Peter Oren is tired.
There’s a weariness associated with all bass-baritones. Something in that low-rumble and rust that radiates a sense of pleasant exhaustion. But for the abyssal voice of Oren, there are troubling questions that ripple through and weigh him down. Anthropocene takes a micro and macro view on a rapidly evolving world and Oren’s (and our) inability to keep up with the speed. And the ever growing specter of Climate Change follows him at every turn. The anxiety, doom and depression that clings to a possible dystopian future rings clear through his voice. And in channeling that fear, he created one of the finest political records of our time. So hear our interview with Oren, read our thoughts on Anthropocene and see why it’s one of the best of the 10s.
Great protest music comes in the shadow of disaster. Whether it has already struck or is lurking just out of sight, apocalypse looms and creates wonder in the mind. Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan sharpened their lyrical knifes on the grindstones of Vietnam and nuclear war. Jamila Woods on the continued exploitation of black America. And Peter Oren finds his focused fury on great crosses nailed into the earth, corporations treated better than humans and the doom of Climate Change. Oren, out of Columbus, Indiana, knows his history but is blurrier on the future. He disowns his town "named for a killer and a misnomer” and wonders into the wild present, criss-crossing the great highway of America, seeing natural beauty turned rotten by pollution.
“Make your grandkids proud/ It’s time to throw down,” he intones in his immeasurable bass. In his demand for all of us to rise up and reconnect, he weaves a larger story of America, constantly running from old sins and new problems, unable to look itself in the face. But on Anthropocene, even through the smog, Oren sees clearly. “Change ain’t coming from above,” he sings. Instead, it must come from folks like us and like Oren. People who don’t wish for a better future, but can see it just out of reach.