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Propagandhi – Potemkin City Limits

The one and only time I saw Propagandhi play live, they tried to incite a riot when the venue (in a suburb of New Orleans) cut them off for the curfew (or was it their beer specials that they couldn’t start until they drove off the all-ages audience?).

Since it is my sincere belief that it’s not a good punk show without at least the attempt at a riot, my faith in Propagandhi was secured then and there. Not to mention, they’re Canadian, and that always earns bonus points in my book. But would someone please tell me why Canadian bands have more to say about American politics than most American bands? If nothing else, that should serve to show us that what we do here as the last remaining superpower (and not for long, China’s growing fast) has far-reaching effects for the rest of the world.


Propagandhi’s got a new singer-guitarist, but the same interest in what happens across the world and the same talent for putting things in perspective with the vocabulary of a poli-sci grad student and the humor, at times, of, well, a Fat Wreck Chords band. That humor is less evident on this record, partly because Glen, the new guy, has a deeper, less bratty voice than the guy he’s replacing. He still shares singing duties with The Rod, and their music still hits you in the gut like any good punk record should. However, it’s grown far more complex over the years, speed-metal guitars and tempo changes are now providing a solid backdrop for their message. Message music is all well and good, but nobody really listens if the rock isn’t solid, y’know? Then you can feel free to ignore their liner notes printed on 100% recycled paper, which read like a mini-zine in themselves, and put my weekly Political Buzz column to shame, I might add.

Potemkin City Limits, by the way, refers to the 1925 Sergei Eisenstein film famed for its “Odessa Stairs” sequence, which is both a landmark in filmmaking and a horrific example of a government massacre, in case you cared. You probably don’t, so I’ll just return to the music for a minute, and remind you that “One million douchebags can’t be wrong.”

Propagandhi doesn’t compromise for anyone, and they won’t read this review because they hate rock writers anyway, so why am I bothering writing about them in such glowing terms? Because even though the Rolling Stones have an anti-Bush song out, Propagandhi’s one of the few that has been pointing out that the ‘Emperor’ not only has no clothes, but that he has been an imperialist war criminal for quite a few years now, and you should listen to them.


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