How long have I been whining that there are just not enough modern protest songs?
I have been pretty consistently disappointed that with more internal and external struggle than we have seen in decades in this country coming from all sides, there is a serious lack of music talking about it. We have what seems to be a limitless supply of talented musicians putting out music that’s been good – it just isn’t saying anything. It’s something that frustrates the hell out of me, especially because I do a lot of work within the ska and jam scenes, both of which historically are known for writing about awareness. Let’s be honest – this is a crucial time in our country. People are quite literally fighting for their lives and the lives of their kids. They can surely use some music to move them along, but where is it? Since I do a lot of writing in the ska and reggae scenes, I have found people seem surprised to learn what a folkie I am. Presently, I am writing this wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words LISTEN TO WOODY GUTHRIE and I wear it a lot because I genuinely think that everyone should. I am thirsty for music that not only moves my body, but fuels a movement.
Leave it to The Prizefighters to quench that thirst.
These fantastic rocksteady groovers from Minneapolis have been putting out the kind of music that effortlessly moves your hips since 2006. We have done a few articles here at A Perfect Mess on their particular brand of throwback ska pretty much since this blog started and they remain one of my very favorite bands in the scene. Not only are they extremely talented and precisely in touch with an old school vibe that other bands can’t touch, but they are also stellar humans who have done A LOT of work to bring awareness through their platform. It’s no wonder that at such a crazy time in our lives, they are using their music to say something. A good example was just last year when they put out a really cool cover of the folk classic “Joe Hill” in support of unions and worker’s rights. They previously did a bandcamp campaign matching proceeds to donate to Reclaim the Block in their hometown of Minneapolis. They have often spoken out against violence, misogyny, climate change, white nationalism, and have always put their money where their mouth is in terms of donating album proceeds and bringing awareness to local and national organizations that do the same. They are the whole package. Talent and principals. It’s something I find lacking elsewhere and so refreshing to see being done consistently in the Prizefighters.
On the talent end, these folks have not only put out music that keeps the traditional sounds of Jamaica alive and well, but they have also backed the legends that helped create that sound on numerous occasions. Names like Stranger Cole, Derrick Morgan, Charlie Organaire, Roy & Yvonne, just to name a few. In addition, they continue to play out on the regular with bands like Hepcat and the Slackers who are still out there keeping that scene alive. I can’t say enough about The Prizefighters except that I wish they were in New Jersey more often so I can go see them!
But wait, I did have a point to make and it’s how freaking cool this new song is.
The band has been busy nurturing that sound with a new track, “Kick The Can”, and it is rocking my soul as well as my socks. The song was written as a call-to-arms in reaction to the hopelessness of our current climate crisis, in addition to the accompanying bureaucratic inaction that seems to have it constantly on fire. While pointing out how disappointing this all is, it brings with it a hopefully message of change. It’s an accurate depiction of the mindset of our nation as we watch reservoirs dry up, wildfires rage, and floods take lives and countless amounts of personal and property damage while our elected officials worry more about who’s bathroom someone might use and the ever present love affair with automatic weapons. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cut it, but this song brings with it an upbeat tempo of hope. We can’t make a change without raising our voices, and thankfully, The Prizefighters are on the scene to give us the blueprints with something awesome to sing along with.
Let’s point out the obvious that the song moves hard from right out of the gate and doesn’t stop until the track cuts. It’s just consistent rocksteady groove; head bobbingly punchy and fun. The song is bubbling over with soul while making you dance. If you can listen to this and not want to get up and roll your hips with the groove, you might want to check your pulse. It’s so clean while still retaining that traditional gritty feel. It’s groove-heavy in its throwback vibe while still retaining a modern flow and honest relevance. I love that about the way The Prizefighters write. It’s always honest and never puts on airs. This song is fun while making a serious point. The drums are steady perfection intertwined with perfectly laid keys. The bass is laced through the mix with the seemingly simple but perfectly threaded guitar. The vocal melodies are very well done and easy to sing along with, which I am. A lot, because lyrically it’s right on the money, saying what we need to hear…
“We can’t just keep our goal posts moving further down the line…”
“We are pound foolish and penny wise, hoarding wealth while the earth dies…”
“It doesn’t matter what we should have done then, it only matters what we’re gonna do now…”
It’s truly a rally cry – we need to fix things before it’s too late.
I can’t get enough of this song since it was sent to me, and there are more on the way leading up to the band’s new full length album, “Punch Up” which will be out this summer on Jump Up Records. This song will be released officially the day before Earth Day, April 21, 2023. Perfect timing, if you ask me. Keep your eyes to the band’s website for more on their next tracks and upcoming release!
You can head over to Spotify for a pre-save and a special message!
Check out the band’s Bandcamp page here – EVERYTHING there is stellar:
As always, follow the band on their website for more release and tour information:
As always, see you out there!