THE REFUSERS – Wake Up America
2016 / no label cited
Review written by Marc Tucker - 08/30/2016
A little anecdotalia in harmony with this disc, so it please the court:
In the early 00s, reviewing for OpEdNews.com (OEN), I got quite a few rebellious CDs by politically oriented musos, every so often with behind-the-curtain scenarios that took a while to figure out. I finally located the problem, though, in cats like David Rovics, Jefferson Parsons, and a few others. Turned out they weren’t really Lefties after all, instead scurrying about in the muck of the Weenie “Left”: Centrists, small ‘d’ Democrats, big ‘D’ Dems, “progressives”, “liberals” (odd choice: a synonym for ‘insane’ in Economics), basically musicians looking for a seat on the Dem gravy train. Some found it (Rovics, f’rinstance), some didn’t (Parson, f’rinstance). Everything had to do with backroom deals, networks, nepotisms, and allegiances.
OEN is captained by Kapitalist Kretin Rob Kall, an “ex”-Republican (apparently also an ex-Bircher, in alignment with chum Thom Hartmann). His brand of “Leftism” is whatever the Dems tell him it is, and thus CDs were sent his way for PR if they were in tune with the patrons. That’s part of how the train’s wheels are greased. Along the way, we’re told and especially by apparatchiki like Hartmann, all and sundry want to change the Party from within (riiiiight, like the chieftains don’t see ‘em coming a mile away, hm?), but, well, you might want to look at who empatrons figures like Kall, Hartmann, Brad Friedman, Cenk Uygar, and a legion of others. Within all that, musos were warned away from my anarchistic rear end. There was reason for that.
In political commentary, I’d also started investigating shenanigans within Air America (it soon croaked), then Amy Goodman (nasty financial mischief ‘twixt her and the Pacifica corporate radio chain now flushing itself down the toilet), Arianna Huffington (involved in shady recent deals with, and now departed from, her HuffPo), and so on. That sort of inquiry was reallllllly taboo and always has been. I was soon ousted for being “too Leftist” by Mr. Kall, whose gargantuan site is now likewise diving to the bottom of the shitter.
Are we getting the drift here? Ya hafta be wary in music and political dimensions. There are lots of toads and backstabbers, fakes and frauds, hucksters and homunculi, so I swiftly learned to detect pseud-Leftists and “Left-leaning” Righties (Libertarians, Tea Partiers, gorillas escaped from the zoo, etc.). Fortunately, when I began critiquing CDs for FAME, I ran into cats like Grant Peeples, a no-nonsense ear-to-the-ground Leftie, Paul Mark, a cynical philosophically-grounded spectator reporting on spectrum madness, and others. Now I’ve got this Wake Up America disc from The Refusers, their name a play on the old radical ‘refuseniks’ tag.
Are ya longing for the days of the Fugs, the MC5, and then a hell of a lot more? Well, Bunky, ya gots it right here in this holds-no-punches 15-cut orgy of blood, spite, venom, bile, spleen, and other intoxicatingly keen pleasures charging WAY too far into truth-telling territories to ever be accepted by the “Left” or the Right, the two being nowadays almost identical, especially in view of the MadMan/MadWoman scenario playing out in the presidency-run by sibling reptiles Clinton and Trump. As the asylum looks on (Bush, Cruz, Wasserman-Schulz, Lieberman, Carson, Palin, Romney, Hayden, Franken, Reich, and, sweet unholy Jesus!, most especially the recently uber-demented Alex Jones, once a savvy conspiracy researcher), we now have the soundtrack.
And so’s ya don’t at any point think The Refusers is an aggregate of pontificating wonk dullards, the disc opens in the crunchy “Born to Rock”, a strident preface to what comes after. Dig these titles: “Hang the Bankers”, “Go Back to Sleep”, “Big Pharma Pimp”, “Bubble People” and others. The predominant tone here is rooted in 60s power rock and its successors: the Dictators, some Blue Oyster Culty spookiness, old Damned / Stranglers snottiness (“Go Back to Sleep”, almost a pomp-n-circumstance cabaretic: “Go back to sleep / You silly little sheep / And do what you’re told”), a bit of Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (“Backlash”), power pop (”Information Junkie”), and a ton more, including a jazz-drenched rip on the famed New York Times ("You Won’t Read It in the New York Times”) once worshipped by a “Left” that now can’t back quickly enough away from the damnable rag.
Plutocrats, crony capitalists, the One Percent, and an entire unwholesome array of the devils, djinns, and demons running America (and the world) comes under the axe, outed and gored with grit and glee. I can already hear David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger getting the CFR, TLC, Davos-ites, Bilderbergians, and God only knows how many other publicly clandestine outfits together to decamp to Mars and wait things out as the globe rapidly wakes up under the assault of such revelations as this compendium of shock-and-awe disclosures vends in rebel/rabble rousing music.
And to square the circle, bringing matters back to the opening paragraphs, it just so happens guitarist-singer-composer Michael Belkin underwent an apotheosis not all that dissimilar to my own: a grad from UCB’s Haas School of Business (gasp!) and once a Wall Street wizard (double gasp!), then an L.A. studio guitarist, he got caught in more than a few dirty dealings in those spotty realms and clawed his way out, barely escaping with mind, spine, and genitalia intact, vowing to spill the beans on the whole damn shebang.
Well, he sure as shit does, abetted by cohorts Steve Newton (bass),and Joe Doria (keybs.), with Brendan Hill contributing drums beneath the trio, not to mention unidentified sessioneers on horns and such. Now, if he and they will choose to apply their apocalyptic laser vision to the music industry, then, whoo-eee!, we’ll be in for a roller coaster ride like no other. Ray Davies tip-toed into the swamp, as did Frank Zappa, but we’re still awaiting a magnum opus…and while we hold out collective breath, this is a helluva hackle-raiser that’ll have ya spittin’ nails, ranting like a cranked-out speed freak, and manning the barricades, ‘cause, once y’all emerge from Wake Up, you’ll know exactly what to expect no matter who wins the onrushing Psycho Farrago in November.
The Refusers' Official Web-Site
The Refusers; Official YouTube