Under Color Of Official Right - 2023 Repress
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In a city full of brilliant people with dead-end jobs and dampened by bitter-cold winters, playing music offers a cheap outlet. Protomartyr’s taut, austere rock was incubated in a freezing Detroit warehouse littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and warmed, feebly,by space heaters. Short songs made for short practices, and the band learned quickly not to waste time. Despite the cold, Protomartyr emerged with a sound that is idiosyncratic but relatable, hooky but off-kilter.
Protomartyr’s economical rock elicits comparisons to possible antecedents like Pere Ubu or The Fall as well as local contemporaries like Frustrations or Tyvek (whose frontman Kevin Boyer played bass in an early iteration of Protomartyr). Singer Joe Casey’s dry declarative snarl serves as a reliable anchor, granting his bandmates — guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson — the opportunity to explore textures and reinforce the rhythm section. This is never more apparent than on the band’s sophomore LP and Hardly Art debut, Under Color of Official Right. Where 2012’s No Passion All Technique favored comparatively straightforward punk structures, Under Color takes a more exploratory approach. “Tarpeian Rock” places punk vitriol against a minimalist backing and “Scum, Rise!” casts shadows with guitars that alternately chime and clang.
The cheap outlet, crafted by cold hands in a poorly insulated practice space has, perhaps unwittingly, become a model of Motor City efficiency. And, more than that, it’s produced a stunner of a sophomore album.
Ryan says: Meeting somewhere inbetween Parquet Courts and No Age. Plenty of post-punk and hardcore references. Brilliant!
Laura says: This second album takes a more expansive, exploratory approach than their debut. All the 80s hardcore and post-punk references are there for sure, and there’s still the intensity, but there’s more space in the songs allowing melodies to push through and guitars to occasionally chime as well as clang.
2. Ain't So Simple
3. Want Remover
4. Trust Me Billy
6. What The Wall Said
7. Tarpeian Rock
8. Bad Advice
9. Son Of Dis
10. Scum, Rise!
11. I Stare At Floors
12. Come & See
14. I'll Take That Applause