Billy Bragg's first solo release in four years is a six track mini album called Bridges Not Walls which concludes with this elegy for the way things used to be viewed through the eyes of the disenfranchised.
Nordic Giants are not so much a band as a multimedia performance art experience. Like a post-rock Daft Punk, they hide their individuality so that the concept of Nordic Giants is untainted by the banalities of the real world, creating cinematic soundscapes which seem to tell stories of monsters and men in grand, impossible landscapes.
The irresistibly catchy Trial and Error proves that just because you hate injustice, it doesn't mean you have to stop moshing. Frank Turner crashes headlong into Sum 41 in a bubbly 2 minutes 50 seconds of pogo polemic by Colorado four-piece One Flew West.
Opening to the prolonged sound of cattle howling and the machinery of death grinding and whirring, Meat is Murder pulled no punches. This is a difficult song for me because I love The Smiths but I also eat meat, so this song is asking me to consider a grisly reality that, frankly, I would sooner ignore. From my point of view, musing the cultural significance of music, that's very interesting. From the point of view of the cattle, it's a different story.
It's hard to sum up a band with such an impressive canon as Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin urges you to always be on the lookout for the true agenda concealed behind the establishment's strict rules because, as he wrote when he was just a teenager: "they hide behind their lies that they're helping everyone".
Speak My Mind is the protest song equivalent to one of those internet "unboxing" videos, except that instead of a first look at the new iPhone, it's an unexpurgated reaction to the news that your fellow citizens have elected a leader who not only fails to represent your values but is in fact a very real threat to your way of life and the people you care about.
Experience the uncomfortable feeling that you're celebrating the worst excesses of the Eighties, offset by the vague idea that war is basically bad
The opportunity to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay is a basic right in a modern democracy and yet successive governments around the world fail their electorate by allowing corporations to make it impossible for workers to earn a living. Moreover, as pressure from the boardroom forces cutbacks on equipment maintenance and training, workers can be putting their lives at risk on the shop floor. And that's one of the inspirations for War on the Workers.
I think I forgot to breathe for nearly three-and-a-half minutes while I was watching Kate Tempest performing at the Mercury Music Prize awards ceremony last week. With all due respect to Sampha, who eventually carried off the prize money, no other words carried such weight and no other performer wielded such a magnetic influence over the crowd as this 31 year-old poet-turned-rapper from Brockley in London.
So Pretty are a DIY feminist punk rock band from Chicago who not only make a fabulous raucous noise but are also community activists in their own right, creating their own arts space for women and trans individuals.
Rhode Island rapper B. Dolan calls out the hip-hop haters in this song that samples a folk song written for striking American miners in the 1930s.
Like a lot of young British movie fans of my age, the deceptively cheerful piano melody of this song first came to my attention in the 1970s as the theme music to the BBC's long-running Film Review series (Film 1972, Film 1973 etc etc...) and it was nearly twenty years before I learned that this jolly jazz-gospel piano tune was in fact one of the key cultural touchstones of the American Civil Rights movement.
The music of SLF was a great influence on me as a teenager. Coming from a small, rural town in the East of England, I couldn't relate directly to a bunch of Belfast boys who had grown up during The Troubles. But I had no difficulty understanding what it was like to be surrounded by generations of adults who thought they knew best about my future, despite making a mess of the world and their own lives.
From the very start of Now you'll be able to hear the simmering anger and imagine the sneering curl of London rapper Potent Whisper's lip as he taunts the establishment. But what you might be surprised to learn is that the backing music isn't the usual layer upon layer of samples. It's not even a whole band, although you'd be forgiven for thinking it is. In fact, all of the music on Now is performed on... a harp.
The mellow sound of Hawaiian folk-pop surf dude Jack Johnson has not got any less gentle on the ear with this first taste of his forthcoming new (seventh) album, so it might sound a bit abrupt when played alongside the likes of Prophets of Rage, but don't mistake that chirpy, slick production and cooing, treacly vocal for terminal insouciance. Jack Johnson is cross.
The passion of Better Decide Which Side You're On is just as strong and most of the lyrics seem particularly apposite 40 years after it was written. This is a song about standing up to fight against extreme right "bullyboys" and giving no quarter to those who are "sitting on the fence".
"If you see something and you think somebody needs to stand up for it – whatever issue it might be – then you should," Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith told The Independent earlier this year as they debuted their sixth album, Risk To Exist. "There’s a responsibility as a citizen and as a human."
A song doesn't necessarily have to earn its place on the Music to Fight Evil playlist by arguing a well-reasoned political point. Sometimes it's enough to be angry at... whatever. Like this rousing battle cry from the first Manic Street Preachers album, Generation Terrorists.
This year's first new Prophets of Rage material, Unfuck the World, has all the characteristics you'd expect from RATM and Public Enemy. Frankly, it feels like it was made for the Music to Fight Evil playlist.
Most protest songs concern themselves with the symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself. But Get Better by Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip takes a wider and more positive outlook, challenging young people to rise above their circumstances rather than be consumed by them.