Drug Church is a band without fear. For the past ten years, the Albany and Los Angeles-based five-piece have been staunchly creating their own singular path in making distinctly outsider music that’s somehow at once welcoming and instantly satisfying. The band’s songs revel in sonic contradictions, seamlessly combining crushing aggression with bulletproof hooks, while the lyrics unflinchingly explore life’s darkness and discomfort with sardonic wit—and without judgement. On Hygiene, their impending fourth full-length, Drug Church is as uncompromising as ever, and it has resulted in their boldest set of songs to date. Drug Church are still demanding that the listener comes to them, not the other way around, and with Hygiene, they just might.
With each successive release Drug Church—vocalist Patrick Kindlon, guitarists Nick Cogan and Cory Galusha, bassist Pat Wynne, and drummer Chris Villeneuve—have been pushing the seemingly intractable elements of their sound further and further. Where their critically acclaimed 2018 album, Cheer, brought more melody into the band’s combustible music, Hygiene doubles down without losing an ounce of bite in the execution. “Sometimes I say we make radio music that can’t be played on the radio,” Kindlon laughs. “I think it’s likeable but it’s also just not designed for mass appeal.”
Hygiene is in fact an incredibly appealing album despite being difficult to categorize—or perhaps because of it. Recorded with producer/engineer Jon Markson and clocking in at a lean 26 minutes, the record makes it abundantly clear that Drug Church aren’t content to rest on their laurels. Across ten strikingly dynamic songs, Cogan and Galusha alternate between massive riffs and some of the most unexpectedly melodic guitar playing that has ever touched Drug Church’s music, while Villeneuve and Wynne’s rhythm section unflaggingly shakes the ground. The band’s foundation in hardcore still provides plenty of stagedive-inspiring energy, but even Kindlon’s signature roar has taken a tuneful turn with layered vocals, raw harmonies, and cadences hooky enough to have listeners shouting along after one listen.
While Hygiene is an undeniable leap forward for Drug Church, it’s not one made by some grand design. In fact, band’s writing process is refreshingly mystique-free: the instrumentalists simply hone the songs until they’re ready to show them to Kindlon, who offers “intentionally unhelpful notes” before writing most of his lyrics under the gun in the studio. “The beauty that happens here is accidental,” he explains. “It’s not that musicians have some insight into the world, it’s just that by doing something in art you can trip over these transcendent moments—but you can’t endeavour to make them.”
It’s a fitting approach that’s also reflected in Kindlon’s lyrics, many of which deal with the relationship between art and the people consuming it. There’s a blunt-yet-affecting quality that appears throughout Hygiene, as he walks a tightrope between observation, honesty, absurdity, frustration, and humor—all with a willingness to question the messier parts of modern life that many would prefer to simply ignore. “Whatever milieu we’re living in right now is not one I was intended for,” he says. “The conversation is not asking us to personally challenge ourselves or try to better ourselves. It’s a push to be in other people’s business and judge each other all the time. And I have no interest in judging strangers.”
Hygiene’s opening salvo of “Fun’s Over,” a sub-two minute blast of stomping punk, and “Super Saturated,” a towering rock song led by one of the album’s most jaw-dropping riffs, finds Kindlon cautioning against the lure of compromising one’s art for the sake of success, but then prodding at the very idea of art made by a perfect person. On “Piss & Quiet,” he is quick to reject the role of the artist themselves as any kind of meaningful spokesperson. “You can get a lot out of a song, you can get a lot out of music, but you can’t go to music for the answers in life,” he says, and while this might suggest some kind of remove, it wouldn’t be a Drug Church record without more nuance than that. This is evident
on “Detective Lieutenant,” a mid-album standout that finds Kindlon examining the unbreakable connection between art and the person it has moved. “My relationship with a song is the song, period,” he explains. “For me, if I look at a piece of art, and it’s enriched me, it’s hard for me to care about anything else.” It’s perhaps the most downright pretty sounding song that Drug Church has ever written, with interwoven shimmering guitars that build to Kindlon’s explosive refrain of “we don’t toss away what we love.”
While there’s a clear point of view running throughout Hygiene, Drug Church is here to move you, not to lecture you. On “Premium Offer,” Kindlon directly rebuffs the desire to dictate anyone else’s life (with help from guest vocalist Carina Zachary of Husbandry). “It’s a pointless endeavor to let people into your life who do nothing but tell you how to conduct yours,” he says. “A lot of people would tell you how to live but they don’t actually care if you live or not.” Instead Kindlon seems occupied by the finite time we have and how best to spend it. Tracks like “Plucked,” “Tiresome,” or colossal highlight “Million Miles of Fun” mark a refusal to get wrapped up in inherently broken political constructs, self-pity, or the endless deluge of useless information coming at us at all times. “As you get older you realize you wasted a lot of time,” he says. “You cared about dumb shit and by the time you realize this, you have less time.”
