Propagandhi
Potemkin City Limits


4.0
excellent

Review

by STFDood84 USER (8 Reviews)
November 8th, 2005 | 52 replies | 13,273 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


7 of 8 thought this review was well written

Although it's been a LONG time (approximatly 4 1/2 years) since their last album, 2001's Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes, most Propagandhi fans, such as myself, are used to waiting for long periods of time between albums anyways. But as any fan also knows, Propagandhi is one of those bands that is instant quality with any release. Very few bands can successfully re-invent themselves even once in a career; Propagandhi does it with every album. From the SoCal punk stylings of 1993 and 1996's How To Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock to the 2001 thrash-metal/hardcore masterpiece Today's Empires, and now with 2005's Potemkin City Limits, Propagandhi continues to impress with their diverse sound, amazing technicality, and pure songwriting genious.

If you're not aware of it yet, Propagandhi is FIERCELY left-wing, anarchistic, anti-capitalist, pro-gay rights, pro-vegan, pro-animal rights, pro-feminist... you get the picture. If you are sensitive with politics, or believe even for a second the stories that our media tells us regarding our country, our President, and the War On Terror, you will probably find Propagandhi to be the most offensive band you've ever listened to. They make System's and RATM's lyrics look downright normal, for comparison purposes. These guys have BALLS, and they ain't afraid to let them swing to and 'fro.

Potemkin combines the prog-thrash breakdowns and abstract song structures of TETA with a more straight-forward punk rock/hardcore sound that is very reminiscent of their older work from the mid-'90s. Although not as balls-to-the-wall as TETA and less guitar-heavy, most of the songs on PCL are long (by punk rock standards), involving, and intricate, combining break-neck tempos with slow free-time jams, blistering lead guitar work, incredible basslines, awe-inspiring drumming, and in general, absolutely superb musicianship. I know this may sound like exagerration, but you probably won't hear many thrash/punk bands in your lifetime that can play as well as Propagandhi. The fact that Chris plays such difficult rhythmic inversions/progressions WHILE pulling out seriously impressive lead chops WHILE singing his wordy, rapid-fire polemics is quite a feat.

On to the album, Potemkin picks up business with the first track, "A Speculative Fiction". Fast, raging, and intense as hell, complete with some seriously bad-ass riffage and an almost Tom Morello-ish, riff-driven breakdown, this is probably my favorite track off the album. Lyrically, it seems to be about a fictional impending war between Canada and the US ("A new iron curtain drawn across/the 49th parallel/cut all dipolmatic ties as we expel/all our American dignitaries and issue a nationwide/travel advisory for any other left inside"), all with tongue firmly-in-cheek at the same time ("Your stupid fukking laser-pucks were just the start"). Incredible opener for sure.

Another more interesting track that drops off of Propagandhi's typical path is the 7/8 (I think) groove-oriented, proggy, Todd-sung (yes, he sings now) "Cut Into The Earth". Almost spoken-word at times, Todd proves he's as capable a singer as Chris, and far more often than on [i]TETA[/] steps up as frontman on other tracks like "Bringer Of Greater Things", a punkish mid-tempo number with extremely catchy, sublime rhythm work and riffs, as well as "Life At Disconnect". His basslines have also improved tremndously, which were already great on Empires. Some old TETA-style "Todd"core numbers - "Impending Halfhead" and "Superbowl Patriot XXXVI" - remain here, and are truthfully the most reminiscient of Prop's 2001 opus. Most of the album is in general a little slower and more experimental - which is a testament to their versatility, as the mid-tempo songs are exceptionally well done, most tellingly on the aforementioned "Cut Into The Earth".

