The Proletariat - Move (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Proletariat

Move (2019)

boss Tuneage

I recently spent quite a bit of time listening to the new The Freeze record, calling All Creatures. (Which I loved.) That got me thinking about how many great bands there were in that ‘80s Boston punk scene. For some reason, this Midwestern boy always felt a certain kinship with that scene. (I swear I’ve got half the TAANG catalog.) Maybe it was simply because it wasn’t LA or NYC. It was almost like those two coastal cities against everybody else. Anyway, this trip down memory lane reminded me that The Proletariat released an album recently. After a single listen, I regretted that I had waited so long to check Move out!

The Proletariat were formed by leftist college students in 1980. They released two LPs, Soma Holiday (1983) and Indifference (1985) before breaking up in late 1985. They did not officially get back together until 2016. Move comes more than 30 years after the band’s last album. The Proletariat were different than many of the better known Boston bands. They were not a party band like Gang Green, and they were not drug addled maniacs like The Freeze or Jerry’s Kids. They were political, but not like the violent hardcore of SSD. Their sound and politics are similar to Chicago hardcore band Articles of Faith, with maybe some Gang of Four thrown in for good measure. The music is surprisingly varied, incorporating elements of jagged post-punk and hardcore, as well as the ocasional three chord punk tune.

Move is a shockingly good album when you consider that the band had been out of commission for more than three decades. (Are they another old punk band woken from their slumber by 45?) It’s unapologetically punk and unapologetically smart. It’s politics also hit so many of the right notes. Opener “Incarceration Incentive” takes aim at cheap prison labor practices. “Scab” is about the importance of unions. “Soft Targets” talks about the problem of mass shootings. “Bomb Throwing Practice” and the title track speak of the righteousness of violent resistance. “The Murder of Alton Sterling” addresses police brutality. “Shale” is about the dangers of fracking. “Wealth of Nations” and closer “Consumption” condemn economic evils.

It goes on and on. Each song has a point and a purpose. No time is wasted on anything frivolous. So many political songs in one place probably wouldn’t work in the hands of a lesser band, (see Anti-Flag), but The Proletariat manage to do it without coming off as preachy or condescending. It effortlessly slides right into their catalog. Move is not a particularly easy album to get a physical copy of, but it’s worth the effort. (Soma Holiday was recently repressed and is much easier to find.) Streamers should have an easier time. If you’re a fan of political punk, you owe it to yourself to check this out. Highly recommended.