As a reviewer I am used to getting press releases from bands
I am tasked to listen and think on, and nine times out of ten
these informational packages are complete bullshit. Mostly they
are filled with propaganda about how this band came into being
and how the band is the shit and you shouldn't live without them
blah, blah, blah, and sometimes they contain a laughable review
trying to influence you. With Proof's minimalistic press
release, it included some obligatory information about the band
and, as is nominal for these releases, a description of what they
sound like using other bands i.e. "For fans of: Fugazi
and Girls Against Boys" and a few other bands. This
is where I stopped and had to take a moment, because it is just
plain sacrilegious to use the names of these bands without truly
deserving it. Raised in the DC area, these bands helped shape
my understanding of what music should be, so, in other words,
I would consider myself a die-hard fan of both of these bands.
Worse is the fact that there are plenty of bands that just name-drop
to get your attention, only to let you down as you discover how
crappy they really are. So I listen to Proof's album and try to
keep an open mind, while also knowing there has not been one band
worthy of these descriptions.
I have now found the exception to my strict view. And coming
from me, a self-expressed die-hard, it is a big compliment.
This band is awesome. They take elements from many different
sources and compile them into a very experimental, yet palpable
concoction of beautiful music. The song "Control Shift"
sounds like it could have been written by either of the above
mentioned bands, and yet it is completely Proof.
What impressed me the most about their style is the way they
can just turn a song on a dime. So tight and precise, with so
much variation within each song, it boggles my mind at how they
managed to fit two or three or four completely separate pieces
into one coherent and enlightening song. Each of these pieces
by themselves are catchy and ingenious, but like jigsaw pieces
they don't look a thing like any other piece. Looking from the
outside, you would see these parts and calmly say, "there
is no way they would fit together", until they just do.
It really mystified me, and made me respect them even more.
Back to front this is a good album, it alternates in mood, without
feeling forced and, relying on a steady guitar backing, it accomplishes
much in the way of presentation throughout. By far and large my
favorite song on the album is "Other Side", a great
piece of musicianship which is clean and elegant. Every time I
listened to that song the hairs on my arms would raise because
it was just that good. Every time. Moreover, the lyrics
were simple yet powerful, and backed by haunting vocals, the overall
effect is priceless.
Being nit-picky I do have to say that the vocals and drums
suffered in the final production of the album. Nothing drastic,
mind you, rather just a hair under-produced due to the fact
this is a guitar-driven effort. A little bit of extra time in
that area and the album would be absolutely perfect. But it
is so close to perfection it is hardly worth dwelling on.
What can I say, I loved this album. I was just checking their
website to see if they were going to make their way west any time
soon, so I can personally shake their hands for a job well done.
But alas, no, I will have to wait, and hope they come out with
another masterpiece in the near future. 'Til then I will constantly
play their self-titled release. You don't know what you are missing.
1. My Last Lies
2. Other Side
3. Control Shift
7. Living Wage
9. S. America
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