Posts Tagged ‘Nothing Feels Natural’

Washington, DC quartet Priests, helmed by the brilliant Katie Alice Greer, have made a career of dissecting the perverse, binaried constructs that comprise so much of North American discourse. They have been blunt in this endeavor; their 2014 EP was called Bodies and Control and Money and Power. Under Priests’ lens, as under capitalism, there is no ethical consumption.

The title of Priests’ debut could double as an official slogan for the anxieties of 2017. The songs back it up, with lyrics that carry on the band’s smart, blunt attacks on consumerism and systemic oppression. But the sound is more difficult to pin down, morphing from song to song as it slides in and out of elements of post-punk, new wave, no wave, jazz, surf rock, and everything in between. The constant upheaval—fueled by Katie Alice Greer’s instant shifts between snarling and sweetness and G.L. Jaguar’s spiraling guitars—is the sonic equivalent of how it feels to be living in America right now, or as Priests would argue, at any time in recent memory: a mélange of anger, disbelief, alienation, and uncertainty. Nothing Feels Naturalis a dazzling document of that emotional state.

On this year’s Nothing Feels Natural, Priests use a breadth of sound and style not just as a sonic tool, but as a means of troubling and challenging our understandings of genre; Priests set castrating commentary to sounds that are typically incompatible.

Priests

Katie Alice Greer is the loudspeaker we’ve been begging for. The Priests frontwoman delivers every note throughout DC-based punk band’s excellent debut Nothing Feels Natural, with power, bravado and most importantly, authority. At one turn, Greer calls out an alpha-male lacking in self-awareness on “JJ”; on another, she delivers a feminist manifesto disguised as the quasi-Chomskian “Pink White House.” Operating on their own Sister Polygon Records label, Greer and Priests (also one of this year’s best live bands) are the next important female-fronted punk band in line (think Savages) to shatter the complacent patriarchy

priests nothing feels natural

Nothing Feels Natural, the first studio album from Washington D.C.-based post punk group Priests, is loaded with anger and anxiety, It’s a roaring album that spans the genre from the experimental to the classic. “Appropriate,” the opening track, combines harsh punk minimalism—distant-sounding brush strokes from drummer Daniele Daniele and robust vocals and lyrics from singer Katie Alice Greer. This song is one of the most interesting on the album, combining the structure of punk with experimental jazz-skronk sax, Mixing the parts of both genres works surprisingly well for Priests.

“JJ” is a quintessential punk track about a relationship got wrong, with Greer ultimately realizing that writing songs for this person (“The most interesting thing about you/Was that you smoked Parliaments, the babiest cigarettes”), or anyone, is pointless. That pointlessness remains constant throughout the record. Existential dread and anxiety abound on “No Big Bang”, perhaps a reflection of Greer’s struggles with writing and the creative process. A steady guitar riff accompanies an increasingly frantic Greer, firing off thoughts seemingly at random. If “No Big Bang” is the lyrical apex of Nothing Feels Natural’s anxiety, then the short, explosive “Puff” is its musical equivalent—angular guitars played by G.L. Jaguar, dissonant bass lines played by Taylor Mulitz, and thrashing drums release tension that’s been building since the first track.

Themes of distance and consumption run through Nothing Feels Natural (“Nicki,” “Leila 20”). Though the lyrics are ambiguous in meaning, listeners get the sense that members of Priests are critical of late capitalism, America’s neoliberal policies, and the perverted sense of patriotism that runs through the country, and anger with a system that keeps people in narrow boxes (“Pink White House”).

“Suck” is a fun funk-inspired dance reminiscent of early Blondie, but doesn’t match the overall mood of the record, leading it to sound out of place. Nonetheless, Nothing Feels Natural is a great debut from an exciting band; arguably among the best debuts of the year

Nothing Feels Natural (2017, Sister Polygon Records)

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The second single from the band’s forthcoming debut, “Nothing Feels Natural”, is an absurdist punk romp through the illusion of choice  magical psychology, deceptive anthropology”—delivered by a band fighting to survive within DC’s cracked crucible of power.

Moving through burnished rumbling to spiny po-going, haunted cynicism, and boiling thrash, “Pink White House” steadily inflates like a runaway , pumped up by Katie Alice Greer’s vocal mania. “Ooh baby, my American dream,” she leers as she sends up the expensive vacations sold as reprieve from the grind of everyday life—and suddenly, “Pink White House” shifts from good-humored rabble-rousing to a darker conclusion. G. L. Jaguar’s guitar seems to drill into the center of the sun; Greer abandons her satire to lambast cogs in the machine “too pitiful to be obscene, too cowardly to be embarrassing.” Priests’ subject is well worn. 

Priests are an American punk band formed in 2012. The members of Priests run Sister Polygon Records.

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Band Members
Katie Alice Greer
Gideon Jaguar
Taylor Mulitz
Daniele Daniele

Among the most blogged new band is this punk band from Washington DC who also run the label Sister Polygon (Downtown Boys, Snail Mail). The title track to their debut LP is “a bracing anthem about the struggle to realize yourself against seemingly irresistible forces”

If any band has understood this in recent years, it’s Priests born and bred in Washington, D.C., operating under the notion that nothing about American systems or society is natural.

Nothing Feels Natural, the band’s first proper album after a couple of tapes, a 7″ single and 2014’s Bodies And Control And Money And Power EP, isn’t a direct response to the state of the nation so much as a state of mind. For Priests, the personal has always been political; the band recognizes that the self is fluid, and that how we interact with each other is just as vital as how we confront the world. That’s why Nothing Feels Natural, in 10 tracks that embody the spirit of punk — while fully embracing the R&B, pop and experimental layers that course through the band’s discography presents itself as a broken and abstract view of what it means to live in a broken and abstract society.

The album represents a step forward for Priests. It’s the band’s most stylistically diverse work, expanding on their lo-fi post-punk bona-fides with ideas drawn from pop, R&B, and industrial noise. Thematically, Nothing can be understood as a series of vignettes — nine stories that crystallize into a bigger picture about the economics of human relationships, the invisibility of feminized labor, and the theoretical dual purpose of art for the group and the individual. The album will be the first full-length LP released on Sister Polygon Records, the label that the band operates cooperatively.

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But Nothing Feels Natural moves beyond the trappings of an album that speaks to a specific time: It wants to keep speaking with us.

band members, Daniele Daniele drums, Katie Alice Greer vocals, G.L. Jaguar guitar, Taylor Mulitz bass