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“Culture War” by Paul Maged

In his new single and music video “Culture War,” Paul Maged reminds us of why he got into the rock n’ roll business in the first place, and it clearly wasn’t to advance a watered-down narrative steeped in commerciality unto rockers everywhere. “Culture War,” as its name suggests, is a politically-charged anthem of rebellion that steers away from traditions in favor of espousing something purely adrenaline-driven, and for my money it’s absolutely one of the few independent releases of its kind worth taking a peek at before the autumn season has come to a finish. 

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While there’s a lot of focus on the guitar’s role in this song, as should be expected in a hard rock single, I don’t think the six-string destruction here is the lone source of magic in the track. There’s so much heat coming off of the bassline that it could have filled up the back half of the mix all by itself, and although the percussion inspires a pummeling beat, it’s so integrated with the melodic instrumentation that it’s hard to tell where the physicality of one element is coming to an end and another is just beginning to sprout into existence before our ears. 

This single is probably one of the best examples of good spacing I’ve come across in underground rock music lately, with the drums and the bassline standing apart from each other as to produce a distinctive wallop that doesn’t wind up sounding muddied halfway through the song. Maged is a master of straddling the rhythm with a disciplined vocal strike, but here, he isn’t being tasked with having to do as much of the heavy lifting as his backing band is assisting to the degree that they are. This is as much about comradery as it is skill, which can’t be said for many rock singles out right now. 

The political overtone to the lyrics is forthright and forceful, creating a passionate core hidden within the music (barely) and ready to imprint its message on just about anyone within earshot of “Culture War.” With so many protest songs entering the charts this year, it’s nice to hear a rock musician voicing some of the same passion his contemporaries in hip-hop, punk and even pop music have – in a decade starting off as tumultuously as the 2020s appear to be, his is an approach that some young upstarts could stand to learn a thing or two from. 

Rock enthusiasts in need of a quick fix this November can rest assured that Paul Maged has them covered in the new song and music video “Culture War,” which dropped just a month ago and haven’t stopped picking up steam since. Maged doesn’t try to be anything other than what he’s established himself as for the better part of fifteen years now in this single, and given the climate we’re living in today, his voice isn’t just appreciated – it’s setting an example that the indie circuit needs to follow as much as possible. 

Mindy McCall 



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