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Now Hear This: Culture War - Paul Maged

Rating: ****

Protest music used to be a thing. I suppose it’s less of a thing now, simply because with each successive news cycle, everything just seems seems . . . too much. What’s the point of trying to use words to describe the world in a song when EVERYTHING sucks?

“Culture War, the fifth album by NYC singer/songwriter Paul Maged, goes against the prevailing trend toward Introspection in rock and

looks out at our dystopian world. Oh, and underneath the social commentary—it rocks.

Watch video for "When Dreams Don't Come True" on YouTube below:

Most of the album’s ten tracks are supported by riffs that are both edgy and catchy, like a mashup of power pop with Alternative rock.

For a guy whose first instrument was piano, Maged has a knack for guitar hooks that sound clean and raw, and they really propel the songs forward.

There are only two tracks that are more confessional than commentary. “The Saturday Scene” is a wry, almost goofy look back at Maged’s time hitting open mics as a standup comic.

The lyrical highlight of the disc is “Shine on Your Light.” Marrying a psychedelic slap that wouldn’t be a good place on a Flaming Lips recordwith a stomping, crunchy riff straight outta ‘Kashmir,’ this cut was written for his father, but could also be a conversation with some higher power.

The lyrics that focus on more concrete, ‘real world, problems , are solid—his background in stand shows here, but sometimes his observationsare a little too on the nose and cliche.

The thrashy, punkish number ‘Cult 45’ sounds great musically, but the lyrics are pretty much a laundry list of Trump transgressions, so it begins to sound a bit like Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire.’

But overall, this record SOUNDS great, and if the lyrics don’t trade a lot in metaphor, maybe that’s because, in an era of misinformation, we all need things spelled out for us sometimes.

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