Release Date: Apr 5, 2019
Record label: Sister Polygon Records
Priests are redefining punk for the modern age. In a time when the Washington DC band lives in the same city as the most objectionable Leader of the Free World ever elected, they're picking apart the tenets of the American Dream, chipping away the last of the artificial sheen, and putting the results on display on their own terms. Listening to their second full-length, The Seduction Of Kansas, feels like witnessing the cutting out and re-arranging of their nation's touchstones into a gleefully gruesome and debauched collage.
When Priests' Nothing Feels Natural arrived in January 2017 -- just in time for President Donald Trump's inauguration -- it felt like it was summoned by a collective need for its outrage and contemplation. Two years later, The Seduction of Kansas reflects the changes in the band, and in America, since the release of their debut album. With the departure of former bassist Taylor Mulitz to play full time with his other group Flasher, Priests became a trio, a reconfiguration that allowed Katie Greer, Daniele Daniele, and G.L.
On new album The Seduction Of Kansas, DC punks Priests have provided us with an updated examination of this theory and ask us important questions about the place we find ourselves in 2019. Priests are arguably one of the hardest working punk bands today - on top of rigorous touring and recording, they run their own record label Sister Polygon, through which they release their own material, as well as projects from the likes of Snail Mail and Downtown Boys. In the two years since their furious and acclaimed debut album, Nothing Feels Natural, Priests have expanded their horizons.
In early 2017, precisely one week after the presidential inauguration, the Washington, D.C. band Priests released their debut album Nothing Feels Natural. The fear and frustration then gripping half the nation was the backdrop for their indelible first impression: a readymade context for alternately hooky and abrasive guitar songs like "JJ" and "Pink White House." At the time, they were heralded as if they had conceived, written, and recorded a record in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.
Carrying the status of the poster band advertising DIY's ethical and stylistic benefits is no mean feat. It's also something Priests themselves at times temper, vocalist Alice Greer highlighting the aid the band have received to date. Still, whether you want to tie it to their admirably strident approach to their music and artistic ecosystem or not, the DC band have without doubt developed a sound that is undeniably their own.
In 2017, Washington, D.C post-punks Priests announced themselves to the world with, despite the claims for the contrary, a big bang. After years of struggle and toil on the legendary D.C punk scene, the quartet of Katie Alice Greer (vocals), Daniele Daniele (drums), Taylor Mulitz (bass), and G.L. Jaguar (guitar) put their creative heads together and came out one of the best debut records of the decade Nothing Feels Natural.
While the idea of anything being 'cool' is unquantifiable, it's no stretch to call Priests a goddam cool band. Be it their DIY ethos, electric live shows or distinctive guitar work; they're an outfit doing things on their own terms. Emerging from Washington's renowned punk scene in 2012, the group have kept a tight grip on their destiny, self-releasing material via their own Sister Polygon label.
Photo by Drew Hagelin There's something refreshingly old-school about the seriousness with which Priests mix punk and politics. It's a throwback to the Dischord days that feels strangely apropos of our present moment in history. When presidential candidates go around citing Fugazi, when punk's counter narratives are being actively woven back into the political mainstream, when the world is in chaos and none of the lessons of the past seem to stick, it seems perversely fitting that a punk band be the ones to step up and call bullshit on the whole tired affair.
P riests' debut album arrived with a readymade marketing angle: Nothing Feels Natural was released in the week of Donald Trump's inauguration, a date the DC punk band had, however, planned prior to his election. To their credit, they resisted the easy association between their politically minded surf-punk and America's 45th president - plus the album was more bleakly introspective than their socially explicit early EPs. The Seduction of Kansas flips their approach again, and partially finds them inhabiting the minds of the men who have shaped America through abuse of power: "I'm young and dumb and full of cum," Katie Alice Greer roars on the exhilarating Jesus' Son, which thrusts with appropriately lascivious menace.