Thu Mar 12 2009
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5
The unlikely Pitchfork darlings of Fucked Up are definitely onto something special with their eclectic, tripped-out refraction of hardcore—just don't think they're the only outspoken Canadian band currently exploding punk orthodoxy. Winnipeg's Propagandhi, active since 1986, garnered cult fame in the early '90s with How to Clean Everything, a fervently political yet markedly goofy record that fit in comfortably alongside the SoCal brat-pop stylings of the group's Fat Wreck Chords labelmates. But Supporting Caste caps a stunning evolution: Not really a punk album at all, it might better be classified as metallic left-field tech-rock, marked by a postprog virtuosity that's the perfect vehicle for the band's outsider screeds.
"Dear Coach's Corner" exemplifies Propagandhi's inspired strangeness. A rant against Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry, who regularly espouses hard-line conservative views on air, the track laments the jingoism infecting a beloved national pastime. Pummeling, angular riffage and Chris Hannah's grittily melodic belt lend dire force to the song's quirky subject matter.
Aside from a couple silly detours, the album maintains this riveting blend of passion and peculiarity. The frenzied math-grind of "Incalculable Effects" and the epic lyricism of "Last Will in Testament" have little in common other than a palpable sense of conviction. Propagandhi may never garner Fucked Up's indie acclaim, but Supporting Caste proves that the band is doing every bit as much to keep punk progressive.