10 new albums that resist the police state

March 28, 2024
Protest albums from March 2024

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 just 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 March 2024.


Climate protesters Violet CoCo and Brad Homewood were jailed for blocking traffic on Melbourne's West Gate Bridge on March 5. Police called their action "selfish". National broadcaster the ABC joined the pile-on with a story headlined: "Couple forced to deliver son on busy Melbourne road amid climate protest". It did not cite its own story about the high incidence of such births. Nor did it ask the couple how they felt about being forced to deliver their son into a climate change-ravaged world that had just shot past a 1.5-degree warming target. Three days later, queer English protest singer Grace Petrie released her "most political record", on which she sings: "The scientists are sounding the alarm, everyone stay calm. The bailiffs have knocked down a family’s door, the oil profits soar. Some teenagers have blocked the motorway, so we locked them all away." LISTEN>>>  


Also hitting back at police are acclaimed English punks Kid Kapichi on their heavy, catchy new album, released a week later. On "999", they address the murder of Sarah Everard, whose police officer killer was revealed to be a serial sex offender on March 1. “So many cases," snarls singer Jack Wilson. "If they’re not rapists, they're fucking racists.” Discussing the album, Wilson said: "We’ve seen the laws around protesting being tightened, and that’s terrifying. Four or five people were having a peaceful protest for Palestine in my hometown of Hastings recently, and they got manhandled and arrested. It’s sickening, but then you look at the comments on social media and people are saying things like, ‘Stop wasting police time.' The police are wasting their own time! How can you be against people wanting to stop the death of others?" LISTEN>>> 


In a rare case of racist police being brought to justice, two Mississippi officers were jailed on March 21 for sexually assaulting and torturing two Black men for staying in a white woman’s home. Getting down to the roots of such Deep South racism is the powerful new album Africatown, AL: Ancestor Sounds, which records the songs and stories of slaves' descendants in Alabama. Digging further is revered African-American musician Moor Mother's new album about the British slave industry, released on March 8. On it, the groundbreaking experimental artist rails against the 1835 act that compensated 46,000 slave owners with £20 million (£17 billion or $33 billion today) for their lost “property” due to the legal abolition of slavery. “Think," she says, "not one of the enslaved received a penny in the form of compensation." Asked about the LP's motives, she told the media: “Someone needs to tell the truth." LISTEN>>>


Taking on such privileged white men is the new album from fabled Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon, released as people worldwide rallied for International Women's Day on March 8. Discussing the song "I'm A Man" on the edgy, experimental record, she said: "It was sort of inspired by Republican conservatives like Josh Hawley, going around saying that feminism destroyed masculinity, that it's not fair and feeling like victims... It's kind of hilarious to me that he feels like a victim, or that men are being victimised. Everything's dominated by white male power. But up through the '50s and into the ‘60s, when men still had the masculine role of protector and saviour — you know, the John Wayne, Ronald Reagan era masculinity — when that sort of faded and the culture changed... they became consumers like women, they were marketed to. So it's really capitalism that's spinning things this way." LISTEN>>>


Industrial metal firebrands Ministry mock that same masculinity on the opening track of their new album, released a week earlier. On "BDE", which stands for "Big Dick Energy", singer Al Jourgensen sneers at "horny little boys full of hormones and hate, waging war on women 'cause they can't get a date". But he also aims his crosshairs at many other targets throughout the album, from racists and billionaires to climate change deniers and their corporations. "The documentation of facts that are given are constantly met with a dose of derision," he despairs on the album's lead single, "Just Stop Oil". "People are angry, and tensions are heightened. People are frightenеd, we're headеd off a cliff now. What do we want? They want action, action. What do we want? To let it all burn. What do we want? Just stop oil." LISTEN>>>


