John Dissed is a soulful California songwriter who might remind you of Johnny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars or Jason Nesmith, but he has an edgy, consciousness-raising approach to songwriting, he demands his listeners open their eyes to see the lies right in front of them. Discovered by power-pop cult favorite and underground radio personality, Anthony Castillo of SLOW MOTORCADE fame, Mr. Dissed shares Anthony’s enthusiasm for truth telling, using podcasts and anthems to educate the masses, and music with stinging lyrics and consoling melodies. John Dissed is the kind of artist that punk generation diehards yearn for in this soldout, apathetic age, where yesterday’s rebels only care about having their egos stroked by young Green Day fans and showing off their new hats at the booksigning, or being the nostalgic expert on the panel, retelling their fight story from ’83 when they still hated the pigs, again. He is a middle finger in the Botoxed face of yuppie ex punks in this embarrassing era of self stroking consumer obsession and cable brainwashing. He has a social conscience like TV Smith, Boots Riley, Manic Street Preachers, or Steve Earle. He’s maybe more truth oriented and confrontational than some of his own former influences.

I’m a big fan of anyone who uses their voice to bravely advocate on behalf of human rights, compassion, liberty, and peace. Songs like “Vampire”, “Austerity”, and “Black Site” have the intelligence of Jello Biafra or Joe Strummer and are reminiscent of eighties pop from the MTV era, like say, the Godfathers, Midnight Oil, the Plimsouls, or Men At Work. Soccer moms will dig John’s smooth singing voice and he ought to be touring with Jacob Dylan‘s Wallflowers. His guitars will please fans of George Harrison, and Rick Springfield, while his words will stimulate people who read “The Nation” magazine and and appreciate Phil Ochs, Paul K & The Weathermen, or the Gin Blossoms. There’s plenty of descriptive, mellow, sundrenched Wilco vibes and a Costello-esque approach to waking up the drowsy, acquisition oriented masses we don’t hear enough of these days. If you love the politics of Tom Morrello or the Coup, or the catchy pop excellence of Dramarama, you’ll dig the dark, cerebral pop of John Dissed. I urge all my pals with dayjobs in public radio to add this cat to their playlists.


"America's an empire, the president's a vampire" is the unambiguous opening shot fired by L.A. singer/songwriter, John Dissed, on his long-awaited new LP, Red Flag, a lean, churning, burning collection of so-blunt-they-could-beat-you-to-death tracks that fly in the face of our crumbling modern day America, our cutout leaders and elected officials, and our own seeming consumer-numbed indifference to each mounting injustice.

In a country that now unabashedly employs a mislead, divide, conquer, rob, starve, and crush methodology against its own populace, Dissed appears like nothing less than a rock n' roll Robin Hood, laying the blame squarely where he thinks it belongs: on the doorstep of the fat cats, warmongers, race baiters, corporate shills, economy looters, double-speaking conservatives, and phony liberals who aren't just trying, but succeeding, at steering our once-mighty Land of the Free into its current sad and abysmal tailspin.

Red Flag is the kind of wake-up call we'd like to think The Boss would give to the masses, if only he weren't so shamelessly co-opted by the Democratic party himself. Born In The USA, indeed - and if Springsteen forgets what that means, Dissed most definitely does not. When he intones "who was behind the worst attack on our nation? We'll never really know without an investigation," it's every bit the chilling eye-opener thirteen years later that it was that grim morning after.

At times snarling, other times crooning, Dissed's vocals are a marked departure from his earlier releases (of which there are legion), displaying a range and passion that feel and sound distinctly upped - not unlike the stakes for all of us these days, and not just in America, but worldwide. And far from casting vague allusions and accusations, the targets of Dissed's well-aimed arrows are unmistakeable. When he sings "you spoke with such a sincerity, the world longed for you to bring, turns out you’re just an empty parody, an altogether different kind of King," he's staring down our current Dictator-In-Chief himself.

If it all sounds like a mega-downer, well, it might be if Dissed's hooks weren't so damn infectious. As it stands, Red Flag expertly walks a tricky tightrope, making us think and asking the hard questions (while not skimping on some equally hard answers), while also getting us off our asses to some bouncing rock n' roll, most closely recalling the politically-charged rap of Public Enemy at its core, but with a folk rock-on-meth presentation that, at this point, feels uniquely John Dissed.

Lyrically, Red Flag's closing track dumps us on the roadside, beat-up and disoriented and just wanting to find our way to safety and security, not unlike many of our politically and economically victimized citizens. The "blood-drenched roller coaster ride" we're promised in 'Societal Suicide' is open to the public and its line is long. Luckily, we still have conscious individuals and songwriters like John Dissed to stand up, speak up, and point us to the exit, all with a catchy song stuck in our heads.