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The Adversary Workers 

Vide Poche (NoWire Records)

For a band that so desperately wants to be heard, the Adversary Workers took a strange route in releasing its latest batch of anarcho-punk songs. Vide Poche is only available on vinyl, which makes the record-collecting geeks among us swoon — but leaves the turntable-less majority in the dark. On many of these tracks, the Adversary Workers come off as a more streamlined Fugazi, trading the D.C. band's guitar interplay and stop/start dynamics for a more brash, guileless form of punk rock. Singer and guitarist Joe Wetteroth approaches the aural sneer of Guy Picciotto but usually opts for a full-on howl — it's the only way to be heard over the din of rumbling bass and scattershot drums. Lyrically, these eight songs are a sampler platter of leftist concerns: suburban sprawl, women's rights and religious intolerance receive an airing on the record.

As is the case in most politically charged music, the Workers are preaching to the choir. And while the songs may not change too many hearts and minds, it's good to know that good-old righteous punk rock is alive and well in St. Louis. But for all the stridency and rhetoric on Vide Poche (which translates into "change tray," if you were wondering), the band hits a bright spot when they just let their instruments do the talking. The instrumental "From the Ashes of Gas Light Square" takes a turn towards math-rock, starting with an arpeggiated guitar line and pushing it against buzzy leads and heavy-metal thrash. It's a moment of near-transcendent beauty in the middle of a relentless, screed-filled album, and one that hints at a complexity that rests beneath the band's yell-it-from-the-rooftops ethos. — Christian Schaeffer

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January 26, 2022

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