John Brown’s Gat – The 1865 (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I always feel that if you get to have a platform, find yourself in a position where you have people’s attention, then not using that elevated status to say something worthwhile is a bit of a wasted opportunity. That was one of the things about punk back in the day. Having piqued curiosity and turned a few heads with talk of anarchy and chaos, most band’s of the scene then proceeded to whine about the most inconsequential of things. And as the years went on it just got worse until a guy-linered, emo rocker banging on about not fitting in at school became the height of revolution! And just when I think that no one is coming along to change that, I stumble across The 1865 and their re-telling of the story of John Brown.

Being a Brit I hear a lot of Crass’s approach to the whole punk sound, themselves not afraid to shake things up a bit, and that is that is so great about The 1865…not to mention the name. The band’s own description of “Bad Brains meets Foo Fighters in a black woman’s hair salon for a cup of tea,” is just as intriguing.

It’s punk but on their terms. Punk remembering that it isn’t about following rules, sonic or otherwise. Punk willing to throw a hand grenade into the accepted views of the past. And the timing is perfect. As issues of colour and creed, gender and generation seem hot topics once again, it is time for music to get literate once more. Punk and Hip-Hop happened because people were pissed off with their lot, and I am constantly wondering why, given the dark clouds gathering at the moment, we haven’t created a new scene for people to shout at, ridicule, question and generally speak truth to power. Well, maybe we have. Maybe The 1865 mark the emergence of just such a scene. We can only hope.

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