The Pinkerton Thugs - End of an Era
Go-Kart Records

"End of an Era" proves that punk isn't dead, though
a lot of the guys who wear the tee shirts and sing the
songs maybe oughta be.  I'm not going to lie to you
and say that this album changed my life, or tore open
my mind and shoved new ideas into it, or that it made
me walk around feeling like I had a permanent raging
erection the way I felt when I first listened to the
Dead Kennedys or Stiff Little Fingers.  But I will say
it feels like it has that kind of potential.  It feels
like the kind of album that could do exactly that for
somebody who hadn't already had it done for them so
long ago that the feeling was getting crusty and
needed to be re-invigorated every now and then.  And
The Pinkerton Thugs *did* do that for me.  The album
reminded me of what I love about punk.  Any good album
by a band that has more message than marketing schtick
and at least as much balls as it has musicianship can
do that, and this one did.

Based in Boston, The Pinkerton Thugs sing angry songs about what it's like to spend your whole life being kicked in the jaw by rich people, by factory supervisors and by your own friends. They sing songs about breaking shit, burning shit and fucking shit up. Like most bands who have lived the life they sing about instead of studying it in Anarchy and the Angst of the Proletarians: A Comparative Study at college, The Pinkerton Thugs aren't blaming a nameless faceless System, they are pointing fingers in very specific places in many of their songs.
At the same time, "End of an Era" has intelligent lyrics which display a knowledge of the history of the US, the history of anarchism and current affairs. In fact lyrically it's the best of all possible worlds -- a marriage of a knowledge of specific instances of exploitation and the mechanisms which drive that exploitation. In other words, it's full of songs both about how you get fucked over from day to day *and* about what the underlying reason for getting fucked over is.
[On an editorial level, I'm suspicious of much contemporary anarchist rhetoric, but this album never comes down to cases, nor should it, so I don't have anything specific to say about that. In fact, because the songs aren't composed in the tired style of WE ARE ANARCHISTS FEAR US or WE ARE LEFTISTS FEEL OUR SCORN but instead composed with viciously pointed lyrics and peppered with allusions, it is more likely to cause people to actually look up the references and maybe read Zinn's History of the US and other source material, and the more people who do *that* the better.]
I've talked about the lyrics so much because in political punk that's what matters most to me. Musically, the album is about as heavy as you'd expect from a HC/HC-influenced Boston band. The vocals are furious but audible, which seems to be an indication of how seriously the Pinkerton Thugs take what they're trying to say. In political punk albums, to pervert one of David Byrne's quips, the music is a way to trick kids into listening to the words, and the album succeeds at that, too. The sounds anger up the nerves, and the words let you know why your nerves are so easily angered up and what can be done about it. I picture the guys from the band as being the sort who could debate about Keynes in a mosh pit. (As an aside, this album has the only musical reference to Goldman I've seen outside of Phil Ochs.)
"End of an Era" is really a very good album from start to finish. As tired as the notion of Cred is, it's an album that feels drenched with credibility, not in the "everybody else in the Scene likes it and so should I" sense, but in the sense that I'm a lot more likely to listen to songs about economic exploitation by people who seem to have felt the real pains of exploitation, and that is how this album feels to me.
...ron provine...

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