Music Review: Time is Fire – In Pieces (Electric Cowbell, February 2020)

I will always be here for an ESG-inspired album cover.

Every time I listen to this record, it becomes increasingly unclear what my favorite songs might be, and I just feel like I need to listen again and again to all of them. I am doing this right now, and I continue having to listen again! There is so much to listen to in this music. As a drummer and a vocalist, it takes a lot of listens for me to even hear things beyond the enormity of the percussion and the lyrical message and feeling of this record–but I am also hearing a lot of very cool shit happening with guitars on headphones presently. This record is produced by Brendan Canty (Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Messthetics), who is one of my favorite percussionists of all time, and it makes me very hopeful that he will produce more records. Ian MacKaye went on to produce many of my favorite dance punk records ever on the Dischord label in the early oughts from bands like Q and Not U and Black Eyes, and I am hoping Brendan keeps working with this band and others. Kamyar Arsani (vocalist and banger of the daf, a Persian frame drum) moved to DC following the thwarted Green Revolution in Iran, and now he is making Sufi-punk in the capitol of another nation in crisis with Jeff Barsky (guitar), Kai Filipczak (bass), Matthew Perrone (guitar), and Jim Thomson (drums and auxiliary percussion).

I actually have an interview with this band on deep hold, so I will save a deeper dive until then. For the time being, I just want you to consider that I have exquisite taste and I consider this a major contender for album of the year. Please listen to these incendiary anthems, buy their music, and figure out how you can support the largest coordinated and ongoing civil rights actions in our nation’s history where you are with what you have (Arthur Ashe style).

“Poor is Poor” is featured on my spring quarantine playlist, immediately followed by “Secret 77” by Bad Brains as a tribute to conscious DC punk-inflected music about poverty and the working person’s relation to the bosses over time: “YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND, AT SUNRISE, ON THE WAY TO MEET YOUR BOSS: HE THAT OPPRESS REPROACH HIS MAKER; HE THAT HONOR HIM HAVE MERCY ON THE POOR.”

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