After a successful comeback release “2042” (Good Fight Music), their first album in 20 years, and our special memoir of their 1998 classic “Burn The Idol of The White Messiah”, Chicago political straight edge hardcore pack RACETRAITOR are back to our pages with their addition to this year’s end-of-the-year wrap-ups series, a special ‘best of’ list of most stand out and important music records, books, movies, and podcasts released in 2018. Get inspired and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
This was big year for Racetraitor, releasing “2042” our first record in 20 years. The experience reminded us that putting your art and ideas out into the world is no small thing. So we put our heads together and came up with a list of music, movie, books, and more that we appreciated from this calendar year and wanted to recognize. It is not a definitive list but a list very much in keeping with this band and what we try to do.
« MUSIC »
La Armada “Anti Colonial Vol 1.”
This record is a prog hardcore masterpiece. In about 25 minutes La Armada are able to interweave diverse styles, influences, samples, and time signatures to make something totally its own. The themes and lyrical content of “Anti-Colonial Vol 1” frame police repression, mass incarceration, xenophobia, and environmental destruction as different forms of neo-colonialism. Watching these songs performed live is absolutely amazing as La Armada is by far the best live band out there right now. Seriously, it’s not even close.
GO HERE to read our recent interview with LA ARMADA.
HIRS Collective “Friends. Lovers. Favorites.”
Wow. We couldn’t think of a more insane sounding record from 2018. Friends. Lovers. Favorites. is a non-formulaic hyper assault of power violence, laced with unapologetic queer liberation themes. The record boasts some cool guest vocals, as well as some of the best breakdowns since the 90s.
Redbait “Red tape”
The first missive from the leftist outfit from St. Louis a perfect blend of crust punk dirt and straight edge hardcore energy. The two singer attack really makes “Redtape” hit in a way few records do. The acoustic intro with blazing solos on “Ill be fine” is fucking perfect. We love this band so much, we begged them to be in our music video for Cataclysm.
Bobby Sessions “RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States Of AmeriKKKa”
RVLTN is Dallas bounce with take no prisoners lyrics. In an era when political hip hop is so hard to find Sessions is exactly what is needed.
Neckbeard Deathcamp “White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers”
Needless to say we feel sympatico with Neckbeard Deathcamp but when we get (admittedly) too serious, they successfully veer tongue and cheek and skewer the far-right with ease. “White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers” is dirty raw black metal at its best, weirdest, and, pleasantly, most non-racists.
Baest “Danse Macabre”
Best death metal album in years, if not decades.
Jesus Piece “Only Self”
Heavy as it gets, perfectly crafted metal hardcore thunder with creative edges and an industrial ting. This is what we listen to when we are overwhelm with hate for the world.
Vic Mensa “Hooligans”
A powerfully complex hip hop record addressing the violence of the state, substance abuse, and mental health. Also, our bass player works with his father!
Joan of Arc “1984”
We are super fans of everything Tim Kinsella. Racetraitor’s first show was with Joan or Arc a long time ago and have felt an affinity with them ever since. 1984 is definatalty a bit different that their already very diverse output and is wonderful. “Punk kid” is seriously one of the best songs of the last decade.
Cult Leader “A Patient Man”
There hasn’t been a chaotic art-hardcore record this good since Kiss It Goodbye broke up. Enough said.
Wake of Humanity “FIGHT /RESIST”
Angry political vegan hardcore. The centerpiece song of the record, Fight/Resist, goes almost three minutes using cellos and violins to build the tension before the almost trance like screaming of “Fight, Resist” comes in. This is how it is done.
Zeal & Ardor “Stranger Fruit”
American spirituals meets Nordic black metal (or post-black metal)? Stranger Fruit is ambition that pays off.
An ensemble made up of ex and current members of Hope Conspiracy, Suicide File, and Darkest Hour. But were so many “members of” bands fall short, Godcollider deliver a surprisingly fresh and inspiring take on metal tignes hardcore.
HIDE “Castration Anxiety”
This record is confrontational in all the ways good art should be. It is post-industrial groove from Chicago and worth a your time.
Vile Creatures “Cast of Static and Smoke”
This record is beyond heavy. These long drawn out songs are absolutely crushing. Vile Creatures describe themselves as “Slow and heavy two piece with anti-oppressive and fantastical leanings” which is probably the best description of a band ever.
