One Year Later: An Election Day Playlist | Rock Candy

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One Year Later: An Election Day Playlist

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 7:05 AM

click to enlarge Woody Guthrie, 1943
  • Woody Guthrie, 1943

Earlier this fall, a handful of arts and entertainment editors from alternative newspapers around the country got together and created a playlist, each recommending a piece of protest music from an artist in their city. On this, the anniversary of Election Day 2016, we offer that collaboration in all its multi-formatted glory for your enjoyment and, maybe, your inspiration. There's no telling what the political landscape will look like a year from now, but if this playlist is any indication, American musicians will have something to say about it.

Keith Morris, "What Happened to Your Party?"

Charlottesville, Virginia


Known to at least one of his fellow musicians as “our rockin’ protest grouch in chief,” Keith Morris has a slew of protest songs, such as “Psychopaths & Sycophants,” “Prejudiced & Blind” and “Brownsville Market,” from his Dirty Gospel album, plus “Blind Man,” “Peaceful When You Sleep” and “Border Town” from Love Wounds & Mars. His latest release: “What Happened to Your Party?" (Erin O'Hare)


Thunderfist, "Suck It" (demo)

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sure, there are more articulate ways to denounce Trump. And revolution by example—countering blustery, bigoted bullshit with artfully composed, well-reasoned takedowns—is how we'll effect change. That doesn't mean we can't occasionally vent our rage by strapping on Les Pauls, cranking up Marshalls, raising middle fingers and offering a blues-based, punk-rock invitation to fellatio. And maybe also, as the final, snarling chord slides into silence, calling him a "fat baby fuckface." (Randy Harward)



Dooley, Lor Roger, and TLow, ""CIT4DT"

Baltimore, Maryland


This Boosie-tinged Thee Donald diss from Baltimore which dropped long before inauguration still thrills: "Boy ain't even white, you yellow/ You said you'd date your own daughter you a sicko." Stakes are high here too—the mastermind behind it, Dooley, is Muslim for example—and right-wing semi-fascist snowflakes took the song totally seriously, denounced it as a "death threat" ("CIT4DT" stands for "chopper in the trunk for Donald Trump"), and bemoaned its Baltimore origins, where protest morphed into property damage and as far as a lot of us were concerned verged gloriously on revolution. Meanwhile, the trio responsible for it thought the shit was hilarious. (Brandon Soderberg)




Lonely Horse, “Devil in the White House”

San Antonio, Texas

Shots fired! Lonely Horse come out guns-a-blazing with the track “Devil in the White House." Opening with a sludgy cadence that crescendos into a tumultuous rock 'n' roll explosion, the "desert rock" duo of Nick Long and Travis Hild make very clear their feelings about the 45th POTUS. (Chris Conde)


Lingua Franca, “A Man’s World“

Athens, Georgia

Shortly after Inauguration Day, two Athens studios invited 19 local bands to commemorate the dawn of the Trump Age, tracking 20 songs in a marathon 48-hour session. While much of the resulting album, Athens Vs. Trump Comp 2017, is suitably bleak, ascendant emcee Lingua Franca’s “A Man’s World” stands out for its sheer defiance. “Frenzied and indiscreet,” it’s a fiery feminist anthem for the resistance. (Gabe Vodicka)


OG Swaggerdick, "Fuck Donald Trump"

Boston, Massachusetts


Among diehard hip-hop heads as well as artists, Boston's underground rap scene is renowned as one of the most lyrically elaborate and intellectual anywhere. To that end, over the past year, such acts as STL GLD (Moe Pope + The Arcitype) and more recently The Perceptionists (Mr. Lif + Akrobatik) have released their most compelling works to date, largely inspired by the mess that Donald Trump has made (though not always naming-checking Dolt 45 directly). But when it comes to straight up protestingand verbally impaling the potty-mouthed POTUS, there's something undeniably satisfying, even admirable about the Hub's own OG Swaggerdick's simple and straightforward election anthem, "Fuck Donald Trump." From the fittingly filthy rhymes—"never give props to a punk ass trick / motherfuck Donald Trump he can suck my dick"—to the strangers on the street who gladly join along in rapping in the video, they're protest lyrics that you'll still be able to remember and perhaps even rap for relief on occasions when the president leaves you otherwise speechless. (Chris Faraone)


Clint Breeze and The Groove, "Blood Splatter"

Indianapolis, Indiana

Featuring over a dozen guest contributors, including poets, rappers and jazz musicians, Nappy Head weaves a phantasmagoric assemblage of words and sounds into a razor-sharp critique of racial oppression in modern America. "I wanted to symbolize the state of oppression that Black people experience every day. From not getting fair treatment in the justice system, to getting shot and killed by law enforcement, to being unfairly treated in the workforce — you name it. I wanted to make a statement on how we as Black people view this oppressive society that we live in. I also wanted to give a different perspective from white people. I have a couple of my friends who are white on the album speaking about the nature of white privilege," Breeze says. "Blood Splatter" is the record's most cutting track; featuring spoken word artist Too Black, with cascading cymbal cracks and careening sax. (Kyle Long / Katherine Coplen)




The After Lashes, “We the Sheeple”

Coachella Valley, California


The After Lashes is a new all-female punk band from the Coachella Valley that features Ali Saenz, the wife of former Dwarves and Excel drummer Greg Saenz. Frontwoman Esther Sanchez explained the inspiration behind the band's song "We the Sheeple." "'We the Sheeple' was an easy song to write, because it came from a place of frustration and growing resentment toward the current powers that be, and, of course, more specifically, Donald Trump,” she said. “We have a president who calls anything he doesn't like 'fake news' while simultaneously spending an insane amount of time tweeting nonsense and lies like a crazy person. “The policies he intends to establish are harmful to pretty much everyone who is not wealthy; unfortunately, so many who voted for him were unknowingly voting against their own best interests. The song is very much about uniting against a tyrant, because that is precisely what we believe Trump to be." (Brian Blueskye)




Priests, "Right Wing"

Washington, D.C.


