10 new political albums that will make you think twice

March 30, 2022
10 new political albums that will make you think twice

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 - it's 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 2022.


On March 8, companies tweeting support for International Women's Day were shamed by a bot showing how much less they were actually paying women. The same day, chart-topping pop star Missy Higgins, who released a political EP days earlier, led a campaign to get female-focused radio station Double J an FM licence. A fortnight later, Melbourne punks Pinch Points released their new album, which tackles women's brutal oppression. On "Haruspex", they sing: "We talk and talk while women get deader... We scare ourselves to sleep at night - scare ourselves in broad daylight. Scare ourselves on the bus; what dress is long enough?" Over spiky, bouncy, catchy riffs, the album takes on a whole world of politics, from the gig economy and climate anxiety to mental health and Aboriginal deaths in custody. “We’re angry because there are things in the world worth improving,” said the band. LISTEN>>>  


On March 15, Aboriginal politician and former magistrate Pat O’Shane called for police accountability to mark the International Day Against Police Brutality. Her demand came as the family of Aboriginal teenager Kumanjayi Walker told people to "keep fighting for justice" after an all-white jury acquitted the cop who shot him dead in Australia's Northern Territory. On March 25, Aboriginal musician Xavier Rudd released his new album. It features Northern Territory Indigenous rapper J-MILLA, who shot to fame with his song about Walker's killing, "Unlock The System". On Rudd's track "Ball And Chain", J-MILLA spits: "This ball and chain has incarcerated my freedom. Born into the system and wasn’t given a reason. Same cycle continues and follows the same sequence. Screaming for change and it’s bringing out inner demons." LISTEN>>>


As Aboriginal people continued to fight against new coal mines across Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the country would be sending 70,000 tonnes of free coal to war-ravaged Ukraine. The coal would be accompanied by another favourite Aussie export, weapons. The announcement came days before the release of a coal-themed, collaborative album between British punks The Mekons and US country band Freakwater. "Both bands mined British folk and American classic country music for three-chord songs whose lyrics fit the nihilism or political rage or outlandish joy of the moment," they said. "Many of these songs were about coal mining. Traditional songs about heroic union organisers, deadly mine disasters, wailing orphans, or mining's grim history of economic and ecological devastation fit seamlessly alongside each band's original material." And so the album was born. LISTEN>>>   


If you'd like to make a less controversial contribution to Ukraine than Australia's coal and weapons, try the new fundraising album Slava Ukraini! Its songs range in style from contemplative classical to experimental screeds against war. All proceeds go to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which helps refugees fleeing war. Such refugees include Ukrainian band Dakhabrakha. The New York Times interviewed them by phone as they fled the war zone on March 3. In the interview, they described how they'd been protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin for years, but had to cancel their latest tour as war broke out. The same day, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was jailed by Putin, announced she had raised $US6.7 million for Ukraine by selling a non-fungible token of its flag. But she warned against the West's sanctions on Russia, saying they only hurt the poor. LISTEN>>>   


The new album by Belgium's Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul points out the insanity of such wars. On the track "Esperanto", Charlotte Adigéry sings: "Don't say, 'We need to build a wall.' Say, 'I'm a world citizen, I don't believe in borders.'" Appropriately, the album covers a whole world of politics, from Belgium's colonialism to anti-Asian racism. It even mocks stereotypes about white people. On March 11, untypical white man Tobias Forge released Impera, the new album by his Swedish metal band, Ghost, which rages against stupid white men worldwide. Discussing the album, which skewers "bloated nations" and "empty leaders", he said: "It’s almost eerie how we’re basically repeating the 1900s again. We have just gone through what would be an equal to Spanish flu in the beginning of 1918 and, currently, we are on the brink of what could become World War III.” LISTEN>>>


