Hear this. Now.
Considering the changes our socio-political landscape has and will continue to go through, you’d be something of a dim bulb to not expect some portion of your favorite artists (and even your least favorite) to expressively and musically chime in with their thoughts. From Woodie Guthrie to Joan Baez to Rage Against The Machine, music has always been a tool/art form/vehicle used to reflect the times in which we live, push boundaries, call for justice and encourage awareness at points along our historical timeline; at some times more so than others, but it’s never been just a trend. But with an election that went much further south than most predicted, expect that “trend” to be engaged with a purposeful vengeance.
The Regrettes – “Seashore”
See the Los Angeles riot garage rock quartet, The Regrettes and their recently released song, “Seashore”: a plainspoken and well-crafted “fuck you” to all things patriarchal and condescending that resonates beautifully in the wake of election 2016. Regardless of what side of the fence you ideologically fall on, President-elect Donald Trump is now a thing and its left us with a country obviously and painfully divided, particularly because the results of the election feel like the strongest backlash against, not only social progression, but human progression.
The Regrettes front woman Lydia Night – with an already defiant headspace – recognizes what she has to offer as a musician in being part of future political and social change.
“This election was extremely shocking and eye opening to me.” Lydia stated. “I was completely blown away and confused by the results. My job as an artist is to use my art to empower the people who feel small due to Trump being our president.”
Don’t get washed up on the seashore, folks.
Highly Suspect – The Boy Who Died Wolf
So you’re some guys in a cover band, you move to New York, you write some songs and play some shows, eventually release your debut album in 2015 and that sucker picks up not one, but two Grammy nominations. What the fuck, Highly Suspect?
That f-word is fairly relevant as Highly Suspect drop it with effortless frequency – in conversation and in song. What’s as remarkable as a little known band’s debut record getting a significant nod of approval from the Grammys is how hard rock-elegant and refined that band’s expletive-laced follow up genuinely is on the musical palate.
Dig into their recent sophomore release, The Boy Who Died Wolf, and you’ll find the familiar, sprawled out, semi-narcotic, desert rock ode to California dreamin’, “Seratonia” but it gets richer. Odder. More eye/ear-opening. More throwback and progressive. Yes, simultaneously. As raw and menacing as it is moody and emotionally reflective, .…Wolf is Johnny Stevens, Rich Meyer and Ryan Meyer straight up injecting Elton John into their atmosphere (“Chicago” is barroom beautiful and regretful as fuck), hard edged blues-rock, space jams in your face (“Wolf” and a guitar outro that could eat its young), shoring up their punk cred in case of doubt (in and out in two minutes, “Look Alive, Stay Alive”) and brandishing threats of gay sex at the insidiously pious and self-righteous. That would be the sonically basic, “you’re an asshole with an ugly point of view”– thing going on in “Viper Strike” which was a post-election leak along with the statement:
“In light of today’s events we think it’s appropriate to leak this song. Remember to love each other in this time. We call upon you to help those who are suffering and protect the rights of our fellow human beings that have worked so hard to get them. We always have and always will fight for equality, in whatever capacity we can. Count your blessings and show no fear. This song is called Viper Strike. It is not for the faint of heart. MCID”
That song not being for the faint of heart is straight up truth, but the album’s lead off single “My Name Is Human” is for every heart and – like the album – burns with a luminous and affirming intensity, sometime dark, sometimes not, definitely soulful. Highly Suspect is still that band with a sex, drugs and rock and roll ethos that could, easily, double as shtick in the wrong hands, but I’m still sensing more than mere pretense. Stevens and the Meyer twins are that band with a mission of music made for more than mere consumption: they want it for sensation and satiation. And it’s the shifts in tone and temperature along with the heightened sense of musical selves (varied as they may be) that make The Boy Who Died Wolf a full-bodied and damned satisfying rock experience.