Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Social Outcast- T.V. Casualties 7" review
Peace punk, or anarcho punk in the style of original hardcore and UK 82, got its start in the late 1980s are Mortarhate Records started exporting their anarchist noise to the States, introducing a foreign audience with different interpretations of music, values, and morality to their sound. With this, the slower, doom-laden Mortarhate bands were fused with the fast-paced American hardcore bands, and thus contemporary peace punk (or at the very least, a prototype) was formed. Nausea, Jesus Chrust, Anti-Product, A.P.P.L.E., Destroy, and Misery make up just some of these early peace punk groups. Another such one, one that happened to come from Michigan, was a band called Social Outcast. Though this band released material before this record was made, this is their quintessential release, and possibly their most well-known one as well.
The first track “Vivisection II” starts out with a gnarly bass intro, setting the moody tone for a song against animal experimentation. The guitar grinds away and moves up and down as the drums pounce into rapid-fire mode, with singer Jason Outcast shouting and growling away. The vocal duties are traded off between Jason Outcast and Roger Outcast (that’s how they were credited in another such release), the two vocalists who split the duty with one another for the extent of the band’s lifetime. The chorus slows down the tempo as both singers chime in with a triumphant, protesting shout “Animals for clothing, animals for food, animals for research, fuck you!” This is a very intense song all around. The next song is “R.S.A.”, and it starts out with a riff that sounds eerily similar to the song “Astro Zombies” by the Misfits. It works better than would any other riff for the song, however, so it’s worth overlooking. It’s a song about drunken, rich white folks who love to fight; for a historical perspective on those who are unaware (I was too, until Jason told me a few stories): These kinds of flag-waving, patriotic Oi-boys and their macho-man vibe were the norm in the mid to late 1980s, whereas this anarchist protest music was considered “Commie faggot shit”, as was put by Jason in an interview conducted in early 2011. While bands like Almighty Lumberjacks of Death, the Allied, and others like them have their value and their contributions to be made, their fans leave much to be desired, both then and now. The drunken fervor brought on by national pride and alcohol creates thoughtless, useless proles, the same ones from the pages of Orwell’s classic “1984”. In other words, how will the world ever change when so-called punks are doubly intoxicated and unable to make a real difference? That’s the question R.S.A. poses.
Moving to the opposite side of the wax, the title track of the EP kicks in, with Jason bellowing like Big Brother on the loudspeaker, “From the writhing pain of a disemboweled child, for you it was so comparably mild, cause it didn’t seem so real on the TV screen, when the bombs were dropped and the children screamed”. His commanding, accusatory roar is haunting; David Petraeus, take note. The song chugs along at a mid-tempo pace, playing in the same Oi!-influenced style that they had finished lampooning only minutes ago; perhaps a nod to irony, or maybe a stylistic choice. This song is the finger-pointing one, as indicated by the line “From the couch it seemed like such a little scuffle, cause you didn’t have to see the bodies buried in rubble”. This serves to point the responsibility of action to the listener, essentially saying, “No matter how small, one person can make a difference, and it’s your responsibility to do so!” This is also the only real anti-war song of the 7”, which positively shows the diversity in topic range, further increasing my enjoyment of this album. The 7” closes with the track “Oil Slick Dicks”, the most memorable, sing-a-long sort of track of the record. The memory-chiming line is a dual-vocal shout that starts off and ends the song with “We, must, stop them now!” The song is about the oil spills that the likes of ExxonMobil, Marathon, and Koch Industries are responsible for. While a cry for help, the song, too, is a scream for action, positive action, against the tycoons who believe that money (an artificial, conceptual idea) is worth as much, if not more, than irreplaceable natural resources (water, soil, air), which are tactile and exist in our real world.
There are not too many 7” records that are better than this one; four stellar songs, all with a different, equally important point to be made, and some killer artwork and packaging that goes with it. If it weren’t for my USB turntable, I don’t think this would leave my turntable’s side.