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The Right Brothers Strike Back

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Have you ever wished your favorite indy rock bands were just a little more right wing? Tired of annoying socialistic lyrics attached to the post-punk chords of bands like Green Day? Wish you could find some songs praising President Bush, opposing abortion and bashing Hollywood? Well, you don’t have to be an American idiot any more. Now you can listen to The Right Brothers.

The Right Brothers are two guitar-slinging brothers from Nashville plus a drummer, who’ve combined engaging pop-punk riffs with lyrics straight out of American Spectator. Their current single is “Bush Was Right“, an upbeat song which crows the successes of the Bush administration and has an amusing repeated chord sequence which sounds rather like a guitar saying “nyah nyah nyah.” It’s a cleverly written and catchy song, if a bit derivative of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and Bowling for Soup’s “Ohio”. But for the content it’s the kind of song which could actually get airplay. They’ve even got a pretty well produced video for the song, though I don’t think you can expect to see it on Fuse any time soon. The song has also been picked up to be used in a TV ad to run on Fox News by RightMarch – coals to Newcastle, perhaps.

Another recent release, which I think is actually a better and more original song is “What About the Issues?”, a response to the hatemail they’ve been getting about their music. It’s available on their website as a free download. No video for it, but it pretty much speaks for itself.

They actually have videos for a half-dozen songs, plus a total of more than 20 songs in release. They hit on virtually every topic of current politics, with titles like “Tolerate This”, “Trickle Down”, “The Illegals”, “I Want to Live” and “This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Party”. They’ve got songs about immigration (several, in fact), the Iraq War, abortion, racial profiling and tax cuts. Some of the songs have more of a country or folk feel to them, but the guitar work is universally good and the vocals are clear and easy to understand, if not always brilliantly originally written.

Not surprisingly, they’ve stirred up a little controversy, with attacks starting to spread on the left-wing blogosphere. The tag line on their website is “the truth disguised as music,” and it’s clear that to a large extent the music here is secondary to the message, which is not to say that the music isn’t sometimes pretty good as well. Whether the approach of recording nothing but right-wing political songs is hearfelt or pure marketing is a valid question. The topics are too perfectly picked and the music in some ways too well tailored to a pop audience for me to feel that it’s completely authentic. I’d believe them more if the songs were more personal and more original.

A right-wing Billy Bragg would be a lot more believable than what sounds like a group of skilled musicians tailoring their music to a receptive and untapped potential audience. The fact that they switch styles from punk-pop to pure country so easily suggests an artificiality which I find suspicious. On the other hand, they’re not Paul Shanklin, though they are occasionally pretty amusing in songs like “The Waffle House”. They lack his glibness and they’ve got a certain earnestness, almost like a particularly dogmatic right-wing blog expressing itself musically. There’s also something sneakily subversive about their use of the same font to make their initials TRB look like the TNR used by The New Republic until fairly recently.

The marketing aspect of their efforts is interesting. Although they have two CDs and a DVD of professionally produced work available, I wasn’t surprised to find them missing from iTunes. As a rule it hasn’t been terribly easy for independent artists to break onto – doubly so for a right-wing political novelty act, I imagine. To compensate they have a very professionally done website where you can do a quick and easy purchase and download of any of their songs, videos or CDs using PayPal. You can also order physical products, including some combo packs with multiple copies of their CDs to give to any left-wing friends you might want to annoy.

The Right Brothers are not the greatest new thing in music, though many of their songs are quite listenable. They’re good, skilled musicians and decent songwriters, but that’s not enough in the crowded musical marketplace – that’s why American Idol can find contestants. They’ve chosen to target a niche market, and use that to lever themselves to greater prominence through controversy and partisan loyalty. It’s not a bad idea. They have apparently sold quite substantial numbers of their most popular songs at 99 cents each, cutting out the various middlemen of the record industry in the process. Other niche music like Christian rock has occasionally produced bands and songs which have crossed over into the mainstream. so who’s to say there isn’t room for The Right Brothers in the mix as well.

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About Dave Nalle

  • zingzing

    well, the music is terrible… derivative, annoying, and worst of all, emoish poop-punk. whiny shit. of course, i’m not going to like it, although i have to say that their right-wing stance is about as “punk” as any band that sounds this shitty has a right to be. shrug.

