More Evidence Protest Music Is A Thing Again

I’ve been speculating quite a bit lately that protest songs seem to be making a comeback, but I wasn’t prepared for the musical performance I saw on Colbert Tuesday night.

It was from the band Nice as F*%#, a great name that is unfortunately but necessarily edited for public consumption as NAF. It’s an indie supergroup of sorts gathering together three very talented and accomplished musicians. Jenny Lewis is a real musical pilgrim having spent the bulk of the past 20 years bouncing from project to project, from Rilo Kiley to The Postal Service to solo work to stuff with M. Ward and Conor Oberst. Indie credentials don’t get much better than that.

Joining her in NAF is Erika Forster from Au Revoir Simone, an arty electronica chill band from Brooklyn that broke new ground in the genre with its unique lyrics, melodies and vocal treatments. Also in NAF is Tennessee Thomas from the band The Like, who also happens to be the daughter of The Attractions’ long-time drummer Pete Thomas and is a great drummer in her own right.

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So what I discovered on Tuesday night was that NAF doesn’t just sing protest songs, it also carries all the traditional accessories of protest acts: hand-painted signs, a collection of extras who dance around and sing choruses, revolutionary berets and jackets, and of course bell-bottom pants.

At first glance I thought it was a comedy act. But the cool part is that despite the Sixties references, and despite Lewis’ natural inclinations as an acoustic singer, this is no Sixties revival act. Instead, NAF brings an Eighties-style pop punk sound that gives the message a freshness that it wouldn’t have had as Sixties nostalgia outfit.

And who could argue with these messages? In “Door” Lewis delivers with feeling the lines “If you believe in peace and love/ And the message above/ Don’t close the door”. And in “Gun” the band tries to get a singalong with the lines “I don’t wanna be afraid / Put your guns away”.

OK so it’s not’s the most incisive political commentary or the most exciting music I’ve ever heard, but I think it’s wonderful that artists are starting to go to greater lengths to take a stand. Throughout history artists have taken up causes, and in so doing, they bring themselves closer – and make themselves more relevant – to their public.

If we could get artists with all points of view out there speaking and singing their minds, maybe we could begin to break down the entrenched positions so many people cling so desperately to. Artists certainly couldn’t do any worse than the politicians on that score.

2 comments to “More Evidence Protest Music Is A Thing Again”
  1. Pingback: Peter Buck’s Latest Indie Supergroup Sounds Fantastic | Rocknuts

  2. Pingback: It’s Official: A New Era Of Protest Music Has Begun | Rocknuts

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