“Thematically, we are the angriest we have ever been.”
So say US hardcore punks Down With Rent as they release their new 4-track EP ‘Shithead Americana’ tackling the big issues facing US society. And boy are they MAD.
And they have every reason to be- there is a political, social and cultural war happening in the US (and many other places for that matter- I’m looking at you UK) as left and right of the political spectrum are locked in furious battle over the rights of minorities, access to justice, disenfranchisement and concentration of power and wealth.
It may seem like a tale as old as time, but this blistering new EP from the Connecticut 4-piece gives the issues facing society an invigorated sense of urgency.
The EP opens with the single ‘2008 Again’ which was released back in March and gives a pretty good indication right off the bat that this band is pissed. Off.
It takes aim at the increasing commercialisation of nostalgia as a means of distracting the working class from the real culprits behind the increasing gulf between the haves and the have nots- the government, big businesses, the super wealthy. It’s a loud, brash and unyielding opening track, the intensity of the music building with the fury of the vocals.
It also eases us in relatively gently to where the band stand politically- there’s plenty more righteous anger to come in the next 3 tracks as the EP covers themes like the growing cost of living crisis that’s exacerbated in a ‘debt trap’ system along with the multitude of issues caused by a growing far right, misogynist portion of the population.
The title track- ‘Shithead Americana’ – opens with some ominous bass before an eerie distorted guitar swings in to kick the song into maximum gear. The bass is a constant presence throughout this track which eloquently paints a picture of a society that has been dumbed down, and simultaneously desensitised and brutalised, an acceptance of the increasing oppressive and discriminatory political life being largely swallowed by an exhausted and misinformed electorate.
“You say you hate the media but your life revolves around media/Regurgitating headlines, you read the comment but not the content”. An indictment of news culture and the extinction of critical thinking and political solidarity.
The refrain of the chorus- “I’m not angry I’m just disappointed”- conveys the weariness of being part of a culture that expects you to “work until you die” without complaint.
‘Pay to Exist’ is a minute and a half of a sonic blast to the face- a frantic, desperate outlet of rage that comes from being trapped in a capitalist nightmare of consumption and exploitation.
Final track ‘Born Again Fascist’ is an extended track time-wise by the standards of the rest of the release lasting a whopping 3 and a half minutes. It’s a complex and musically nuanced track with an unsettling guitar fuzz that sets you on edge with an alarm like sonic squeal (although that could have been my ears ringing from playing the previous 3 tracks on full blast on my headphones, you tell me).
The message is again one of a country in crisis- a media that fans the flames of paranoia and creates an ‘us and them’ survivalist attitude: “Remember, kindness is weakness” and “have you tried watching less news“.
The band are forthright about where they’re at musically and politically with this release:
“These songs are in direct response to the ever-growing wave of white, Christian nationalism that seeks to torture and eradicate trans and queer communities, maintain white supremacist power structures and systems, perpetuate US global hegemony, and feed the American military industrial complex with endless war. Essentially there exists a regressive, bigoted, hateful, and terrified cultural wave sweeping across middle class America that has been gaining even more power over the last decade.”
We need punk to be political now more than ever and Down With Rent are one of the more politically astute and fearless hardcore bands going right now. Have a listen to ‘Shithead Americana‘ and get ANGRY.
‘Shithead Americana’ is released on 16th June. You can listen on the streaming platform of your choice.
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