Working class anthems may be in short supply these days, but that doesn’t mean the dynamics have changed any. There are still bills to be paid, rents to be collected, and heartless management to keep you under their oppressive thumbs. There are still long hours spent laboring in the service of a system that wears you down and eats away at your spirit. We may be deep into the digital age, but with a volatile political climate and a sluggish economy, the day-to-day concerns of the working class remain as stark as ever. The struggle, as they say, is real.
“The Other Way” is the latest single from songwriter Ethan Fogus’ upcoming LP, Southbound, and it tells the story of disaffected man who is laid off from work. “Management calls him into the office / and they thanked him for all his service / but the profit margins aren’t high enough / so we’re cutting all nonessential staff,” Fogus sneers over a bouncy Rhodes and ramshackle guitars, making no attempt to mask his disdain for either the faceless company doing the canning or the difficult plight the worker has been forced into. The obvious touchstone here is Springsteen, who built his legacy crafting indelible blue-collar screeds, but the stormy energy is equally suggestive of the scruffy anti-pop of the Replacements. In any case, it’s brash, smart songwriting, the kind that ably offers what most good music does: a promise of escape.
Southbound was recorded live by Damon Moon at the Cottage with the help of several established players. By turns, there are appearances by Matthew Pendrick (Cicada Rhythm, Slow Parade) and Paul Stevens (Grand Vapids), as well as Immersive scribes Brandon Belcher (Dojo Collective) and Ben Davidow (Buzzards of Fuzz, Gas Hound). “Without the help of my friends, this would be a completely different record,” Fogus acknowledges in his press release. “It feels special.” I can’t yet speak for the remainder of the record, but with its feisty vocals and fiery verve, “The Other Way” is just that.
Southbound is out October 14.
Ethan Fogus will celebrate the release of Southbound on Thursday, October 13 at Red Light Cafe. Supporting him will be andi. (Night Driving in Small Towns), Cortez Garza, and Slow Parade. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance and $10 DOS.