On March 17, fleeing Ukrainians were allowed to enter the US through its southern border with Mexico, despite asylum seekers from South and Central America being turned away. The same day, Peru’s top constitutional court ruled that former President Alberto Fujimori could be freed from prison, where he had been sentenced to serve until 2032 for human rights violations. Summing up the anger is the new EP Fujimori, from Chilean punks La Octava Dimension. The record opens with a speech given by Fujimori while he was on trial in 2007. The decision to free Fujimori drew an angry rebuke from Peru's new President, Pedro Castillo. But his new, leftist government has also proved controversial. In one tweet, new prime minister Guido Bellido eulogised former Cuban President Fidel Castro for warning that homosexuals had no place in the revolution. LISTEN>>>


Suggesting revolutionary politics also have no place among homosexuals, on March 5, police ejected an "original '78er" from her seat in the Sydney Cricket Ground for protesting during the Mardi Gras parade. Barbara Karpinski was removed after standing briefly in the stadium seating area holding a poster calling for peace in Ukraine. She was wearing a T-shirt of a news photo of herself as a schoolgirl getting arrested at the first Mardi Gras in 1978, for which police only recently apologised. Her ejection came days after radical US gay country band Lavender Country released their first album in 50 years. Frontperson Patrick Haggerty said he'd feared releasing a gay country album in 1973 would "doom me to obscurity". “I was right for 35, 40 years, because that’s exactly what happened," he said. "I considered myself a gay Marxist activist, and that was my true passion and my true calling.” LISTEN>>>


On March 18, Rupert Murdoch-controlled media outlet Fox Sports sacked Australian football commentator Tom Morris after he was recorded making homophobic, racist and sexist remarks. Three days earlier, acclaimed US blues musician Eric Gales described how his new album was inspired by Fox TV host Laura Ingraham’s “very disrespectful” suggestion basketballer LeBron James should “shut up and dribble” rather than taking the knee in a peaceful protest for Black Lives Matter. Gales hit out on social media in support of James. “Someone then made a statement to me to just shut up and play," he said. "And that’s the last thing that you want to tell somebody.” Other blues musicians taking a stand include Popa Chubby, who rails against bigotry on his new album, released on March 18, and Fred Chapellier, who laments the destruction of "Mother Earth" on his new record, out days earlier. LISTEN>>>   


Also calling for protests worldwide is the new album of strong protest songs from US folk musician Dusty The Kid. On "Raise The Banner", he sings: "Raise me a banner of the deepest black and let me see it wave. Every city street and every railroad track, for the days of love and rage. Raise me a banner of the people's red, every farm and every town. For the workers lost, for the blood we bled and never let it down. For the mothers and the daughters who've been shackled from birth, to the working class kids never told of their worth. To the innocent shot dead in the middle of the street, to the voice under the hand that's just been trying to speak. There are other ways to go, there are other roads to take. We don't have to keep on dying for the rich man's mistakes." On March 7, Unions Australia pointed out that, after two years of a global pandemic, wage growth for workers was at a record low. LISTEN>>>


Also fuming at the war on the poor is the new album from British punks One Eyed God. On its title track, they seethe: "'A land fit for heroes,' that's what they said. Where veterans are homeless and fucked in the head. They sanction your benefits and leave you for dead. Lives are cheaper than bog roll or bread... The masters have broken the workers' back. Now they're on Jobseekers, caning the smack... Demonise poor folk, say they're no good. The boot's on your neck and your face is in the mud. A land fit for heroes is drowning in blood." On March 16, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Saudi Arabia to urge it to increase oil output, days after the country beheaded 81 people. As British media analysts Media Lens pointed out, Russia's war on Ukraine had buried any coverage of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning of global annihilation. LISTEN>>>

Video: Xavier Rudd, J-MILLA - Ball And Chain. Xavier Rudd.

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 Left. Yes, I want to read this column every month.

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. You can 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.

Stream Green Left TV's political music playlist.

The multi-award-winning journalist John Pilger says: "There are few other newspapers — radical or any other kind — that draw together news and analysis that is as well informed, credible, and non-sectarian as Green Left. Its work has influenced mine and has been a beacon to those who believe the press ought to be an agent of the people."

Download all of Mat Ward's political music albums free for a limited time.

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