10 new albums to help fix a broken world

Protest albums from October 2022

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 October 2022.

1. LASSO - AMUO 

On October 2, leftist presidential candidate Luiz Inacio “Lula” Da Silva failed to win in the first round of Brazil's elections. The stronger-than-expected showing for far-right, rainforest-razing President Jair Bolsonaro sparked despair among the South American left. Summing up the anguish at the his climate-wrecking policies is the latest EP from Brazilian hardcore punks Lasso. On its opening song "Nêmesis" they say: "Dead nature, growing fear, the hand that begs. The chest goes crazy with grief, eye that cries, broken road, body that risks, in the curves of the plague. Smell of scorched earth." Discussing the EP, they said: "Desperate times call for desperate music, which makes Lasso the perfect soundtrack for 2022." Also hitting back are their fellow Brazilian punks Clava, whose new album Sudamefrica was named one of the best political hardcore albums of the year on October 17. LISTEN>>>

2. BRIAN ENO - FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE 

The environmental destruction in October was not limited to Brazil, of course. On October 1, Cuba was dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Ian. On October 7, Sydney recorded its wettest year on record, with three months of the year still to go. On October 17, Australian media reported there was "no end to music festival cancellations" due to climate change. By October 18, Nigeria’s worst seasonal floods in a decade had killed more than 600 people and displaced 1.3 million. Hitting back, climate activists threw soup and mashed potato at famous paintings and smeared a waxwork dummy of King Charles with cake. Less controversial was the new, environmentally-themed protest album from ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, on which he "sings for the end of the world". It was released on October 14, a week after Eno's fellow British activists targeted then-Prime Minister Liz Truss over fracking. LISTEN>>> 

3. ANGELINE MORRISON - THE SORROW SONGS (FOLK SONGS OF THE BLACK BRITISH EXPERIENCE) 

Also on October 14, the "economically incompetent" Truss played "blame the Black guy" by sacking her finance minister, Kwasi Karteng, sparking accusations of racism in the African media. Western media commentators pointed out that women and non-white people usually get a chance to lead only in times of crisis. That certainly seemed to be the case when, six weeks after replacing the scandal-hit Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the embattled Truss was replaced by Rishi Sunak, Britain's first non-white PM, albeit one who is "richer than King Charles". Highlighting the country's entrenched racism is the new album by Jamaican-British musician Angeline Morrison, released on October 7 and subtitled "Folk songs of the Black British experience". Discussing it, she said: “While people of the African diaspora have been present in these islands since Roman times, their histories are little known." LISTEN>>>

4. BECKAH AMANI - APRIL 

In the former British colony of Australia on October 21, Tanzanian immigrant Beckah Amani released her new RnB album, which tackles her experiences with racism. Growing up in rural Western Australia, she "looked different and sounded different, acted different, and trying to relate to people was hard", she said. "There was a lot of bullying [and racism], and one way that I did try and make sense to other people was to change my personality.” Eight days before the album's release, West Australian Aboriginal schoolboy Cassius Turvey was chased and bashed with a metal pole in an allegedly racist murder. On October 21, a new compilation album was also released, telling the harrowing tales of Amani's fellow African immigrants. Tales Of The Town recounts how freed African slaves travelled to Oakland, California, to eventually set up the Black Panther Party and inspire today's local hip-hop artists. LISTEN>>>  

5. STAR FEMININE BAND - IN PARIS 

Back in Africa, Star Feminine Band released their new album on October 7. On it, the staunch group of teenagers from Benin shake up the patriarchy with hip-shaking songs such as "Le Mariage Forcé" - which protests against arranged marriages for children - and "L’excision", which slams female genital mutilation. Recorded in Paris after an epic battle to get visas, it also contains the English language songs "We Are Star Feminine Band" and "Women Stand Up". The album was released as women continued to battle lethal sexism in the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests in Iran. Their rallies, hailed as "the beginning of a revolution", inspired protest anthem “Baraye”, whose lyrics were taken from a Twitter trend backing the protests. Since its release, the song has become "the single most covered protest song in Iran’s history", said protest music website Shouts. Even Coldplay joined inLISTEN>>> 

