Lowest Of The Low - The Barricade (Warner Music Canada): After revisiting the glories of its '90s work last year with the massive retrospective box set, Shakespeare My Box!!, the Toronto indie heroes are looking forward with a new album, Agitpop, set for release on Friday (May 31).
This advance track reaffirms that LOTL remains a potent force, musically and lyrically. At a time when few artists dare to stand and be counted on political and social issues, The Low's singer and lyricist, Ron Hawkins, remains outspoken and proudly leftist. This fact is evident here via songs entitled Night Of A Thousand Guns, New Wave Action Plan, The Ballad of Late-Era Capitalism, F-Noise (Rebel Radio), and The Barricade.
In a press release, Hawkins outlines the manifesto of the album: “It’s been a while since I felt the need to take the small 'p' in the politics of my songwriting and capitalize it. Probably not since the '80s, when Reaganomics rankled, and the threat of nuclear annihilation seemed to loom on the horizon. I spent the '90s and onwards embedding my politics in the personal stories of people trying to get through the day. I wrote about the trees instead of the forest.
"But with fascism on the rise again throughout the world and with the steaming wreckage of Neo-Liberalism proving that it has no answers for the liberation of the world’s population it’s time to hit “caps lock” on that P once again. Agitpop is the new Lowest of the Low record comprised of songs about revolution and redistribution… liberation, love and justice."
Those sentiments infuse The Barricade. The video splices footage of Martin Luther King and such contemporary protests as the Women's March and Black Lives Matter, with Hawkins pledging "I'll meet you at the barricade in the cool defiant rain." A guest horn section adds punch to the track.
Other songs on the album feature tenderness as well as anger, something of a trademark for a gifted and prolific songwriter who has been somewhat undervalued. Reference points here would include such acknowledged influences as The Clash, The Specials, and Billy Bragg. LOTL recruited A-list producer/mixer David Bottrill (Tool, Muse, Silverchair) for the record, a smart move.
Lowest Of The Low launch the album with an Ontario tour beginning at Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on May 31. Dates here