Ramshackle Glory are a Tucson, Arizona anarcho-punk band, with a folk twist, who released farewell album, One Last Big Job, on Friday (December 30). On the whole, the band “was run by its members as an anarchist collective without bosses or managers” and covered “topics related to addiction, recovery, and anarchism”.
Mixed and mastered by their former trumpeter, Charlie Schneeweis, the album’s also in memory of departed Erik Petersen.
Personnel on this album is as sizeable as it’s ever been with Patrick Schneeweis (guitar/vocals), Nick Brgr (accordion/vocals), Douglas Fur (banjo/vocals), Luke Romano (drums/vocals), Alyssa Kai (clarinet), Eric “Johnny” Freedom (trumpet), Wyndham Maxwell (piano) and Dane Rossman (bass).
Patrick, reflecting, had the following to say:
“We donated money to a large number of anarchist and radical political projects, and distributed a lot of free political literature on a variety of topics. We stood up for our values as much as we knew how to. I’m proud of everyone in our band for doing what we did together”.
“This project was hard on all of us in different ways, but in the end we took care of each other as much as we know how to. That isn’t something to take for granted. I actually think it’s all we have. Thanks to everyone who helped us, tolerated our mistakes and our crankiness, and listened to our music. You have funny taste. So do I”.
Luke, hoping for “a world without borders, cops, or cages”, added the following:
“…significant part of my life these past 6 years and I’m thankful for it. At times it was an inspiring and affirming reprieve from normal life. Having the platform to attempt centering both anarchism and queerness in punk spaces meant a ton to me, personally”.
“These weren’t clear objectives, we didn’t have those, but such attempts would manifest and at times it felt important and useful. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, like most of the ludicrous things that anarchists do”.
“Aside from the obvious thanks to my bandmates for being the brilliant collection of beautiful weirdos that they are, I want to thank all the rad folks who set up tables at our shows and all the kids who took that part of what we were doing seriously”.
“Thanks to those who tried to practice some kinda consent on the dance floor. Thanks to all the hosts. (Sorry if you had to hear us yelling at each other about violence, insurrection, and techno-transhumanism or whatever at 3 in the morning on your porch.) Love your buds with all you got. Brush your teeth. F*ck authority”.
Some of their influences are listed as Dry River Collective, Alder House and Pigeon Village.
Ramshackle Glory cite the following as “Artists we also like”: The Taxplayers, The Wild, Two Headed Dog, Songs For Moms, Doctor Meatpie, Shady Characters, Katy Perry, High Dive, Spoonboy, Rvivr, Kimya Dawson, Doctor Dinosaur, The Mountain Goats, Girl Talk and Ghost Mice.
Ramshackle Glory released their full length debut, Live The Dream, in May 2011. A second full length, Who Are Your Friends Gonna Be?, came on June 2012. In June 2013 the band released the Shelter split with folk punk band, Ghost Mice. They then began, and have now finished, recording their swansong, One Last Big Job.
“Junk Bones” opens with downbeat rock with a bit of a swing to it: The line “heaven is in our grasp as long as we leave out all the heaven” lyrics decrying religion. The vocals are impassioned, hoarse and shouting, with a folky punk backdrop contrasting well.
Then there’s “Collapse, Fury, Redemption, Loss” which’s a crawling tune, driving, immediate and urgent. Then flourishes syncopate for extra energy. A female monologue closes the track, a track very animated and lively.
The very much on the sleeve “Broken Heart” bares its more folky inclinations, downbeat, again, the word. What seems clarinet whistles over the top of the arrangement, mournful and suitably sad. Strum of acoustic guitar heralds slightly out of tune vocal harmonies, but sweet and very earnest. “We’re gonna die here” perhaps offsetting those previous matters of the heart with its tragedy.
The guys are “Homeward Bound”, which opens with a flourish; scratchy licks of guitar. It grows moody, just drums, guitar and vocal driving before the rest of the band recommence. Ringing piano punches with clarity, and “how we got home” perhaps a nod towards a happy end.
The band wage “War On Christmas” and it seems to have at least some of its sentiment rooted in the tongue in cheek. However, much of it is joyous, a really life affirming soundscape somewhat contrasting with vocals and lyrics maybe not so joyous.
Their motto of “Die Alone, Live Together (Born To Lose)” is to the point, mighty and driving. Then it grooves moody and brooding, powerful in its majesty. Drum and bass see the track out, before muted guitar adjoins.
Faces are “Into The Wind” and it opens with female vocals, delicate and wistful. That folky element is certainly more pronounced in this one. “I will drink too much coffee and hope it feels tight” a curious line. That ringing clarity of the piano rears its head, again. This song very much centres round what’s played, rather than how fast.
The band encourage the listener to “Face The Void”. It’s an imploring one, dramatic and urging: “I take the long way home, just incase we’re followed/I take action today, I’ll take the trash out tomorrow”. The line of “I don’t have any fun/Now, let me tell you how the economy will be run” has a light tinkling in the background, like the light of realisation turning into revelation. Rousing.
The backing female vocals really soar, like triumph over adversity. “Make some noise/Something to scream in silence” also as confusing as the contradictions in life. A call to arms comes, guitar and drum syncopated in mighty triumph.
“The Hand You Reach Out Is Empty (As Is Mine)” is the end, weighing in at almost three and a half minutes, making it the longest track on the album. “Egalitarians with empty hands/Is it justice dividing the sand?” evocative of an olive branch to the lower orders, one without olives. Military drums cue crashing instrumentation, perfectly combining the immediacy of punk and that wistful folk sound.
The album’s a good body of work, but ones to look out for are “Broken Heart”, “Die Alone, Live Together (Born To Lose)” and “Face The Void”. These tracks are fairly well spread through the duration of the album, being tracks three, six and eight. This, in turn, roughly equates to beginning, middle and end.
Third track, “Broken Heart”, stands out with that whistling clarinet, unexpected in punk but maybe more welcome in anything with a folky feel. Off key vocal harmony proves the band, refreshingly, don’t seek polish all the time. Maybe more indicative of how they’d sound live? “We’re gonna die here” drips in tragedy, and very much suits the essence of the track.
Rough midpoint, “Die Alone, Live Together (Born To Lose)”, is moody and brooding, powerful in its majesty. Drum and bass sees the track out, before muted guitar adjoins. This an example of a dynamic that, perhaps, not enough bands explore. It’s very effective and brings to the fore the rhythm of the drums, and the melody of the bass. Stripping back and bringing back in is quite satisfying.
Second last track, “Face The Void”, implores with its, sometimes, very charged lyrics and rousing instrumentation: “I take the long way home, just incase we’re followed/I take action today, I’ll take the trash out tomorrow”. These combine for political epiphany in “I don’t have any fun/Now, let me tell you how the economy will be run”. At times it’s triumph over adversity and, definitely, a call to arms.
Ramshackle Glory have the passion and politics of punk with the instrumentation and intrigue of folk. The folk influences are such that it lends a very progressive element to their songs, their structures maybe more intricate than the typical and guttural of the punk genre. Ramshackle Glory’s One Last Big Job can be purchased on Bandcamp, here.
Words by Andrew Watson