Racism and homophobia, homelessness and job loss, fear-mongery, anxiety, and suicide. These are not new words, but along with ‘Pandemic’, are these the keywords that we will look back on to describe the year 2020? One thing’s for sure, there’s been a lot of relevant music released so far this year that seems to fit the lockdown vibe, but you need look no further than Bob Vylan for the ultimate reaction and the perfect soundtrack to the new normal.
‘We Live Here’ was actually recorded in 2019 and is self-released because the music industry won’t touch them with a barge pole. Even radio and magazines cite them too extreme, and fair play, this 8 track EP from the London duo Bobby Vylan and Bobb13 Vylan is 18 minutes of uneasy listening, but it is also essential listening.
A mash up of grime and punk rock, ‘We Live Here’ pulls no punches from the very first pulsating beats until a cheerful girl signs off at the end of the last track, telling us not to forget that “the Queen killed Diana”!
My first introduction to Bob Vylan was the single ‘We Live Here’. It is one of the most brutal, hard-hitting tunes I have heard in a long time. A sloppy Slaves-esque guitar riff, frantic rhythms and a diatribe of childhood racial abuse, delivered with the rage of a lion and power of a ten-ton hammer coming down on a balsa wood Houses of Parliament. It’s no coincidence that Bobby is sporting a Crass t-shirt in the video, this is politically-charged punk rock 2020, and utterly essential listening.
Police brutality is covered in the hardcore ‘Pulled Pork’. A song that channels Rage Against The Machine and Body Count to great effect. You want edgy? Well, this is teetering on the edge of the fuckin precipice, bruthas and sistas! And the skulking beast that is ‘Lynch Your Leaders’ could very well incite you to do just that with its hypnotic beats and deep, thought-provoking lyricism.
You just can’t ignore Bob Vylan. This is life through the eyes of black working-class youth, an angry mouthpiece for generations of black minorities that have suffered prejudice in the same country they were born in.
“I can’t breathe, just leave me alone” screams Bobby on the fear and anxiety induced trip through the London underground that is ‘Northern Line’. Scarily, it mirrors recent events more than the writer could have ever imagined. Then ‘Save Yourself’ offers retribution before blasting into a 2 minute brutal assault on the senses. It’s the last song proper before ‘Moment Of Silence’ literally gives you breathing space to digest the Bob Vylan experience.
This is an album that needs to be heard, a wakeup call that is loud and clear. It crosses genres and it crosses classes. Like the musical equivalent of LiveLeak, it’s what the ‘powers that be’ don’t want you to hear, what they don’t want you to feel or act on. This is the sound of the streets, the true punk rock and the most relevant collection of songs you will hear all year.
You won’t hear it on the radio, you won’t be able to stream it on Spotify, but you can buy it directly from the band on their own Bandcamp page. I strongly suggest you get clicking right away!
Buy ‘We Live Here’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes