The Haymarket Squares
Light It Up
Wow! Protest music is back! Here’s a band that takes me right back to 1968’s “Summer of Hate.” This rollicking quintet sings about crooked bankers, gun-toting right wingers, for-profit prisons, and the NSA. The sound mixes bluegrass, gospel, and punk; the energy level is as high as the righteous indignation. They fuse a Punkgrass sound with political cred and high speed, high accuracy picking: banjo, steel guitar, and the occasional mandolin make these guys sound as good as any McDougal Street 1960s act. Most of the material is original but they light a fire covering “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
With their own material they tackle the NSA (“No Such Agency”) and the weather in their native Phoenix (“Gritty City”). The tune that most deserves hit status is “Working Reward,” here they lament “You’re worth more than they’ll ever pay you” as they moan about the dead-end jobs that are the only option for this student-debt ridden generation. Pop over to “Let’s Start a Riot” and share their happy hour: “We’ll be mixing up some cocktails, my favorite is a Molotov.” The vocals are clear and easy to sing along with, and The Haymarket Squares ought to be the house band for Occupy Wall Street. Woody Guthrie couldn’t encapsulate the grief of the modern world in pop songs any better than these bearded musicians.