Who else wants more political albums like these 10?
By Mat Ward
Here's this month's radical record round-up, from Trump-taunting singers to Clinton-criticising rappers. It actually features far more than 10 albums (count them). What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment on Twitter or Facebook. Videos not playing? Try a bigger screen.
1. WILD ROOTS FERAL FUTURES - COMPILATION 2016
At the start of the month, it emerged that all references to Australia had been removed from a UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, saying the information could harm tourism. The report, World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate, originally had a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef and sections on forests in Kakadu and Tasmania. Australia was the only inhabited continent not to appear in the report and no other country was removed. At the end of the month, activists on the other side of the world were taking a more sustainable approach to tourism with the eighth annual Wild Roots Feral Futures eco-defence camp-out in the forests of Colorado in the US. It was accompanied by a 17-track fundraising album featuring apt contributions such as The Rosy Oaks' "Peaceful Demonstration", Heron's "Remember the Wild" and Evergreen Refuge's "Of Earthen Blood". LISTEN>>>
2. NAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE - HOKA!
Not everyone in the US is an environmentalist, of course. Clear contempt for the country's first environmental defenders could be seen at a political rally on June 10, when presidential hopeful Donald Trump referred to his rival Hillary Clinton's potential running mate, Elizabeth Warren, as "Pocahontas" due to her claims of Cherokee heritage. The slur prompted his audience to break out into Indian war cries. That morning, Apache eco-warrior Nahko had released his latest album, featuring the track "San Quentin" about meeting the jailed murderer who had orphaned him as a child. The song expresses the kind of remarkable forgiving so often displayed by Aboriginal people. At the end of the month, Neil Young released his environmentally-themed live album, Earth, featuring overdubbed animals in the audience. He drummed up publicity for it by saying Trump could now use his music, just a year after he grabbed headlines for his previous eco-album by banning Trump from doing so. MORE>>>
3. JOE PURDY - WHO WILL BE NEXT?
Also addressing Trump directly was US singer-songwriter Joe Purdy, whose new album - also out on June 10 - slips between Dylanesque folk and sliding country guitar. On "Maybe We'll All Get Along Someday" he sings: "There's a man who wants the White House for his personal TV show, wants his face on all the money, wants his name on all the roads. He says he can make us great again, says that he knows how. He's going to build a wall, big and tall and kick everybody out." Veteran songwriter Loudon Wainwright III also went for Trump this month with his darkly comic song, "I Had A Dream", but Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello took things a step further. Morello, who has been hitting headlines with his political supergroup Prophets Of Rage, took time out to record the intro for a song penned - but never recorded - by the late, legendary protest singer Woody Guthrie, about Trump's property developer father. Morello pulled no punches, likening Trump jnr to a "frat house rapist". MORE>>>
4. DAVID BANNER - BEFORE THE BOX
Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, makes much of her popularity among Black voters. But when boxing legend Muhammad Ali died on June 3, some expressed surprise that her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was chosen to speak at the funeral. Ali was seen by many as "the first rapper" for his Black pride politics and poetry, so the move outraged hip-hop writers such Solomon Comissiong and Sebastien Elkouby, who pointed out that Clinton's policies led to the mass jailing of Blacks. Veteran rapper David Banner, promoting his new album and mixtape, said: "Hillary knew what those laws encompassed. So even though she smiles today, and her family has a good rapport with Black people, I'm not fooled by that." On June 2, rapper Vic Mensa released his new EP for free to anyone who registered to vote. Among other things, it addresses the poisoning of Black communities in Flint, where Clinton's supporter-in-chief, Barack Obama, refused to drink the water unfiltered last month. LISTEN>>>
5. EMMERSON - SURVIVOR
When Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2010, the Clintons swooped in to push for exploitative deregulation that would only increase its suffering as a sweatshop for the US, betraying Haiti's proud history of being the first Caribbean country to overthrow slavery. One Haitian musician who has no time for such corrupt politicians is RAM bandleader Richard Morse. He has even distanced himself from his own first cousin, who is the prime minister - and former pop star - Michel Martelly, as RAM's mix of voodoo and politics has soared in popularity. Another musician who shows no loyalty to bent politicians is Sierra Leone's Emmerson, whose outspokenness about the man who helped his rise to fame, President Ernest Bai Koroma, seems to have only helped Emmerson's popularity. His latest album, featuring a 15-minute song about the president setting fire to the country, with a title that translates as "fool with matches", sold 12,000 copies in 24 hours. MORE>>>
6. NERVOSA - AGONY
