Formed in 2017, Redbait came together not through music but through their shared community organisation work in St. Louis, Missouri. The spirit of activism is powerfully ingrained in their music, which they accurately describe as “Midwestern proletarian crust.” But in addition to the punk core of their sound, the diverse musical backgrounds of this six-piece bring in some interesting and beautiful elements from sludge, doom and black metal.
Redbait’s first EP, 2018’s Red Tape, put them at the forefront of an exciting new wave of politically-charged underground bands storming in from the left with open challenges to fascism, capitalism, misogyny and social injustice. New EP Cages, to be released on 14th June from New Age Records (pre-order vinyl from the label or on Bandcamp), sees them hone their sound without losing any of this raw passion for justice.
Cages is infused to the core with politics, so much so that listening to it feels like being at a protest rally. At only thirteen minutes long, the EP’s five tracks address the crimes of capitalism (“Capital Gains”), police brutality (“Our Town”), the inhumane treatment of immigrant children (“Cages”), factory farming (“Bred For The Knife”), as well as a more personal story about a friend’s drug addiction with “Forever Ends Now.” The raw DIY feel harkens back to the early days of punk, and the visceral dual vocals from Madeline and Rebecca are effective in conveying the sense that Redbait speak for the many, not the few.
Sample the punchy music and message via lead single “Capital Gains” here:
Vocally opposed to NSBM, fascism and sexism in music, this is a band that hosts benefit concerts, donates record sales to community funds, organises union meetings, campaigns to raise Missouri’s minimum wage, and fights to build safe entertainment spaces free from harassment and abuse. Given this unequivocally admirable work, you’d be forgiven for going easy on them when it comes to the quality of the music. But fortunately you don’t need to, because Redbait have got some serious riffs, and with Cages they have taken things a step further in developing an exciting sound of their own.
Punk is still the core of the record, evident in blistering first tracks “Capital Gains” and the anthemic “Our Town,” but “Cages” brings in sludge and doom elements, while the acoustic section in “Bred For The Knife” segues into black metal tremolo guitars. This track has some beautiful melodic touches, also evident in “Forever Ends Now” which ends with heartbreaking layered riffs and screams.
Cages packs a lot of brilliant, inspiring stuff into only thirteen minutes. Redbait is a profoundly important band, deep in the trenches of the post-industrial Midwest where the battle for America’s soul is taking place. There’s never been a better time for bands like this, and perhaps most important is that their music leaves the listener inspired: to get informed, and vocal, and find ways to make a difference.
A current promo shot of the band which clearly delineates their music’s underlying aggression:
Cages Track Listing:
01. Capital Gains
02. Our Town
04. Bred For The Knife
05. Forever Ends Now
Run Time: 13:41 Release Date: June 14, 2019 Record Label: New Age Records