Albany-based cerebral post-hardcore collective Self Defense Family released their impressive and ever-cleverly titled sixth album Have You Considered Punk Music? this summer. Working at their usual prolific rate, today they’ve followed it up with a new EP Working People (Part 1), which notably includes a cover of Cat Power’s “What Would The Community Think.”
It’s a mini-project, just three tracks long, but as squirming and provocative as always: addressing how we consume culture and politics over reverb-heavy guitars, TV-static production, ominous keys, and occasional noodling horns. On “Full Literalism” (a Father John Misty allusion?) they seem to tease the emblem of the politically conscious anthem: “Comrade, please, what’s the intent of the song?” they mime, answering, “folk devils, moral panics.” It naturally flows into “It Can’t Happen Here,” on which again they point to our culture’s fraught relationship to the truth, suggesting “people love stories more than reason.”
Unpredictable as ever, they follow this dense duo with a bleak take on the already-very-bleak title track of Cat Power’s 1996 record, replacing Chan Marshall’s whisper with Patrick Kinlon’s raspy drawl, adding strangely lovely finger-plucking and discordant horns, and playing up the post-modern suburban war cry of “Vacaaaaaaaaaation! Vacaaaaaation! Vacation!” It’s an anxious, ominous jam-packed 12 minutes that will leave your mind racing if you pay close attention. Do that below.