Tag Archives: Good Throb

Big Ups: Priests Pick Their Favorite Bands on Bandcamp

Priests

Photo by Audrey Melton.

When Priests emerged from the D.C. underground, they were quickly characterized as no wave-inspired noisemakers. But singer Katie Alice Greer is hesitant to embrace that description: “I’m usually pretty wary of people using that signifier for musicianship,” she says. “It’s more of a historical reference point.” Indeed, with each new release, the fiery foursome have subtly honed and refined their sound, while also becoming one of the most inspiring activist-punk agitators around.

We recently caught up with the band—Greer, drummer Daniele Daniele, guitarist G.L. Jaguar, and bassist Taylor Mulitz—via FaceTime while they were at an Airbnb in Carcassonne, France. “We just finished off 10 shows in a row and this is our first night off,” says Daniele. “It’s nice to have a night to relax.”

Listening to tapes together is one of the group’s favorite leisure activities, especially while on the road driving from gig to gig. So asking them to choose their five favorite Bandcamp releases was an easy task. “All of these are albums were in heavy rotation four or five years ago, when we were first figuring out what we were doing,” says Greer. “Most of our picks are bands that didn’t really pursue music as a profession, exactly. They all do other stuff, they just happen to be really gifted musicians at the same time.”

From raunchy provocateurs to humorous, ballsy lyricists, here are five acts that fuel Priests’ creative energies, the latest edition in our Big Ups series.

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Five Flawless Punk Sets Live on the Radio

Punk Live Radio artwork

What is the best way to experience music: live or recorded? It’s an age-old question with a multitude of different defenses, explanations, and rationalizations. A live band is more visceral and immediate. A recording is exactly how an artist meant to represent their art. Live shows are spontaneous and unpredictable, a measure of an artist’s true skill. Records are made for the ages. Live shows have a communal nature. Recordings are often listened to in solitude. This question is especially relevant to DIY punk bands, known for their wild live energy and well-known lack of resources when it comes to recordings.

In-studio radio sets are a natural blend of the two experiences, through which listeners can experience both the live energy and immediacy of a band playing together and the controlled, dialed-in sound of recorded music. They capture the band at a specific moment, have the spontaneity of a live gig, and have a technical professional at the helm making sure it sounds good during the performance and for future listening. Many DJs, such as the legendary John Peel, have built their legacies around capturing sets that would often come to be considered essential parts of bands’ catalogs.

Bandcamp is packed with radio sets that have been recorded for both physical release and/or for plain posterity’s sake. Here are a few of the great punk and hardcore selections that are well worth investigation to get you started.

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Terminal Consumption: The Best Punk on Bandcamp, August 2016

terminal consumption
In Terminal Consumption, Sam Lefebvre looks to the margins of punk and hardcore for signs of life. This month, the scope is international. Recently released essentials include the latest from the delightfully treasonous English group Good Throb, the synth-laden incantations of Brazilian outfit Rakta, the platinum-finished post-punk of Belgrado, and a couple domestic missives as well.

Good Throb—Good Throb EP [La Vida Es Un Mus]

Serious and puerile to varying degrees, the London, England punk outfit Good Throb have paired barbed delivery with a kinetic, ensemble feel across the entirety of their rewarding discography. The quartet emerged on its first eponymous EP, in 2012, with vocalist KY Ellie’s incisively-phrased, incendiary invective fully-formed. Their surging, fitful sound gained even more invention and vigor on 2014’s Fuck Off LP. By that point, Good Throb was the rare modern punk band with a real capacity to startle. Good Throb, the band’s latest eponymous EP, contains four songs that wouldn’t be out of place on Fuck Off—and they still land like revelations.

Opener “SCUM,” is full of volleying snare and needling leads, underpinned by wavering feedback. Its title is a reference to strident feminist and murderous playwright Valerie Solanas’ manifesto SCUM, which was said to be an acronym for “Society For Cutting Up Men.” It’s not a bad touchstone for the band, given the way the 1967 tract makes words like “shitpile” compatible with good critical analysis, and also argues that one of the symptoms of patriarchy is insufferable boredom (along with, of course, death and disease). The title of “The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock” might land like a pretty familiar bit of gleeful treason, but the way Ellie seems to savor shouting the lyrics gives it new life.

