I’ve been listening to a lot of Propagandhi. No other Canadian artists, lyrically, have been able to match my anxiety and anger over last week’s historic turbulence and the terror of knowing that time will keep rushing forward. The future seems to hold more anxiety and anger for me, and more real life-or-death scenarios for many Americans and those in the crosshairs of its seemingly dwindling, but make no mistake about it, awesome and apocalyptic power.
“Note To Self”, the lead track off of their most recent album, Failed States has felt particularly prescient given this brutal week.
So much for your hopes and your dreams and your children.
You just sat there believing in this bullshit system.
Just wishing the mob would magically come to its senses.
How does it make you feel to know you just stood by and watched it?
How does it feel? To me, someone who doesn’t live in the states, goddamn it feels sickening. But this world, the system under which we live our lives has an amazing way of making individuals feel utterly powerless.
I marched in the Toronto Women’s March. It felt good, but I still feel bad. “Get involved in politics”, they say, “run for office.” Get out there, do your best, inevitably fold to the disgusting and demoralizing capitalist system that grips our reality and allows us to see the world through blood stained, but rose-coloured glasses.
“Optimism” is a word that has been thrown around a lot over the past few months. I suppose it’s necessary to keep your chin up during times like these. But it’s hard knowing, or at least feeling, like it’s going to take decades (and a ton of horrible shit that will affect the entire world) for the supposed sunny ways of yesteryear to break through the darkest clouds I’ve ever experienced as a citizen of the world.
Music is magic – please be ensured this is not a ‘Trump will be great for art argument’ – and its most enduring and important quality is its ability to capture true human emotion. Specifically the emotions of what it feels like to exist at a certain period of time. What is not magic, is the reality of process, production time and how long it takes for art to catch up with the world around it. A satirical tirade regarding a day’s events can be written in hours. A gut wrenching, soul turning song or album can not. Modernization and connectivity can be a real bummer.
I haven’t been able to write about music over the past month because nothing has a really captured how I feel. I’m writing this on Sunday, after the most shameful day in American history during my lifetime and a thankfully a beautiful gift arrived in my earholes. Jon Mckiel’s “Conduit” is political but hopeful. It sounds like a dystopian Constantines song. It will appear on Memorial Ten Count appropriately being released by Steve Lambke’s You’ve Changed Records, and offers best wishes to America. “Please police a system of love” cries Mckiel, his words collapsing over themselves in a disorienting rock n roll assault.
As a Canadian, it feels as though that’s all I can offer, a peace sign, best wishes, hopeful thought that you, everyone, all of us, will make it out of this intact. Maybe I’m over reacting. Maybe my worry is unfounded. But as art catches up with the times I am comforted by the knowledge that I’m not alone. “Conduit” is the first of many anthems that will come to define this weird and unsettling period in history. Four minutes of hope, peace, and love is far better than unending dread. Wherever you’re located in the world, a break from the chaos is necessary, let Jon Mckiel’s “Conduit” be that hopeful break you need to keep your peace sign high in the sky.