BLACKMARKET SYNDICATE BRINGS POWER TO THE ‘PEASANTS’
by Mike Damante, Houston Chronicle, 04/18/2012
In the annals of local punk rock, very few albums have had the ability to escape Houston and reach a wider audience. In 1999, 30FootFALL did it with “Ever Revolving, Never Evolving” (which was released by the Offspring’s Dexter Holland’s Nitro label) and pop-punkers Fenix-TX even had a MTV hit with their self-titled record. Blackmarket Syndicate’s “And the Peasants Rejoiced” — a thematic battle cry for disenfranchised youth and a shrinking working class —has the potential to elevate the band to greater things. It’ll be on display at the band’s record-release show Saturday at Fitzgeralds
“ ‘And The Peasants Rejoiced’ is about the general state of the country and how the economy is in a state of disrepair,” said guitarist Randy Rost. “It is exciting to see that people aren’t apathetic anymore. It is being active and observing what is happening in your world and that is one of the main themes of the record; being vigilant. It is also about not taking the beaten path to success, but blazing your own trail and celebrating it.”
The record’s sound resembles Anti-Flag and newer Rancid, while the record stays true to the ethos associated with the Clash. “Plead the 5th”, the record’s first single, is the album’s gem. The track is an unapologetic, raised-fist punk-rock sing-along that is equally raw and catchy.
“It is a real basic ‘us versus them’ type of song,” Rost said. “Pretty much opens the sentiment of the record pretty well. Some of the themes in it have to do with being in trial and incarcerated by kinda using it as an analogy for being a laborer or someone not born into an affluent world.”
Getting “And the Peasants Rejoiced” out to the public wasn’t an easy task. The band dealt with a number delays after sitting on the material since early 2010. Blackmarket Syndicate went through the increasingly difficult process — especially in today’s music landscape — of shopping the record to labels and trying to find distributors before deciding to put it out on their own imprint.
“We had to resort to plan B; getting things done the right way by ourselves,” Rost said. “Being a new band, we knew we’d be put on the back burner of a label no matter how much people were responding to (the record).”
The record was produced by Street Dogs bassist Johnny Rioux, who said “If we did this record in 1988, Blackmarket Syndicate would be every punk rockers favorite band”.
Rost also got a taste of the touring while life playing guitar with another veteran mentor in Roger Miret and the Disasters. Rost traveled and recorded with them for a year before returning to Blackmarket Syndicate with new tools and experience.
“Roger’s a real task master,” Rost said. “You just learn about the schedules everything is on from deadline to recording. … It’s not about just the going out and having a big party. It is about playing the best you can and delivering that explosive energy on stage every night and giving the people their money’s worth.”
BLACKMARKET SYNDICATE: PUNK BELIEVERS REJOICE WITH PEASANTS
by Chris Gray, Houston Press, 04/20/2012
Black Market Syndicate are true believers. Besides releasing their second album, And the Peasants Rejoiced at Fitzgerald’s Saturday, the Houston punk quartet is streaming it all weekend on their ReverbNation page. For the people.
Produced by Street Dogs’ Johnny Rioux, Peasants stands up for the powerless and dreams of escaping the workaday routine in barricade-storming, fifth-column would-be anthems like “Disenfranchised Rebellion,” “Greed and Hate,” “Great Leap Forward” and “Avalanche.” It’s very much in the proud tradition of a couple of their punk heroes.
BLACKMARKET SYNDICATE: AND THE PEASANTS REJOICED
One of Houston’s most treasured current day Punk Rock prides, Blackmarket Syndicate, are releasing the follow up to their well acclaimed debut on April 21st, and we here at Tx Punk got a chance to enjoy the album early. Join us for “And The Peasants Rejoiced”!
And The Peasants shows Blackmarket Syndicate in top form with all the trademark stops like gritty vocals and attitude coupled with a very catchy sing along quality that allows the band a wider range than most other legitimate Punk acts. They’ve got a stop on a dime tight sound, that still manages to live up to the amazing glory of their live act, which is an amazing testament in itself to the quality of the band. While, the album has it’s share of standouts like “Plead The 5th”, the anthemic “Victorious”, “Avalanche”, among others, the album is void of any noticeable filler. Each song carries common threads through the album which helps the overall quality, but each track remains distinct enough amongst each other that it lacks the fatal flaw of songs blurring into indistinguishable obscurity.
