A Snag in the Social Fabric: The Young Hegelians

I’m breaking hiatus once again. And once more, it’s for a band I believe in, albeit a fledgling band that deserves support. Like one of my previously loved bands, the sadly now defunct Stroszek, this one is taking musical genres in different directions by shifting the lyrical ground in fiercely intelligent and sociopolitical ways. The Young Hegelians (not to be confused with the New York band of the same name) are based in Middlesbrough. Led by songwriter, Carl Jackson, this band has that fantastic self-belief and commitment to lyrics that are so often out of fashion. Without getting too embroiled in radical philosophical theory, the band’s namesake was a group of Prussian leftist intellectuals, including David Strauss, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Max Stirner, who used some of Hegel’s premises to promote republicanism and atheism. One day I will delve further into the nuances and details of the Young Hegelian philosophies. Preferably after I’ve fully grasped Hegelian concepts.

As I’ve stated before, I’m definitely one to fall for a band with a properly angry, passionate manifesto, and The Young Hegelians deliver that as well:

1) Our generation has been lied too. Our youth was misspent on revision and studying for exams that got us onto degree courses and apprenticeships which are now not worth the paper they are written on. Education has lost its value now it’s for sale to everyone. They said that you would be someone and that you would earn a decent wage, but all you got was the noose of debt around your neck and the grim realization that the promise of social mobility is slipping through your fingers. 2) Abhor the High Street. Fashion will destroy you. Fashion is not your friend. —Consumerism is the opiate that keeps you numb and you have failed to see the reason why magazines and the changing scene make you change your wardrobe every season— 3) Rock and roll is nothing but a money making scheme. While our elders tell us tales of the sixties, free love and how the punk movement waged a class war, it’s fair to say that as soon as the fun was over they were all off buying property and monopolizing parts of the world that didn’t belong to them. Rock and roll and youth culture as a whole are no longer revolutionary concepts. They do not make you quirky, interesting or unique. They just make you a potential profitable asset. 4) The internet is our salvation. We are on a new playing field, on a new world, where information is the key. It is anarchy, without structure, without rules, without laws and we have the power to mould this world into our own. Like Guttenberg (sic) inventing the printing press, we can redefine our environment through information, and in doing that we can redefine ourselves.

While I’d expect political bands to sit comfortably within the musical realms of punk, post-punk, and folk, I wasn’t expecting the sound of The Young Hegelians. Of course they cite the Manics as an influence (many intelligent, angry bands do), but they also include Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis in their list. This jazz background pleasantly surprised me, which probably says something about my expectations of political indie music and genre definition. The jazz/swing end of their spectrum of influences is not apparent on all tracks, but the spitting frustration found in their manifesto permeates. And best of all, The Young Hegelians simply don’t fit.

I currently only have two songs available to me for review, but they hold definite promise. The track God Nor Money begins with a drumbeat reminiscent of the classic Sing, Sing, Sing, and then Jackson launches into a tirade against religion and consumerism. It is an anthem for the skeptical and discerning outsider. The chorus, comprised of the line “I have faith in neither God nor money,” explodes out of the tight control of the quick swing before it, fully using dynamics to make its point. Clocking in at only two and a half minutes, it does have the brevity and slip-shod style of a punk song, but there is also the tribal rhythmic feel you get from the jazzier elements.

Unlike Bono’s overwrought (well, I suppose Bono may as well be a synonym for overwrought) tribute to one of the world’s most famous politician under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi by the Young Hegelians is more forthright and intelligent in its commentary. In fact, it’s the antithesis of the U2 anthem with rolling guitar breaking into jabs and syncopated lyrics: “Like a fairytale princess locked in a tower/Thirteen years have slipped by/Seconds turned to hours/There’s no charming prince/She’s a damsel in distress.” The shambolic groove of the verses bumps up against the bashing of the chorus, making the narrative style seem deceptively light-hearted and the chorus all the more gratingly dissonant. There is no wobbling sentimentality with soaring choruses here; Jackson’s vocals definitely veer into raggedy punk bellows and howls in both songs, keeping the song both grounded and desperate and well out of the realm of pretentiousness.

The Young Hegelians are rough around the edges, but I believe in rough around the edges. I believe in lack of belief. So many “DIY” bands today are polished and quantifiable. Catching and snagging your complacent, comfortable expectations can be a freeing and enlightening experience. They’re bravely out-of-step, and they clearly have something to say with their art. I await a full album for the follow-through. By then, I will have perhaps read more Hegelian philosophy.

The Young Hegelians’ MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/younghegelians

God Nor Money – The Young Hegelians

Aung San Suu Kyi – The Young Hegelians

6 Responses to “A Snag in the Social Fabric: The Young Hegelians”

  1. 1 nabor riquelme
    August 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I love this band and if they continue to knock em out like ‘god nor money’ then we could have something…..profitably spiritualitious!

  2. 3 Rol
    August 31, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Must be good if they’ve forced you out of retirement! I shall listen with interest.

  3. 4 Lou
    September 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I like their sound and I like how you have once again come out to talk to us. I do have to say that even if they think fashion destroys, all three of them are very fashionably dressed.

  4. September 11, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Thanks lou, I have never been called fashionable before! And yes, maybe we are. But thats not our choosing.

    Clothing is made so quickly and cheaply now, if you buy from high end boutiques or the aisles of supermarkets whatever you wear will give you a current, up to date look. Pop culture is such a whirlpool, in such a fast paced state of change that even if you wore out of date clothes, they would soon be deemed back in fashion. The only way we could look unfashionable would be to

    A) Buy lots of expensive old clothes deemed ‘vintage’ that have extorionate price tags on them, and even then we would have an air of indie chic about us. or look like Slade.
    B)Dress in the designated counter culture colour, black, then get some piercings, tattoos, listen to metallica etc which is much more corporate anyway
    C)Dress in our mothers frocks or go naked, both of which no one wants to see.

    I guess what I’m saying is that even though I buy cheap clothes, they are still fashionable. I cant get away from that in the society I live in. It used to be that people could shave their heads, get a tattoo, some ripped jeans and they would look like an anarchist. But that has all been assimilated into acceptability now, so people cant look like they want to step out of line.

  5. January 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I really like the sound! who cares about the cloths! :)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome

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