10 new political albums to keep you sane during self isolation

February 27, 2020
10 new political albums that you've got to hear album artwork

Here's a look back at February's political news and the best new albums that related to it. What albums would you suggest? Comment on TwitterFacebook, or email


On February 1, Australians protested against Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Religious Discrimination Bill, which would allow people to discriminate against LGBTI people. That such a bill would be introduced in a country famed for its annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, held each February, is surprising, to say the least. As Mardi Gras loomed and Morrison sought to drag the country backwards, Polish techno deejay Monster carried on pulling her country forwards with the release of a new Resident Advisor mix on February 11. She used the release to promote her Polish Oramics platform, which helps run parties "centering women and non-binary people", and recently has released compilations in solidarity with the LGBTI Polish community, as well as the Kurdish movement in Rojava. As a result, she said, "the position of women in the Polish scene is not questioned anymore, homophobia is vocally unacceptable ... and these are all quite recent developments". LISTEN>>>


Morrison was criticised for prioritising work on his Religious Discrimination Bill instead of responding to Australia's bushfires in January. Reflecting on the fires and divisive politicians like Morrison and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is the new album from folk artist Fred Smith, which "captures 21st century Australia under pressure from drought to digital overload, bushfires to Bondi". In "Open Country", he sings: "Through the countryside the bushfires were blazing, I saw people fight together, everybody lends a hand. And out in the great dry west I hear the old stockmen talking about the good times and the hard times that had fallen on the land. And I say: understand, it’s our land, I’m Australie and there’s plenty of space in me. So Pauline, Pauline love, do you think you know the answers, do you even know the question, are we watching the same game? Your politics of fear is your politics of anger, but you’re not the only one to use the politics of blame." LISTEN>>> 


Also fighting the fires with fire was US punk Amanda Palmer, who calls Australia her "second home". On February 21, she teamed up with Australian pals such as chart-topper Missy Higgins and Butchulla songman Fred Leone to release an album of mostly reinterpreted Australian classics, with all profits going to Firesticks Alliance, an Indigenous-led network teaching cultural land burning. On opener "My Favorite Things (BUSHFIRE EDITION)", she twists the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune with the bitterly ironic words: "Evacuations and cars people live in, kangaroos burning and birds with no wings, these are a few of my favourite things. Beautiful sunsets ironically coloured, homes with no power and kids with no mothers, smug politicians with necks we could wring, these are a few of my favourite things. Boris and Mexit and Scotty and ISIS, bushfires and wildfires and climates in crisis, silver white icebergs that melt into springs, these are a few of my favourite things." LISTEN>>> 


Australia's fires were mostly extinguished by unseasonal floods at the start of February, but fires continued to burn in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. On February 7, legendary Brazilian thrash metal pioneers Sepultura released their latest album, packed with typically progressive lyrics. On "Guardians of Earth", they sing: "The source of our life. There's no second chance. Total demise. Blinded by faith. Cold blooded murder. Now - Reverse what we've done. Save our future. We'll never give in. Preserve our future. Never give up. Fight till the end. Never give up." Towards the end of the month, it seemed their message might be getting through, as Brazil's environment-wrecking president, Jair Bolsonaro, announced he was making a trip to the US to try try to convince climate-improving electric car company Tesla to build a factory in his country. Tesla did not immediately respond to mainstream media requests for comment on the proposal. MORE>>>  


These days, experimental electronic artist Grimes is best known as the girlfriend of controversial Tesla CEO Elon Musk. But back in 2015, we called her last album, Art Angels, the most sonically original album of the year. On February 21 this year, she released her new album, on which she plays the titular character Miss Anthropocene, a climate-wrecking goddess bringing on the demise of the human race. She hopes the extreme concept might alert fans to the urgency of the Earth's situation. “People don’t care about it because we’re being guilted,” she said. “I see the polar bear and want to kill myself. No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful.” Towards the end of the month, her boyfriend and father to her unborn child, Elon Musk, courted more controversy as he fought environmental protesters to clear a German forest that was on a site where he intended to build a new Tesla factory. MORE>>>


