Warsawpack - Stocks & Bombs (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Stocks & Bombs (2003)

G7 Welcoming Committee

I've read so many writers stumble when trying to describe Warsawpack's sound. It's generally not the fault of the reviewer: this is a difficult band to categorize and they likely revel in that fact. There are moments on Stocks & Bombs where songs seamlessly flow between rap, jazz, dub, rock and other genres. Political hip-hop lyrics are set against a backdrop of flutes, tenor and baritone saxophones, a solid, jazzy rhythm section, a turntable DJ and a guitarist. Yet for all the cacophony of terms and descriptions of the band, Warsawpack is remarkably smooth, rhythmic and cohesive.

Vocalist Lee Raback often jumps from his flowing political rap into enraged street-profit rants (think Zach de la Rocha) and sarcastic-to-the-point-of-condescending passages not unlike much of Jello Biafra's lyrics with the Dead Kennedys. The targets of Raback's attacks are varied, but there is an overall theme to the record that confronts the attitudes of post-911 Western society. The albums most biting commentary "Pushing Hands" rallies against the Bush administration's march to war. Lyrically the song is shockingly direct and a level above the sloganeering most political bands utilize:

"But corporate press is complicit / In the mass slaughter of millions of innocent women and children / And "Missed Targets" / Like big structures with red crosses painted on top of them"
"I swear to God it might sound absurd at first / But ain't it a lot like Nazi Germany

While plenty of hardcore acts write similar lyrics, they carry quite a different weight when presented in a form that doesn't require a lyric sheet to decipher. The song elaborates on this caustic argument only to follow things up with the flute-based, playful instrumental "Wolfblitzer." Such is Stocks & Bombs' game: coupling deep grooves and fun instrumentals with some of the most confrontational lyrics I've seen this year from any band.

Warsawpack's politics will polarize their listeners, but at the very least they'll spark debate. Musically the band remains one of the smartest and most interesting groups to emerge from the Ontario indie scene in years. Do yourself a favour and give this a few spins.