There's been no shortage of scathing political protest songs coming out of D.C. since, well, the birth of punk. But in recent years, post-punk quartet Priests have succeeded in reminding the rest of the country that D.C. is, and always has been, pissed the fuck off. "Right Wing," off the band's breakthrough EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power so perfectly captures the ass-backwardsness of living in a country controlled by capitalists, fascists, racists, and war mongers. "Everything everything/ So right wing/ Everything everything/ So right wing/ Purse searches, pep rallies/ Purse searches, SUVs," sings Katie Alice Greer. It reads like a short, poetic treatise on how the toxicity of right wing ideals infects everyday life. (Matt Cohen)




Withdraw, "Disgust"

Columbia, South Carolina

On its 2017 debut EP Home, Columbia’s Withdraw oscillate violently between bristling, pedal-to-the floor emo (think At the Drive-In) and brutal, clawing crust punk. And on “Disgust,” the band proves the virtue of their versatility, shifting from an unflinchingly blackened hardcore blitz that bashes sexual abusers to a more expansive, anthemic coda that seeks to lift up the victims — “You are not tarnished!” It’s a potent statement, a searing declaration of allyship in musical realm more often derided for problematic gender politics.

(Jordan Lawrence)


NODON, “Alt-Wrong”

Burlington, Vermont

NODON are an anti-fascist, anti-hate power-punk duo born out of the 2016 presidential election. Seething with caustic epithets, their songs condemn xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy and, above all, President Donald Trump. “Alt-Wrong,” from their 2017 EP, Covfefe, delivers a swift and vicious kick to the alt-right’s figurative crotch. Over razor-sharp guitar riffs and seething drums, they scream their battle cry: “Annihilate this hate! Not right! Alt-wrong!” (Jordan Adams)




Rmllw2llz ““So Amerikkkan”

Louisville, Kentucky

Nationwide, when you think of the Louisville music scene, your mind probably bounces to My Morning Jacket, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy or maybe even White Reaper — all who are great — but our city’s hip-hop scene is packed with poignant hip-hop artists, and if you’re looking for a pure protest song, look no further than Rmllw2llz’s “So Amerikkkan,” where he says “Fuck Trump, he’s a bum and Hillary trash, too.” The song was released a few months ago, but, if you give it a listen, you can hear a lot of the country’s past, present and future angst packed into a few powerful minutes. (Scott Recker)




Michael Bone, “My Peace Will Outlive You”

Chico, California


Michael Bone is a Chico musician, husband and father who has a day job teaching music to developmentally disabled kids, a night job playing drums for jazz combo Bogg, and dozens of side projects including running the 1day Song Club. The latter is a songwriting group that receives a one-word prompt every other week, after which participants are tasked with writing, recording and submitting a song to be posted online (at www.1dayclub.com) within 24 hours. “My Peace Will Outlive You,” an angst-ridden yet hopeful slice of psychedelic pop, is Bone's contribution to the prompt of “Trump.” (Jason Cassidy)




Dais, “Atrocity”

Rochester, New York

Dais tells you exactly where it stands on “Atrocity,” the first track off its self-titled debut EP. The post-hardcore band makes a racing, pounding apology to the Earth before (sort of) slowing down to confront the powers that be. “Show us a tyrant / And we’ll show you our grievance / Fuck that, we will fight this” vocalist Travis Rankin yells and strains in defiance. “The person who the States had elected was talking about withdrawing us from The Paris Climate Accord,” Rankin says. “We felt betrayed and began writing this song. It’s an apology to the Earth for us not being as good to it as it has been to us.” (Jake Clapp)


Joshua Asante, "No Time For Despair"
Little Rock, Arkansas

Asante, best known for fronting the bands Amasa Hines and Velvet Kente, is also a photographer; someone who delights in the tangible process of making art. It's in his latest work as a solo artist that this becomes most evident, Asante hunching down over a briefcase stuffed with loop stations and processors. Of "No Time For Despair," Asante says: "In times of distress and turmoil, it's easy to get kinda caught up in the collective despair, so the lyrics are very much about, like, "Yeah, times are tumultuous, but there's also a lot of really wonderful magical things that are going on in your life. ... That is probably the supreme act of defiance; to be joyful, to be loving." (Stephanie Smittle)

Protest Songs: No Time for Despair from Gerard Matthews on Vimeo.


MC E-Turn, “Ill Legal Alien”

Orlando, Florida

Everything about Orlando MC E-Turn is a particularly eloquent middle-finger in the face of Donald Trump. The Persian American, outspoken, femme MC is a firebrand on the mic, and her lyrics deftly meld the personal with the political in ways that hardcore dudes could only dream of. The fury and technique with which she drop bars - and other, usually male, MCs - on stage is the proud definition of a nasty woman. Her anthemic "Ill Legal Alien" may predate Trump's election, but the Swamburger-produced track (Solillaquists of Sound) is still furiously of-the-moment. (Matthew Moyer and Bao Le-Huu)







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