Do you think there's no good protest music these days? So did I, until I started looking for it. The truth is, it's always been out there, but it's sometimes a bit difficult to find. Every month, I search it out, listen to it all, then round up the best of it that relates to that month's political news. Here's the round-up for September 2022.
1. WORKER & PARASITE - POLITICS: A CASE STUDY OF THE NEXUS BETWEEN POPULISM, APATHY & EXPLOITATION
On September 1, nurses in New South Wales struck again over patient ratios and pay rises. A week later, early childcare workers across Australia took strike action against staff shortages and low pay. Two weeks after that, Australia's National Tertiary Education Union struck for a 7% pay rise as workers worldwide took pay cuts amid high inflation. On September 8, appropriately-named Melbourne punks Worker & Parasite released their new EP, which skewers such exploitation. On the song “Apolitical”, the staunchly-stylised socialist band, who heavily redact their press releases, reassure any doubters that almost every aspect of life is political. “Ideology is everywhere,” it intones. “It is the intellectual, cultural and political fabric from which society is woven. It is an integral part of life, pervasive, invisible and essential, akin to the air we breathe. Ideology is inescapable.” LISTEN>>>
2. GOGOL BORDELLO - SOLIDARITINE
Also calling for solidarity against ideology is the new album from Ukrainian "gypsy punks" Gogol Bordello, released on September 16. The album's title comes from its opening track, “Shot Of Solidaritine”. "Solidaritine is an imaginary substance that unlocks our empathy and our full human potential, which is supposed to unite us in overcoming our common problems,” explained the band's singer, Eugene Hütz. “It’s kind of a brother of adrenaline ... Our music was always about perseverance ... Take a group of people who have endured immigrant traumas and dislocation ... All of a sudden, humankind encounters these problems like the pandemic and the war. This is when rock 'n' roll is the most necessary and where we perform the best.” Also referencing Ukraine is the new album from Megadeth, named one of the 16 most political rock bands on September 7. The record gives the Chernobyl disaster a personal twist. LISTEN>>>
3. MEHDI RAJABIAN - IT ARRIVES
On September 13, 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amina was arrested and tortured by Iran's “morality police”. She died days later, sparking protests worldwide. On September 10, Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian, who has been arrested, jailed and placed in solitary confinement for his music in the past, risked prison again by releasing his latest album. “Anything can happen when you produce music," he told Billboard magazine on September 8. “Even conducting this interview can be a crime.” Also taking on the powers that be is Sri Lankan musician Bo Sedkid. He released his new album, which tackles his country's corruption, on September 1, two days before its corrupt, ousted president flew back into the country. And as the United States’ corrupt former president Donald Trump made headlines, industrial music stalwarts KMFDM released their new album, which targets Trump's Capitol riot. LISTEN>>>
4. STRAY FROM THE PATH - EUTHANASIA
On September 8, the Queen died, sparking endless media coverage. Joining in the mourning were countless fawning musicians. Conversely, US rap-rockers Stray From The Path tweeted: “Can’t believe the queen fucking died before she could hear our record. Disrespectful if you ask me.” She wouldn't have approved of the album, but certainly missed out. The prophetically-titled Euthanasia tackles everything from police and military violence to homelessness. It's about as close as you'll get to a new Rage Against The Machine album until they put out a new record. And if you like your protest music as hard and heavy as that, check out the two new albums from Swedish punks Adrestia, released five days after Swedes swung to the right in the September 11 election. “It’s really scary that such a large part of Sweden’s population voted for a party which is deeply rooted in Nazism and racism,” they said. LISTEN>>>
5. THE PROCLAIMERS - DENTURES OUT
The cringeworthy coverage of the Queen's death included clouds that looked like the monarch in an apparent message from heaven. The supposedly progressive Guardian led with 19 pages on her plus a 20-page supplement, then a 40-page special the next day. As the media continued to churn out royalist propaganda, Scottish chart-toppers The Proclaimers released their media-mocking new protest album on September 16. On the catchy “Things As They Are”, they sing: “On the page, you're a sage, you're a real superstar. And every page is engaged in keeping things as they are. The paper you write for it is a loss leader, it's hemorrhaging readers like a heavy bleeder. They shuffle upstairs for a chat with Saint Peter then nobody comes to replace them. So why own these papers when money they're losing? For someone like me it can feel quite confusing, unless it's their help with the choices we're choosing.” LISTEN>>>
6. DUBROW - OPINIONS
