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“Live Free” by The Refusers

In their new single and music video “Live Free,” The Refusers pay homage to the punk roots of their sound whilst blazing forward on an artistic path all their own. From the chilling opening chords of the track up until the few strands of distortion it concludes with, The Refusers are committed to keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Sonically speaking, “Live Free” owes a lot to the pulsating murky sludge of early 90’s alternative rock, but I wouldn’t necessarily deem it a product of retrospection exclusively. There are shades of contemporary concepts and millennial efficiency here, especially concerning the protest-themed lyrics, which when mixed with the aforementioned influences make an undisputedly unique style of play.

Everything here is structured off of the anthemic, guitar-driven hook, but I’d stop short of calling this a chorus-oriented composition. There’s a lot of tense, atmospheric moodiness to the melodic undertow guiding the bassline here, and there isn’t any unutilized space in the master mix with regard to the percussive backbone driving the beat.

Whether it be the first couple of verses we hear at the start or the crushing deluge of emotion we encounter in the chorus, the band’s energy is always on overdrive, forcing us to embrace their passion one way or another.

Although there’s a political charge to the lyricism in this piece, I don’t feel like the anarchistic tone of the track is defined by its words alone. There’s so much to take away from the sheer volume that’s behind the instrumentation that to say the verses are what makes the mood of this material would be to discount the mightiness of the band performing it. They’ve got a lot more to offer with this message than words can account for on their own, and they’re able to prove as much with the potency of the music in this piece.

Try as this mix does, there’s no containing the unruly nature of the guitar parts in a couple of key moments, which is important to invigorating the underlying texture in the mix. There’s no denying that hearing this live would be quite the experience, but I don’t think we’re getting a milder version of what we might hear in concert with this performance. Truth be told, the edges of this track as bleeding a lot of excessive white noise into the air when you crank the speakers loud enough, but the resulting feedback isn’t negative at all – if anything, it contributes something additional to the grander scheme of things here.

Rockers craving something purely unclean in tonality and surprisingly evocative in verse really can’t go wrong with The Refusers’ “Live Free” this December. Released at a point in rock history that has been lacking in real physicality from the mainstream and underground alike, “Live Free” just might be what fans of the genre need to get excited about new music again. It’s a great look for The Refusers, and if this track or its music video manages to find a substantial audience over the winter, they’re going to be in prime shape moving into the next chapter of their career together.

Mindy McCall



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