Another controversial progressive, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was also being fought by environmental protesters. Indigenous activists blocked a rail line to protest against one of his beloved pipelines being built on unceded territory, prompting Trudeau to call for "dialogue and mutual respect" on February 18. A rejoinder can be found on the humorous new album from indigenous punkabilly duo Jason Camp And The Posers. On "Silver Tongued White Man", the single of which features Trudeau on the artwork, they sing: "Call me by number and give me a Band. Why should we feel grateful? You’ve taken our land. You wanna reconcile but won’t say genocide. Tell me what you’ve done to our kind? Silver tongued white man. Why should I reconcile? You’ve taken my land. A nine inch knife with a word in the ear. Tell the UN that the choice was clear. You’re sure pretty while you’re closing a deal. Shake hands for the cameras on the land that you steal." LISTEN>>>


Yet Trudeau does look progressive when compared with US President Donald Trump, who was called worse than Hitler this month by intellectual Noam Chomsky. The Nazis tried to wipe out only part of the human race, Chomsky argued, but Trump is set to wipe out all of humanity by abolishing climate goals and scrapping nuclear deals. Taking aim at their president are southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, who mock Trump's "thoughts and prayers" for victims of mass shootings on their new album. On "Thoughts and Prayers", they sing: "When my children's eyes look at me and they ask me to explain, it hurts me that I have to look away. The powers that be are in for shame and comeuppance when Generation Lockdown has their day. They'll throw the bums all out and drain the swamp for real, perp walk them down the Capitol steps and show them how it feels. Tramp the dirt down, Jesus, you can pray the rod they'll spare. Stick it up your ass with your useless thoughts and prayers." LISTEN>>>    


Trump has famously mocked teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is lauded on the new album by US folk rockers The Nields. On earworm "The Kids Always Get It", they sing: "Only the kids say, 'we've gotta teach ourselves to fight cause the future is ours', and the kids always get it, the kids always get it, the kids always get it. I'm watching Greta Thunberg on TV and she's asking all the congress people why they don't believe in the evidence the scientists have found, and we don't have time to wait for you to come around, by the time you do we will have all drowned. The kids always get it, the kids always get it, the kids always get it." The band — made up of sisters Katryn and Nerissa Nields, and Nerissa's husband David, who took Nerissa's surname when they married — also tackle injustice at the US border (“Goodbye, Mexico” and “Jesus Was a Refugee”), the fragility of US democracy (“America the Beautiful”) and Trump himself (“Tyrants Always Fall”). MORE>>>  


In the country of Trump's friend, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leftist folk group Grup Yorum went on trial on February 14 on "trumped up" terror charges. Last March, eight members of the band were detained during a raid on Istanbul's Idil Cultural Centre, where the band like to perform. They were accused of belonging to the DHKP-C, a militant Marxist group that the Turkish government considers a terrorist organisation. Conjuring up such repression is _Data_Dump_01, the latest album from electronic geopolitical duo Haram Tapes, one of whom is based in Istanbul. The album is a companion piece to their acclaimed long-player, Haram. "Haram is a shadowy musical discourse on the displacement of people, suppression in the guise of religious obedience and the seemingly inevitable global move towards authoritarianism," they said. "It is the soundtrack to those of us living in and living through these murky and uncertain times." LISTEN>>>


Trump gave the green light for Erdogan to bomb the revolutionary, feminist Kurdish movement in Rojava when the US recently pulled out troops from the area. Hitting home the horrors of such wars worldwide is the new album from Irish coal miner Matt McGinn, released on February 3. "It started as a simple idea to reach out to artists from war-affected areas across the world to unite their voices in a single song, speaking out about the futility of war," he said. "Three years later, this basic project has evolved into a full length album, a documentary, collaborations with some of Ireland’s finest songwriters, some of the world’s top musicians and of course new found friends and relationships with musicians from all over the world who have shared their talents and their stories." It all kicked off with the widely acclaimed "Bubblegum", "inspired by the diary of a teenage girl who lived through ‘the Troubles’ of Northern Ireland". LISTEN>>> 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Ward has been writing for Green Left Weekly since 2009. He also wrote the book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country and makes political music. Last month, he released a new concept album about the media. You can download the deluxe version free for a limited time here.

Stream our political albums playlist on Spotifyhere.

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