We the People: The Muckrockers on the State of the Union

Given the recombinant nature of Iowa City bands and the general talent level, it’s probably nuts to label any new band a super-group.  However . . .

Scott Cochran has been writing great songs for a long time now, polishing his craft with two excellent bands, Slew Grass and Flannel.  He’s given a lot of thought to the our national political/economic situation, and written a coherent group of songs from a radical, patriotic, populist perspective.  Their Facebook description serves as a mission statement.  “Muckrockers are a group of working class musician-citizens aiming to illuminate and eliminate the corporate stranglehold on our government and our lives.”

To a lot of eyes

Greed and lies

Killed the American dream


Economic inequality, chronic unemployment, and a seemingly hostile government are all weighty topics, and if you want to engage an audience while addressing them, you’d better include a hefty dose of fun.  Mission accomplished on that front.

These songs, some of which you might recognize from recent Slew Grass shows, range from fist-shaking, storm-the-barricades anthems (Great Depression, Kick the Power Out) to sad, thoughtful ballads (Soldier, That Shit’ll Kill Ya).  Paris Hilton is a honky tonk story song about a guy headed to DC to see about getting his job back from Mexico.   Matt Kearney performs The Contract as a sardonic monolog over a rocking soundtrack.  How Long ends with a children’s chorus that recalls the Clash’s Career Opportunities.

The exhuberant chorus from Great Depression sounds like a cross between John Prine’s Spanish Pipedream and the Mermaid Avenue records.

“Burn all your money.
Pack up your kids
Better find your religion.
Better get off the grid.
Better learn your constitution.
Someone grab a gun.
There are people goin’ on the run”

You can hear this, and a couple other songs on the Muckrockers’ Facebook page.  (*WARNING*  Earworm alert)

Tom Spielbauer (Porch Builder) plays guitar, banjo and fiddle.   Agit-rockers Matt and Jamie Kearney (Pigs and Clover) sing backup vocals.  Matt adds bass, harps, banjo and guitar.  Jamie plays her purple sparkly cocktail drum kit.  Tho not on the record, April Dirks Bihun now plays mandolin with the band.   Dustin Duwa recorded, mixed, mastered, and generally engineered.

We the People engages with both the heart and the head. Passionate and thoughtful, it deserves a huge audience. You can buy it here.

-John Hiett


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