Hygiene feels less like it’s kicking against the clock and more like it’s embracing the reality of it. “At some point you have to admit to yourself that all your plans and goals are subject to the randomness of life,” Kindlon says. “But on the flipside, if you don’t have goals, how do you know where you’re going?” On closing track “Athlete on Bench,” Kindlon sings “I’m living between shrinking margins,” turning an acknowledgement of niche passions into an anthemic finale. That’s the quiet aspiration in Drug Church’s uncompromising nature:it’s ambition on their own terms, a desire to simply be the absolute best at what they do. “There’s value in trying to be exceptional, at least in your own mind,” Kindlon says. “I’m exceptional at virtually nothing, but striving for it has given my life some purpose. Or at least it’s led me to this hotel room in Denver on tour.”
While crafting Anxious’ new album, Little Green House, the Connecticut five-piece were afforded a luxury so few bands are when making their debut album: time. With extensive touring plans halted and regular life on pause, the band—vocalist Grady Allen, guitarists Dante Melucci and Ryan Savitski, bassist Sam Allen, and drummer Jonny Camner—headed into Allen’s mom’s basement and reflected on each part of the material that would turn into their first record over and over again. The result is an artistic leap that, had the band’s plans to spend much of 2020 on the road actually been feasible, maybe wouldn’t have happened.
Formed in 2016 while members were still in high school, Anxious’ early releases were indebted to the urgent freneticism and heart-on-sleeve lyrics of post-hardcore acts like Texas Is The Reason, Samiam, and Turning Point, allowing Anxious to immediately grab the attention of the hardcore scene. The band’s DIY roots and dedication to craft were equally as essential to their rising profile—early releases were accompanied with band-dubbed cassettes, made-to-order zines, and even self-dyed shirts—each part of Anxious was laid out in meticulous detail from day one. Having almost immediately surpassed Allen’s modest ambitions of “playing a couple of shows,” Anxious quickly found a home on Triple B Records, gaining the attention and adulation of both the hardcore and emo scenes on the back of two seven-inch EPs and a pair of demos, getting them coveted spots on tours with genre-bending acts like Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, before landing on Run For Cover.
Named after the space in which the material was written, Little Green House sees Allen and Melucci exploring what it feels like to enter adulthood in unflinching detail. The pair unpack their struggles, joys, and hard-earned realizations in a way that makes them each feel wise beyond their years. “I think a lot of the record is a coming-to-terms, interpretive record about relationships with people and thinking introspectively,” says Allen. “I’m sure it’ll be a cliché very soon to say, ‘With all the time spent away, I was able to really think about things,’ but having that time ot sit and be introspective really does give you perspective on yourself, the relationships you have with other people, and that recognition that while you might all be interconnected—whether it’s your parents, your friends from high school, people you know through music—it’s bound to happen that you all have deeply individual and separate paths, and that’s okay.”
Recorded and produced by Chris Teti at Silver Bullet Studios, the diversity of perspectives on Little Green House is matched by the album’s ability to jump between sounds without ever feeling disjointed. The band’s commitment to their creative vision and exacting attention to detail is apparent, with Anxious going so far as to completely re-record the vocals until Little Green House was exactly the statement they wanted to make.
That devotion is clear from the very first notes of opener, “Your One Way Street.” Anxious sounds more deliberate than ever, with each riff pounding like a powerful declaration as Allen works through the emotions of watching one of his oldest friendships breaking apart, “I beg you, one last time as a friend / How did we get here and why does this have to end?” On “More Than A Letter” the band explores what it was like to watch a potential romantic relationship fall away because of outside pressures, and the energetic “Let Me” is a show of support from a child to a parent while watching them go through a painful divorce and features guest vocals from Pat Flynn of Fiddlehead. “I guess the idea behind the record is that coming to terms with who you are and accepting that,” says Allen. “Struggle, sadness, and pain aren’t necessarily negative things, but they are necessary things. There’s no shame or sadness put onto these feelings that you’re already experiencing. But there are positive, triumphant elements running through the album, too,” a feeling that’s best exemplified by the triumphant, and aptly titled, “Growing Up Song.”
While fans are used to Anxious’ infectious energy spilling into every song, the closing track “You When You’re Gone” shows a totally new side of the band. Where the raucous parts of the album recall Lifetime and Sense Field, this one’s pure dream pop bliss. Joined by vocalist Stella Branstool on the track, it gives Little Green House an expanded scope, one that showcases a band taking big swings and landing every single one of them.
“The goal wasn’t to create something that perfectly replicates a sound or an era,” says Allen. “It was just about us wholeheartedly trying to create something that felt distinctly like us and not worry for a second if it feels unfamiliar—we just wanted to create something that was unabashedly us.” On Little Green House, that’s exactly what Anxious did. They’ve made a record that captures the bittersweet feeling of returning to a place you grew up and realizing how the passing of time has changed you – a musical snapshot of who they were in an exact moment, and who they want to become now that they’re ready to move on.
740 Water Street SW
Washington, DC 20024