This weekend the country formerly known as Burma is holding democratic elections – the country's first legitimate elections in decades – ending the 50-year isolation of the country. Everyone there has something at stake – including a trio of punk rockers who call themselves Side Effect.
The band formed in 2004, sharing a love of the Strokes and Nirvana. Getting their lyrics past the government censors hasn't been easy; drinking and womanizing, staples of rock bands everywhere, are not okay with the military junta.
Audiences haven't been much more receptive (the Yangon bars favor pop cover bands), but Side Effect raised $3000 to put out a record through Indie Go Go, a Kickstarter-like site for bands. But the band may never see the money: the account was frozen because it violated US sanctions against Myanmar. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that the State Department wanted to see all remaining political prisoners released, an end to violence in ethnic minority areas, and proof of fair elections. That could take some time.
But political changes have brought new opportunities for the band: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud. They've avoided politics in their music, fearing the censors, but the band is working on a new song, in English, talking to its fans overseas:
Hey! Can you hear me out?You just load us down with sanctionsBut you'll never understand our broken dreams.
Bonus Tracks: "Evenings Under the Influence"