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PROTOMARTYR

Protomartyr

Ultimate Success Today

    Following the release of Relatives In Descent, the band’s critically acclaimed headlong dive into the morass of American life in 2017 (featured on myriad “best of” lists, including The New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, Loud & Quiet and more), Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like. 

    “There is darkness in the poetry of Ultimate Success Today,” says punk legend, founding member of The Raincoats, and friend of the band Ana da Silva. “The theme of things ending, above all human existence, is present and reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Our world has reached a point that makes us afraid: fires, floods, earthquakes, hunger, war, intolerance…There are cries of despair. Is there hope? Greed is the sickness that puts life in danger.”

    "The re-release of our first album had me thinking about the passage of time and its ultimate conclusion,” says singer Joe Casey of Ultimate Success Today. “Listening to No Passion All Technique again, I could hear myself hoping for an introduction and a long future, but also being cognizant that it could be ‘one and done’ for us. So, when it came time to write Ultimate Success Today, I was reminded of that first urgency and how it was an inverse of my current grapple with how terribly ill I’ve been feeling lately. Was that sick feeling colouring how I felt about the state of the world or was it the other way around?”

    “This panic was freeing in a way. It allowed me to see our fifth album as a possible valediction of some confusingly loud five-act play. In the same light I see it as an interesting mile marker of our first decade of being a band - a crest of the hill along a long highway. Although just to cover my bases, I made sure to get my last words in while I still had the breath to say them.”

    “There are exquisite, subtle gifts from other instruments that always heighten the guitar, instead of fighting with it,” explains da Silva. “They help to create a harmonious wall of sound all of its own. This was intentional. Greg Ahee wanted to use different textures other than pedals, and the drone quality of some of those instruments colours the guitar and the whole sound with a warm, rich in reverb, yet all-consuming landscape for Joe Casey’s voice.”

    Protomartyr is Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass guitar). Ultimate Success Today was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church, in upstate New York and co-produced by the band and David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House) with mixing by Tolomei. Featured guest musicians on the album include Nandi Rose (vocals) a.k.a. Half Waif, jazz legend Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: 'Ultimate Success Today' is a superb, burning fire of an LP from start to finish. Dark and foreboding while somehow managing to elicit a headnod from even the most stationary of listeners, this is Protomartyr's finest moment yet.

    TRACK LISTING

    Day Without End
    Processed By The Boys
    I Am You Now
    The Aphorist
    June 21
    Michigan Hammers
    Tranquilizer
    Modern Business Hymns
    Bridge & Crown
    Worm In Heaven

    Protomartyr can finally answer what is probably their most frequently asked question: “When are you going to reissue your first album?” ‘No Passion All Technique’ has long been something of a mystery. Not available on streaming services; long out of print (and going for ridiculous prices on auction sites), why was this album so elusive?

    When Protomartyr - vocalist Joe Casey, guitarist Greg Ahee, bassist Scott Davidson, drummer Alex Leonard - stepped into a studio together for the first time, in November of 2011, they didn’t know they were about to record an album. With only four hours of studio time booked and one case of beer between them, their plan was to walk out with enough songs for a seven-inch single. Instead, at the suggestion of engineer Chris Koltay, the newly formed Detroit outfit recorded as much as they possibly could, in what little time they had.

    Sold out and out of print shortly after its original release on Urinal Cake Records in October 2012, ‘No Passion All Technique’ is a sometimes-messy look at one of rock’s most magnetic bands - and lyricists - just as they were coming to life. Primal, cerebral, heartbreaking, funny - it’s an accidental tour de force that’s also become an unlikely collector’s item. “My memory is shot,” Casey says, “but I appreciate now, looking back, how raw and off-the-cuff it was. There’s tons of mistakes in it and that wasn’t because we planned on it. We still can’t really admit that it’s as good as it is. You never want to say that your first is the best, but I’m happy that the first ended up not being terrible. It gave us doorway to what we’d want to do later.”

    TRACK LISTING

    In My Sphere
    Machinist Man
    Hot Wheel City
    3 Swallows
    Free Supper
    Jumbo’s
    Ypsilanti
    Too Many Jewels
    (Don’t You) Call Me Out My Name
    How He Lived After He Died
    Feral Cats
    Wine Of Ape
    Principalities

    Protomartyr's ‘Consolation EP’, was recorded in part with friend Kelley Deal of The Breeders.

    The release features four brand new tracks, delivered in their usual brusque uncompromising style, and follows last year’s superb ‘Relatives In Descent’ album.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Protomartyr are one of those bands that elicit a chorus of head-nods and a flurry of 'Who is this?' from anyone near enough to hear, and this EP will surely be no different. A Galloping and driven EP, led by Joe Casey's unmistakeable snarl, and buoyed by the perfectly precise and ferocious instrumental backing. A great vision for the future.

    TRACK LISTING

    Wait
    Same Face In A Different Mirror
    Wheel Of Fortune (ft Kelley Deal)
    You Always Win (ft Kelley Deal)

    Protomartyr

    Under Color Of Official Right

      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.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      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.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Maidenhead
      2. Ain't So Simple
      3. Want Remover
      4. Trust Me Billy
      5. Pagans
      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
      13. Violent
      14. I'll Take That Applause


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