Terming themselves an Antifolk band, New York trio American Anymen present their new single ‘Selectively Stupid’, which is the first single from their forthcoming “Start My Center” LP. Somewhat Punk in their approach and the social-message thread in their lyrics, there also seems to be some kind of underlying twist here.
This is American Anymen’s eleventh album. Frontman Brett Sullivan formed the band in 1999 in NYC’s Lower East Side. Still responsible for composition, lyrics, vocals and guitar, his singer-songwriter efforts are augmented by the involvement of bandmates Tracy Brooks on drums, and Nova Luz on bass, with all of them sharing vocal duties.
Tracy Brooks is perhaps best known for her participation in Herman Dune and Team B/ Bright Moments. Harlem-based 20-year-old Nova Luz used to play with The Amputees. The forthcoming album was produced by Jen Turner (Natalie Merchant, Here We Go Magic), who was also fundamental in the recording of Swans’ latest album ‘The Glowing Man’.
The first single ‘Selectively Stupid’ is anything but that – notwithstanding all those F-words, it is cleverly worded, right to the point, clearly drawing connections between one social problem in our society with yet others and what even seems sonically to be like a steamroller clearing the debris before it or a snowball barrelling down a hill, gaining momentum as it ascends. Also pretty rad is the underlying off-kilter looped guitar riff effect for this track – it gets under your skin (and circles in your head) in the same way as R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of the World (And We Know it)” did back several decades ago. I can say that not many songs have managed to achieve that.
The video for this, created by Brett Sullivan, complements the lyrics perfectly. Rad in the way that the video is put together but somewhat disturbing with the footage it uses, it is what it is – REAL LIFE. This is clearly a message of discontent, like the song itself, over the state of marginalisation, the sharp contrast in lifestyle, expectations and privileges between haves and have-nots, and the rising level of police brutality in America. Some of the snapshots left in my mind: A harmless African-American woman is pinned to the ground by a police officer and there’s several images of Freddie Grey’s arrest, revisited twice here as a key event inflaming the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Given the acquittal of yet another officer implicated in his death, the release of this video appears to be particularly good timing, as if to say “we’ve had it!”
This is music with a message. “American Anymen is trying to destroy the idea that you have to be a professional to make art and give all people access to representing culture through art. Art and culture shape the way we view things and if the ruling class requires you to spend 60 thousand a year on a liberal/art education, and this education is required for you to produce art, then the ruling class have a lock on how we view things though art,” explains Brett Sullivan.
Given their straightforward no-bullshit music stylings, it makes sense that American Anymen have shared the stage with Paleface and The Moldy Peaches. Impressively enough, they have also taken their sound as far as Helsinki’s National Theatre. So too will they soon have their CD launch party, at which time they will share the stage with former Capital/Universal recording artist The Veldt and NYC locals A Deer A Horse. That all happens on July 16th at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City, for which tickets are available here.
All words via Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.