John Dissed
'Red Flag'
By: BC Furtney
"America's an empire, the president's a vampire" is the unambiguous opening shot fired by L.A. singer/songwriter, John Dissed, on his long-awaited new LP, Red Flag, a lean, churning, burning collection of so-blunt-they-could-beat-you-to-death tracks that fly in the face of our crumbling modern day America, our cutout leaders and elected officials, and our own seeming consumer-numbed indifference to each mounting injustice.
In a country that now unabashedly employs a mislead, divide, conquer, rob, starve, and crush methodology against its own populace, Dissed appears like nothing less than a rock n' roll Robin Hood, laying the blame squarely where he thinks it belongs: on the doorstep of the fat cats, warmongers, race baiters, corporate shills, economy looters, double-speaking conservatives, and phony liberals who aren't just trying, but succeeding, at steering our once-mighty Land of the Free into its current sad and abysmal tailspin.
Red Flag is the kind of wake-up call we'd like to think The Boss would give to the masses, if only he weren't so shamelessly co-opted by the Democratic party himself. Born In The USA, indeed - and if Springsteen forgets what that means, Dissed most definitely does not. When he intones "who was behind the worst attack on our nation? We'll never really know without an investigation," it's every bit the chilling eye-opener thirteen years later that it was that grim morning after.
At times snarling, other times crooning, Dissed's vocals are a marked departure from his earlier releases (of which there are legion), displaying a range and passion that feel and sound distinctly upped - not unlike the stakes for all of us these days, and not just in America, but worldwide. And far from casting vague allusions and accusations, the targets of Dissed's well-aimed arrows are unmistakeable. When he sings "you spoke with such a sincerity, the world longed for you to bring, turns out you’re just an empty parody, an altogether different kind of King," he's staring down our current Dictator-In-Chief himself.
If it all sounds like a mega-downer, well, it might be if Dissed's hooks weren't so damn infectious. As it stands, Red Flag expertly walks a tricky tightrope, making us think and asking the hard questions (while not skimping on some equally hard answers), while also getting us off our asses to some bouncing rock n' roll, most closely recalling the politically-charged rap of Public Enemy at its core, but with a folk rock-on-meth presentation that, at this point, feels uniquely John Dissed.
Lyrically, Red Flag's closing track dumps us on the roadside, beat-up and disoriented and just wanting to find our way to safety and security, not unlike many of our politically and economically victimized citizens. The "blood-drenched roller coaster ride" we're promised in 'Societal Suicide' is open to the public and its line is long. Luckily, we still have conscious individuals and songwriters like John Dissed to stand up, speak up, and point us to the exit, all with a catchy song stuck in our heads.