PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

The Priests: Tall Tales

Jason MacNeil

Sometimes it's a case of trying too hard or not trying hard enough for this garage rock band.

The Priests

Tall Tales

Label: Get Hip
US Release Date: 2004-11-09
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

It comes in waves -- groups with leather jackets, the dark shades, and the no-holds-barred rock and roll. These groups become media darlings, get signed to contracts, release a few albums, and then go away. In five years time the wave returns and so on and so on. Colin Tyranny, Matt Allyn, Lord Robb, and Billie Jacque have all the charisma of a rock band from their dry ice and attire. And hell, the publicist wouldn't be blowing smoke up the butts of writers with lines like, " . . . The Priests do not need rock-n-roll. Rock-n-roll needs The Priests", would they?

Nonetheless, the Priests want to convey that image, sound, and veneer with a loud, raunchy, and boogie-infused style that brings to mind the Doors, Eric Burdon, and the Zombies. Lead singer Matt Allyn starts off lost somewhat in the mix during "Not from Me", a deliberate track that doesn't take too many chances, resembling an emaciated Mooney Suzuki. The jagged rock riffs one expects are instead usurped by the antiquated organ and the obligatory tambourine pounding. In spite of all this, it is still fairly good and picks up roughly two minutes in. The groove is from T.S.O.O.L. (The Soundtrack of Our Lives) University but it doesn't lack the oomph or power that Ebbott Lundburg and company so easily transmit. By the third or fourth listen it will grow on you, but not to any great extent.

"She Don't" fares far better with more intensity and urgency from the drop of drummer Billie Jacque's drum sticks on the skins. The fuzzed-out guitars are present but presented in a low-key kind of way. It's as if they're building the listener for something explosive and monumental, but still keep you waiting for the one great moment. They play it far too safe here. Unfortunately, that song looks like a winner compared to "Going Back Home", a track that sounds like a cross between the Doors' "Alabama Song" and some rudimentary polka. What is also disappointing is that you think the group has it in them to break out, but it hasn't happened yet. The bridge opens the group up into a likeable psychedelic jam, but played too close to their musical vests. The first sign of any edge or bite comes during the unlikely titled "Wayward Waltz". Here, Allyn is quite strong despite the rather ordinary or laissez-faire blueprint. Tyranny offers a few adequate licks but it's a missed opportunity at truly nailing the tune.

The highlight of the nine-track album is a tribal stomping "More" that is fuelled by high energy and a great hook that builds and builds. If you were comparing it to a car, the song hits third gear consistently with a few fleeting moments of fourth. Nothing cute, just a solid rock tune which more than satisfies! What irritates the hell out of me, though, is how with a little effort these songs could turn heads, but the Priests often seem to take the easier road. This is especially evident on "Undone", which bubbles to the surface before sliding back down quite a few notches. They attempt to go into a rave up near the end, but too little too late. "While I Walk Away" realizes the group's potential despite the rather pedestrian pace and quasi haunting, mostly cheesy organ hues.

The Priests find their footing with the last two tracks, a ballsy "Baby Doll" that has all the snarls and sneers at the right boogie-inducing, hip-shaking places. And "Take What You Bring", despite being a lazy little seven-minute trot, manages to find the groove and roll with it. The Priests aren't that high yet, but if they could just push themselves a bit more they would certainly distinguish themselves from the other garage band laity.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.