Monday, 12 November 2018

2018 Contenders: Anger Management, Stateside

I've been a fan of Will Hoge for a good few years now. He's an Americana artist with a chameleon-like ability to take on the best qualities of his many musical heroes, from Springsteen to Kristofferson to Isbell, and write songs that live up to their reputations. On his latest record though, he's angrier than I've ever heard him before: at Trump, the Republicans, and everything that's going wrong in his country. Once again, he successfully channels the likes of Neil Young, John Mellencamp and even Elvis Costello... angry artists all into a blistering 8 song assault that takes no prisoners.

The attack commences with Gilded Walls, a molotov chucked straight into the White House...

Well another group of kids in a high school, dead
But you're still at your golf course teein' off at nine
People marchin' in the streets tryin' to find a little peace
You sit around, spoutin' more bullshit online

Oh and I don't believe in the devil
But you might make me go and change my mind
You could see this whole damn world get leveled
And not even lose track of time
Inside your gilded walls that shine

Next up is Stupid Kids, a punky, Mellencampian rallying cry to the youth of America...

Turn your music up, make up your own damn songs
You know you got it right when all the old white men don't sing along

Oh stupid kids, don't listen what the old folks say
You're the only ones that are ever gonna make things change
Keep your feet marching, raise up your voice, don't quit
Keep doing what you're doing, keep being stupid kids

And then comes Still A Southern Man: Sweet Home Alabama for the 21st Century...

But I'm still a southern man
I don't want your stars and bars
And your blood on my damn hands
I'm looking away now Dixie
Cause I've seen all I can stand
But I'm still a southern man

Oh, Mr. Barnum is the Costello song... another brickbat hurled Donald's way...

It's your pride leading us to a fall
And you just act like it don't matter at all
Oh Mr. Barnum, won't you please take your circus back home

Thoughts & Prayers takes on the NRA... and all those politicians who support their bloodthirsty agenda...

They tell you how to vote and they sell you all their lies
And we watch as common sense just slowly dies
And now you got blood on your hands, oh but you don't care
You just sit back and send out your thoughts and prayers

My American Dream shows Bruce how it should be done...

That's my American dream and I've been all that I can be
With nothin' left to lose at all, I guess I'm free
That's my American dream – it disappeared in front of me
With nothin' left to lose at all, I guess I'm free

The Illegal Line brings the Neil Young guitars for a first person account of a Mexican immigrant doing his best for his wife and kids...

Then it's back to the hotel, split a case of beer
One for every person that's livin' here
Four dollars-an-hour but nobody moans
'Cause it's three-fifty more than we can get back home

Then I send the money back down to my sweet wife
So she can tell my children 'bout a better life:
"Papa's tryin' hard just to make it fine
"Fifty miles north of that illegal line"

And it all wraps up with Nikki's A Republican Now, about how so many young rebel liberals end up as bitter old right-wingers... which probably explains why we are where we are.

I got online and found her and I just could not believe
But there's Nikki with a Bible and a AR-15
She says that all lives matter and the media's a scam
The only gun control that she supports is using both hands
She stands up for the anthem, says that marriage is a woman and a man
Oh my good God!

And that's every song on the record. Because every song is worth writing about. At just under half an hour, My American Dream is lean and mean. It's definitely Will Hoge's angriest record to date... it may also be his best.


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