September 16, 2016 — “Degraded” by Preoccupations



If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Degraded” by Preoccupations (2016, from the album Preoccupations).

Preoccupations is a post-punk quartet from Calgary. They were formerly known as Viet Cong, and they released a stunning eponymous record under that name in January 2015. The album was met with very favourable reviews across the board, and even the impossible to please Ian Cohen over at Pitchfork loved it. It was so well-liked that it ended up making the shortlist for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize. I wrote about the band in advance of the release of that album here and correctly predicted that it would be one of my favourite albums of 2015.

Viet Cong was receiving a lot of high praise, and the band were playing a lot of shows, but they were also getting a ton of negative feedback about their name. Amid cries of racism and just plain tackiness, and after some venues cancelled shows because of their name, they announced last September that they would be rebranding themselves. It took months, though, and finally in April of this year, they announced that they had officially changed their name to Preoccupations.

Although there were some tough times in the band, they kept plugging away, and they worked hard on the new record. Some of the new songs are about the unintended consequences of their former name. One of the songs is actually about the transitional phase. The band had enjoyed a great deal of praise before their 2015 album, and they lived up to the advance hype. For myriad reasons, there was just as much, if not more anticipation about this new album.

I had access to advance copies of the new album, but for whatever reason, I never got around to giving it a spin. Until today, which happens to be the release day. To be completely honest, I haven’t yet given it a thorough listen, but I’ve really liked it based on one spin. It’s still dark and icy like Viet Cong, but there’s just a slightly different feel to it.

After just one spin, there were a few tracks that really stood out. This is one of them:

“Degraded” by Preoccupations

There’s that wonderful bass that brings Peter Hook’s bass to mind. There are bits of terrific feedback squall and fuzz that remind me a bit of A Place to Bury Strangers. And there’s still something that very oddly reminds me of Arcade Fire. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s ticking a lot of boxes for me.

The band is about to embark on the second leg of their 2016 world tour, which puts them on the road until the end of November. Unfortunately, they won’t be playing close enough for me to drive to a show.

The album came out today via Jagjaguwar, and you can buy it in your choice of physical formats here. You can also buy a download via Bandcamp here.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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