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Art Bergmann “Songs for the Underclass” Album Review

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Art Bergmann “Songs for the Underclass” Album Review

After over a decade of silence, Art Bergmann, one of Canada’s most prolific and iconic punk rock figures has returned with a new ep, and a string of recent shows under his belt. He is responsible for such classic records as “Crawl with Me” and “Sexual Roulette” – and now you can add “Songs for the Underclass” to that list of seminal recordings.

Though the album only has four songs, it is clear that a lot of time and effort were taken to construct these compositions. This multiple Juno award winner doesn’t usually mess around when it comes to his works, and this newest effort is proof of that. It goes right for the throat early on with “Drones of Democracy” – a hard hitting Neil Youngesque protest song against the current state of war. Just when you think you have the track figured out, it goes into a psychedelic jam at the end that Art told me was, in his eyes, reminiscent of something from an early Pink Floyd or a later Beatles album. The song hits hard and the message is clear.

The second song, “The Corporate Store” is another protest song, this time targeting how everything is just a product and that there’s no soul left in things. At first listen, it is clear that Art has been influenced musically by Bob Dylan on this one (one of his admired heroes) – and I mean “Highway 61” or “Bringing it All Back Home” era Dylan, not the acoustic stuff. Lyrically it has a lot of punk spit in it, and it is clear that Art is not afraid to say what’s on his mind. “We’re all whores at the corporate store” – brilliant.

Track three is entitled “Ballad of a Crooked Man” and in my opinion, is the most “Art Bergmann” style song on the record. It is very ambient to start, and goes into a heavy middle section but eventually returning to the ambient style to finish it off. The song could have easily come off his debut record musically, but lyrically is very “now”. The themes of society, class and consumption runs through it, which for Art Bergmann, is the opposite of the way he used to write. Most of his old material was more outwardly focused, where as on this record he has looked outward but reflected inward. This makes sense – due to the fact that he’s been semi-reclusive for over a decade, reading every book he could get his hands on.

The last song on the record “Your Cold Appraising Eye” contains my favorite lyric on the album  “the people that you piss on shit on your grave”. It’s so brilliant – I mean, think about it. It’s a slow lounge number which features the piano and is a fitting final track.

Art Bergmann has a unique way of looking at things, and a brilliant way of spitting back out the things he sees with humor, sincerity  and honesty. He believes every word and is a powerful writer and player. It’s great to see him back doing what he does, and another album is in the works. For more information, and to buy the album, check out www.artbergmann.com

THE SCENE


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