Head cheese

by

New Model Army has fought the good fight since 1980, and its frontman, Justin Sullivan, is a passionate dude. NMA’s fist-jacking sloganeering sometimes resembled Hersham Boys-era Sham 69, but they could never be dismissed as shallow riff hooligans. No, they’re steadfast documentarians and defenders of the British proletariat — they did for post-punk what Massive Attack did for hip hop by tendering a literate and informed sense of the world in a highly listenable way, soothing left-of-center rage with moments of empathy for the people, places and things around them. NMA’s just-released Carnival (their ninth), is a mind-noshing blend of hummable hooks and grounded protest. Here are Sullivan’s monomanias:

5. Nationalism: Was it Samuel Johnson who said that “Nationalism is the last bastion of the scoundrel”? Very true. Why are most people so insecure that they’ll cling on to any lie if it tells them they are better than someone else?

4. Gender bender: Men who blame their own insecurities and personal shortcomings on feminism, and women who blame men for all their problems — I don’t subscribe to the idea of an ongoing and everlasting war between the genders.

3. Rap’s Trump Tower: Watching the shift of hip-hop music from a poetic howl of protest into a bland hymn to the very worst aspects of Western capitalism and greed is desperately sad.

2. Religions of the book: Christianity, Islam, Judaism. The belief that these are the precise and actual words of a god, and that adherence to a particular creed makes one person superior to another, is just bizarre and has been the cause of untold misery around the world.

1. Cruelty — great and small: People taking pleasure in the exercise of power over the powerless in whatever situation makes me despair of my species.

 

Appears Sunday, Sept. 25, at Small’s, 10339 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-873-1117.

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