Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Proletariat-Indifference LP (1985)

Boston's Proletariat were, to quoth the Bard, men out of time: if they had been British, everything would have made sense. If they were recording in 1979 instead of Reagan's America, it would have made sense. Conversely, if they were part of the recent crop of post-punk revivalists (Radio 4, Interpol, et. al.), they would have been quite successful. Instead, they were a Boston punk band trafficking in intelligent, bass-driven fury at a time when everyone else was simply furious.

The Proletariat made a career out of tracing the contours of an American take on Gang of Four, Delta 5, and so on: sinuous basslines, muted, squalling guitar, and howled vocals above the din of misery. This sound was accompanied with brutally intelligent lyrics confronting the typical bugaboos of Americans too smart for a society based around rampant individualism, greed, proud anti-intellectualism, and violence: the genocide of Native Americans ("Trail of Tears"), mindless consumerism ("Marketplace"), American gun culture ("The Guns are Winning"), and the pathetic stupidity of American nationalism ("Homeland").

All of this was, of course, straight to the point in Reagan's America. And all the moreso today, since we live in the world that Reagan and Thatcher made in their image. 1985's Indifference is hard to listen to at times: like The Clash's "This is England" or Gang of 4's "We Live as We Dream, Alone", it's the product of a band whose existence was based on the idea that change is possible if we struggle, colliding into the brute reality that the Reagan Revolution was here to stay. That the stupidity, patriotism, and unthinking pursuit of money was the only thing on the horizon. There's no hope to this LP, beyond the simple fact that it exists. We're in a similar situation right now: I think everyone's finally realized that Obama is even worse than Bush II was, and that under his all-seeing gaze, the United States has become the spymaster and murderer par excellance, at home and abroad.

What else is there to do, though, but sing, dance, and soldier on through the darkness? On that cheerful note, let me present you with one of the forgotten classics of the U.S. underground.

Get it HERE.

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