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Protomartyr with Whatever Brains

Thursday • MOTR Pub

By Jason Gargano · April 23rd, 2014 · Sound Advice
soundadvice_protomartyr_photo_ angel ceballosProtomartyr (Photo: Angel Ceballos)

Joe Casey is agitated. The frontman and chief word slinger for Detroit’s Protomartyr opens the quartet’s second full-length record, the stellar Under Color of Official Right, with this recurring statement: “There’s just a clack in the brain now.” “Scum, Rise!,” an urgent manifesto that rivals early Clinic for its atmospheric menace, includes this sentiment: “Pound them all/Dead hippie squadron.” “Tarpeian Rock” even takes on a certain kind of journalist: “Gluten fascists/Alt-weekly types.”

Casey delivers his evocative rants through a modest sing/speak bark that’s one part Fall’s Mark E. Smith, one part Gang of Four’s Jon King. He’s accompanied by an ominous Post Punk clatter at once claustrophobic and expansive, as if one can just barely see the light beyond the darkened horizon.

The band’s taut grooves ride on Alex Leonard’s insistent, tribal drumming, Scott Davidson’s nimble bass lines and Greg Ahee’s corrosive guitar, which moves from lacerating stabs of noise to righteous riffs as well as anyone could expect of a band intent on highlighting the shitty parts of modern living.

Speaking of expectations, Casey is keeping Protomartyr’s modest. 

“You have low expectations and then you’re constantly surprised,” he told Detroit’s Metro Times early last year. “For me, when (fellow Detroit punks) Tyvek were nice enough to let me tag along when they toured Europe, I thought it was the greatest. I wanted to start a band to have a reason to travel, a reason to sit in bars and drink in different places. So more touring, and more records. That’ll do.”

PROTOMARTYR plays a free show Thursday, April 24 at MOTR Pub. More info here.



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