If there is one thing the rest of the United States should know about Wisconsin, it’s this: Wisconsinites are proud. Wisconsinites are defiant. They do not like to be ****ed with.
And if Unintimidated: Musicians Against Scott Walker is any indication, there is a growing population of Wisconsinites disgruntled with their current governor. This should not necessarily come as a surprise considering the large-scale protests Walker incited with the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, or the “budget repair bill”—which restricted collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions in the state, among other items.
According to the project’s website, noise rock quartet, IfIHadAHiFi’s DJ Hostettler and pop punk band, Heavy Hand’s Anthony Webber created Unintimidated as an outlet for their frustration at Walker’s now failed Presidential candidacy. The compilation carries on with the peaceful nature of the aforementioned protests. [Although, this clip from Fox News featuring palm trees in Wisconsin may misleadingly indicate otherwise (read: there are no palm trees in Wisconsin).]
Unintimidated’s site explains, “The Weasel Governor of Wisconsin has been a disaster for our state, and he would be a disaster for our country. As musicians, we’re not rich, so we can’t really play politics. But we can scream really loudly. So we’ll do that.”
And scream it does. United by their desire to have their voice heard, 13 of Unintimidated’s 16 bands traveled to Howl Street Recordings in Milwaukee, WI. Here, each was given two hours to record their track. As this allowed for minimal—if any—dubbing, each track has a raw feel and sounds very much like a live performance. While worth noting, this atmosphere fits well with the rebellious nature of the songs, which range from critiquing Walker in general to discussing controversial tenets of his longstanding political career (of which there are many).
While it is hard to pick standouts on a compilation album of solid music that encompasses numerous genres, FowlMouth’s “Too Tired to Riot” is an especially fitting anthem. Its upbeat bluesy-punk feel is reminiscent of blue-collar workers across the state, who may be “too tired to riot” as the hooky chorus suggests.
Heavy Hand’s, “White Power Norah Jones” similarly works as an anthem, albeit a more pop-influenced one. Midwest Death Rattle carries on with the festival-like tempo of these songs, sounding like a punk Franz Ferdinand/Modest Mouse hybrid in its fast-paced, “What’s Wrong With the Right (2 Work It?).” Slower sections of the song allow the listener to take in the full impact of the track’s disillusioned lyrics.
Lady Cannon’s piano-infused “A Bad Man” is also especially striking. As one of the slower tracks on the album, Cannon’s voice glides over lyrics such as, “As bad as he seems / I want to think that I’m not at the mercy of a bad man / Of a bad man.” This is paired with slow, thundering drumbeats and a sliding cello—which together lend a dreamlike quality to the piece.
Tyranny is Tyranny’s noise metal “Three Point Program to Destroy Wisconsin” marks a sharp contrast to the rest of the album. This is not to say the song does not fit in. Rather, it seems to encapsulate all of the gloom and despair hinted at in other tracks.
Lastly, this review would not be complete without mentioning Damsel Trash’s, “Scott Walker, You’re a Piece of Shit.” In addition to utilizing a cowbell to its full potential in the chorus, lyrics like “You’re a piece of shit / Hey, eat a bag of dicks” and “Get out of my face / And suck my left one!” add a super-fun, humorous edge to the trash punk track.
Out tomorrow (April 8th), the compilation is available as both an audio download and physical copy CD. The latter comes with a DVD revealing footage shot during the recording sessions.
Proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood and local soup kitchens—making Unintimidated a no-brainer for both those into politically charged punk music and those who want to support the community whilst indulging in good tunes.
1. 285 Feet Tall – Haunted Heads
2. Too Tired to Riot – FowlMouth
3. Right to Work – Body Futures
4. Starving – Drillers
5. Wrong – Volunteer
6. Open for Strabismus – Soap Moat
7. A Bad Man – Lady Cannon
8. How About ‘No,’ Scott? – Holy Shit!
9. White Power Norah Jones – Heavy Hand
10. What’s Wrong With the Right (2 Work It?) – Midwest Death Rattle
11. Bring Back the Guillotines – IfIHadAHiFi
12. Three Point Program to Destroy Wisconsin – Tyranny is Tyranny
13. Walk(er) Against Us – Donoma
14. Left Mitten – Venus in Furs
15. Scott Walker, You’re a Piece of Shit – Damsel Trash
16. Bad Wolf – Testa Rosa