WEDNESDAY
October 21, 2015 | doors at 8:30pm
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The Bowery presents:
PROTOMARTYR
Amanda X | MTN ISL
  • $10
  • $12
  • ADVANCE
  • DAY OF SHOW
Protomartyr
After a year of extensive touring in support of 2015’s The Agent Intellect, Protomartyr returned to their practice space in a former optician's office in Southwest Detroit. Guitarist Greg Ahee—inspired by The Raincoats' Odyshape, Mica Levi's orchestral compositions, and Protomartyr's recent collaboration with post-punk legends The Pop Group, for Rough Trade's 40th anniversary—began writing new music that artfully expanded on everything they’d recorded up until that point. The result is Relatives in Descent, their fourth full-length and Domino debut. Though not a concept album, it presents twelve variations on a theme: the unknowable nature of truth, and the existential dread that often accompanies that unknowing. This, at a moment when disinformation and garbled newspeak have become a daily reality.

“I used to think that truth was something that existed, that there were certain shared truths, like beauty,” says singer Joe Casey. “Now that’s being eroded. People have never been more skeptical, and there’s no shared reality. Maybe there never was.”

Relatives in Descent offers new layers and new insights, without sanding any of the edges born from their days as a Detroit bar band. Ahee’s guitar still crackles and spits electricity. Casey's voice continues to shift naturally between dead-eyed croon and fevered bark. Drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson remain sharp and propulsive, a rhythm section that’s as agile as it is adventurous. But this is also Protomartyr at their most impressive. After months of rehearsal, the band decamped to Los Angeles, California for two weeks in March of 2017, to record at 64Sound in Highland Park. Co-produced and recorded with Sonny DiPerri (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors), who helped capture the band’s long-simmering vision for something more complex, but no less visceral, Relatives in Descent also features contributions from violinist Tyler Karmen and additional synths by Cheveu’s Olivier Demeaux.

It all begins with "A Private Understanding,” pegged as the album's opening statement the second it was finished, and a wellspring from which the following eleven songs flow. At once beautiful and brutal, it mutates from drum-led oddity to unlikely anthem, with some of Casey’s most potent lyrical work at its center: “Sorrow's the wind blowing through/Truth is hiding in the wire.” He’d originally approached the writing on this album as an opportunity to move away from the anger and personal despair that defined much of Protomartyr’s previous three albums. But a lot has happened in the past two years. Disturbed by happenings both local (the ongoing, man-made tragedy of the Flint water crisis) and national (just about everything), Casey drew influence from the songwriting of Ben Wallers, the recently translated stories of Irish writer Máirtín Ó Cadhain, and Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, a sprawling, 17th century masterwork that provided both solace and confirmation.

One can hear these influences throughout, be it in the wary reportage of “Here Is The Thing” or the uncanny menace of "Windsor Hum", the shining city of "Don't Go To Anacita” or the triptych of delusions both "good" and "bad" that is "Up The Tower", "Night-Blooming Cereus", and "Male Plague". In the end, Relatives in Descent offers a small light in the darkness, while never denying that we are all just standing in the dark.
Amanda X
Born out of the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, where you can't throw a rock without hitting a great band, Amanda X is the three-piece antidote to bumming on grey days and the Sunday night blues. The Philadelphian women—Cat Park on guitar, Tiff Yoon on drums, and Kat Bean on bass—make music to remind you that colorful riffs and lilting oo's are meant to complement post-punk shredding and astute songwriting. Their debut full-length, Amnesia, is sure to rattle you out of your wintertime slumber like a cannonball straight into the pool.
Amanda X self-released their bedroom-cozy EP, Ruin the Moment, in 2012 to great acclaim, taking the sunny-serious vibes with them to venues all over Philadelphia, as well as on a number of tours up and down the East Coast and Canada. Their penchant for playful stage banter, garagey guitar earworms, and dual harmonies that hit just as hard live, made them a perfect opener for the likes of Parquet Courts, Marnie Stern, Dum Dum Girls, FIDLAR, and more.

After catching wind of their dedicated show schedule and powerful new songs, Philadelphia's own Siltbreeze picked up their first album. The release of the upcoming debut sees the trio taking a new approach in their songwriting—stronger, faster, harder-hitting, but not without the lovely melodies and honey-tinged sing-alongs they've built their sound on. Amanda X's lyrics are about everything from travel to friendships to fear, and they succeed in their revealing, spot-on honesty.

Imagine if Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks took a few lessons from The Raincoats, or if the K Records lineup of yesteryear had a little more distortion in their repertoire. Amanda X manages to deliver smarts and sweets in poppy songs so tightly packed that they come

Amanda X is comprised of Cat Park of Bandname on guitar, Tiff Yoon on drums and Kat Bean on bass.
MTN ISL
You know what was missing from the ’90s resurgence that helped make up the 2012 and 2013 zeitgeist? How about some genuine hardcore tension-and-release? How about some jagged riffs and razor blade guitars that cut fast and deep? How about some raw, mathy shit that isn’t buried in atmospherics? Seriously, fuck that soft grunge bullshit. Give me dirty, visceral six-strong bloodletting and cathartic scream-sung vocals and you can keep your by-the-numbers fuzz rock retreads, mmmkay?

MTN ISL know what I’m talking about. The band’s debut EP, God Become Animal, is a seething mass of lacerating grooves and interlocking rhythms that’s equal parts wiry Midwestern math rock and classic Dischord era audio abuse. Open salvo “Super Place” is a ragged stomper paced by dissonant guitar chords and blistering stop-start dynamics, and things just continue to get better from there. “Hacer” is the most melodic and accessible of the EP’s six tracks, but it’s no less uncompromising or ferocious, moving nimbly from the spare and skeletal intro to the grinding verses, which somehow conspire to land you in the middle of a feral slough before it’s all said and done. Meanwhile, the one-two punch of “Dinner Planet” and “Snake Mansion” keeps the pincers clamped tight, locking the listener in a series of tightly-wound rhythms and nervy tempo shifts before the EP closer—appropriately titled “Gutshot”—levels the hammer down once more.

Recorded by Hawks and Wymyns Prysyn guitarist Andrew Wiggins, who himself is no stranger to swimming in these churning, blood and bile-stained waters, the down and dirty production eschews any frills for a leaner approach that puts greater emphasis on the band’s in-studio performance and the unity of the individual players. This is critical because, in truth, there is no single riff, drum fill or vocal scream that really stands out on God Become Animal. It’s the interaction between these disparate elements, the thoughtful interrelation between varying sounds, rhythms and textures, that drives these songs relentlessly forward.

You want to pretend the ’90s are back, fine. But let’s not leave out the ugly, discordant rage and dark unease that made so much of the music from that era great. MTN ISL haven’t forgotten, and they’re doing everything in their power to bring it back with a vengeance.

-Moe Castro @ Latest Disgrace
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