Released just days earlier was the new album from media-mocking Melbourne musician Dubrow. As Australia's Labor government pressed ahead with resources projects that would wreck ancient Aboriginal rock art sites as well as the climate, he pointed to the mining money that helps get politicians in power. On “Vested Interest”, the former singer-songwriter with iNsuRge, Soulscraper and Blackbreaks sings: “Vested interest. Invested interest. Vested interest. We’re ruled by vested interest. It’s like a popular minister, another free ride. A brown paper bag, a little more on the side. Swings a little to the left, then a little to the right. Just keep the people happy, and their hair just right. And you can listen real carefully and you can hear them as they try to sing (La-la-la lee-lee!) ‘Integrity, in a democracy! Integrity will be the death of me.’” LISTEN>>>
7. TRIPPLE EFFECT - RIPPLE EFFECTS
Also flaming the fossil fuel industry and its government backers is the new album from Tripple Effect, released on September 3. The folk trio from the Australian coal-mining town of Newcastle sing on “Your Dirty Black Coal”: “Like Nero you play while the world’s all ablaze, but we know who’ll pay for all that you raze. Those children unborn whose futures you burn will repay your scorn when they get their turn.” They slam the move to chop down Newcastle's fig trees on “Chainsaw Rippin' Blues”. And on “Murray's Lament” they address the destruction of the Murray River through irrigation: “With your ploughs and your ditches you made all your riches from the bounty that I bestowed. And your sons and your daughters all drank from my waters with no thought for the debt that they owed.” Four days after the album's release, the World Wildlife Fund awarded Australia an “F” for the decline of its endangered species. LISTEN>>>
8. THE HU - RUMBLE OF THUNDER
On September 22, Western Australian socialist Sam Wainwright pointed out that Australia should be fighting climate change, not preparing for war on China. No doubt in agreement is Mongolian metal band The HU, who released their new album on September 2. Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto has been fighting Mongolia's government over its Oyu Tolgoi mine in the country north of China. As Rio Tinto pressed for total control of the mine, The HU released their environmentally-conscious record, which blends traditional horse fiddle with heavy guitars on tracks such as “Sell The World” and “Mother Nature”. “Not everybody realises the grave danger of being careless to our environment,” they told the media while discussing the album. “Ignorance is the biggest issue human beings have, and that is still true when we are discussing about nature.” LISTEN>>>
9. JAKE BLOUNT - THE NEW FAITH
On Jake Blount's new album, released on September 23, the queer African-American multi-instrumentalist “communicates how much he's seen of the extracting of resources and destruction of ecosystems”, as America's National Public Radio put it. The dystopian Afro-futuristic concept album “aims to envision what Black religious music would sound like in a not-so-distant future world devastated by climate change”. On the album, after Earth has succumbed to global warming, a group of 30 Black refugees, strangers to each other, find shelter on an island off the coast of Maine and rally around a shared musical tradition. The record was released a week before a hurricane swamped Florida. Two weeks earlier, a Rural Australians for Refugees conference called for a further 20,000 emergency visas for asylum seekers from Afghanistan, the scrapping of offshore detention and ending of mandatory detention. LISTEN>>>
10. COSEY FANNI TUTTI - DELIA DERBYSHIRE: THE MYTHS AND THE LEGENDARY TAPES (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDINGS)
Women can often seem like illegal aliens in the male-dominated music industry. The issue is front and centre on the latest album by musical trailblazer Cosey Fanni Tutti, which soundtracks a new docu-drama about pioneering 1960s electronic musician Delia Derbyshire. “Sexism definitely played a part in Delia not getting due credit for bringing electronic music into the mainstream,” said Fanni Tutti. “Her goal, right until the end, was to introduce people to the beauty and remarkable diversity of electronic music, but she was often passed over where credits were concerned — as was Daphne Oram and other women who worked at the [British Broadcasting Corporation's] Radiophonic Workshop.” Documenting similar sexism, on September 30, Tepete Records released a new compilation album inspired by music writer Vivien Goldman’s feminist history of punk music, Revenge of the She-Punks. LISTEN>>>
Video: Take Only What You Can Carry - Gogol Bordello feat. KAZKA - Gogol Bordello.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Ward has been writing for Green Left since 2009. He also wrote the book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country and makes political music. This year, Mat Ward released his new album based on protest chants, Why I Protest. Stream or download it free for a limited time.
Stream our new "Best protest songs of 2022" playlist on Spotify. This replaces the previous "Political albums" playlist, that was getting too big at more than 700 albums.
Read about more political albums.
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