Blackmarket Syndicate has pulled out a quality gem of perfect mid grounds. Given the energy, and diversity one doesn’t have to be Punk to understand what makes it great, but hardcore fans won’t be frightened by a barrage of “un-punk” qualities. Each song works together in a cohesive set that is almost unheard of in Punk let alone local bands.
Bottom Line: When you do something right, it can be liked by Punks and general music fans alike. Be sure to catch Blackmarket Syndicate April 21st at Fitzgerald’s In Houston, for those of you lucky enough to share the same as the band.
ALBUM REVIEW: AND THE PEASANTS REJOICED
Houston’s Blackmarket Syndicate have been around since 2007 but this is the first time I’ve come across them and I figure if they’re new to me, they’re probably new to most of you readers as well. The band plays great straight up street punk anthems perfect for gang shouted vocals and fist pumping choruses. After hearing only 4 songs off their upcoming album, “And The Peasants Rejoiced” (produced by Street Dogs bassist, Johnny Rioux) I’m sufficiently pumped for its April 21st release. Familiarize yourself with the band by streaming some of the new tunes on their reverbation and checking out the music video for “Plead The 5th” right here.
Album Review: And The Peasants Rejoiced
And the Peasants Rejoiced is the 2nd full length album from Blackmarket Syndicate. Produced by Johnny Rioux of Street Dogs this 11 track album is complete testament to this band’s musicianship.
I’ll start by saying (setting my Texas patriotism aside) that this is a god damned great album! From start to finish And the Peasants Rejoiced draws you in keeps you firmly rooted in the music. This is thirty-two minutes of my life I don’t regret and could happily relive over and over again. While each track is unique in its own way they all come together seamlessly establishing an anthem for an anthem of the common man. Unlike most albums – there isn’t a single foul track here. Blackmarket Syndicate is singing it like they live it and their message is loud and clear! They came to rock and rock they did. Their songs speak volumes about their life experience as regular working class Joes determined to live their dreams. I like this album so much i am tempted to make the seven hour drive down to Houston and buy them all a beer. Sucks for them i can’t drive, there goes your free beers dudes.
My personal favorite track off the album is Unknown Fate. The line “And tomorrow it starts all over again, with a burning cigarette and an unknown fate” perfectly described every day of my life while the rest of the song reminds me of my own experiences (from youth) in a band playing shows in living rooms, crashing in strangers houses and just hoping to make enough money at one show to make it to the next and maybe grab a bite to eat between. These kids live punk rock and for that i salute them!
Blackmarket Syndicate, And the Peasants Rejoiced
Jeremy Hart, www.spacecityrock.com
There was a time when I was really, really into politics; I had a lot more time on my hands back then, both because I worked for a slow-moving Big Evil Company that didn’t give a damn what I did at the office, so long as I made my deadlines, and because my daughter was still napping multiple times throughout the day. So what I ended up spending my time on was obsessing over and writing about and arguing about politics — it made up a pretty big chunk of my life, for a while there.
Eventually, though, I just had to walk away. I’m not sure what the straw that broke the camel’s back ended up being, but I’m pretty sure it had a lot to do with feeling like I was just yelling into a dead mic, angry and doing everything I could think of to push for some kind of change and seeing nothing for it but stupidity and apathy. It was exhausting.
So I’m no longer some bright-eyed idealist, but I still don’t consider myself totally jaded or cynical — I think change is possible, but now I’ve realized it takes a heck of a lot more time than I used to believe/hope it would, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that even the people you think are going to be your heroes, who’ll fight for what you believe in, will turn out to be just as bought as anybody else. The only person who’s going to truly care about what you believe in, ever, is you.
When I first heard Blackmarket Syndicate’s latest album, And the Peasants Rejoiced, then, a few months back, I immediately said, “ah, yeah — these guys are pretty much where I am; they’re tired of fighting and struggling, too.” I mean, take lead-in track “Plead the 5th,” which is a damning indictment of our corporate-controlled modern life, where the police can seemingly tase and tear-gas peaceful protesters just for opening their mouths at the wrong place and time, all while bank executives who bankrupt hundreds of thousands walk away with a slap on the wrist (or, hell, a severance package).
