Back in October, Mick from the most excellent Just Some Punk Songs blog asked if I’d be up for compiling a “10 best punk songs” list (with videos) for said blog. Here’s what I came up with (in alphabetical order, from A to Z!)…
About 3 years back I noticed that a band called Action Sedition was starting to play out in Montreal. Great name, I sez to myself, but what the heck do they sound like and what are they singing about? My answer came in the form of their 8-song demo Rapport de Force which came out in 2012. Holy Head of Jesus ! What a platter Left-radical, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist catchy political streetpunk done up just the way I like it! The first song I listened to was “Prisonniers Politiques” and I was stoked to see/hear the lyrics name-check a political prisoner I used to correspond with back in the day. Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m proud to say that Rebel Time Records has put the band on tour in Ontario and has also helped to release some top-tunes from the band. Action Sedition is a band that walks the talk…members are active in such groups as the IWW, Montreal Red and Anarchist Skinheads, Montreal Sisterhood and they do Revolution Fest (3 days of feminist, anti-capitalist and anti-fascist music) in Montreal every year.
One of the guitarists from Broadcast Zero, Phil D, and I started Rebel Time Records back in 2008. Our first release was the first Broadcast Zero album “Yesterday, You Could Change The World”. This song is from their second album “Some Concerns Regarding This Revolt,” which, personally, I think slipped under the radar a bit and didn’t get the attention it deserved. Faster, angrier, tighter and more focused than the first album, with insightful lyrics from singer Nick, who said at the time that “the album takes on a theme of deconstruction, raising questions of personal accountability and participation, and stressing the importance of looking in the mirror before pointing fingers.” Or, as one reviewer put it: “a unique union of societal concerns and life lessons.” The band toured Canada/North America 3 times in about 3 years. Though broken up, they have reunited on occasion for very worthy causes…
“No Justice No Peace”…this song was first released back in 2000, on The Class Assassin’s original demo CD . Since then, it has come out in different versions, on different releases. This version is from the No Justice… 7” and, 15 years in, it’s still one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands, with a message that is as pertinent and powerful now as it was then. Timeless, catchy-as-heck, anthemic, sing-a-long streetpunk with something to say. The guys in the band are a veritable who’s-who of Toronto punk rock…over the past 20 or 30 years they’ve been in such bands as Bitter Grin, Hockey Teeth, Direct Action, 2-Pump Louie, Sinkin’ Ships, Problem Children, Chronic Submission and more. Stoked to have a couple of Class Ass releases under our Rebel Time Records belts.
I’m a Fallout-booster. There is just no getting around that. I shout their praise (and rightly so!) from the mountains and the roof-tops. This 3-piece combo has been described as ‘straight-up, stripped-down political punk rock,’ and one sage reviewer noted that ” Their catchy-as-hell, sing-along, three-chord punk rock packs a definite punch and is coupled with well-crafted and well-articulated, socially-conscious lyrics that crackle with heartfelt anger and urgency.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself! Me, I find their first full-length “Turning Revolution Into Money” to be an absolute classic. This particular song, Peace Love And Anarchy serves as the theme song of Rebel Time Radio (Wednesdays, from 9:00PM to 10:0PM on SoundFM100.3, broadcasting out of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario). Fittingly, it’s about building genuine and caring communities outside of corporate culture. Pat from Brutal Youth / Class War Kids has recently joined the band on bass, and word on the streets is that new material is forthcoming…
HOCKEY TEETH – NOT SO LONG AGO
No less a punk rock luminary than Damien of Fucked Up fame has declared the record this song was on ‘the 10th best punk rock 7″ to come out of Toronto.’ He says: “The opening of this record has a sample from a Nazi on Geraldo espousing his beliefs before he’s cut off by one of the greatest anti-fascist songs ever: Not So Long Ago.” Hey, who am I to argue with that! In the spirit of full disclosure, the two guitarists from this band (brothers Chris and Dan) went on to form the aforementioned The Class Assassins. Hockey Teeth was a band that walked the talk. As Mark, the singer, said recently: “I am …proud to say that my friends/band mates over the years have done our best to help every organization that we could playing as many benefit shows as we did…whether it was in support of Womyn’s shelters, Animal welfare, human rights/dignities, equal rights, and food banks/shelters etc. We may have been a small thing in the scope of things, but I know we helped many. I know we may have been a small change in the world, but if you start to act locally, it can have a great effect globally. ” Nice one Hockey Teeth!!
