Barbicide – Songs About Heartbreak and Nazis

Back in October, Barbicide dropped an album that nearly slipped completely under my radar. The debut album, Songs About Heartbreak and Nazis, features original members from the acclaimed New York Satanic two-tone punk ska band Mephiskapheles. Mikal Reich and Brendon Tween do the writing and much of the singing on the album, in addition to Reich handling the drums and some of the keys while Tween takes the guitar. I assumed this combination might have provided some additional recognition for the album, but it still released pretty quietly. In addition to these two, the band is rounded out with Irena Jaroszewski on bass and also a large portion of vocals. Anya Combs and Al McCabe on Bari and Alto sax respectively and rounded out with Osho “Hollywood” Endo on trumpet. The album title adequately describes the subject matter of the album- songs about heartbreak, and in case there was any confusion, songs that say fuck nazis. 

The album begins with an epic instrumental flourish, rising horns, cymbals crashing to build anticipation, the call of trumpets, before introducing what starts as a ska punk unlove song. The song, about “Jezebel” being the cause of heartbreak and the end of love, is not bad, but this track is highlighted by a great bridge, dominated by outstanding work by the saxophones.
The second track picks up the pacing and feels a little more ska, where the inattentive listener may mishear the chorus of “I’d Unlove You” as “I love You”, and the upbeat tempo of the song would justify the mistake. I can’t listen to this song without stopping to appreciate the keys. Only a few songs on this album feature the keyboard, but I really feel like they crush it whenever they use it. They even add in a keyboard solo to start off an instrumental portion of the song that sees short solos for keys, the horns, and the guitar. 

The third track is the first track to heavily feature vocals from Irena Jaroszewski. This song, named after the band (or perhaps the other way around) “Barbicide” is a fun oi ska track. It tells a simple narrative twice, from two different perspectives, using two different vocalists playing off each other. It’s probably the catchiest song on the album with ear worms that have you singing hours later, but even the catchy vocals are outmatched with the horn and hunter solos during the bridge.

The album features a relatively small number of political songs, but the one that sticks out most, by far, is “Bloodfall”. The song feels almost jazz like and begins like a lounge song. With Jaroszewski taking the vocals, crooning over a simple guitar, sets the stage of an extravagant party of politicians. As the musical tension slowly builds through the first verse, the corruption is unveiled as a biblical rainfall of blood and frogs sets the background and the politicians continue to golf and engage in debauchery. It is a beautiful allegory and one of the best songs of the year, in my opinion. It’s writing and execution are flawless. 

The influences throughout the album shift from track to track. With the trio of vocalists, it always stays fresh and exciting. Several songs invoke humor, and they often deal with lost love is a humorous way. Even “Bloodfall” seems to invoke a little humor in its narration. The next to last song on the album, however, is another political song that avoids humor, and hits the nail on the head. “Always Again” is the song most directly about nazis. It starts off talking about Charlottesville, the now infamous location of the nazi protests, and includes Donald Trump’s quote about “good people on both sides”. The song talks about the need to stand up to nazis, always and forever, until there are none left. It flips the “never again” mantra about genocide on its head with “always again” referencing stomping back fascism every time it tries to rear its head. It flips the white supremacist dog whistle “replacement theory” on its head, and claims “we will replace you”, meaning we will replace racists, bigots, and fascists. It is a call to action, and a damn good punk/ ska song to go along with the message.

If you missed this album when it came out  you owe it to yourself to go stream it now.

Gimp Leg is a freelance ska fan that enjoys writing, because he is completely devoid of musical talent. He also hates cops and capitalism, but loves paleontology and baseball. He wants you to know that he is proud of you and that you are doing the best you can.

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