Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cloak/Dagger - We Are

I'm really supposed to be writing a paper right now, but this album has made that basically impossible. I know I've been slacking on this blog for the past half-month, etc. Let's get into it.

I first saw and heard Cloak/Dagger when they were opening for Lifetime right after that band put out their phenomenal self-titled album (quick note, an album that stands just as high as Hello Bastards and Jersey's Best Dancers, making for one of the best 3-for-3 runs any band has had in my mind). They played to a slightly confused crowd, most of whom were actually there for The World/Inferno Friendship Society (another quick note: while I like the band, their shows are obnoxious experiences only because you're constantly getting slammed into by very nicely dressed ladies and gents who have no other desire beyond shoving you the fuck out of their way. Like, even before the band started playing). However, they had me sold.

Perplexingly, Cloak/Dagger contains one member of the underrated and defunct Renee Heartfelt, but they couldn't be any further from that band's effective Quicksand-aping. It's been stated a bunch of other times, but Cloak/Dagger somehow manages to slip into that comfortable slot between Hot Snakes and 80's hardcore. A couple of years after seeing them, I finally picked up their debut full length, We Are, at some used CD store that is currently slipping my mind. It would be months before it came up on my iTunes on my list of stuff to listen to.

Honestly, this is not the band I remembered seeing opening for Lifetime. It's a band that's like ten times better. A great deal of this credit goes to producer Chris Owens (who also handles guitar/vocal duties in the completely batshit insane Lords), a guy whose production work I have always admired. Owens really knows how to take a band and make them sound as raw as humanly possible without it devolving into a 2-track tape hiss/fuzz mess. The drums hit like punches to the stomach, and constantly seem to be on the verge of peaking, resulting in album that completely tramples the listener. Oddly enough, I see a lot of Owens in this band's vocal style, in which phrases are stretched out and given a little upwards inflection at the end of each line.

The first song on here had me a bit worried, as it initially seems like the biggest Hot Snakes rip of the bunch, namely the song "Braintrust" off of Audit In Progress. However, the aping quickly stops once "Sunburnt Mess" kicks in, which I swear could have been an unrecorded Minor Threat song. While there isn't really anything on We Are that sticks out head and shoulders above the rest, it's of little consequence. It's an album that doesn't give you time to breathe or think about things, where total destruction seems like its ultimate goal. There's hardly any room left between songs, and just when things seem like they're going to slow down a bit, after the mostly instrumental "JC Pays The Bills," "Hollywood Hills," immediately dispels that notion.

Basically, if I had to classify any album I've listened to in the past couple of weeks as a "complete and utter shredder," it would be this one. Hats off.


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