Autobiographical Order No. 639: Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

I’m extremely skeptical about most music that falls under either banner of a. indie rock or b. post-punk these days. In the case of the former, it’s because there are far too many of them, and the days of blog-rock pretty much ruined me on scruffy college guy guitar music. As for the latter, it’s because most music that people call “post-punk” right now is either garage rock or basically just borrows too liberally from Peter Hook’s basslines, and either way I’m good.

Priests is…was, different. As far as I know, they’re only on “indefinite hiatus,” but we all know how that goes. Regardless, in their short span, they released a pair of excellent albums that you could call indie rock OR post-punk and either way, I’m sold. That’s in part because they don’t play either straight. When they’re in more introspective and spacious mode, like on the title track of Nothing Feels Natural, the results can be hypnotic and beautiful. When they’re firing on all cylinders on a track like “No Big Bang” or “Pink White House,” they’re absolutely on fire. The latter is my personal favorite, a manic takedown of the false choices of capitalism and American democracy that just utterly whips ass. Then again, “Suck,” the album closer, is about as good as dancepunk gets, and it’s just packed with cowbell.

I kind of remember saying something flippant like “they could be the next Fugazi,” and I had reasons for saying so—they ran their own label and put out their own records (affordably!), they kick ass, and they’re from D.C., naturally. The similarities probably end there, but it sounded right at the time. Of course, they don’t really sound like Fugazi, but it’s always encouraging to see bands making it work on their own terms, at least while they did.

The first time I saw them live, they played a show opening for Angel Olsen at the Music Box, and it was shortly after I profiled them for CityBeat. In fact, it was a cover story, and every time I managed to convince any of my editors to put one of the weird bands I loved on the cover, it felt like a victory. Now, I’m generally not the kind of person who tries to become friends with all the bands I interview. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that per se, but I often kind of feel like the last thing a touring band wants is a journalist harassing them. That being said, my wife is always telling me I should introduce myself more, and I make an effort if the band says “come say hi!” or something along those lines. So that’s what Katie from Priests did, and we swung over to the merch table for a quick greeting at that show (which was just before Coachella, I think?). But Katie says “We didn’t know it was going to be a cover story! We showed it to our parents!” It was kind of a heartwarming moment in my career in music journalism. Most of the time people just tell me I’m wrong about stuff. So that was nice.

It’s not the only Priests story in my quiver, but I’ll save the other one for their next record. But this one’s as good as indie and/or post-punk debuts get these days.

Rating: 9.2

Sound Quality: Great

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