Here's a single from the band Chronicity, courtesy my friend Amy, and a pile of singles from Obscurist Press Records she gave me after a bowery show. Never came across these guys before today and up to this point, the Obscurist singles have been pretty punk, even hardcore. This one takes a post punk, slightly minimal approach to the similar politically charged material. Recorded in '06, it's got a bare bones Gang of Four sound but with this Pete's lyric content you almost overlook the instrumentation entirely because the lyrics absolutely take center stage cleverly strung together.
The problem with specific political bands like this is that you end up preaching to the converted....which is fine, I don't see why there's some kind of pressure to change anything. They want to rock, and why not rock about something that means something to these guys. Well then they might as well be singing about nothing? I don't know the answers to this stuff...it's a very specific genre/audience and I personally have never been able to sort out these questions
It's novel to hear this kind of direct protest post punk coming out of the UK.
The first track, 'War on the Poor' just goes to show things are fucked up everywhere...the govt's of the world do messed up things...that's pretty much a fact everywhere. I still get a little nostalgic for thinking 'fuck yea!' for every injustice, in high school when you first start to really question every idea. Now I just think, 'There is some serious bullshit going on and why aren't I doing anything about it?' What's the point of this stupid blog anyway? Why am I listening to pointless songs about girls and rock and roll?
I can't fault them for trying, if anything I get depressed, not by the content but because I don't feel like I can do anything about it. The greatest scam the powers that be pulled is making politics so boring you can't be bothered to even care about it.
The next one, 'Wealth and Hell Being', has got a nice Shellac groove going with a super crunch treble distortion, the bursts of melody. Pete's got a spoken word type delivery on this one about everything from obesity to climate change. It's a little bit Dead Kennedys with (believe it) more personal despair than Blank Dogs on some days. Almost goth in it's nihilism, but June of 44 and Shellac in delivery.
Then as much as they go for specific jugulars, they get abstract with B-Side's 'Banned from the Academy', I mean....who can't relate to public school and that whole disaster. The real problem there is I can't think of how it would be a good experience. If it's not the institution being shitty, then it's the people you go there with. It's always some version of hell when you're in the middle of it. The stuttered guitars on extra rapid fire, repeated angular basslines, the bass strummed in moments of low power chords and the guitar answering back in high bent distortion squeals. The snare hitting on every spoken syllable, the melody built around disparate instrumental phrases, which fit Pete's jabbing vocal style, which now I'm thinking has a huge relation to 'Tourist' or 'Love like Anthrax' from Gang of Four. Instead of feeling completely helpless this track in the end seems to be celibrating DIY, naming spaces like ABC no RIO and that's a welcome glimmer of hope.
Academy Fight song is mentioned, but he's a pacifist.
The next one, Elvis Prison Guard, has a funny line about Johnny Cash and I have to play that off this title...I guess their could have been a weird rivalry between those two... Johnny Cash obviously coming out on top, the Folsom Prison album, being thrown in jail himself, ....while Elvis joined the army.
If shellac went into specifics it might sound a little like this.
It's definitely post punk, the very definitiion of that sound. The drum track vs guitar vs bass. They are all on their own separate paths and then rearrange the whole thing to match each other rhythmically. It's not lost on me that this anti-establishment music is so completely lock step fascist.
Another contradiction: you get out your frustration at this system through music and then what? Is it better to hold it in and let the repression build to the breaking point? Are they working against exactly the ideas they're trying to change? I don't want to be so critical but this sentiment leads you to question everything, including their own tracks. So they succeeded in a weird defeatist way? They probably have me exactly where they wanted.
This mathy, science sleeve should be covered with xerox cut outs of cops beating protestors or someone burning themselves alive...instead they try to get me with math equations? Another thing that bores me to death.
Still available from Obscurist Press Records