Friday, October 20, 2017

Call Before You Dig

Speaking of John K. Samson (who hasn't been in this band for 20 years), Propagandhi has a new album.  It's killer and I totally feel like I'm 14 again!

Seriously, actually, though.  I first got into Propagandhi in 1995, "borrowing" my brother's copy of "How to Clean Everything."  It, along with a Pennywise and a Bad Religion album, formed the crux of my post-grunge, post-depression punk-rock rebirth.  Why be depressed, when I should be angry?  I felt myself an activist for the next several years, soaking in all elements of political resistance music, trying to understand power structures and the oppressed.  It was the outlet I needed, an approach to placing some brackets on the world to understand it - be good, know things, be vocal.

A few years later, I majored in sociology.  Then I became a social worker.  Now I am teaching a graduate class on Poverty and Inequality.  I literally can trace the work that I'm doing now to the music I listened to when I was 14.  Maybe it was me, maybe the music, but either way, a match.

Truly, though, they were inspiring.  This was the most productive, vocal, and honest band I think I've  heard, to this day.  They toured like mad, put out goofy, challenging albums, were aggressive vegan anti-capitalists and ran their record label as a co-op, publishing books by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky for super-left Canadians.  They won't tolerate fighting, misogyny, homophobia, or meat.  They inspire bros with their metal guitars, but mock them with their lyrics.  Well-read, edgy, and honest.

This album feels like a rebirth of sorts?  A return to earlier work?  I've listened to this album 10 or 12 times since it came out and I can't quite put my finger on why it tickles all my nostalgia bones, but it most certainly does.  Don't get me wrong, it sounds nothing like their first two albums, except maybe for a few guitar lines?  The tuning?  I have no idea.  Maybe someone else knows.  It's far more technically proficient, and its lyrics are far more abstract than most previous albums, but it seems like it's recaptured some of their earlier heart.  More punk than metal, this time?  They have a new guitarist, and she totally fits in with them, in a way that makes me think she grew up with them or something.  Just a perfect fit.

I'm acknowledging how awful this writing is.  I had a migraine all day (with flashing lights and a loss of vision, no less) and I'm trying to return to writing application letters, so figured I'd spit some words out here and whatever.  You get it.

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