Sunday 21 June 2015

Martyrdom Over Festival Blues A Big Deal

One of my favourite albums and shows of 2014 was by Detroit post-punk evangelists Protomartyr. The album – Under Colour Of Official Right. The show – their August gig at The Lexington here in London, supported by Feature and Sauna Youth. The heady combination of seemingly disparate physical presences, a hyperliterate cynical worldview, militaristic guitar tension and a tight-as-fuck rhythm section coalesces into a performance that is both amusing, deafening and electrifying in its droll tautness.

The four-piece have a newish song off the leash as part of a 7” split, aptly titled A Half Of Seven, with Kelley Deal’s new outfit R.Ring called ‘Blues Festival’ (which also features Deal on backing vocals). It has been out in the ether since mid-April so I’m slow on the uptake, but seeing as this only came out through Hardly Art on Tuesday I don’t feel so slow. It’s either a dour diatribe against young upstarts or a brittle how-to for those floundering in the shallow end of the rock music pool; either uttering to heed these grizzled journeymen’s advice or smash against the shaggy crags of your own head/cloud devising; keeping feet firmly entrenched on the earth, or else get anchored there by weary cynicism or derisive disdain. The thing is of course that there is ambiguity here, just as there always is in lead man Joe Casey’s delivery and demeanour – is he serious? Does he even care? Is he compassionate, or are hopes and dreams just more things that grind his gears? The ambiguity and slight smile that lingers after Protomartyr have exited alludes to the humour in it all, but the presence of Deal, someone who has seen each side of the industry sword, and come out the other side, colours this song with even further depth. At the end of the day though, ‘Blues Festival’ is just a killer rollicking song, regardless of social context and subterfuge, and that’s what ultimately matters.

Grab A Half Of Seven here.

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