These punks out of Richmond, Virginia are characterized by fast and catchy songs with frontman Thomas Barnett swinging effortlessly between some tone-deaf singing and screaming. Heavily political in themes they decry the justice system, police brutality, and abuses of globalization and they fight for fairness, women’s rights and animal rights.
This song is from their debut album Change is a Sound (2001) and is indicative of their ethos. Perhaps, today, with protests at unfair treatment by law enforcement taking up significant space in the headlines their furious (yet, oh so catchy), song, “Sunset on 32nd Street,” becomes more poignant.
It is an indictment on police injustice calling out violence, racism in the prison system, fear tactics, and civil forfeiture (“They fake it… and take back what they steal”). It highlights the idea that sirens might lead to “hold[ing] your family close to your heart.” And the song also emphasizes that the feeling is felt more by some than others. Yet, it offers hope in the idea of protest and unity in the face of tyranny. And it does not indict all, as Barnett is skeptical but offers “I wish the good cops (if they exist) the very best.” It’s a brief pause in the criticism but it’s there and perhaps in the unity against the unfairness you’d find the good cops marching alongside.
What sets this punk political commentary apart is how it includes the intensely personal, beginning at a slower tempo with the police invading a home and “put[ting] their guns in the face of your wife and child” holding you on the floor where you need to cry out “I’m not resisting you.” From there the speed and the fury take off and make a solid Banger entry.