Less Talk More Rock

Propagandhi - Less Talk More Rock ©1996 Fat Wreck Chords
1. Apparently I'm A "P.C. Fascist"
2. Nailing Descartes To The Wall/(Liquid) Meat Is Still Murder
3. Less Talk, More Rock
4. Anchorless
5. Rio De San Atlanta, Manitoba
6. A Public Dis-Service Announcement From Shell
7. ...And We Thought That Nation-States Were A Bad Idea
8. I Was A Pre-Teen McCarthyist
9. Resisting Tyrannical Government
10. Gifts
11. The Only Good Fascist Is A Very Dead Fascist
12. A People's History Of The World
13. The State-Lottery
14. Refusing To Be A Man

The lyrics of Propagandhi are designed to make little homophobic runts squirm in their seats. To make racists, sexist elitists crawl back into their before-the-turn-of-the-century foxholes. It's just a shame that Propagandhi's music sounds like roughly 327 other punk bands. And therein lies the problem with articulating my thoughts on these sort of bands; it's not badly done. It's not limp, amateur, or mind-numbingly stoopid (although whichever of the three sang "Anchorless" deserves nothing less than severe ridicule and a swift crippler). But it's been DONE. Conceptually, they're in the upper crescent of punk music, avoiding the typically childish stuff that resounds on Fat Wreck. These liner essays could fetch you a "A++" in political science class (not that I'm encouraging this), and each song is a thorough --sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, always pertinent-- complete idea. Definitely a recommended read. I guess it's cool that Propagandhi are challenging this sort of demographic though; what skateboard totin', wallet-chain sportin' punkass is gonna mosh'n'chill to a song called "Refusing To Be a Man"? Musically weak but relevant.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 03/1999

Back to top 

Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes

Propagandhi - Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes ©2001 Fat Wreck Chords
1. Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An
2. Fuck The Border
3. Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes
4. Back To The Motor League
5. Natural Disasters
6. With Friends Like These Who The Fuck Needs Cointelpro?
7. Albright Monument, Baghdad
8. Ordinary People Do Fucked-Up Things When Fucked-Up Things Become Ordinary
9. Ladies' Night In Loserville
10. Ego Fum Papa (I Am The Pope)
11. New Homes For Idle Hands
12. Bullshit Politicians
13. March Of The Crabs
14. Purina Hall Of Fame

Let's get one thing out of the way. In some ways Propagandhi, with their pristine musicianship and hooky melodies, still summon the spirit of NOFX. But ask yourself: is that a redundant observation? Maybe pegging a pop punk band for ripping off NOFX is like saying every movie director since 1915 employing close-ups and parallel editing is ripping off D.W. Griffith.

I say "spirit" because the closer one looks, in any event, Propagandhi doesn't sound much like NOFX anymore. At least, not as much as they used to. In fact, only the amazing title track with its soaring choruses and lilting melodies touches base with old Propagandhi, much less the largely simple uniformity of their Fat Wreck contemporaries. In fact, since Less Talk, More Rock, there is a new bassist in the fold who screams and hollers excited leftist prose like (say) a Final Conflict or Agnostic Front with a master's degree. Chris, the guitarist, still dresses his shouty vocals up memorably, and Todd, new bassist in question, takes over the mike for a number of songs, while most are a combination of both singers. Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes is, all told, thirty-three minutes of unrelenting and lightning quick, herky-jerky, complicated melodically-tinged hardcore punk rock. Propagandhi have finally put their bio's word of "mid-80's political hardcore and early-80's speed metal" to deed.

In other words, Propagandhi A.D.01 are hard as fuck. Despite its relatively brief duration, I usually have to break my up listenage of this one. Not unlike early At The Gates - I kid you not - one might need to step back in order to absorb the myriad of ideas flowing so pointedly. The righteously titled "Ordinary People Do Fucked-Up Things When Fucked-Up Things Become Ordinary" and (also!) righteously titled "Fuck the Border" pull up empty nets with their relentlessly colorless 80s style hardcore-stomp, but cheer up, because if you don't like it, it'll be over a minute or so. Not to fluster the punk rockers, but "Purina Hall of Fame" contains a guitar solo that might not be entirely out of place on an In Flames CD. Is that air-raid drumming I hear on "Bullshit Politicans"? It is, and one cannot help but be reminded of the more metal-influenced hardcore tip - think Nora, or early Converge - sounding at home with tricky arrangements, and some damn impressive guitar work. No, said arrangements are not jazzy, strange, sonically twisted, or otherwise unusual - but if you're garage band ever considers covering these guys, you'd better be dressed up for the show down.

What hasn't changed? Propagandhi are still brilliant lyricists, out-thinking and out-witting their contemporaries, lampooning skinheads, frat kids, christianity, and corporate culture. Witness, I say unto you, the final screed of "Back to the Motor League": "I guess life is just a popularity contest. Success, the ability to perform within a framework of obedience. Just ask the candy-coated Joy-Cam rock-bands selling shoes for venture-capitalists, silencing competing messages, rounding off the jagged edges. Today is a good day to die."

Obviously, with song titles like "Ladies' Night in Loserville" and "With Friends Like These Who the Fuck Needs Cointelpro?", I could go on as long as the lyric sheet is with fun aphorisms. Metalheads will no doubt appreciate the tributary references to Judas Priest and King Diamond while punk rockers who claim to like their hardcore intelligent will avoid Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes only at their own peril. Good stuff.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 04/2001

Back to top