HOLD A GRUDGE / JEUNESSE APATRIDE: BUILD SOMETHING GREAT
Two for one!
Originally released by the late, great Hold A Grudge on their “Doing Time” album in 2010 and covered and released by the late, great Jeunesse Apatride on their “Jusq’au bout” album in 2014 .Two great bands from Montreal who just happened to share both a bass player and a positive political attitude, as exemplified by this tune. It’s an upbeat, uplifting and inspirational call-to-arms. Take they lyrics to heart!!
Honoured to have had both bands play Rebel Time Records shows and Rebel Fests. Having Jeunesse Apatride play the very first Rebel Fest was amazing. From what I understand, it was their only show (aside from European shows) outside of Quebec. Merci!!
Note 1: Hold a Grudge recorded a second album that has yet to see the light of day…fingers crossed that it does…
Note 2: The first 3 Jeuensse Apatride albums can be downloaded FOR FREE at their bandcamp page…
KILLING FIELDS – DOWN TO MY LAST ROUND
“Hardcore Against Capitalism,” that’s how Killing Fields described themselves. Raging political HC out of, yep, Montreal. This song came out on their 5-song cassette tape release “Down To My Last Round,” released in 2009. First came across this band on Myspace (!) and was intrigued. Another Quebec band that Rebel Time Records was able to convince, back in 2010, to make the 8 hour trip to Hamilton to play one of our Sunday afternoon Punk Rock Matinees. Sadly, the band broke up shortly thereafter, but, happily, recently, they have threatened to reform in one shape or another. Hoping that happens! In the meantime, you can download their 5 song cassette release FOR FREE on Bandcamp…do it, do it now!
THE REBEL SPELL – FIGHT FOR THE SUN
One of my favourite songs (both in terms of music and music) from one of my favourite bands and the last song on what I imagine will be the last album from the band. The first time I heard this tune, I got all verklempt (and still do when listening to it) The death of singer Todd Serious back in March 2015 hit us all hard, no doubt about it. We’re still in recovery mode. I couldn’t listen to anything by The Rebel Spell for quite a while, but, when I decided it was time to do so, this was the song I chose to start off with. For me personally, a song that fundamentally encapsulates the band’s ethos…committed, caring, uncompromising and compassionate. Inspirational and incendiary. Can’t say enough good things about this band and the people who comprised it. DIY political punk at it’s best. Please check them out and please fight for the sun…
S.C.U.M. – SO MUCH HATE
“S.C.U.M. stood for Society Controlled Under Murderers. The police in Montreal were known as the C.U.M. (Communaute Urbaine de Montreal) and they had street signs up for them so this was an easy graffiti thing to do was to put S’s in front of their acronym.” – Equalizing X Distort
Quite simply, one of the great anti-cop songs of all time, from Montreal’s S.C.U.M. The anger is visceral and palpable and, 30 years after this song was first released, still righteous and relevant. I mean, just this week 8 Quebec cops have been suspended for alleged sexual assaults on aboriginal women and in Toronto, the trial has started for the cop who pumped 9 rounds into Sammy Yatim. The last line of this song alone is worth the price of admission…”Your funeral is my party, pig.”
This song plays in my head a lot. I mean, a lot! It’s my all-purpose, go-to tune when The Man is pissing me off…
ZEROPTION – TRAITOR RED
1983. Sitting in a PoliSci class at McMaster University in Hamilton. Reading a copy of Black Triangle, a local punk zine. Dude sitting about three seats down on my left sees me reading it and whispers over “Hey, I’m in that zine!” Hmmm. I flip through the pages and, lo and behold, I see a picture of the dude. His name is Gord, and he plays bass for Zeroption. And, hey, I just happen to love Zeroption! I’d recently picked up the ‘TO Hardcore ’83’ compilation tape which featured a bunch of Toronto punk/HC bands, including Zeroption. Red Scare is one of the 3 tracks of great political punk rock they contributed to the comp.
Long story short, we got to talking and it turned out that both Gord and the band’s guitar player, Stuart, were attending McMaster. Of course, we all bonded over a shared love of punk rock and political science.I remember Gord made up a mixtape for me with stuff like Bad Religion, Die Kreuzen, SSD and Personality Crisis. He also gave me a tape with 8 or 10 Zeroption songs. Sadly, both tapes are long lost.