During the spring of 2014, guitarist/singer/songwriter Tommy Siegel caught a glimpse of a poetry book in Brooklyn recycling bin. The book was poet Jeremy Schmall's "The Cult of Comfort", a limited pressing of the formerly-local poet's dystopian musings, packed with darkly funny observations on hypercapitalism and post-millennial tension. After numerous reads, Siegel became increasingly enamored with the collection and discovered a common thread between his own lyrical voice and Schmall's sardonic observations on the American corporatocracy.
"Most of Manhattan was underwater/But to be honest I kinda liked it better/As an aquarium lined with hedge funds and coffee chains", Siegel muses on "Downhill”, the opening track, an anxiety-fueled, fist-pumping guitar anthem.
The American dichotomy is on full display, and Siegel stands in both awe and disgust. How does one live a “just” life in a society where nearly every comfort is acquired by questionable means? "C'mon kids/Gather round/Look at yourselves in the mirror and repeat after me", Siegel near-whispers over the opening track's frantic buildup, "It's all downhill from here".
Using the poetry book as a springboard for lyrical inspiration, Siegel began hashing out a dozen new songs with drummer/producer John Thayer, guitarist Aaron Leeder, keyboardist Dave Cohen and bassist Brett Niederman. "Narc Twain," a joke folder created to trade demo ideas slowly took on its own aura and further emboldened the project’s identity.
With all songs written over the span of just six months and a correspondingly raw recording ethos, the full album was tracked live at Thump studios in Greenpoint with drummer/engineer John Thayer (Sri, Drunken Sufis) and engineer Keith Rigling overseeing the process. "Same Shit", the most power-pop of the bunch is an anthem for modern apathy with a Dismemberment Plan-esque vocal execution for lines like "Hey, it's a new kind of extortion!/But this time they swear they’re gonna do it on their own terms/In a never-ending line of all-American white male handshakes/But I fail to see the difference", spoken-sung over Thayer's propulsive drumming.
The band's chemistry and live, communal energy is best exemplified in a track like “No Connection", which stretches well past the 9-minute mark with wiry, dual-guitar improvisation between Leeder and Siegel that conjures up Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Television or Luna. Written as a tribute to mysteriously-deceased investigative journalist Michael Hastings, the song gradually escalates to a fever pitch, then keeps rising and rising with reckless abandon before abruptly dropping into the song's melancholy outtro. "Stop paying attention", Siegel begs you, singing it over and over again.
One gets the sense he's might be talking to himself, wishing he could do the same.
"Cross the millennial angst of D.C. math rock veterans the Dismemberment Plan with the moody atmospherics of post-punk progenitors Wire and you might get something resembling Narc Twain." (Noisey - http://noisey.vice.com/blog/narc-twain-downhill-track-premiere)