5.12.2005

How to Clean Everything



I want to say a couple of words about Propagandhi. This is a band that seems to have fallen by the wayside, a victim of both an overwhelming, yet tasty side-project (The Weakerthans), and total aesthetic cooptation by mainstream po(o)p-punk. Let me explain:

Propagandhi plays loud, melodic punk rock full of big fuzzy guitars that play catchy riffs and hooks. For a number of years now, that's been the sort of material produced by a seemingly endless progression of fuzzy-wristbanded clone bands, beginning somewhere around Green Day's crossover to MTV, and reaching it's vacuous pinnacle with Avril Levigne's complete sk8tr praxis. But give Propagandhi a chance, and they'll prove - have proven - that militant Canadians can rise above.

For one thing, you will never in your life find a punk band that plays tighter than Propagandhi. They can turn on a dime at 90mph and make it sound easy. Second, while pop-punks tend to sing about nothing and take it very seriously, Propagandhi manages to be one of the most overtly political bands you've ever heard (just count the Chomsky sound bites), without making themselves out to be some sort of vegan messiahs (see their faq page). Now don't get me wrong, these guys can be pretty blunt. After all, the CD art for Less Talk, More Rock was a giant anarchy symbol surrounded by the words "anti-racist, pro-feminist, gay-positive, animal-frendly". They let you know they've got firm principles, and they'll tell you about them as long as they're not too drunk, but they're not so pompous as to adopt some kind of class-warrior posture. If you'll allow me to quote from the song "Resisting Tyrranical Government":
"yes, i recognize the irony/that the system i oppose affords me the luxury/of biting the hand that feeds/but that's exactly why priviledged fucks like me/should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream/'til everyone has everything they need."
Their first two albums, 1993's How to Clean Everything and 1996's Less Talk, More Rock are both listenable all the durn way through, as is the 1998 unreleased material comp, Where Quantity is Job #1. Their last album, 2000's Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes, has a significantly more hardcore/metal sound. You kind of get the feeling that they wanted to take the band in a new direction, but lost their way a little bit. My guess is that this had somehting to do with the ascendency of the Weakerthans at the expense of Propagandhi.

There are a number of songs available on their website, and if you're a fan of Our Band Could Be Your Life, the Propagandhi bio page will provide you with a couple minutes of entertainment.

SUGGESTED TRACKS: "And We Thought Nation-States Were A Bad Idea", "Refusing to Be A Man" (esp. the alternate version from WQiJ#1), "Rio De San Atlanta, Manitoba", "The Only Good Fascist is A Very Dead Fascist"

4 Comments:

Blogger d said...

my punk knowledge is sparse (mostly 'cause if I can't decipher lyrics, I'm usually not interested. I need something to hold onto dammit!) but I definitely need to check out a band if they have a song called "The Only Good Fascist is A Very Dead Fascist". it's the "very" that gives it that extra touch of class.

12:15 PM, May 12, 2005  
Blogger liz o. said...

As a testament to the band's bluntness, how about "Ska Sucks?" That song was all over my high school's parking lot in 1994.

12:09 PM, May 13, 2005  
Blogger Phil said...

Yeah, that song used to bug me back when I was a big ska-lover in high school. Actually, now that I'm not really into ska, I still don't think it was one of their better songs, musically speaking. I'm willing to overlook it.

1:29 PM, May 13, 2005  
Blogger defender of public said...

fuck you, rudy

9:11 PM, May 17, 2005  

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