Another standout is the US Army-bashing "Die Jugend Marshiert", which starts off with what seems to be a Hitler Youth march, singing "die jugend marschert". It sets a tone for the song to follow, a well-aimed cruise missle of invective at our military and their less-than-admirable recruiting policies, all delivered as if giving an oration to a crowd by the military personnel (http://www.propagandhi.com/lyrics/potemkin.php - sorry couldn't copy & paste). It's masterfully done, and the absolutely ripping solo (played while singing no less) and tension-building bridge part doesn't hurt either.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't do a shout-out for "Rock For Sustainable Capitalism", Hannah's own direct shot at, of all people, Fat Mike (bassist/frontman of NOFX and owner of Fat Wreck Chords, Propagandhi's American label). Ripping into the whole PunkVoter/Rock Against Bush movement as well as the Vans Warped Tour and its business practices, Chris deftly calls attention to Fatty's handshake with John Kerry (pictured above the lyrics in the booklet) as a focal point to slam against his "lesser of two evils" willingness to replace Bush with a Democrat that in reality wasn't much, if at all, different than Bush.

"I fukkin' love that one rock video where/that fukking fat-ass mohawked millionaire prances around by far the worst sausage-party alive/
Where by mere chance he's caught on film, shaking hands/With an incredibly diverse selection of patriotic skins - I love the message it sends... (fukking goof)/With A Rebel Yell (TM), Just Do Exactly What You're Told/One million douchebags can't be wrong!"


There's a snip of it, but trust me, it gets better. Fat Mike's hypocritical "When did punk rock become so safe?" line from The War On Errorism gets borrowed here, along with a poignant, withering comment directed at his boss: "Well you'll excuse me when I laugh in your face while I itemize your reciepts/and Powerpoint your balance sheets", backed up by some wildly over-the-top, 80's back-up vox from Tae-bo Todd. And truth be told, it's pretty hard to argue against NOFX's potty-joke, melodic influence on the current crop of marginally-talented pop-punk bands cluttering the mainstream.

He then slams the Vans Warped Tour with equal viciousness. "I hear this year than Vans Warped Tour's going 'green'/I guess they heard that money grows on trees, well/Let's ship their sh!tty bands overseas, LIKE THEY DID THEIR FACTORIES!" The song never lets up, next lamenting the current homogenization of the music they still love. The bridge part of the song, where the guitars drop down to barely audible over the punk beat, leads into a truly epic-sounding riff/verse combo. One of the best moments of the album.

Other standouts are the outro track, "Iteration", a recounting of U.S. Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's fictional war crimes trial, from Rummy's point of view. Full of different movements and bridge sections, as well as a truly huge-sounding outro (complete with obligatory "Purina Hall Of Fame"-style shred solo) that caps off a new classic in the making.

SUMMARY

In short, Potemkin City Limits expands on Propagandhi's already-diverse sound with more mid-tempo, experimental tracks like "Cut Into The Earth" and "Bringer Of Greater Things". Todd has really stepped up on this disc, more than Jord or Chris (who at times are a bit more restrained than on Empires) to truly complete the ultimate singing/songwriting team in punk rock. As I've read in some interviews, Todd is slowly becoming the driving force behind Prop's musical direction, as Chris Hannah seems to finally be tiring of the musical life (he's stated that it's not his "life", and he kinda fell into it). But for now, Potemkin succeeds where TETA faltered slightly - it's Propagandhi's strongest album musically, bringing together the old-school sound with Prop's newer metal/prog tendencies. See you in five years, guys.

STANDOUT TRACKS: A Speculative Fiction, Die Jugend Marshiert, Rock For Sustainable Capitalism, Cut Into The Earth, Iteration

RATING: 4/5



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user ratings (301)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zesty Mordant
November 8th 2005



1196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dammit, I wanted to review this! But anyways, great work (so far) keep it up.

As for the album itself, it rocks: great riffs, high energy, fast, aggressive, loud- but on the other hand its also has moments of subtleness and experimentation. Definately a step up from TETA.

well worth the wait too.

Jawaharal
November 8th 2005



1832 Comments


you shouldn't post incomplete reviews and I think it would be better if you took out the wikipedia excerpt since its supposed to be mainly your writing.

Good review for what you have.

STFDood84
November 9th 2005



179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finished!

STFDood84
November 10th 2005



179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Anything?

Captain_HumpYourFace
December 13th 2005



119 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album hasn't left my stereo since I picked it up last week. Propagandhi are one of my favorite bands and this didn't let me down at all. I don't see how anyone can call the music anything below incredible. I can see how this band can piss a lot of people off though but that's a good thing because it means you're listening.

