Title / Release Page: Propaganda
Artist: Break The Bans
Release Date: 2014 Nov 12
Genre: Garage Punk
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Southern City’s Lab
Break The Bans Propaganda is Alex Fry’s interpretation of what punk music should sound like now. It’s still pounding, simple guitar riffs, and shouted vocals. All of the key elements that should make for a good punk album are here. Then why doesn’t it work?
Break The Bans Propaganda
So, at first I wasn’t all that big of a fan of punk music when the Sex Pistols, Butthole Surfers, and other acts started breaking through in the late 70’s. It was certainly better than the disco stuff that was saturating the air waves at the time, but there was still classic rock from the likes of Rush, AC/DC, The Stones, Kiss, and others that was still available to those of us listening to the radio.
It was the Clash the did it for me. The Clash had the right combination of pounding noise, screamed lyrics that caught my ears. But they had something else: humor. Songs like ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ and ‘Rock The Casbah’ were funny, and had the right hooks to get me listening. It was songs like ‘Career Opportunities’ that made it clear that Punk was a backlash against the establishment by people who saw their options for a good life were severely limited. They didn’t care about musicality, hell most of them didn’t even know how to play their instruments. It didn’t matter, they wanted to scream at the world. They wanted to shock everyone out of complacency. And, in their way, that’s exactly what they did.
But listening to Alex Fry scream into a microphone over repetitious guitar and bass lines isn’t the same as listening to the Clash trying to instigate a riot, or scream about crappy jobs, or their strange interpretation of the middle east. Propaganda just doesn’t come together. It doesn’t have the feel of authenticity that really is the hallmark of Punk music.
The music feels too measured. Like tempos are being deliberately set (I would almost guess there is a click track involved in setting the tempos of these recordings). Then there are things like the guitar line in the opening piece, which sounds like it was almost deliberately lifted from ‘Too Much Time On My Hands’ by Styx.
But the part that’s strange is the feeling that these musicians are talented. But, in order to record a punk album they are trying to un-learn what they are doing. That is, everything about this recording is too slick, and the attempt to make it sound authentic sounds fake. It doesn’t have the sound of a bunch of guys in a garage thrashing away on their instruments, even if that’s what they want the listener to believe.
I’ve heard a lot worse than this recording. It has all the elements correct. But the whole thing comes across as sounding fake. It feels like these are talented musicians that are deliberately trying to make themselves sound like bad musicians. It just doesn’t work at that level.