Rakta—III LP [Iron Lung]

“Conjuração Do Espelho,” the centerpiece of Sao Paulo, Brazil post-punk group Rakta’s new full-length, III, begins with a three-minute instrumental vamp composed of pulsing drums and a repetitive, sizzling synth effect. After a sudden holler, the track pivots into two minutes of spare thump and ominous organ, colored with clanging bells and errant clamor. The song’s got a fairly static, unchanging groove, which is typical of the simple song structures and doggedly persistent rhythms that characterize Rakta’s catalog overall. But “Conjuração Do Espelho,” like III as a whole, reveals a significantly greater affinity for enveloping tone and texture than earlier songs, which sometimes seemed rudderless or unresolved.

Much of that is owed to the production. Throughout III, the use of effects is generous, but intentional and deliberate, aimed at surprising and unnerving the listener rather than comforting them. Many punk fans, including this one, tend to celebrate records that feel “live,” but III sounds as if it was carefully cultivated in the studio, flush with subtle overdubs and gentle post-production touches. It succeeds for that reason: Blips and clangs dart between speakers; deadpan vocal lines start dry, then sharply pitch up, contorting into unnatural shapes. In that context, the rough translation of “Conjuração Do Espelho”—“conjuring mirror”—feels especially apt.

Watery Love—“Ned’s Dreamcatcher” b/w “Meg’s Dreamcatcher” 7” [Richie/TestosterTunes]

Released as part of Richie Records’ summer singles series (which also includes an excellent EP by Homostupids), on “Ned’s Dreamcatcher,” the Philly fatalists in Watery Love fixate once again on the inevitably of death. Vocalist Richie Charles stared down mortality on the closer to Watery Love’s 2014 full-length Decorative Feeling, “Face the Door,” singing: “Unlike you dickheads/ I welcome death.” It’s not a comforting, original, or intellectually provocative sentiment, but nevertheless, it’s both vivid and haunting. On “Ned’s Dreamcatcher,” Charles achieves a similar effect, this time with: “It’ll happen to you/ it’ll happen to you.” The lyrical refrain is roughly echoed by a squiggly, error-filled guitar lead, and underpinned by a thicket of feedback, as Charles goes on to describe a series of unfortunate and potentially fatal scenarios. His grim conclusion? “You’re next.”

Belgrado—Obraz LP [La Vida Es Un Mus]

On Obraz, Belgrado plays post-punk with a platinum finish. The guitar and bass sound so sleek, they’re almost antiseptic. The drums, played on what sounds like a hybrid electronic/acoustic kit, make soullessness feel like an asset. And vocalist Patrycja Proniewska (who was born in Warsaw and sings in Polish) sings her downcast melodies from a cool distance. Though the Barcelona group at times puts poise before vitality, highlights such as the murmuring, atmospheric “Krajobraz” and the unorthodox, dubby “Raz Dwa” have an austere allure that’s akin to the cold, grey geometry of Obraz’s’s ace album art.

Bib—POP EP [Erste Theke Tontraeger/Deranged]

Bib’s demo not only evoked a sort of prolonged infantile outburst (read: a compliment), it actually included the sound of wailing babies, their babble a petulant backdrop to the Omaha, Nebraska outfit’s pugilistic playing. On Pop, however, the onetime torchbearer for fetal regression hardcore has learned to walk, or at least to lurch and lunge. This one opens with the clink of a chain. Cue adolescence. The sopping vocals and performative throat clearing of the demo remain, but Pop is surlier and trickier, more prone to jarring shifts in tempo and, especially on closer “P.M.F.,” cleanly articulated guitar leads to cut through the squall. Adulthood should be a riot.

Sam Lefebvre