Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- Dereconstructed

Dereconstructed is, if nothing else, the most aptly titled album of the year. It represents the manic, frenzied sound of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires' sophomore album. It also has a nod to Reconstruction, the botched attempts at reform right after the Civil War -- a period that this history major argues was the federal government's first attempts at building cultural hegemony as the US rose to global prominence. It also represents the behavior the listener must engage in when listening to this Southern rock opera.

If you think that I've got too much education and too much free time and that the above paragraph was a bunch of bullshit then -- I'm sorry -- you're just not gonna get much out of this album.

I'm speaking from experience. I first listened to this album while focusing on some other work (duh) and felt a little let down. It wasn't what I remembered from There Is a Bomb in Gilead. Instead it was a whole lot of noise. Engaging, yeah, but not the soaring melodies or, it seemed, the intellect behind their earlier work.

But I bought the damn thing so I might as well listen to it. Then I heard lyrics about "cracking whips of white men selling black men" and then there's a song called "We Dare Defend Our Rights!" Wait. This is a political album?

Wolf di'Chiara does a great job of de(re)constructing specific moments over at Ninebullets. If I had written this a week earlier like I'd planned and if I hadn't spent most of today revising my students' 9-10 page term papers (I'm proud as hell that I got them to write so much but damn is it a lot of reading on my end) I'd delve more into it. But Wolf more or less wrote what I would've.

But here's my take. This album isn't even about the ambivalence of (white) Southern pride, which has certainly been covered elsewhere. This is about squarely confronting the evils of our past (it's not just the South -- during Reconstruction, Rutherford B. Hayes sold out a lot of radical, progressive social programs -- commonly regarded as the second phase of Reconstruction -- for freed blacks just so he could get re-elected, essentially ending the program and returning the South to the pre-Civil war status quo) and finally mending the injustices our country has been founded on.

The opening track, "Company Man," sums up the raw intensity and biting lyrical potency of the album. You can read the lyrics here.

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Sub Pop Records

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