(And yes, the track has a nice little nod to the band’s previous “Deathbed Repentance” moniker, so I chuckled to hear that, too…)
Then there’s “Great Leap Forward,” which sees frontman/guitarist Randy Rost pleading for somebody to follow, some leader who’ll lift us all up and show us which way to go towards that nebulous, as-yet-unimagined Future, or “Greed and Hate,” where Rost declares that taking’s so much easier than giving, so why bother with the latter? “Greed and hate / the only way to survive,” he sings, “an ideal world’s an impossibility.” The lyrics are cynical and beaten-down, world-weary and jaded, painting a grim picture of this modern world of ours as a prison where we’re all spoonfed shit ’til we die.
Music-wise, there’s still a strong Social Distortion influence shining through, and some Street Dogs (appropriately, since Dog Johnny Rioux produced the album), but more than that, I hear a whole lot of The Clash going on this time, as well. It’s there not just in the Rancid-like street-punk tempos and snarl but also in the song structures — I swear, a couple of the tracks here sound like they could’ve come off of London Calling (see “Victorious,” in particular) — and in Rost’s and fellow vocalist/guitarist Nathan Allan’s Strummer-ian, just-distorted-enough guitar. And sneaking ’round the side, there’s even a resemblance to Billy Bragg, especially on “Burn It All Down” and “Disenfranchised Rebellions,” and that’s never a bad thing, in my book.
Best of all, Blackmarket Syndicate manage to put together that rough-edged, old-school sound so that it sounds like it’s theirs, not some hand-me-down copy of your favorite late-’70s Britpunk LPs. They take it all, couple it with Rost’s smoke-shredded throat (which he uses to great effect, scratched and damaged as it is), and make the sound their own, and there’s not a wasted moment in the end product, not a damn one. Even the songs I’m not as keen on, like the sarcastic, fuck-yr-job rant of “Working for Someone,” are still really freaking good — they’re just not as good as some of the other songs on here, like highlights “Plead the 5th,” “Great Leap Forward,” or “Unknown Fate.”
The latter, by the way, is one of the most heartfelt, affecting songs I’ve heard in a while, depicting the day-to-day struggle of being in an unknown, seat-of-your-pants indie band out roaming the roads, playing for packed houses or nobody at all and barely scraping together enough money to keep gas in the van. It’s about the grind, the tedium, the amped-up excitement of a show where the kids are going apeshit, the sleeping on couches and floors in some town you’ve never even heard of.
And despite the pain and disappointment when Rost sings “At a bar by the pool tables tonight / The best show we’ve ever played / But no one was there,” it’s still apparent that there’s a love there for the music. And it’s awesome, the kind of song that makes you grin and feel warmth spread through your chest.
Weirdly enough, that one completely non-political song, that joy despite being downtrodden and ignored, that’s what made me realize how wrong I was about this album. Sure, there’s a cynical streak a mile wide here, but so what? The cynicism’s not directed at the world at large, but at the political parties and apparatus we foolishly believe restrain us. The guys in Blackmarket Syndicate can see it’s broken, and they’ll happily point that out, but that doesn’t mean they’ve given up, by any means.
Because despite the dark picture of modern life on Peasants, there’s also a strong, strong current of defiance. There’s a fight coming, they seem to be saying, but it’s not a fight at polling stations, it’s a fight in the streets, the Occupy movement writ large. The justice system is a setup, and working for somebody else sucks, and the politicians may be corrupt, but that doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, in the grand scheme of things.
See, that’s what I missed those first several listens. On “Great Leap Fowrward,” I heard Rost asking where our leaders have gone, but I missed the part where he declares that we are those leaders, because nobody else is coming to save us. And hey, “Greed and Hate” is followed immediately by the aforementioned “Burn It All Down,” an anarchist anthem worthy of Billy Bragg or Chumbawumba (and no, I’m not thinking that godawful, overplayed and misunderstood “Tubthumping,” I’m thinking “Give the Anarchist a Cigarette,” here), where the band proclaims that the only way forward is to knock everything down and “take from the richest to give to the least.”
In the end, what is punk rock if it’s not struggle? That’s what it’s always been about — struggling against the system, against fashion, against conformity, against apathy. There’s always been a fight, and there always will be. So what I heard as the band giving up, well, that was just them telling you how it is before standing you up and throwing you back into the fray.
Just because you’re the underdog, that doesn’t mean you roll over and give up the ghost. Because come what may, Blackmarket Syndicate are going to keep on fighting, defiant ’til the end, because fuck you, that’s why