Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's the Economy, Stupid

Separated at birth?

Political maestro James Carville shepherded Bill Clinton to two terms of balanced budgets and relative world peace with his simple insight that in a post-Cold War world it was the economy that would be the electorate's overriding concern. Just to make sure campaign staffers stayed on message, Carville posted a note on the office wall: "It's the economy, stupid."
Tapping in to its punk and hardcore roots, grindcore is preoccupied by social and political topics. While it does its best to spit bile in the direction of religion, politics and other easily identifiable villains, grindcore does not do a good job of addressing thornier, more complicated issues like the economy. Granted, there's only so much you can say in 75 seconds, but it's a topic -- especially in the depth of the worst global downturn since the Great depression -- that's ripe for some angry discussion.
Here are four artists who keep their mind on their money and their money on their mind.

Tools of the (Free) Trade

No other band has ever been as attuned to the economic unease of modern blue collar workers as Benumb. Where other grind bands were content to choke out vague denunciations of The System and how it needs to be Taken Down, Benumb penned factory floor ditties about offshored jobs, disappointing unions and lives spent paycheck to paycheck with none of Bruce Springsteen's bullshit romanticism. One of the best examples is Withering Strands of Hope's "WTO: Disintergration of the Working Class," which detailed the aftershocks of the Clinton administration's obsession with international free trade deals. The treaties that ultimately tied the world together more tightly economically came at the expense of blue collar wage earners.

Exhume to Consume

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of chatting up Kill the Client's Champ Morgan will tell you that dude is not shy about sharing his libertarian outlook on life. The guy's caustic outlook on life is perfect for a "pox on both their houses" approach to America's useless, bifurcated political landscape. And like every true Ron Paualite I've ever met, Morgan is also attuned to the modern economic landscape. Cleptocracy's "Consumption is Intoxication" could have been just another "buying shit is evil" song. What elevates the tune is that Morgan zeros in on the debt and funding mechanisms that make our consumption-driven existence possible. It's that extra perceptive step that makes Kill the Client such a force.

Occupy Everywhere

Matthew Widener's impending revolution will begin at the banks. The rabble rousing Liberteer ringleader can be found philosophically camped outside of Wall Street's rapacious halls. The avowed 99 Percenter has been pretty clear about his social/economic philosophy. So it's no surprise that a song like "Usurious Epitaph" takes on the economic chains that bind us. That loan you took out to get ahead in life ultimately only holds you back, Liberteer says. A lifetime of scrimping and saving and living paycheck to credit card only to be wiped out in a catastrophic economic collapse would make even the most mild mannered middle class consumer into a frothing Marxist revolutionary.

Candy Land

Harry McClintock's "Big Rock Candy Mountain" may just sound like a goofy Candy Land tune about a pancreas-crushing paradise of diabetic delights. But if you pay closer attention to the lyrics and put the song into its proper context, suddenly it becomes a snapshot of the economic instability that led up to the Great Depression. In the hands of The Oily Menace, the song also takes on a fierce new urgency, getting a 21st Century update for a new era of bankruptcy, both moral and monetary.


Perpetual Strife said...

Great post Andrew, these ones brighten up my day.

Was really excited to check out Liberteer because of Widener's words, but this track ain't doing it for me. Oh well.

DesiccatedVeins said...

Nice piece, dude. The real question, however, is when are we gonna hear some James Carville-core? Dude's angry enough that I could see someone writing a Graf Orlock-esque album from his perspective, complete with a "You Suffer"-length "It's the Economy, Stupid!"

Sidet said...

Black Economy by the Endless Blockade comes to mind.

Andrew Childers said...

strife: it's hard to pull out a liberteer song at random. it really is a complete album experience that can only be understood as such. however, i still think matt should have varied up his vocals more.

veins: we can name it ragin' cajun!

sidet: good add.

Bill Willingham IV, Esquire said...

Yeah, I was skeptical of Liberteer, as well, until I finally gave the whole thing a listen at once. It is essentially grindcore's version of Edge of Sanity's Crimson. Riffs and themes reoccur and get played around with throughout. Very cool.

Kill the Client I've never really jumped into, in part because of the Ron Paul stuff. I know, I know, you probably can't understand what he's saying anyway and open-minded and all that but whatever. Is what it is. I guess I'm just a closed-minded leftist jerkoff.