Self Defense Family - You Are Beneath Me (Cover Artwork)

Self Defense Family

You Are Beneath Me (2010)

Deathwish, Inc.

End of a Year is a special band. The music is of a really smart post-hardcore/post-indie D.C. vibe that is interesting but never off-putting. The vocalist, Patrick Kindlon, is a fucking genius who writes amazing diatribes about whatever he wants. He's often poignant, capable of being strong and vulnerable at the same time, and is one of those rare artists that can actually put a finger on modern life while living it. Really, EOAY is one of the greatest things going in "punk."

With all that, there is one thing about this band that I have a hard time with, and unfortunately that is Kindlon's voice. He doesn't sing or scream, but talks and yelps his way through his lyrics--an approach I don't have a problem with, but it's simply the sound of his voice that is so unsatisfying. He sounds something like Guy Picciotto (of Fugazi, you dingus) after smoking a carton of cigarettes or a little bit like the marine commander in the Generation Kill miniseries on HBO (see it) that had throat cancer. And in reality, I feel guilty about even pointing this out. It's like meeting the coolest girl ever--she's got an amazing personality, no crazy issues, a great body, and cool style, but her face is repulsive. You know should see past it, but you have to be able to look at your partner to really commit, so it's hard to ignore. EOAY is that girl--it's got everything that should matter and the only flaw is superficial, but it's there. Perhaps it just shows how shallow I can be as a listener. This band is so good, and this guy is an amazing writer, but his voice is rough to listen to for an extended period.

Getting back to why this band is so great, on this, the band's long-awaited second full-length, they stick more to mid-tempo and laid-back post hardcore fare. It's pretty enjoyable, sometimes reminding me of later Fugazi and occasionally evoking the vibe in Dismemberment Plan's amazing final record, Change. The guitars are smooth and laid back, but the groove is upbeat, making for a contemplative overall feel that is emotionally satsifying.

Lyrically, just about everything Kindlon writes is interesting and this record is worth investigating just for the lyrics. Check out the intro track, "Composite Character," where Kindlon talks his way through explaining how to listen to the record: "To best understand the material, work part-time, make less than $20,000 a year, grow your hair out, live under constant threat of eviction...have a pregnancy scare, have highly personal and easily misunderstood goals..." He tries to explain in "Bo Diaz:" "So you wonder what men want? Well, here's a heads-up: Everything and then some. And more. And more." In closer "Philip Jose Farmer," he asks, "Is there any good idea lame assholes won't steal?"

There are so few people or bands that truly have something to say, so when one comes along, it is in your best interests to pay attention. If you can get used to the voice overtop, there is some highly intelligent and affective stuff going on here.