Turfseer’s Majestically Tuneful Protest Song Playlist Reaches Epic Proportions
Turfseer is arguably the world’s most prolific protest songwriter. Queens-based, theatrical art-rock tunesmith Lewis Papier, who records under that name with a rotating cast of characters, began offering sonic solace and validation for the noncompliant starting in the late spring of 2020. He hasn’t stopped since.
The first time this blog visited his Scamdemic Collection at Soundcloud, there were 33 songs on it. The playlist has since grown to 47. That’s impressive by any standard, let alone during a time when musicians were officially locked out of studio space (and some were too fearful to go inside until NPR assured them it was ok). Considering the consistent quality, relentlessly cynical humor and boundless stylistic breadth of Turfseer’s output, that’s an Elvis Costello/David Bowie-class achievement.
The review here from February 2022 called Turfseer “the missing link between Jeff Lynne and Jello Biafra,” and referenced both the Alan Parsons Project and the New Pornographers. What else is new here, or that hasn’t been covered before?
A lot of his songs turn plandemic “guidelines” inside out, and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, a distantly 50s-tinged ballad is typical. “We trust our experts all the way, no time to question, we must obey.” The fleeting soul guitar-and-organ break toward the end is tantalizingly delicious.
The Beatlesque piano ballad The Scam takes the mass psychosis a step further:
Keep your six feet distance to the inch/Isolate, no contact, it’s a cinch!
Everything must go without a hitch, as long as you are certified a snitch
Turfseer has a vaudevillian side, and that’s front and center in Fact Checker, a vindictive mashup of Brecht/Weill dark cabaret and 70s Supertramp. My Mystery Cult is a very subtle orchestrated pop broadside that connects the dots between plandemic compliance and climate change hysteria. Just for the record, New York Music Daily was once in the global warming cult and wishes to apologize for spreading that unscientific bullshit in past years.
The women in the band also sing All the King’s Horses – a brooding art-rock original, not the Erica Smith classic – offering rapt homage to a “Dr. Doom” who keeps falling apart and somehow his cult members keep putting him back together again.
Masters of Fear is one of Turfseer’s most successful keyboard-fueled mashups of late 70s ELO, Carl Newman powerpop and noir cabaret. It’s all about “winning the war without firing a single shot.”
Over a dynamically shifting chamber pop backdrop, Turfseer takes a witheringly sarcastic look back to the Thanksgiving 2020 fad du jour in The Testing Trap. The best jokes in The Great Reset are not lyrical but musical – the bombast is irresistibly spot-on.
In addition to ornate 70s rock, he has a thing for country, and Just Too Good to Be True is a prime example, an understatedly harrowing look at the psychology of denial. For all the orchestration and flashy flourishes in the rest of these songs, this is one of the best of the bunch.
There’s a return to glittery, emphatic neoromantic piano in The Back of the Bus, a coldly scathing analysis of the newest Jim Crow. Cardboard Cutouts in the Stands, a swaying C&W tune, looks back to the aborted 2020 baseball season, a chilling reminder of how quickly the national pastime was transformed into fear porn.
Lush orchestration and melancholy, insistent piano pervade Perchance to Dream, a guy/girl duet about a girl in a coma. The rape metaphors in are just as offhandedly chilling in You Didn’t Recognize Me, a lavish psych-pop song that could be Amy Rigby.
Turfseer found a dramatic, forceful frontguy to go over the top in front of nimbly scrambling piano and electric keys in Expert Opinion. More recent songs have tackled issues beyond the plandemic, notably Walking in the Woke Man’s Shoes, a brisk, ridiculously funny Kelley Swindall-style country tune sung from the point of view of a poor girl whose guy suddenly decided he wasn’t one after all.
The Dish is arguably Turfseer’s most macabre song, a musical counterpart to painter Sasha Latypova‘s research into lethal batch-by-batch variations in the covid shots. Where Have You Gone Tiffany Dover?, a goofy ragtime tune, addresses a question which has become clearer now that mockingbird media are airing actresses pretending to be the country nurse whose late 2020 death on live tv made her the poster child for the Pfizer shot.
The final track on the Soundcloud page – as of today, anyway – is My Polyanna Summer, a snide warning to keep our eye on the ball whenever restrictions are relaxed. To keep up with Turfseer: you might want to bookmark his Substack, where his latest releases usually appear first.