6. VIKRAM SAMPATH - WOMEN OF THE RECORDS 

On October 16, an Economist article slamming such sexism went viral. Headlined "Societies that treat women badly are poorer and less stable", it pointed out that "oppressing women not only hurts women, it also hurts men" - a big reason why Iranian men are backing the women's revolution. Among the worst-rating countries in the article was India. But fighting back is a new book and accompanying album that celebrates the women who pioneered the country's recording industry. "Across India women, mostly from the courtesan community, were the stellar pioneers of recording technology in the early twentieth-century," said the book's author, historian Vikram Sampath. "Yet their stories have been completely lost in the sands of time. This book revisits their lives and features the indefatigable saga of 25 inspiring Indian women musicians from across the country, from 1902 to 1947.” LISTEN>>>

7. ALI SAFFUDIN - WOLIVO 

On October 23, India's right-wing Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, celebrated Diwali by visiting a controversial Hindu temple being built in time for the country's national elections in 2024. Modi helped organise a nationwide push in 1990 to build a Hindu temple to replace a Muslim mosque on the site in Adhoya. The mosque’s destruction by a Hindu mob two years later sparked riots that killed 2000 people, mostly Muslims. Two days before Modi's latest visit to the site, Muslim musician Ali Suffadin, who hails from the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir that Modi has turned into an "open prison", released his new protest album. Talking about the work, he said: "If someone like Neil Young or Bob Marley were born in Kashmir, who do you think they would have supported? The oppressed. These are my inspirations ... To be Kashmiri is to be political. To sing in Kashmiri is even more political.” LISTEN>>>

8. M.I.A. - MATA 

On October 14, Tamil rapper M.I.A., whose people have long been oppressed in India's neighbour, Sri Lanka, released her new album. She fled the country as a war refugee when she was nine because her father was a member of the Tamil Tigers, who she references on the album's song "Keep The Peace": "There’s levels to the rebels, and I'm good with a little trouble. But I’m done with you throwing the pebbles. Better run with the tiger, and you better be a rider." However, a day before the album's release, the pop provocateur courted controversy by likening US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who had just been sued by victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, to "celebrities pushing vaccines". Such "celebrities" would include veteran English protest singer Attila The Stockbroker, whose new album released to streaming services on October 14 contains the pro-vaccine song "Vaccinate! Vaccinate!" LISTEN>>>  

9. DARREN HAYES - HOMOSEXUAL 

M.I.A.'s album also calls for the release of her friend Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher who was still facing extradition to the US as her record dropped. As homophobia raged in Assange's home country of Australia over the performance of a school play with homosexual themes, former Savage Garden singer Darren Hayes released his new album, Homosexual, on October 7. The title comes from his long struggle to be accepted, and accept himself, as queer amid such homophobia. It was a battle that almost drove him to suicide. “When I made the video for ‘Insatiable’, my first solo single, the president of the label saw the rushes for the video and he said, ‘Oh he looks obvious. It’s obvious that he’s gay’,” Hayes said of his past in the music industry. “So they scrapped the video." The new album came as his fellow Australians protested homophobia at the upcoming soccer World Cup in Qatar. LISTEN>>>       

10. DROPKICK MURPHYS - THIS MACHINE STILL KILLS FASCISTS 

One country that won't be competing at the World Cup is the contest's four-time winner Italy, whose team failed to even qualify this time. On October 22, fascist Giorgia Meloni was sworn in to become the country's first female prime minister, heading Italy's "most right-wing government since World War II". Denouncing her politics is A Prison Built To Slowly Die, the new album from Italian hardcore punks Caged. "Fascism is a cancer and must be extirpated," they seethe on the track "Not One Step Back". Days earlier, acclaimed US Celtic punks Dropkick Murphys released their new album, This Machine Still Kills Fascists. Its lyrics were written by the late protest singer Woody Guthrie, whose daughter suggested the idea to the band. Guthrie first placed the slogan "this machine kills fascists" on his guitar in 1943. On October 30, fascism was dealt a blow in Brazil as Lula became president. LISTEN>>> 


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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.

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