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Yikes McGee: Reviews

'Tis the season for political folk music. And what a bounteous season it's been. First, George Scherer's The Election Year Waltz gave us some toe-tapping anti-Bush diatribe. Now Yikes McGee antes up the bite and happy venom with his hysterical new folk album, Protest Songs for the New Millenium.
McGee pulls no punches with his opinions. In fact, he prints them right on the disc: "I Condemn this President for Misusing our Troops on a Mission Promoting Sinister Political and Narrow-Minded Ideological Objectives." Just in case you missed his point, the track list should clue you in: "Bad President," "Propagandy," "The Cowboy President," "PNAC: or NEO-Masters of War," "The Liar" and "Hello Mama" (not as obvious as the rest, so I'll clue you in: a cell phone call, complete with lost signals, from Bin Laden to his mother, telling her not to worry; he's perfectly safe since Bush has no intention of pursuing him).
McGee's Man & His Guitar delivery is classic and fun. His crystal-clear and surprisingly moving voice lets you hear every hilarious word. Unfortunately, there's not enough words to go around: the album's only drawback is the too-short length. But what McGee delivers is wicked and witty and shout-out amusing. In fact, the lyrics are so funny, I'm tempted to transcribe them word-for-word. But I don't want to ruin the fun you're certain to have with this CD. Fun, that is, if you are riled up Bush-hater in need of some moral and humorous support from a comrade-in-arms.
Yikes McGee - The Bad President
Just a few months ago, and what a time it’s been, George W. Bush was reelected (or elected, depending on your view) to the presidency, and ever since, many on the Left have been making the painful transition from laying curled and weeping in the fetal position on their bedroom floors into a kind of zombie-like, unfeeling trance that will last well into 2008.

Well, what better way to reflect on the hopeful pre-election socio-political climate (and aid in the mourning process for those of us still grappling with defeat) than to reexamine some of the cultural artifacts created by the Bush/Kerry race? While MoveOn and a host of 527s will surely reference their TV and web ads, some will cite Eminem’s blistering “Mosh,” and many readily will recall the on-the-stump contributions of big-name celebs like Bruce Springsteen or Leonardo DiCaprio, what we can’t forget is how much artistic fervor the Bush/Kerry race stirred up on all levels, and especially within local communities of independent music.

While Yikes McGee surely is just one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of musicians to circulate their protest songs online in the last few years, his plain-spoken assault on the first four years of the W. administration is indicative of much of what was out there pre-Nov. 2. Dubbed simply “The Bad President,” the 90-second offering is all semi-spoken/semi-sung vocals and shuffling acoustic folk guitar, an obvious descendent of luminaries like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, both of whom aren’t known for being apolitical. (It’s available for download, alongside some other politically charged material.)

Rather than attack Bush on issues or platforms (or try to rhyme real couplet-killers like Abu Ghraib or Kyoto, never mind the more obvious Osama or Saddam), McGee goes after the Commander-in-Chief by plainly debunking what’s perceived as his character, his abstract view of reality, his religious fervor, and his quick ascendancy to power. “We got a president, so bad / Gotta be the worst we ever had / Got the job because of his Dad / Now we’re all in danger,” sings McGee, in one of his broader critiques. There are some more issue-driven and politically loaded criticisms (I personally enjoyed “Compassionate conservative? My ass / And executions unsurpassed / Surplus gone, so fast / Divided not united”), but McGee probably is at his best in the song when he swings a more blunt-ended object. The song’s chorus, repeated twice, speaks more to hope than to anger, something that I wonder if McGee has tweaked in the weeks since Ohio’s close margins (thank you, electronic voting!) gave Bush the Electoral College edge. “Put him in a straitjacket, there’s no doubt / Let the psychiatrists figure him out,” it goes. “Listen while the demonstrators cheer and shout / We’ll all feel better in the morning.”

Well, maybe we won’t.