Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo breaks down the gap in wealth and equality on “Mathed Up”
If you don’t think Philly’s Soul Glo are one of the most important artists in punk right now…well, I’m not sure what punk shows you’re going to, but you might want to course-correct a bit. Using an aesthetic of driven-to-static guitars, blast beats and screamed vocals, the band channel anger and frustration over systemic racism and oppression, as well exasperation over the way that oppression creeps nefariously into the day-to-day lives of people living in a changing city, of players in an largely white punk scene. As frontperson Pierce Jordan told our Yoni Kroll in an interview ahead of the inaugural Break Free Fest in 2017, “essentially our music is the sound of the yelling and cussing in our heads as we field the various microaggressions of our lives.”
Jordan went a bit more indepth in another interview later that year with The Key’s Alex Smith: “I started to get really possessed by the idea of learning about myself and what I believe in by writing about how I and others live and what we see around us during our lives. A lot of what i feel like I really should be talking about is truly foul and ugly shit and I wanted to keep it real by addressing that instead of vague poetry.”
In addition to being a powerful force on the lyrical front, Soul Glo is charting new territories in punk sonics; when we last saw them (headlining an Everybody Hits show at the top of the month), the band expanded from its earlier guitar, bass, drum format to include laptops and samplers, bringing a harsh noise layer to their already-visceral sonic catharsis. The latest song to emerge from that, “Mathed Up,” was released via Twitter and Soundcloud last week as the band toured to a hardcore fest in Toronto.
During the course of just over two minutes, Jordan covers an immense amount of lyrical territory, detailing the plight of those pushed to the margins of society (“wrung out in the widening wealth gap”) and taking down both Attorney General Jeff Sessions, drug laws, and aggressive law enforcement, with lyrics that are howled as much as spit in a hip-hop cadence on the breakdown.
“Punks and rappers want to be each other,” Jordan told Smith in that interview last summer. “Even though lack of fundamental understandings of class keep them from truly being able to relate to each other. ”
The most powerful lines come just over halfway through the song:
“If you rich you can blow tree on TV / NYT can grow tree on TV / and never worry about no cases how / and get praised as an entrepreneur, wow.” But black and brown folks in the same situation are “in the slaughterhouses with their hands bound.”