Our enemies have gotten much smarter. So must we. Meet Mea Culpa, a melodic political punk band that just raised the bar. Not only do they have carefully worded and literate lyrics, they damn well know how to rock. There’s very little screeching and very little middle finger rock posturing. It’s a perfect melding of mid-tempo ’77 punk, Phil Ochs, the Pogues, Randy, and The GC 5, all bundled and infused with George Orwell’s concepts of governmental and corporate control. Here’s a sample: “And all the public schools get privatized/… When Nike owns your high school don’t be too surprised/ to see sections of the history books on labor disappear.” What that all means is that you can snap your fingers to all the songs, there’s great variance, it’s very tuneful, and they revel in thinking themselves through many troubling situations. They even take an honest tack on school violence: “It’s a horror movie high school and the aliens are us.” All in all, they come across almost like how I think Howard Zinn would be if he fronted Stiff Little Fingers. Much more smart and realized than the loads of “kill the pigs, see ya in the pit!” stuff we get. Instead, take, for instance, the song “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” It tackles the dehumanizing of cops from the inside. Most public servants, on one hand, know they’re cogs, but when they’re thrust into volatile situations (like riots) they can chose to flex the power their badge ensures or exercise their compassion. In the end, it’s the first punk song I know of that has a cop killing another cop, not because he sees the right of the rioters, but the wrongness and amorality of the system he’s committed to protect. What a great CD. One of my favorites in the last several months.