Corrupt politicians are usually tolerated by the establishment - except when they are left-wing and not even, it seems, all that corrupt. On June 1, Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, blasted last month's coup against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff for supposed corruption, saying "the right wing want revenge" for the election of left-wing governments across South America. In a June 14 poll, 63% of respondents strongly disagreed with the replacement of Rousseff with an all-white and all-male cabinet. US rapper Marcel Cartier had already addressed that sentiment in his song "Beat Back The Coup", which spits: "The coup government's full of old white men, they eliminated ministries of culture and women." The new album by Brazilian thrash metallers Nervosa, who proudly call themselves "all female", could easily be the coup's dissonant soundtrack, with songs such as "Arrogance", "Deception", "Theory Of Conspiracy", "Failed System" and "Surrounded By Serpents". MORE>>>
7. CALYPSO ROSE - FAR FROM HOME
Another proud woman, Calypso music pioneer Calypso Rose, released her new album this month. Far From Home, released more than 60 years after she burst onto the scene with her gender inequality anthem "Glass Thief", continues her strong feminism with the song "Woman Smarter". It could almost have been written for Australian Football League boss Eddie McGuire, who made himself look more stupid than ever just days later by publicly calling for the drowning of a woman journalist because he couldn't handle her reporting, prompting Melbourne band The Pretty Littles to mock him in song. The scale of such sexism was underlined by the release of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' new album on June 17, prompting more women to come forward with their stories about how they had been mistreated by the band. Hitting out at such treatment was Erin Saoirse Adair, whose scathing new EP simmers with seething songs such as "The Manarchist", "Burn It All Down" and "I Didn't Report Because Fuck You". MORE>>>
8. VARIOUS ARTISTS - FOREVER BEAUTIFUL: A COLLECTION OF LOVE FOR ORLANDO
On June 12, gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a queer night club in Orlando. Five days later, a bunch of punks released a 49-track compilation for the victims. But if you prefer the house music pioneered by gay clubs worldwide, try Alex Anwandter, who pulls Chilean protest music from its famed folk roots and plants it firmly in the club. Anwandter released a new film this month based on one of his gay fans who was killed in a hate crime, prompting an anti-discrimination law to be named after him. Across the border in Peru, where a trans teen was killed in a hate crime this year, no such law exists, adding fuel to the fire of Peruvian LGBGT singer Merian Eyzaguirre. Just weeks before the Orlando attack, there was also a massacre at a Mexican gay bar. But before you go mourning any slain queers, spare a thought for Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison, who on June 22 said he faces similar oppression for being anti-gay, prompting a song from Melbourne's Les Thomas. LISTEN>>>
9. VATICAN SHADOW - MEDIA IN THE SERVICE OF TERROR
The Orlando killer's wife says the FBI told her not to tell the media he was gay. They needn't have worried, since the media quickly hyped him as a record-breaking terrorist on learning he was Muslim. Even "world's leading liberal voice" The Guardian called it "the worst mass shooting in US history", conveniently forgetting the massacre at Wounded Knee. Yet no terrorist branding came for the far-right-wing killer of British pro-immigration MP Jo Cox just days later, even when he gave his name as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain". It was all so predictable that, days earlier, US techno artist Vatican Shadow had released a new album titled Media In The Service Of Terror. His song titles are all taken from newspaper headlines and the album comes with a 100-page newspaper. "When you read the news and see these headlines sometimes you just think you're reading poetry," he says. "They’re so absurd." It's a point long proven by award-winning media analysts Media Lens. MORE>>>
10. THE INTERRUPTERS - SAY IT LOUD
Also ridiculing the media were ska funsters The Interrupters, whose album out on June 24 featured the song "Media Sensation". Over the kind of fast-paced hooks that drive the whole album, they sing: "They keep you suspended in fear, until your freedoms disappear... That's fine, the sheep are blind, shepherds indoctrinate the minds of the masses, poor and middle classes operating like a bunch of fascists." Also raising the bar for female-fronted ska are Sonic Boom Six, from the austerity-hit city of Manchester. On their new album, they sing about watching one of their young fans turn against Muslims in all the lying anti-immigrant hysteria before Britain's EU referendum, while not realising the band's singer is from a Muslim background. The band were firmly in the "Remain" camp that lost the vote, which looks set to be disastrous for working-class musicians. It sent the markets crashing, presciently soundtracked by "Market Collapse" on James Ferraro's new album. MORE>>>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mat Ward is an Australian-based journalist who has been writing for Green Left Weekly since 2009. He also wrote the book Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music And Country. To read it online, click here.
To read about more political albums, click here.
To stream Green Left TV's political music playlist, click here.
3CR radio's Global Intifada show is a great source of topical political music. To listen to it online, click here.