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The Gothic And The Gospel
Reason Y Records

Every time I get a new batch of CDs, I sift through them and give a quick listen to see if I can find that one diamond in the doo-doo. Last year, Mr. DeVoe and I concocted the idea for the Hybrid Magazine Must Hear Music seal of approval. Until now, I'd applied the badge of honor to exactly one CD. There've been others that were good CDs, but I wanted the HMMHM branded CDs to be a cut well above the rest, the sort of thing where when I'm recommending music to someone, I don't stop to think about what kind of music they like to listen to. They need to listen to it, and if they don't like it, they can go pound sand.

The Gothic and The Gospel is just such a record. Partisan's political reasoning has the simplicity and naiveté of youth (war is always wrong - granted, but railing against inevitable existential evils is like throwing stones at the ocean), and their logical progressions are riddled with non sequitur (i.e. comparing the War on Terrorism to events that happened decades ago in the South), but that is part and parcel for the punk ethos; railing against the system because it feels wrong, even when the rationale can't be logically articulated. I expect the politically charged lyrics of their later work to improve via metaphoric abstraction like the older works of Metallica or System of a Down (Both of whom have unfortunately become less subtle.), or through better-defined cause and effect relationships, and the excision of platitudes. Yeah, I know that I have unrealistic expectations for cogent political arguments to come out of entertainers, but considering the abhorrent decay of the Democratic Party and liberal ideology in general, someone's gotta be the torch bearer here.

The best lyrics are contained in "Georgia Goddamn". This is a personal song about a first punk concert attended by the song's narrator when he was 16, narrated with all of the flair of Henry Rollins' Get In the Van. And let's not forget the kick-ass tribal drumming; it all hinges on that.

Now, the reason this is Must Hear Music, is that Partisan is a compilation of its musical influences without being obvious carbon copies of any of them. They are Jazz, Hardcore, Rock, Tribal, Jam and probably some others that I'm missing, all mashed together into a dynamic and highly mutable sound. The end result is an experience that can be described as a sum of its parts, but the whole does not fit into any particular genre. This band is a moving target, but their music is resonant; it has a familiarity that is easy to identify with, even if it itself can't be singularly identified. And that is my measure of success. All others can throw themselves on the pyre, or under the steamroller along with the rest of the Madonna CDs.


Track Listing:
02. Screaming Man
03. Music is the Weapon
04. Georgia Goddamn
05. Intersections
06. 42nd Parallel
07. Yoruba and Oglala
08. Money Changes Everything
09. A Hunger Artist
10. Farther North
11. The Method
12. The Partisan
13. One Who Has Death in his Pouch
14. Redefining Necessary
15. Search and Defend
16. Wolf Smoke

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