nickel & rose and the punk rock power of folk music

August 19, 2019
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“No need to hide behind a white hood / When a badge does just as good/ Another man is dead.”

Between two new offerings from Rhiannon Giddens, and now the latest from Nickel & Rose, 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for pull-no-punches folk music. Where far too many Americana acts serve up a queasy nostalgia for a time when the full rights of citizenship were only granted to white men, Nickel & Rose — the Milwaukee-based duo of Carl Nichols and Johanna Rose — prefer to use their throwback sound to highlight how little has changed since those “good ol’ days.” “Another Man” is a chilling reminder that the days when the NAACP would fly a flag from their New York office warning “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday” aren’t far behind us. Telling a story about having a gun pulled on him when he was 17 by a cop, songwriter Carl Nichols sings “I could have been that man.” The song seethes with a righteous anger that has more punk rock in it than a million white-boy pop-punk bands singing about their exes. This is the real shit.