COVID-19 has taken live music from us, but it has been interesting to see how musicians have responded to the pandemic. Some have written protest songs. Some seem to have found a deep creative well while being stuck at home. Some, like Countless Thousands, have created a rock opera. Yes, that’s right. This punk band from Glendale, California, created a punk rock opera entitled And the Triumph of Justice.
Of the new album, the band said, “This is our official statement of the American Moment. It was recorded entirely under quarantine in two kitchens – not counting the incredible, intercontinental contributions of the inimitable Professor Elemental on ‘Space Nazis Must Die.’”
“Star Spangled Banner on the Moon” is clearly a nod to Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. While the guitar is clearly the focal point, the bass also plays a prominent role in this song. It is by turns jazzy and gut-rumbling. Then in the last minute, the song erupts into a frenzy of noise and punk energy. It ends with someone saying, “Get offa my moon.”
This rock opera is all about variety. First you notice the variety of themes, from space to politics to solidarity. You also notice a variety of sounds ranging from Krautrock to metal to a punk-rock version of a union anthem. There is even a ballad called “Parts Unknown” and an intermission that sounds like the outro of a Tom Waits song.
Perhaps the most jarring song on the album is “Murder Assassins from the Future”. It is probably the most subdued song on the album with just acoustic guitar and vocals. The melody is folky, but let’s just say this isn’t your grandfather’s folk music. The first lyrics are “What’s that sound up on the roof? It’s a commando who wants to kill everybody in sight.” The lyrics go on to tell a story about a woman who fails to stop the Robot Queen and thus dooms humanity, which is why the assassins have come from the future. You know, your standard folk fare.
So did Countless Thousands capture the American Moment? That’s open to interpretation. They did, however, produce an album that is chaotic and unpredictable, which describes the American Moment as well as anything.