Propagandhi is the best punk band still making music today, period.

Zebra
Moderator
December 13th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How To Clean Everything is an excellent album punk cd. I have yet to year this but from what I have heard I have very high expectations for this.

Excellent review.

Captain_HumpYourFace
December 13th 2005



119 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah Zebra this album really is worlds away from How To Clean Everything. I would say that they've only gotten better with time but if you really love the pop-punky aspects of Propagandhi's earlier work you'll be disapointed. They've gotten a lot harder on their recent albums and the humour has been toned down but it's still there, you just need to look a little harder.

Zebra
Moderator
December 21st 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just bought this and I enjoy it, but I don't think it's as good as the bands debut.

Although there are no bad tracks no songs stand out with the exception of "Fixed Frequencies."

I'd give it 3.5 leaning towards four. The album is a good solid listen but nothing has really grabbed onto me yet.

Jersey's Best Dancer
December 21st 2005



3 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

TETA > HTCE > PCL

CushMG15
December 28th 2005



1802 Comments


What would be the best introduction to these guys?

STFDood84
December 29th 2005



179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Get either Potemkin or Today's Empires to get a grasp of their newer sound. Today's and How To Clean are both pretty essential, though... HTCE is more NOFX-ish punk mixed with Prop's political-ness. It sounds way too much like NOFX sometimes though (most early Fat bands did, anyways...). TETA is probably their best overall record though... read my review to get an idea of it.

albert_bass
December 29th 2005



34 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is an amazing album. To zebra who said the album hasn't grabbed onto him yet I'll say it won't for some time. This album grows on you with time just like wine. But it's clearly a great album, with amazing lyrics and riffs and you just have to believe in Propagandhi and let music start growing on you. TETA and HTCE are probably a little catchier and that's the problem at first with this album but once you're on it, it doesn't disappoint. For me, an (almost) instant classic.

MAthiAS
May 6th 2006



54 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, this album really grew on me after I didn't like it too much on first listen. Now I listen to it more than TETA even. The lyrics probably aren't as good, but musically I enjoy it slightly more.

smokersdieyounger
May 7th 2006



672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My friend lent me all of Propagandhi's albums like the first time I met them, I was very grateful, they are an amazing band. One of Canada's best.

kno_kontrol
June 3rd 2006



448 Comments


this album really isnt as great as everyone claims it to be. While there are some excellent songs, Die Jugend Marshiert and A Speculative Fiction, there is also some pretty big piles of tripe here. Rock for Sustainable Capitalism is as ranty as Anti-flag and as hypocritical as Skrewdriver. Their first two albums are both great, but this is just too odd to really work. Progressive and thrash sounds like a great idea, but it just doesnt work. Its alright, but dont buy it if you are expecting anything like their olderworks.

kno_kontrol
June 3rd 2006



448 Comments


oh and the review was a bit fanboyish. Sorry, but not enough for a pos vote

STFDood84
June 9th 2006



179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I guess each to their own, but honestly, at least they have a more original sound than the NOFX-derivative sound of How To Clean and Less Talk More Rock. And I'm no fanboy, I call it how I see it, and I think you need to listen to this album a few more times and actually pay attention to the lyrics. How are they hypocritical? Last I checked Bad Religion had no problem mass-marketing "rebellion" to the mainstream either, dude... you work the system or it works you. That's how it goes.

smokersdieyounger
June 16th 2006



672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think that this is thier best record so far, its got all you want from Propagandhi. Great melodies, powerful music, intelligent lyrics and informative liner notes, and this has them all in more abundance than thier other records.

Lexluthor
October 4th 2006



96 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Progressive and thrash sounds like a great idea, but it just doesnt work."

I think thats more of a joke than anything else.

Intransit
December 23rd 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So my opinion on this album has considerably changed and I have to say I enjoy this the most of all Propagandhi. It's like, Epic punk or something like that. Sorta reminds me of a more linear version of Thrice or something.




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