Steve Albini rarely names records he's worked on when people ask him what he's been listening to, but when he sat down with Buddyhead for the fifth
installment of Buddyhead Radio in July, he made an exception. "Dan Smith just put together this ad hoc band with a singer named Steve Taylor," he said.
"And they play thisreally rowdy punk rock. I didn't expect that kind of music out of them, and I certainly didn't expect it to be as awesome as it was. I
was expecting it to be charming or interesting, but it ended up being really raucous and really great."
"Really raucous and really great" is the perfect shorthand for Steve Taylor & the Danielson Foil, a whipcrack 6-song EP recorded by Albini that applies
scalding punk rage to delightfully cockeyed song structures, making for a half-dozen songs that don't have many clear musical parallels. It's Magazine
covering the Godspell soundtrack or the Buzzcocks trading verses with the Free Design.
The collaboration grew out of a U.S. tour Taylor and his band, the Perfect Foil (Jimmy Abegg, Peter Furler and John Mark Painter), took with Danielson in
support of Taylor's acclaimed 2014 album Goliath. Though both Taylor and Smith had spent most of their careers questioning musical norms -- Taylor through
sharp social satire, Smith through dizzyingly inventive song structures - a musical alliance between the two of them was hardly a foregone conclusion. But
they had such immediate, easy chemistry that they reached out to Albini, with whom both Taylor and Smith had worked before, to set aside studio time when
the tour swung through Chicago. The result is an EP that combines both of their sensibilities for a batch of songs full of hairpin musical left turns and
sharp, deftly-observed lyrics.
Opener "Wow to the Deadness" is the perfect example of their effortless fusion. Part eerie campfire singalong, part bruised-up brawler, the song volleys
from Taylor's exhortation to "let it slide to the other side" to Smith's ecstatic declaration, "We have a winner!" In "A Muse," Taylor plays another
gloryhound clawing for his 15 minutes over acrid, clawing guitars. And "Wait Up Downstep" is a revved-up Boy Scout marching song, Smith alternating between
mantra-like refrain and beautifully swooping verses. And "Nonchalant" has the same coiled intensity as the National, but feels more wounded, more restless.
More than anything, Steve Taylor & the Danielson Foil is the sound of two acts scrapping every rule of songwriting and rewriting the document according
to their own impulses. Every time you think you've got its sound pinned down, it shape-shifts again, transforming into something entirely new,
fantastically confounding, and utterly irresistible. It is, to paraphrase Steve Albini, really raucous and really, really great.
UPC: 859715297737 CMTA: AMRKXX
Item: 313075 Label: Fuel Music Release Date: 2016-02-05