Post-Brexit punk and austerity anthems – 2017’s political rock resurgence
From The Guardian: 2017 looks set to be awash with vitriolic political guitar albums. To the fore are Manchester’s Cabbage, creators of the snappily titled Uber Capitalist Death Trade EP, who somehow crept onto the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist with songs about austerity, Jeremy Corbyn, class war, Brexit, Kim Jong-Un, protecting the NHS, the royal family and calls for the head of Donald Trump. Perhaps aware of the Chumbawamba-ness of such themes, guitarist and vocalist Joe Martin denies that the band are activists and claims: “It’s such a bizarre political climate at the moment, it’s just occupying our minds”, but other new bands are on more of a mission.
Take Vant, a London-via-Seaham alt-rock four-piece with Joe Strummer’s principles thrumming in their veins and the blood of Boris on the boot-heels. They see every gig as a form of activism and protest. “For me, rock music has always gone hand in hand with making a stand, being on the forefront of a movement and trying to change the world,” singer Mattie Vant has said, “no-one else in rock music was saying anything that meant anything – we’re laying down the gauntlet.”
Bristol punk ranters Idles recently released Mother, a song about the deterioration of the NHS which singer Joe Talbot noticed as his mother died, containing the line “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”. Jamie MacColl of Bombay Bicycle Club was invited on to Question Time; Mallory Knox’s new album advocates “a species-wide revolution of the mind” to combat political corruption. And south London’s Shame are self-confessed Sadiqophiles. “Hopefully Sadiq can tackle the ridiculous housing situation young Londoners are facing and maybe save London’s nightlife while he’s at it,” they wrote in an open letter after the mayor’s election. “It would be nice to see more bands being vocal about their politics… a lot of bands tiptoe around it to avoid offending potential fans which isn’t really what being in a band is for us.”