  • Dave Nalle

    Now zing, they’re musically competent – moreso than half the bands on the airwaves right now. And as for derivative, all the crap on your indy-rock stations fits within the same limited parameters, and they’ve managed to hit that target fairly accurately. The question is not whether the music is objectively ‘good’, but whether it’s really any worse than the mainstream equivalent.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    so, if it’s crap, i can’t call it crap because there’s a lot of crap? crap!

    that crap don’t fly, dave.

  • Dave Nalle

    You can certainly call it crap – crapiness is entirely subjective – but you won’t get too far if you argue that it’s any worse than the rest of the big steaming pile of virtually identical crap.

    Dave

  • Dave Nalle

    Unless, of course, it’s automatically crappier because they’re right-wingers.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    now, i didn’t say that, did i? crap is crap i say.

  • Steve

    I’ve always found it curious that more art (in whatever form) seems to come from lefties, more than right wingers. It seems that art’s general lack of boundaries seems to attract those who want to change society, and repel those who want to keep it the same. What y’all think??

  • zingzing

    oh no! don’t!

    this has been gone over elsewhere, and it sucked.

    dave, do not start. don’t. no! goddamn it, steve, what the fuck were you thinking?!

  • Steve

    zing, tell me where it’s been gone over elsewhere, why did it…suck…as you so quaintly say??… you’ve got me even more curious now…

  • zingzing

    it’s somewhere on here… i think the title of the post was “why are so many artists liberals?” or something close to that. it just devolved into a bunch of people spouting meaningless stats that backed up their claims and saying, ‘well, i’ve known a bunch of artists and the majority of them were’ right… left… whatever… it was really stupid.

  • Dave Nalle

    I’m intrigued too.

    And anyway the divisions of right and left are fairly arbitrary. There are plenty of folks who our current standards classify as ‘right wingers’ who want to change society – sometimes radically.

    Dave

  • Steve

    Well, Dave, they may want to change society, but rarely using art, wouldn’t you say??

  • Dave Nalle

    It’s hard to say, because a lot of the time we don’t really know what an artist’s political views are. The only right-leaning artist I can think of right off is Jackson Pollock, though there’s a good crop of conservative actors if you consider actors to be artists. Fred Thompson, Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Ron Silver, Chad Lowe – not a bad list considering that it’s almost career suicide to declare a right-wing allegiance in Hollywood.

    Dave

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “it’s almost career suicide to declare a right-wing allegiance in Hollywood.”

    Yeah, just think how big Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger could have been.

    That career suicide thing is absolutle hogwash. It’s perpetuated by talentless hacks who refuse to look in the mirror and try to fix blame on something other than their own limited skills.

    As long as you bring in money, Hollywood doesn’t care what your political party is.

  • Dave Nalle

    Damn, I forgot those two. Not sure Schwarzenneger is an artist, though. The dynamic I see here is clear – if you play bad guys, cowboys or cops/vigelantes for a living you can be conservative all you want.

    Dave

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    There’s an art to playing an action hero or else they would all be successful.

    The dynamic is so clear you are seeing right past it. You can be a conservative all you want if you deliver at the box office. If you think that’s all Clint plays, you’re missing many of his roles.

    What stars that are the liberals have had long, unsuccessful careers? It’s show BUSINESS.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Zing, “Why are so many artists liberals?” was my article and I appreciate your heartfelt support. Remind me to trash the next post you write in other threads also.

    Steve, I’m there with you–in terms of “modern rock” or “alternative,” especially, it wouldn’t be worthy of a blog post to point out a band that’s actually speaking out for conservative causes if the occurrence weren’t noteworthy, would it?

    And Dave, “Tired of annoying socialistic lyrics attached to the post-punk chords of bands like Green Day?” No more than the rah-rah-USA bullshi* coming out of so many country music stars, so why not go listen to Toby Keith if you’re annoyed by Green Day’s lyrics? Why are country stars so excited about promoting the redneck agenda?

  • Steve

    Thanks, JP. And I’m not into country either.

  • Dave Nalle

    I’m not into country music either, and what grabbed me about this particular band was that they aren’t primarily country and are targeting a different market. They’re trying to basically poach the teen market which despises country away from the usual lefty bands, and that’s kind of intriguing.

    As for the ‘redneck agenda’, come again? There are more rednecks who vote Democrat than Republican as far as I can tell.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    jp, i’m not trashing your post… damn, man, relax… i’m trashing the comments section, which devolved into b.s. real fast.

