BY FRED MILLS
Veterans of the original punk wars may grow up, get jobs, start families, and even “settle down,” but they never forget—the lessons of their youth, the stands they took, the sustenance they took from being cause-driven. And even when they drift into middle age, the personality-shaping events of yore continue to shape them and inform their artistry. Just ask Ian MacKaye or Henry Rollins.
It’s also true for Tim Livingston, who was on the Albany scene in the late ‘70s with his band The Morons, and who resurfaced a few years ago fronting The Last Conspirators. A Celebration of Fury is the group’s third full-length, the followup to 2010’s highly regarded When It All Comes Down. Songtitles like “Last Ones Standing,” “No Time For Egos” and of course “A Celebration of Fury” telegraph the intent here: the quartet has taken a look around and isn’t particularly thrilled by what it sees.
To that end the band declares, per this seven-songer’s second track, “Radio Warfare.” Against a jungle-rock throb and ominous shards of spaghetti western guitar, Livingston decries the namby-pamby state of popular media. A few songs later, in the galloping Clash-like “No Time for Egos,” the group calls for a putting aside of personal agendas in the service of solidarity—heavy stuff indeed, and if that sounds like the Conspirators flirt with agitprop, well… how are you gonna get people to open their eyes without an initial round of provocation, anyway? Methinks Joe Strummer would make these guys his new favorite band were he still alive.
In “Last Ones Standing” Livingston sings, in his trademark urgent, edgy voice, “There was a time/ We were young/ We were the rebel kind/ Always on the run/ Shaking things up/ Living by the gun.” This is no nostalgia trip, however, no wistful capitulation to growing older. Like I suggested in the first paragraph, Livingston & Co. draw strength from the past in order to more purposefully pursue the present. The rest of us can count The Last Conspirators among the good guys, the ones who desperately want us to make every moment count in the here and now.
DOWNLOAD: “Last Ones Standing,” “Radio Warfare,” “A Celebration of Fury”