Danbert Nobacon’s new protest album cannot resist toe-tapping.
Resistance is the central message of Stardust to Darwinstuff, Danbert Nobacon’s newest full-length album, and it is so upbeat that you may forget you’re resisting the presidency of Donald Trump. The album is a protest, not just against Trump, but a whole generation of conservative, corporate globalist governments in the West. It was inspired around the time of the Trump and Clinton campaigns, however. Recording started in early October, but it received another thrust of inspiration post-election. The first single “Revolution 9.01” was published for free download on inauguration day.
“He makes minimum wage, in the time it takes to say minimum wage,” sings Danbert in “Karma Won’t Save Us (from Rex Tillerson).” Just one example of the catchy and upsetting, plain truths you can expect on the record. Despite, or perhaps because of, the difficult lyrical pills to swallow, each song presents itself with a spoonful of sugar. You can find the lyrics and commentary provided in another free download on his homepage.
Danbert cannot escape being mentioned as a founding member of Chumbawamba (1982-2012) as it represents the long arc of his work. He rose up with them in the British punk scene, broke through with a smash hit single in 1997. In that band, he learned how to present anti-establishment messages with accessible music. Now Danbert lives a simpler life in the mountain town of Twisp, Washington. He became an American citizen in 2015.
The official name for his current side band is Danbert Nobacon and the Axis of Dissent. He teamed up with Seattle-based cabaret band The Bad Things, who formed in 2002 as a street-busking band. “We didn’t even rehearse,” Danbert points out on my Thrupoint Podcast interview, but despite this, the band relies far more on solid performance than studio techniques. He allowed players to determine their own parts so long as they followed song structure.
A total of 16 musicians and vocalists appear on this record. Instruments include the violin, mandolin, saw, banjo, accordion, electric and acoustic bass and guitars. The result is what you might expect, a folksy indie rock feel. Despite a variety of instrumentation and formations, the album takes on a cogent whole and doesn’t sound a bit cluttered. The tracks are crisp and lively. It was produced by Mell Dettner at Studio Soli, in Seattle, and self-published as a digital download by Nobacon.