In the Key of Protomartyr

Protomartyr on Friday at Underground Arts in Philadelphia

Text and Photos by K. Cecchini

I just saw Protomartyr on Friday at Underground Arts, which is (I say) Philly version of Brooklyn’s Rough Trade  where we saw them in October. I wrote a piece after that show and never posted it, so I will do it now.

Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey took to the stage October at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade in his standard business casual attire. Throughout the set, he alternated between nonchalantly standing with one hand in his pocket, suit jacket pushed back and the other holding the mike to his face and intensely stretching up to nearly wrap his mouth around the mike on the stand. And then, with his hand still on the microphone, he will often hang his head down until the next verse.

With Casey’s vocals, drummer Alex Leonard, Guitarist Greg Ahee and Bass Guitarist Scott Davidson brought their richly textured sound to life in Rough Trade’s intimate space. Not letting up on the music, Davidson played right through a bloody nose. It was also really fantastic to already hear their brand new album The Agent Intellect live. On its own, the track, “Why Does it Shake?,” was worth the midnight trip into Brooklyn.

Protomartyr appears to have gathered a slew of attention in the past year and I would love to interview them before they get too big.

I only had my phone at the Philly and Brooklyn shows, so check out my photos from the Protomartyr set at the 2014 year’s Seaport Music Festival here. 

Protomartyr guitarist Greg Ahee, vocalist Joe Casey, and drummer Alex Leonard
Protomartyr guitarist Greg Ahee, vocalist Joe Casey, and drummer Alex Leonard (October: Brooklyn)
Protomartyr bass guitarist Scott Davidson
Protomartyr bass guitarist Scott Davidson (October: Brooklyn) 




SHADY XV: Get That Money


In honor of Marshall Mathers’ record label turning 15 years old comes SHADY XV, a hip hop compilation album performed by various artists of the Shady Records brand.  For someone that loved the first 3 EMINEM albums, but quickly lost interest after ENCORE‘s release,  I was hoping for some rekindling of the old SLIM SHADY magic. Unfortunately, this retreading of the tires was not meant to lure me back into the fold.

Much of this release follows suit with the second half of Eminem’s career, with a smattering of top notch singles surrounded by dredge, in particular the non-Mathers’ tracks.

Part of the problem is the rather choppy delivery in many of these tracks.  They achieve no real flow like his early work and it is a huge distraction.  “Guts Over Fear”, which contains a dictionary worth of words in some of the verses, is the main culprit of this unevenness.  “Fine Line”, a darker tune, is one of the better songs as its simplistic beat helps to keep the song in line when the verses start fall into that choppy routine once again. “Right For Me”, however, falls into a similar trap, but it just makes a thud.

Then there is the familiar female vocalist hook, this time supplied by others not named Rihanna.  Yet it is the same stuff we have heard countless times now; he even goes so far as to call this out in “Guts Over Fear”:

“Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is/Find different ways to word the same old song”

“Die Alone” has a chorus that is so auto-tuned that it is near impossible to hear what is being said.  What we have here is a compilation that is quickly spiraling out of control, and we didn’t even get to Detroit vs. Everybody yet.

“Detroit vs. Everybody” might be the biggest waste of time in your life.  This is six minutes of who the f*** cares.  Big Sean’s delivery is monotone and coma-inducing, while Danny Brown has one of the most annoying voices I’ve ever heard.  Eminem finally shows up at the 31/2 minute mark, offering imagery of ‘me against the world’ and ‘how great am I?” for the millionth time, not to mention throwing in an attempt to stir up some controversy with an Adrian Peterson reference.

“What’s making you think I need a switch/’Cause I’m Adrian Peterson/when he’s raging and heated and on the way to go beat his kid/On the track I spank you just like he did”

Then there are those stupendously bad lines thrown about such as:

“I turned a blunt into a roach with dreams of being a Beatle”

“They say my city’s tougher than two fat bitches scissoring”

 (Although to be fair, that last one made me laugh).

On the positive side, “Vegas” is Bad vs. Evil, the duo consisting of rappers Royce da 5’9″ (Bad) and Eminem (Evil).  The flow and verse style follow down that traditional path of graphic  sexualized verses:

“B***h shut the f*** up and get in my car and suck my f****** dick while I take a s***”

and clever brutality, delivered at break neck speed.

“I’m as brainy as Mohammad until the Parkinson’s done eat away my brain/And made me Robin Williams crazy”

This tracks already garnered some heat for the Iggy Azalea diss, so it is obvious that Eminem can still rub people the wrong way with his potty mouth.  Sadly, it sounds cliché whenever Eminem attempts to deliver those shock value lyrics these days.

SHADY XV can be best summed up as an attempt to rehash similar sounds while, ultimately, cash in on those susceptible family members looking to make a big splash with a great Xmas gift.