Bisbee on Christmas morning after a young boy tracked the 10-pound Chihuahua through the streets of Phoenix. (Facebook)

“I don’t think that’s weird at all,” says Susan Taney, who founded Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and then went on to develop similar sites for 33 other states.

Her page for Illinois, where she lives, has more than 120,000 followers. Many of them aren’t even missing a dog. But they’ll volunteer to paper a neighborhood with fliers. Or they’ll spend an extra hour at their computers cross-checking animal control websites.

“What they’re doing is trying to make matches between a lost dog and a found dog,” Taney explains. These amateur pet detectives have a stake in the outcome of a stranger’s dilemma “because it could be them the next time.”

Unfortunately for Theron Bartlett, the time has come.

His border collie-Aussie mix, a rescue named Anya with one floppy ear, went missing from his parents’ farm in Chandler, Ariz., on Jan. 22.

A tip from a stranger leads him believe Anya was stolen. Theron has canvassed the neighborhood and posted the details on Straydar. He’s started a fundraising campaign and created his own Facebook page called “Where is Anya?

And that’s the fundamental question when your dog goes missing, isn’t it? It’s the constant worrying and wondering — is she still out there? Theron still asks that more than a month after Anya’s disappearance.

“And there’s no way to know,” he says. “It’s the not knowing that gets you.”

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Canadian Judge Resigns After Furor Over 'Knees Together' Remarks In Rape Case

Justice Robin Camp.

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His questioning of a woman in a sexual assault case — asking her, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” — sparked outrage. Now Federal Court Justice Robin Camp has resigned, after a judicial review board said he should be removed.

Camp, 64, submitted his letter of resignation shortly after the Canadian Judicial Council issued its recommendation Thursday.

The council said that “the judge’s conduct … was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of impartiality, integrity and independence of the judicial role that the judge was rendered incapable of executing the judicial office.”

The trial that brought the judge’s resignation was conducted in 2014, when Camp, serving on the Alberta Provincial Court, considered sexual assault allegations made by a complainant whom the judicial council described as “a vulnerable 19-year-old woman.”

During the trial, Camp sometimes referred to the woman as “the accused,” and he said he didn’t see any signs of an attack, suggesting several times that she could have physically avoided sexual contact — saying, for instance, “if she [the complainant] skews her pelvis slightly she can avoid him.”

At another point, he told the young woman that “sex and pain sometimes go together … that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” He also said “sex is very often a challenge.”

Camp also said, “Young wom[e]n want to have sex, particularly if they’re drunk,” according to the transcript provided by the judicial council.

At least twice, Camp told the man accused in the case that he should tell his friends to protect themselves by being patient and careful with women. From the transcript:

“You’ve got to be very sure that the girl wants you to do it. Please tell your friends so that they don’t upset women and so that they don’t get into trouble. We’re far more protective of women — young women and older women — than we used to be and that’s the way it should be.”

At the end of that trial, Camp ruled to acquit the accused man — a decision that was later overturned on appeal. A retrial ensued, and in January, the accused was again acquitted by the Alberta Provincial Court.

The judicial council said Camp “engaged in stereotypical or biased thinking” and “relied on flawed assumptions.”

Camp, who is originally from South Africa, was appointed to a judgeship in 2012. He had previously worked at a commercial litigation law firm in Alberta. And despite a sustained uproar over his conduct during the 2014 rape trial, Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay appointed Camp to the federal bench the following summer.

Proceedings against Camp were begun after law professor Alice Woolley of the University of Calgary and others filed a complaint about his behavior in the criminal trial. By the time Alberta’s Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley asked the judicial council to review the judge’s behavior, several online petitions were also calling for his removal.

Shortly after Camp’s resignation letter was filed Thursday, Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said, “From my perspective as minister, and the perspective of our government, sexual assault and gender-based violence is in no form acceptable. And we will continue to stand up for victims of sexual assault and gender-based violence and accord them the necessary respect and dignity that they deserve.”

In the misconduct inquiry, the judge defended himself by saying his misconduct stemmed from either an unconscious bias or ignorance. His apologies and attempts to educate himself were enough to warrant staying on the bench, he said.

The judicial council did not agree, saying that the judge’s questions to the alleged victim “were not simply attempts at clarification. He spoke in a manner that was at times condescending, humiliating and disrespectful.”

Camp’s resignation officially takes effect Friday. By resigning, he “won’t be eligible for any pension or payout,” according to Global News.

