Daddy's Boy Great News!
- Drunken Sailor
- 21st October 2022
Michael's PickView All Staff Picks
- LP - black vinyl
“You wanna stay alive, so you gotta make money.”
TELL ME ABOUT IT DADDY’s BOY. The stereo-panned drum rattling slammed into the air announces Daddy’s Boy’s mission statement in the form of vocalist Jes Skolnik’s vitriolic diatribe, equally sardonic and bile-fuelled. This is agitated, nay, PISSED OFF anarchist propaganda baby and we are down. The irony of writing about this vital, blood-full punk music concerned with upsetting the world order, analysing the bullshit work rituals most of us are indentured to isn’t lost on me. Hell, I’m at my job, in a cold dark corner because it’s too expensive to blast the heating. I’m writing about Daddy’s Boy debut album GREAT NEWS! and getting paid by the hour to do it. We’re all indentured to the system, to the day job, waiting for the pay check, getting Tesco meal deals so we can afford to have a bath tonight, you know the drill. Daddy’s Boy aren’t taking this whole con lying down.
Daddy’s Boy are from Chicago via a whole history of visceral punk music and anarchist practices. Featuring members of groups Retreaters and Fake Limbs plus the afore-mentioned Skolnik (ex-Split Feet) on vocals, theirs is a monolithic punk music that could have been released on Touch & Go’s heyday, it’s a fired up, blisteringly high octane music informed by Crass as much as Void and all pushed to the crunchy max by recording engineer Steve Albini. Like the best forward-thinking records, Great News! walks straight up to genre and precedent and barges right past them. Work Won’t Love You Back puts the worker’s revolt into gut-punching bullet points, satirising the gig economy, the ever-encroaching decimation of personal space and time by corporations demanding more of us, eroding our sense of self for profit. The drums and vocal intro recalls Stations Of The Crass-era before the world-ending bass (courtesy of Jon Strasheim) and percussive guitar attacks clothesline the listener.
Bryan Gleason’s guitars on GREAT NEWS! are completely infected with gravel, humbucker-sounding, alternatively flirting with noise and feedback, sharp shards of dissonance spat out between neck-punching power chords. The Poster has noise guitar that reminds us of Sightings or the classic No Wave sounds of DNA or Mars; it morphs into atonal blocks of concrete that hammer the vocal about the head. Here Skolnik skewers the anxieties of internet living, the cloying, sociopathic hold social media has on users. It’s testament to the thoughtful, critical minds behind the band’s music. Eddie Says uses Void-style guitars over one-two pogo drumming all rendered absolutely massive by Albini’s mic placements and incisive mixing skills. In fact the guitars are endlessly creative and outside the box, adding rhythmic textures or wipe out frequencies when needed, an unhealthily thrilling amount of distortion smearing the playing. Throughout, Neal Markowski’s brutally effective drums bely a virtuosity that goes far beyond simple punk drumming, nearing John Bonham-style heavy-hitting.
“Nothing new to say and a thousands ways to say it” is the recurring refrain from Do You Like Music, which is ironic because that’s exactly what Daddy’s Boy are doing. Some of the cultural artefacts may be different, talking about post 21st Century technology and phenomena for example, but Daddy’s Boy’s message is as legacy punk as they come. GREAT NEWS! tells us what we mostly already know, but maybe have forgotten about, as tranquillised by the internet and consumerism as we are. The system is rigged against us, even the technologies we use for a little escape are tools of the global capitalist paradigm. Daddy’s Boy message is one of defiance and resistance: critique your surroundings, interrogate your comforts, question authority, your own included (as a sardonic Skolnik appears to do on Family Cat.) Daddy’s Boy sculpt the revolution into new forms, somewhere between “avant rock” and “punk” but as they’d no doubt agree, genre and pigeon holes are tools of capitalism. It’s just fucking great music and you should rage to it. Listen to me, I’m so fucking important: No gods, no masters.
‘Questionably a hardcore band’ is how Daddy’s Boy describe themselves, and one listen to their discombobulatingly brilliant debut LP should answer all your questions as to what that could possibly mean. Recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, GREAT NEWS! is the sound of punk folding in on itself and racing through sounds you might have previously identified with dumb genre tags like post-punk and possibly even no-wave – except this isn’t either of those things. It rages smartly and discordantly across a wide terrain of undulating rhythms and coruscating rifferema, eventually settling on something that’s… well, kinda uniquely Daddy’s Boy.
So what makes this sound? Specifically, four humans who are too clever to simply follow the ‘three chords, now form a band’ template without trying to fuck up the corners (and work their way into the centre). Members of Split Feet, Retreaters and Fake Limbs pile up together to create this delicious cacophony, and you’ll be glad they did. When vocalist Jes Skolnik intones, “I’m so fucking important,” you know it’s drenched in venomous irony, but it’s difficult not to agree: GREAT NEWS! feels like a record that’ll last way beyond those ‘best of the year’ lists and continue to pulverise your eardrums for years to come.
It’s the sort of record that felt like the future when Touch & Go Records pushed hardcore past its knuckleheaded limitations 40 years ago, and still feels like no one ever really caught up. It’s the riffs from Cows’ Cunning Stunts, cribbing notes from Crass’ Feeding Of The 5,000, with vocal delivery pitched to ‘gloriously matter-of-fact’. Oh, and no spoilers, but in Skolnik, Daddy’s Boy might just have one of the smartest lyricists in (questionable) hardcore right now. Mark my words, this is some record.
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