  • zingzing

    sheesh. knee-jerk, much?

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    As for the ‘redneck agenda’, come again? There are more rednecks who vote Democrat than Republican as far as I can tell.

    also, water is not wet.

  • Steve

    Re, rednecks, Dave…really???

    I’ll have to tell that to my Canadian friends some time…they love to bash conservatives by calling them rednecks.

  • Anne

    Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the song is basically a rehash of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. So much so that the RightBrothers will likely be hearing from Joel’s attorney. And the lyrics are laughably poor; not clever, not catchy, not even rhyming. Just because it has a message some people support doesn’t mean it should be elevated to art. Not at the expense of your own reputations. Of course, mileage varies. I guess.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Dave, rednecks at least in my state (Ga) are frustrated that the Confederate flag isn’t flying. They vote on religion, on gun rights, anti gay rights.. Conservative. The redneck agenda.

  • Dave Nalle

    Anne, I did mention the similarity to the billy joel song in the article. On reflection I think it has even more resemblance to Bowling for Soup’s ‘Ohio’. But they’re not going to hear from an attorney. Structural and topical similarity like that isn’t a copyright infringement.

    JP, the thing you’re missing is that there are a hell of a lot more rednecks in this country than just the ones in Georgia. In Georgia they’re southern baptist type conservatives, but there are plenty around here in Texas who are rednecks but also die-hard Democrats. The same is true in many other states. You think most union members aren’t basically Rednecks culturally? But they vote Democrat in large numbers.

    Dave

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Ha, that could be true, Dave. Good Lord, I hope so!

  • Sarah

    Oooo, the Right Brothers are pretty awesome. I really like what they have to say, and i think it’s great that there are artists out there that believe in the same things that I do. So morally, i love them.
    Musically, they are pretty rad; however they tend to be a tad country? I listen to more screamo shit… so yeah.
    Eitherway, they’re awesome.

  • Chronoclast

    They can sing about whatever they want, but for me the music has to be compelling; first and foremost. In this particular department they fail miserably. These guys make Yellowcard look like Black Flag (if you don’t know who this is you should never use the words “indie” or “punk” again). This band is a “play by numbers” farce that is trying to make their very mainstream political views seem hip to the musically ill-informed. These guys also appear (I know looks shouldn’t matter, but I’d be willing to wager) like some typical 35yo+ bar band types that would be normally playing in some shitty top 40 cover band that have shifted to this gimmick. It also doesn’t help that the way they go about singing about their issues is flat, empty, pro-tooled and souless. At least most lefty bands have more creativity, passion and charisma, even if you happen disagree with them. Leave the right-wing anthems to the Toby Keiths and Kenny Chesneys of the world. True rock n’ roll was never intended to be safe or tow the establishment’s party line. Wake up kids.

  • SteveS

    >> I’ve always found it curious that more art (in
    >> whatever form) seems to come from lefties
    >> It seems that art’s general lack of boundaries…

    I believe the art community is a natural fit for political lefties because both favor collectivity and are intolerant of the concepts of individuality and critical thinking.

    Lack of boundaries? Where? The artistic community is one of the most rigid groups around with their cookie-cutter beliefs. Many segments of the art world don’t even require much intelligence in order to succeed. Acting? “Modern Art”? Plueeze. Nearly every 5 year old is capable of performing those.

    It’s all very adolescent if you ask me; a typical artist lives within a peer group bubble where everyone creates a controversial persona by professing to believe in the exact same beliefs everyone else in the artistic community believes. Typically, an “edgy” artist simply attacks the beliefs of those who are not in their bubble with statements deep in emotion and shallow on logic. The artist does their little attack and then runs back home to their peers to get patted on the back instead of debating the validity of their statement.

    The most visual segment of the artistic community is the one for professional acting. You could probably count on one hand the number of current actors who don’t proclaim 100% support of the socialist platform.

    Hell, these people even seem to have a knack for sharing the same opinions on clothing, diet and other things… The group think within the artistic community is downright creepy at times.

  • mb

    I think that more music is geared towards left-wing ideology because music is an excellent outlet of expression for people’s thoughts, and a lot of liberals are into freedom of expression, while a lot of conservatives, specifically the social conservatives, are going to shun freedom of expression if it damages the “moral fiber” of America.