The Faint-Doom Abuse
“We don’t need prophecies ending in doom.” In some form, The Faint have been writing and recording music for the better part of 20 years, and for the most part, have stayed true to themselves. As of this year, they have recorded seven full-length albums (one under the name Norman Mailer), including their newest effort, “Doom Abuse.” When the band announced in 2008 that they were going on hiatus following the tour for their previous effort “Fasciinatiion,” I kind of assumed they felt they had run their course and planned to tuck and roll before it got stale. When I saw an EP of new music last year, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The Faint were a gateway band for me. They made things simpler to cross over from the world of mainstream alternative rock to finding more obscure bands that appealed to me, which led me further down the rabbit hole. In effect, The Faint built a bridge from Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana to Cursive and Bright Eyes.
As if not missing a beat coming off of hiatus, “Doom Abuse” delivers everything we expect from The Faint, including political ravings, dark humor, sexual overtones and of course, the gloomy dance punk that has brought them this far. However, to say the band hasn’t changed or grown would be unfair, as this album feels a bit more freewheeling and less agenda-based than previous efforts. The band announced “Doom Abuse” late in February and released the lead single ‘Help in the Head,’ which in retrospect served as the most proper introduction to the bulk of the album. All in all, “Doom Abuse” is catchy as hell, up-tempo and short enough to be easily digested. Now if they would only tour nearby. “Doom Abuse” is out now via SQE Music.
If You Haven’t Heard: Strand of Oaks
Timothy Showalter has one of the more heart wrenching and redemptive stories in music today, and it’s compounded by the fact that few people actually know the story or appreciate how personal it makes his music. This lack of knowledge is partly because of the fact that Showalter would like this portion of his life to remain in the past, and he certainly doesn’t want you feeling sorry for him.
In 2003, Showalter’s house burned to the ground and his fiancée left him. Brutal, right? He dealt with the loss by taking his guitar and writing songs on the park bench he just so happened to be living on. The songs he wrote on this park bench in Philadelphia would become the bulk of his striking debut album as Strand of Oaks, “Leave Ruin,” a work about loss of faith and brokenness. This album paved the way for Showalter to get his foot in the door of modern music and gave a leg up for his sophomore effort, and in my opinion his masterpiece, “Pope Killdragon.” Thankfully, the story doesn’t end leaving Showalter a homeless troubadour. He is now happily married, still residing in Philadelphia (indoors) and on the cusp of releasing his fourth full length, titled “HEAL”. That’s what makes Showalter’s story heartbreaking and redemptive—he fought his way back from devastation on the back of his incredible talent for personal songwriting. I guess the irony is that he may have never written these songs without the tragedy he endured. That’s one of the good things that tend to accompany pain, a limitless ability to drag art and emotion out of someone to place on display for the world. It’s a give and take. “HEAL” is out June 24 via Dead Oceans.