My music taste has been heavily influenced by that of my father’s. From Led Zeppelin to Miles Davis, I’ve been lucky enough to have been brought up in a family with “musical taste”. But it’s the “post-punk” scene that has been something of a passion of mine. Everyone from Joy Division to Mission of Burma, I’ve listened to countless albums and bands from the multitude of post-punk’s “sub-genres”, both new and old.
Last year, and this year have seen me listening to more heavier and frantic stuff, even delving into Blackgaze (Deafheaven and the unfortunately named ISIS). It’s probably all due to an underlying frustration and stress I’ve been feeling of late. After listening to endless amounts of shoe-gaze (Beach Fossils/ My Bloody Valentine), melancholy folk (Sun Kil Moon/ Nick Drake) and whatever genre you class the likes of Mac Demarco, I’d become slightly restless with it all and was having the musical version of “that time of the month”. Don’t get me wrong I still listen to them frequently, but every now and then I like to mix it up. I got into 90s East Coast/ West Coast Hip Hop a couple of years back during a similar period, and still really enjoy it.
Anyway, by far my most played album of the last two years has been The Agent Intellect by Protomartyr. I stumbled upon the Detroit, post-punk band after seeing the album’s artwork and decided to take a chance. It’s safe to say that I immediately became a fan after listening to the opening track “The Devil in his Youth”. The instrumental and vocal cresendo to the lyrics “I will make them feel the way I do!” is something that always rallies me up whenever I listen to it. After listening to their entire discography over and over again, Protomartyr offered something familiar but more hostile and thunderous than my usual.
Lead vocalist and frontman Joe Casey, saunters on stage in a suit like he’s just left the office, cigarette tucked in his lips. His baritone vocals are bawled out with scorn and disdain, much like the pessimism and frustration found in his lyrics. For example; “Like a weed sick man. In the throes of a bummer” from the song “Coward Starve”, or “See him languish in his gore” from “Cowards Starve” from their sophomore album Under the Color of Official Right. All very upbeat and encouraging stuff. It’s safe to say that their Detroit routes offer a plethora of inspiration for them to “comment” on.
Greg Ahee’s simplistic guitar compositions are drowned in tremolo, reverb and distortion creating a wall of sheer sound. His use of open strings, coupled with slight adjustments and riffs manage to change the tone and match the lyric’s temperament. I also particularly like how Scott Davidson’s bass manages to cut through Ahee’s intensity with his own flourishes, a welcome change from the drowned bass of recent post-punk albums. Meanwhile Scott Davidson’s drums are simply perfect with variation and tempo. The track “Clandestine Time” beautifully shows his range.
If you’re a fan of the post-punk genre, I’d definitely check them out. Their second album Under Color of Official Right would be the best place to start in my opinion.
“The Devil in his Youth” — The Agent Intellect
“Clandestine Time” — The Agent Intellect
“Maidenhead” — Under Color of Official Right
“I Stare at Floors” — Under Color of Official Right
“Ypsilanti” — No Passion All Technique