plum digest


ALBUM REVIEW: Filthy Liars - If All Else Fails, Cry and Cry Again

      One of my favorite parts of working at the smoke shop is their sound system. There are speakers scattered all around the room so that anything panned left or right in the mix is REALLY panned left or right, and there's a beefy subwoofer too. In layman's terms, this means that while I'm sorting, stocking & schmoozing throughout the day, my tunes sound great. I've been taking advantage of this setup to revisit some of the records that I haven't heard in forever, and appreciate them in the context of my life today.

     The first band that I think bears mention on these pages is Halifax, Ontario ensemble Filthy Liars. They're long since over and done with, but their 2014 opus “If All Else Fails, Cry and Cry Again” is a masterwork of balance between infectious, melodic hooks & everything I love about punk rock. On opener “Flight Risk”, the lyrics “Tell me what it's like up there with all of your choices / but don't tell me to pick my battles / cause if I could fucking choose I wouldn't have them” act as a rallying cry for themes of alienation, hypocrisy and anger that permeate the other songs. But don't get it twisted, this isn't a Neurosis record – there's an almost radio-friendly poppiness lurking under those riffs. I challenge anyone reading this to listen to “Hands on Ends” or the spectacularly titled "Your Eyes Look Like Two Pissholes In The Snow" without humming the chorus for a few days afterward. The final track, “Home Sweet Homo (In Too Deep)”, has maybe my favorite line on the record, though - “Can you feel it, the amassing rage? / This fire in your stomach is made of all the times you compromised your integrity”. Untouchable.

     I'm all in on a 5/5 for this one. RIYL: Team Dresch, The Beths, Dinosaur Jr.


In Memory of Steve Albini

     It’s around 2 am. At 7:45 or so, I will walk down my front steps and begin my morning commute, hoofin’ it to the smoke shop to observe & assist humans in their pursuit of cigarettes, vapes, bongs, pipes, pipe cleaners, incense, sparkling water with natural peach flavoring, etc. But that’s then, and this is now, and right now I need to stay up and try to understand why I'm so upset about the death of Steve Albini. Frankly, his unexpected passing has thrown me into a full-on mortality crisis.

     One of my clearest childhood memories of music was sitting in my dad’s idiosyncratic brown car as Nirvana’s “All Apologies” played on the radio. Something about the end of the song, where Kurt and Dave’s harmonies alone accompany Steve’s signature roomy drum sound, struck 6-year-old me as haunting and kind of different than other music I’d heard up to that point. Since then, my appreciation for his work has only grown as I realized just how many of my favorite bands recorded with him. Slint, The Breeders, Pixies, Low, Guided By Voices, Bedhead, Jawbreaker, Engine Kid, Owls, Failure, Crain, Magnolia Electric Co... the list goes on.

     Later on, in my own pursuits of recording music, Steve's uncompromising ethic of capturing a raw, essential live sound was and is my north star. I guess almost without knowing it, I assumed that this person would be around for as long as I was, making records forever. His sudden exit (heart attack IN THE STUDIO no less) has left me wondering how best to use my very non-guaranteed time on this earth.


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