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Music / Mischief Brew

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Front man and founding member Erik Petersen

"Another round, we’re descending
Into olde tyme mem’ry
Of a day when wood was wooden
Silver silver, gold was gold
Sweet home was home"
Mischief Brew, "Olde Tyme Mem'ry"
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Mischief Brew was an anarcho-Folk Punk band based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band started as a solo project of singer-songwriter Erik Petersen, but grew to feature additional band members over time. Petersen's lyrics often dealt with social and political issues, as he was heavily influenced by the protest folk musicians and labor movements of the 1960s.

Alongside a large number of split releases with other artists, the band released five studio albums throughout its run:

  • Smash the Windows (2005)
  • Songs from Under the Sink (2006)
  • The Stone Operation (2011)
  • This Is Not for Children (2015)
  • Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia (2016)

The band dissolved in 2016 following Erik's suicide.


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Mischief Brew provides examples of:

  • Antiquated Linguistics: The title of "Olde Tyme Mem’ry"
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: "Save a City..."
  • Brainwashed: "Dirty Pennies" portrays police officers as brainwashed, describing a young boy growing up to be one and forgetting the homeless woman he used to be friends with.
  • Hated Hometown: Played with in "O, Pennsyltucky!" The whole song is in the format of an ode to the state of Pennsylvania that mostly just lists its negative attributes, but there's clearly strong love as well. The sentiment is overall "My hometown sucks, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
  • Harsh Vocals: And how. Petersen has a very gravelly voice that fits with the bold and political lyrics.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: It's a shame, because the lyrics are often very poetic when they can be understood.
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  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Aptly described by The Other Wiki as "DIY anarcho-punk," the band also incorporated genres such as Gypsy-punk and swing.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Deconstructed in "Olde Tyme Mem'ry," a song with longs for the time of authenticity and criticizes people who inauthentically attempt to replicate tradition with kitsch.
  • Not Christian Rock: There are a couple of favorable Christian religious references are made, which is pretty unusual in anarcho-punk. While "Coffee, God, and Cigarettes" gently mocks religious teetotalers, "Lowly Carpenter" is a pro-workers song featuring a, well, lowly carpenter saying he had great potential but now is JUST a carpenter and therefore powerless.
  • Ode to Sobriety: A sarcastic version is found in "Coffee, God, and Cigarettes."
  • Protest Song: Oh boy. A majority of the songs have anti-capitalist, anarchist political sentiments.
  • Retraux: Brutally lambasted in "Olde Tyme Mem'ry" which is about people replacing culture with kitsch.

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