The Refusers Disobey Cover
The cover for The Refusers’ rock-n-roll EP, ‘Disobey.’

Band: The Refusers; members: Michael Belkin: guitar and vocals; Steve Newton: bass and vocals; and Joe Doria: Hammond organ and piano

EP: ‘Disobey’

While many Americans routinely argue over their bureaucratic beliefs, there’s one ideal that people often do agree on, especially since the 2016 presidential election-that divisive political discourse keeps spinning out of control. Like many other entertainers who have recently spoken out against the America’s institutional status quo, the Seattle-based band, The Refusers, is the latest group to express their discontent with how the government is currently being handled. On their new nine-track EP, ‘Disobey,’ the band, which is led by singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer-founder Michael Belkin, powerfully voices its concerns about America’s ongoing social injustices. The singer leads an epic call to refuse to accept the unbalanced way things currently are, and fight back against corrupt officials.

Belkin’s lyrics immediately prove his point about the need for citizens to fight back against the governmental corruption on ‘Disobey’s first entry, ‘Playing with Fire.’ The musician encourages everyone to fight back against the machine that controls them, and passionately points out the oxymorons that define the U.S. Through his gritty rock vocals, The Refuser’s lead singer insists that freedom is really slavery, ignorance is actually strength and war means peace. He encourages his listeners to fight against the machine that wants to take control of their lives in a classic rock song that would surely incite inspiration in live performances, especially at festivals like SXSW.

‘Playing With Fire’ then delves into the album’s sophomore song, ‘Why Do They Lie,’ which encourages people to rally against big pharmaceutical companies. Belkin notes his belief that the companies are killing their customers through unnecessary prescription medications. Backed by an intriguing drum beat, the track insists that the prescribed drugs incite people to act out of character, and pharmacies have no remorse about the effects of their products. The musician expresses his hope that Congress will stop allowing the pharmaceutical companies to release the medications that change people’s personalities.

The next tune on ‘Disobey’ is the powerful title track, which features a great vintage punk sound that’s mixed with blues and rock. Belkin encourages his fans to continue to beg for wrongs to be righted. He also encourages them to defy those who wrongfully dominate their lives, and fight to regain the power they have let others take from them. The title tune has the potential to become a commercial radio hit, as it reflects many people’s thought that society is going in the wrong direction, and they don’t have to accept everything they’re told.

‘Disobey’ then transitions into the soulful rock entry, ‘Eruption,’ which encourages its listeners to educate themselves, and make the right choices at the voting polls, in the streets and in their minds about who represents them in the government. The song features enthralling 1970s-infused funk vocals, guitar riffs and drum beats, as Belkin sings about how there’s about to be a complete disruption in how society operates.

The Refusers’ latest record continues its critique of American society on the up-tempo song, ‘My Baby Loves Rock and Roll.’ Belkin playfully mocks rap music, while asserting the enduring power of rock and roll.

The latest EP from the rock band then evolves into the all-too-contemporary track, ‘Fake News,’ which returns to criticizing corporate America, as well as citizens’ addiction to the element that has plagued society since the last election. Backed by an enthralling rock-inspired guitar, Belkin effortlessly proves his strong resistance to how the select few big media organizations run most of the country’s radio and television stations. As a result, the corporations control what the public hears about society

‘Fake News’ then transitions into another gripping and similarly-themed tune, ‘Government Slave,’ on which Belkin notes how leaders guide people to mindlessly follow them. The frank rock vibe song continues The Refusers’ powerful message that the government shouldn’t control what people hear or believe.

The penultimate entry on ‘Disobey’ is the commanding track, ‘Free the Captives,’ on which the band strongly voice its concerns over the ever-increasing economic inequities between the rich and poor. Belkin’s funk-rock vocals are backed by stunning guitar riffs and drum beats as he proclaims that he want the masses to be freed from government control.

The last tune on The Refuser’s latest album is the stunning entry, ‘Emancipation,’ which is the perfect culmination of the group’s social ideals. The hard-rock guitar riffs powerfully drive Belkin’s vocals, as he reminds his listeners one last time that people are always being held captive. He encourage them to pray for emancipation from total government control, which powerfully sums up ‘Disobey’s overall message.

While the craziness of modern times will make most listeners gravitate towards the provocative messages that are featured on ‘Disobey,’ The Refusers also capture listeners’ attention with their unique approach to their rock-n-roll vocals and instrumentation. The EP perfectly crafts a thought-provoking defiance that will surely make listeners not only contemplate the new social norms, but also want to take action against the growing oppression.

For more information on The Refusers, visit the band’s official website, as well as its Facebook, Twitter and Spotify pages.

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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