Protomartyr, “Blues Festival”

Liz Pelly

Protomartyr specialize in pummeling, deadpan post-punk, a type where singer Joe Casey always sounds utterly disgusted by the world but anxiously tries to pull some meaning out of it anyway. The band’s latest single takes that sense of skepticism and applies it directly to the music world, like a warning calls to bands just coming of age. “Take it from somebody who knows/ There’s something coming up and I think it’s gonna be a joke,” Casey starts. By the end of the verse he’s warning bands to listen to his list of “universal truths”.

He then offers a laundry list of very practical advice: “Don’t look for a hit where there is none. Don’t try to air your big ideas … Don’t go for free in the commercial zone. Don’t let the band open up their mouths.” The track features backing vocals by The Breeders’ Kelley Deal, whose swirling shout echoes Casey for the lines inspired by self-aware, hard-learned lessons: “Hell is singing straight into the void / Hell is forever being local support / Hell is opening up a five-band bill / Hell is headlining the Blues Festival.” The single will appear on a split 7-inch with Deal’s latest band, R. Ring, out June 16 via Hardly Art.

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