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Tank And The Bangas: Tiny Desk Concert

Out of over 6,000 entries — more submissions than we’ve ever received — Tank And The Bangas won, unanimously, this year’s Tiny Desk Contest. I fully expected their victory performance here at NPR headquarters in D.C. to be celebratory. I didn’t know we’d all end up in tears.

This band combines R&B with hip-hop’s poetry and rollercoaster storytelling, with a flair and alchemy that could only come from New Orleans. Their winning song, “Quick,” mixes liquor and revenge — a sort of modern day take on a great folk tale, but peppered with their own idiosyncratic flair and humor. What I couldn’t see, until they took over my desk, was the depth of their lyricism and the versatility of their players. At one moment fun-filled funk, the next laid-back jazz, rhythm-driven blues — and it all flows seamlessly. And it’s fun to watch: There’s a magic kinship between Tarriona “Tank” Ball and Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph as they share singing roles, like two best friends finishing one another’s sentences.

This is the third year that NPR Music has put out a call in hopes of finding a shining star. I’m still amazed how, after sifting through thousands of videos from abundantly talented musicians, we can find a common winner amongst a range of judges with such different musical backgrounds. But in the end, my All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Miguel, Anthony Hamilton, Ben Hopkins (PWR BTTM), BANKS, and folks who listen to an awful lot of music — NPR member station hosts Rita Houston (WFUV), Talia Schlanger (WXPN), Stas THEE Boss (KEXP) — and myself were all equally charmed, delighted and captivated.

And so here it is, a chance to see an artist truly blossoming. It’s just the beginning: A few years ago, for our first Contest, Fantastic Negrito won our hearts. This year he won a Grammy. Last year Gaelynn Lea, an unknown violinist, teacher and singer sent a video captured on a phone and won our affection and souls. A few weeks ago, her Tiny Desk Concert had been seen more than a million times. These days she’s taken to the road, touring the world.

Tank And The Bangas will be hitting the road in April with NPR Music to find their new audience — I’ll be along for the ride — visiting many of our member stations with help from those music-loving beer brewers at Lagunitas. I can’t wait to see the reaction in these crowds’ eyes, as they fill with wonder and tears like ours did, experiencing this band for the first time.

Set List

  • “Boxes And Squares”
  • “Quick”
  • “Rollercoasters”

Musicians

Tarriona Tank Ball (vocals); Jelly Joseph (vocals); Merell Burkett Jr. (keys); Norman Spence II (keys); Joshua Johnson (drums); Jonathan Johnson (bass); Albert Allenback (saxophone)

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Nick Michael, Bronson Arcuri, Morgan Noelle Smith; Production Assistants: A Noah Harrison, Ameeta Ganatra; Photo: Niki Walker/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

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U.S. Employers Added A Robust 235,000 Jobs In February

People attend the JobNewsUSA career fair Sunrise, Fla., in November 2016.

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The U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate nudged down a tenth of a percentage point to 4.7 percent. The monthly report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics fell roughly in line with economists’ expectations: Healthy economic growth continuing January’s strong showing.

The number of unemployed Americans saw little change last month, as well, hovering at roughly 7.5 million people.

At the same time, the January payroll number was revised to 238,000 jobs, up from last month’s initial estimate of 227,000.

As NPR’s John Ydstie reports for our Newscast unit, the economy had already shown signs of momentum ahead of Friday’s report. Growth in construction jobs had helped a private sector report earlier this week exceed expectations.

John explains that part of that boost might arise from anticipation of policies President Trump has promised: a combination of hefty tax cuts and infrastructure investment.

“President Trump won’t be shy about claiming credit for a good number even though his main economic policies are not yet in place,” John notes. “However, the expectation of big tax cuts and infrastructure spending may have contributed to some additional hiring by businesses.”

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Ruth Chang: How Can Making Hard Choices Empower Us?

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Decisions Decisions Decisions.

About Ruth Chang’s TED Talk

One choice isn’t always better than the other. Philosopher Ruth Chang says, once we realize that, it’s easier to embrace the hard work of decision-making.

About Ruth Chang

Ruth Chang is a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on decision-making and the human condition: how do we exercise our freedom through the choices we make?

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Dan Ariely: When Are Our Decisions Made For Us?

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Decisions Decisions Decisions.

About Dan Ariely’s TED Talk

We often think that our decisions are our own. But Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely explains how our environment — even something as simple as how a question is framed — can affect what we choose.

About Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is also the founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight — where he studies the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways humans behave. Ariely is the author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.

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35 Girls Killed After Fire In A Locked Room In Guatemala Youth Shelter

Relatives gather outside the children’s shelter Virgen de la Asuncion in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala, on Wednesday.

