Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole is “A Little Revolution” by Firewater from the 2012 album International Orange! on Bloodshot Records.
Before Beirut, Balkan Beat Box, and Devotchka, there was Firewater. The former Cop Shoot Cop frontman, Tod A was fusing Balkan sounds into a sinister new brand of gypsy punk that was in 1997 revolutionary. Now, it’s pretty much its own genre with bands like Gogol Bordello gaining international acclaim. Following Firewater’s eyeopening debut, Get Off The Cross (We Need the Wood for the Fire), future releases combined “exotic” musical styles like Latin American salsa, Jamaican ska, Russian tango, Hindi dance, Mexican banda, and many others into a dizzying rock cabaret. But always more than a domestic imitator, Tod A embarked on a lengthy trip in 2005 from India through Pakistan at the height of the “war on terror” while writing songs and capturing performances along the way. The resulting 2008 album, The Golden Hour, was a political and creative revolution in itself, with songs like “Feels Like The End of the World” and “Borneo” burning with a new fire to fuel his rebellion. Later, after lengthy touring and in the years since, Tod A finished part of his earlier trip cut short by finally making it to Istanbul, Turkey. There and in Tel Aviv, he recorded International Orange! in the midst of the Arab Spring, incorporating even more international musical instrumentation and styles. But through it all, the big picture of Firewater has never changed: the world is upside down and needs to be kicked off its ass.
Today’s featured song, the album opener, “A Little Revolution,” embodies the spirit of the new revolutionaries, those not resorting to pure destruction and mayhem but rather to non-voilent protest like the recent and mostly bloodless Arab Spring revolt in Tunisia and even the Orange Revolution earlier in the Ukraine (“We don’t want to wreck this town / We just want a little revolution / We don’t want to spill no blood / We just need a little revolution”). While the song captures both the frustration and the ultimate optimism of the movement, it’s also one of the more danceable tracks on the record, calling all listeners to so kind of movement.
If you’re so moved, you can see Firewater yourself once they begin their tour later this month. They’ll be performing live in Seattle at the Crocodile on October 1. Find out more about Tod A and Firewater on their Facebook page, which Tod A actively maintains, and follow him on his new Twitter account. Until then, enjoy this surreal moment, a video of the Janesville Craig Spotlighters singing and dancing to “This is My Life”, from The Golden Hour (opening lines: “I’ve never cared for authority / I’ve never felt part of the majority”):