Song of the Day: Protomartyr - Why Does It Shake

Song of the Day
12/08/2015
Geran Landen
photo by Zak Bratto

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Why Does It Shake” by Protomartyr, from the 2015 album The Agent Intellect on Hardly Art.

Protomartyr - Why Does It Shake (MP3)

Detroit band Protomartyr's third album The Agent Intellect is dark to its core, both in subject matter and musical tone. Lead vocalist Joe Casey explores death, violence and the downfalls of society in his deep monotone-bordering voice, chanting and talking as much as he sings. Harsh tones combined with spacious composition provide a desolate landscape for much of the album. Yet, its most jarring moments may be the occasions when Casey's voice and the band's instrumentation fall to hushed whispers, flickering with emotion. The album is a testament to the band's mastery of contrast, space and sonic texture and there may be no better example of it than today's featured song, "Why Does It Shake". Casey's declaration that "false happiness is on the rise" sets the tone for the track, which features blasts of guitar charged with static that escalate into brief moments of frenzy throughout. A rising chord progression gives the menacing track a moment of hope, but it proves to be nothing more than false happiness as it quickly falls back to its harsher ways. The track is abrasive yet unconventionally addictive, a recipe Protomartyr seems to have mastered.

The band has no upcoming Seattle show as of now, but they have yet to reveal the details of part 2 of their 2016 U.S tour, so keep your eyes on their website and Facebook page. In the meantime, check out their performance of "Maidenhead" live in the KEXP studio last year:

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