Stopping oil is a primary concern for Native American rapper Frank Waln on his new album, Songs Against Colonialism, released on March 22. On "Oil 4 Blood", which was first released as a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, he raps: "Make everything Red. Words of my ancestors up in my head. Food for thought, our kids underfed. Our oil is mud, they want the earth dead. Oil for blood, oil for blood. Making you rich, you soil my love. Oil for blood, oil for blood. My Mother is clean, that oil is mud." Indigenous people facing the same struggles against fossil fuel companies in Australia held the "Treaty Day Out" music festival on March 2. But Waln's album documents the sordid history of such agreements. On "Treaties" a newsreader announces: "Since the founding of this country the US government has made and broken over 500 treaties with various Indian tribes all across our nation." LISTEN>>>


Well aware of treaty treachery is electronic Maori musician Mokotron, whose people have been fighting the controversial Treaty Of Waitangi since it founded New Zealand in 1840. On March 22, he released his impeccably produced, bass-heavy remix album United Tribes Of Bass, on which Big Fat Raro takes his song "Colonised Existence" and creates a response, "Decolonize Existence". “They responded to my despair with hope and aroha," said Mokotron. "The remix is a lesson for me." Also damning what he calls the "ecocide" of colonists is former Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett on his robust new album, released a week earlier. But whereas Garrett has previously been defiant about his controversial political career, he appears to be finally showing some contrition on its closing track. On "Everybody", he confesses: “I find myself asking, ‘Could I have done more?’ I find myself asking, ‘Should I have done more?’" LISTEN>>> 


Garrett is a master musician revered worldwide. But even he pales in comparison with lesser-known jazz musician Amirtha Kidambi, whose new album, released on the same day, threatens to blow musical minds as it detonates colonialism. Kidambi's freewheeling vocals are matched only by the astounding acrobatics of her band as she constantly pushes the envelope in addressing Palestine, Asian-Black solidarity, oppressed Indian farmers and police violence. In the liner notes she describes how she learnt alto saxophone while playing at protests. “We noticed that holding instruments and playing music, often raucously and even joyously, was an immediate diffuser of tension," she writes. "I remember warding off arrest just by playing and singing, with an officer unsure of how to apprehend me with the horn in my hands.” Her album is probably the most original record you'll hear all year. LISTEN>>> 


Throughout March, other musicians joined Kidambi in slamming Palestinians' genocide. Welsh singer Charlotte Church received death threats for defending Palestinians on March 10. The same day, electronic musician Saliah withdrew from Adelaide music festival WOMADelaide in protest over treatment of Palestinian ensemble 47Soul. Reneé Rapp called for a ceasefire at the GLAAD Awards on March 14, one day after more than 100 bands pulled out of the South by Southwest festival, including every Irish band on the bill, over its US military sponsorship. On March 15, two days before St Patrick's Day, German Irish folk punks Mr Irish Bastard released their new album, which deals with Irish life in the US. On "No Justice, No Peace" they express solidarity with African-Americans. But it's the anthemic "We’re All Irish on St Patrick’s Day" that's bound to send festival-goers into a frenzy worldwide. LISTEN>>>


Australian law firm Birchgrove Legal referred Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the International Criminal Court on March 5, accusing him and his cabinet of being accessories to the genocide in Gaza. Days later, Palestinian refugees fleeing Gaza for Australia had their visas cancelled mid-flight, as Australian police continued to arrest pro-Palestinian protesters. Seemingly showing more compassion than the whole Australian cabinet is the strong-selling new album from English protest singer Joe Solo, released on March 4. On "City Of Sanctuary", the long-time activist sings: "You've got food here. You've got shelter. You've got a home from home. You've come half way around the world, my brother, and there's no more need to be alone. If you're a refugee you're alright by me. If you're a refugee you're alright by me. If you're a refugee you're alright by me, in this city of sanctuary." LISTEN>>>

[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. Mat Ward's latest single is Your Vote's A Joke.]

Want to get this column every month? Just email matwardmusic@gmail.com and I’ll add you to my monthly email that includes a link to this column here at Green LeftYes, I want to read this column every month.

Read about more political albums.

Stream our new “Best protest songs of 2024” playlist on Spotify. This replaces the previous “Political albums” playlist, that was getting too big at more than 700 albums.

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