Even in the punk scene, thoughtful idealism can be really hard to come by. The day I found Dissent’s self-titled LP (1988) at Toad Hall in Rockford, Illinois, I discovered a great record that originated in one of the most unexpected of places. Without question, I connect with the band’s leftist political consciousness and I appreciate anyone who has the courage to champion a cause. So, what caught my attention as I scanned the record bins? As you can see, their album cover features Albert Einstein. Then, I leafed through the lengthy booklet inside. This is a record of substance. Some of the issues they address with their lyrics and writing include poverty, hunger, animals, the environment, war, scandal, nuclear weapons, racism, and political prisoners. Unfortunately, here we are thirty years later and much of that content is just as relevant as ever. When I read the liner notes, I feel like I’m reading the words of young people who are intelligent enough to know what’s wrong in the world and passionate enough to demand that we do better. The music is predominately standard mid-tempo punk with vocals that might not appeal to some listeners because the singer sounds more irritated (and sarcastic?) than angry. Dissent is living proof of how punk diffused from New York and Los Angeles to permeate some of the more isolated cities deep within the country’s interior, i.e. Rapid City, South Dakota. To me, they’re like a beautiful weed growing out of a crack in a cement sidewalk.
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