Enemies of Progress (A-F)
by Morgan Coe
Attention Pipedown: If you really want people to take you seriously as “enemies of progress,” you might want to lose the clothing endorsement. Likewise, quoting Bad Religion and The Matrix in your liner notes doesn’t do much to make you look like deep revolutionary thinkers. While we’re at it, if you’re going to bother having your singer write a pretentious essay on how we should all become “enemies of progress,” get someone to fucking proofread it. And don’t even get me started on including a reading list (broken into “analog” and “digital” sections, like Propagandhi) with a title like “Knowledge Is A Weapon” (I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry: Propagandhi called theirs “Knowledge Is Power. Arm Yourself”) just to remind me about 1984, The Catcher In The Rye, and the Unabomber Manifesto. “Thanks, Pipedown, I feel much more politically-aware now that I know about The Anarchist Cookbook and that Thoreau dude who was all about, like, civil disobedience and shit!”
Good music can justify a lot of nonsense. Pipedown, on the other hand, sound like an uncomfortable cross between lightweight “punk” and lightweight “hardcore.” Part of the problem is the production: The guitars and drums are too boxy to be tough, but too slick to be raw. They get the job done on the mid-tempo songs, but sound silly when they go too fast or slow. The bass, on the other hand, is very clear and busy in a first-Rancid-album kind of way. Sometimes it works, but more often than not it doesn’t really add anything. The singer hasn’t yet graduated from the Gorilla Biscuits Youth Crew Academy; his shouting isn’t terribly intense and his singing isn’t terribly melodic. The “tricky” intros, the “heavy” breakdowns, the “angry” verses, the “catchy” choruses, the “tough” back-up vocals, the occasional Fugazi-lite “weird” passages, the lyrical clichés about homophobia and technology and how everyone needs to “rise up” – you’ve heard them all a million times before.* So why did they even bother? I’ll paraphrase the CrimethInc Collective’s Pipedown-approved Days Of War, Nights Of Love: Are they using their band to “sell” revolution, or are they using “revolution” to sell their band?
(PO Box 71266 Pittsburgh, PA 15213)
* If you haven’t, I’d recommend Randy, Dillinger 4, or Fugazi: Less (lyrical and musical) bullshit, more (lyrical and musical) substance.