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.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.