Forewarned “Unforgiving Years”
This first taste of vegan political hardcore from SoCal crew shows promise in spades. Great blend of metal riffs and hardcore energy. For fans of Day of Suffering and Morning Again.
« FILM & TELEVISION »
We assume everyone has seen this film. If you haven’t, why not? Killmonger is everything, an anti-villain for the ages. The women are badass. Most of all, Black Panther perfectly achieves the core goal of Afrofuturism by offering us a thoughtful alternative vision for the course of history. It also has battle rhinos and rad tech!!!!
Sorry to Bother You
The best films are daring. Sorry to Bother You is daring as hell. Part political satire, part sci fi surrealism, the film unflinching takes on whiteness, capitalism, and commodification. It reminds us how we all make compromises, out of choice or necessity, that feed the machine. Plus writer director Boots Riley is from one of the best hip hop groups in the game, (i.e., the Coup).
A compelling story of a child fleeing violence in Honduras and getting detained at the US border. A must see given current events.
Forget the true story it is based on, this is a polemic essay by Spike Lee and his co-writers and that’s a good thing. There is some unfortunate political clumsiness in parts (the last scene is the most on-point and most problematic at the same time). But overall this movie offers a brilliant juxtaposition of black liberation vs. white power, while in every scene lacing in hints of how deep that power can penetrate. Truly worth a few watches.
Wild Wild Country
Really fun well-crafted look into a 70s cult’s deep dive into an intentional community. It is a rollercoaster ride of sex, violence, election fixing, and corruption. You don’t know who to root for.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel this series is a dystopian masterpiece about a “fictional near-future” in which religious fundamentalists take over the United States and install a fascist patriarchy. Atwood however considers the Tale neither fiction or about the future as she based everything in it on actual events in history. This is a warning. This is real.
Best documentary series on the history of hip hop out there. Enjoy.
There is nothing quite like Atlanta: funny, awkward, socio-political. This show could have been the poor black version Entourage, instead it is one of the smartest shows on TV exploring race, class ands culture. The Teddy Perkins episod alone elevates Atlanta season 2 to the level of Shakespeare.
« BOOKS »
“Chicago on the Make: Power and Inequality in a Modern City” by Andrew J Diamond
Full take down of the neoliberal politics of Chicago. The author discusses the historic class, race, immigration, violence, and assassination policies that have ensured marginalization for poor and communities of color in our fucked up city.
The guys that brought you the Chapo Trap House podcast try their hand at a book and it is a fun bit of political satire somewhere in between the Daily Show and Howard Zinn, only less serious than either.
“The Divide” by Jason Hickle
A crisp look at how “development” has been a tool to perpetuate global inequality and poverty. Required reading.
“How Long ‘til Black Future Month” by N.K. Jemisin
Challenging collection of speculative fiction. Redefining the genre with themes of destruction, rebirth, redemption and perhaps most importantly who can be heroic.
“Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” by Mark Bray
Enjoyable read with a solid history of the antifa from the 1920s on. It also has activist insights from a few generations of anti-fascist organizers.
“Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” by Manning Marable
The defintiative (non-auto) biography of one of the most important and dynamic voices in the black liberation struggle of the 1960s. Following Malcolm from birth till death in honest detail, this book is a world class historian’s retelling a familiar and inspiring personal, political, and spiritual evolution.
« PODCASTS »
Chapo Trap House
A not too serious political takedown podcast for the socialist inclined. Some moments of insight, most just fun.
Sufi Heart with Omid Safi
Episodes mix fundamental concepts from Islamic mysticism, progressive politics, and self reflection with a narrator with a super soothing voice.
Deconstructed with Mehdi Hassan
Mehdi Hasan is one of the smartest journalists around. He has a point of view but with a level approach. Every week on Deconstructed, Hassan tackles a different timely question.
Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
Long form on current issues brought to you by the people at The Intercept. Not perfect, but super informative. Worth the time.
Citations Needed with Adam Johnson & Nima Shirazi
Home of the Brave
Scott Carrier covers stories with a beautiful and heartbreaking tone at the same time. Wide range of topics are covered in this podcast all relevant and done in a way that you actually learn something from each episode.