It’s taken a few years, but I am finally able to accept that “World Punk” is a legitimate genre. Thanks to bands like World Inferno/Friendship Society, Gogol Bordello, and most importantly Firewater, I realize this is far more than a novelty, but a full-on movement, building on what punk bands like The Clash were evolving to in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Firewater’s latest, International Orange, is a fantastic look into how satisfying this genre can be. Founded by former Cop Shoot Cop singer Tod A., the band mixes eye-opening lyrics that owe a debt to the political punks with a slew of different sounds from Turkish drums (likely thanks to Tod’s new adopted country), trombone, trumpets, looped guitars and a number of other instruments I have never heard of before.
International Orange, their sixth release, is as good as anything the band has ever put to tape (wax? digital?). Coming in just under a dozen tracks, there are no weak ones in the collection. Songs like the haunting “Strange Life” and the stellar “Tropical Depression” have been stuck in my head for days. Recorded in Turkey and Israel in the middle of last year’s Arab Spring, you can hear the energy in the album, a mix of optimism, fear and uncertainty.