2017 was always going to be slightly bleak at best, brutally horrible at worst. Donald J. Trump’s Presidential inauguration this January was a rain-splattered, funereal changing of the guard. This time last year, the idea of Trump being sworn into office seemed like a nightmarish joke. But 2017’s reality sees basic rights under threat, organisations like Planned Parenthood having their funding cut, and already volatile international tensions flared up by Trump’s policy of brinkmanship. The world is a very uncertain place, and some things need protecting. This is where the ‘Our First 100 Days’ compilation comes in.
First thing’s first – ‘First 100 Days’ isn’t a direct anti-Trump form of protest. Instead, it exists to help raise funds and awareness for causes that require more support than ever. The concept is simple: 100 acts are providing a new song for every one of Trump’s first 100 days. Bunched together, these songs form a compilation available to buy for $30, with profits going directly to charities including LGBTQ+ organisation Southerners on New Ground and Cosecha, which is working towards more protective rights for immigrants.
Trump’s fist 100 days have elapsed, and we haven’t reached nuclear armageddon (yet). There’s now a near-century of great new songs to trawl through, all from alternative acts like Kate Tempest and Scandipop star Jens Lekman.
Here are the best songs to be included on ‘First 100 Days’:
Angel Olsen – ‘Fly On Your Wall’
‘Fly On Your Wall’ is an outtake from last year’s ‘My Woman’ album. Like on that record, Angel Olsen hones in on the gritty, bare bones essentials of romance. Instead of glossing up a subject, she reveals its thorny side. In terms of exploring identity and love’s winding path, Olsen is up there right the best of them. Like many of ‘First 100 Days’’ best tracks, this isn’t remotely political – it doesn’t attempt to singlehandedly remove Trump from office. Instead, Olsen gives another glimpse of her warts ’n all talent.
Cross Record – ‘Sharpness’
Texas musicians Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski like to record in vast expanses of empty land, nobody within sight. There’s no chance of bumping into strangers in between studio takes. ‘Sharpness’ captures this sense of being alone and at the behest of the outside world. It’s a haunting, ambient piece that somehow captures the beastly side of mother nature.
PWR BTTM – ‘Vacation’
PWR BTTM like to make life-affirming, berserk anthems from a simple guitar-drum set-up. ‘Vacation’ takes a more sombre route than most of their material, strung out and singing “I just think that I need a break.” At points, it’s the audio equivalent of watching Trump’s inauguration sat at home, under layers of blankets, pretending this isn’t actually happening. But PWR BTTM save their best moment until last, exploding ‘Vacation’ into a fizzing ball of panic and anxiety.
Jay Som – ‘Turn the Other Cheek’
A late contender, this was #98 in the compilation’s hundred-strong cast. Jay Som has a habit of exploring several moods and genres at once within one song. It’s a strength, not a distraction-filled hindrance. ‘Turn the Other Cheek’ is both an old school pop punk song Wheatus would be proud of, an orchestral piece filled with giant string synths, and a gut-punching emotional juggernaut. All contained within three wild minutes.
Mitski – ‘Fireproof (One Direction cover)’
Taking on a 1D classic takes guts, but Mitski showcased plenty of nerve on last year’s ‘Puberty 2’ album. First she strips ‘Fireproof’ down to its essentials. Then she floods the song in a lifetime supply of fuzz and broken feedback. She take’s One Direction’s original to an extreme, but somehow you can still hear ‘Fireproof’’s killer punch.