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At least 35 girls were killed after a fire broke out in a government shelter for children in Guatemala. They were reportedly locked inside a small room and unable to escape.

Dozens of girls were locked in the room at the Virgen de la Asunción facility after they had attempted to escape the youth facility earlier. Nineteen of them died in the fire and 16 died as a result of injuries, according to The Associated Press. Many others are still hospitalized.

The shelter houses at least 750 children up to the age of 18 in the municipality of San Jose Pinula near Guatemala City. Residents are a mix of young offenders and young victims of abuse. Officials told a congressional panel Thursday that the facility is meant to house only 500 people, The New York Times reported.

Police, witnesses and relatives told wire services that the fire started when at least one girl set fire to a mattress, possibly in protest after being kept in the small room for hours.

“The staff left the girls in an extremely reduced space, a 4-meter by 4-meter room, for 52 teenage girls,” the country’s deputy ombudsman for human rights, Claudia Lopez, told Reuters. “It was a terribly thought out decision.”

The grandmother of one of the victims, Maria Antonia Garcia, told the AP that her 14-year-old granddaughter said girls were beaten at the facility. Geovany Castillo, a father of a 15-year-old girl who survived, tells the service his daughter “said the girls told her that they had been raped and in protest they escaped, and that later, to protest, to get attention, they set fire to the mattresses.”

An employee of Virgen de la Asunción told Reuters that many problems of the facility were due to inadequate staffing, not enough funding and judges sending too many young offenders to the home:

” ‘We had 15-19 new arrivals a day, every carer had 34 children to look after, and we were on one day on, one day off shifts of 24 hours because there were not enough staff,’ the employee said, adding she faced death threats and verbal abuse from her wards.”

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said that government youth facilities are a “rigid system that has become insensitive.” He told reporters that “our system must be thoroughly and decisively reformed” and said the system should be decentralized. There are 1,500 children in government facilities in Guatemala, he added.

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South Korean President's Impeachment Triggers Clashes And Questions

A supporter of South Korean President Park Geun-hye cries during a rally opposing her impeachment near the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, March 10, 2017.

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Ahn Young-joon/AP

Two people died in demonstrations and frenzy following a historic ruling in South Korea to remove its first female president. The nation’s acting president is calling for unity and calm as the impeached former President Park Geun-hye packs her bags.

“Conflicts during demonstrations is not right,” said acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Hwang spoke following clashes with police that broke out outside the nation’s highest court after a panel of judges voted unanimously to uphold a legislative impeachment of Park.

“Our judges hope our sentence … brings ideological divides and confusion in the state to an end,” Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said before reading out the decision.

Outside South Korea’s Constitutional Court Friday morning, thousands of South Koreans crammed onto the street to await the ruling. In an outdoor concert-like atmosphere, the chief justice was beamed onto giant screens as she read the announcement.

“The respondent, President Park Geun-hye, is expelled,” Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said.

The decision led crowds to break out in elation (among anti-Park camps) and emotion (among Park supporters).

Some 70 percent of South Koreans in a pre-ruling poll got what they’d wished for — Park’s ouster.

“I feel very proud right now, I love this country,” said Jeong Inha who was among the celebratory crowd.

Park Geun-hye now makes history twice. Not only as the nation’s first female president, but now — in the way she’s leaving office.

“We have never had a president who has been removed forcefully by an impeachment proceeding like this, ever,” says J. James Kim, a researcher at the Korean policy think tank Asan Institute. “This was an abuse of executive power. That is the basis of her removal.”

The court sided with lawmakers who impeached Park in December over allegations of corruption and influence-peddling. Investigators say Park abused her power by entrusting government decisions to a secret adviser, Choi Soon-sil, and took part in extorting bribes from major conglomerates, including Samsung and Hyundai. The corruption scandal gripped South Korea for months and led to millions taking to the streets for weeks of protest.

“There’s a sense of relief,” Kim says. “Some people are very happy and excited about this ruling, suggesting that democracy is healthy and functioning in this country.”

Park has yet to move out of the presidential home but she has already lost immunity from criminal prosecution and could face corruption charges. The country’s prime minister — a Park appointee — will continue to serve as acting president. He will soon announce a snap presidential election, which is constitutionally required to happen within 60 days. Those celebrating the ouster, like Jeong Inha, say they are hopeful about the country’s political future.

“I think there will be a better president than our last president, and a brighter future will be here,” Jeong says.

As the Park Geun-hye presidency abruptly ends, campaign season begins.

Jihye Lee contributed to this story.

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